CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: RSPORTS preview

RSPORTS preparing to take it all the way to the top with Wilson and Tagliani at Road America RSPORTS return to Road America with a Champ Car veteran in Alex Tagliani who has had several good results at this track, along with a driver in Justin...

RSPORTS preparing to take it all the way to the top with Wilson and Tagliani at Road America

RSPORTS return to Road America with a Champ Car veteran in Alex Tagliani who has had several good results at this track, along with a driver in Justin Wilson who has finished top five or better in the last five of six events this season. Wilson grabbed the pole in San Jose, while Tagliani knew he had a car capable of doing it, just missed out on the opportunity, with that, the team is revved up and ready for a double podium finish.

Wilson currently sits fourth in the Champ Car 2007 championship standings with a total of 175 points, only 17 points out of the top three. Tagliani currently sits ninth, with a total of 140 points. For most of the season, the teammates have been found in the top six of the points standings, but a hard race weekend in San Jose ultimately hurt Tagliani dropping him down three spots. However, he is only 16 points away from moving back up into the top five.

Road America is one of two recognized historical racing landmarks in the United States. The track, at just over four miles long, consists of fourteen turns and follows the natural terrain, creating many elevation changes. A long, uphill front straight sees drivers approaching speeds of 200 mph before getting hard on the brakes for Turn One, a 130 mph corner. One of the best known features of this course is a deceptively fast turn on the backside of the track known as "The Kink". Many cars and drivers have prematurely finished their race on this section of the track. This weekend, Road America will host Wisconsin's largest race event, as it will be anincredible weekend featuring non-stop racing by the world's fastest racing series. The American Le Mans Series will roar into the sunset on Saturday. Champ Carwill sizzle on Sunday afternoon. Support series include Champ Car Atlantics, Star Mazda, and Formula BMW. This weekend is also special because it will mark the 25th anniversary of Champ Car racing at Road America.

In 2004, Tagliani took his Rocketsports Racing machine and team from the 13th spot all the way to the top, earning his and the then sophomore-year Champ Car team's first win in the series. This year, Tagliani is reunited with Paul Gentilozzi and the team, which is running under the banner name of RSPORTS this year, and several of his crew members that he competed with in 2003 and 2004.

Tagliani was on course for another strong finish in the most recent Road America race in 2006 until a puncture slowed the Canadian. Tagliani pitted just as the race was brought to a halt due to the massive crash involving Katherine Legge, dropping him out of the top 10 finish.

An afternoon filled with yellow flags, spins and crashes saw Wilson take fifth place in the 2007Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, which marked his best finish in two runs at the Elkhart Lake circuit after starting sixth.

Champ Car action will kick-off at Road America on Friday, August 10, with a morning practice session beginning at 10:15 a.m. CT and the first round of qualifying at 5:30 p.m. Saturday will host another morning practice session at 8:45 a.m. and the final round of qualifying for the Generac Power Weekend Champ Car event at 2:10 p.m. local time. The race will be held on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. and can be seen live on ABC with coverage beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET. Fans can also follow the RSPORTS team on the internet by logging onto www.champcar.ws and signing up for Race Director.

Fast Facts

* Alex Tagliani, driver of the #8 RSPORTS Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone, started his Champ Car career in 2000. This season marks his eighth year of competition. He will attempt to make his 127th start when he takes the Green Flag in Elkhart Lake. He has recorded one win, five poles, and 14 podiums.

* Tagliani has made four of six Road America starts in either Row 1 or Row 2. He started on Row 2 in 2000 (3rd), 2002 (3rd), and 2006 (4th). Tagliani has made one front row start, after grabbing the second spot in 2001.

* In six starts at Road America, Tagliani has earned three podium finishes (2002 - 2nd; 2003 - 3rd; 2004 - 1st). Those were his positive runs, the other three races were not as successful, seeing the past race winner finish 14th in 2000, 8th in 2001, and 11th most recently in 2006.

* Tagliani was on the podium in the past three consecutive Champ Car races at Road America. (2004 - 1st; 2003 - 3rd; 2002 - 2nd).

* Tagliani has taken the lead in two of six Road America races that he has participated in. He led the Champ Car field for 23 laps in 2000 and again in 2004 for 16 laps. Tagliani has completed 275 out of a possible 293 race laps.

* 13th is the worst qualifying position for Tagliani at the Road America venue. However, the number which is usually dubbed as bad luck, has turned out to be good luck for the driver as he finished on the podium both times he qualified 13th (2003, 2004). 2004 saw him earn his and Rocketsports Racing's first Champ Car victory.

* Justin Wilson, driver of the #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone, started his Champ Car career in 2004. This season marks his fourth year of competition in the US-based series. In 48 Champ Car starts, Wilson has earned three wins, five poles, and 13 podiums. Wilson was the runner-up in the 2006 Champ Car championship standings, finishing second, and was the 2006 recipient of Champ Car's prestigious Greg Moore Legacy Award that recognizes success and sportsmanship on and off the race track.

* This year will mark the third time that Wilson will compete at Road America in a Champ Car. His best start was in 2006, sixth, followed by his best finish of fifth. During his first appearance on the famous road course, the Englishman started ninth and finished seventh.

* In two races at Road America, Wilson has managed to complete every race lap. To date, that is 99 laps, over 400 miles in three hours and 40-minutes of running time on race day.

* Wilson has led 70 laps this season. He has paced the 17-car Champ Car field in five races, taking the lead seven different times. He posted the fastest race lap in San Jose, but was robbed of the win after contacted ended his race on the fourth lap (he was the pole winner in San Jose and led the four laps before he was hit from behind). He has finished on the podium in three of the last five races. The closest he has come, was being the runner-up in Edmonton.

* Wilson earned his second pole of the year in his most recent race in San Jose. The other pole position he obtained was in Portland.

* Wilson has finished in the top five or better in the last five of six races this season. That includes, three podium finishes (Portland, 2nd; Toronto, 3rd; Edmonton, 2nd).

* This season, the Champ Car World Series returns to the European market. Road America marks the race before the teams, drivers, and equipment all pack up and head to Belgium, followed by a race in Holland. This weekend will be the first of three permanent road courses that the series' teams and drivers will face this month.

* Sheboygan, Wisconsin native Shane Johnston first started working for the Skip Barber Racing School at Road America, he had one goal, and that was making it to the top level of open-wheel racing, the Champ Car World Series. As the 2007 Road America race readies to take the green flag at Elkhart Lake, Johnston is preparing to return with RSPORTS to the place where his racing dreams began.

* Both RSPORTS cars ran a two-day test at Road America on June 18-19 with the new DP01 Champ Cars. This is one of three tracks that the team was able to test on that is an actual track they compete on during the season.

Quotes

Alex Tagliani #8 RSPORTS Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"Last year it was pretty exciting for me to get back on the track where I won my first race, but we had some bad luck and bad timing, which ultimately cost us a podium finish. But it is a breath of fresh air to return to this circuit, and hopefully turn our luck around this season by finishing in the top three at Road America. Even better, would be to repeat our success in 2004, now that I am back racing with the team that gave me a car which took me all the way from 13th to victory lane. So, it is pretty exciting for us because we have a lot of great memories here together and we are hoping to perform well. It is a fun event and the track is so long and so big that the fans are spread out everywhere, from sitting on the hill to watching from their motor home. I can't wait, it is always a great event, it is a great track, and I have done well there in the past. Hopefully we can walk away from this weekend with a solid performance and move our way back into the top five of the championship standings."

Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

"We are so close this season to earning our first win, but it just has not been in our cards yet. We have demonstrated in the last three events that we have a car that belongs on the front row and on the podium. We are coming off of a bittersweet weekend in San Jose, one that saw us win the pole in the #9 CDW car but finish outside of the top ten after being hit front behind on Lap 4. That was a shame, because we had a very fast, competitive car. My crew did a great job to repair the car of its damages and get me back out there. We posted the fastest lap time of the race, despite being 20 laps down and finished 13th to grab some much needed points in the championship, as the battle remains tight. So we are confident in the car, as our last five of six races we have finish in the top five or better. We had a decent test in June at Road America, which gives us the advantage going into this race weekend knowing exactly what the new Champ Car DP01 wants on this specific track. The Road America track is one that I always look forward to racing on, because it is the kind of track that I was born to race on. It is a proper road course and one of the best road courses we race on in this series. It has fast corners, long straight-aways that are good for passing and it is challenging because it is the longest course that we run on. We have come a long way in such a short time, a win this weekend would be an added boost for our team, and great way to thank CDW and all our partners for their support this year."

-credit: rocketsportsracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Paul Gentilozzi , Katherine Legge , Skip Barber , Greg Moore