CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: Minardi Team USA race report

IT'S NOT WHERE YOU START, BUT WHERE YOU FINISH THAT COUNTS San Jose, CA (July 29, 2007) -- "Bobby D" is back on top with his second win of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season at the San Jose Grand Prix today. An amazing drive...

IT'S NOT WHERE YOU START, BUT WHERE YOU FINISH THAT COUNTS

San Jose, CA (July 29, 2007) -- "Bobby D" is back on top with his second win of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season at the San Jose Grand Prix today. An amazing drive from a 15th-place starting position allowed Robert to close the gap to 10 points to Championship leader, Sebastien Bourdais. The race started well for 'Speedy' Dan Clarke, but unfortunately, two separate contacts with other competitors early on eliminated him from the race, and he was eventually classified seventeenth.

As many anticipated, getting through the first turn on the opening lap was always going to be a critical aspect of the race, and so it turned out to be. Doornbos was forced to enter turn one so slowly as the field bunched up in front of him that he nearly stalled the car. He made it through, but on the exit, ran into the back of Jan Heylen's car. The impact knocked the nose off Robert's car and ultimately resulted in a full-course yellow when his car stalled in the middle of the track. Once restarted, Robert was able to pit for a new nose assembly and then catch up to the safety car in last place. As this particular "Flying Dutchman" has come to realize, however, when it comes to Champ Car, "It's not over 'til it's over." With clever pit strategy and near qualifying-pace lap times, Doornbos came out on top of the charts in style. After the race, he climbed the fence, waved to the exuberant fans, and put firmly to rest the question of whether or not he and Minardi Team USA can stay in the Championship fight.

Robert Doornbos

"We like that -- what a race! Before anything else, I want to thank all the guys. We had so much bad luck earlier in the weekend and they worked really hard to get us back on track. After I hit the back of Jan Heylen's car in that tight hairpin on the first lap, I thought we were in trouble, but I was able to get to the pits and change the nose. After that, the car felt good, although the steering was obviously bent a little, as the wheel was off-center. This was a great way to come back after two poor races for us."

For 'Speedy' Dan, the hoped-for podium result just wasn't on the cards today. He started the race in third, after a great qualifying run on Saturday, which saw him just narrowly miss the pole. The team had to change engines after this morning's warm-up, however, and made it to the pre-grid for the race with just minutes to spare. Dan got into turn one cleanly and passed Servia on the exit to claim second position, but on the re-start after a full-course caution, made contact with a slow-starting Justin Wilson, which necessitated a pit stop for a new nose. Back on track, Dan quickly caught up with the rest of the field, but then made contact with Katherine Legge's car on the restart, which ended his race.

'Speedy' Dan Clarke

"I'm speechless after that -- I think I'm still in shock. My race was over before it even started, so I guess I've got to wait a little longer for my luck to change, but I'm determined to be up on that podium this season. Congratulations to Robert, and to the team, for running a great race."

PAUL STODDART, TEAM CO-OWNER

"Only in Champ Car could you have a race so action-packed from the lights to the checkered flag. From a first-lap incident that put Robert to the back of the field to 'Speedy' Dan being in second place and then losing it on the restart after the full-course yellows, it was difficult to know where to look at times. A fantastic drive by Robert, a brilliant recovery strategy by his engineer, Mike Cannon, and excellent pit stops by the team saw Robert come out in third place after his third stop. Had the race continued without incident, it would have been enough to put him in first place, but then another full-course yellow and another great pit stop saw Robert emerge as the leader. With the push-to-pass almost exhausted, Neel Jani overtook Robert, but then a gutsy and focused final few laps saw Robert retake the lead and the checkered flag. What a race!"

KEITH WIGGINS, TEAM CO-OWNER

"That was pretty good! It was also a classic example of teamwork. The strategy was great, and Robert did exactly what he needed to do at just the right times -- save fuel or push hard -- which demonstrates perfectly how you can race to the front in Champ Car. Considering the depressing picture at the end of the first two laps of the race, this was a great recovery."

-credit: mtusa

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