Cockpit Chaos For Gonzalez; Vasser To Make Record 13th Surfers Paradise Start From Eighth
SURFERS PARADISE (October 23, 2004) -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) could not improve on his provisional time in today's final qualifying session for the 14th annual Lexmark Indy 300, but the former Series Champion will use lessons learned from his 1996 Australia triumph to move his 750hp Lola up from an eighth starting position in what will be a record 13th start for the California native. Rookie teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished 14th after clocking in at 1:35.967 (104.841 mph), and was the victim of yet another frustrating qualifying session this afternoon when the Mexican pilot's belts came undone at speed on two separate occasions.
Vasser's record start will mark the 10th top-10 gridding position in 13 appearances Down Under. In addition, Vasser will be looking to become the first repeat winner in an event that has scattered 13 different winners across its storied history.
"We'll start eighth tomorrow in the Gulfstream car, so it's not a total loss," said Vasser. "We just couldn't get a clean lap in today. It was either traffic or red flags, back and forth all session long. It was difficult for us to find a good spot on the track, but sometimes you have to take what you can get."
Gonzalez suffered through another trying qualifying session that saw the rookie experience not one, but two incidents that had him hanging on tight around the 2.795-mile downtown sunny Surfers circuit.
"I just can't believe it-- for the second straight day, we couldn't put in a good lap," said Gonzalez. "It's very frustrating. On my first run, the tires weren't even up to temperature, and one of my belts came undone. I had to literally hang on when I was turning my fastest lap. After I came in and got the belt refastened, we went back out and it happened a second time. On the third and final stint, when we thought we had had everything straightened out, the red flag came out and ended the session. Tomorrow will be difficult because of the lack of information we have at this point."
Catch the PKV Racing duo of Vasser and Gonzalez tomorrow afternoon on the spectacular 2.795-mile street course in Surfers Paradise, or tune in to Spike TV Sunday, October 24th (4:00 pm ET/PT) for the Lexmark Indy 300, Round 13 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford.