Homestead: Dale Coyne Racing race report

Rookie Mario Moraes Makes an Impressive Debut Saturday Night Homestead, Florida (March 29, 2008) - Results were mixed in Dale Coyne Racing's first official race in the Indy Racing League (IRL) under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway...

Rookie Mario Moraes Makes an Impressive Debut Saturday Night

Homestead, Florida (March 29, 2008) - Results were mixed in Dale Coyne Racing's first official race in the Indy Racing League (IRL) under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday evening.

The positive story of the night was that of 19-year-old Brazilian rookie driver Mario Moraes (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Dallara Honda), who finished 16th in his first IRL race even though he ran the last 150 miles without a fifth and sixth gear.

"We Finished," said a very exhausted Mario Moraes. "We had a problem with the front wing at the start of the race, but were able to fix it. I was then able to move up until halfway into the race when I lost fifth and sixth gears. It was very hard to be able to be competitive when you can only run in fourth gear. I think overall for my first time out that I did a good job. I am already looking forward to next week."

Team owner Dale Coyne, who is beginning his 25th season as an Indy Car owner was very impressed with his rookie's first performance in the IRL series.

"To be able to run 201 mph laps in fourth gear isn't an easy thing to do for most veteran drivers," said Dale Coyne. "For a rookie to do it is amazing. I thought that Mario did an outstanding job to finish the race with the car he had."

Veteran driver Bruno Junqueira's (#18 Z-Line Designs Dallara Honda) luck kept getting worse and worse after the green flag dropped. On lap 40, the 31-year-old Brazilian decided it was best to park the car and retire from the race in 23rd position in order to save the car for next week's race in St. Petersburg, FL.

"The car was very loose tonight which made it too slow on the track," said a very disappointed Bruno Junqueira. "We tried a change on the first pit stop, but the #18 Z-Line Design car was still very loose. I was starting to get in the way of the leaders and in those conditions, it is very easy to wreck the car. Unfortunately, for the first time in my career, I thought it would be best to stop with the car intact and focus on next week's race."

When talking about next week's race on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, FL, Junqueira's mood turned very upbeat.

"I think we will have an advantage over most of the IRL drivers next week since I have raced on road and street courses most of my career," Junqueira said.

-credit: dcr

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Series INDYCAR