Cleveland, OH (26 June 2005) -- Mi-Jack Conquest Racing drivers Andrew Ranger and Nelson Philippe finished eighth and thirteenth in Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by US Bank after a poorly timed yellow flag prevented the team...
Cleveland, OH (26 June 2005) -- Mi-Jack Conquest Racing drivers Andrew Ranger and Nelson Philippe finished eighth and thirteenth in Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by US Bank after a poorly timed yellow flag prevented the team from showing their full potential. Despite the setback, Ranger was able to recover and finish well enough to take the lead in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings.
Ranger started the race from a career-best fourth on the grid, and emerged from a battle with Alex Tagliani to run in the lead pack in the early stages of the race, moving up to third on lap 26 just before a planned pit stop. Unfortunately, a yellow flag flew for debris on the track and the pits were closed, but Ranger had no choice but to pit as he was nearly out of fuel in his Tide/Mi-Jack machine.
As a penalty, Champ Car officials moved Ranger out of his competitive position and to the back of the field, eliminating his opportunity for another podium finish.
"It was very questionable to me about the yellow flag for debris, and the stewards knew we were nearly out of fuel, so this decision was I think a hard one to accept," said team co-owner Eric Bachelart. "Everybody was very close to the pit window for fuel, so the luck factor was very big, a bit like a lottery, and unfortunately our luck just wasn't good today."
Despite the penalty, Ranger once again put his head down and moved himself back up the order thanks to a fast car, a good pitstop from the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing crew, and some on-track passes. With less than ten laps to go, Ranger again had raced up to third in the order, but after Champ Car officials changed the race distance during the race, he was forced to stop once again for fuel and fell to eighth at the finish.
The race result didn't show how strong the talented rookie ran, but he was happy to leave Cleveland atop the rookie standings and is looking forward to the next race in Toronto.
"The car was fantastic," said Ranger. "At the start, I was fighting for position with Tagliani and that was a lot of fun. But when the first yellow came and I had to come to the pits because I needed fuel, that was terrible for me, because the pits were closed, so I had to restart from the back. I moved up again, but later I was without a radio, so I could not tell the guys that I needed more front wing. Justin passed me at the end, but there was nothing more I could do. The result doesn't show how strong we were this weekend, but we got more points and now I am looking forward to racing in Canada in two weeks."
For Philippe, who ran as high as fifth in the early stages of the race despite nursing an injured ankle, the race was a battle just to get to the finish after suffering contact from another car while fighting for nearly two hours on the bumpy temporary road course.
"That was a tough race, and it was hard on the foot," said Philippe. "I tried not to think about the pain, but it was very difficult. The car was not great for the race, but I was determined to get to the finish. Later in the race, I tried to pass Marshall, but he closed on me and it ripped my wing so I had to pit again. It's not where I wanted to be, but let's move on. Toronto I will be fine and the team did well there last year, we should be fine."
Team co-owner Eric Bachelart has seen his Conquest Racing squad show competitive form this season, and feels that despite the finishing results, the Cleveland event was another demonstration of the team's continued improvement.
"We had a very positive weekend; all together I've been impressed with both drivers," said Bachelart. "Andrew is now leading the rookie standings, which makes the team very happy. He has done some great passes and good moves here in Cleveland. In the other hand, it was a very difficult race for Nelson because of his ankle injury; he did the best he could, he showed a lot of determination and was able to finish the race. We are looking forward to Toronto, and we know a lot of fans and media will be looking for our team."
1991 Indy Lights Champion Eric Bachelart started Conquest Racing in 1997 to compete in the Indy Lights series, scoring a podium finish with driver Christophe Tinseau in the team's first season. Conquest Racing competed in the next four seasons in Indy Lights, winning races with Felipe Giaffone and Kristian Kolby. Mike Lanigan, President of Mi-Jack Products, an intermodal Chicago-based company became a co-owner in 2002. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing contested the 2002 Indy Racing League season with rookie Laurent Redon, netting a podium finish in just the third race of the season and clinching the Rookie of the year award.
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing rejoined the Champ Car family in 2003, stepping up to the Champ Car World Series with Brazilian Mario Haberfeld and scoring eleven top-ten finishes despite competing with a Reynard. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing continued its tradition of working well with young drivers in 2004 as Justin Wilson took second in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year battle, with Nelson Philippe scoring two top-ten finishes after joining the team in the closing stages of the season.