CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING LOOKING TO MOVE UP IN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AT CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 23, 2005 - - PKV Racing will be looking to move up in the championship standings this weekend at the Champ Car Grand...

PKV RACING LOOKING TO MOVE UP IN CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AT CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 23, 2005 - - PKV Racing will be looking to move up in the championship standings this weekend at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U. S. Bank, June 24-26, on the Burke Lakefront Airport temporary street circuit in Cleveland, OH.

Coming off Cristiano da Matta's win in Portland last weekend, the first victory in the two plus year history of the team, plus the second consecutive top-six finish by Jimmy Vasser, PKV Racing is gaining momentum with each race and is steadily moving up in the standings.

In addition to the win in Portland, da Matta and Vasser have established a number of other team records in the first four races of the 2005 Bridgestone Presnets The Champ Car World Series season. Vasser earned PKV Racing's first pole in round #3 at Milwaukee plus the two drivers have combined to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They have both also qualified in the top-10 in three consecutive races for the first time in team history. Da Matta and Vasser have finished in the top-10 in the same twice (eighth and 10th at Long Beach and first and sixth at Portland) this year and at least one of them has placed in the top-six in each of the last three races.

Da Matta, who spent the last two years competing in Formula 1, has quickly re-adjusted to Champ Car racing. The 2002 Series Champion has piloted the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone car to top-10 qualifying positions in all four races this year including a season high fourth in Milwaukee. He has finished in the top-10 in three of the four contests including the victory in Portland (10th at Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey, Mexico). Da Matta just barely missed making it four for four when he placed 11th at Milwaukee. He is currently fifth in the championship standings with 73 points.

"Obviously, coming off the win in Portland I am very excited about going to Cleveland," da Matta said. "After such a good result the whole PKV Racing team has a boost of confidence that the hard work we have been doing is the right thing. For me and the team it is so good when you know that the work you are doing is taking you in the right direction," he explained.

Da Matta, who is contesting his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 84th career start and fifth at Burke Lakefront Airport this weekend. In four previous races in Cleveland the 31-year-old Brazilian has qualified in the top-10 twice including one pole (2002) and finished in the top-10 twice with a best showing of third in 2000. The resident of Miami, Fl, has is one of four former champions and, with the injury to Bruno Junqueira, the only Brazilian competing in Champ Car this season.

"Of all the tracks I have raced on Cleveland is one of my top-three favorites in the whole world," da

Matta noted. I just wish we could race there at least twice a year. Cleveland is a different kind of track and different to race on. The track is bumpy, especially on the straightaway and the corners are very fast and flowing. You have a lot of different lines you can take, but you can get into a nice driving rhythm. It is a track that getting the setup right is a big challenge. It is also a track that you can pass on so it is exciting for both the drivers and the fans," he explained. "I am looking forward to the race in Cleveland. PKV Racing is very confident and I expect to do well," da Matta concluded.

Vasser has driven the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine to three top-10 starting positions including the pole in Milwaukee. He has finished in the top-10 in three of the four events with a season best showing of fifth also in Milwaukee (ninth in Long Beach and sixth in Portland). He placed 14th in Monterrey where he appeared to have a magnet attached to his car considering all number of people he cam in contact with. The 1996 Series Champion is currently eighth in the championship race with 63 points.

Vasser, who is competing in his 14th Champ Car season, will be making his 223rd career, record 202nd consecutive and 13th start in Cleveland this weekend. In 13 previous races at Burke Lakefront Airport he has qualified in the top-10 a total of five times including poles in 1996 and 1998. The 39-year-old Californian has finished in the top-10 seven times, including three top-five performances with a best showing of third in 1995. Vasser has finished 138 of his last 178 starts and placed in the top-10 in 126 of his 222 races including 63 top-five showings. The resident of Las Vegas, NV, is the only owner/driver in the series, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

"Cleveland is always a fantastic race," Vasser began. "The track is bumpy which also makes it challenging from the driver point of view, but there are some really good corners for passing and that makes for an exciting race," he noted. "The PKV Racing team has a lot of confidence right now after the win in Portland and we are looking forward to the Cleveland race. We know we still have a lot of work to do if we are going to contend for the championship, but I feel that we are headed in the right direction. The good thing is that we have back to back races so, hopefully, we can build on the momentum we have from Portland," Vasser concluded.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race at Burke Lakefront Airport. In three previous starts (two races) the team has qualified in the top-10 once when Vasser started 10th in 2004. They have finished in the top-10 twice as Vasser placed fifth and Roberto Gonzalez seventh also last year.

The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U. S. Bank, June 24-26, at Burke Lakefront Airport be televised live on CBS at 1:30 p.m. (ET).

Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing enters its third season of competition during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. PKV Racing is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven, who also co-owns the Champ Car World Series, and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser. The team is managed by the most successful Manager/Chief Mechanic in USAC/CART/Champ Car history, Jim McGee, who has amassed 90 victories and nine national championships.

For more information please visit: www.pkvracing.com or www.gulfstream.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Gonzalez , Kevin Kalkhoven , Cristiano da Matta