CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING SEEKS SOLID PERFORMANCE ON CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER TEMPORARY STREET CIRCUIT INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - AUGUST 9, 2005 - - PKV Racing, which has shown steady improvement with their temporary street circuit setup since ...

PKV RACING SEEKS SOLID PERFORMANCE ON CENTRIX FINANCIAL GRAND PRIX OF DENVER TEMPORARY STREET CIRCUIT

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - AUGUST 9, 2005 - - PKV Racing, which has shown steady improvement with their temporary street circuit setup since the beginning of the season, will be looking for a solid performance this weekend at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare, August 12-14, on the street circuit around the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

The team, which opened the season with an 11th place qualifying position and ninth place finish by Jimmy Vasser and an eighth place starting spot and 10th place showing for Cristiano da Matta at the Long Beach Grand Prix, has seen their development and testing efforts rewarded with more competitive qualifying and race performances at recent street events. Vasser has scored three of his five top-10 showings on temporary street courses including a season high fourth place finish in Toronto. Meanwhile da Matta has earned two of his top-three starting positions at street contests qualifying a season best second in Cleveland and fifth in Edmonton. While still not "where they want to be" on the street circuits, PKV Racing has made progress and with a successful test last week on the California Speedway road course more improvement is anticipated beginning in Denver.

Vasser, who is behind the wheel of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry, has had a very consistent season to date. He has finished in the top-10 in five of the eight races this year with two top-five showings, the season high fourth in Toronto and a fifth in Milwaukee. In the last two events at Edmonton and San Jose, Vasser has shown the grit, determination and professionalism that has made him a champion and a fan favorite. In Edmonton, Vasser had to overcome an off-course excursion which dropped him from seventh to 16th before battling back to finish 11th. At San Jose, the talented California, who grew up in nearby Morgan Hills fought through several mechanical failures on the brutal downtown street circuit to again score valuable championship points with another 11th place showing. Vasser has qualified well this season starting in the top-10 in seven consecutive races and seven of the eight events this year including capturing the first pole in PKV Racing's history, at Milwaukee. He is fifth in laps completed with 784 (out of a total of 841) and eighth in laps led with 27. The 1996 Series Champion is currently tied for sixth in the championship standings with 125 points.

"The last couple of races, particularly San Jose, have been tough," Vasser began. "In San Jose, the track was hard on the cars and it was, basically, a home race for both the team and me. That meant we had a lot of things that we needed to do away from the track," he explained. While I really enjoyed racing in San Jose, and very much appreciated the support of all the fans, I am looking forward to going to Denver and focusing on having a good result," Vasser said.

This will be Vasser's fourth race in Denver. In three previous events his best qualifying position is 11th, in 2002 and his best finish is 10th also in 2002.

Commenting on the Denver race Vasser said, "The promoters at Denver have done a great job with the race. The circuit has really improved over the last couple of years and is now one of the best we race on. There is more passing, so the racing is better and, certainly, attendance is way up. I haven't had a lot of success in Denver, but the PKV Racing team has been developing our street circuit setup, so this weekend will be a good gauge of the progress we are making."

Now in his 14th Champ Car season, Vasser will be making his 227th career and record 206th consecutive Champ Car start this weekend. He has finished 141 of his last 182 races and placed in the top-10 in 128 of his 226 events including 64 top-five showings. The resident of Las Vegas, NV is one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series. He is the only owner/driver in the series.

Da Matta, who pilots the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone machine, has fallen on some hard luck the last four events. The 31-year-old Brazilian opened the season with three top-10 finishes in the first four races including the first win in the two plus year his of PKV Racing. However, in the last four events da Matta has had a couple of strange incidents with rookies, a mechanical failure and been the victim of the treacherous Turn #4 wall in San Jose. In Cleveland, he was leading the race, while at Toronto he was solidly in the top-10 when he respectively, hit a rookie that made an unexpected move than was hit by a rookie that made an unexpected move. At Edmonton, da Matta was running in sixth place when he experienced the mechanical failure. He was also running in sixth in San Jose when he made contact with the wall in Turn #4, which had claimed several other competitors, although he still managed to finish 10th. Da Matta has placed in the top-10 in four of the eight races contested this year and qualified in the top-10 in seven of the eight events missing out only in San Jose. His best starting position is the second in Cleveland followed by a fourth in Milwaukee and a fifth in Edmonton. The 2002 Series Champion, who is third in laps led with 59, currently sits 10th in the championship standings with 99 points.

Da Matta, who spent the last two season's competing in Formula 1, will be making only his second start in Denver. In his only previous race in the Mile High City, at the inaugural event in 2002, he qualified seventh and finished third.

"The PKV Racing team just finished a test in Fontana and I think we have found a few things that will help improve our street circuit setup," da Matta said. "We have been fast on some tracks, but on the street circuits we are still developing the cars, so I am looking forward to seeing how much we have improved," he noted.

Commenting on the Denver event, da Matta said, "I only raced at Denver the first year, in 2002, and finished third. The track was very bumpy that first year. From what I have heard from the other drivers they have done a very good job of smoothing out the bumps and I hear that the big corner at the end of the back straight away is much tighter, which means it will be a good passing area. I am looking forward to going to Denver and trying to get the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team back on the podium."

Da Matta, who is competing in his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 88th career Champ Car start this weekend. The resident of Miami, FL is one of four former champions and three Brazilians competing in the series.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Denver. In three previous starts (two races) the team has a best qualifying position of 12th by Vasser in 2004. The team's best finish is 12th by Roberto Gonzalez also last year.

The Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare, August 12-14, will be televised live on SPEED Channel beginning at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

-pkv-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Gonzalez , Cristiano da Matta