CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Rocketsports Racing race report

DENVER, Col. (August 15, 2004) -- Rocketsports drivers Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith faced the thrills and challenges of Champ Car racing at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. Another top-ten finish for Tagliani in the No.8 Johnson Controls...

DENVER, Col. (August 15, 2004) -- Rocketsports drivers Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith faced the thrills and challenges of Champ Car racing at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. Another top-ten finish for Tagliani in the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola, secures his hold on fourth position in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford championship battle. Champ Car rookie, Smith tackled the 1.657 mile city circuit making his street course debut, but was forced to retire early when electrical problems froze the No.17 Rocketsports Lola.

Although Tagliani started 11th on the grid, he freed the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola of a tangle early in the 90 lap race and worked his way back to a top-ten finish from the back of the field on the restart.

"It was a stressful start to the race, getting caught in the cluster that caused damage to the front end of the No.8 Johnson Controls car," Tagliani sighed. "Thanks to the guys (Rocketsports crew), who changed the wing within two laps, I stayed in the race, and even on the lead lap. I got pushed to the back of the field and tried to climb ahead in the grid. I got stuck behind people at times, but kept trying to move forward. A stronger finish would've been better, but I'll take the top-ten finish and shoot for better next time."

With the most runs at finish and miles completed, the Rocketsports crew has brought Tagliani to nine successful finishes, including the first win for the sophomore team and three podiums this season. Tagliani is currently fourth in the Champ Car World Series standings with 164 points, and claims 46 top-ten finishes in 86 career starts.

Sportscar veteran and 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours champion, Guy Smith made his second Champ Car start and his first on the Denver street course. Drawing on his extensive experience karting and Formula car racing, Smith quickly adapted to the configuration of the temporary Denver street course and took command of the 750 hp Ford-Cosworth Lola on the challenging street course. In the No.17 Rocketsports Lola, Smith started 16th and finished 18th. While running in 12th spot and maintaining a competitive pace, Smith ran off-course in lap 56. Electrical problems prevented the restart of the No.17 car, forcing Smith to retire prematurely.

"Despite the finish, it was a fair weekend," reflected Smith. "It was my second outing with the Rocketsports crew and a first for me on a Champ Car street course. The No.17 Rocketsports Lola was running well. We went to the same set up as the No. 8 car for the race and I was keeping pace with Alex (Tagliani, No.8 car). I'd flat-spotted the tires at the beginning of the second stint, which caused a lot of vibration in the car. I was pushing to keep up and locked the front tires in turn five. I overshot the corner and couldn't get the car started again once it stalled. I was disappointed not to finish, but gained a lot from the experience, which I'll build on and put to use in Montreal."

Tagliani and Smith return for Round Ten of the Champ Car World Series in Montreal, Canada on Sunday, August 29, 2004. In preparation for the September 25th Champ Car race in Las Vegas, the Rocketsports drivers will test their Ford-powered Lolas at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Wednesday, August 18.

-rsr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Guy Smith , Alex Tagliani