This Week in Ford Racing April 1, 2003 CART Champ Car World Series FORD-COSWORTH PREPARES FOR LONG BEACH - The 2003 season marks the 20th running of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. This race is considered by many to be the signature race on the...
This Week in Ford Racing
April 1, 2003
CART Champ Car World Series
FORD-COSWORTH PREPARES FOR LONG BEACH - The 2003 season marks the 20th running of the Grand Prix of Long Beach. This race is considered by many to be the signature race on the Champ Car circuit. The last time a Ford-Cosworth powered entry sat atop the podium in Long Beach was 17 years ago when Michael Andretti led the field to the checkered flag. Last year Ford-Cosworth took home three of the top five spots, including Jimmy Vasser's second-place finish. Ford-Cosworth drivers Max Papis and Michel Jourdain, Jr., finished third and fifth, respectively. Vasser's qualifying effort last year gave Ford-Cosworth its first pole since 1998.
TRACKING THE ROOKIES - Sebastien Bourdais claimed his second pole in as many races in Monterrey posting a track record time of 1 minute, 14.938 seconds (101.076 miles per hour). The featmarks only the second time in series history that a driver has won the pole in his first two series starts, matching the feat accomplished by Nigel Mansell in his rookie year of 1993. The pole duplicates his effort from the season opener at St. Petersburg where the reigning FIA F3000 champion won the pole and led the first 30 laps. The new track record breaks the standard set two years ago in the inaugural Monterrey event of 1:15.244 (100.665 mph) set by Kenny Brack. However, Bourdais completed only 40 laps on the day and finished in 17th place. Darren Manning was the top rookie, posting a seventh-place finish, while Mario Haberfeld continues to lead all rookies in championship points with 12, doubling that of his next closest rookie competitor Manning. Adding to the new faces on the Champ Car grid was newcomer Alex Yoong. Yoong replaced Roberto Gonzalez in the #11 Dale Coyne entry. Yoong is a former Formula-1 driver with no Champ Car experience. The 26-year-old from Malaysia qualified 17th and finished ninth in his first Champ Car effort.
FORD-COSWORTH DRIVERS TO WATCH -
Paul Tracy - Became the first driver to win the first two races of the season since Rick Mears won at Phoenix and Atlanta in 1982, in a year that Mears would go on to win the season championship. Tracy has now led in three consecutive races dating back to last season, marking the first time that he has led in three straight events since the 2000 season. Tracy has driven to victory twice at the Long Beach circuit, 1993 and 2000, and started from the pole in 1994.
Bruno Junqueira - Currently third in championship points with 24, Junqueira has a third- and a fifth-place finish in two efforts this season. In his third season as a Champ Car regular, Junqueira jumps into the #1 Newman/Haas Ford formerly occupied by 2002 champion Cristiano da Matta. He has three career Champ Car wins, including two last season, to go along with five podium finishes. The Brazil native was the only drive in 2002 to win poles and races on both road and oval courses.
Mario Haberfeld (R) - Currently leads all rookies in points with 12. Haberfeld comes to the Champ Car World Series after three years in FIA F3000 Series. Finished fourth in his first race at St. Petersburg and finished a disappointing 16th in Monterrey after contact ended his day.
SPARK PLUGS - Paul Tracy's victory in Monterrey was his 21st career Champ Car win ... Tracy is the active leader in Champ Car victories ... Jimmy Vasser returns to Long Beach as the highest finisher from 2002 when he finished second after starting from the pole ... Vasser has one career victory on the Long Beach street course, it came during his 1986 championship campaign.