Turn Four Proves Costly For Gonzalez; Vasser Qualifies Ninth for Bridgestone GP of Monterey MONTEREY, Calif. (September 11, 2004) -- Roberto Gonzalez' ( ...
Turn Four Proves Costly For Gonzalez; Vasser Qualifies Ninth for Bridgestone GP of Monterey
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 11, 2004) -- Roberto Gonzalez' (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) qualifying session was over before it started today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca after the rookie pilot lost control in the pre-qualifying practice session and backed into the Turn 4 tire wall, leaving him 18th on the grid for tomorrow's 80-lap Champ Car event in picturesque Monterey, Calif. Teammate Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) qualified ninth overall in what will be his 13th trip to the 2.238-mile venue he calls home, as the 1997 Laguna winner posted a best time of 1:09.967 (115.151 mph).
In 12 career Monterey appearances, Vasser has recorded eight top-10s and four top-fives. When the green flag falls tomorrow at 1:00 pm PT, he'll need that valuable experience as he looks to make a charge to the front on the track he knows better than anyone else in the 18-car field.
"Qualifying ninth is a little bit disappointing, obviously," said Vasser. "You're looking at a very small margin from first on back -- about seventh tenths or so covers the frontrunners. But we're right there with them, it's just that we're on the tail end of the lead pack. The alternate tires proved to be better than what we ran on yesterday, and we'll be looking to move up in the race tomorrow."
Gonzalez did not post a time in the final qualifying session due to his aforementioned off in the warm-up. The PKV crew will be hard at work this evening repairing moderate right rear damage to the 750hp Lola, in order to breath new life into the machine that must start the race from 18th spot on the grid.
"I just lost the rear end -- it's pretty simple," said Gonzalez. "I was going into Turn 4 and the back end came out and that was it. My guys made some changes that we thought would help us in the session. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see if those changes would have worked. I'm just really disappointed that it happened right before qualifying."
Watch the PKV Racing duo of Vasser and Gonzalez tomorrow afternoon on Spike TV or HDNet (4:00 pm ET/PT) as they compete in Champ Car's 22nd consecutive trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for Round 11 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford.