CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca: Rocketsports Racing preview

Rocketsports Champ Cars Set for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Rocketsports Drivers, Smith and Tagliani Set for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2004) --...

Rocketsports Champ Cars Set for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca

Rocketsports Drivers, Smith and Tagliani Set for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2004) -- While Champ Car drivers Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith have had very different experiences on the 2.2 mile Laguna Seca road course, the Rocketsports duo will approach the 80 lap Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey with similar determination and vigor.

An accomplished sportscar racer, Smith returns to the famed Monterrey road course to make his fourth Champ Car start in the No.17 Rocketsports Lola, and will stand on his past success and knowledge of the circuit to ensure a good weekend. "Laguna Seca has been quite good to me in the past and I'm certainly looking forward to returning; this time in a Champ Car with Rocketsports," claims Smith. "I was there with the Indy Lights Series in 1998 and 1999, when I had the Pole and finished second.

"The last time I raced at Laguna was with ALMS in 2000 and finished fifth. I've really enjoyed it in the past, and know the circuit well. From a driver's perspective, it's a pleasure and a challenge to drive, especially the famous Corkscrew. Monterey, California is also a gorgeous area; a 'must-see' and a great place to be for a race.

"I've settled in at Rocketsports and things are working well for us as a team. We've had some bad mechanical luck with the car, but if all goes well, we should have a good race," added Smith, who will tap into some special luck on race day. Born in Yorkshire, England in 1975, Smith will celebrate his 29th birthday on Sunday.

Currently fourth in the Champ Car World Series standings, Tagliani enters Round Eleven at Laguna Seca with added resolve to maintain or better his points position. Working closely with lead engineer, Brian Ma, and motivated by the strength of his sophomore team, which has done well on road courses, (first win this year at Road America), Tagliani hopes to steer the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola to another strong finish.

"The Johnson Controls team has been more competitive and consistent this season. We're heading into the Laguna Seca race with a strong position in the Champ Car standings, and it's important for us to stay focused in order to stay ahead. We've managed some strong finishes this year and I'm confident we can pull off another positive result.

"The Laguna circuit is one of the most demanding, and was tough for us last season, but we've come along way in a year and a half," reasoned Tagliani. "I've developed as a driver and we're at a point where we're putting what we've learned into practice. I'm optimistic about the weekend and up to the challenge."

Watch Smith and Tagliani challenge the full field of Champ Cars in the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday September 12, 2004 at 4:00 PM (ET) on Spike TV.

-rsr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Guy Smith