CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca: Rocketsports Racing Saturday report

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 11, 2004) -- Champ Car drivers, Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith today completed the final qualifying session for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Tagliani, in the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola, will start from sixth ...

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 11, 2004) -- Champ Car drivers, Alex Tagliani and Guy Smith today completed the final qualifying session for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Tagliani, in the No.8 Johnson Controls Lola, will start from sixth position on the grid, while Smith in the No.17 Rocketsports Lola qualified in 14th spot.

Tagliani, who currently ranks fourth in the Champ Car World Series standings with 181 points, will make his start from the third row after posting a time of 1:09.790 (115.443 mph, 185.788 km/h). The sixth spot start is Tagliani's best on the Laguna circuit, and the 88th of his Champ Car career.

"Qualifying for the Grand Prix of Monterey has been a good challenge. Everyone's really on the ball and running well. The competition is really tight. We've improved the performance of the car since yesterday and are only three tenths from the pole. We'll do some minor tweaking to be ready for the race, but the No. 8 Johnson Controls car is running great and has the potential to make the podium. With some good strategy and good luck we'll get close to it.

Making his fourth Champ Car start, Guy Smith will start from 14th position on the grid after posting a time of 1:10.949 (113.558 mph, 182.753 km/h). Reflecting on the consistent development of the No.17 Rocketsports car and team, Smith reported, "I'm happy with the progress we've made as a team and with the car over the weekend. It's been a challenge for us to come in with a new engineer and find the right set up, but we're definitely heading in the right direction. We made some conservative changes to the front end and picked up a lot of time. We could have gone for more, but that's all a part of the learning curve. I certainly feel more confident and competitive in the No. 17 Rocketsports car. We have a good race setup and are making progress with all the many variables.

"That's a reflection really of how competitive the series is too, that with diligence and concentration a team can make significant improvements in a short time. For instance, Justin (Wilson) has been having a strong season and was ahead of me on the grid last race, but will start behind me tomorrow. It's exciting to face new challenges and different scenarios each race," added Smith, commending the level of competition in the Champ Car World Series.

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 , Alex Tagliani