BOTH TEAM AUSTRALIA CARS FINISH IN TOP NINE Team Australia had a solid warm-up for next month's Lexmark Indy 300 race on the Gold Coast when Alex Tagliani and Marcus Marshall both finished in the top nine at the Hurricane Relief Champ Car 400...
BOTH TEAM AUSTRALIA CARS FINISH IN TOP NINE
Team Australia had a solid warm-up for next month's Lexmark Indy 300 race on the Gold Coast when Alex Tagliani and Marcus Marshall both finished in the top nine at the Hurricane Relief Champ Car 400 at the Las Vegas Speedway today.
Tagliani finished seventh in his Aussie Vineyards Lola after starting the race with one the most impressive starts in recent Champ Car history.
The talented Canadian went from 13th to third mid-way through the first lap and eventually settled for fourth by the time it was completed.
He then ran in the top five until the dying stages of the race when he did not have the pace to get by the front of his bunch.
Despite his result, Tagliani dropped one place in the points and now sits eighth, but just three points off seventh (AJ Allmendinger), four points off sixth (Jimmy Vasser) and 17 off fifth (Mario Dominguez).
Marshall qualified 10th in his Aussie Vineyards machine and held his spot until lap 16 when he was past by three cars.
He then gradually picked up spots, including one on lap 124 when race leader Paul Tracy was hit from behind by series leader Sebastian Bourdais and ended up in the turn-three wall.
That produced 15 laps of yellow where Marshall managed to pick up another couple of spots with a strong stop and with AJ Allmendinger stopped on track out of fuel.
Marshall, who is from Queensland's Gold Coast, past Justin Wilson on lap 151 for ninth, but just could not close the gap on the next bunch of cars over the last 14 laps.
His second top-top 10 of the season helped him jump one spot in the championship to 15th -- one point ahead of Nelson Philippe, who finished 16th today.
Bourdais took the race from team-mate Oriol Servia and Las Vegas resident Jimmy Vasser.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--..
ALEX TAGLIANI - #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA
"I knew my whole race rested on the start," said Tagliani. "My car was like it had been fired out of a sling shot at the start. I had past three or four cars by the first turn and I just kept on the gas and just kept passing cars.
"At the end I let the guys behind me get too close and I lost a couple of spots.
"Overall I am pretty excited for the team and to be heading towards Australia for the Gold Coast race with the form we have. The team is just getting better and better.
"We have a few weaknesses, but without those you cannot find your way forward.
"I think we can improve even more in the closing events of the season and that we can make some real progress over the off-season."
MARCUS MARSHALL - #5 TEAM AUSTRALIA AUSSIE VINEYARDS LOLA
"I have to thank everyone at Team Australia for helping me into this position today," said Marshall.
"I had a pretty fast car from the opening session and we worked on things through the race to finish with a top-nine finish.
"At the start I was a little too cautious and cars blew by me.
"That was just one of the things I learnt through the race, it was like I learnt something every lap.
"I had a great car towards the end of the race, but I had give the pack in front of me bit too much of a gap and I just couldn't get to them which was disappointing."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER
"To have two cars in the top nine and two straight cars at that, is always a good result at a fast speedway like this," said Walker.
"Alex had me a little nervous with his start, but he pulled it off and that set up his race.
"We really battled with Alex's car all weekend and we made plenty of changes after the warm-up which he had to trust were in the right direction.
"Marcus was consistent and did a good job for his first time at a Super Speedway.
"We still have a gap to bridge to the front few cars, but we are chipping away at it and to have a result like this at only our second oval race with a Lola is pleasing."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER
"Overall we had a very solid weekend," said Gore. "The team faced plenty of challenges and Derrick and boys worked through them and we finished with two cars in the top nine.
"Alex's start was amazing and Marcus did a good job to bring the car home in ninth.
"We are also leaving Las Vegas without any green and gold paint left on the walls, which helps everyone with the close of the season looming on us.
"I can smell a good result on the streets of the Gold Coast and I hope everyone jumps on board for the ride."