CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Rocketsports Racing preview

Tagliani returns for the challenge and thrill of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Long Beach, Cali. April 7, 2003- Following a gratifying third place podium finish for the Rocketsports Team in Monterrey, Alex Tagliani is focused on the...

Tagliani returns for the challenge and thrill of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Long Beach, Cali. April 7, 2003- Following a gratifying third place podium finish for the Rocketsports Team in Monterrey, Alex Tagliani is focused on the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach for round three of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Currently fifth in the series standings with 14 points, Tagliani will take his #33 Johnson Controls Lola to the challenging street course for his eighth consecutive year, four of which were with the Toyota Atlantic Championship Series. Tagliani's best Champ Car finish at the Beach came in 2000, when he qualified 11th and placed fourth.

Tagliani, who finished eighth in the championship standings last season with 111 points, knows the Long Beach circuit well. "One of the best sections on this track is the hairpin," claims Tagliani. "It's not the fastest area, with the most Gs [G-force] but we have to slow down enough for people to get a great look at the cars sneak through the tight turns, and hear them gear down. Then coming through it, preparing to fly down the straight-away is a great feeling."

Those familiar with the Long Beach course know it is demanding as well as picturesque. "Coming around the fountain after turn one is challenging, and I have to push hard to get by it," explains Tagliani, who finished 16th with a DNF here last year. "But after that, driving up the boulevard with a front view of the stands is incredible. Having the fans right in my face is shocking and makes me realize where I am."

Imagining himself in the fan's seat Tagliani says, "Sometimes the best part of a race is not only what is most exciting for me as a driver, but also what I imagine is cool for the spectators. To see the cars racing toward them must be a thrill."

With a look ahead to the April 13th race, Tagliani predicts, "This year's race will be even more exciting without traction control. There will be a lot of wheel spin in some areas and with so many great spots to watch from, people will really enjoy the race."

Tagliani is currently in fifth position in the 2003 Champ Car World Series standings. He qualified and finished third in Monterrey, and stayed among the top five for the entire race. In race one of the season in St. Petersburg he qualified 13th and finished 19th with a DNF due to contact.

The 29th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel with a pre-race show beginning at 3:30 PM (ET).

-rsr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani