BREMER TURNS WEEKEND AROUND, SECURES TOP ROOKIE, TOP TEN FINISH Despite a weekend full of challenges, Rookie Ronnie Bremer gave a strong showing at the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225, improving eight positions, he led 10 laps, made three...
BREMER TURNS WEEKEND AROUND, SECURES TOP ROOKIE, TOP TEN FINISH
Despite a weekend full of challenges, Rookie Ronnie Bremer gave a strong showing at the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225, improving eight positions, he led 10 laps, made three perfect pitstops and finished his first oval race in a Champ Car at the top of the very talented Rookie class. Bremer tested at The Milwaukee Mile last month with his HVM Racing crew and while it was successful in terms of speed, Bremer made contact with the turn three wall at the end of the first test day, cutting the scheduled two-day outing short. Yesterday during practice, Bremer brushed the wall again, causing minor damage to his #55 Champ Car, but perhaps more importantly it left him toward the bottom of the time sheets, which determined the qualifying order. Champ Car qualifying took place immediately after the ARCA practice, which wreaked havoc on the track conditions. Very disappointed with his 16th place effort, Bremer admitted he was not sure what had happened to the speed found in testing and that he had lost some confidence driving on the tricky one-mile oval. Preparing for a better day today, Bremer spent the morning warm-up preparing for the race and getting comfortable with his race set-up. All seemed to go well until the Dane returned to the paddock with an oil leak. The 55 crew worked feverishly to determine the problem and fix it during the short layover between warm-up and the race. They were successful and Bremer reward his team with his second top-ten finish in just his third Champ Car race.
Bjorn Wirdheim added something new to his bio this weekend; he completed the first oval event of his career and impressed several along the way as he ran in the top-ten throughout the weekend. Ever the scholar, Wirdheim maximized his time on and off the track by studying the strategy of an oval race and running smoothly and consistently at more than 170 mph. After a successful morning practice on Friday, Wirdheim qualified eighth and became the first of the qualifiers to match his speed from the morning session. A job well done as he out-qualified several Champ Car "Veterans" and became the top-Rookie qualifier. The morning warm-up gave the Swede another opportunity to train in traffic and his crew the opportunity to practice their pit stops before the 225-mile race, a successful effort on both accounts. As the Champ Cars roared past the green flag signaling the start of the race, Wirdheim settled in to a very competitive race pace, often setting lap times as quick as and sometimes quicker that the race leader. By the first pit stop of the race, Wirdheim was up to the fifth position when a malfunction in the pits cost him a few positions on his first stop. A combination of strategy by his team and concise driving by the Rookie allowed him to earn a few positions before the next stop. The second and third stops were flawless by the HVM crew and with just 47 laps to go Wirdheim was running comfortably in the seventh position and chasing the pole sitter, Jimmy Vasser for sixth. Unfortunately the quest for his second consecutive top-ten finish vanished as Wirdheim brushed the wall at the exit of turn four, which bent his rear-suspension and ended his day prematurely. While the scorecards show Wirdheim's day producing a 15th place finish, they are hardly representative of the maturity that was shown on the track by Wirdheim throughout his oval debut this weekend.
BJORN WIRDHEIM, #4 HVM/Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone
Bjorn on the Race:"I think it was a positive experience at the end of the day. We ran the same lap times as the leader and we were closing in on Jimmy who was in front of me. The team did a fantastic job preparing a great car. It was great experience as I was overtaking cars and had a good rhythm going. Unfortunately as I was lapping traffic I came into dirty air and I lost all grip. I let off and went wide and got into the marbles and brushed the wall. I bent the rear suspension so I had to come in and our day was done. It was a shame it ended the way it did but at least I know what to expect next time we race here and I am going to be prepared for Las Vegas."
RONNIE BREMER, #55 HVM/Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone
Ronnie on the Race:"Big thanks to the team who supported my through the race and race weekend. It was a good experience. We had a really tough weekend going, and we salvaged a decent result and I built up my confidence. My Bridgestone tires were great, very reliable. To finish eighth and the top Rookie was decent, but of course I wanted more."
Keith Wiggins, Team Owner:"I was happy for Bjorn because he was really on pace and doing a great job for his first oval race. If he hadn't tapped the wall, it would have been a great result, but that's ok for his first race. I am happy for Ronnie that he finished eighth after a very difficult weekend."