VASSER EARNS PKV RACING'S FIRST POLE DA MATTA QUALIFIES FOURTH MILWAUKEE, WI -- FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2005 -- Round ...
VASSER EARNS PKV RACING'S FIRST POLE
DA MATTA QUALIFIES FOURTH
MILWAUKEE, WI -- FRIDAY, JUNE 3, 2005 -- Round #3 - 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season - Jimmy Vasser earned the first pole in the two plus year history of PKV Racing today when he guided the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car to the top spot in qualifying for tomorrow's Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Teammate Cristiano da Matta qualified the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry fourth thus setting a team record for combined qualifying. This is the second consecutive race both PKV Racing cars have qualified in the top-10 (Vasser started eighth and da Matta ninth in Monterrey, Mexico) and the third time in team history (Vasser qualified second and Roberto Gonzalez 10th last year in Las Vegas).
Vasser, who will be making his 200th consecutive Champ Car start tomorrow, was the dominant driver all day. In morning practice he moved steadily up the speed charges and by the end of the session held the top spot on the practice report with a quick time of 20.987 seconds (177.024 mph). He was the only driver under 21 seconds thus earning him the right to qualify last on the flat one-mile Milwaukee oval.
In qualifying the Gulfstream/PKV Racing car was working so well that Vasser only needed one of his two qualifying laps to take the pole clocking in at 21.081 seconds (176.235 mph).
"It is easy to take a pole when you are flying a Gulfstream," Vasser kidded reporters. "Seriously, it was a fantastic day for the Gulfstream/PKV Racing team. Milwaukee is not a track that you can carry a car on your back. The Gulfstream/PKV Racing car did all the work today, so I have to give all the credit to the team. Technical Director Tom Brown, my engineer Ives Touron and the entire crew did a fantastic job. They gave a great car to qualify. I also want to complement Bridgestone for giving me a fantastic tire and Ford for a great engine. To take a pole everything has to come together and it did for me today," Vasser explained.
Speaking about tomorrow's race Vasser said, "Taking the pole is great, but tomorrow's race is what really counts now. I just hope the car feels as good in the race tomorrow as it did today. It is going to be a very challenging and difficult race because they are so many good drivers, car and teams competing in the Champ Car World Series."
Commenting on the progress that PKV Racing has made this season Vasser said, "I am just happy for the whole PKV Racing team. The team did a great job getting both cars in the first two rows for tomorrow's race. We have been working very hard at PKV Racing to make this team competitive, but it is a lot harder and longer road then most people think. Today does not mean we have arrived yet, but we, Kevin Kalkhoven, Dan Pettit and myself are determined to make it happen - 1 - Today's pole was the ninth in Vasser's 14-year Champ Car career, the fifth on an oval and his first since 2002 in Long Beach. The highly respected native of California, who received congratulations from almost every driver in the paddock, will be making his 221st career Champ Car start and 13th on the Milwaukee Mile tomorrow. Today's pole is his first at Milwaukee (his previous high was second in 1999) and the sixth time he has qualified in the top-10 at Milwaukee in 13 attempts. In 12 previous races on the Milwaukee Mile, Vasser has finished in the top-10 a total of eight times including four top-five showing with one victory (1998).
Vasser, the 1996 Series Champion, is currently 14th in the point standings with 21 points. He qualified 11th at the season opener in Long Beach and finished eighth. In Monterrey, Mexico he started eighth, but finished 14th when a series of incidents forced him from the competition. Vasser has now finished 136 of his last 176 starts and placed in the top-10 in 124 of his 220 career races. The resident of Las Vegas, NV, is the only owner/driver in the series, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.
Da Matta, who spent much of the morning practice working on race setup with full fuel tanks, was fifth on the practice report with a quick lap of 21.208 seconds (175.179 mph). In qualifying he moved to the top of the grid on his first qualifying lap notching a time of 21.261 seconds (174.742 seconds)
"The Bell Micro/PKV Racing car was really good in qualifying and I am happy with a fourth place starting position," da Matta said. "The PKV Racing team had a very good test here in early May, so we expected to come to Milwaukee and run strong. We don't have a lot of practice time here in Milwaukee because it is a two day event, so in this morning's practice I worked on race setup with full tanks and Jimmy (teammate Jimmy Vasser) worked on getting the car up to speed. For qualifying the team just put Jimmy's setup on my car and it worked out very well," he explained. "The PKV Racing team has a very positive attitude and we are looking forward to good results now and in the future," da Matta concluded.
Da Matta, who is contesting a race on an oval for the first time in over two years after spending the last two seasons in Formula 1,will be making his 82nd career Champ Car start and fifth on the Milwaukee Mile. He has now qualified in the top-10 a total of four times in five tries on the Milwaukee Mile. His best starting position is third in 2001 and his best finish is 11th in 1999 and 2002.
The talented Brazilian, who is the 2002 Series Champion, has qualified in the top-10 in all three races this year. He qualified eighth in the season opener in Long Beach, ninth in Monterrey, Mexico to go with the fourth here in Milwaukee. Da Matta has finished in the top-10 in both events this year placing 10th at the season opener in Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey. The resident of Miami, Florida is currently tied for seventh in the championship standings with 30 points. Now in his fifth Champ Car season, da Matta is one of four former champions and one of two Brazilians (Bruno Junqueira) competing this season in Champ Car.
PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Milwaukee. The team's best finish is a fourth by Vasser in 2004. Its best starting position is eighth also by Vasser in 2004.
The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 presented by U. S. Bank on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, WI will be televised live on CBS at 1:00 p.m. (ET).