CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: PKV Racing race report




MILWAUKEE, WI -- SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 2005 -- Round #3 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- Jimmy Vasser recorded his first top-five finish of the young 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season today with a fifth place showing at the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Vasser, who earned the first pole position in the two plus year history of PKV Racing, battled throughout the contest and notched the team's first top-five finish of the season. Teammate Cristiano da Matta, who qualified fourth, also had a hard fought race, but finished outside the top-10 for the first time this year placing 11th.

Vasser guided the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine through a series of pitch battles beginning with the drop of the green flag. He dueled first with Paul Tracy through the early laps of the race and then a succession of the other drivers as he fought a car that developed handling problems. The Gulfstream/PKV Racing crew chipped in by making numerous changes during their three pitstops eventually getting the car to a point where Vasser could both defend his position, and in some cases attack.

"Paul Tracy was in a different world today," Vasser began. "We had a good race going at the start, but he is the king of the restarts and I just didn't want to get into it with him that early in the race so I backed off," he noted. "I am really proud of the Gulfstream/PKV Racing team. They worked very hard getting the car ready for qualifying and the race. We fought hard all race, but I struggled with a loose car especially when I was in traffic. It was a little warmer today than we expected and I had a setup that was better suited to a little cooler weather. We just missed by a little getting the right amount of downforce for the conditions," Vasser explained. "A fifth place finish in this race is okay, but it is not what we wanted. The PKV Racing has very high expectations and we just have to keep working hard. The results will take care of themselves if we do that," he concluded.

Vasser , who is in his 14th season of Champ Car competition, made his 221st career Champ Car start, 200th consecutive start (an ongoing Champ Car record) and 13th on the Milwaukee Mile today.

The fifth place finish was the ninth time in 13 races on the Milwaukee Mile that Vasser has placed in the top-10 and the fifth time he has finished in the top-five. His best finish here is a victory in (1998).

The pole for was Vasser's ninth career Champ Car pole, fifth on an oval, first since 2002 at Long Beach and first at Milwaukee.

The 39-year-old native of California has finished in the top-10 in two of the three races this season placing ninth in the season opener at Long Beach and 14th at Monterrey, Mexico to go with today's fifth place finish. The 1996 Series Champion is currently eighth in the championship standings with 44 points. Vasser has now finished 137 of his last 177 starts and placed in the top-10 in 125 of his 221 career races including 63 top-five showings. 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 experienced the same handling problems that plagued Vasser, but to a greater degree. He began to slip back through the field from the green flag, but used every ounce of his formidable skill plus got some outstanding pit work from his Bell Micro/PKV Racing crew, to salvage some valuable points.

"The Bell Micro/PKV Racing car was very loose in the race," da Matta said. "I really think the problem has something to do with the pitch of the car. The balance shifts too much," he noted. "In qualifying the car is very good, but I knew it was going to be difficult in the race. I just didn't expect it to be this difficult. I though my qualifying spot would be higher than my finishing spot, but I though I had a top-six car. It is just that the competition in Champ Car is very tight and I fell back farther than I thought I would," da Matta explained. "The PKV Racing team has made a lot of progress in a very short time, but we still have a lot of work to do," he concluded.

Da Matta, who was contesting a race on an oval for the first time in over two years after spending the last two seasons in Formula 1, made his 82nd career Champ Car start and fifth on the Milwaukee Mile. The 11th place finish ties his best showing on the Milwaukee Mile, which he has now done three times (1999 and 2002).

The personable Brazilian has finished in the top-10 in two of the three races this year placing 10th at the season opener in Long Beach and sixth in Monterrey. He has qualified in the top-10 in all three races this year starting eighth in the season opener in Long Beach, ninth in Monterrey, Mexico and fourth here in Milwaukee. Da Matta, who is in his fifth Champ Car season, is currently 11th in the championship standings with 40 points. The resident of Miami, Florida, who the 2002 Series Champion, is one of four former champions and one of two Brazilians (Bruno Junqueira) competing this season in Champ Car.

PKV Racing made its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race in Milwaukee today. The team's best finish is a fourth by Vasser in 2004. Its best starting position is Vasser's pole this year.

Next up for PKV Racing will be the G. I. Joe's presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon, June 17-19. The race will be televised live on CBS at 3:30 p.m. (ET).


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Cristiano da Matta