CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Ford Racing preview

Monterrey Grand Prix - Monterrey, Mexico WHEN: May 21-23, 2004 TRACK LAYOUT: 2.104-mile permanent road course RACE DISTANCE: 72 laps (151.488 miles). TELEVISION COVERAGE (ET): Spike; HDNet - 4:00pm (LIVE) DEFENDING RACE CHAMPION: Paul ...

Monterrey Grand Prix - Monterrey, Mexico

WHEN: May 21-23, 2004
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.104-mile permanent road course
RACE DISTANCE: 72 laps (151.488 miles).
DEFENDING POLESITTER: Sebastian Bourdais. (1:14.938 seconds; 101.076 mph)
QUALIFYING RECORD: Gil de Ferran - 2000 (1:07.494 seconds; 104.969 mph)

CHAMP CAR TRAVELS TO MEXICO - The 2004 Champ Car World Series travels abroad this weekend for the fourth running of the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix on the temporary road course at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. Paul Tracy, who captured the first race of the season on the streets of Long Beach back on April 18th, looks to continue his recent dominance south of the border where he won twice last season in both Monterrey and Mexico City.

CHAMP CAR DRIVERS RETURN HOME - Four drivers on the starting grid in Monterrey will be racing in front of their home fans - Mario Dominguez (Mexico City), Roberto Gonzalez (Mante), Michel Jourdain, Jr. (Mexico City) and Rodolfo Lavin (San Luis Potosi). Gonzalez will turn his first laps on the 2.1-mile road course in a Champ Car, while third-year driver, Dominguez looks to improve on his 13th place finish from a year ago. Champ Car veteran Michel Jourdain delighted the fans with a podium finish last season in his fourth Monterrey start, while Lavin looks to improve on the 15th-place finish he scored last year as a rookie.

CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE - Despite Paul Tracy's dominant win in the season-opening race in Long Beach, the 2004 Champ Car season promises to be a competitive one with several drivers expected to vie for the coveted Vanderbilt Cup awarded annually to the series' champion. Eight of the top 10 finishers from last season's championship standings return to help form a grid that includes former Champ Car champions Paul Tracy (2003) and Jimmy Vasser (1996), as well as 2003 top-five finishers Bruno Junqueira, Michel Jourdain, Jr., Sebastien Bourdais and Patrick Carpentier.

"PUSH-TO-PASS" FUNCTION - This weekend's race in Monterrey will feature the "push-to-pass" function designed to promote passing on the track. The push to pass mechanism temporarily increases the engine's boost to provide the driver with an additional 50 horsepower at the press of a button, potentially helping the driver make a pass in a tight situation. Each driver will have up to 60 seconds of increased boost pressure for races on both road and street courses throughout the 2004 Champ Car season. Long Beach Grand Prix winner Paul Tracy indicated in his post-race comments that he used the push-to-pass function to make the daring pass he pulled on polesitter Bruno Junqueira in the first corner of the race, which directly lead to his victory.

FORD-COSWORTH XFE DELIVERS POWER AND RELIABILITY - Last season marked the debut of the Ford-Cosworth XFE, a modified version of the race- and championship-winning XF engine that competed in Champ Car between 2000 and 2002. Tuned to produce between 700 and 750 horsepower depending on track configuration, the XFE set the standard as perhaps the ideal combination of horsepower and reliability in a race engine. Consider that in over 180,000 miles run by the XFE in 2003 during tests, practice, qualifying and 342 race starts there were only five actual engine failures, with only one happening during a race.

NATIONS CUP UP FOR GRABS - The Nation's Cup, awarded annually to the group of drivers from the nation that collectively scores the most points in a season, will be up for grabs in 2004 with drivers from Mexico, Brazil, Canada, France, England and the United States vying for top honors. Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy combined to score 298 to break Brazil's four-year reign and clinch the Nation's Cup for Canada in 2003. Mario Dominguez, Michel Jourdain, Jr. and Rodolfo Lavin helped Mexico to a close second place finish behind Canada, and along with newcomer Roberto Gonzalez, they will present a formidable challenge this year. With one race into 2004, Canada leads the Nation's Cup with 32 points. Brazil is in second with 28, and France sits third with 25 points. USA, represented by Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jimmy Vassar and rookie AJ Allmendinger are in sixth place with 17 points.

NEW FACES - Five rookies will take the green flag at the Monterrey Grand Prix, Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger, Nelson Philippe, Roberto Gonzalez and Alex Sperafico. Justin Wilson drove for the Jaguar Formula 1 team in 2003 and leads the Rookie of the Year standings after Long Beach. Fellow rookie, AJ Allmendinger was the 2003 Toyota Atlantic Champion, a Champ Car ladder series, and drives for the new RuSport team. Nelson Phillippe became the youngest-ever driver to start a Champ Car race at Long Beach. Home country favorite Roberto Gonzalez scored a top-10 finish at last years Mexico City race and will make his first laps on the at Fundidora Park circuit. Alex Sperafico will make his third career Champ Car start this weekend in Monterrey following a stint in the FIA International F3000 series with European Minardi

"YEAR OF THE CAR" - The new Ford Freestyle and Mustang are just two of the five new vehicles set to enter Ford's US showrooms during 2004. Joining them are the all-new Ford GT supercar, the new 2005 US-model Ford Focus and the all-new Ford Five Hundred sedan. These innovative new products are cornerstones of Ford's US "Year of the Car" in 2004 as Ford dealers will replace more than 60 percent of their total volume with all new models by the end of the year.

SPARK PLUGS - Paul Tracy's victory at Long Beach was his 27th career Champ Car win ...Long Beach was the site of Tracy's first win on April 18, 1993, driving for Dale Coyne Racing. Tracy is the active leader in Champ Car victories ... with his victory in the first race of the season in Long Beach, Tracy is poised to begin the 2004 season the same way he opened in 2003 when he won the opening three races - St. Petersburg, Monterrey and Long Beach.

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Roberto Gonzalez , Alex Sperafico , Nelson Philippe , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Dale Coyne Racing