CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Newman/Haas Racing preview

NEWMAN/HAAS RACING AIMS TO WIN FOUR OF THE PAST FIVE EVENTS AT PARQUE FUNDIDORA AT THIS WEEKEND'S TECATE/TELMEX MONTERREY GRAND PRIX EVENTS MONTERREY, Mexico (May 19, 2005) --- Since the first Champ Car race in Monterrey, Mexico in 2001 ...

NEWMAN/HAAS RACING AIMS TO WIN FOUR OF THE PAST FIVE EVENTS AT PARQUE FUNDIDORA AT THIS WEEKEND'S TECATE/TELMEX MONTERREY GRAND PRIX EVENTS

MONTERREY, Mexico (May 19, 2005) --- Since the first Champ Car race in Monterrey, Mexico in 2001 Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) has been fortunate enough to earn three wins and five podium finishes at the 2.1-mile road course at Fundidora Park. McDonald's0x00ae driver S0x00e9bastien Bourdais and PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira brought the team it's first of six 1-2 finishes last season, respectively, and they hope this year's 76-lap Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Roshfrans will be no different.

"After such results at Monterrey you cannot help but hope to win again," said Bourdais, 26, who started from pole in both of the races he has competed in here as well as won in 2004. "It's definitely a track I like very much. I like the setup, the hotel is right in front of the track and the track is in the middle of Fundidora Park, which is a beautiful park. It's really a lot of fun; the track is really slippery and it's a big challenge for the drivers so I'm looking forward to it and I hope we can repeat a win for the McDonald's team."

The Monterrey event has been a popular stop on the schedule for the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series as well as for Newman/Haas Racing. Cristiano da Matta won the event for the team in the inaugural race here in 2001 and again in 2002 while Christian Fittipaldi earned a 1-2 finish for the team. Although new to the team in 2003, Bourdais and Junqueira looked likely to repeat here but were unable to do so even though Bourdais started from pole and Junqueira set the fastest race lap. In 2004 the team ran strong in unbearably hot conditions but the outcome of the race was almost dictated by the fuel strategy of backmarkers and the timing of yellow flags but fortunately Bourdais and Junqueira finished first and second, respectively.

"It doesn't really matter how you do it, we were the fastest guy out there and we won the race so hopefully I won't be as beat up as much as last year. I was kind of overheated but it was still a pretty good feeling," said Bourdais, who has 18 podium finishes in 33 starts. "We had a lot of things going on during the race and the pit strategy caught us. We thought we were not going to make it and win the race although we were definitely the fastest around the track but that's what racing's all about. Strategy is going to be somewhat different this year as there are no rules -- you pit whenever you want, you add tires, you add fuel, whatever you want, whenever you want so it's a new game. Obviously it's going to open some doors for some lucky guys. Not always the fastest guy is going to get the benefit out of it but that's the way it is. Push to pass is still here this year and it's definitely a big advantage show-wise. I would never have won Denver without that device and it was a really smart move to keep it."

Although the previous Champ Car event was six weeks ago Newman/Haas Racing has been busy with test sessions on the road course in Portland, Ore. and the one-mile oval in Milwaukee. In addition they have been preparing for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 which will take place on May 29, the week following the event in Monterrey. CENTRIX Financial, an associate sponsor of the team's two Champ cars is the primary sponsor of both entries for the Indy 500 program.J

With 83 wins, 86 pole positions and 204 podium finishes since their first season of competition in 1983, NHR is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series and the second most successful overall open-wheel racing team competing today. Marlboro Team Penske has earned 122 open-wheel wins and is in their 38th season while NHR has earned 83 and is in their 23rd. During the years that NHR has been in existence (1983-current) Penske has earned 84 wins while NHR has earned 83. Perhaps the most impressive detail however is the fact that NHR ran only one driver it's first six seasons (Mario Andretti) while Team Penske ran two-to-three drivers per season. From 1989 to present, NHR has been a two-car team while Team Penske expanded from a two car team to run three cars for three of those seasons. Junqueira hopes to earn his eighth win in the series in Monterrey as well as win No. 84 for NHR.

"The last two years I did very well in Monterrey, Mexico," said Junqueira who has improved his finishing position each year he has competed here. "I had the fastest race lap in 2003 and finished fifth and last year I finished second so hopefully we can get an even better result for the PacifiCare team. It's a very difficult track, there is not much grip but it's a proper race track and it's very smooth. It's always a big challenge for everybody."

Junqueira enters the weekend in third place in the season standings and also has an active streak of seven consecutive podium finishes. If he earned another podium finish this weekend he could become just the eighth driver in series history to string together eight top-threes, joining such greats as Jimmy Bryan, Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt. The record for consecutive podiums is 11, held by Al Unser Sr. Regardless of his finishing position, Junqueira predicts another great event.

"It's a very exciting race because of the Mexican fans," said the Brazilian. "Monterrey was our first race in Mexico back in 2001. On race day, the fans make it atmosphere very special and I love to race in Mexico because of them. They love Champ Car and it's great to go back there every year. Push to Pass makes overtaking easier on the Monterrey track and the fans will be able to watch an exciting race again this year."

"The Mexican fans are so enthusiastic about racing; it's amazing," added Bourdais, who will take time to interact with fans on Thursday during an appearance at a local McDonald's. "Obviously they cheer for their own drivers but they also cheer for the champions and I had a lot of fans already last year and with the championship I am hoping to see them again."

In just four years of existence, the Monterrey Champ Car event has become one of the most well-attended events on the schedule, averaging nearly 240,000 fans per event in the previous four races. This year will see the one-millionth fan come through the Monterrey gates as the Mexican fans continue to show their rabid support for Champ Car racing.

The Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix will get underway with qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday, with the 76-lap event taking the green flag at 2:45 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, May 22. The new 30-minute Bridgestone Pole Qualifying Show will air at 8:30 p.m. ET. on Saturday night while the race can be seen on a same-day, tape delayed basis on SPEED TV at 11 p.m. Eastern Time Sunday. Fans can also follow along live by monitoring the free timing and scoring feature on the official website of the series, http://www.champcarworldseries.com/.

Driver Stats and Quotes:

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #1 McDonald'sFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- TWO POLES & ONE WIN IN TWO RACES IN MONTERREY: Will be his third race here. Started from his second consecutive pole in the series in his rookie season in 2002 as well as set a track record. Led the first 16 laps but a faulty radio led to a missed pit stop. Also had a troubled pit stop and later brushed the wall entering the pits, which ultimately led to retire from the race in 17th place. Again started from pole in 2003, led 43 laps as well as set the fastest race lap en route to victory.

- LEADS 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ended a series active record for most top-three starts at 15 with his fourth place qualifying effort at the season-opener in Long Beach but led a total of 37 laps and drove to victory in an exciting race that had seven different leaders. Holds a 34-29 lead over Paul Tracy.

- 2004 OVERVIEW: In 14 CCWS events, he won SEVEN races and EIGHT poles as well as set the fastest race lap six times en route to the championship in only his second season in the series...Became the first since former NHR driver da Matta (2002 -- 19 total races) to earn seven poles in one season before breaking that record with eighth in season-finale...Is the first driver to have made 14 consecutive top-three starts to begin a season as well as the first driver to have started in the top-three 15 consecutive times, dating back to the 2003 season-finale in Mexico City...Earned a total of 369 points over second place finisher and teammate Bruno Junqueira's 341.

- 11 WINS / 13 POLES: Bourdais has earned 11 wins ('03 -- England, Germany & Cleveland; '04 -- Monterrey, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto, Denver, Las Vegas, Mexico City; '05 Long Beach) and 13 POLES ('03 -- St. Pete, Monterrey, Germany, Cleveland, Australia; '04 -- Monterrey, Portland, Toronto, Elkhart Lake, Denver, Montreal, Laguna Seca, Mexico City).

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN MONTERREY: Will be his fifth race here. Retired in 22nd place from a mechanical problem in his first race here in 2001. Started seventh and finished 11th after contact with rookie Townsend Bell in 2002. Set the fastest race lap and finished fifth in 2003. Started fourth, led five laps and finished second in 2004.

- 2005 CHAMP CAR RESULTS: Is third in the standings after the season-opener in Long Beach where he started second, led eight laps and finished third...Has 27 points to leader Bourdais' 34.

- 2004 OVERVIEW: Finished in the top-four 11 times in 14 races, including TWO wins and SIX second-place finishes to end the season as runner-up to the champion for the third consecutive time in his fourth season in the series. Led the series in top-three podium finishes with 10...Set the fastest race lap five times...Earned a total of 341 points to Bourdais' 369.

- SEVEN WINS/27 TOP-THREE PODIUMS: Won SEVEN races (Elkhart Lake '01, Japan & Denver '02, Elkhart Lake & Denver '03, Montreal & Australia '04) and finished on the podium a total of 27 times (2nd -- Portland & Chicago '02, England, Laguna Seca & Vancouver '03, Long Beach, Monterrey, Portland, Cleveland, Laguna Seca, Las Vegas & Mexico City '04; 3rd -- Elkhart Lake & Mexico City '02, St. Pete, Long Beach, Cleveland and Toronto '03, Denver '04, Long Beach '05).

What They're Saying About...

Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "After such results at Monterrey you cannot help but hope to win again. It's definitely a track I like very much. I like the setup, the hotel is right in front of the track and the track is in the middle of Fundidora Park, which is a beautiful park. It's really a lot of fun; the track is really slippery and it's a big challenge for the drivers so I'm looking forward to it and I hope we can repeat a win for the McDonald's team. It doesn't really matter how you do it, we were the fastest guy out there and we won the race so hopefully I won't be as beat up as much as last year, I was kind of overheated but it was still a pretty good feeling.

"We had a lot of things going on during the race and the pit strategy caught us. We thought we were not going to make it and win the race although we were definitely the fastest around the track but that's what racing's all about. Strategy is going to be somewhat different this year as there are no rules -- you pit whenever you want, you add tires, you add fuel, whatever you want, whenever you want so it's a new game. Obviously it's going to open some doors for some lucky guys. Not always the fastest guy is going to get the benefit out of it but that's the way it is. Push to pass is still here this year and it's definitely a big advantage show-wise. I would never have won Denver without that device and it was a really smart move to keep it."

"The Mexican fans are so enthusiastic about racing; it's amazing. Obviously they cheer for their own drivers but they also cheer for the champions and I had a lot of fans already last year and with the championship I am hoping to see them again.

Bruno Junqueira, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "The last two years I did very well in Monterrey, Mexico. I had the fastest race lap in 2003 and finished fifth and last year I finished second so hopefully we can get an even better result for the PacifiCare team. It's a very difficult track, there is not much grip but it's a proper race track and it's very smooth. It's always a big challenge for everybody. It's a very exciting race because of the Mexican fans. Monterrey was our first race in Mexico back in 2001. On race day, the fans make it atmosphere very special and I love to race in Mexico because of them. They love Champ Car and it's great to go back there every year. Push to Pass makes overtaking easier on the Monterrey track and the fans will be able to watch an exciting race again this year."

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Townsend Bell , Mario Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Foyt , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske