CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: NHR pre-race notes, quotes

Newman/Haas Racing Pre-Race Notes Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix - May 21-23, 2004 Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico (2.104-Mile Permanent Road Course) - 72 laps (151.486 miles) Round 2 of 16 in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World ...

Newman/Haas Racing Pre-Race Notes
Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix - May 21-23, 2004
Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico (2.104-Mile Permanent Road Course) - 72 laps (151.486 miles)
Round 2 of 16 in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford series
Broadcast: SpikeTV at 4 PM PT/ET - Sunday, May 23; Live on HDNet at 4:00 PM ET

Team History: In three races here NHR has earned two wins, one pole & three podium finishes here. (WINS by Cristiano da Matta 2001 & 2002; 3rd place finish by Christian Fittipaldi 2002)

Bruno's History: Will be his fourth race here. He started 7th and ran the fastest lap but spun and finished 5th in 2003; started 7th in 2002 and finished 11th after rookie Townsend Bell ran into him at the start; started 20th in his rookie season in 2001 and finished 22nd after mechanical failure ended his race.

Sebastien's History: Will be his second race here. Won his second pole in the series in Monterrey last year as well as set a track record. He led the first 16 laps of the race but a faulty radio led to a missed pit stop. Had a troubled second pit stop and later brushed the wall entering the pits for his final stop and retire from the race in 17th place.

Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) Fast Facts:

* 78 POLES, 73 WINS, 182 PODIUMS, FOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS: The team has earned 184 top-three finishes (1st - 73, 2nd - 60, 3rd - 51) and 78 poles as well as FOUR Champ Car Championships ('84-Mario Andretti, '91-Michael Andretti, '93-Nigel Mansell, '02-Cristiano Da Matta). Currently in their 22nd season, NHR is the most successful team competing in the series. NHR won their 73rd Champ car event four races ago in Denver (Junqueira 8-31-03) and Junqueira brought the team it's 78th pole at the season-opener in Long Beach (4-17-04).

* 49 OF 73 WINS ON ROAD/STREET COURSES: NHR has won 49 of their 73 victories on road/street courses and 24 on ovals. The most recent road/street course victory was in Denver by Junqueira on 8-31-03. The most recent victory on an oval was in Germany (5-11-03) by Bourdais.

* 62 OF 78 POLES ON ROAD/STREET COURSES: Of NHR's 78 pole positions, 62 have come on road/street courses and 16 on ovals. The team's most recent road/street course pole was earned by Junqueira in Long Beach (street 4-17-04). Prior to Bourdais' pole on the oval in Germany (5-10) the team's previous pole on an oval was by C. Fittipaldi on 5-15-99 in Rio.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

* IN MONTERREY, MEXICO: Will be his second race here. Won his second pole in the series in Monterrey last year as well as set a track record. He led the first 16 laps of the race 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.

* THIRD IN 2004 POINT STANDINGS: Earned one point for being fastest in final qualifying in Long Beach although he started second to his teammate Junqueira, who set the fastest overall time in qualifying. Ran the fastest lap of the race and finished third. Has 27 points to leader Paul Tracy, 32, and second place Junqueira who has 29.

* ROOKIE OF YEAR IN 2003: Drove the No. 2 Lilly/McDonald's race car to three victories (England, Germany, Cleveland), five poles (St. Petersburg, Monterey, Germany, Cleveland, Australia) and seven podium finishes en route to a fourth place finish in the year-end standings...Ranked second overall in number of races and poles won and third in most laps led...Ran in the top-five in all 18 events...Possible top-three finish in the season-ending standings was hindered by contact or mechanical problems in 9 of 18 events where he had been running in the top-five but finished much lower...Set the fastest race lap four times (St. Petersburg, Cleveland, Vancouver and Elkhart Lake)...Despite only being behind the wheel of a Champ Car for seven days before the season-opener in St. Petersburg, he claimed the pole in his debut and became the first rookie in series history to lead the first lap of his first Champ Car start before contact ended his race after he led a total of 30 laps...Won the pole in the following event in Monterrey, Mexico and became the first rookie since Nigel Mansell in 1993 to win the pole for each of his first two series starts. A radio problem led to a missed stop and he again failed to finish the race after he led a total of 16 laps before contact ended his race...The first time he finished a Champ car race also was the site of his first victory after he paced 95 laps at Brands Hatch, including the final 33...Became the first driver in series history to win from pole in his oval racing debut after he led 74 laps and earned back-to-back victories in the series with a thrilling win in Germany over Mario Dominguez by 0.084 seconds...Won from pole in CART's first night race in Cleveland and went on to set a rookie-record five consecutive top-five finishes...Posted the best qualifying average (3.67) of any driver in the series and also won the Bridgestone Grip on the Season title which was awarded to the driver who, on the whole, posted the fastest race lap on all 18 races of the year...Won the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year award and became the first rookie to win the Greg Moore Legacy Award...Earned the Bridgestone Grip on the Season award for having the fastest average race lap for the season...Earned a position in the balloting for Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's (AARWBA) All-American Team as well as Honorable Mention in the final tally.

Bruno Junqueira, No. 6 PacifiCare Ford/Cosworth-Lola-Bridgestone:

* IN MONTERREY, MEXICO: Will be his fourth race here. He started 7th in 2003, ran the fastest lap of the race but settled for a fifth place finish after a spin dropped him to 9th place. In 2002 he started 7th but Townsend Bell ran into him on the start limited him to an 11th place finish. Started 20th and finished 22nd in 2001 due to a mechanical failure.

* SECOND IN 2004 POINT STANDINGS: Started on pole and finished second in Long Beach. Has 29 points to leader Paul Tracy's 32.

* SECOND IN POINT STANDINGS IN 2003: Drove the No. 1 PacifiCare race car to his second consecutive runner-up rank in the series in his third year in Champ Car competition and first at NHR...Led the championship standings for the first time in Champ Car career for one race and stayed in the title hunt until the final event in Australia...Was one of the most consistent drivers in the series with two wins, two poles and nine podium finishes (top-three) in 18 events (also 12 top-fives in 18 events)...Although he won two poles, he was the provisional polesitter a total of six times and ran the fastest lap of the race in Monterey and Montreal...His two wins were both from pole (Elkhart Lake, Denver)...He led a 1-2 finish for NHR in its 500th event in Denver...At season's end he compiled a 28 percent podium finish record of his 57 career Champ Car starts... Led a total of 184 laps during the year and became the first driver in 10 years to finish as runner-up in consecutive seasons and set a new personal best by amassing 199 championship points to Paul Tracy's 226...Earned a spot on the balloting for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-America team in the open-wheel racing category.

What They're Saying About...

Sebastien Bourdais, #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "Last year the weekend didn't start very well. We were not very fast, not comfortable in the car and we still won the pole after being 5/10ths of a second faster than everybody else and blew the track record so from that point we looked very good. And then the race started and we were P1, Tracy was two seconds behind and the rest of the field was far away. And we just lost the radio transmission without knowing we lost it. Then when the yellow came out I didn't get the message from the team to pit out race was completely screwed up. We had to pit after everyone else and get out of sequence. Afterwards I just tried to get back to the front. I was around 15th place after I made my first stop and in 13 laps I moved up to seventh place after pushing myself hard. Another yellow came out near our last stop and I brushed the pit entry and bent the toe link and that was it for the race.

"The track is very interesting. It's a beautiful park and facility. I was really amazed by that, I had never seen that before in my whole life. The race track layout is a bit slow but its really challenging and really slick. You have to be careful because there is a lot of off track excursions and you don't want to damage the car. It's very easy to do that on the curbs.

"I think we have a very good baseline to start with so I'm pretty confident. On the other hand I felt very good on the track so we should be fast. I'm looking forward to returning. Hopefully the radio won't shut down this year.

"The fans are really rooting for the Mexicans for sure but its great to race in front of so many people. We have very good venues and have nice crowds but the two Mexican events are really special. Sometimes it's even a bit scary when there are 300,000 people on race day. All of the grandstands, and there are many of them, are completely full. The whole thing is a big success. The races in Mexico are great!"

Bruno Junqueira, #6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "This year I'm going to try to win the third race for Newman/Haas in Monterrey of the four times the series has run there. Last year I had the fastest race lap and the car was good unfortunately I didn't start in a great spot for the race and I had to come back through the field but this year I'm going to try to qualify better and have a shot to win.

"I like the Monterrey track, I think it's a proper road course. It's a little bit slippery not much grip which makes it difficult to drive and more challenging. Its difficult to get a good set up there the car is always sliding. In Monterrey the best place to pass is going into Turn 11 on the back straight and that's where I'm going to use the Push to Pass button.

"For sure the race in Monterrey is one of the biggest races of the year. All of the race fans they have there on race day make it very exciting. The event brings so many fans -- it's incredible. I think it looks like a soccer game on race day. The people are getting really excited. That's the best thing of the race.

"This year Adrian's not going to be in Monterrey but the current Mexican drivers and teams are stronger than ever and they have a good chance to do well there. They love Michel, Mario and Rodolfo and the place will go crazy if a Mexican driver wins. They supported Cristiano (da Matta) when he won in 2001 and 2002 so I hope they will support me if I win this year!"

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Townsend Bell , Mario Dominguez , Mario Andretti , Sébastien Bourdais , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta