CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: PKV Racing preview

Monterrey Native Gonzalez On Stage This Weekend in Mexico; Vasser Looking to Change His Long Beach Luck INDIANAPOLIS (May 17, 2004) -- PKV Racing's Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Roberto Gonzalez ( ...

Monterrey Native Gonzalez On Stage This Weekend in Mexico; Vasser Looking to Change His Long Beach Luck

INDIANAPOLIS (May 17, 2004) -- PKV Racing's Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 Nextel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be one of four drivers competing in his native country of Mexico this weekend, but the 28-year-old will have hometown advantage and the crowd in his corner when the bell rings Sunday afternoon for this 750hp prizefight at Fundidora Park.

After running (Nextel's parent company) NII Holdings, Inc. livery on his eye-catching PKV Racing Lola in Long Beach, Gonzalez returns home this weekend to take aim at the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix with the Nextel brand proudly displayed on his sidepods. Monterrey will mark the first of seven international races this season where the Nextel logo will be displayed as a result of sponsorship from the telecommunications giant.

"Monterrey is obviously a very important event for me and my sponsor, Nextel International," said Gonzalez. "We'll have a number of people at the race track including special guests and sponsors. The races in Monterrey and Mexico City are the backbone of our program, and I expect to perform at my highest level this weekend, for myself and for Nextel. In years past I have attended the race here and witnessed first hand the enthusiasm of the Mexican fans. They are unlike any other fans in the world with the level of enthusiasm and excitement they bring to the event. Thanks to Nextel, this year I have a chance to make them cheer for me, and I will do everything I can to get results."

In Gonzalez' only other start South of the Border he finished an impressive 10th after starting 18th in Mexico City last season, as part of Champ Car's first ever all-Mexican two-car team with stablemate Mario Dominguez of Herdez Competition.

PKV Racing teammate and 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) hopes to be in contention for the podium this weekend in Monterrey, as the 10-time Champ Car racewinner looks to rebound from a frustrating Southern California season-opener that left the American sidelined in 16th.

"We're looking to build momentum after the start we had in Long Beach," said Vasser. "This is a big race for us, with Roberto driving in front of his hometown fans and Nextel's presence at the track. We are here to fight for the win, every weekend. That's what it is all about. This is a great place, Fundidora Park is an awesome track, really wide and flat, which makes for a lot of fun. The fans around here have so much energy, it makes us look forward to this race each season."

In three previous runnings of the Monterrey Grand Prix, Vasser's best starting position to date is ninth with a best finish of sixth, both recorded in the inaugural event of 2001.

Watch Vasser and Gonzalez do battle with the rest of the Champ Car competition in the 72-lap (151.488-mile) Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix this Sunday, May 23rd at 4:00 ET/PT on Spike TV and HDNet.

NOTABLE NUGGETS

* Hometown Hero?...If successful in Monterrey, Roberto Gonzalez would become the first Mexican driver to win a Champ Car event in his native country. In seven previous forays into Mexico between Monterrey (2001-'03) and Mexico City ('80-'81, '02 -'03), no Mexican has ever driven to victory lane.

* 206 and counting...Jimmy Vasser is scheduled to start his 206th (sixth all-time) race on Sunday in Monterrey, which leaves him just two starts behind Champ Car great Mario Andretti (208) who ranks fifth on the Career Starts list (1979- Present). Known for being one of the most durable drivers in the paddock, Vasser is also riding a streak of 184 consecutive starts, second longest in series history only to Al Unser Jr. (192).

About PKV Racing
Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing fields a two-car effort in the Champ Car World Series for American open wheel star Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Mexican rookie Roberto Gonzalez (#21 Nextel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The second-year team is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Vasser, and is managed by veteran Champ Car team manager Russell Cameron.

-pkvr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Mario Dominguez , Mario Andretti , Roberto Gonzalez