CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Pre-race notes, schedule

WHOS HOT Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

WHOS HOT

Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is attempting to win three in a row going into Monterrey. This season the Flying Frenchman has had a voracious appetite for success, capturing one pole and two wins. In three appearances in Monterrey, Bourdais has captured three pole positions and one victory.

Mario Dominguez (#7 Roshfrans Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to his home county, after capturing his first career pole position on the streets of Houston. The Mexican has had a great start in 2006 placing fourth in Long Beach and third in Houston, which leaves him second in the point standings currently. In Monterrey, Dominguez has two top-five finishes, his best coming in 2004 when he started on the outside of the front row and finished on the podium.

After getting caught up in a lap one incident in Long Beach, Paul Tracy (#3 INECK Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) came to Houston with the goal of overcoming the setback. The Canadian did just that qualifying in the third position and running up front all evening, while competing with Bourdais for the win. In five appearances in Monterrey, Tracy has recorded one win, and four top-ten finishes.

Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) overcame adversity in Houston spinning on the first lap, but he also made the most of the opportunities he had to move up and bring his car home in the fifth spot. In two appearances on the Monterrey course the Brit has yet to qualify outside of the top three, and has two top-six finishes.

Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyard Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) set a new Champ Car career high when he finished seventh last weekend in Houston. With the finish, the Australian driver also claimed the lead in the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings, leading by four points over Jan Heylen (#11 Sonny's BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone)

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

After being voted by his peers as the Bosch Most Improved Driver of 2005, Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing-HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is turning those improvements into results in 2006. In Houston, Philippe started his day in the ninth spot before scoring his best career finish of fourth on a very challenging street circuit. During his last visit to Fundidora Park the Frenchman led 23 laps on the day, the most of any driver.

The Fundidora Park course is one Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has found some momentum on, stringing together a streak of four top-five finishes. In three of those starts the Canadian qualified in the top-four.

Cristiano da Matta (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to Monterrey as a the only driver to score more than one victory on the course (2001-2002). In three starts on the circuit the Brazilian has never finished outside of the top six and has led 84 laps, the most of any driver at Monterrey.

Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) looks to get his season back on track in Monterrey. Last year Junqueira took the checkered flag in the top spot after leading nine laps during the event. The Brazilian has three consecutive top-five finishes in Fundidora Park.

Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will be running the Monterrey course for the first time in a Champ Car this weekend, but is no stranger to success on the 2.104-mile course. The Dutchman won his first Atlantic pole and parlayed that into his first Champ Car Atlantic Series victory a year ago, one of three races that he won on his way to the series championship.

NOTEWORTHY

Sebastien Bourdais became the third consecutive driver to defend his Champ Car title with a win in the following year's season opener. He then became the first driver since Rick Mears (1982) to defend his title by winning the first two races of the following season. Al Unser Sr. (1971) is the last driver to win the first three races of a season after winning the title the year before.

Sebastien Bourdais has won the Bridgestone Pole Position for each of the last three races in Monterrey, Mexico. The last Champ Car driver to win three consecutive poles as a single track is Bryan Herta, at Laguna Seca from 1997-99. The last driver to win four consecutive poles at a track is Rick Mears, who led qualifying at Phoenix each year from 1988-91.

Bourdais has also won the first two races of the season and can match Paul Tracy's 2003 start with a win this weekend as Tracy is the last Champ Car driver to open the year with three consecutive victories.

Alex Tagliani is expected to make his 107th consecutive series start this weekend, putting him two behind Johnny Rutherford for 10th on the all-time list.

Mario Dominguez earned his first Champ Car pole in his 66th start. The series record for most starts before winning your first pole is held by Scott Brayton, who won the pole in Indianapolis in 1995 in the last of his 148 career Champ Car starts.

Katherine Legge set a new Champ Car high for best finish by a female driver with an eighth-place finish in Long Beach. No female driver has ever earned back-to-back top-10 finishes in Champ Car competition.

Bruno Junqueira's win in Monterrey last season gave him victories in each of his first five seasons as a Champ Car driver. A win this season would make the Newman/Haas Racing pilot the first driver since Bobby Rahal (1982-87) to earn wins in each of his first six years in the series.

DID YOU KNOW?

Monterrey was named in 1596 after the Count of Monterrey who was the Viceroy of New Spain. Nicknamed "Sultan of the North," Monterrey is a major industrial center among cities in Mexico, second only to the nation's capital. As a result of its strong steel industry, it is also often called "the Pittsburgh of Mexico". Fundidora Park was built where the Compañia Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey (Monterrey Steel Foundry Company) was located, a company dedicated to the production of both iron and steel. It was the first such company in Latin America, opening in 1900 and closing due to bankruptcy in 1986. After the abandoned area was developed into Fundidora Park which opened its doors in February of 2001. It is known as "Fundidora Park Industrial Archeology Place Museum" because the area includes buildings and structures that are part of the history of the beginning of industrialization in Mexico. Other than the race track, Fundidora Park also is the home a Convention and Exposition Center (Cintermex), Theme Park (Plaza Sesamo), two five-star hotels, the Fundidora Auditorium, three museums (Center of the Arts) and the Arena Monterrey.

BY THE NUMBERS

84--Career laps led in Monterrey by Cristiano da Matta, most of any Champ Car driver. 15 - The number of years the Monterrey Steel Foundry sat vacant, before it was turned into Fundidora Park. 9 -- The number of laps Junqueira led on the way to his win in last year's event. 4 -- How many times the Newman/Haas team has visited victory lane in Fundidora Park. 2 -- The number of wins Cristiano da Matta has on the Fundidora course. 2.104 -- The length in miles of the course in Fundidora Park.

FAST FACTS

WHAT: Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans

WHERE: Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, May 19-21

SUPPORT EVENTS: Champ Car Atlantic,

CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local): FRIDAY, MAY 19 -- 9:15 -- 10:00 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:15 -- 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 -- 1:45 p.m., Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 -- 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SATURDAY, MAY 20 -- 9:30 -- 10:15 a.m., Atlantic practice; 10:30 -- 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 1:15 -- 1:45 p.m., Atlantic qualifying; 2:00 -- 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SUNDAY, MAY 21 -- 8:00 -- 8:15 a.m., Atlantic warmup; 9:00 -- 9:30 a.m., Champ Car warmup; 10:30 -- 11:30 a.m., Atlantic race; 1:00 p.m., START OF TECATE GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY ROSHFRANS

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: SATURDAY, MAY 20 -- Qualifying highlights, SPEED, 8 p.m. EST. SUNDAY, MAY 21 -- Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans, SPEED, 2 p.m. EST (live).

2005 CHAMPION: Bruno Junqueira
2005 POLESITTER: Sebastien Bourdais

TRACK LAYOUT: 2.104-mile temporary road course
RACE LENGTH: 76 laps, 159.904 miles

TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) -- 2005, Sebastien Bourdais, 102.875 mph (1:13.627). Race -- 2002, Cristiano da Matta, 90.544 mph (1:58:30.642) based on 85 laps (178.840 miles)

RACE ROUND: 3 of 15 in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

2006 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADERS: 1, Sebastien Bourdais, Newman/Haas Racing, 68; 2, Mario Dominguez, Forsythe Championship Racing, 50; 3, Justin Wilson, RuSPORT, 48; 4, Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing, 40; 5, Alex Tagliani, Team Australia, 35.

INSTANT REPLAY: Bruno Junqueira scored a hard-fought victory on a day that featured nine caution flags and six lead changes, and was so fraught with peril for those running at the front that Junqueira never even ran in the top two spots until Lap 61 of the 76-lap event. Polesitter Sebastien Bourdais battled with Paul Tracy early on but pit strategies scrambled the order, promoting Nelson Philippe to the front where he would lead a race-high 23 laps. Tracy and Bourdais had the first of what would be a season full of run-ins when they tangled on Lap 48, ending Tracy's day and thwarting Bourdais' chance for a victory. Junqueira slipped past Bjorn Wirdheim to take the lead on Lap 61 and held off a late charge from rookie Andrew Ranger to score the victory, moving him into the series points lead after two events.

-ccws-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Bryan Herta , Mario Dominguez , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Sébastien Bourdais , Katherine Legge , Bjorn Wirdheim , Nelson Philippe , Andrew Ranger , Charles Zwolsman , Will Power , Cristiano da Matta , Johnny Rutherford