CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey: Round two preview

TRIO OF FORMER MONTERREY WINNERS HEADLINE CHAMP CAR LINEUP AS SERIES JOURNEYS SOUTH OF THE BORDER FOR SEASON'S SECOND RACE INDIANAPOLIS (May 5, 2005) -- The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford has competed in ...

TRIO OF FORMER MONTERREY WINNERS HEADLINE CHAMP CAR LINEUP AS SERIES JOURNEYS SOUTH OF THE BORDER FOR SEASON'S SECOND RACE

INDIANAPOLIS (May 5, 2005) -- The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford has competed in Monterrey, Mexico for each of the last four seasons, drawing large crowds and providing exciting and challenging racing for not only the fans, but also for the teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series.

But for all of the history of Champ Cars at Monterrey's Fundidora Park, this year's fifth anniversary of the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Roshfrans promises to carry some of the most intriguing subplots of any race on the 2005 calendar.

The driver roster for the May 20-22 battle on the 2.106-mile Fundidora Park road course features a driver that has never lost in Monterrey, one that has never started anywhere but on pole at the Monterrey track, and another that set a Monterrey record in a race that propelled him to his only Champ Car title. In addition, the lineup is loaded with young talent fighting for their elusive first wins, as well as veterans looking to stake their claim in the chase for the 2005 series championship.

As it did most of last year as well as in the first race of 2005, the battle starts with defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Bourdais took the early series lead with his Long Beach victory and heads to a Monterrey track where he is also the defending race winner. Bourdais has started on the pole in each of his two previous Monterrey visits, setting a new track record en route to the top starting spot a year ago.

But just Bourdais is unaccustomed to failure in qualifying, Cristiano da Matta (#21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is unfamiliar with anything other than winning in Monterrey. The 2002 series champion won the inaugural Fundidora Park event in 2001, then followed that with a victory from the fifth starting spot in 2002. Da Matta returns as the career leader in laps led at Monterrey, but has not seen the challenging layout since his win three seasons ago.

Sandwiched between wins by da Matta and Bourdais was the dominant 2003 performance of Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who paced 69 laps to set an event record on his way to Victory Lane. Intent on returning to his 2003 championship-winning form, Tracy comes to Monterrey holding the second spot in the points chase after a strong Long Beach weekend that saw him score his 23rd career Champ Car pole.

The hometown fans will look to cheer a Mexican driver to Victory Lane for the first time in Monterrey, and will be pinning many of their hopes on the shoulders of Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) after his podium finish from a season ago. Dominguez earned the best starting spot of his Champ Car career in last year's Monterrey race, gridding on the outside of the front row, and battling back fiercely after an early spin to score a third-place finish. He showed well in his first race after joining Forsythe Championship Racing in 2005, scoring a top-five run in Long Beach in his debut outing with the Indianapolis-based squad.

Dominguez will have some help in Monterrey as he looks to propel Mexico to the top of the competitive Nation's Cup standings as former Indy Lights competitor Jorge Goeters (#52 PKV Racing/Team Mexico Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will make his Champ Car debut in Fundidora Park. The San Luis Potosi native has had a long career in many different forms of motorsports, including a full season of campaigning in Indy Lights in 1998 when he competed against Dominguez and da Matta. Most recently, Goeters made headlines when he became just the seventh driver ever to win a NASCAR Busch Series pole in his debut, when he led qualifying in Mexico City. Goeters will run a third PKV Racing machine overseen by Russell Cameron.

Bruno Junqueira (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) carries a remarkable string of improvement to this year's Monterrey event, but the only way he can leave Mexico with that streak intact is to finish on the very top of the podium. Junqueira has improved his finishing position in each of his previous four Monterrey starts, capping that string with a second-place result last season. He enters the weekend in third place in the season standings and also has an active streak of seven consecutive podium finishes.

Six drivers have competed in each of the previous four Champ Car races in Fundidora Park but only Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has been able to score top-five results in three of the four events. Tagliani sandwiched fifth-place finishes in 2002 and 2004 around a podium run in 2003, starting and finishing in the third spot. His fifth-place run a year ago came after a hard-fought race that saw him move up 10 positions after starting 15th.

Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) are among the six drivers to have made four Monterrey starts, although the former steel-producing site has not been as kind to the two veterans. Vasser's best Monterrey finish of sixth came in the inaugural event of 2001 while Servia's lone top-10 came with a tenth-place run in 2002. Vasser is expected to take another step toward establishing one of the great milestones in open-wheel racing history as his Monterrey start will be his 199th consecutive series green flag, with Milwaukee slated to be his historical 200th.

Three members of the Champ Car sophomore class will return for their second shots at the 12-turn circuit, and come back to Monterrey after having varying degrees of success in their first outings. Justin Wilson (#9 SanDisk Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will look to follow his strong Long Beach startup with a similar performance, coming back to a Fundidora Park layout where he led his first Champ Car lap a year ago while putting together a sixth-place run.

Nelson Philippe (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) hopes to rebound from a trying 2005 opener with a visit to the site of his first Champ Car top-10 finish, earned with a 10th-place run in Monterrey last year, while reigning Roshfrans Rookie of the Year A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will aim for better things after ending his maiden Monterrey mission with a 17th-place run last season.

The six men that comprise this year's Champ Car rookie class showed their considerable skills in the Long Beach opener, and will look to build on that momentum as the series heads to Monterrey. Of the five, Ronnie Bremer (#55 HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Andrew Ranger (#27 Mi-Jack/Tide Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) have previous Fundidora Park experience, although Ranger's lasted just one lap a year ago. Bremer and Ranger both competed in the Toyota Atlantic Championship event there last year, Bremer coming from 10th on the grid to place fourth, while Ranger was taken out in a first-lap accident. Both trail Rocketsports Racing's Timo Glock (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the rookie points after the German hung a sixth-place finish on the board in the '05 lidlifter.

-ccws-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Nelson Philippe , Ronnie Bremer , Andrew Ranger , Timo Glock , Jorge Goeters