Monterey, Calif., Sept. 10, 2000 - In a race where pit strategy plays an important part of the race day plan, Walker Racing driver Shinji Nakano was aided by the pit stop strategy of his crew during today's Honda Grand Prix at Laguna Seca...
Monterey, Calif., Sept. 10, 2000 - In a race where pit strategy plays an important part of the race day plan, Walker Racing driver Shinji Nakano was aided by the pit stop strategy of his crew during today's Honda Grand Prix at Laguna Seca Raceway before a wastegate failure ended his day too early.
Shinji started the race in the #5 avex/Honda/Reynard/Firestone car in 22nd position, and had moved up four positions to 18th after the first set green flag pit stops. Shinji was able to run longer than the rest of the group of drivers he was racing with on the track, thanks to good fuel mileage by the CART rookie driver. When the Walker Racing driver pitted on Lap 28, his speedy crew got him back on track four positions better than when he entered the pits.
The Japanese F1 veteran driver had completed just over half of the 83-lap race, and was well on his way to a good finish on the 2.238-mile permanent road course, when Shinji let the team know on Lap 44 that there was a problem with the car.
The team brought him in and knew immediately his day was done. "Shinji suddenly radioed in that there was a problem, so we brought him in and saw the bodywork on the car was torched," said Team Manager Rob Edwards. "The wastegate blew up and there was nothing we could do to get back on track. It's a shame, because the pit strategy was working well during the race and we were making steady progress."
In a series like the CART FedEx Championship Series where competition on the track is so tight, it's often the work of the crew in the pits that can win and lose a race for a team.
"This is the best pit crew in the entire series," said Shinji. "Week after week they give me an excellent car to drive and then consistently gain me track position during each race in the pits."
Round 17 in the FedEx Championship Series will take place at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis on Sept. 15 - 17. The Motorola 300 will be broadcast on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.
Walker Racing's corporate sponsor partners are avex, Alpine, Mitsuba, SpeedWRX.com, Dell Computer Corporation, NGK, St. Elmo Steakhouse, Honda, Reynard and Firestone.