PORTLAND (June 18, 2004) -- PKV Racing pilot Roberto Gonzalez ( ...
PORTLAND (June 18, 2004) -- PKV Racing pilot Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone) posted a fast time of 1:00.081 (117.981 mph) on his fifth of 15 allotted laps in today's Round One qualifying at Portland International Raceway, which translated into a career-best result of sixth for the Mexican rookie. Teammate and 1996 Champ Car titlewinner Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ran firmly in the top three during the morning practice, but finished the qualifier 12th.
Monterrey, Mexico native Gonzalez took to the 1.969-mile permanent road course with little experience under his belt on the Portland layout, but parlayed lessons learned from a test session earlier in the year into a solid sixth. Gonzalez was the fastest of the Mexican contingent, as he shattered his previous best qualifying effort of 12th in his native country last month.
"I'm pretty happy with the effort today from the whole PKV team," said Gonzalez. "The car is getting better each race and it's starting to show. We are progressing as a group and everything seems to be coming together nicely. I think we'll be able to improve on our result tomorrow, but it feels good to be moving up the speed chart. These guys really gave me a good car today."
Vasser, who will tie racing legend Mario Andretti this weekend on the all-time Champ Car starts list with his 208th career Green Flag on Sunday, ran a top time of 1:00.439 (117.282 mph) on the Pacific Northwest circuit he has contested every year since 1992.
"We're obviously disappointed with our result," said Vasser. "We had a good car this morning, but I'm not quite sure why we're not where we were earlier. On the other hand, Roberto [Gonzalez] did a great job today, earning the best qualifying result of his career."
The PKV squad will continue its search for speed in Portland again tomorrow when their 750hp duo of Lolas take the track in the final round of Champ Car qualifying at 1:45 pm PT.