CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing preview

PKV RACING LOOKING TO CONTINUE MOMENTUM AT G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 15, 2005 - - It started with a solid pre-season of testing. It grew with a pair of top-10 finishes in the ...

PKV RACING LOOKING TO CONTINUE MOMENTUM AT G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JUNE 15, 2005 - - It started with a solid pre-season of testing. It grew with a pair of top-10 finishes in the season opener. It was added to at the second event. Two weeks ago it manifested itself in the first pole and the best combined qualifying effort in team history plus a season high finish.

It--is momentum--and PKV Racing will be looking to continue the momentum with a strong performance this weekend at the G. I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR.

Jimmy Vasser significantly contributed to PKV Racing's momentum when he piloted the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone machine to the first pole position in team history and a season high fifth place finish two weeks ago on the Milwaukee Mile. The highly regarded native of California, who has qualified in the top-10 in two of the three races this year has finished in the top-10 in two of the three events and currently stands eighth in the championship race with 44 points.

"PKV Racing has made a lot of progress over the last two races, but we still have a lot of work to do," Vasser said. "I am looking forward to building on the pole we got in Milwaukee and continuing to improve as a team this weekend in Portland," he noted.

Vasser, who is in his 14th season of Champ Car competition, will be making his 222nd career Champ Car start this weekend in Portland, which will extend his Champ Car record for consecutive starts to 201. The 39-year-old resident of Las Vegas, NV will also be contesting his 14th Champ Car race on the 1.969-mile, 10-turn Portland International Raceway permanent road course. In 13 previous events, Vasser has qualified in the top-10 a total of 10 times with a best starting position of second in 1995. He has four top10 finishes at Portland with a best showing of second also in 1995.

"PKV Racing tested at PIR so we have a very good idea of what we need to do to be quick," Vasser began. "I have a very long history at this track going all the way to my Formula Ford days and I have raced here every year of my Champ Car career. I really like the circuit and the area, plus the fans are very knowledge," he said. "I have had some success at PIR, but not as much as I would like. I usually qualify well in Portland, but it is one of the tracks in the series where I have not won. Hopefully, I can change that this weekend," Vasser concluded.

Vasser has finished 137 of his last 177 starts and placed in the top-10 in 125 of his 221 career races including 63 top-five showings. The 1996 Series Champion is the only owner/driver in the series, one of four former champions and three Americans competing in the 2005 Champ Car World Series.

Cristiano da Matta, who qualified the #21 Bell Micro/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone car a season high fourth in Milwaukee, which along with Vasser's pole established a team record for combined qualifying, barely finished out of the top-10 for the first time this season placing 11th on the Milwaukee Mile. The talented and determined Brazilian is once again looking for back-to-back victories on a track where he is not the defending champion. Da Matta, who spent the last two years competing in Formula 1, won from the pole at PIR in 2002. The victory was his second consecutive wire-to-wire win and the second in what would become a Champ Car record tying four straight victories, which propelled him to the 2002 Championship. Da Matta will be making his 83nd career Champ Car start and fifth at PIR. In four previous races he has earned three top-10 starting positions including the one pole and a second place starting spot in 2001. His has finished in the top-10 a total of three times including the victory in 2002 and a fifth place showing in 2000.

"PKV Racing tested in Portland in April, but since then we have done a lot of things away from the track that I think will really help our performance," da Matta began. "We have been doing a lot of development work at the shop and working on some things I think will help the Bell Micro/PKV Racing car's performance at Portland," he explained. "I won from the pole in Portland in 2002 and going back to Indy Lights I have always been fast there. Hopefully, it won't be any different this year," da Matta concluded.

Da Matta, who is campaigning in his fifth Champ car season, has made the adjustment from Formula 1 to Champ Cars seamlessly. He has qualified in the top-10 in all three races this year, with a season high fourth place starting position on the tricky Milwaukee oval, and finished in the top-10 in two of the three events including a season high sixth place finish in Monterrey. He is currently 11th in the championship standings with 40 points. The personable resident of Miami, Florida, is one of four former champions and, with the injury to Bruno Junqueira, the only Brazilian competing in Champ Car this season.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race at Portland International Raceway. In three previous starts (two races) the team has qualified in the top-10 once when Vasser started ninth in 2004. They have finished in the top-10 twice as Vasser placed eighth and Roberto Gonzalez 10th also last year.

The G. I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR will be televised live on CBS at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

Founded in January 2003, Indianapolis-based PKV Racing enters its third season of competition during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. PKV Racing is owned by successful venture capitalists Kevin Kalkhoven, who also co-owns the Champ Car World Series, and Dan Pettit, along with 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser. The team is managed by the most successful Manager/Chief Mechanic in USAC/CART/Champ Car history, Jim McGee, who has amassed 89 victories and nine national championships.

-www.pkvracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Gonzalez , Kevin Kalkhoven , Cristiano da Matta