CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: PKV Racing Saturday summary

PKV RACING QUALIFIES EIGHTH AND 10TH FOR G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND TEAM QUALIFIES BOTH CARS IN TOP-10 FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE RACE PORTLAND, OR -- SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2005 -- Round ...

PKV RACING QUALIFIES EIGHTH AND 10TH FOR G. I. JOE'S PRESENTS THE CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND

TEAM QUALIFIES BOTH CARS IN TOP-10 FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE RACE

PORTLAND, OR -- SATURDAY, JUNE 18, 2005 -- Round #4 -- 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser will start eighth while teammate Cristiano da Matta will line-up 10th in tomorrow's G. I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, OR.

Today's qualifying, while run under bright, sunny skies and with cars that were vastly improved from yesterday's provisional qualifying, was never-the-less hampered by a slower track. Rain last evening cleaned the rubber from the track taking away much of the grip and warmer weather both conspired to produced slower times throughout the day.

Vasser, who qualified in the top-10 for the third time in four races this year, had a quick time in today's qualifying of 58.49 seconds placing him ninth on the speed charts. However his provisional time of 58.134 seconds (121.622 mph) landed the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone entry on the fourth row in the eighth spot on the combined qualifying report. Da Matta, who pilots the #21 Bell Micro/PKV RacingFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone car, has now qualified in the top-10 in all four events this year. He had a fast lap of 58.343 seconds (121.187 mph) today a slight improvement over yesterday's provision time of 58.344 seconds (121.185 mph). Da Matta ended up seventh on today's qualifying time sheet, but remained in 10th on the combined report. This is a team record third consecutive time that both cars have qualified in the top-10.

Vasser began and ended the day in the number eight spot on the grid. While his starting position may not reflect it, the Gulfstream/PKV Racing machine was vastly improved. Vasser spent most of the morning practice third on the speed charts dropping only in the latter stages of the session as the team tinkered with some final qualifying practice runs. At the conclusion of practice, Vasser's time of 58.682 seconds (120.487 mph) placed him sixth on both the individual and combined practice reports. In the 15 minute afternoon warm-up prior to qualifying, Vasser again ran the sixth fastest time of the session turning a quick lap of 59.159 seconds (119.515 mph). Unfortunately, despite a a better handling race car, Vasser was unable to improve his position on the starting grid because of the slower track.

"The Gulfstream/PKV Racing car was much better today unfortunately the track was slower so we weren't able to improve our grid position," Vasser said. "I'm disappointed with where we are starting tomorrow, but it is a long race and I am confident that we can have a good finish," he noted. "The PKV Racing team will make some more changes tonight to improve the cars for the race. Hopefully, it won't rain tomorrow, and if we have our usual good race strategy and pit stops l believe we can make things interesting in the race," Vasser concluded.

Now in his 14th Champ Car season, Vasser will be making his 222nd career, record 201st consecutive and 14th start at Portland International Raceway tomorrow. He has now qualified in the top-10 a total of 11 times in 14 tries at PIR with a best starting position of fifth in 1995. He has finished in the Top-10 a total of four times in his previous 13 races with a best showing of second also in 1995.

The 39-year-old native of California, who is one of the most respected drivers in the Champ Car paddock, has finished in the top-10 in two of the three races contested this year placing ninth in Long Beach and a team best fifth at Milwaukee. Vasser, a resident of Las Vegas, NV, 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 currently eighth in the championship race with 44 points.

Da Matta, like his teammate, started the day he the same position he finished it. However, the improvement to his Bell Micro/PKV Racing car was even more dramatic than Vassers even though it was not necessarily reflected on the speed charts or in his qualifying position. Da Matta was second on the morning practice report with a time of 58.465 seconds (121.114), which also put him second on the combined practice report. In the warm-up he ran the fourth fastest time notching a lap of 59.125 seconds (119.584 seconds). More importantly it was obvious from the start that he was more comfortable with the way the car was handling.

"Today was one of the best days on the race track the Bell Micro/PKV Racing team has had since the beginning of the year," da Matta began. "That is very positive because it shows that the team is improving," he noted. "The Bell Mirco car was definitely a better car to drive. We had a good practice this morning and we were at the top of the speed charts in the warm-up In qualifying we were right there until the end, but the track was slower today and we just did not get a good enough lap to improve our starting position," da Matta explained. "I am very encouraged and I am looking forward to tomorrow's race," he concluded.

Da Matta, who is in his fifth Champ Car season, will be making his 83rd career start and fifth at PIR tomorrow. He has now earned four top-10 starting positions in five attempts at Portland. He has one pole (2002) and a second place starting spot in 2001. Although he is not the defending champion, Da Matta, is trying to win at Portland for the second consecutive time. Da Matta won from the pole at PIR in 2002 before spending the last two years competing in Formula 1. The Portland 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. In all, the resident of Miami, Fl, has finished in the top-10 a total of three times including the 2002 victory and a fifth place showing in 2000. The 31-year-old Brazilian has finished in the top-10 in two of the three events this year including a season high sixth place finish in Monterrey. He is currently 11th in the championship standings with 40 points.

PKV Racing will be making its fourth and fifth starts while competing in its third race at Portland International Raceway. In five qualifying attempts (three events) the team has now qualified in the top-10 three times with a best starting position of eighth this year by Vasser. 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).

-pkv-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser