CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Round four preview

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES GETS BACK ON TRACK IN PORTLAND INDIANAPOLIS (June 6, 2007) - After a six week hiatus the Champ Car World Series is ready to return to racing this week at the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's ...


INDIANAPOLIS (June 6, 2007) - After a six week hiatus the Champ Car World Series is ready to return to racing this week at the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor.

During the break, the Series and its teams have been keeping busy between a European Media Tour in mid-May and testing at Circuit Mont-Tremblant a couple of weeks ago, as well as a test on the 1.964-mile permanent road course where they will race this weekend. Everybody in the Champ Car community is looking forward to getting back on track but none more than Canada's Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone).

Tracy sat out the last two races because of a compression fracture in his lower back which he suffered after he made contact with the wall during the Saturday morning practice session in Long Beach. Tracy, the 2003 Series Champion, is hungry for victory as he now finds himself 15th in the point standings 47 points behind the leader. Filling in for Tracy during his absence was Oriol Servia (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who has since been rewarded for his on-track performance in Long Beach and Houston with a ride in the #7 Forsythe Championship Racing car for this weekend's Portland race.

Tracy will not be the only driver looking to get back on track this weekend. Pacific Coast Motorsport rookie Alex Figge (#29 Molecule Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will also be making a return to the cockpit after sitting out the Houston event due to an injury suffered in Long Beach which was aggravated by the bumpy Houston circuit and finally, Belgian driver Jan Heylen (#34 Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), who recently signed on with Conquest Racing for the remainder of the season, will be making a come back to competition after watching the first three events from the sidelines.

While some drivers are looking forward to getting back behind the wheel this weekend, one team hopes it can make history in Portland. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) scored its 99th victory in Houston in April and is now chasing its 100th win. Looking to accomplish that feat for them is veteran driver Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who has won the last two races in both Houston and Long Beach and who has always performed well in Portland scoring three podium finishes in his last four visits including a win in 2004.

However, Bourdais can't count out his biggest competition. Rookie teammate Graham Rahal (#2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will also be looking to give NHLR their 100th victory. Rahal became the youngest podium finisher in Champ Car history in Houston in April and, like his teammate, he had a very strong test at Portland International Raceway in early May. The teenager, who graduated this past weekend from New Albany High School in his hometown of New Albany, Ohio, sat on pole in Portland in 2006 in the Champ Car Atlantic Series and scored his first Star Mazda win at Portland in 2005.

Another driver that is still carrying momentum from his excellent start to the season is Dutchman Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone). The first rookie since Nigel Mansell to score a podium in his debut followed his opening round performance with a third place finish from his 13th place on the starting grid in round three at Houston. Doornbos continued his hot streak during testing last month as well, topping day one of the Mont-Tremblant test and wants it to carry on at the first permanent road course event of the season.

Alex Tagliani (#8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) may not have finished on the podium so far this season but the RSPORTS driver sits quietly in fourth place in the standings, showing that consistency is key. The Canadian is one of only two drivers to have finished in the top ten in all three races this year. The other is Dale Coyne Racing's Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who is only four points behind Tagliani in the standings with 53.

After a promising start to the season, Team Australia's Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) is turning to Portland International Raceway, where he scored the fastest lap of the race in 2006, to get his momentum back. With a first in Las Vegas and a podium finish in Long Beach, Houston was a race to forget for the Australian as a series of problems halted his efforts and slid him down into second place in the season standings, three points behind Bourdais.

It may seem to Power that Lady Luck abandoned him in Houston for his Team Australia teammate Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who up until then had showed his speed but had a string of bad luck. The Frenchman, who was part of Champ Car's European Tour last month, scored his best Champ Car result with a fifth place in the Lone Star state.

PKV Racing's Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay By Touch Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and RSPORTS' Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) are a couple of drivers hoping that Portland is where their luck turns around. Gommendy has managed to make his way to the front of the field in the last two races but fell short on their pit strategy in both cases while Wilson crossed the finish line in fourth in Long Beach but saw contact relegate him to tenth in Houston after leading in the opening stages of the race.

The Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor gets underway Friday with the first round of qualifying at 2:00 p.m. local time. The second and final round of qualifying takes place at 2:00 p.m. local time Saturday. The green flag will drop on Round Four of the Champ Car World Series 2007 season Sunday, June 10 at 1:00 p.m. local time. The race will be broadcast live on ABC starting at 4:00 p.m. eastern.

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Nigel Mansell , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Alex Figge , Tristan Gommendy , Jan Heylen , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dale Coyne
Teams Conquest Racing , Dale Coyne Racing