JUSTIN WILSON PACES FIRST DAY OF CHAMP CAR TESTING IN PORTLAND PORTLAND, Ore. (April 12, 2006) -- Justin Wilson ( ...
JUSTIN WILSON PACES FIRST DAY OF CHAMP CAR TESTING IN PORTLAND
PORTLAND, Ore. (April 12, 2006) -- Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the man to beat last year when the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford visited Portland, as the RuSPORT driver had everyone covered until an oil pump failure ended his race day.
Wilson literally picked up where he left off Wednesday at Portland International Raceway, leading an 17-driver field on a full day of testing on the 1.964-mile PIR road course. Wilson started the day with the same setup he had on the car last June and built on it from there, eventually posting a best time of 57.680 seconds (122.580 mph).
"Yeah last year things went really well for us here but obviously we had a couple of problems on race day," lamented Wilson. "But today things have been really good. The track was a little greasy when we first went out but we were able to go pretty quick later. I think there's still a good bit left in the car if we trim it out for qualifying. It's nice to be quick here, but they don't give any prizes away for it, we just want to keep working and get the car right for the race."
Wilson, series points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Wilson's RuSPORT teammate A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were the only drivers to get under 58 seconds on the first day of testing, with Wilson holding more than a quarter-second on his two closest pursuers.
Bourdais carded the second-best time of the day despite a very tough day that saw the Newman/Haas Racing team go through a pair of powerplants. Officially, the Long Beach winner stopped the clocks at 57.962 seconds (121.983 mph), although a problem with an antenna saw a number of his morning laps go uncounted. Bourdais ran only 19 laps in the afternoon session as two engine failures meant the team spent more time in the garage than it did on the track.
Allmendinger ran only 47 laps on a day when most teams were in the 65-lap range, but his 57.987 second (121.931 mph) effort was good enough for third ahead of Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). The trio all rebounded from a tough start to the 2006 season as all three had their season debuts ended in a first-lap crash at Long Beach.
"It's been a really good day for us here," Allmendinger said. "The team has been able to regroup after Long Beach and we have gotten a lot of work done today."
Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the quickest rookie on the day, posting a top lap of 58.771 seconds (120.304 mph), good enough for eighth on the grid. In all, seven rookies made testing runs today including former Indy Racing League driver Ryan Briscoe (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who sat in for much of the afternoon for Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) as he nursed an injured hand. Briscoe was 16th on the time charts but his time was a bit of a misrepresentation as his Mi-Jack/Conquest team made a lot of two- and three-lap runs working on setups, then saw two late red flags derail their plans to make some longer runs in the latter part of the session.
"We learned a lot about the car today and hopefully the changes we made put us in good position for tomorrow," Briscoe said. "I think the Champ Cars are awesome, they're a lot of fun. They're the kind of cars that you really have to muscle to get them around and there's a ton of horsepower. I am really enjoying driving these cars."
Briscoe and the rest of the field will get another day of testing tomorrow at Portland International Raceway, with a session that is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. -- 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to come out and watch the testing free of charge, while others not in the Pacific Northwest can follow along via live timing and coring available on the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws