CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: Round eight preview



INDIANAPOLIS (July 25, 2005) -- With the massive success of the inaugural Edmonton event still reverberating throughout the Champ Car World Series paddock, the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose is gearing up to make an equal splash as the turbocharged Champ Cars invade the streets of Silicon Valley July 29-31.

The Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose marks Champ Car's first visit to California's Bay Area and continues the series' legacy of holding three-day Festivals of Speed in the heart of some of the largest markets in the world. The 11-turn temporary street course winds its way around the McEnery Convention Center, with the start/finish line located on Almaden Boulevard.

As important as the inaugural San Jose event is to the future of Champ Car, of more immediate importance is the fact that the event signals the start of the second half of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. With seven races in the books to this point, the only thing that can be predicted about the 2005 season is that nothing can be predicted.

New talent has joined standard frontrunners at the sharp end of the grid and competition throughout the 18-car field is as close as it has ever been in the Champ Cars. The first half of the year has seen five different winners in seven races, five different polesitters and 20 of the 24 drivers that have made starts have at least one top-10 finish to their credit.

Those successes are noteworthy, but they have not helped the field rein in the defending series champion as the man leading the championship at the halfway pole is the same guy that led everyone across the finish line in 2004. Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) holds a 21-point lead heading into San Jose and rolls into California on the heels of an Edmonton victory that saw him come from 10th on the starting grid to score the win. Bourdais' ability to keep his car in one piece is one of the reasons for his success this year as he leads the series in laps and miles completed, and is the only driver to have finished every race so far this season.

His chief antagonist both on and off the track is the winningest active driver in all of North American open-wheel racing, as Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) sits just 21 points behind the frontrunning Frenchman. Tracy and Bourdais are the only drivers with multiple wins this year and are also the only drivers with multiple Bridgestone Pole Awards in 2005. Tracy has used strong qualifying runs to earn his points this year, qualifying in the top five in every race and starting in the top three in six of the seven starts. He has been on the podium in every race that he has finished this year, leading the series with five podium runs.

Podium finishes have suddenly become the forte of Spaniard Oriol Servia (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who is on the finest roll of his six-year Champ Car career. Servia's second-place run in Edmonton gave him three consecutive podium finishes for the first time in his career, and boosted him into fourth place in the points, the highest he has ever been in his Champ Car career. He has four podium finishes in the five races that he has run with Newman/Haas and is just 26 points out of second place in the standings.

Likely the only people that left Edmonton without a grin on their faces were those wearing the uniforms of RuSPORT, as a dominant on-track weekend went for naught after late-race incidents. But the final results were the only misstep for the Colorado-based team all weekend as Justin Wilson (#9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were the stars of the show - until closing time. The team will be looking for a similar weekend with a revised ending in San Jose, building on one of the most successful outings of its two seasons in Champ Car.

Allmendinger scored the first pole of his series career by leading both Edmonton qualifying sessions, turned a fastest race lap that was more than a full second faster than anyone else's and led a race- and career-high 40 laps. His teammate was equally quick, starting on the outside of the front row and running up front all day, including a long stretch where he pressured race leader Tracy relentlessly in trying to wrest the lead from the former series champion. Wilson recovered from an ill-timed spin to earn his fifth top-five finish of the year and is within striking distance of Bourdais, sitting just 30 points behind at the halfway point.

Veteran Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will get a chance to run in front of his home fans for the first time in his series career as the Morgan Hill native takes to the streets of San Jose. The former series champion finds himself in the thick of the title hunt again, standing in sixth spot on the strength of five top-10 finishes. His qualifying efforts have helped his situation this year as well as he has started eighth or better in each of the last six races, including a polewinning performance in Milwaukee.

Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continues his strong season with the first-year Team Australia outfit, although to call it a true rookie team is a bit of a stretch, as it has the expertise of Derrick Walker and his long-time Champ Car campaigners in its corner. Tagliani had another typical workman-like performance in Edmonton, starting sixth and finishing seventh. The Canadian veteran has used his consistency to claim the seventh spot in the points, and enters the San Jose weekend just 24 points out of fourth.

The veterans have been the stars of the show through the first half of the season, but the rookie class of 2005 continues to show great promise for the future. Timo Glock (#8 DHL Global Mail Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) leads the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings by eight points after scoring five top-10 runs in seven events. He had the best run of his brief career going in Edmonton before a late-race incident knocked him out of the event and left him to finish 13th.

Glock leads Andrew Ranger (#27 Tide/Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the rookie standings by eight points, but perhaps the most surprising entry in the first-year division now rides with the colors of Dale Coyne Racing. Ronnie Bremer (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is a solid third in the rookie standings, just three markers behind Ranger and 11 behind Glock in the rookie chase. Bremer returned to Champ Car action in the Dale Coyne ride after missing the Toronto race when HVM replaced him with Alex Sperafico. Bremer took his new mount to the best finish of his young Champ Car career in Edmonton, finishing sixth after starting 16th. In addition, Bremer became the first official member of the 2006 Champ Car lineup when HVM announced that it would field a car for the Danish driver during the '06 season.

Nelson Philippe (#34 Wellbox Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will look continue his improvement in San Jose, trying to build on back-to-back top-10 finishes, including a ninth-place finish in Edmonton that matched a career high. The 19-year-old Frenchman has failed to finish in only one race this year, and has moved up three spots in the championship standings over the last two races.

Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is another young driver that will be hoping to build on recent success. The Australian driver scored the first top-10 finish of his blossoming career in Edmonton, gaining 10 positions from his starting spot to finish a career-best eighth.

The inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose is set to take place Friday-Sunday, July 29-31, with practice and qualifying set for both Friday and Saturday. The Champ Car race will get the green flag at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday and can be seen live on SPEED Channel beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern. There will again be a 30-minute show of highlights from both qualifying sessions, which will air at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on SPEED.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Nelson Philippe , Ronnie Bremer , Marcus Marshall , Andrew Ranger , Timo Glock , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing