CHAMPCAR/CART: Sebring open test, Saturday report

Bruno Junqueira Leads Second Day of Champ Car Testing at Sebring SEBRING, Fla. (February 5, 2005) A.J. Allmendinger ripped out of the pits -- Saturday afternoon at Sebring with gravel and tire bits spewing from the back of his Champ Car,...

Bruno Junqueira Leads Second Day of Champ Car Testing at Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (February 5, 2005) A.J. Allmendinger ripped out of the pits -- Saturday afternoon at Sebring with gravel and tire bits spewing from the back of his Champ Car, throwing conventional racing wisdom that calls for a warmup lap out the window, as Allmendinger immediately jumped on the rev limiter and pounded through the gears on his way to the first turn.

When asked later why he skipped the customary half-speed warmup lap, he grinned and summed up the feelings of most of the Champ Car drivers that took part in today's second of a three-day Champ Car test session at Sebring International Raceway.

"It's been four months since I've been in one of these!" he grinned. "No time for warming up."

Five teams turned up at Sebring on a sunny Saturday to continue preparations for the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, and were again chasing the team that most of them pursued in vain all 2004. Newman/Haas Racing's Bruno Junqueira showed the way, turning the only sub 51-second lap of the day, as he negotiated the 1.2-mile Sebring short course in 50.98 seconds.

Junqueira had a tight bunch behind him, as he should expect to have all year long, with Allmendinger, Jimmy Vasser and Justin Wilson all stopping the clocks within a half-second of the day's leader. Allmendinger posted a best time of 51.13 seconds in his first day in the RuSPORT car, while his teammate Justin Wilson came in at 51.35 in the second RuSPORT machine.

"Overall it went well for us. The car feels stronger already this year than it did at the end of last season," Allmendinger said. "The guys did a great job getting the car sorted in the morning after some mechanical problems and we got a lot of work done in the afternoon."

Vasser scored the third-best time of the day in his PKV Racing mount, turning in a best effort at 51.24 seconds. The test was the first for the 1996 Champ Car titlewinner with Jim McGee atop the war wagon, as Champ Car's all-time victory leader among general managers joined PKV Racing for the 2005 campaign.

"We have a lot of new programs and new people in place and I feel that we are close to competitiveness even with the changes," Vasser said after putting 175 test miles on the board. "I've been on winning teams in my career and success has never been because of any special parts on the car. The teams that do well are the ones that have great chemistry and handle themselves professionally and this is something that Jim brings to the team."

Ryan Hunter-Reay ran his first test day of the 2005 season for Rocketsports, but had to battle an ill-fitting seat that made for an uncomfortable outing. The Milwaukee winner put up a best lap of 51.76 seconds while fighting to get situated in the car while Toyota Atlantic veteran Alex Figge earned a best time of 52.37 seconds in one of the Mi-Jack/Conquest Champ Cars. The newly-signed Nelson Philippe was set to join Figge on the testing trail today but had to settle for a 50-mile day after the team developed engine troubles early in the session.

Four of the teams will be back on the course for the final day of the test session with Vasser, Junqueira, Wilson, Allmendinger, Philippe and Figge expected to put in another day as teams work toward the April 10 season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Ryan Hunter-Reay , A.J. Allmendinger , Alex Figge , Nelson Philippe