CHAMPCAR/CART: Shinji Nakano Portland qualifying

Portland, Ore., June 24, 2000 - Walker Racing rookie driver Shinji Nakano qualified in 21st position for his first CART FedEx Championship series road course race in preparation for Sunday's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 presented by...

Portland, Ore., June 24, 2000 - Walker Racing rookie driver Shinji Nakano qualified in 21st position for his first CART FedEx Championship series road course race in preparation for Sunday's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 presented by Texaco.

The Japanese rookie driver piloted the #5 Avex/Honda/Reynard/Firestone around the 1.967-mile permanent road course at Portland International Raceway, posting a quick speed of 118.112 mph, and a lap time of 60.014 seconds. Shinji was held up by traffic for most of the qualifying session, and was unable to get a clear lap on his own.

Nakano, an accomplished road racer and Formula 1 veteran, has nine top-10 finishes in the series, with the Scuderia Minardi and Prost Mugen Honda teams. In 1999, he was the test driver for the Jordan Mugen Honda F1 team.

In this, his rookie season with Derrick Walker's CART team, Nakano hasn't yet had a chance to test his road course skills with those of the other CART drivers. The Portland race on Sunday provides his first chance to show "what he's got."

"Formula 1 cars handle completely differently than these cars," said Shinji. "The CART cars are much heavier. The feeling of the power of the car is the same, and the engine power is the same, but the steering is much heavier here also. There are more differences than similarities between the two, and I have been adapting myself to driving these cars, the driving styles are totally different. I do really like this track, and my favorite part of it is coming out of the final corner and down the backstretch where you can go flat out. For Sunday, we need to find a good setup for the race, work our way up through the field, and then finish the race."

The Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 will be broadcast from Portland International Raceway on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. (ET.)

Walker Racing's corporate sponsor partners are avex, Alpine, Mitsuba, SpeedWRX.com, Dell Computers, NGK, St. Elmo Steakhouse, Honda, Reynard and Firestone.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Shinji Nakano