CHAMPCAR/CART: Swift. Tarso Marques head for Detroit

PLAINFIELD, Ill. - With most of its short oval races behind it this season, the Swift factory team that fields the Panasonic Swift Ford driven by Brazilian star Tarso Marques can begin concentrating on road racing, where he has lots of ...

PLAINFIELD, Ill. - With most of its short oval races behind it this season, the Swift factory team that fields the Panasonic Swift Ford driven by Brazilian star Tarso Marques can begin concentrating on road racing, where he has lots of experience. Its CART FedEx Championship road racing campaign begins the weekend of June 16-18 with the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit at picturesque Belle Island on the Detroit River. Development of the Panasonic Swift entry continued this week at CART's open test session at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where, even with a test interrupted by frequent red flags, Marques and team manager Peter Scott came away convinced that the car is on the road toward a good performance in Detroit. "The test at Mid-Ohio was a good opportunity," Marques said. "We know how to improve the car now. Mid-Ohio told us a lot about where we are going with the Swift Ford. And it was good to be back on a road course again. I'm very happy with our test." Still, "it was an unfortunate thing having the incredible number of red flags those two days," said Scott. "We're still catching up to the other teams that have been testing and improving their equipment since last November. They made it difficult for us to get any consistent testing done. We'd get in a good lap, and then an accident would shut down the track." What Mid-Ohio did provide was a chance to gather significant on-track data on road course aerodynamics, which is important, because CART's revised rules this year have removed a significant amount of downforce, the artificial "glue" that plants the tires firmly against the asphalt at speed when the car is turning at high speed. "Detroit is a downforce track," Scott said. "In general, at venues like Long Beach and Detroit you want maximum downforce to make you go quicker." When Marques arrives at Belle Isle he will be seeing the course for the first time. He has already proved to be a fast learner this season, both in tests at Phoenix and Mid Ohio and when the green flag has dropped to open practice for the three races he has entered - Japan, Nazareth and Milwaukee. Last Monday restarting the rained-out Milwaukee race, Marques qualified 18 on the grid and worked his way up to 13th before an accident forced him out of the race. The official race finishing chart placed him 20th in the order at the end.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tarso Marques