CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Target Las Vegas test

Las Vegas, Nev. - Although Team Target didn't have time to visit the casinos while testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Jan. 22-23, ideal conditions and great cars let it hit the jackpot anyway. The Las Vegas trip, which marked the third...

Las Vegas, Nev. - Although Team Target didn't have time to visit the casinos while testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Jan. 22-23, ideal conditions and great cars let it hit the jackpot anyway. The Las Vegas trip, which marked the third oval test for rookies Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian (the duo also has tested at Nazareth and Phoenix), allowed the drivers to log a combined 580 miles and practice pit stops at the 1.5-mile oval. Sixty-degree temperatures and little wind contributed to the team's rave reviews of the track. "This is a fantastic race facility, " said Target Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull. "This speedway is a first-class venue with a wonderful staff. We're very lucky to have the opportunity to test here. Bruno and Nicolas ran very well and benefited greatly from this experience. The track here is very similar to the high-speed ovals they'll see at Motegi and the new track in Germany." Minassian ran on Monday and quickly picked up where he left off at the team's Jan. 4 test at Laguna Seca. In addition to pit stop practice, supervised by team manager Rob Hill, he also impressed while simulating qualifying and race conditions. Team Target engineers Bill Pappas and Julian Robertson worked with Minassian to optimize the team's 2001 aero package for higher speed ovals. "The more I drive on ovals, the more I enjoy it," Minassian said. "This is a great track and I think I adjusted to it quickly. I've been improving with each test, and I'm better at communicating my needs to the crew. I like working on the car's specifications and being involved with the changes that are being made." Junqueira took over testing duties on Tuesday and was equally impressed with Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his car's balance. "I have a wonderful crew to work with," said Junqueira, last year's F3000 champion. "I'm very impressed with their skill, and I'm really enjoying working with them to improve the technical aspects of the car. Oval racing is much different than road racing, and I'm happy to have the support of such a great crew. I really liked this oval. Even with the problem at the end of end of the day, I was very happy with how we ran today." Like most people who visit Las Vegas, Junqueira experienced some bad luck. Toward the end of the test session, a mechanical problem caused his No. 4 Toyota-Lola to spin 180 degrees and touch the wall between turns three and four. "Bruno was released with no complications after an inspection by CART's Lon Bromley," Hull said. "We've had great luck avoiding trouble on the track so far in our tests, but the drivers and the team know this is part of racing. Thanks to Champ car's high degree of safety and the HANS device, by the end of the day, Bruno was already preparing for his next test." Team Target continues it off-season testing on Jan. 31 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.

-TTGR

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Nicolas Minassian , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull