Vasser Claims His 31st Career Podium With Runner-Up Honors in Toronto; PKV Rookie Gonzalez Finishes 13th on The Losing End of Contact TORONTO, Ont. (July 11, 2004) -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser ( ...
Vasser Claims His 31st Career Podium With Runner-Up Honors in Toronto; PKV Rookie Gonzalez Finishes 13th on The Losing End of Contact
TORONTO, Ont. (July 11, 2004) -- PKV Racing's Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) started 11th, climbed five spots on the first lap, and used veteran overtaking instincts to drive up through to the top-three and record the 1996 Series Champion's first podium finish of the 2004 Champ Car World Series season in Toronto today. Vasser's rookie teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 Nextel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ran as high as eighth and looked to be en route to another career-best finish after placing seventh in Cleveland a week ago, but contact that resulted in front suspension damage forced the Mexican to retire just short of the checkers in 13th.
The second place result at the Molson Indy Toronto is Vasser's best career finish on the 1.755-mile street circuit (after finishing third in the 1998 event), and moves him from ninth to sixth in the championship race with 101 markers. The California native also scored additional race points for his first laps led of the season (five) and most positions gained (nine), and has vaulted from 11th to sixth in the standings over the past two races.
"Man, these street races are a blast," said Vasser. "I made it clean through the pileup at the start, made a couple good moves for position and it turned out to be a good day for us in the points. The PKV guys did an awesome job, and it's great for our sponsor Gulfstream. I guess the key of the race was that I didn't run into anybody either-- a little bit of old man wisdom I suppose."
The Toronto podium also comes in Vasser's 189th consecutive start, pulling the Champ Car iron man within three races of Al Unser Jr. (192) for the all-time series mark.
Gonzalez mimicked his teammate on the start of the time-shortened 84-lap event, moving up five positions to 10th from his 15th starting position on the opening lap, but suspension damage late in the race put a halt to the rookie's impressive run.
"It was a very disappointing end to what was really a great run for us in the Nextel car today," said Gonzalez, who stands 14th in points with 65. "I had great stops all day long from my guys and my car was solid throughout our run. We positioned ourselves for another top-10 finish, which has been our goal all season long, but unfortunately suspension damage forced us out of the race after contact with Tagliani at the end."
Next up for PKV Racing is the second leg of the Canadian tri-vecta in British Columbia for the Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place, Sunday, July 25th on Spike TV (4:00 pm ET/PT). Vasser and Gonzalez will take on the Champ Car competition once again but this time in the form of the 1.781-mile downtown street circuit after a week off between the back-to-back Canadian events that historically draw over 100,000 spectators per weekend.