CHAMPCAR/CART: Walker Racing Chicago race report

Tora has best oval finish of season at Chicago CHICAGO, July 30, 2001- Walker Racing rookie driver Tora Takagi, drove the ...

Tora has best oval finish of season at Chicago

CHICAGO, July 30, 2001- Walker Racing rookie driver Tora Takagi, drove the #5 Pioneer/DENSO Special/Toyota/Reynard/Firestone car home to an 11th place finish today, his best finish on an oval to-date. Tora, who had never even driven on an oval before this season, was also the fastest CART FedEx Championship Series driver overall in the final warm-up on Sunday morning before the Target Grand Prix presented by Energizer.

The 1.029-mile oval track at Chicago Motor Speedway is narrow and notoriously difficult to pass on, and although Tora started in 18th place, he ran as high as sixth during the race before his second pit stop on Lap 154.

"The car was very good all day, and the guys did a great job on our pit stops," said Tora. "This is a very difficult track to overtake on, and we managed to get good fuel consumption during the race. All in all the weekend was very good overall, and I have to say thanks to the team."

Tora went back out after his second pit stop under the green flag, and although his car was as fast as that of the race leaders, through a combination of an ill-timed yellow for the Walker team late in the race which assisted other cars who hadn't yet pitted a final time, and getting back out on-track after his pit stop behind an evenly matched Toyota-powered car, Tora was unable to make up any more positions the rest of the race.

"After our second pit stop, we got back out on the track behind Jimmy Vasser, who had another 15 laps before it was time for him to pit," said owner Derrick Walker. "There isn't much chance of overtaking on this narrow track, and somebody who is reasonably quick is difficult to pass. We came out with fuel and new tires, but still couldn't overtake Jimmy. It makes all the difference in the world where you come out of your pit stops. It's nobody's fault, just the luck of the draw."

Engineer Steve Newey has watched Tora's progress in the Champ Car during this season.

"Tora has been through two short-oval races so far, at Milwaukee and here at Chicago and I think that experience is showing now," said Newey. "He knows what to expect, whereas before there were a lot of surprises. He has had the opportunity to see how the car changes throughout the race, and he's a quick study."

The CART FedEx Championship Series will take next weekend off and will return to action at Mid-Ohio Sports Complex on Aug. 12. The Miller Lite 200 will be broadcast on ESPN at Noon (ET).



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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tora Takagi