VARIED RESULTS FOR THE HVM AND MINARDI DRIVERS FOR THE 2nd QUALIFICATION AT LONG BEACH Long Beach, CA (April 20, 2008) - It was a day of mixed emotions for the HVM and Minardi drivers for the 2nd qualifying round at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long...
VARIED RESULTS FOR THE HVM AND MINARDI DRIVERS FOR THE 2nd QUALIFICATION AT LONG BEACH
Long Beach, CA (April 20, 2008) - It was a day of mixed emotions for the HVM and Minardi drivers for the 2nd qualifying round at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Nelson Philippe, who missed yesterday's session, turned a lap that was quick enough for 7th on the grid, but team-mate EJ Viso got caught up with traffic and will start 14th tomorrow. Roberto Moreno had a mechanical issue and will have to start 17th based on his fastest time from yesterday.
All three drivers hold a different importance for tomorrow's race. The Long Beach Grand Prix was the first race in America for Moreno, when in 1982, he drove an Atlantic car to finish 2nd. The same race marked Nelson's Champ Car debut in 2004 and the beginning of a prosperous racing career that continues to grow. For these two drivers, the Long Beach Grand Prix holds a bit of nostalgia for an amazing Racing Series that jump-started their careers and it is only fitting that they would be here to see it out to the end.
For EJ, this race has a different meaning, as he has not raced at Long Beach before. This is his first race in Champ Car, but the historical significance is not lost on the young Venezuelan. Although he is in the midst of the IndyCar Series Championship (currently 8th in points), he too will pay homage to the Champ Car World Series tomorrow when the turbo-charged engines run for their last time.
"I'm very happy for the team and very happy that Keith Wiggins gave me the chance to be here and I got to prove that I do alright for a guy who's been on leave for six months. I'm quite happy. If you look at the guys in front of us they are only a few tenths quicker and all of them have either been driving in the IRL or at least at the Sebring test (in the DP01). So for me to jump in here and be pretty quick, especially after missing all of qualifying yesterday, it proves that this is a Championship caliber team…and the driver isn't too bad either. Like always, HVM in the past always gave me a great car for the race and I'm sure tomorrow will be no different. Seeing how close we were with the times today I'm confident we can easily finish in the top five if we keep our nose clean. I want to bring it home in one piece and at the front for my last Champ Car race."
"It was a good session and the car was great on the Bridgestone black tires, but on the reds, we needed some more fine-tuning. I was on a great lap when Graham Rahal blocked me twice against the wall. I think his team needs to buy him a new set of mirrors."
"I'm extremely happy with what we did yesterday, and we made some improvements for today. Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with a stomach bug, along with several other members of the team and so I've been feeling a little weak. For qualifying I was feeling better and thought we would be quick, but we had a transmission problem somewhere. We just lost drive when I was starting my fast lap. It was unfortunate, I'm going to have to go with my time from yesterday and we'll do the best we can, saving fuel and implementing a good strategy to be there at the end. I know I have a good car and it's better to break now than a couple of laps into the race."
Keith Wiggins, Team Owner:
"It was a good performance for Nelson considering his time out of the car and he was fresh back after a long break. On the one hand he does have experience, but it's still been a big break for both him and the team. I could actually see we were very close to being further up the grid than he eventually ended up. We were expecting more with EJ, but it seemed on the red tires it didn't come together as well as on the blacks. Poor Roberto, it looked like he could do something really good, and then he had a mechanical. So it's a mixed result for us today."