Editorial

View from the Topside
May Happenings

   by Rick Benjamin
May 17, 2005

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Preparing to dust off the passport and head to the airport this week, bound for Monterrey and the second round of the Champ Car World Series at Fundidora Park.

Quite surprised at the move by PKV Racing to add Jorge Goeters as the driver of their third entry this weekend, instead of Michel Jourdain…who appeared to have the drive locked in just a few days ago. Goeters will generate a great deal of attention from his homeland fans, coming off a pole qualifying effort in the first NASCAR Busch Series event at Mexico City back in March.

Goeters has no apparent experience in high-horsepower, lightweight cars, but certainly has a wealth of talent and will run in good equipment. I’m hoping he can be competitive, as competitive as David Besnard was in Australia last fall in his one-off attempt for Derrick Walker, which resulted in a top-ten finish.

Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais will have much happier weekends in Monterrey than could have been the case, if rain had prevailed again Sunday at Indy. Now, both the Newman/Haas stars are strongly in the 500 lineup outside rows 4 and 5.

While Bourdais has been unhappy with his car’s lack of speed, the team will have a shot at tweaking their race day setup during Carburetion Day the Thursday before the 500. Junqueira is coming off a nice 5th at the Speedway last year, in which he lead nearly 20 laps. The key at Indy is finding the right balance, staying with the lead draft, and having something left for the final 100 miles.

I think the Newman/Haas squad will put together a strong plan for the 500. I expect both Bourdais and Junqueira to be in position to contend for the victory come those last 40 laps.

Great night of racing last Saturday at Richmond, capping Kasey Kahne’s coming-out party in NASCAR. Two poles in one weekend is quite an accomplishment, and bagging your first Cup victory surely makes it a race day to remember. The fact that Kahne beat his friend and mentor Tony Stewart to the stripe surely made it even more special for the youngster from Washington.

With Ryan Newman finishing third, USAC’s open-wheel race series got a tremendous boost, complete with appropriate plugs from the FOX broadcast booth. What’s unfortunate is that USAC continues to be unable to capitalize on the fact that it has become the sport’s preeminent training ground for young drivers.

Many fans grouse endlessly that USAC isn’t producing tomorrow’s stars in either Champ Car or the IRL, but it’s really quite simple. Running high-horsepower front-engined cars on dirt or pavement teaches the essence of car control. And the money available in NASCAR means the market drives young talent to the South.

As for Champ Car this week, Bourdais and Junqueira finished one-two in both Mexico rounds last season. I think it’s time for a change, an upset….I see RuSPORT in Victory Lane for the first time. Will it be Wilson or Allmendinger?

I like AJ, but I think Justin Wilson will be a winner soon as well. Hope you can join us on SPEED, Sunday night at 11pm Eastern, with qualifying coverage Saturday night at 8:30 Eastern as well.

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