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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Columns by Rick

Las Vegas GP Preview

Champ Car Laguna Seca postscript

Champ Car on verge of significant announcements

2007 NASCAR Media Tour Day 1

We enjoy the PRI Trade Show

A joyful holiday season this year for Champ Car teams

Who will have rides in Champ Car in 2007?

Looking ahead to Mexico City

What will Champ Car look like in 2007?

Road America postscript and new 2007 venues

Looking ahead to Road America

Looking ahead to Montreal

 Looking ahead to Denver

Looking ahead to Edmonton - Many storylines

For Allmendinger, life could not be any brighter

A big sigh of relief

Bourdais threatening to make it a runaway

Houston postscript

Looking ahead to Houston

Long Beach postscript

Paul Dana was living his dream

2006 Champ Car seats filling up

A view from the top - Miscellaneous pres-season ramblings

A look at the All-American Driver Challenge

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 4 Wrap-Up

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 3 Familiar Faces

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 2 Toyota announces teams

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 1

Some off-season thoughts heading into the holidays

A look at the collapse of the National Sprintcar League

Champ Car: Miscellaneous Ramblings

Champ Car teams/drivers in transition over the winter

A well deserved 2nd title for Sebastien Bourdais

We look at the benefits of the new Champ Car

Who will win Champ Car's only Superspeedway race?

A look ahead to Las Vegas, Champ Car's only Superspeedway race

Bourdais' winning percentage stacks up with the best of them

Looking ahead to Denver and Paul Tracy's first NASCAR race

Looking ahead to San Jose

Champ Car hits a home run in Toronto

Send F1 far from these shores

Milwaukee musings

May Happenings

Newman/Haas has a good chance to win Indy 500

Sebastien Bourdais and ALMS are making news

Bristol review, Long Beach preview

A look back at Sebring

A peak at Champ Car TV for 2005

IROC is foreign for the open wheel drivers

Rolex 24 Recap: A short day for Champ Car drivers

Champ Car drivers take on other stars in Rolex 24

Champ Car is in the driver's seat

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