Just a couple days away now from
heading west again, to San Francisco this time…and to Champ Car’s
second-straight new temporary-circuit event. The Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of
San Jose will take place in one of my favorite parts of the world, Northern
California, with weather that ought to be a good bit more hospitable than what
we’ve seen on some other race weekends recently.
The course has been adjusted a couple of times, and here’s hoping the final
configuration provides racing as good as we’ve seen at Toronto and Edmonton so
far this month of July.
Each Champ Car, Trans-Am, and Toyota Atlantic team is facing the same disadvantage in
going to a brand-new street course. There’s no book, no notes, no
test data from the circuit. Everything will be a guessing game based
on known quantities, existing setups from Long Beach and Toronto,
and maybe a bit from the most recent round in Edmonton. Given those
conditions you’d have to assume that teams like Newman/Haas,
Forsythe, and perhaps Walker, PKV and RuSPORT will be the ones to
beat this weekend.
But judging from the wild chase at Edmonton two weeks back, I think
there are a couple of real dark horses to consider. First, many
observers had all but written off the Rocketsports squad as Champ
Car hit its summer season. But the strong effort of Timo Glock out
in Western Canada could mean the fortunes of Paul Gentilozzi’s bunch
are about to take a turn for the better.
Pit lane suites atop the grandstands
Glock was strong in the
hunt for a top-5 until his unfortunate contact with Justin Wilson in
the late laps at Edmonton. Timo, who bears a striking resemblance to
Tony Stewart in both appearance and speed, seems to finally be
living up to the reputation he brought over from F-3000. I’m hoping
Rocketsports can continue on its upward performance climb and get
Glock into position to become a regular threat. The team’s
improvement also has helped Ryan Hunter-Reay get back in the chase,
though equipment problems took him out again in Edmonton. Both RHR
and Glock can use better fortune.
And I’m more than pleasantly surprised at what Ronnie Bremer was
able to accomplish for Dale Coyne’s AMR team at Edmonton. While we
may not know until the haulers are unloaded in San Jose whether or
not Bremer will be back for a second try in the 19 car, we do know
that he ran very well for the undermanned team without benefit of
testing or much time to get acquainted with his new surroundings.
Bremer is committed to returning to HVM at least by next season, but
he’d be a great choice for Coyne for the balance of ’05. Coyne is
willing to roll the dice strategically for his drivers and that
could give Bremer an outside shot at making some Champ Car history
if things fall right during the event Sunday.
While it’d be hard to imagine San Jose exceeding Edmonton’s
turnstile numbers, it’s appeared for months as though the organizers
there, led by the veteran Bob Singleton, are very much on top of
things. I anticipate a great weekend of racing, and a well-run event
that should help Champ Car reestablish a strong foothold in the
Northern California-San Francisco region market.
We’ll have the coverage Sunday afternoon on SPEED, preceded by our
half-hour Bridgestone Pole Qualifying show. We’ll also bring you
Trans-Am and Toyota Atlantic coverage via tape-delay.
Hope you can join us from the Bay Area this week..
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