View from the Topside
Who will win Champ Car's only Superspeedway race?

   by Rick Benjamin
September 21, 2005

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The Champ Cars put on quite a show last year in Las Vegas under the lights

If itís close competition you hanker for, youíre in for a double dose this Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I donít think thereís a better ticket value anywhere than the opportunity to watch the best in the Champ Car World Series do battle on the high-speed Vegas oval right after NASCARís Craftsman Truckers fight it out on the same race track.

The Trucks are a strong partner, with close-quarters action at very high speeds the norm on the mile-and-a-half tracks they run regularly. The NCTS comes to Vegas off an exciting event at New Hampshire where Ford picked up its first series victory in nearly a year. The Ford win came at the hand of a fine driver and a wonderful guy, Rick Crawford. His Circle Bar team is one of the sportís best and the Truck Series couldnít ask for a better ambassador. Crawford will have his hands full Saturday night going for two straight, but donít be surprised if the 14 truck is up front as the final laps wind down.

Last year Newman/Haas teammates Junqueira and Bourdais went wheel-to-wheel lap after lap

Weíll be watching the Champ Cars most closely of course Saturday night, preparing our telecast for Sunday airing on SPEED. Last year the Newman/Haas mates dueled to the finish, with Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira swapping the top spot numerous times over the last 30 laps. Iíd think itís fair to say the 1 and 2 cars will be among the top contenders this time around in the Las Vegas 400. Oriol Servia will bid for two in a row, and will keep up his drive for a top-three points finish, but I believe the N/H guys will have half a dozen other cars and drivers to contend with.

Remember that last year Paul Tracy, running in his adopted hometown, never really got goingÖa wheel problem took the í03 Champ out of the event early. This year Iím certain PT feels the Vegas oval owes him one, and heíll be digging hard all evening. The RuSPORT squad surely will be strong too, and I think AJ Allmendinger could well be a threat to bag his first career win on the high banks. AJ is fearless, his car will be fast, and heís run well on the flat mile at Milwaukee both of the past two years.

Jimmy Vasser, too, should be a contender in his Gulfstream/PKV Lola. Jimmy is also playing in front of a nearly-hometown crowd and his high-speed oval credentials are without peer. Recall that Vasserís last win came at Fontana in í02, where the speeds are the highest. Last year the 12 car was strong, but didnít quite have enough to remain in the lead draft as the final shootout took shape. Iíd also look for the HVM, Rocketsports, and even the Dale Coyne teams to turn in good showings Saturday night.

Of particular note is the plan to add Cosworth Push-2-Pass to the mix this time around at Vegas. Race Director Tony Cotman and his staff will allow teams 60 seconds of the additional 50 horsepower to enhance the show. Drivers will get a full ten-second burst each time they use the button, and that should create quite a strategic showdown. Do you use P2P at the drop of the green? Do you use it defensively? Or do you conserve for the last 30 or so of the 166-lap, 250 mile, 400 kilometer race? Lap times at least some of the time will come down a good bit, and the addition of P2P will no doubt shuffle the leaderboard several times before the checkers fall.

Saturday also marks the start of the Steve Johnson era at Champ Car. Johnson is an experienced motorsports leader with a strong track record, and his stewardship of the series will be strong. Weíll watch with interest to see the course he charts for the CCWS in the months to come.

Hope you can join us Sunday afternoon on SPEED for Champ Car Qualifying from Las Vegas, followed immediately by our coverage of the Las Vegas 400k. The fun starts at 3pm Eastern. See you then..

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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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