Sebastien Bourdais will be looking to wrap-up his third straight
title this weekend Champ Car
We’re anticipating a chilly, damp weekend here in
the Kettle Moraine of Wisconsin…but it’s great to be back at Road
America with Champ Car and the Atlantic Series. After a year away
the tour has returned to one of its traditional seats of power and
prestige. I couldn’t be happier.
Despite the tragic injury to Cristiano da Matta racing here has
always been terrific, full of high speed drama. Fans here are among
the most knowledgeable in the sport. Road America, at least until
the opening this year of Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, has long
been the continent’s biggest permanent road course.
It likely will retain its mantle of being the fastest road course in
Champ Car this weekend too, unless the weather turns completely
awful for Sunday’s GP of Road America.
This is a storied place in Champ Car history. The series has run
here since 1982, and most of the greats have run and won here. My
first year broadcasting the series, 2004, saw Alex Tagliani score
his first and thus far only Champ Car win for Rocketsports on a
fuel-mileage gambit. Ironically it was also Rocketsports’ only
series win to date. Tag has struggled with a variety of problems
this year with Team Australia, but when things have been in place
for the Quebec native the team has done well. Sunday’s run would be
a perfect time for Alex and the Aussie Vineyards squad to put
together their best run of the season.
This week’s event will see a couple of new car and driver
combinations on the grid for the first time, with Mario Dominguez
adding to his record by driving for his third team of the season,
the aforementioned Rocketsports. Sounds like Mario and his camp
have put together a good package of Mexico-based backing led by
Pemex to support the Rocketsports effort this weekend and a solid
top-five run would be a great payoff for both Dominguez and Paul
Uruguayan Juan Caceres joins Dale Coyne’s team this weekend as well,
taking over Mario’s seat in the Sonny’s Real Pit Barbecue 19 car.
Say that again. Must be one of the most extreme cases of motorsports
making strange bedfellows in recorded racing history…a driver from
Uruguay promoting a product that sells best in Georgia and the
Carolinas. Here’s hoping Caceres can adapt quickly to the pace of
Champ Car and put together a representative effort.
Up front the battle by Sebastien Bourdais to lock down his third
straight Champ Car championship will be hard-fought. AJ Allmendinger
and Justin Wilson will be desperately trying to keep the title fight
alive at least until Australia, though I’m hoping those drivers can
close in on SeaBass come Sunday, and force a decisive battle in
Mexico City in November. While I’m among those hoping Champ Car’s
season finale will move back Stateside soon, I love the series’
visit to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and our trip to the
biggest city in the Americas. With the reported move back to the
former F-1 layout there this time, the competition in Mexico City
should be fierce, deserving of a championship battle.
We’ll also get our first look at the new-generation Champ Car, the
DP-01, on track. From all reports the new car is terrific and will
create a much stronger series for 2007 and beyond. With at least two
new teams committed and the prospect of a much-larger grid next
season count me among those who can’t wait to get started in the new
Here in Wisconsin the other huge story of the weekend will be the
battle for the Champ Car Atlantics title between Simon Pagenaud and
Graham Rahal. While it appears Rahal will be in Champ Car next
season regardless of Sunday’s outcome, the $2 million prize for
winning the title would help Pagenaud greatly in getting to Champ
Car next season. Pagenaud has been the picture of consistency, while
the younger Mr. Rahal has had the fastest car just about all season
long. A fourth-place finish will clinch the championship for the
Bourdais protégé, and if he can close the deal the title will be
well-earned both for Simon and for team principal Derrick Walker, as
fine a gentleman as this form of racing can claim.
Either way both events Sunday should be outstanding, and if we end
up with our second rainy race day in a row, the results could be a
huge surprise. Hope you can join us for the coverage Sunday
afternoon, 2pm Eastern, on SPEED.
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