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DATE News (chronologically)
06/09/07
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Champ Car adds fresh start to race format
For the first time in Champ Car history, a race will begin with a standing start Sunday at the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland.

Three-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais said one of three things will happen, and two of them are bad.

The 17-car field will line up as they qualified, the engines running but with the cars stationary, just in front of the starting line, spaced out equally. When it is time to race, the drivers will accelerate.

Or, at least they hope to accelerate.

That's because a 1,000-pound vehicle with a 750-horsepower, turbo engine is not the easiest thing in the world to get moving from zero miles per hour. It takes skill to handle the throttle just right, to avoid spinning, or worse.

Bourdais said drivers will either have a perfect start, or they will spin their tires for 100 feet or so. Or, worse, the engine could stall.

Should a car stall, especially one that is near the beginning of the field, the driver is a sitting duck.

"If you stall in rows first, second, or third, there is a good chance you're going to get nailed," said Bourdais, of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. "It's a little scary."

One of the reasons for the change is the series is having trouble keeping the field close while using running starts.

Alex Figge of Pacific Coast Motorsports, one of two American drivers in the Champ Car series, called it an "accordion effect," with wider gaps between some cars and rows.

A standing start ensures each car is positioned properly, so each driver has the same advantage, or disadvantage, depending on how he or she qualified for the race.

"In that respect, I think it's a good idea," Figge said. "But it's a difficult task to perform a really good standing start."  More at Columbian.com

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