Conquest Racing announced today that it has replaced Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi, who is out with an injury, with veteran Canadian race car driver Alex Tagliani for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix Presented by Firestone this weekend.
Bernoldi initially injured his left hand thumb during a spin caused by a suspension failure in Sonoma last week. He was able to fight through the pain last weekend, but after two practice sessions today, the bumpy street course in Detroit was causing too much strain on his left hand.
“I couldn't give my all today because of my left hand. I was turning into the pits with just one hand on the steering wheel and was unable to do my best,” explained Bernoldi. “The track is bumpy and it was really hard on my hand. I hate having to miss a race, but I prefer leaving the car to Alex Tagliani this weekend while I rest up my hand in order for it to get better.”
“It’s unfortunate what happened to Enrique in Sonoma last week, and that it’s causing him to miss this week’s race,” said Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart. “On the other hand, I’m happy to be welcoming Alex into the team this weekend. Obviously it will be a big challenge for him as he will not get that much time in the car before the race. But Alex has a lot of experience, especially on street courses, and he’s raced here in the past as well. I think he will be able to adapt quickly to his new racing environment and it will be interesting to see how he does this weekend.”
Alex Tagliani, a former Champ Car driver, will have little time to get accustomed to his new surroundings. The driver from Lachenaie, Quebec will get 30 minutes of practice on Saturday morning before heading into qualifying and then only another 30 minutes on Sunday before the race. Tagliani will have the advantage of having raced at Belle Isle Park – although on a slightly different course configuration – in two events back in the days of CART in 2000 and 2001, scoring a best finish of sixth.
“I can’t explain just how happy I am to be helping Conquest Racing this weekend and to get my first start in the IndyCar Series,” expressed a buoyant Tagliani. “This will be a great opportunity for me to show what I can do. I’m aware that it will not be easy for me coming in at the last minute and learning a new car in a new racing series, but I’m definitely motivated on doing my best and helping Conquest this weekend.”
Tagliani, who is driving this year in the Canadian Tire NASCAR Series in Canada, previously competed in the Champ Car World Series for eight seasons earning four pole positions, 14 podiums and one win in 133 starts. This will be Tagliani’s first start in the IndyCar Series.
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