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Junqueira and Carpentier lead Portland tests

  April 23, 2004

INDIANAPOLIS (April 23, 2004) – The 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season got underway with a strong event last weekend in Long Beach, but the teams and drivers fighting for the series championship didn’t stick around to enjoy what they accomplished in Southern California.

In fact, teams were already underway with preparations for the May 23 Telmex/Tecate Grand Prix of Monterey well before the streets of Long Beach were reopened to commuter traffic, heading north to Portland for two days of testing on the 1.969-mile road course at Portland International Raceway.

Rains dampened action on Wednesday’s first day of testing but Thursday saw 15 of the 18 Long Beach starters turning laps at the site of the June 20 Portland Grand Prix. Teams ran in morning and afternoon sessions with the best time of the day coming from Long Beach polesitter Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who carded a 58.65-second lap to lead the pack.

“The test was very good,” Junqueira said. “We were able to work on our setups for the Portland race and for other road courses, especially Laguna and Road America. We had a trouble-free test and ran a lot of miles.”

Junqueira’s time was a scant .04 seconds ahead of Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who has turned an uncertain preseason into a strong start after a fourth-place run at Long Beach. Carpentier turned a 58.69 for the second-best time of the day as his three-car Forsythe Championship Racing squad continues its strong early-season form.

“It’s one of the first times I’ve ever been under 59 seconds at Portland. I’m really happy with the guys that Jerry (Forsythe) gave me to work with and this really looks like it could be a great thing for this team,” Carpentier said. “The car was good from the minute we put it on the track. We tried a lot of suspension setups and a lot of different configurations and learned a lot. We’re pretty happy.”

The Newman/Haas duo of Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) as well as Carpentier and Long Beach winner Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) were the only drivers to dip into the 58-second waters, Bourdais putting up a 58.76 in the morning session with Tracy topping out at 58.79. Two others narrowly missed breaking into the 58s with rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) clocking a 59.01 while Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ran two strong sessions capped with a 59.04 in the afternoon.

“I’m pleased with the way things went this week,” said Vasser. “We’re narrowing the gap between teams like Newman/Haas and Forsythe, so that’s definitely a positive. We found some speed today and overall I’m happy with our results.”

Teams will next take to the test track on the venerable Milwaukee Mile May 5 as they prepare for the only night race on the 2004 schedule. Unofficial times as supplied by Cosworth Racing for the Thursday testing are found below.

Bruno Junqueira – Newman/Haas Racing 58.74 58.65
Patrick Carpentier – Forsythe Championship Racing 59.04 58.69
Sebastien Bourdais – Newman/Haas Racing 58.76 58.77
Paul Tracy – Forsythe Championship Racing 59.25 58.79
A.J. Allmendinger – RuSPORT 60.62 59.01
Jimmy Vasser – PKV Racing 59.19 59.04
Ryan Hunter-Reay – Herdez Competition 60.02 59.17
Justin Wilson – Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing 59.61 59.32
Alex Tagliani – Rocketsports Racing 59.40 59.87
Mario Dominguez – Herdez Competition 59.95 59.52
Michel Jourdain Jr. – RuSPORT 59.63 59.91
Rodolfo Lavin – Forsythe Championship Racing 60.08 59.77
Roberto Gonzalez – PKV Racing 60.61 59.99
Nelson Philippe – Rocketsports Racing 60.50 60.45
Alex Sperafico – Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing 60.93 60.49

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