30 cars expected on Vegas grid

The future of Champ Car racing will be clearly on display next week in Las Vegas as the rising stars of the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda take the first green flag of the season at the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix.

Race winners and championship contenders from across the globe will highlight the power-packed 2007 field as the series young guns begin their quest for the coveted Atlantic title and the $2 million bonus designed to help the champion move up to the pinnacle of American open-wheel racing – the Champ Car World Series – in 2008.

Fans attending the much-anticipated season-opening race on the downtown street circuit in Las Vegas April 6-8 will get a chance to see one of the most diverse and talented classes in the 34-year history of the Atlantic Championship. That’s a bold statement for a series that has produced such stellar racers over the years as Jacques Villeneuve, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser, just to name a few. But one glimpse of the current Atlantic field reveals a special season awaiting series fans in 2007.

The Atlantic Championship is expecting at least 30 cars on the starting grid at Las Vegas. That would mark the largest field for a series race in over eight years. The last time 30 cars took the green flag in an Atlantic event was at Montreal during the 1999 season.

The 2007 Atlantic lineup will also be a melting pot of diverse cultural and racing backgrounds. At least 13 different countries are expected to be represented to start the season. Yet with all the international flavor, the future of American open-wheel racing will also be well represented in North America’s premier open-wheel development series as nearly half the Atlantic field will be made up of racers from the United States.

“We fully expect the level of competition in Atlantic this season to be the best it’s ever been," said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. “With so many of the top young drivers from around the world battling it out on the track, this is shaping up to be one of the best seasons in the history of the series. We can’t wait until we get to Vegas and see these future stars of Champ Car in action."

The on-track activity gets started next week with practice and first-round qualifying on the 2.44-mile Las Vegas street circuit on Friday, April 6. Another morning practice and final qualifying for the Atlantics are on tap for Saturday before the lid gets lifted on the 2007 campaign on Sunday, April 8. Round 1 of the Atlantic Championship will begin with a 4 p.m. PT standing start as the Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper Atlantic cars roar to life to begin the 34th season of Atlantic racing.

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