Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Champ Car “All Roses”

While their counterparts swing into full practice for the upcoming Pole Day competition, the “Hits just keep on Coming,” as everything is fine in Champ Car… (NOT!) Yet the flowery theme of Champ Car refers largely to the six week hiatus the Open Wheel series is taking before its next round at Portland, Oregon on June 10th.

At Houston, The Four Mouseketeers err Musketeers… Messer’s Kalkhoven, Forsythe, Gentilozzi and new round table member Dan Petitt held a 36 minute press conference with selected journalists to answer questions regarding the current state of their series. You see this meeting was in keeping with Champ Cars new timed format and therefore could not be given a certain number of (laps) questions…

And while Kalkhoven repeatedly assured his audience that “Everything’s Fine,” Gentilozzi noted that in the absence of a race he expected all of the teams to use up the majority of their testing mileage over the break.

“I expect almost everybody to participate in the upcoming test days at Portland.” Drivers should use up to 400 miles of their allotted 600 test miles before the Portland event.

(Yet only five teams made the trek to PIR for the three day test, held on May 1-3. Taking part were: Minardi Team USA; Newman/Haas/Lanigan; Pacific Coast Motorsports; PKV; RSport. And while the weather was a bit inclement, once again the Hamburgular was atop the time sheets with his rookie wingman securing second place.)

This extended break also gives the drivers extra time to either heal from their injuries or hopefully find much needed funding to continue their drives.

Perennial series star Paul “I can’t drive 35” Tracy is hopeful of returning at the 100th Anniversary weekend of the Rose Festival, which serves as this year’s G.I. Joes 200 backdrop. With Alex Figge planning to be totally mended by the time the Transporters are parked alongside the Columbia River.

And two drivers will be busy working overtime scrounging for funds to continue their Champ Car careers as both Mario “Boom-Boom” Dominguez and Matt Halliday’s three race deals expired at Houston.

Of course without these two drivers returning, Champ Car will sink to 15 entries, yet Forsythe has a dilemma on his hands with “Super Sub” Oriol Servia’s two race performance as PT’s stand in. (Good thing Servia didn’t sign up as Tracy’s stunt double, eh?)

And the trouble with Servia’s performance is that he clearly outperformed Dominguez who Forsythe and Champ Car desperately need for their Hispanic audience. If I was Forsythe, I’d cut Dominguez loose, and replace him with Servia.

Then the “4 Horsemen” could start up another new operation named Team Chihuahua, err Mexico and run Dominguez and David Martinez in a two car effort. That should make the “Guacamole Heads” more then happy. CI?

And speaking of which, whatever happened to Gentilozzi’s South American backer’s who were going to purchase his operation and re-name it Team Brazil? Wait a second, is it just me or is this beginning to sound a bit like the A1 GP?

Meanwhile three current Champ Car “stars” decided to keep their helmets on and go racing during the holiday break. Alex Tagliani co-drove a Ford Mustang in the Grand Am GT race at Virginia International Raceway. (VIR)

Ironically Ryan Dalziel was named as Milka Duno’s replacement for the SAMAX DP (Daytona Prototype) entry at VIR, as “Y’all” know Duno was busy testing the “spin-dry” cycle at KC.

Bruno “Whiney Bags” Junqueira decided to hop a jet “Across the Pond” in order to compete for Team Brazil at Brands Hatch in the A1 GP season finale. It was Junqueira’s third time of driving for his home country’s entry and perhaps he wanted to “rub elbows” with the Czar of Formula 1…