Will Power leads a group of cars through an elevation change before entering the front straightaway. Image Credit: Jalopnik's Las Vegas local, Curtis Walker
For Will Power, It’s Vegas Baby!
Will Power - Team Australia edges out series rookie Dutchman, Robert Doornbos - Minardi Team USA (yes, that Formula One team) to grab the pole and line up next to former series champion, Paul Tracy - Forsythe Championship Racing.
So tomorrow, the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix takes off and will be broadcast Apr 08, 3:30 pm ET on NBC TV. Both Will Power and Paul Tracy start the race with one point apiece toward the series championship for 2007.
The race will be run in a newly developed area near the downtown Fremont Street area (to the west and slightly south) on a temporary street circuit ala the Long Beach Grand Prix, which is set to be run the very next weekend.
Inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix Race Course - Image Credit: Las Vegas Grand Prix
Along the temporary race circuit are new buildings that are part of the revitalization of the civic center part of town. The new World Market Center is at its center and it sponsors semiannual furniture trade shows attended by more than 100,000 national and international furniture buyers and representatives each year. The trade show complex will ultimately open year-round, but for now acts as a great photographic backdrop for the race going into turn one.
The temporary circuit also features a bump that gets the cars airborne.
Taking A Flyer - Bruno Junqueira #19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone. Image Credit: Jalopnik's Las Vegas local, Curtis Walker
Driver quotes after the days qualifying from Champ Car World Series -
Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone -"I think it's going to be important for everybody to get through the first corner and go racing. I think this is the start of a new era for Champ Car. You've got a bunch of new young drivers that are in the series, obviously showing that they're quick. It's not the scenario that everybody thought it was going to be where everybody was saying in the off-season, Sebastien is going to run away with everything. He's starting near the back. It's going to be quite an interesting race. on the red Bridgestone tires, at the end I think the track also gripped up. But our car worked really well on them. I mean, we struggled yesterday with just niggling problems with the car. Not to do with the handling or anything. We were quick yesterday. We just didn't get a fair go. We worked on it, worked on the setup all the way up until qualifying today. Pretty much nailed it at the end, got a good run in traffic. Yeah, we did a mega lap. But it all started in the off-season. I think Craig and Derrick Walker from the end of last year till now; they've been working really hard. They really want to win a championship and I want to help them do that."
Paul Tracy #3 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "It was a little tougher for us today. Obviously we made some changes from yesterday. But it just seemed like my car suited going over that big jump in the chicane. We just never really got a chance to capitalize on the tires. We seemed to either catch a red at the end of the first set of tires, then the second set of tires I had some traffic with Pagenaud, which didn't help. That kind of just killed our qualifying effort. I think we didn't have anything for what the time that Will did. I think we could have made a better showing. Really the opportunity didn't come up. We're happy to be on the front row."
Robert Doornbos #14 Muermans/Jumbo Supermarkten/Media Mall Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "First of all, it's great to be in the Champ Car World Series. It's obviously a new category for me and also for my team, Paul with this Minardi outfit. We started the weekend not very competitive. I've been sitting down with my engineer, which is going really well, our relationship. Basically he turned the car to my liking. We improved every session. It's a great feeling to race between the streets of Vegas. I always enjoy driving open street circuits. We only have one really in Europe, which is Monaco, only once a year. I'll be more lucky this season, I think. Yeah, it went really well. Just in the end we pushed hard. The red tires were a new thing for me. I had no chance to try them in winter testing because obviously they were not there. So the first outing wasn't great. Then the second run on the red tires, we made some adjustments to the car and it was a lot better. So, yeah, up in third place. It's good to be here, especially because it's the first weekend. Hopefully I'll be here tomorrow as well."
Alex Tagliani #8 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "I am quite happy overall. I am just so thankful for the opportunity that Paul (Gentilozzi) and Dan (Pettit) have given me. I feel good about the RSPORTS team, and I think we are on the road to success this season. I feel that I am a good support for Justin (Wilson) and I feel that I have learned a lot from him and the team already. This is only the second time that we (both teams) are working together at a race track, so we still have a lot of catching up to do. But I think that we already have some great chemistry and that we are learning a lot from each other. I get along so well with my engineer Chris Lerch, and overall this whole deal is just a fantastic opportunity. Today's qualifying session went fairly well. I am happy with the #8 LXN2/RSPORTS car, and it is great to be starting in the top five for the first race of this season. The goal is to get lots of points, and obviously finish the race. But what is important is that we are running up front and I feel that we will be able to stay strong tomorrow during the race. I feel that we are in a good position with where we want the car to be, but we will work on making some more improvements tonight in hopes of being even quicker tomorrow."
Bruno Junqueira #19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "I was very happy with a sixth place qualifying run. We made some changes from yesterday and I think we could have gone a little faster. We didn't have an opportunity yesterday to run on the red Bridgestone tires. It is a good place to start tomorrow."
Mario Dominguez #7 Telmex/Cabi Developers Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "Well it was a good day overall, we definitely improved quote a bit from yesterday. The Forsythe Team has done a great job, we've been making a lot of changes and the car has just gotten better and better. Qualifying was a little disappointing because I know we could've been much faster but I caught traffic, the cars in front of me kept slowing down and that prevented me from posting a quicker time. But the good thing is that we know we have a really fast car and we should be able to move up through the grid tomorrow. It's going to be a really exciting race, it's just great to be back in a race car I can't wait for the green flag tomorrow!"
Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "We just weren't quick enough today. The #9 CDW/RSPORTS car felt OK, but obviously the speed just wasn't there. It's disappointing, because we were up there yesterday, but today it slipped away. We need to look at the data to understand how to improve the car and hopefully we'll be more competitive tomorrow."
Graham Rahal #2 Medi Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "It's been a tough day for the Medi Zone team. I hooked it on the last curb at the end of the chicane and damaged the car so we had to get the backup car out for qualifying. The car was equally prepared. The guys did a great job getting it ready especially since it's never turned a wheel. Qualifying was pretty good but we just can't seem to get that last little bit; we need to find it. I know I'm giving my 100 percent so we need to figure out what it is. It's going to be a tough race. It's really hot out here. I think a lot of guys will fall out of the saddle. For me it will be a learning experience to go out there and figure out what I have to do. It's tough for me to tell if we have a good race setup having not run in a race"
Dan Clarke #4 Ticketmaster/Synapse Power/The Australian Pink Floyd Show Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "Last season I had my first third-place podium finish from a 13th place start, so I'm going for the double and aiming to finish on the podium again tomorrow from my 12th place grid slot. As I've already proved, it's certainly possible, so although I'd prefer to start higher up the grid and it's not going to be easy, it's not impossible. This year's field is very tough, so I reckon it'll be very exciting racing, and I know we have the pace for the race, so we'll be expecting to battle hard and bring home points from Vegas."
Katherine Legge #11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "I felt I could have gone about a second faster on the red Bridgestone tires. I have to improve a little more on my corners. I was very pleased with the results today, but I know I can improve on today's performance."
Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone - "I screwed up and brushed the wall on the outside of Turn 9. The McDonald's car had too much understeer and I just forced the thing. The car stepped out a little bit on exit and I was already too close to the wall and hit the rear a little bit. It wasn't that bad a hit but it bent the toe link and broke the rim. To aggravate things we had the clutch creeping so I couldn't' get into neutral, couldn't back up, couldn't anything so we were stuck in fourth gear in front of tires and they wouldn't push me back or do anything so I was stuck there until they moved me out of the way. We have 60 seconds of push to pass which isn't a lot here. We are going to have to be pretty darn good to get it (win) done but we'll see. It's a new track so we don't quite know if it's possible to pass or not. I think Turn 1 seems to be pretty difficult because everyone starts braking in the middle of the track so maybe Turn 4 might be the best option. We'll have to try and pull it off. We've done it before but it was a different thing; we don't have the car we knew. It's not the best way to start the season for sure."
... notes from The EDJE