Newman Haas Duo Look for Solid Start

Championship favourites Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira are looking for a solid start to the Champ Car season, aiming for points rather than pushing for an outright win in Long Beach

Newman Haas Duo Look for Solid Start

With this year's championship shaping up to be the most competitive in years the Newman Haas drivers are not taking anything for granted, and are hoping for a good points haul rather than going all out for victory in the first race of the season.

"It's always important to start the season in good shape," said reigning champion Bourdais. "Last year the team came to Long Beach definitely having the championship on our mind, but we had to deal with new rules on race strategy and we knew we were going to play it safe with both Bruno and I on the front row.

"You cannot win the championship by being hard in the first race or winning it, but you definitely can lose it. If you don't finish the first races of the season, you put yourself out of contention very fast, and that's the key."

It was the approach the pair took last year to good effect: Junqueira and Bourdais claimed second and third respectively in the race, setting up their championship runs from there: "A championship is very long and if you're not consistent, always there at the finish, you take yourself out of contention. For sure a podium finish in Long Beach was plenty satisfying for me."

Junqueira followed the party line, noting: "It's really important for the team to have a good race in Long Beach, since it's the first race of the year. We need to get a good amount of points and start the season strong to build some momentum.

"This will be my fifth time to race in Long Beach, and I like the track a lot; its one of my favourite street courses. It's very challenging and I did well there the past two years, so I hope I can do well again and get my first win there this year."

One aspect of racing that Junqueira thinks will be vital is the push-to-pass button, which allows drivers to gain an extra fifty horsepower for up to sixty seconds over the course of a race: "Last year I was on the pole and at the start Paul Tracy passed me, and I followed him the whole race and just couldn't get by.

"It was the first time we used push-to-pass, and Tracy used it on the start to pass me and that was the deciding point of the race. Even with push-to-pass, I couldn't get by him at the end of the race. This year I hope I can have a good qualifying, start from pole and use push-to-pass as much as I need to keep the front."

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