PKV’s Vegas Gamble Pays Off

A strategic gamble by PKV Racing's veteran team manager Jim McGee helped Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta to jump to third and fourth on the grid for the Hurricane Relief 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

PKV’s Vegas Gamble Pays Off

Under the single-car qualifying rules used for ovals, cars go out in reverse order of their practice times and get two flying laps each. But drivers can opt to drop out of the qualifying queue and run at the end of the session instead, when they are permitted only one flying lap.

With qualifying beginning in hot and windy conditions, McGee decided to keep his drivers back until the track cooled. Vasser and da Matta waited until the other 16 cars had qualified, then held back for another few minutes before finally heading onto the track.

"We played a little funny waiting game," said Vasser. "It was Jim McGee's idea. He said, 'There's still an hour to go, it's still kind of hot, maybe the wind will die down a bit.' So we waited it out a bit."

Outright speed is all that matters at Vegas, as the Champ Cars are absolutely flat-out all around the 1.5-mile Superspeedway. Vasser paid tribute to the work PKV had done to get the cars onto row two - and admitted that the drivers didn't have a lot of influence over car performance, at least in qualifying.

"The boys in the shop did a tremendous job over the last few weeks to try to make the cars as [aerodynamically] slippery as possible, even down to putting special waxes on the underwing," he said.

"With myself and my teammate Cristiano on the second row, it shows a lot of hard work has paid off, at least for qualifying. It's all a product of engineering and the guys in the shop. Cristiano and myself are just a couple of spacers sitting in there, just driving around in a circle with our foot down."

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