Champ Car's 2005 driver lineup vastly improved
by Mark Cipolloni

 March 11, 2005

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When you begin to examine Champ Car's driver lineup closely for 2005 it becomes clear that the pool of talent in the series from the top of the grid to the back is as good, if not better, than any time in the history of the series. It's certainly better than the last two years.

Champ Car has had "bigger name" lineups in its heyday, and had some not-so-good drivers in its heyday as well.  I would debate anyone as to whether the overall talent was as good or better than in 2005.  I have long maintained that Champ Car can't build "heroes" out of wankers, so to see the '05 lineup coming together the way it has is frankly quite exciting and should make for great racing in 2005 and set the stage for an even better 2006.

Let's break down the 2005 driver lineup based on what we know today.  I took a stab at some of the drivers.  Things can change of course up until the time all the teams announce their drivers.  Besides the drivers listed below, there are a number of other drivers who could end up with a ride, all of whom are fast.  Guys like Michael Valiante and Tarso Marques for example.

Champ Car desperately needs more teams so drivers from Korea, China and Japan have a place to drive.  If Champ Car is eyeing these markets, they will fail without something for the locals to root for.

Any one of these men can win in 2005

Cristiano da Matta

Timo Glock

Andrew Ranger

Justin Wilson

AJ Allmendinger

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Bjorn Wirdheim

Michael Valiante

Sebastien Bourdais

Alex Tagliani

Paul Tracy

Bruno Junqueira

Jos Verstappen

Jimmy Vasser

Mario Dominguez

Oriol Servia
Team Drivers Country Are they fast?
Newman/Haas Sebastien Bourdais France Defending Champ Car champion.  Former F3000 Champion.  This guy is fast.  Period.
Bruno Junqueira Brazil This former F3000 champion has won many poles and races.  Can he win it all in 2005?
RuSPORT AJ Allmendinger USA AJ has won in everything he's raced.  RuSPORT has made significant gains.  He will win in 2005.
Justin Wilson England Justin Wilson is also a former F3000 Champion.  He's very fast and he will win races in 2005.
PKV Racing Cristiano da Matta Brazil Former Champ Car champion is back and helping to turn PKV into a winner.  Watch out for Shorty.
Jimmy Vasser USA Former CART champion has won many Champ Car races.  If his car is fast he's right there.
Forsythe Racing Paul Tracy Canada Former Champ Car champ is a proven winner and has been fast all his career.  He can still bring it.
Bjorn Wirdheim? Sweden Wirdheim dominated in F3000. If he has Forsythe equipment this F3000 Champ will light them up.
Rocketsports Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Has won twice in Champ Car and led every lap at Milwaukee in 2004.  He can pedal a car.
Timo Glock Germany This guy has impressed the Champ Car paddock with his immediate speed.  Been in F1.
HVM Mario Dominguez Mexico Dominguez has two Champ Car wins and just needs the right equipment to prove himself.
Jos Verstappen Holland If Jos can put this deal together he may prove that his flashes of brilliance in F1 were no fluke.
Mi-Jack Conquest Nelson Philippe France Philippe is still a bit of a question mark.  He's very young and showing improvement, needs experience.
Andrew Ranger Canada Was brilliant in Formula Renault (and before that) and was fast as a rookie in Atlantics.
Walker Racing Alex Tagliani Canada Won at Road America in 2004.  Always fast but can be inconsistent.  Will a new team help?
Marcus Marshall Australia If Marshall puts this deal together, this proven winner in Australia might surprise a few people
Dale Coyne Racing Oriol Servia? Spain Servia is fast and did a yeoman's job last year for Coyne.  If he returns he will just get better.
Gaston Mazzacane? Argentina Gaston is still a big unknown.  Has not shown any signs of brilliance yet but needs more seat time.
Jensen Motorsport Michael Valiante Canada Will Eric Jensen give fellow Canadian Michael Valiante the big break he has been waiting for?

The author can be contacted at markc@autoracing1.com

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