Indianapolis USGP Friday notebook

United States Grand Prix Notebook Friday, June 18, 2004 NASCAR stars Gordon, Johnson, Vickers coming to Indy Saturday; Dale Jr. may attend INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 18, 2004 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and...

United States Grand Prix Notebook
Friday, June 18, 2004
NASCAR stars Gordon, Johnson, Vickers coming to Indy Saturday; Dale Jr. may attend

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 18, 2004 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers are planning to be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 19 to watch Formula One qualifying for Sunday's United States Grand Prix.

NEXTEL Cup points leader and 2004 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. also may attend.

There is a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, but the NEXTEL Cup cars do not run Saturday afternoon, so the drivers will have the time to fly to Indianapolis in Gordon's private plane to watch F1 qualifying.

In June 2003, Gordon drove Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams-BMW F1 car, and Montoya drove Gordon's NASCAR DuPont Chevrolet in the "Tradin' Paint" day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's F1 circuit.

Gordon, a big F1 fan, and Johnson attended the Spanish Grand Prix last month as guests of Montoya and Williams-BMW.

Asked why NASCAR fans should go to a F1 race, Gordon said: "If they want to see the most technically advanced car that exists, and a car that can accelerate and brake and go through the corners faster than anything that is humanly possible in your mind, they go and see a F1 race. To me, just that in itself is very exciting. The drivers are phenomenal as well. But don't go expecting a NASCAR race, it's not the same, it's totally different."

Johnson also encouraged NASCAR fans to attend a Grand Prix.

"If you are a car enthusiast and you want to see performance, you had better come to a F1 race," Johnson said. If you respect cars and you want to see something go fast, you had better come to one of these races."

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First out: Wilux Minardi-Cosworth driver Zsolt Baumgartner got the United States Grand Prix weekend track action officially underway by being the first out on the circuit in the opening round of practice Friday morning.

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Pantano back in action: After missing the Canadian Grand Prix due to personal reasons, Giorgio Pantano was back driving his Jordan-Ford in the opening day of practice for the United States Grand Prix.

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Color coding: In order to help the fans and officials distinguish who is driving which car in a team, the aerofoil wings (which contain a TV camera) on top of the air boxes are now color-coded.

As before, both cars entered by each team must be presented in the same livery at each Grand Prix, but these requirements do not apply to any third car being run by a team on the first day of practice. So that the cars of each team may be easily distinguished from each other, the on-board camera wing of the first car must now be predominantly fluorescent red, the same camera wing on the second car must remain as supplied to the team (black) and any third car fluorescent yellow.

For example, the No. 14 Jaguar-Cosworth driven by Mark Webber has the fluorescent red wing; the No. 15 car driven by his teammate, Christian Klien, runs with the black wing; and the No. 37 Jaguar, the third car used by test driver Bjorn Wirdheim during today's two practice sessions, carried the fluorescent yellow wing.

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Panis' 150 start: This weekend's United States Grand Prix will be the 150th F1 start for Panasonic Toyota driver Olivier Panis.

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Williams ponders drivers for 2005: The BMW WilliamsF1 Team will need to hire one and possibly two drivers for next season. 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya is leaving Williams to join West McLaren-Mercedes in 2005. His teammate, Ralf Schumacher, may or may not stay at Williams.

The team has tested 2003 IRL IndyCar® Series champion Scott Dixon and is considering testing 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve.

"There's a list (of possible drivers)," Team Owner Sir Frank Williams said. "We know we need drivers. We have tested Scott. We may or may not test Jacques.

"Our driver replacement isn't directly my focus. But after the end of July, things will become more clear at that time. It will get more attention. Biggest problem right now is making a winning racing car. Then the phone rings."

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Speeding fines: Lucky Strike BAR-Honda test driver Anthony Davidson earned a $1,750 pit lane speeding fine Friday morning. The speed limit during practice is 60 km/h (37 mph) and drivers are fined $250 for each kilometer over that limit. The speed limit for qualifying and the race is 100 kph (62 mph).

Jordan-Ford driver Giorgio Pantano was fined $2,750 for speeding in the pit lane Friday afternoon.

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Sponsor news: Ray-Ban, the sunglass and optical eyewear company, has become a sponsor of Lucky Strike BAR-Honda.

Technogym, which makes exercise equipment, has entered a long-term agreement to become a supplier to the McLaren Technology Center.

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Tickets: Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

-ims-

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan