CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago Thursday Practice Report

CARPENTIER FASTEST IN PRACTICE FOR TARGET GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY SHELL AT NEW CHICAGO MOTOR SPEEDWAY CICERO, Ill. (August 19, 1999) - Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing made an impressive return to the FedEx Championship ...

CARPENTIER FASTEST IN PRACTICE FOR TARGET GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY SHELL AT NEW CHICAGO MOTOR SPEEDWAY

CICERO, Ill. (August 19, 1999) - Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing made an impressive return to the FedEx Championship Series following a one-race absence by posting Thursday's fastest practice speed for the inaugural Target Grand Prix Presented by Shell at the new Chicago Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET Sunday, one-hour tape delay, ESPN).

Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ltd. Mercedes Reynard) - who missed last week's Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio due to a mild compression fracture of the third thoracic vertebra sustained at Detroit two weeks ago - recorded a lap of 156.734 miles per hour (23.636 seconds) on the new 1.029-mile oval located in suburban Chicago.

He was the fastest of 27 drivers who posted practice speeds during the opening day of competition on the new oval, former site of the Sportsman's Park thoroughbred racing track, which has been renovated at a cost of $65 million.

"We put the car on the track this morning and it [the speed] was just there," Carpentier said. "We stayed very fast all day and all the improvements we made went in the right direction. This is the smoothest track I've ever ridden on, and the track is going to change throughout the weekend from session to session.

Regarding his injury, Carpentier said, "If we were running on a road course this weekend, for sure I wouldn't be here. I've been struggling to put the car in the pit box. But when I'm on the track, I don't even think about it."

Carpentier's Player's Forsythe Racing teammate, Greg Moore added to Chicago-based team owner Gerald Forsythe's pleasure by recording the day's second-fastest speed, at 156.054 mph (23.738 seconds) in the Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ltd. Mercedes Reynard. He was followed by Roberto Moreno (Big Kmart Ford Swift) at 155.771 mph (23.781 seconds).

Rounding out the top five drivers were Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) at 155.497 mph (23.623 seconds) and Helio Castro-Neves (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola) at 155.490 mph (23.824 mph).

FedEx Championship Series leader Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) was 25th fastest at 151.441 mph (24.461 seconds) while rookie Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), who trails Franchitti by one point (152-151) in the championship, was 17th fastest at 153.461 mph (24.139 seconds).

An additional day of practice begins at 11:30 a.m. ET Friday, with qualifying scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET Saturday. The inaugural Target Grand Prix Presented by Shell, 15th of 20 rounds in the FedEx Championship Series, takes the green flag at 3 p.m. ET Sunday.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Gerald Forsythe , Greg Moore