Good Morning from suddenly-dry California Speedway for Race Day in Southern California! Despite the scary looking radar images showing huge storms racing across the Pacific towards the L.A. Basin, this is the first morning the Champ Car community...
Good Morning from suddenly-dry California Speedway for Race Day in Southern California! Despite the scary looking radar images showing huge storms racing across the Pacific towards the L.A. Basin, this is the first morning the Champ Car community has driven into the track on dry roads and even a bit sunshine peeking through the high cloud cover. It's still cool however, with track and ambient temperatures in the mid to high fifties at sunrise. The drivers will have to be careful on cold tires again this morning as the traditional 30-minute Sunday morning practice session takes to the track at 8:15 a.m., followed by the start of the 250-lap, Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at 11:30 a.m.
GREEN FLAG waves at 8:15 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend and the 2000 season. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 66 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 63 degrees F. at the start of the session.
At 8:23 a.m., #97 da MATTA pits with smoke showing at the rear of the car.
At 8:25 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 232.365 mph (31.435 seconds) on his eighth lap, followed by #97 da MATTA (231.775 mph; 31.515 seconds; eighth lap) and #2 de FERRAN (231.584 mph; 31.541 seconds; eighth lap).
At 8:31 a.m., #97X da MATTA enters the session in the secondary car.
At 8:35 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, #2 de FERRAN is now the fastest driver with a lap of 233.412 mph (31.294 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (233.181 mph; 31.325 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI (233.187 mph; 31.335 seconds).
At 8:37 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI takes the top spot on the speedboard with a lap of 235.133 mph (31.065 seconds).
At 8:40 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI still holds the top spot with his earlier lap of 235.133 (31.065 seconds), now followed by teammate #26 TRACY (234.281 mph; 31.178 seconds) and #7 PAPIS (234.078 mph; 31.205 seconds).
CHECKERED FLAG waves at 8:45 a.m. to end the final practice session of the season with #27 FRANCHITTI the fastest with a lap of 235.133 mph (31.065 seconds), followed by #2 de FERRAN (234.619 mph; 31.133 seconds) and #26 TRACY (234.281 mph; 31.178 seconds). The top 17 cazrs are separated by less than one second in lap times. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 32 cars to the track in this morning's session.
At 11:28 a.m., the National Anthem is sung.
At 11:37 a.m., the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" is given by the Honorary Starter.
At 11:38 a.m., the CART Pace Car begins to roll with the field of 25 cars in tow for the first of four parade/pace laps. #25 GARCIA Jr. has encountered mechanical problems and will not start the race.
#11 FITTIPALDI has a delay in getting started but finally gets cranked and joins the field in his third-place spot on the grid.
GREEN FLAG waves at 11:45 a.m. to start the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota! #2 de FERRAN grabs an early lead into Turn 1 but #3 CASTRONEVES gets to the front by Turn 3 and leads the first lap by .055 seconds over #2 de FERRAN, followed by #6ANDRETTI, #1 MONTOYA and #11 FITTIPALDI.
On Lap 2 and 3, #3 CASTRONEVES leads with #2 de FERRAN trying to pass at the bottom coming up to the Start / Finish line.
On Lap 4, #2 de FERRAN finally gets back to the front followed by #3 CASTRONEVES.
On Lap 7, #3 CASTRONEVES goes back to the front.
On Lap 10, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by .002 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #6 ANDRETTI (.460 seconds back), #1 MONTOYA, and #27 FRANCHITTI.
On Lap 11, #27 FRANCHITTI passes #6 ANDRETTI to take third.
On Lap 20, the running order is #2 de FERRAN leading by .196 seconds over #3 CASTRONEVES, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (1.219 seconds further back), #6 ANDRETTI, and #1 MONTOYA.
On Lap 22, #3 CASTRONEVES goes back to the front of the pack.
YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 23 after #26 TRACY has a mechanical problem at the bottom of Turn 3, breaking pieces of carbon fiber off of the car. #97 da MATTA, running about 200 yards behind TRACY, runs over a piece of the debris with the right front wheel, breaking the suspension and subsequently making hard contact against the Turn 4 wall with the right side of the car before sliding to the bottom of the track at Pit In. The driver is uninjured in the incident but both cars are retired from the race.
On Lap 26, all of the 21 cars on the lead lap pit with #3 CASTRONEVES falling from first to 18th after stalling his car on the Pit Stop. #1 MONTOYA wins the race off Pit Road, improving from fourth to first, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #6 ANDRETTI, #2 de FERRAN, and #12 VASSER.
On Lap 29 while running under the Yellow Flag, #96 SERVIA spins off the track halfway between the Start / Finish line and Turn 1. SERVIA rights the car and only loses one position to #20 MORENO, falling from 11th to 12th.
On Lap 30 and at 12:07 p.m., CART course observers report that a light rain has started to fall on the backstretch. The cars continue to circle the track attempting to keep the track dry.
RED FLAG is waved on Lap 33 at 12:12 p.m. to allow all available safety vehicles onto the track to continue to attempt to dry the track. All cars return to their respective Pit Boxes and shut off the engines.
While under the Red Flag, here's a quick review of some of the larger position moves by the competitors in the first 30 laps. #55 KANAAN has moved from 13th to seventh; #40 FERNANDEZ has come from 15th to ninth, #96 SERVIA has moved from 16th to 12th, and #20 MORENO has come all the way from 18th to 11th. On the downside, #3 CASTRONEVES has fallen from third to 18th, while #11 FITTIPALDI has dropped from fifth to 14th.
At 12:19 p.m., the drizzle has slowed and the CART vehicles circling the track are starting to gain on the fight for dry asphalt.
At 1:15 p.m., CART Race Control announces that an attempt to line the cars up will take place at 1:30 p.m., followed by an engine start command at 1:49 p.m., hopefully followed by the cars beginning to roll at 1:50 p.m.
At 1:25 p.m., the drizzle again increases and the race restart procedure is postponed. The CART vehicles continue to circle the track in a desperate attempt to dry the track.
At 2:15 p.m., the drizzle has turned into rain and the track is soaked. The vehicles circling the track are now raising rooster tails of spray. As it is no longer safe to circle the track at any speed, all of the CART vehicles pull onto Pit Road to wait for another opportunity.
At 2:50 p.m., CART President of Racing Operations, Hal Whiteford, announces that today's running of The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota has been postponed due to adverse weather conditions. The race has been rescheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow morning and will start at Lap 34. Any competitors officially retired from the race will not be able to participate.
Prior to the start of Sunday's race, one of the CART pace cars made contact with the wall in turn 2 while conducting a guest ride. The car was being driven by CART Toyota Atlantic driver Andrew Bordin and he and his passenger, Yoshimichi Inada, Senior Managing Director at Pioneer Electronics, were transported to Loma Linda Hospital for evaluation. Both were conscious and alert when transported. According to CART Director of Medical Affairs, Dr. Steve Olvey, Bordin sustained a fracture and dislocation of the 4th cervical vertebrae and will remain at the hospital overnight. Inada was unconscious briefly at the scene and was determined to have sustained a head injury. He also will remain at Loma Linda overnight for observation and further evaluation.
This concludes the Pit Notes for today from California Speedway. We'll see you tomorrow morning!