CHAMPCAR/CART: Homestead Testing

Courtesy CART Online CART Online (February 25, 1998) -- The reconfigured oval at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex promises to yield record-obliterating speeds when the FedEx Championship Series opens its season March...

Courtesy CART Online CART Online (February 25, 1998) -- The reconfigured oval at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex promises to yield record-obliterating speeds when the FedEx Championship Series opens its season March 13-15, with the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota. Paul Tracy's 1996 track record of 198.590 miles per hour is expected to crumble under an assault by as many as 29 FedEx Championship Series drivers when qualifying for the Grand Prix opens Saturday, March 14. A total of 28 drivers exceeded Tracy's track record speed during CART's third annual Spring Training at Homestead Feb. 4-5, topped by Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda), who averaged 212.039 mph on his quickest lap of the 1.5-mile, continuous radius oval. Qualifying speeds figure to go even higher on race weekend, and the reconfigured oval should allow for more side-by-side racing once the green flag falls. "Homestead is very different than it used to be," said Andre Ribeiro (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), who averaged 208.245 mph during his quickest lap of Spring Training, with a top speed of 214 mph at the ends of the straightaways. "Originally, we had four sharp turns and now we have two long corners. The track is much nicer and allows for more passing. It's also safer because now, we don't have walls facing us at a bad angle. The reconfiguration is definitely an improvement." Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), was third fastest during the two-day session at 210.682 mph, despite limited prior testing and his team's concentration on race setup. "I'm really happy with the performance of the car and the team because I only had about 150 miles of testing before we came here," said Gugelmin, a career-best fourth-place finisher in the 1997 PPG Cup championship. "Basically, right until the end we worked on our race setup. We weren't here to qualify, but it was nice to show we can do a quick time when we need to. "I think we're going to have a better race than last year despite the fact that we're going more than 10 miles per hour faster." Patrick Racing driver Scott Pruett (Visteon Reynard Ford) is scheduled to test at Homestead Wednesday and Thursday. It will be the 14th and final test of the preseason for the Patrick team, 11 days of which have been spent on the Homestead oval. Pruett's teammate, Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford) has also participated in the tests. "We are very pleased with the way our off-season testing program has progressed," said Patrick team manager Steve Newey. "The Ford engine has continued to develop and our Firestone tire tests have been very productive. Scott, Adrian and the entire team have put in a lot of hard work to get us ready for the start of the season."

Courtesy CART Online - http://www.cart.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Scott Pruett , Andre Ribeiro