CHAMPCAR/CART: Jourdain tops first night Champ Car session

CHAMPCAR/CART: Jourdain tops first night Champ Car session

Michel Jourdain, Jr. ran the fastest lap in tonight's practice session for the Champ Car World Series cars at the Milwaukee Mile, the first nighttime session in CART history. Jourdain's lap of 21.040 seconds (176.578 mph) was more than one second...

Michel Jourdain, Jr. ran the fastest lap in tonight's practice session for the Champ Car World Series cars at the Milwaukee Mile, the first nighttime session in CART history. Jourdain's lap of 21.040 seconds (176.578 mph) was more than one second slower than the track record set by Patrick Carpentier in 1998.

Michel Jourdain Jr..
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
The Team Rahal driver was obviously enjoying the night session, commenting: "It was like racing at noon out there. I think everybody's going to be excited to see what we can do out there Saturday. I like it a lot."

Second fastest tonight and fastest in the earlier afternoon session was Forsythe Racing's Paul Tracy. Tracy's session was cut short when he got into the turn 3 wall, damaging the rear suspension. "We ran only half the session, so the car is pretty good. It took guys a long time to beat my time, so I think we'll be pretty strong."

Tracy also liked the lighted oval, saying: "It doesn't look any different - it's the same visual look."

Tracy's Forsythe teammate, Carpentier, turned the third-fastest time tonight. His car was much improved from the earlier session, remarking: "I'm pretty happy with the setup we had tonight."

Carpentier had a different outlook on the track lighting. "Some guys were running with their rain lights and some were not. It was harder to judge the speed without it."

In addition to Tracy's brush of the wall, two other drivers had wall contact that required a yellow flag period. First, with 15 minutes remaining in the 90-minute session, Patrick Lemarie had a light meeting with the turn 4 wall that caused no damage to his PKR Lola. Then with just 5 minutes left, Ryan Hunter-Reay backed his ASTJ Reynard into the turn 2 concrete. The damage to his car was substantial and the session was ended early.

Filling out the top five in tonight's practice were two drivers who have had previous success at the Milwaukee Mile. Fourth was Adrian Fernandez, who won the pole here last year and finished second to Tracy in the race. Fifth was Jimmy Vasser, a past Milwaukee winner.

Tiago Monteiro.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Topping the rookie drivers tonight was Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing's Tiago Monteiro in his first trip to a short oval. The F-DR blue and orange paint layout was particularly striking under the lights and the team recorded the 9th fastest time.

The drivers were unanimous in their praise for the car configuration mandated for this year's event. After several years with the cars racing here with the low-downforce speedway wings, the Champ Cars have returned to use of the larger road-course wings. The expected result will be more passing and the end of the single-file parades that have spoiled the last few events.

Tracy said: "It's a good combination of downforce level, tires, and engine package. I think it's going to make for a good race." Jourdain concurred: "They will have a much better race than the last four or five years."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Lemarié , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Tiago Monteiro , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Eric Gilbert , Michel Jourdain