CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira fastest at Chicago

By David Reininger – Motorsport.com Cicero. Ill (July 27, 2001) – Bruno Junqueira ended the day atop the speed charts after turning a lap in the afternoon session at 156.212 mph. Junqueira started the day in his backup car, turning a lap ...

By David Reininger – Motorsport.com

Cicero. Ill (July 27, 2001) – Bruno Junqueira ended the day atop the speed charts after turning a lap in the afternoon session at 156.212 mph. Junqueira started the day in his backup car, turning a lap at 151.832 mph, before completing the morning session in the primary car.

“This morning I started learning the track using the backup car,” said Junqueira. “I did five laps and the car was really good. After moving to my primary car, it took me a long time to go just a little bit faster than my backup car.

Continuing in the primary Target Lola/Toyota in the afternoon session, Junqueira was able to manage a lap at 152.708 mph.

“I started in the afternoon in the primary car. We made some changes and it improved, but unfortunately we had some problems with the car and had to stop. We came back to the backup car and the car was really good. The backup car was much better because the primary was too loose on exit.”

With fifteen minutes left in practice, Junqueira knocked Adrian Fernandez off the top of the speed charts, a position he had enjoyed for over an hour.

Regarding his best time, Junqueira said, “It was really close to the other guys, so that means we’ll have to improve the car for tomorrow. When I did my best lap, the car still had a little bit of push, so we can improve in this area.”

When qualifying gets underway on Saturday afternoon, Junqueira will be looking for his second career pole position. “I love fast corners,” said Junqueira, who earned the pole position on the one-mile oval at Nazareth in May. “Ovals are all about fast corners. My favorite European tracks are the ones with fast corners.”

At Chicago, “the laps are not easy, you have to lift and brake, and downshift. It’s a really big challenge for the driver and the team. To make a perfect car for these corners is really hard work.”

Kenny Brack, driver of the Shell Lola/Ford missed Junqueira mark by 17 one-thousandths of a second, taking the second spot on the speed chart with a lap at 156.100 mph. “I think we had a good day,” said Brack, who currently leads the championship standings by three points (84-81) over Helio Castroneves.

“Both the primary and backup cars were fast today and I’m pretty happy with the way things went. It’s a different wing package from last year so we had to work pretty hard on the chassis setup.”

Brack has earned four pole positions this year, scoring two on road courses and two on ovals. Brack and Castroneves are the only two drivers to score multiple pole position this season. Castroneves has three.

Tora Takagi, who started third in last week’s 500 mile race at Michigan, was third fastest in today’s practice session. Sixteen minutes from the end of the session, Takagi’s name went to the top of the speed charts after he turned a lap at 155.870 mph.

Brack and Junqueira relegated the Japanese driver to third just seconds later.

Adrian Fernandez, who enjoyed seeing his name atop the speed charts for most of the afternoon, ended the day fourth. “It’s been a good day in general,” said Fernandez. “The car was good right out of the box and we just have to keep improving.”

Helio Castroneves, fastest in the morning session, was unable to improve in the afternoon, ending the day fifth fastest. “We had a really productive session this morning and the Marlboro car was good right out of the box,” said Castroneves. “We saw right away that we had a good basic setup for the one-mile oval, so we went to work on our testing program, trying different changes to continue to improve our car.

“In the afternoon session, we were working on our race setup and the car was running really well. Midway through the practice we had a problem shifting so we took the car back into the garage to look at it.”

Castroneves was 11th fastest in the afternoon after recording a lap at 153.812 mph in his primary car.

Mauricio Gugelmin sustained a bruised left leg after hitting the turn 1 wall in practice this afternoon. Gugelmin was halfway through a full tank run when his Nextel Reynard/Toyota lost grip and spun backwards, making hard contact with the wall.

“I downshifted approaching turn one and the rear of my car got loose,” Gugelmin said. “When I corrected, the car wobbled so I counter-corrected the steering and lost it.

“I’m pretty stiff right now, so I’ll have to do a lot of icing tonight on my shoulders and the shoulder-blade area of my upper back.”

After being examined by CART Medical Director, Dr. Steve Olvey, Gugelmin was cleared to compete in the remainder of the weekend program.

Qualifying for Sunday’s Target Grand Prix takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Notes from the Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway:

Mario Andretti will be on the ABC-TV program “Nightline” tonight. The program will center on biking champion Lance Armstrong. After highlighting Andretti’s career, he’ll be asked questions regarding what it takes to prepare for the demands of auto racing, making comparisons to Armstrong’s bike racing.

***

Interested spectators at Friday’s official test session included John Barnes, owner of the Pennzoil Panther Racing team, which competes in the Indy Racing League.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Mauricio Gugelmin , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Mario Andretti
Teams Panther Racing