Toronto, Ont. (July 5, 2002) - For most of the practice session at the Molson Indy in Toronto on Friday morning, it looked like the Newman-Haas Racing Team was going to post the two fastest times. Teammates Cristiano da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi topped the time sheet through most of the session with best laps of 0:59.620 and 0:59.927 respectively.
Tony Kanaan of Mo Nunn Racing was the only other driver under the one-minute mark, finishing fourth in a time of 59.981. Bruno Junqueira, who is in second-place in the driver's championship, ended up 11th 0.716 seconds off the pace.
"We have been really strong on the road and street courses so far this season," said Brack leading into this weekend's festivities. "We ran near the front at Long Beach, Laguna and Portland. I've had good cars week in and week out, we just need to stay focused and keep working at it. I have a lot of confidence in this team and I know that we can win races. Hopefully we can start winning this weekend."
Early in the session, Brack set the pace with a lap time of 1:00.848 and shaved exactly half a second off his advantage three laps later. Fittipaldi, who held second place throughout most of the first 20 minutes, took over the lead in the 21st minute with a time of 1:00.044. His teammate da Matta, who leads the driver's championship, improved to first with a time of 59.620 in the 47th minute. A red flag came out with just 6 minutes to go when Michel Jourdain lost power and was stopped on the track. He spun out exiting a corner and stalled. The green was waved just 3 minutes later.
Many of the drivers complained of steering or handling problems in the morning session. Typically on the Friday of race weekend, the track has yet to have a base of rubber to grip on. The circuit in Toronto is one of the most demanding street courses on the CART/Fed Ex Championship series. Shock absorber settings are pivotal because of the variable surface that includes concrete patches, manhole covers right on the racing line, and many surface irregularities.
Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing went off the track and into the runoff area twice in Turn 3, a sharp right that many drivers often have trouble negotiating. Toranosuke Takagi was also too fast entering Turn 3 and ended up in the runoff area.