CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca Saturday Track Notes

FedEx Championship Series Saturday Track Notes Laguna Seca (September 12, 1998) Today's weather is a carbon copy of yesterday's menu, mid-eighties with crystal blue skies and light ocean breezes from the west. Today's CART on-track activities...

FedEx Championship Series Saturday Track Notes Laguna Seca (September 12, 1998)

Today's weather is a carbon copy of yesterday's menu, mid-eighties with crystal blue skies and light ocean breezes from the west. Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 75-minute practice session taking the Green Flag at 9 a.m. followed by the final round of qualifying at 12:45 p.m. Today's qualifying session will again be the split format with the faster qualifiers from yesterday comprising Group Two. Each group will be on-track for 30 minutes. DARIO FRANCHITTI sits on the provisional pole by virtue of his lap of 117.793 mph (1:08.398), well short of the record qualifying lap of BRYAN HERTA of 118.666 (1:07.895) from 1997. HERTA will be back in action to improve on his 11th-best qualifying effort from yesterday after wrestling a damaged car from a practice-ending incident with ALEX ZANARDI. And ZANARDI will be coming into the afternoon session today to log his first qualifying laps of the weekend after his one-session penalty for the aforementioned incident with HERTA. Pole sitter FRANCHITTI will enter today's qualifying with either a repaired primary car or his secondary car after his one-car crash at the end of yesterday's qualifications. Quite a few variables to be mixed in the stew that will result in a Marlboro Pole winner by the close of today's final sessions!

Congratulations are in order from the CART community to ALEX ZANARDI and his wife Daniela with the birth of their first child. Son Niccolo weighed in at six pounds Monday afternoon in Padova, Italy. Mother and baby are reported to be in fine condition and have been released from the hospital.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 90 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 75 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 9:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #8 HERTA with a lap of 115.917 mph (1:09.505), followed by #20X PRUETT (115.902 mph; 1:09.514) and #7 RAHAL (115.654 mph; 1:09.663).

RED FLAG waves at 9:12 a.m. after #34 VITOLO spins off-course at Turn 3 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and VITOLO continues on course to his pit area.

At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 9:10 a.m. report.

At 9:21 a.m., #16 CASTRO-NEVES spins at the exit of Turn 3 and continues on-course without damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 9:26 a.m. after #77 MEIER spins off of Turn 2 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and MEIER continues to his pit area with no apparent damage to the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:28 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 117.532 mph (1:08.550), followed by #8 HERTA (117.349 mph; 1:08.657) and #20X PRUETT (115.902 mph; 1:09.514).

At 9:32 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI spins at Turn 10 and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

Also at 9:32 a.m., #10 HEARN spins at Turn 2 and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:36 a.m., #24 GORDON spins at Turn 2 and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:40 a.m., the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 9:30 a.m. report.

At 9:42 a.m., #26 TRACY spins at Turn 11 and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:50 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 117.532 mph (1:08.550), followed by #8 HERTA (117.349 mph; 1:08.657) and #36 BARRON (115.985 mph; 1:09.464).

At 9:56 a.m., #20X PRUETT runs off-course at Turn 10 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 9:59 a.m., #19 JOURDAIN JR. runs off-course at Turn 3 and back on, continuing on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 ZANARDI with his earlier lap of 117.532 mph (1:08.550), followed by #8 HERTA (117.349 mph; 1:08.657) and #20X PRUETT (116.649 mph; 1:09.069).

At 10:03 a.m., #26 TRACY runs off-course at Turn 6 and continues without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:05 a.m. after #26 TRACY spins at Turn 11 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and TRACY continues to his pit area with no apparent damage to the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:07 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 10:08 a.m., #8 HERTA logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 117.729 mph (1:08.435).

RED FLAG waves at 10:09 a.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES spins off-course at Turn 2. CART safety workers get the car restarted and CASTRO-NEVES continues on course with no apparent damage to the car.

At 10:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session and under a Red Flag, the fastest driver is still #8 HERTA with a lap of 117.729 mph (1:08.435), followed by #1 ZANARDI (117.532 mph; 1:08.550) and #20X PRUETT (116.649 mph; 1:09.069).

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:12 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 10:14 a.m., #12 VASSER spins at Turn 2 and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:15 a.m. after #9 LEHTO spins at Turn 4 and stalls the car in the middle of the track. CART safety workers get the car restarted and LEHTO continues to his pit area.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 10:15 a.m. to end the morning practice session with #8 HERTA still the fastest driver of the session with a lap of 117.729 mph (1:08.435), followed by #1 ZANARDI (117.532 mph; 1:08.550) and #20X PRUETT (116.649 mph; 1:09.069). The morning session has the top 22 cars separated by less than two seconds. The top two drivers in this session, HERTA and ZANARDI, were the top two drivers at the close of yesterday's morning practice session, with both drivers improving their respective times: HERTA by .228 mph and ZANARDI by 1.047 mph. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 32 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #20X PRUETT, #99X MOORE, #21X KANAAN, #9X LEHTO, #98X SOSPIRI, #40X FERNANDEZ, and #17X GUGELMIN. CART drivers logged a total of 469 laps during the session.

On September 11th, and in ceremonies honoring the CART Safety Team at Camel Valley Ranch, two long time members of the team were honored for their dedication and work in safety as it directly applies to the drivers. Sue Dunham, R.N., of Indianapolis and Liz Friede, R.N. of Prescott, Arizona were presented with plaques honoring their service by Al Unser, Jr, Chairman of the Championship Drivers Association. In addition to the plaques, both ladies received steel and gold wristwatches from Tony Siragusa representing Maurice Lacroix, USA, the official watchmaker of the Championship Drivers Association.

Each year, the Championship Drivers Association hosts all the members of the safety and medical teams and their guests for dinner to show the appreciation of the drivers for their dedication and effort. PPG Industries is the sponsor of the event with cooperating contributions from Holmatro, the official tool supplier of the CART Safety Team.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:45 p.m. to start the final Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 120 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 89 degrees F. at the start of the Group One session.

At 12:50 p.m., five minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #33 CARPENTIER with a lap of 116.015 mph (1:09.446), followed by #20X PRUETT (115.586 mph; 1:09.304) and #1 ZANARDI (115.450 mph; 1:09.786).

At 12:51 p.m., #33 CARPENTIER spins at Turn 2 but CARPENTIER keeps the car running and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 12:52 p.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES loses power coming out of Turn 10 and coasts into the pit area with smoke trailing from the rear of the car.

Also at 12:52 p.m., #26 TRACY spins and stalls at Turn 7 and #20X PRUETT spins at Turn 10 and stalls. CART safety workers get both cars restarted and both drivers continue to their pit areas. TRACY and CASTRO-NEVES both receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session. CART Race Control determines that PRUETT spun in oil left by the car of CASTRO-NEVES and therefore PRUETT was not at fault and does not receive the eight-minute penalty.

At 12:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the top drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 12:50 p.m. report.

At 1 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group One session, the top drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 12:55 p.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:02 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

RED FLAG waves at 1:04 p.m. after #34 VITOLO spins at Turn 2 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and VITOLO continues to his pit area with no apparent damage to the car. VITOLO is assessed the standard eight-minute penalty.

At 1:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 1 p.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:07 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

At 1:10 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 117.049 mph (1:08.833), followed by #10 HEARN (116.238 mph; 1:09.008) and #26 TRACY (116.178 mph; 1:09.088).

At 1:15 p.m., the fastest driver is still #1 ZANARDI with a faster lap of 117.576 mph (1:08.524), followed by #20X PRUETT (117.465 mph; 1:08.589) and #3 RIBEIRO (116.253 mph; 1:09.304).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 1:17 p.m. to end the Group One session with #1 ZANARDI the fastest driver with a lap of 117.576 mph (1:08.524), followed by #20X PRUETT (117.465 mph; 1:08.589) and #26 TRACY (116.403 mph; 1:09.215).

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:30 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 122 degrees F. and 80 degrees F. at the start of the Group Two qualifying session.

At 1:35 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #99X MOORE with a lap of 116.863 mph (1:08.942), followed by #17 GUGELMIN (116.396 mph; 1:09.219) and #27 FRANCHITTI (116.208 mph; 1:09.331).

At 1:40 p.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #8 HERTA with a lap of 117.869 (1:08.354), followed by #99X MOORE (117.581 mph; 1:08.521) and #17 GUGELMIN (117.146 mph; 1:08.776).

RED FLAG waves at 1:41 p.m. after #9 LEHTO stalls on-course exiting Turn 5. CART safety workers tow the car back to the pit area. LEHTO receives the standard eight-minute penalty.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:44 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

At 1:45 p.m., the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 1:40 p.m. report.

At 1:49 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI runs off-course at Turn 2 but continues back on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 1:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #8 HERTA with a lap of 118.123 mph (1:08.207), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (117.869 mph; 1:08.354) and #99X MOORE (117.581 mph; 1:08.521).

At 1:51 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI spins off Turn 2 but keeps the car under control and returns to the course and immediately pits his car.

At 1:55 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #8 HERTA with a lap of 118.229 (1:08.146), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (117.869 mph; 1:08.354) and #12 VASSER (117.700 mph; 1:08.452).

RED FLAG waves at 1:56 p.m. after #99X MOORE loses power and stalls on-course exiting Turn 6 with smoke appearing at the rear of the car. CART safety workers pull the car to safety to await the end of the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:58 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2 p.m. to end the Group Two qualifying session with #8 HERTA the fastest Group Two driver with a lap of 118.229 (1:08.146), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (117.869 mph; 1:08.354) and #99X MOORE (117.581 mph; 1:08.521). The top 19 drivers are within one second of the pole-winning effort by HERTA.

BRYAN HERTA wins the Marlboro Pole Award and will start first on the grid for Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 after his field-best lap of 118.229 mph (1:08.146). Today represents HERTA's sixth career pole and the third of the 1998 FedEx Championship Series season. HERTA previously won poles this year at Long Beach and Portland. HERTA has qualified on the front row in the last three races and has started fifth or better in the last five races. HERTA has qualified on the front row in all four career appearances at Laguna Seca. HERTA, last year's pole winner as well, becomes the first driver to capture back-to-back poles at Laguna Seca since MICHAEL ANDRETTI in 1991-1992.

DARIO FRANCHITTI will start second tomorrow by virtue of his 117.869 mph (1:08.354) speed in today's qualifying session. This represents FRANCHITTI's seventh front-row start this season. FRANCHITTI has four poles and 3 second-place starts this year. FRANCHITTI has been on the front row in six of the last eight events.

JIMMY VASSER locks down third on the grid with a lap of 117.700 mph (1:08.452). This is VASSER's seventh top-three start in the last 16 races. VASSER has also been among the top seven in 12 of the 16 events so far this season.

HERTA's pole win today represents the 15th pole for Firestone and the fifth pole for Ford in the 1998 FedEx Championship Series season.

BRYAN HERTA, Shell Reynard Ford: "[Getting the car repaired after Friday morning's contact with Alex Zanardi was] the biggest single thing we did good this weekend. After some damage to the car yesterday, the crew really busted themselves to get the car ready for today. After seeing the problems the slower group had [today], the advantage of a little more green [flag] time gave us what we needed to go for it. This is a track where starting up front is certainly an advantage, but the determination is no greater or less than it was at Vancouver or before that, at Elkhart Lake. Through all this [the quest for his first victory], I've tried to maintain my own self-confidence and believe in the things I've done in the past which have gotten me to this point in my career. You want to kill that frustration. If nothing else, when it does happen, it'll be especially sweet for all those reasons."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "I'd love to sit here and tell you that if we'd have had that eight minutes [lost due to a penalty incurred during provisional qualifying Friday] we'd have been on the pole, but I don't know if I believe that myself. I just think we didn't have the balance on the car that we needed to challenge Bryan. The track was very slick, and to get one good lap in was very difficult."

JIMMY VASSER, Target Reynard Honda: "We made some changes, but I still don't have the car where I want it. I don't know if anyone does. I had a hard time putting a lap in yesterday. The difference today was a little bit of handling. The difference was that we were able to keep working with the car and we were able to put a good one [lap] in."

AL UNSER JR. wins the Budweiser Accelerator Award. UNSER JR. showed the largest increase in lap speed from practice to qualifying out of the field of 28 drivers and thus wins the award. The Championship Auto Racing Auxiliary will receive a $1000 check from Budweiser for charitable causes in UNSER JR.'s name.

At the conclusion of today's drivers meeting, the 28 Champ Car competitors in this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey, as well as former PPG Cup champions Rick Mears and Mario Andretti, created a live auction item for the upcoming inaugural Runway Madness presented by FedEx charity extravaganza. Randy Owens, a well-known motorsports artist who is heading up the project, created a graffiti-style racing design in the center of a 5x13-foot piece of canvas and the Champ Car drivers put the finishing touches on the project this afternoon. Each driver imprinted his right foot around the border of the canvas and then added his signature. The art piece will be featured as a live auction item during Runway Madness presented by FedEx on Friday, Oct. 30 at the Lockheed Hangar at Ontario (Calif.) Airport. All proceeds from Runway Madness will benefit Championship Auto Racing Auxiliary (CARA) Charities, Loma Linda Children's Hospital and the Championship Drivers Association (CDA). The charity function is being held in conjunction with the season-closing Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Nov. 1st at California Speedway.

This concludes the Pit Notes for today. We'll see you at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning for the final practice session of the weekend and the Green Flag for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 at 12 p.m.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Zanardi , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Al Unser