CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio Friday track notes

The CART on-track schedule features the weekend's first practice session taking the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. This full-field session will last 90 minutes. At 2:30 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the ...

The CART on-track schedule features the weekend's first practice session taking the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. This full-field session will last 90 minutes. At 2:30 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the split-group provisional qualifying session with the fastest drivers from the previous road course (last month's Molson Indy in Toronto, Canada) comprising Group Two. Each split-session provisional qualifying Group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two groups' efforts. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars again on track for practice from 10 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. with the final round of CART qualifying scheduled from 1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. This final qualifying session will again be in the split-group format with the fastest drivers from Friday's provisional qualifying comprising Group Two. Again, each group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two Groups. Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 10 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 83-lap, 187.414 mile-Miller Lite at 2 p.m. (All times are local.)

There are a couple of driver changes for this weekend's Miller Lite 200. First of all, popular American-driver MEMO GIDLEY will permanently take over the controls on the Della Penna Motorsports-owned #10 Toyota Reynard for the remainder of the season. The car is sponsored by DirectTV. The car was previously driven by NORBERTO FONTANA. GUALTER SALLES will fill in this week for the injured Japanese ace TAKUYA KUROSAWA in the #19 Dale Coyne Racing, SportsToday- sponsored Ford Lola. KUROSAWA will miss the rest of the 2000 Champ Car season due to back injuries sustained in an incident during qualifying for the Michigan 500.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 81 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 75 degrees F. at the start of the session.

RED FLAG waves at 10:31 a.m. after #12X VASSER stalls off course at Turn 3 on the out lap. CART safety crews immediately tend to the car but the car will not start and the safety crews tow the car back to the Pit Area. The crew readies the #12 primary car for use in the remainder of the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:36 a.m. to resume the practice session.

RED FLAG waves at 10:38 a.m. after #2X de FERRAN stalls on course at Turn 3. CART safety workers tow the car back to Pit Road as the crew readies the primary car for use in the remainder of the session.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is #10X GIDLEY with a speed of 90.079 mph (1:30.241), followed by #20X MORENO (88.861 mph; 1:31.478) and #34X MARQUES (83.980 mph; 1:36.794). It must be noted that no drivers have logged more than two laps in speed clockings, due to the first two Red Flags in the first ten minutes.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:41 a.m. to resume the practice session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:44 a.m. to #34 MARQUES for a Pit Road speed violation. MARQUES subsequently pits his car for the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #40X FERNANDEZ with a lap of 117.089 mph (1:09.424), followed by #1X MONTOYA (117.045 mph; 1:09.450) and #20X MORENO (116.247 mph; 1:09.927).

At 11 a.m., the speeds continue to escalate with #1X MONTOYA now the fastest driver with a lap of 118.974 mph (1:08.324), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (118.396 mph; 1:08.658) and #12 VASSER (1:08.789). Many of the drivers are radioing their crews that the track is very slick with no rubber build-up in the groove.

RED FLAG waves at 11:07 a.m. after #27 FRANCHITTI stalls on course between Turns 13 and 14. CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow it back to Pit Road.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:10 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #12 VASSER with a lap of 119.020 mph (1:08.298) tied exactly with #3 CASTRONEVES (119.020 mph; 1:08.298) with third-fastest held by #1X MONTOYA (118.9744 mph; 1:08.324).

At 11:15 a.m., #2 de FERRAN spins off course at Turn 3 but keeps the engine running and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:17 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL slides off course at the outside of Turn 1 and takes a rough ride before returning to the course. BLUNDELL subsequently pits the car to have it checked by the crew.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 120.614 mph (1:07.395), followed by #2 de FERRAN (120.126 mph; 1:07.669) and #27 FRANCHITTI (119.661 mph; 1:07.932).

RED FLAG waves at 11:25 a.m. after #8 BRACK spins off course cresting the hill at the right-hand Turn 10 and slides into the inside wall, damaging the front of the car. The driver is uninjured in the incident and CART safety crews quickly hook the car up and tow it back to the Pit Area as BRACK's crew readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:29 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is now #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 120.614 mph (1:07.395), now followed by #1 MONTOYA (120.459 mph; 1:07.482) and #2 de FERRAN (120.126 mph; 1:07.669).

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a faster lap of 121.443 mph (1:06.935), followed by #2 de FERRAN (121.132 mph; 1:07.107) and #1 MONTOYA (120.459 mph; 1:07.482).

RED FLAG waves at 11:45 p.m. after #25 GARCIA Jr. crests the hill at the right-hand Turn 10 and loses traction, spinning off the outside of the track and making hard contact against the outside wall with the left side of the car. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major damage to the left side suspension. CART safety crews quickly hook the car up and tow it back to the Paddock Area. On the cool down lap, #19 SALLES spins off course at Turn 3 and stalls the car. CART safety crews quickly tend to the driver and get the car restarted. SALLES continues back to his Pit Area.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:40 a.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:53 a.m. to resume the session.

RED FLAG waves at 11:57 a.m. after #19 SALLES spins off course at Turn 11, sliding across the gravel pit and making contact against the concrete wall beyond the trap. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains damage to the front wind and body.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:58 a.m. to end the first practice session early as there will not be enough time to clean-up from the SALLES incident before the scheduled end of the session. The fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a faster lap of 121.443 mph (1:06.935), followed by #2 de FERRAN (121.132 mph; 1:07.107) and #1 MONTOYA (120.459 mph; 1:07.482). The top eight cars are separated by less than one second in lap times with the top 21 cars separated by less than two seconds in lap times. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 36 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #1X MONTOYA, #40X FERNANDEZ, #20X MORENO, #55X KANAAN, #34X MARQUES, #10X GIDLEY, #96X SERVIA, #8X BRACK, #5X NAKANO, #11X FITTIPALDI, #33X TAGLIANI, #32X CARPENTIER, #18X BLUNDELL, #12X VASSER, and #97 da MATTA. CART drivers logged a total of 612 laps in the session.

QUALIFYING

As clock approaches the time for Provisional Qualifying, a broken cloud cover has covered the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, producing long stretches of track in shade, then portions in bright sun. Though the ambient temperature has only climbed to the low 80s, the track temperature has soared to over 110 degrees F. at 2 p.m. Also, a stiff wind has made its presence known, blowing from south to north across the front straight but turning to a headwind on the fastest part of the track, exiting the 180-degree Turn 2 keyhole, and heading downhill to Turn 3.

Professional driver Pattie Hughes will be driving the CART Pace Car for this weekend's Miller Lite 200. Ms. Hughes is presently competing in Pro Spec Racer Ford Series, as well as co-driving in SCCA Pro Rally. Ms. Hughes is currently a driving instructor at The Mid-Ohio School, the official driving school of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This is Ms. Hughes' fourth year on the pace car team.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group One Provisional Qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 108 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 84 degrees F. at the start of the Group One session, with the track again in full sunshine. The drivers will be chasing the track qualifying record set in 1999 by DARIO FRANCHITTI with a lap of 124.314 mph (1:05.347).

RED FLAG waves at 2:35 p.m. after #34 MARQUES spins at Turn 13 and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety crews quickly get the car restarted and MARQUES continues to his pit. The driver will serve the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying a qualifying session to start at the appearance of the next Green Flag.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:38 p.m. to resume the Group One session.

At 2:39 p.m., #32 CARPENTIER slides off course at Turn 1 but continues back on track without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #33 CARPENTIER with a lap of 118.624 mph (1:08.526), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (118.302 mph; 1:08.712) and #12 VASSER (118.137 mph; 1:08.808).

At 2:41 p.m., #7 PAPIS logs the fastest lap of Group One with a speed of 120.083 mph (1:08.526). PAPIS had only reached 119.715 mph (1:07.901) in the morning practice session.

RED FLAG waves at 2:44 p.m., #16 JOURDAIN JR. spins at Turn 15 and stalls backwards at the edge of the track. CART safety workers get the car restarted and JOURDAIN JR. drives back to his pit to serve the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:47 p.m. to resume the Group One session.

At 2:49 p.m., the penalty assessed against #34 MARQUES expires and the driver rejoins the Group One session.

At 2:50 p.m., #20 MORENO spins off course at Turn 1 and slides through the grass halfway to Turn 2 before coming to a stop. CART safety workers get the car restarted and MORENO continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest Group One driver is #7 PAPIS with a lap of 120.083 mph (1:07.693), followed by #12 VASSER (119.599 mph; 1:07.967) and #55 KANAAN (119.529 mph; 1:08.007).

At 2:55 p.m., the penalty assessed to #16 JOURDAIN JR. for delaying the qualifying process expires and JOURDAIN JR. re-enters the Group One session.

At 2:56 p.m., #12 VASSER moves to the top of Group One with a speed of 120.582 mph (1:07.413) on his 11th lap.

At 2:57 p.m., #7 PAPIS regains the top spot with a lap of 121.114 mph (1:07.117) on his eighth circuit.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. to end the Group One qualifying session with #7 PAPIS hanging on to the top spot with a lap of 121.293 mph (1:07.018), followed by #12 VASSER (120.826 mph; 1:07.277) and #32 CARPENTIER (120.414 mph; 1:07.507). PAPIS has the second-fastest lap of the day so far here at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. Group Two is comprised of the fastest qualifiers from the last road race on the FedEx Championship Series, the Molson Indy at Toronto. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 109 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 82 degrees F. at the start of the session, but a cloud cover has again enveloped the track in shade, benefiting the Group Two drivers.

RED FLAG waves at 3:18 p.m. after #26 TRACY slides off course at Turn 3 and stalls in the gravel trap at the outside of the track, slightly damaging the left portion of the rear wing. CART safety workers retrieve the car and TRACY continues to his Pit Box to serve the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:24 p.m. to resume the Group Two session.

At 3:25 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest Group Two driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with one timed lap only at a speed of 117.971 mph (1:08.905; 14th-overall), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (114.344 mph; 1:11.091; 15th overall). The Group Two drivers have only logged between one and three laps during the first 10 minutes of the Group Two session.

At 3:30 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES moves to the Provisional Pole with a lap of 123.095 mph (1:06.037) on his fourth lap of the session, followed by #2 DE FERRAN (122.512 mph; 1:06.351).

At 3:32 p.m., the qualifying-delay penalty expires to #26 TRACY and the driver re-enters the Group Two session.

At 3:35 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with an even faster lap of 123.679 mph (1:05.725; first overall), followed by #2 DE FERRAN (122.512 mph; 1:06.351; second-fastest overall) and #27 FRANCHITTI (121.970 mph; 1:06.646; third overall).

At 3:36 p.m., #26 TRACY spins off course at Turn 2 but re-enters the course and subsequently pits the car without apparent damage. TRACY radios his crew that the car's brakes are locking up at the Turn 2 corner.

At 3:40 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI moves to second-fastest on the day with a lap of 122.643 mph (1:06.280).

At 3:41 p.m., #2 DE FERRAN moves back to second on the Provisional lineup with a lap of 122.823 mph (1:06.813).

At 3:42 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI retakes the second spot with the next lap clocking out at 123.218 mph (1:05.971) with #11 FITTIPALDI in third at 122.920 mph (1:06.131).

At 3:43 p.m. and on the next lap by, #2 DE FERRAN ties the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course record with a lap of 124.394 mph (1:05.347) on his 14th circuit around the course.

Also at 3:43 p.m., #26 TRACY makes contact with the wall at Turn 11 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car. TRACY subsequently pits, apparently through for the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. to end the Group One session with #2 DE FERRAN the fastest of the day with his lap of 124.394 mph (1:05.347), followed by #3 CASTRONEVES (124.366 mph; 1:05.3612) and #27 FRANCHITTI (123.218 mph; 1:05.971). There are five cars within a second of the top speed set by DE FERRAN, with 14 cars within two seconds of the top speed. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 25 cars to the track in Friday's Provisional sessions with #25X GARCIA JR. utilizing the only secondary car. CART drivers logged a total of 347 laps in the Provisional sessions.

GIL DE FERRAN sits on the Provisional Pole with his record-tying lap of 124.394 mph (1:05.347). DE FERRAN is after his third Pole of the season, winning his first two at Homestead and Long Beach

HELIO CASTRONEVES is second on the Provisional grid with his speed of 124.366 mph (1:05.362) in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard. CASTRONEVES is after his third Pole of the season as the Brazilian won the Pole at Portland and Toronto. CASTRONEVES is also attempting to win his fourth front-row start in the last six races.

DARIO FRANCHITTI is third with his speed of 123.218 mph (1:05.9710) after Friday's Provisional session. FRANCHITTI is chasing his first Pole of the 2000 season, with his best start a second place at both Milwaukee and Detroit. FRANCHITTI is also after his sixth top-five start in the last eight races.

Quotes from two of Friday's top qualifiers follow:

GIL DE FERRAN: "It was a little too exciting of a qualifying session for my liking. We had a few problems this morning and the guys got them fixed just before qualifying. The car was good on the first set of tires, but I got more comfortable on my second set and that's when I did my time. A track like this slowly keeps improving. There's no reason to get too excited today because I think speeds will be a lot faster tomorrow if all things are equal."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "The car's been pretty good. When we rolled it off the truck the car was good. We tested here and didn't make too many changes. The team's come up with a few changes and Reynard's come up with some changes, so the car's getting pretty good. We had a good test at Road America last week, and it's been good here so far. I had a little problem this morning and I'm not going to go into too much detail, but I'm pretty happy. The guys are going to be burning the midnight oil tonight to catch these guys [de Ferran and Castroneves]."

This concludes the Pit Notes from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for Friday. We'll see you Saturday morning for the final day of Qualifying! Have a safe evening!

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dale Coyne
Teams Team Penske , Dale Coyne Racing