CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio Saturday track notes

Good Morning from sunny Mid Ohio Sports Car Course for the final day of Qualifying for Sunday's Miller Lite 200! Today's weather is absolutely perfect; cool temperatures and even cooler breezes blowing from the southeast. This is perfect ...

Good Morning from sunny Mid Ohio Sports Car Course for the final day of Qualifying for Sunday's Miller Lite 200! Today's weather is absolutely perfect; cool temperatures and even cooler breezes blowing from the southeast. This is perfect weather for a new track record qualifying lap which may well happen at 1:45 p.m. in the final round of qualifying today. GIL de FERRAN in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard almost pulled off the feat yesterday, tying the existing track record of 124.314 mph (1:05.347) set in 1999 by DARIO FRANCHITTI. But first for the Champ Cars on the track this morning is a 75-minute practice session for the full-field taking the Green Flag at 10 a.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 85 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 72 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 10:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 119.828 mph (1:07.837), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (119.109 mph; 1:08.247) and #2 de FERRAN (119.020 mph; 1:00.298).

RED FLAG waves at 10:12 a.m. after #1 MONTOYA breaks traction at the apex of Turn 2 and spins backwards into the gravel trap, stalling the car. CART safety crews quickly pull the car from the trap and get the engine fired. MONTOYA continues to his Pit Box with no apparent damage to the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:17 a.m. to resume the session.

RED FLAG waves at 10:20 a.m. after #27 FRANCHITTI stalls on course between Turns 8 and 9. CART safety crews quickly hook the car up and tow it back to Pit Road.

At 10:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #8 BRACK with a lap of 120.298 mph (1:07.572), followed by #3 CASTRONEVES (120.144 mph; 1:07.659) and #11 FITTIPALDI (119.828 mph; 1:07.837).

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:24 a.m. to resume the session. At 10:27 a.m., #7 PAPIS runs off course at Turn 14, but maintains control and returns to the course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:28 a.m., #33 TAGLIANI slides off track at Turn 13 and takes a rough ride before returning to the course. TAGLIANI subsequently pits the car without apparent damage.

At 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #2 de FERRAN with a lap of 120.418 mph (1:07.505), followed by #8 BRACK (120.298 mph; 1:07.572) and #3 CASTRONEVES (120.144 mph; 1:07.659).

At 10:36 a.m., #32 CARPENTIER spins off course to the outside of Turn 8, but the driver keeps the car running and returns to the course, driving to his Pit Box with no apparent damage to the car.

At 10:37 a.m., #2 de FERRAN spins at Turn 12 but continues on course to his Pit area with no apparent damage to the car.

At 10:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 122.387 mph (1:06.419), followed by #97 da MATTA (120.505 mph; 1:07.456) and #2 de FERRAN (120.418 mph; 1:07.505).

RED FLAG waves at 10:43 a.m. after #96 SERVIA slides off course to the outside of Turn 12, sliding across the gravel pit and making light contact with the left side of the front wing against the tire barrier. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains some damage to the nose/wing assembly. CART safety crews quickly hook the car up and tow it back to Pit Road.

At 10:50 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still b with his earlier lap of 122.387 mph (1:06.419), but now followed by #33 TAGLIANI (120.664 mph; 1:07.367) and #32 CARPENTIER (120.518 mph; 1:07.449).

RED FLAG waves at 10:53 a.m. after #26 TRACY spins at Turn 2 and stalls the car. TRACY gets the car turned and rolls down the straight from Turn 2, bumping the engine to life and continuing on course to his pit Area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:55 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11 p.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a faster lap of 112.492 mph (1:06.362), now followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (121.275 mph; 1:07.028) and #18 BLUNDELL (120.950 mph; 1:07.208).

Also at 11 a.m., Firestone engineers now report a track temperature of 98 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 77 degrees F.

At 11:01 a.m., #2 de FERRAN logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 122.610 mph (1:06.298) on his 28th circuit around the course.

At 11:05 a.m., #3 CASTRONEVES again takes the top spot with a lap of 123..425 mph (1:05.860) on his 25th lap of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:07 a.m. to #19 SALLES to start an eight-minute penalty incurred by delaying yesterday's practice session. SALLES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag.

At 11:09 a.m., #55 KANAAN runs off course past Turn 1 but maintains control and returns to the course with no apparent damage to the car.

At 11:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with an even faster lap of 123.425 mph (1:05.860), followed by #2 de FERRAN (122.610 mph; 1:06.298) and #8 BRACK (122.379 mph; 1:06.423).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:15 p.m. to end the session with #3 CASTRONEVES hanging on to the top spot with his earlier lap of 123.425 mph (1:05.860), followed by #2 de FERRAN (122.610 mph; 1:06.298) and #8 BRACK (122.379 mph; 1:06.4230. There are 11 cars now within one second of the fast time set by CASTRONEVES, with the top 20 cars separated by less than two seconds. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 26 cars to the track in this morning's session with #55X KANAAN the only secondary car in use. CART drivers turned 738 laps during the session.

Speeds are definitely climbing as more rubber gets ground into the racing surface. The top eleven cars eclipsed the fast lap from yesterday's morning session, also set by CASTRONEVES at 121.443 mph (1:06.935).

As the 1:45 p.m. Green Flag approaches, a strong wind is blowing across the front straight, again creating the headwind down the fastest portion of the track, the long downhill straight leading from Turn 2 to Turn 3. The sun is shining brightly through a picturesque sky of small clouds and a cobalt blue background. The temperature is perfect and the drivers and crews of the FedEx Championship Series drivers are poised to attack the track qualifying record here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Patrick Racing has announced that the team for ROBERTO MORENO has elected to use the primary car #20 and therefore the times earned by the secondary car (#20X) car in Friday's Provisional sessions will be forfeited. Also, Mo Nunn Racing will use the #55 primary car for driver TONY KANAAN and the times earned by the #55X in Friday's Provisional sessions will be forfeited.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:45 p.m. to start the Group one qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 114 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 81 degrees F. at the start of the session. This is by far the hottest track temperature logged by Firestone this weekend.

At 1:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #20X MORENO with a lap of 120.550 mph (1:07.431), followed by #5 NAKANO (120.112 mph; 1:07.677) and #12 VASSER (119.966 mph; 1:07.759).

At 2 p.m., #32 CARPENTIER logs the fastest Group One lap on his eighth circuit with a speed of 120.636 mph (1:07.383).

At 2:02 p.m., #12 VASSER moves to the top of Group One with a lap of 120.989 mph (1:07.186).

At 2:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest Group One driver is still #12 VASSER with his earlier lap of 120.989 mph (1:07.186), followed by #32 CARPENTIER (120.636 mph; 1:07.383) and #20X MORENO (120.550 mph; 1:07.431).

At 2:09 p.m., #55X KANAAN clocks the fastest lap of the Group One session with a speed of 121.013 mph (1:07.173) on his 11th lap.

At 2:12 p.m., #32 CARPENTIER goes back to the top with a lap of 122.438 mph (1:06.391) on his 13th lap of the session. #26 TRACY rides second with a speed of 122.058 mph (1:06.598).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:15 p.m. to end the Group One session with #32 CARPENTIER ending the session with the fastest speed by virtue of his earlier lap of 122.438 mph (1:06.391), followed by #12 VASSER (122.370 mph; 1:06.428) and #26 TRACY (122.058 mph; 1:06.598).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. Firestone engineers now report a track temperature of 105 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 79 degrees F. at the start of the Group Two session. Intermittent clouds have somewhat dampened the sunshine, again creating a cooler track for the Group Two competitors than faced by the Group One drivers earlier.

At 2:35 p.m., #7 PAPIS logs the fastest lap of the Group Two session with a speed of 123.076 mph (1:06.047) on his fourth lap.

RED FLAG waves at 2:37 p.m. after #96 SERVIA slides off course at Turn 2 and makes nose-first contact with the tire barrier. The driver is uninjured in the incident, but the car sustains too much damage to continue in the session. CART safety crews tow the car to a safe location to await the end of the Group Two session as SERVIA's crew readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the session. At the same time, #40 FERNANDEZ slides off-course at Turn 9 and slides into the gravel pit. CART safety crews quickly hook the car up and tow it to Pit Road. Both drivers will receive the standard eight-minute penalty at the drop of the next Green Flag for delaying the qualifying session.

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #7 PAPIS with his earlier lap of 123.076 mph (1:06.047), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (122.968 mph; 1:06.105) and #2 DE FERRAN (122.727 mph; 1:06.235).

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

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two driver is now #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 123.499 mph (1:05.821), followed by #2 DE FERRAN (123.435 mph; 1:05.855) and #7 PAPIS (123.076 mph; 1:06.047).

At 2:52 p.m., the penalties assessed to #96 SERVIA and #40 FERNANDEZ expire. #96X SERVIA enters the Group Two qualifying session in his secondary car, thus forfeiting the times earned by the #96 primary car.

RED FLAG waves at 2:55 p.m. after #2 DE FERRAN breaks traction in the apex of the left-hand Turn 1, and slides through the gravel pit outside the corner, rear-ending the tire barrier and flipping over, coming to rest upside down. DE FERRAN is uninjured in the incident, but the car sustains damage to the rear.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:55.500 after CART Race Control determines that there will not be enough time to clean up the track from the DE FERRAN incident and therefore the qualifying for Group Two is over. #2 DE FERRAN hangs on to the fastest Saturday time of all qualifiers with his earlier lap of 124.394 mph (1:05.347), followed by #3 CASTRONEVES (124.366 mph; 1:05.362) and #27 FRANCHITTI (123.792 mph; 1:05.665). There are 12 cars within one second of the fast time set by DE FERRAN Saturday, with 20 cars within two seconds. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 25 cars to the track in Saturday afternoon's qualifying sessions, with secondary cars utilized by #20X MORENO, #96X SERVIA, and #55X KANAAN. CART drivers logged 347 laps during the session.

GIL DE FERRAN wins the Pole for Sunday's Miller Lite 200 by virtue of his Friday speed of 124.394 mph (1:05.347) in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard. DE FERRAN failed to better his time in Saturday's qualifying session, but with the Red time, so did everyone else! Thus DE FERRAN secured his ninth career Pole Position and the third of the season while upside down in Turn 1 when the Checkered Flag flew to end the day's qualifying sessions. This speed equals the track record set by DARIO FRANCHITTI in last year qualifying sessions. DE FERRAN takes sole possession of 13th place on the all-time CART Poles won list. DE FERRAN has now qualified among the top five in 10 of the 13 events so far in the 2000 season.

HELIO CASTRONEVES is second on the grid using his Friday time of 124.366 mph (1:05.362). CASTRONEVES has qualified on the front row in four of the last six events.

DARIO FRANCHITTI will start third Sunday with his 123.792 speed (1:05.665) time from Saturday's qualifying session. FRANCHITTI has qualified in the top-five spots in six of the last eight events.

Saturday represents a series-leading six poles for Honda as well as four in the last five events here at Mid Ohio. In addition, Honda has 46 poles in CART competition since the manufacturer entered the series in 1994.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers follow:

GIL DE FERRAN: "I'm fine. It's great to be here sitting on the pole. It would have been better without the accident, but there you have it. The track was a little slippery today and it was difficult to get a good lap in. When I went to go for my lap, the rear tires seized up -- we're not really sure what happened there -- and from there I was into accident control techniques. I thought it was going to be a big hit, but the tire barrier did its job. When I was upside down I was very calm, because I knew the Safety guys were going to be there and I wasn't afraid of fire or anything else. I just want to say that, with the Safety guys here, we know we're going to be OK. I wasn't afraid because I knew they were going to take care of me, and I just wanted to thank them publicly."

HELIO CASTRONEVES: "This whole week was really rough. I felt very weak, and I just knew I wasn't 100 percent. We had to cancel a test at St. Louis to rest up for Mid-Ohio. Yesterday was pretty rough, but I got a lot of rest and I'm feeling much better now. This morning was great and I had a chance to improve my time from yesterday [in qualifying]. Unfortunately, the red flag came out before I could run my hot lap on the first set. They put the second set on and I got a lot of traffic when I first went out. I got the tires cooled down and got ready to go and then the red flag came out again. I didn't know at first that my teammate was upside down, but I found out that he's OK so that's good. I'm a little disappointed because I was feeling a lot better today, and I thought I could go quicker today, but now I have to look at the positive. I'm on the front row and I want to go for the points tomorrow. Of course, it would be better to get on the podium."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "I wasn't on my hot lap when the red flag was displayed. The first red flag that I saw was when I came under the bridge, so as far as I'm concerned, the time should stand. [The race] will be interesting for sure. I've had some interesting starts here, that's for sure. Last year, I had a big jump and got out to a big lead, and then I had a puncture, so I don't know what's going to happen. It's a weird place."

Congratulations are in order for the Patrick Racing Hospitality Staff as they were awarded first place in last night's Fourth Annual "Taste of CART" Progressive Dinner, sponsored by Tones Spices. The competition was held in the paddock here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Led by Patrick Racing administrative director, Bev Sharp, Director of Hospitality Tony Mathey and Head Chef, Ted Reader, the hospitality staff, which includes David Mathey, Chris Hoard, and Chris Arczewski, earned the $1,000 first-place prize for their creation "Treasures of the Sea." The first-place prize was graciously donated by the Patrick Racing Hospitality staff to Alphabet Junction Child Care Center, which is available for the children of all CART participants.

This concludes the Pit Notes for Saturday from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex. Have a safe evening and we'll see you Sunday for the running of the Miller Lite 200!

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske