CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee Friday track notes

By Mark Tate • Good Morning from the historical home of the Miller Brewing Co.; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the first day of practice for Sunday's Miller Lite 225, Round Six of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season! This is also the 100th ...

By Mark Tate

• Good Morning from the historical home of the Miller Brewing Co.; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the first day of practice for Sunday's Miller Lite 225, Round Six of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season! This is also the 100th visit by the Champ Cars to the Milwaukee Mile, the world's oldest major speedway. The weekend and this morning's first practice session on the 1.032-mile; (1.661-km) track is scheduled for the Green Flag at 9:45 a.m. for a one-hour, 45-minute practice session. At 1:45 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for a 90-minute afternoon practice session. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars performing in the split group format with Group One on track at 9:30 a.m. for the 45-minute morning practice session, followed by Group Two for the same session length. The groups will be split according to the Championship Points earned thus far in the season with the highest-point-total drivers making up Group Two.

CART qualifying will then follow, scheduled from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. This single qualifying session will started by the driver who has the lowest total of Championship Points, moving up to the driver with the highest going out last, (barring any cars qualifying out of order). PATRICK CARPENTIER holds the track qualifying record with his 1998 effort of 185.500 mph (298.470 kph; 20.028 seconds). Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 11 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 225-lap, 232.2-mile, 373.610-kilometer Miller Lite 225 at 3 p.m. (All times are local.)

• The Milwaukee Mile is a tight one-mile oval with eight-degree banking in the corners and three-degree banking down the straights. Trap speeds range from nearly 190 mph entering the turns, to approximately 135 mph on the exits. With the aero package currently mandated for the Milwaukee venue, most drivers employ a shifting pattern using fifth gear to help the brakes slow down in the corners and back to sixth on the exit. The inside of the corners features the famous "stones" of Milwaukee; small rocks that occasionally find their way on course after off-track excursions, yielding problems for tire managers. It's a tough track to master, and can get very crowded in a hurry.

• This weekend marks the return to the FedEx Championship for Arciero-Blair Racing and Brazilian driver MAX WILSON in the #25 winner B2B.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola. WILSON missed the Japan race last month as the team was busy switching their engine program to Ford powerplants. WILSON started the season with a car powered by Phoenix Racing engines.

• Today's weather here at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this morning has thick layer of clouds left over from last nights' rainy weather that blew through the state. The prediction for today is more of the same; scattered showers giving way to brief out breaks of sunshine. Though the clouds and showers are predicted to worry the Champ Car community for Friday and Saturday, an on-coming high pressure from the west looks to dry things out a bit on Race Day, with intermittent sunshine and temperatures nearing 70 degrees F. (21 C.), hopefully gracing the Milwaukee area. But for this morning, the practice schedule is definitely going to slip as the track is still wet from the all-night drizzle.

• At 9:45 a.m., the first scheduled Champ Car practice is delayed as the CART jet dryers and Milwaukee Mile safety staff are still busy circling the track, attempting to get the track dry. CART Race Control has announced that the race track may be ready for competition within approximately two hours.

• At 11:35 a.m., CART Race Control announces that there will be only one practice session for the Champ Car today due to the inclement weather. The drivers will get the Green Flag at 12:32 p.m. and the session has been extended from 90 minutes to an even two-hour run.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 12:32 p.m. to start the practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 63 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 67 degrees F. at the start of the session. These are the coldest readings taken for a session this year.

• At 12:42 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #7 PAPIS with a lap of 158.620 mph (23.422 seconds; 11th lap), followed by #12 MINASSIAN (158.539 mph; 23.434 seconds; 10th lap) and #4X JUNQUEIRA (157.490 mph; 23.590 seconds; fifth lap).

• At 12:46 p.m., #66 ZANARDI clocks the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 159.711 mph (23.262 seconds; 12th lap).

• At 12:49 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES moves to the top of the speedboard with a lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds; sixth lap).

• At 12:52 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with his earlier lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds; sixth lap), now followed by #55 KANAAN (162.151 mph; 22.912 seconds; 15th lap) and #4 JUNQUEIRA (161.706 mph; 22.975 seconds; eighth lap).

• YELLOW FLAG waves at 12:53 p.m. for a track inspection. CART safety crews quickly take to the track for a thorough inspection and cleaning.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 1 p.m. to resume the session.

• At 1:02 p.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 12:52 p.m. report.

• At 1:12 p.m., 40 minutes into the session, #3 CASTRONEVES is still the fastest with his earlier lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds; sixth lap), now followed by teammate #1 de FERRAN (162.648 mph; 22.482 seconds; 25th lap) and #55 KANAAN (162.151 mph; 22.912 seconds; 15th lap).

• BLACK FLAG is shown at 1:13 p.m. to #32X CARPENTIER for a Pit road speed violation incurred at Pit Out. CARPENTIER subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

• YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:17 p.m. after several teams report cut tires on their cars after inspection in the pits. CART safety workers quickly start another clean-up and inspection of the track.

• At 1:22 p.m., 40 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with his earlier sixth lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds), now followed by 163.464 mph (22.728 seconds; 11th lap) and #1 de FERRAN (162.648 mph; 22.842 seconds; 25th lap).

• GREEN FLAG waves at 1:26 p.m. to resume the session.

• At 1:32 p.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with his earlier sixth lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds; sixth lap), followed by #6 da MATTA (163.464 mph; 22.728 seconds; 11th lap) and #55 KANAAN (163.392 mph; 22.738 seconds; 45th lap).

• YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:37 p.m. after several teams again report cut tires on their cars after inspection in the pits. CART safety workers quickly start another clean-up/inspection process.

• At 1:42 p.m., 70 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the top three drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 1:32 p.m. report.

• At 1:52 p.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 1:42 p.m. report.

• BLACK FLAG is shown at 1:56 p.m. to #27 FRANCHITTI for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit Out. FRANCHITTI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

• YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:58 p.m. after several teams again report cut tires on their cars after inspection in the pits. And again, CART safety workers quickly start another clean-up/inspection process, this time employing the CART jet blower.

• At 2:02 p.m., 90 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with his earlier lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds; sixth lap), now followed by #40 VASSER (163.478 mph; 22.726 seconds; 48th lap) and #6 da MATTA (163.464 mph; 22.728 seconds; 11th lap).

• GREEN FLAG waves at 2:08 p.m. to resume the session.

• At 2:10 p.m., #66 ZANARDI climbs to second-best with a speed of 164.048 mph (22.647 seconds) on his 72nd lap.

• At 2:12 p.m., 100 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 165.252 mph (22.482 seconds; sixth lap), followed by #66 ZANARDI (164.048 mph; 22.647 seconds; 72nd lap) and #40 VASSER (163.478 mph; 22.726 seconds).

• At 2:15 p.m., #6 da MATTA logs the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 165.392 mph (22.463 seconds) on his 43rd lap.

• At 2:22 p.m., 110 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is again #3 CASTRONEVES with new lap of 166.601 mph (22.300 seconds; 72nd lap), followed by #6 da MATTA (165.392 mph; 22.463 seconds; 43rd lap) and #55 KANAAN (164.776 mph; 22.547 seconds; 92nd lap).

• CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:32 p.m. to end the day's only test session with #3 HELIO CASTRONEVES the fastest driver with his 72nd lap of the session, clocking a 166.601 mph (22.300 second) lap in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard. CRISTIANO da MATTA is second in his Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota/Lola with his 43rd lap, registering a 165.392 mph (22.463 second)-speed with KENNY BRACK third at 164.864 mph (22.535 seconds), piloting the Shell Team Rahal Ford-Cosworth/Lola. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 38 cars to the track in today's test session with the top 24 cars separated by less than one second in lap times.

• Trap speeds from today's session show that handling will be the secret to the podium here at the Milwaukee Mile. (Trap speeds are one-time snapshots of an oncoming car's velocity with the devices positioned at the Start/Finish line, the Turn 2 exit and the Turn 3 entry.) #77 HERTA has the fastest traps at both the Start/Finish line (191.186 mph) and the Turn 3 entry (193.235 mph), showing the power his Ford-Cosworth engine is putting out, but could only manage a session ninth-best at 163.126 mph, mostly due to a 17th-best speed at the Turn 2 trap. He is followed at the Start/Finish line by #52 NAKANO (190.756 mph) and by #3 CASTRONEVES (192.781 mph) at the Turn 3 entry. The Turn 2 exit features #6 da MATTA as the fastest at 144.458 mph, followed by #40 VASSER (142.239 mph).

• Quotes from today's top three qualifiers follow:

• HELIO CASTRONEVES: "I was very busy this week, but I was enjoying every minute of it. Actually, that's what kept me focused. I just got back from New York yesterday, but as soon as I put my visor down, it was all business. The car is very good, we didn't change much. Tomorrow we're just going to try to go faster. It's looking good. I'm being more patient when the car's not there. I understand ovals a lot more this year. If I can't win the race, I want to score as many points as I can, because this championship is so tough. We'll see what's going to happen. I don't let anything distract me. We just have to keep going and focus on the championship because that's what we're after now."

• CRISTIANO da MATTA: "I had a pretty smooth session. We went through a couple of big changes that we wanted to get out of the way, and we ran the backup car, but everything went pretty well. Traffic was a problem for me, like it was for everybody. We're still looking for more speed, of course, but everybody else is too. It was good that the weather stayed so nice. The sun actually came out. The conditions were about perfect, and we didn't get to the point where the track got greasy. About the only thing missing is that there isn't enough rubber on the track yet."

• KENNY BRACK: "We worked on just trying to find our way with the Shell Ford. We started off a little bit shaky, but we're headed in the right direction. I think we can make some gains tomorrow. We were a pretty long way from where we needed to be when we started today. There's so little time that you've really got to go in the right direction. Even though you have a lot of simulation programs, it still counts the most on the track. We've been able to turn our way into it all year. I don't think I ever have too much confidence going into a race. You just don't know who's going to be up there. There's about 15 guys that can win any race. It was good to get a win, and it was a big weight off my shoulders, but it doesn't mean anything now."

• This concludes the Pit Notes for today from the Milwaukee Mile. We'll see you tomorrow for Qualifying Day, of course, weather permitting! Good Night!

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Teams Phoenix Racing