CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey Friday track notes

Good Morning from the beautiful northern mountains of Mexico for the opening day of the 2001 Champ Car season and for Round One of the FedEx Championship Series, the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Herdez! Blue skies and calm winds...

Good Morning from the beautiful northern mountains of Mexico for the opening day of the 2001 Champ Car season and for Round One of the FedEx Championship Series, the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Herdez! Blue skies and calm winds have greeted the early arrivals to the 2.104- mile, 3.387-kilometer Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico. Temperatures are expected to be in the low seventies by the Green Flag for today's morning practice sessions. The remainder of the weekend's weather has partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures for Saturday and Sunday's forecast.

Quite a few changes have taken place in the Champ Car ranks in the off-season leading up to this weekend's Round One of the FedEx Championship Series season.

First, of course, the 2000 Points Champion, GIL de FERRAN takes over the traditional #1 in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard, leaving #2 unused this season.

Teammate HELIO CASTRONEVES remains in the #3.

The Target Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota Lola #4 will be piloted this season by Brazilian rookie contender BRUNO JUNQUEIRA with the #12 being piloted by fellow rookie, Frenchman NICOLAS MINASSIAN. The #5 Walker Racing Pioneer/Denso Toyota Reynard will also be piloted by a Rookie contender this year, Japanese driver TORA TAKAGI. Newman/Haas will run the Toyota powerplants this year in both cars with the #6 Texaco/Havoline Toyota Lola now driven by Brazilian CRISTIANO da MATTA, taking the seat of former driver MICHAEL ANDRETTI. #11 CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI becomes the senior driver of the team in his #11 Kmart-sponsored Toyota Lola.

Team Rahal switches to Lola chassis this year for the Miller Lite Ford of #7 MAX PAPIS and #8 KENNY BRACK, last year's Rookie of the Year.

Popular Mexican driver @!MICHEL JOURDAIN Jr. returns to the #16 Herdez-sponsored Ford Lola.

Rookie SCOTT DIXON from New Zealand takes over the controls of the #18 PacWest Racing Group Toyota Reynard behind departed driver Mark Blundell. And to make you feel a bit old, DIXON is the first driver born in the 1980's to compete at CART's highest level.

CART veteran team Dale Coyne Racing has also placed a Rookie driver, German MICHAEL KRUMM, in his #19 Ford Lola sponsored by The Dark Dog. The #21 Dale Coyne entry will be piloted by LUIZ GARCIA Jr. Sigma Autosport is a new team this year, campaigning in the #22 Ford Lola with Brazilian ORIOL SERVIA at the wheel.

Another new entry with a Rookie contender is in place in the #25 Arciero Brooke Racing winner B2B-sponsored Lola with Brazilian MAX WILSON at the helm and powered by a new face in the CART engine manufacturers line-up this year, Phoenix.

No changes are in place at Team KOOL Green, #26 driven by Canadian PAUL TRACY

and #27 by Scotsman DARIO FRANCHITTI in Honda Reynards. Ditto for Player's Forsythe Racing; #32 wheeled by veteran Canadians PATICK CARPENTIER and #33 by second-year driver ALEX TAGLIANI, both still utilizing the Ford Reynard combination. One change that definitely doesn't involve a CART Rookie is the new Team Motorola Honda Reynard entry #39 piloted by former FedEx Series Champion MICHAEL ANDRETTI. Patrick Racing's #40 Toyota Reynard, teammate to #20 ROBERTO MORENO, will be driven by JIMMY VASSER, taking the place of departed driver and new CART team owner ADRIAN FERNANDEZ. The popular Mexican star FERNANDEZ will campaign his two cars this year, personally driving the Tecate/Quaker State Telmex Honda Reynard #51 and teammate Japanese ace SHINJI NAKANO in the Avex/Alpine-sponsored #52. Former two-time Champion ALEX ZANARDI returns to the FedEx Championship Series from a short retirement in his homeland of Italy, taking over the wheel in the #66 Mo Nunn Racing Pioneer/WorldCom Honda Reynard, joining teammate TONY KANAAN in the #55. American BRYAN HERTA returns to the series full-time this year in the #77 Zakspeed/Forsythe Racing Ford Reynard.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 9:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend and the 2001 season. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 79 degrees F. (26 degrees C.) and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F. (24 degrees C.) at the start of the session.

• At 9:30:50.0 a.m., #40X VASSER is the first driver to pull on the brand-new Fundidora Park Race Course. At 9:32 a.m., #5X TAKAGI is the first driver to log an official lap on the course with an average speed of 35.734 mph.

• At 9:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #11X FITTIPALDI with a lap of 69.959 mph (1:49.839), followed by #18X DIXON (67.574 mph; 1:42.090) and #22X (67.522 mph; 1:42.177).

• At 9:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session the fastest driver is now #20X MORENO with a lap of 70.161 mph (1:47.958), followed by #17X GUGELMIN (69.501 mph; 1:48.982) and #18X BLUNDELL (69.060 mph; 1:49.678).

• At 10 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #11 FITTPALDI with a lap of 70.313 mph (1:47.724), followed by #20X MORENO (70.161 mph; 1:47.958) and #17X GUGELMIN (69.501 mph; 1:48.982). Most drivers have turned four to six timed-laps with each driver probably having four or more laps that were "out-and-back-in," thus not starting the timing equipment.

• RED FLAG waves at 10:07 a.m. to allow CART course workers to inspect the new race surface and also to allow CART safety workers to clean the track with the jet blower.

• At 10:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session and under the RED FLAG, the fastest driver is #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 73.155 mph (1:43.539), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (71.158 mph; 1:46.445) and #19 KRUMM (70.349 mph; 1:47.669). KRUMM has turned the most timed laps with 10, with most drivers logging three to five laps. The fastest trap speed is #11 FITTPALDI with a speed of 141.173 mph at the Start/Finish Line, followed by #32 CARPENTIER with a clocking of 139.506 mph.

• At 10:15 a.m., CART Race Control announces that the support series, the Copa McCormick Campeonato Mustangs, will take to the track for their first practice session, scheduled to end at 10:55 a.m. It is also anticipated that the heavier Mustangs will scrub in some rubber into the new surface to generate more grip (traction) for all of the series to compete this weekend. The schedule will now be altered to accommodate the traction-enhancing efforts.

• At 10:53 a.m., CART Race Control announces that the first Indy Lights practice of the weekend will take to the track at 11:10 a.m., running until 11:50 a.m. The Champ Cars will return to the track at 12:45 p.m., running until 3:15 p.m.

Related News 09 MAR 01 // De Ferran Leads Opening Day of Practice in Mexico 09 MAR 01 // Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Presented by Herdez - Friday Afternoon Press Notes 09 MAR 01 // DA MATTA PLACES SECOND IN FIRST-DAY PRACTICE AT MONTERREY 08 MAR 01 // First CART Race in Mexico One Wild Ride 08 MAR 01 // FIRESTONE EAGER FOR CHALLENGE OF MONTERREY CIRCUIT 06 MAR 01 // TECATE TELMEX MONTERREY GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY HERDEZ SET TO BEGIN THIS THURSDAY 06 MAR 01 // This Week In Ford Racing 06 MAR 01 // Marlboro Team Penske Looking Forward To The 2001 Season And The Inaugural Race In Monterrey, Mexico 06 MAR 01 // Kanaan, Zanardi Ready For 2001 Season Opener 06 MAR 01 // CART FedEx Championship Series - Round 1

More Information Mexico // Results

Go to: CART > News Archive | March 2001 Go to: CART > News Index Go to: CART > Front Page TECATE TELMEX MONTERREY GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY HERDEZ - FRIDAY AFTERNOON PRESS NOTES March 9, 2001 Friday, March 9, 2001 • GREEN FLAG waves at 12:45 p.m. to start the Friday afternoon practice session.

• At 12:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #55X KANAAN (83.554 mph; 1:30.653), followed by #8 BRACK (82.706 mph; 1:31.582) and #12 MINASSIAN (82.519 mph; 1:31.790).

• RED FLAG waves at 12:59 p.m. after side-to-side contact between #3 CASTRONEVES and #26 TRACY at Turn 10 results in both cars off-track. CASTRONEVES had mounted a furious battle to pass TRACY over the last two laps before CASTRONEVES moved to the inside of TRACY entering the near-90 degree left hand corner. Both drivers ran out of room, resulting in a broken right front wheel for CASTRONEVES and slight damage to the left side pod of TRACY'S car. TRACY continues on course as the CART safety workers retrieve CASTRONEVES' car.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 1:05 p.m. to resume the session.

• At 1:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #39 ANDRETTI with a lap of 85.075 mph (1:29.032), followed by #3 CASTRONEVES (85.023 mph; 1:29.086) and #20 MORENO (84.772 mph; 1:29.350).

• RED FLAG waves at 1:09 p.m. after #39 ANDRETTI spins at Turn 11 and blocks the track. #12 MINASSIAN locks the brakes to avoid hitting ANDRETTI, and stalls the car as ANDRETTI pulls away from the scene. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and MINASSIAN continues to his Pit Box without apparent damage to the car.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 1:12 p.m. to resume the session.

• At 1:15 p.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #77 HERTA with a lap of 86.568 mph (1:27.497), followed by #55X KANAAN (86.491 mph; 1:27.574) and #6 da MATTA (85.517 mph; 1:28.572).

• At 1:25 p.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #12 MINASSIAN with a lap of 90.137 mph (1:24.032), followed by #8 BRACK (89.632 mph; 1:24.506) and #77 HERTA (89.336 mph; 1:24.786).

• At 1:34 p.m., #7 PAPIS spins at Turn 5 but keeps the motor running and continues on course to his Pit Box.

• BLACK FLAG is shown at 1:33 p.m. to #3X CASTRONEVES for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at mid-pit at 1:33 p.m. CASTRONEVES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

• RED FLAG waves at 1:35 p.m. after CART Race Control calls for a track clean-up. CART safety workers pull the jet blower on track and start the cleaning procedures.

At 1:35 p.m., 50 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #17 GUGELMIN with a lap of 90.197 mph (1:23.976), followed by #77 HERTA (90.183 mph; 1:23.989) and #12 MINASSIAN (90.137 mph; 1:24.032). Also at this break, the trap speeds have slowly but steadily improved. Even though the traction is still very short of what the competitors prefer, most all drivers are logging 148 to 153 mph at the Start/Finish Line. In contrast, the trap speeds at the end of the longest straight, leading from Turn 9 to Turn 10, are dramatically different. #32 CARPENTIER has clocked a speed of 165 mph to lead the speeds but is only 15th fastest at this break. The other drivers range from 140 to 158 mph at the end-straight trap as the drivers use their individual approaches to the heavy braking needed for the sharp left-hand turn at the end of the straight. But the overall speed improvement of nearly 23% over this morning's session illuminates that the rubber being worked into the track all day is improving the grip.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:51 p.m. to resume the session.

At 1:55 p.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #3X CASTRONEVES with a lap of 91.692 mph (1:22.607), followed by #1 de FERRAN (90.451 mph; 1:23.740) and #17 GUGELMIN (90.197 mph; 1:23.976).

At 1:56 p.m., #6 da MATTA spins at Turn 11A but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 1:59 p.m., #77 HERTA spins off course at Turn 11 but keeps the engine running and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:02 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES spins off course at Turn 11 but spins the car around without ever coming to a stop and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 2:03 p.m. after #4 JUNQUEIRA spins at Turn 11 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and JUNQUEIRA continues to his Pit Box without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:05 p.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 92.184 mph (1:22.166), followed by #6 da MATTA (92.037 mph; 1:22.297) and #8 BRACK (91.692 mph; 1:22.607).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:06 p.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 2:07 p.m. to #8 BRACK for a Pit Road speed violation. BRACK subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 2:08 p.m., #16 JOURDAIN Jr. spins at Turn 4 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:15 p.m., 90 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #6 da MATTA with a speed of 93.986 mph (1:20.591), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (93.267 mph; 1:21.212) and #1 de FERRAN (93.057 mph; 1:21.395).

At 2:25 p.m., 100 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 da MATTA with his earlier lap of 93.986 mph (1:20.591), now followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (93.557 mph; 1:20.960) and #27 FRANCHITTI (93.267 mph; 1:21.212).

At 2:26 p.m., #32 CARPENTIER spins at Turn 11 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:27 p.m., #55 KANAAN slides off course at Turn 1 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:29 p.m., #66 ZANARDI and #3 CASTRONEVES slide off-track at Turn 11 but do not make contact and both cars continue on course without apparent damage to the cars.

Also at 2:29 p.m., #20 MORENO slides off course at Turn 11 but also continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 2:31 p.m. after #32 CARPENTIER spins off course at Turn 2 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and CARPENTIER continues on course to his Pit Box without apparent damage to his car. CART Race Control uses the downtime to call out the jet blower again to clean the track.

At 2:35 p.m., 110 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is still #6 da MATTA with a faster lap of 94.543 mph (1:20.116), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (93.557 mph; 1:20.960) and #77 HERTA (93.539 mph; 1:20.976).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:40 p.m. to resume the session.

At 2:45 p.m., 120 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #3X CASTRONEVES with a lap of 94.796 mph (1:19.902), followed by #1 de FERRAN (94.750 mph; 1:19.941) and #6 da MATTA (94.453 mph; 1:20.116).

At 2:46 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES slides off course at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:55 p.m., 130 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 de FERRAN with a lap of 96.390 mph (1:18.581), followed by #55 KANAAN (95.269 mph; 1:19.505) and #4 JUNQUEIRA (95.098 mph; 1:19.648).

At 2:59 p.m., #39 ANDRETTI spins at Turn 11 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3 p.m., #16 JOURDAIN Jr. spins at Turn 11 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:01 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES spins off-course between Turns 8 and 9 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:03 p.m., #4 JUNQUEIRA slides off course and takes a hard ride at Turn 8 before regaining control and continuing on course.

At 3:04 p.m., 4 JUNQUEIRA again slides off course, this time at Turn 5A but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:05 p.m., the fastest driver is still #1 de FERRAN with his earlier lap of 96.390 mph (1:18.581), followed by #3X CASTRONEVES (95.981 mph; 1:18.916), and #8 BRACK (95.699 mph; 1:19.148).

RED FLAG waves at 3:10 p.m. after #26 TRACY slides off course and makes hard contact with the right side of the car against the outside wall exiting Turn 12. Even though the contact was flush, the car briefly lifts off the suspension before settling and sliding to a halt halfway down the main straight. TRACY is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major damage to the right-side suspension and side pod.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:11 p.m. after CART Race Control determines that there will not be enough time to clean the track before the scheduled end of the session. The fastest driver remains #1 GIL de FERRAN in his MARLBORO Team Penske Honda Reynard with his earlier lap of 96.390 mph (1:18.581), followed by #6 CRISTIANO da MATTA (96.199 mph; 1:18.737) in the Texaco/Havoline Toyota Lola, and #3X HELIO CASTRONEVES (95.981 mph; 1:18.916). Fourth-fastest is #8 KENNY BRACK with a lap of 95.699 mph (1:19.148) in his Shell Ford Lola and fifth goes to #32 PATRICK CARPENTIER with a speed of 95.407 mph (1:19.390) in the Players Forsythe Racing Ford Reynard. The fastest nine drivers today are separated by less than one second in lap times at the end of today's sessions. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 36 cars to the track in this afternoon's session with secondary cars utilized by #3X CASTRONEVES, #52X NAKANO, 16X JOUDAIN Jr., #33X TAGLIANI, #7X PAPIS, #51X FERNANDEZ, #66X ZANARDI, and #55X KANAAN. #18 SCOTT DIXON is the fastest rookie driver with a seventh-best lap at 95.327 mph (1:19.457).

Quotes from today's top competitors follow:

GIL de FERRAN: "I really enjoy the length of this track, it's a lot of fun. The track surface is very, very smooth, which I like. It should continue to improve this weekend. I have to thank my teammate, Helio. He did a good job in testing. I had an accident (during a test) at Homestead and Helio did most of the testing. The guys in the crew also did a very good job. When you don't have the track time you expect, the guys have to do a lot of work in the shop. The injuries gave me no problems today, it just felt like normal. I'm very, very happy to be physically able to drive now."

CRISTIANO da MATTA: "When I came over here (to Mexico), I had a few question marks in my head. The conditions are always so different when you go testing, and you never know how you're going to compare to everyone else. We're definitely not in bad shape. I'm glad to be in the top five on my first day with Newman/Haas Racing. It makes me feel very good."

HELIO CASTRONEVES: "Everything you shouldn't do, I did today, spins, crashing, everything. That's what happens when you learn a new circuit. I very much like this circuit. Unfortunately, the track was really dirty. It was very hard to make any changes to the car, because the track just kept getting better and better. I'm sure it's going to be much faster tomorrow."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: (on his popularity in Mexico) "It's been a process over a lot of time, I've been racing for 20 years. I raced in Mexico and was successful, then I raced in Europe and was successful, and then I went to race in America. That's when it really started picking up. It took eight years to get to this level. It (the popularity) blew up 50 percent last year because of being in the championship fight. Now, it's become more difficult for me to be outside."

This concludes the Pit Notes for Today from Monterrey Mexico. We'll see you tomorrow morning for Qualifying Day! Have a great evening!

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Blundell , Chip Ganassi , Dale Coyne , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dale Coyne Racing , Team Zakspeed