CHAMPCAR/CART: Nazareth Friday report

1995 BOSCH SPARK PLUGS GRAND PRIX PPG Indy Car World Series Race No. 5 Nazareth Raceway, 1-mile oval April 23, 1995 FRIDAY: MOSTLY RAIN by Robert Heathcote, for SpeedNet NAZARETH, PA -- SpeedNet -- Rain washed out most of the day's ...

1995 BOSCH SPARK PLUGS GRAND PRIX PPG Indy Car World Series Race No. 5 Nazareth Raceway, 1-mile oval April 23, 1995

FRIDAY: MOSTLY RAIN

by Robert Heathcote, for SpeedNet

NAZARETH, PA -- SpeedNet -- Rain washed out most of the day's practice sessions at Nazareth today, only allowing the Indy Lights onto the track for a brief 15-minute practice session. Indy Lights "rookie" Claude Bourbonnais was quickest of the 22 cars setting a time, followed by Buzz Calkins and Dave Desilva. Points leader Greg Moore was seventh, and local Jeff Andretti was ninth.

In IndyCar news, an announcement was made today for a regulations change for the upcoming Michigan 500, to be run on the 2.0-mile oval at Michigan International Speedway, July 30. Mario Andretti's track record for one lap at 234.275 mph set in 1993 might never be broken, as IndyCar has decided to limit turbo boost pressure for the 500-mile race to 40 inches, down five inches from the normal 45 allowed for the other 16 races of the 1995 PPG Indy Car World Series. This change for Michigan is in the interest of safety as speeds were expected to rise dramatically this year following a complete resurfacing of the circuit over the off-season.

Toyota made two notable announcements the weekend of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach which I previously overlooked (sorry): They will not be ready to compete in any previously considered late-season race in 1995 and, that Arciero/Wells, the team preparing cars for Hiro Matsushita this year, will used Toyota engines in 1996. Unfortunately, if rumor has it correct, the new engine will not even be ready for the first few races of 1996.

Stefan Johansson of Bettenhausen Motorsport will has a new chief engineer beginning today: veteran Bernie Marcus has replaced Claude Rouelle who left the team last week "to pursue other interests."

Firestone will finally match Goodyear in the tire war this weekend as the Japanese-owned company will bring its first "Optional" tire. Goodyear has made two different compounds available to its competitors since the first race at Miami. This new Firestone tire is reported to be a softer compound than what was previously available.

Finally, if Saturday's qualifying for Nazareth is also rained out, grid positions for Sunday's race will be determined by point standings, giving Scott Pruett and Firestone their first Indy car pole, albeit by default.

[A late addition follows]

Scott Pruett led the Indy cars in a late afternoon practice session with a lap at over 182 mph.

-Robert

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