CHAMPCAR/CART: Rio GP Friday Track Notes

GP Telemar Rio 200 FedEx Championship Series Track Notes-Friday, May 14, 1999 Good Morning from soggy Rio de Janeiro Brazil for the second day of the three-day GP Telemar Rio 200 weekend! Though the morning started with more rain showers ...

GP Telemar Rio 200 FedEx Championship Series Track Notes-Friday, May 14, 1999 Good Morning from soggy Rio de Janeiro Brazil for the second day of the three-day GP Telemar Rio 200 weekend! Though the morning started with more rain showers reminiscent of yesterday's deluge, no rain has fallen since 8 a.m. Unfortunately, the first practice session of the day was scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. Green Flag. By 9 a.m., though, the skies are finally turning blue, the clouds are lifting, and the concentrated efforts of the Brazilian track crews and CART safety personnel have significantly dried the track. By 10 a.m., CART Chief Steward WALLY DALLENBACH announces that the track should be dry for a Green Flag at approximately 10:45 a.m. for the first official practice session of the weekend! At 10:05 a.m., Mr. Dallenbach announces that the morning practice session will be the usual 90-minute session followed by CART qualifying at 1:15 p.m. The CART qualifying session will be on-track for the usual two hours, 15 minutes. At 10:45 a.m., Mr. Dallenbach determines that the first practice session of the morning will take the Green Flag at 10:56 a.m. GREEN FLAG waves at 10:56 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 96 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 87 degrees F. at the start of the session. At 11:06 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #9 CASTRO-NEVES with a lap of 167.383 mph (40.090 seconds), followed by #4 MONTOYA (163.736 mph; 40.983 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (163.672 mph; 40.999 seconds). GREEN FLAG waves at 11:12 a.m. to resume the session. At 11:16 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #9 CASTRO-NEVES with his earlier lap of 167.383 mph (40.090 seconds), followed by #4 MONTOYA (166.317 mph; 40.347 seconds) and #20 JONES (165.873 mph; 40.455 seconds). BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:20 a.m. to #2 UNSER JR. for a Pit Road speed violation. UNSER JR. subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag. At 11:26 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 169.181 mph (39.664 seconds), followed by #4 MONTOYA (168.841 mph; 39.744 seconds) and #9 CASTRO-NEVES (168.370 mph; 39.855 seconds). YELLOW FLAG waves 11:34 a.m. after #18 MORENO makes light contact with the outside wall in Turn 4. The driver is uninjured in the incident and stays in the car as CART safety workers tow the car back to pit road. The car sustains minor damage to the rear wing. At 11:36 a.m., 40 minutes into the session and under a Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is now #27 FRANCHITTI (169.485 mph; 39.593 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (169.369 mph; 39.620 seconds) and #99 MOORE (169.011 mph; 39.704 seconds). Also, at this point, approximately halfway through the session, the top 18 cars are separated by less than one second. GREEN FLAG waves at 11:44 a.m. to resume the session. At 11:46 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 11:36 a.m. report. At 11:48 a.m., #11 FITTIPALDI goes to the top of the speed board again and also becomes the first driver this weekend to eclipse the 170 mph mark with a lap of 170.103 mph (39.449 seconds). At 11:51 a.m., #4X MONTOYA passes FITTIPALDI to take the top spot with a lap of 170.254 mph (39.414 seconds). BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:54 a.m. to #6 ANDRETTI after CART course observers report a fluid spray from the right side of the car. ANDRETTI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag. YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:55 a.m. after #26 TRACY makes contact with the rear of #22 GORDON as the cars enter Turn 4. TRACY's car then makes hard contact with the outside wall at Turn 4, while GORDON slides to a stop at the exit of Turn 4. A brief fire breaks out at the rear of GORDON's car which is quickly extinguished by CART safety workers. Both drivers exit their cars under their own power. TRACY's car sustains major damage to the right side suspension. At 11:56 a.m., one hour into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is still the fastest driver with a faster lap of 170.739 mph (39.302 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (170.410 mph; 39.378 seconds) and #4X MONTOYA (170.254 mph; 39.414 seconds). GREEN FLAG waves at 12:10 p.m. to resume the practice session. At 12:15 p.m., #22X GORDON pits with smoke trailing from the rear of the car. At 12:16 p.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 11:56 a.m. report. At 12:19 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI clocks a lap in excess of the official track record with a speed of 172.353 mph (38.394 seconds). Track records can only be set in qualifying and actual race sessions in the FedEx Championship Series, so the qualifying record set by FRANCHITTI last year of 172.039 mph (39.005 seconds) still stands. At 12:23 p.m., #18 MORENO pulls to safety at the inside of Turn 1 and parks his car. No Yellow Flag is waved as MORENO is far from the race course. CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12:26 p.m. to end the first practice session of the weekend with #27 FRANCHITTI the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 172.353 mph (38.934 seconds; 277.375 kph), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (172.004 mph; 39.013 seconds; 276.814 kph) and #4X MONTOYA (171.359 mph; 39.160 seconds; 275.776 kph). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 34 different cars to the track in this morning's session with the top 21 cars separated by less than one second in lap times. Secondary cars were utilized by #4X MONTOYA, #6X ANDRETTI, #12X VASSER, #7X PAPIS, #18X MORENO, #8X HERTA, #5X de FERRAN, and #40X FERNANDEZ. CART drivers logged a total of 810 laps during the morning session. For the upcoming qualifying session, each driver will have a maximum of four warm-up laps before the official Omega Timing Clock begins. GREEN FLAG waves for the start of the CART Qualifying. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 104 degrees F. (40 C.) and an ambient temperature of 78 degrees F. (25 C.) at the start of the session. #19 JOURDAIN JR.'s top speed: 162.594 mph; (41.271 seconds); second lap. #71 GARCIA JR.'s car was not ready to qualify and moves to the back of the line of cars yet to qualify. #16 SALLES's top speed: 167.806 mph; (39.989 seconds); first lap. YELLOW FLAG waves at 12:45 p.m. after SALLES enters Turn 1 and the rear of the car loses traction. SALLES makes light contact with the outside wall exiting Turn 1 with the right rear wheel and slides to a halt at Turn 2. The driver exits the car under his own power but the car sustains some damage to the rear suspension. At 12:49 p.m. another rain shower enters the speedway over Turn 2 and quickly soaks the track. The shower only lasts a few minutes but the Brazilian track workers and CART Safety workers again have to begin the track drying process. GREEN FLAG waves at 2:55 p.m. to resume the qualifying session. Firestone engineers now report a track temperature of 95 degrees F. (35 C.) and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F. (24 C.) at the restart of the qualifying session. #22X GORDON's car was not ready to qualify and therefore GORDON goes to the back of the line of cars to qualify. #18X MORENO's top speed: 167.254 mph; (40.121 seconds); second lap. #36 BARRON's top speed: 167.530 mph; (40.055 seconds); second lap. #24 PRUETT's top speed: 167.836 mph; (39.982 seconds); first lap. # 2 UNSER JR.'s top speed: 168.573 mph: (39.807 seconds); first lap. #10 HEARN's top speed: 169.343 mph; (39.626 seconds); second lap. #26X TRACY's top speed: 170.705 mph; (39.310 seconds); second lap. # 3 MARQUES's top speed: 172.031 mph; (39.007 seconds); second lap. #40 FERNANDEZ's top speed: 170.129 mph; (39.443 seconds); second lap. #99 MOORE's top speed: 171.249 mph; (39.185 seconds); second lap. #12X VASSER's top speed: 172.389 mph; (38.926 seconds); second lap. This is the first driver to break the existing track record of 172.039 mph (39.005 seconds) set by DARIO FRANCHITTI in qualifying for the 1998 Rio 200. # 9 CASTRO-NEVES's top speed: 170.739 mph; (39.302 seconds); second lap. # 6X ANDRETTI's top speed: 170.375 mph; (39.386 seconds); second lap. #17 GUGELMIN took two warm-up laps before pulling onto Pit Road with a mechanical difficulty. Therefore, GUGELMIN has not yet recorded an official qualifying lap. At 4:01 p.m., CART Race Control announces that the two hour, 15-minute guaranteed qualifying session has been completed and that there will be no second qualifying attempts for the cars that moved from the qualifying grid to the back of the line. #20 JONES's top speed: 170.345 mph; (39.393 seconds); second lap. #33 CARPENTIER's top speed: 171.872 mph; (39.043 seconds); second lap. # 8 HERTA's top speed: 173.346 mph; (38.711 seconds); second lap. This represents another new track qualifying record, as HERTA becomes the current pole sitter. # 7 PAPIS's top speed: 170.397 mph; (39.381 seconds); first lap. #44 KANAAN's top speed: 172.159 mph; (38.978 seconds); first lap. #25 da MATTA's top speed: 170.393 mph; (39.382 seconds); first lap. # 5 de FERRAN's top speed: 173.467 mph; (38.684 seconds); second lap. # 4 MONTOYA's top speed: 173.615 mph; (38.651 seconds); second lap. This represents another track qualifying record as MONTOYA becomes the current pole sitter. #11 FITTIPALDI's top speed: 174.022 mph; (38.565 seconds); second lap. This again represents another track record as FITTIPALDI becomes the current pole sitter. #27 FRANCHITTI's top speed: 173.962 mph; (38.574 seconds); second lap. CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI wins the pole for Saturday's GP Telemar Rio 200 with his track qualifying record of 174.002 mph (38.565 seconds)! This is FITTIPALDI's first pole in his FedEx Championship Series career. FITTIPALDI's previous best start was a third place start at Milwaukee in 1996, third at Portland in 1997, and third at Australia in 1998. DARIO FRANCHITTI will start second tomorrow by virtue of his 173.962 mph; 38.574-second lap. This is FRANCHITTI's third consecutive top-three start of the season. FRANCHITTI started second at Long Beach and third at Nazareth. This also represents FRANCHITTI's second consecutive front row start here at Rio as he won the pole last year. JUAN MONTOYA will line up third on the grid with his 173.615; 38.651-second lap. This represents the third consecutive top-five start of the season. MONTOYA started fifth at Long Beach and won the Pole at Nazareth. This is the first pole of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season for Ford and the fourth Pole for Firestone. The top 17 cars on Saturday's grid are separated by less than one second in lap times. Quotes from today's top three qualifiers follow: CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart Ford Swift: "It's definitely very nice to be here [as the pole sitter], but tomorrow will be a completely different day. It's nice to be starting first here, now we need to make sure we do all the correct changes. [The race] is not going to be easy. It will be very, very competitive. As far as the [pole-winning] lap goes, I was fast, and then in [Turn] Four, I got a little bit of a push. The car has been running good since this morning. We've been running in the top three all the time. There's not a lot more to say, other than that I hope to be back here tomorrow." DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "The organizers [of the event] should be applauded for doing a really good job. The track is in much better shape than it was last year. This morning, we worked on setup. As far as qualifying, I'm a little bit disappointed, but we did a good thing for ticket sales by putting a Brazilian [Christian Fittipaldi] on the pole. I'm sure that will guarantee a good crowd for tomorrow." JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "It felt really good to be on top again [when sitting on the provisional pole]. I didn't think the time would hold up, but I knew it was good enough to be in the top five. The car was very loose in Turn Four, and I think that kept me from really pushing the car. I was glad to see [teammate] Jimmy {Vasser} back where he is [starting sixth]." Veteran Allsport photographer Darrell Ingham, who leaves the FedEx Championship Series this weekend after four years of traveling with the circuit, has been crowned as the newest PPG Colorful Character. A native of Windsor, England, Darrell competed in the Formula Ford series during the early 1980s. He joined Allsport's London office in 1987 and worked on the Formula One circuit in the late 1980s and early 90's. In 1992, he moved to New York to start the photo agency's office in that city.. Darrell has traveled regularly with the FedEx Championship Series since 1996, and will be leaving following this weekend to pursue a new career opportunity in Paris, France.

"We are pleased to name Darrell as our latest PPG Colorful Character," said Mike Sack, Director of Motorsports for PPG Industries. "His trademark invitation to 'Feel the Love' has become a staple in media centers throughout the FedEx Championship Series. His exquisite photographic eye and passionate love of the sport will truly be missed. We wish Darrell the best in his new career, with the hope that he will visit whenever he has the opportunity.."

Created in 1995 by PPG Industries, co-title sponsor of the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series, the PPG Colorful Character award recognizes members of the racing community who add color, style, personality and fun to the series.

Ingham joins previous winners including Fr. Phil DeRea, Tom Carnegie, Rick Mears, Roger Bailey, Lou Palmer, Barry Green, Leo Mehl, Sid Priddle, Floyd Ganassi, Wally Reese, Wally Dallenbach, Robin Miller, Shav Glick, Mario Andretti, Jim McGee, Kirk Russell, Mike Nealy, Al Speyer, Ned Wicker, Ned and Ann Miller, Michelle Trueman-Gajoch, Jim Melvin, Jim Hall, Dan Gurney, Pat Patrick, Ralph Sanchez, Les Unger, Dan Luginbuhl, Bud Stanner, Derrick Walker, Mike Harris, Christine Horne, Jim Haynes, Phil Heard, Ron Hussey, Alex Zanardi, Dr. Steve Olvey, Bruce Flanders, Walt Czarnecki, Chuck Givler, Emerson Fittipaldi, Brian Stewart, Carl Haas, Andrew Craig, Bruce McCaw, Dan Proudfoot, Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, Dale Coyne, Brian Williams, the CART Safety Team, Paul Newman, Trevor Hoskins, Jorge Koechlin, Chris Pook and Gordon Kirby.

PPG Colorful Characters will help to benefit the Championship Auto Racing Auxiliary at Runway Madness II on Friday, Oct. 29 in Ontario, Calif. PPG will contribute $250 to CARA for each PPG Colorful Character attending the event wearing his or her distinctive PPG Colorful Character jacket.

Nominations for PPG Colorful Characters may be sent by fans, media, teams and sponsors to PPG Colorful Characters, PPG Industries, Inc., 19699 Progress Drive, Strongsville, Oh. 44136. Nominations may also be sent via e-mail to PPGmotorsports@emcpr.com The final three cars on the grid are the cars that could not make their qualifying attempts as scheduled this afternoon. Those cars lined up at the back of the qualifying order to await a second attempt but ran out of time. Therefore MAURICIO GUGLEMIN, ROBBIE GORDON, and LUIZ GARCIA Jr. will line up according to their morning practice speeds: 25th, 26th, and 27th on tomorrow's starting grid.

This concludes the Pit Notes for today from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We'll see you tomorrow morning for the running of the GP Telemar Rio 200 at 1 p.m.!

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