CHAMPCAR/CART: Rio Saturday Track Report

FedEx Championship Series Press Notes Saturday, May 9, 1998 Sunrise has brought blue skies with no clouds in contrast to the weather yesterday morning. Today's CART on-track activities begin with a full-field practice session scheduled for...

FedEx Championship Series Press Notes Saturday, May 9, 1998

Sunrise has brought blue skies with no clouds in contrast to the weather yesterday morning. Today's CART on-track activities begin with a full-field practice session scheduled for the Green Flag at 9 a.m. followed by CART qualifying at 12:45 p.m., lasting until 3 p.m. Twenty-eight drivers will take an attempt at breaking the track qualifying record of 171.921 mph (39.034 seconds), set in 1997 by PAUL TRACY.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 77 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 71 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 9:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #5X DE FERRAN with a lap of 168.459 mph (39.834 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (167.873 mph; 39.973 seconds), and #7 RAHAL (167.777 mph; 39.996 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves for a track inspection after the crew of #36 BARRON reports a cut right, rear tire on their car upon examination in the pit area.

At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session and under a full-course caution, the fastest driver is #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 170.297 mph (39.404 seconds), followed by #5X DE FERRAN (169.403 mph; 39.612 seconds), and #16 CASTRO-NEVES (168.858 mph; 39.740 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:24 a.m. to resume the practice session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:28 a.m. after #3 RIBEIRO loses power and stalls on-course. CART safety workers quickly retrieve the car and tow it back to the pit area.

At 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 170.297 mph (39.404 seconds), followed by #5X DE FERRAN (169.403 mph; 39.612 seconds), and #1 ZANARDI (169.215 mph; 39.656 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:35 a.m. to resume the practice session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:39 a.m. after #21 KANAAN stalls on-track at Turn 4. CART safety workers retrieve the car and bring it back to the pits.

At 9:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session and under a full-course caution, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 9:30 report.

At 9:50 p.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 170.297 mph (39.404 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (170.021 mph; 39.468 seconds), and #8 HERTA (169.420 mph; 39.608 seconds).

At 9:52 a.m., #1 ZANARDI clocks the fastest lap of the session and the weekend with a lap of 170.548 mph (39.346 seconds).

At 9:54 a.m., #5X DE FERRAN again goes to the top speed of the session and the weekend with a lap of 171.604 mph (39.104 seconds).

At 9:58 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI clocks a session-best lap of 171.665 mph (39.090 seconds).

At 10 a.m., one hour into the 75-minute session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 171.665 mph (39.090 seconds), followed by #5X DE FERRAN (171.604 mph; 39.104 seconds), and #1 ZANARDI (170.548 mph; 39.346 seconds).

At 10:02 a.m., #5X DE FERRAN unofficially breaks the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway track qualifying record with a lap of 172.057 mph (39.001 seconds).

At 10:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver and unofficial track record-holder is still #5X DE FERRAN with an even-faster lap of 172.389 mph (38.926 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (172.185 mph; 38.972 seconds), and #6 ANDRETTI (171.665 mph; 39.090 seconds).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 10:15 a.m. to end the morning practice session with #5X DE FERRAN the fastest driver of the session and the weekend with his earlier lap of 172.389 mph (38.926 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (172.185 mph; 38.972 seconds), and #6 ANDRETTI (171.665 mph; 39.090 seconds). DE FERRAN and #FITTIPALDI both eclipsed the existing track qualifying record in this session. CART drivers introduced 28 cars to the track this morning with secondary cars utilized by #5X DE FERRAN, #26X TRACY, #21X KANAAN, #20X PRUETT, and #10X HEARN. The top 17 drivers were separated by less than one second in lap times at the end of this session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:45 p.m. to start the qualifying session for Sunday's Rio 400. The drivers have up to three warm-up laps before the first of two timed, qualification laps. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 110 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 83 degrees F.

The first driver to go out for a qualification attempt will be #24 MATSUSHITA, making his last qualification attempt in his FedEx Championship Series career.

#24 MATSUSHITA's top speed: 163.036 mph; (41.159 seconds); second lap.

#98X JONES's top speed: 164.133 mph; (40.884 seconds); second lap.

# 3 RIBEIRO's top speed: 167.517 mph; (40.058 seconds); second lap.

#36 BARRON's top speed: 163.960 mph; (40.927 seconds); first lap. YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:01 p.m. as BARRON spins in Turn 4 and contacts the outside tire barrier with the rear of the car. BARRON is uninjured in the incident and CART safety workers and tow his car to the garage area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:11 p.m. to resume qualifying.

#25 PAPIS's top speed: 166.495 mph; (40.304 seconds); first lap. YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:14 p.m. after PAPIS contacts the wall with the right front wheel exiting Turn 1. PAPIS brings the car to a stop at the exit of Turn 2. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains some damage. CART safety workers tow the car back to the garage area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:26 p.m. to resume qualifying.

#19 JOURDAIN JR.'s to speed: 163.664 mph; (41.001 seconds); second lap.

#33 CARPENTIER's top speed: 167.025 mph; (40.176 seconds); second lap.

#77 MEIER's top speed: 166.755 mph; (40.241 seconds); second lap.

#17 GUGELMIN's top speed: 166.120 mph; (40.395 seconds); second lap.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:48 p.m. after #10 HEARN spins off of Turn 4 on his first lap. HEARN makes no contact and recovers the car to enter pit road.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:50 p.m. to resume the qualifying.

#20X PRUETT's top speed: 167.840 mph; (39.981 seconds); second lap.

# 9 LEHTO's top speed: 165.963 mph; (40.433 seconds); first lap.

#18 BLUNDELL's speed: 166.946 mph; (40.195 seconds); second lap.

#34 SALLES's top speed: 168.054 mph; (39.930 seconds); second lap.

#21X KANAAN's top speed: 171.289 mph; (39.176 seconds); second lap.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:11 p.m. after #2 UNSER Jr. spins coming off Turn 4 on his second warm-up lap. UNSER's fastest speed before the spin was 166.177 mph (40.381 seconds) on Lap 2; tenth-fastest overall at the time.

#26X TRACY's top speed: 169.983 mph; (39.477 seconds); second lap.

# 7 RAHAL's top speed: 169.931 mph; (39.489 seconds); second lap.

# 1 ZANARDI's top speed: 171.341 mph; (39.164 seconds); second lap.

#40 FERNANDEZ's top speed: 168.734 mph; (39.769 seconds); second lap.

#99 MOORE's top speed: 170.779 mph; (39.293 seconds); first lap. YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:35 p.m. after MOORE spins coming off Turn 4. MOORE makes no contact and comes to rest at the bottom of the Turn 4 exit. CART safety workers tow the car back to the garage area.

#16 CASTRO-NEVES's top speed: 169.480 mph; (39.594 seconds); first lap.

# 8 HERTA's top speed: 170.944 mph; (39.255 seconds); second lap.

#12 VASSER's top speed: 168.510 mph; (39.822 seconds); second lap.

#27 FRANCHITTI's top speed: 172.039 mph; (39.005 seconds); second lap. FRANCHITTI's effort breaks the existing track record of 171.921 mph (39.034 seconds), set by PAUL TRACY in qualifying for the 1997 Rio 400.

# 6 ANDRETTI 's top speed: 170.492 mph; (39.359 seconds); second lap.

#11 FITTIPALDI's top speed: 171.166 mph; (39.204 seconds); second lap.

#5X DE FERRAN's top speed: 171.284 mph; (39.177 seconds); second lap.

DARIO FRANCHITTI wins the pole for Sunday's Rio 400. This is FRANCHITTI's second FedEx Championship Pole, and his first pole on an oval. FRANCHITTI previously won the pole at Toronto in 1997. FRANCHITTI's effort nets him $10,000 with an additional $180,000 to be awarded to FRANCHITTI if he can win tomorrow's race.

ALEX ZANARDI starts second in tomorrow's race. This is ZANARDI's best start of the 1998 season and his best since a second-place start at Laguna Seca in 1997. ZANARDI has started on the front row 19 times in 37 FedEx Championship Series career starts.

TONY KANAAN starts third in the grid for tomorrow's Rio 400. This represents KANAAN's career-best start. KANAAN's previous best start was a 10th-place at Motegi, Japan on March 28, 1998.

The starting grid for tomorrow's Rio 400 is separated by less than one second in lap times. Eight drivers sat atop the qualifying times until FRANCHITTI locked in the pole position. Two drivers had no time recorded, both due to spins before taking the Green Flag. #2 UNSER Jr. will start 27th on the grid and #10 HEARN will start 28th; their positions determined by their respective practice speeds.

Today's qualifying effort represent Honda's best cumulative qualifying effort ever in the FedEx Championship Series. Honda snatched the first four spots on the grid today.. The previous best qualifying effort for Honda was a 1-2-3-5 starting effort here in Rio in 1996.

Firestone sweeps the top three starting positions for tomorrow's Rio 400 after Goodyear held the three-fastest spots in the final practice before qualifying this morning.

Driver quotes from today's qualifying follow.

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "Basically [teammate] Paul [Tracy] came up after his [qualifying] run and said the track wasn't as bad as it appeared on TV. We were going to make some adjustments to the car, but he said there was no need The car felt very, very good this morning. I came in [after practice] and said 'There's more time there.' I'm surprised these guys didn't go faster, to be honest."

ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "The car was not as good this morning. We had a little misfire this morning and I couldn't run well, so I'm not really surprised that I went faster this afternoon. I'd like to congratulate Tony [Kanaan] on his first appearance in the press conference, and remind him that my first appearance in the press conference came in Rio [in 1996, after Zanardi won his first career pole position during his rookie season]."

TONY KANAAN, LCI Reynard Honda: "I've had a problem both days with the gearbox and only did 40 laps total. Fortunately, LCI and the Tasman team did a good job [with the setup]. We didn't change the setup since we arrived here. We just changed one rear spring, so that tells you the car was good right away. But we've proved in Champ Cars that qualifying means nothing. Now it's important to go out and do well in the race."

Payton-Coyne Racing has announced a new sponsor on the #34 Reynard Ford driven by GAULTER SALLES. Banco Cacique will appear on the car for the Rio 400.

Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Emerson Fittipaldi