CHAMPCAR/CART: Tagliani fastest in practice at Fontana

CHAMPCAR/CART: Tagliani fastest in practice at Fontana

FONTANA, CALIF (November 1, 2002) - Alex Tagliani recorded the fastest lap of the day at the California Speedway while practicing for Sunday's 500 presented by Toyota. Tagliani set his beat lap in the afternoon session after touring the two-mile...

FONTANA, CALIF (November 1, 2002) - Alex Tagliani recorded the fastest lap of the day at the California Speedway while practicing for Sunday's 500 presented by Toyota. Tagliani set his beat lap in the afternoon session after touring the two-mile superspeedway at an average speed of 233.726 mph.

Alex Tagliani.
Photo by Gridwork.

"There was a tow involved in my lap for sure," said Tagliani. We were working with the downforce throughout the session and we were pretty trimmed out there. I was fastest in practice at Rockingham and we qualified ninth so we tried a lot of things with the downforce to try and free the car up for qualifying. I think the times are representative of how we'll do in the race."

Cristiano da Matta's pole speed from last year's race was 228.198 mph. Speeds will drop during tomorrow's qualifying session when the cars will run without the advantage of a tow.

Jimmy Vasser ended the day second on the speed chart with a lap at 232.988 mph. Vasser also set his best lap in the afternoon session. Despite setting the second fastest lap of the day, Vasser said, "there's something about the car I still don't like. The engine seems good, I don't think power is a problem here but running in traffic that car isn't as stable as I'd like it to be."

Tony Kanaan was fastest in the morning session at 232.8912 mph, which held up as third fastest of the day. Kanaan, who was fourth fastest in the second session, said he wasn't worried about qualifying. "It's obviously a long race, we're just working on having a good race car.

"The car has a little too much understeer in traffic but there are ways to work that out and that's what we'll be working on."

Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani.
Photo by Gridwork.

Twelve drivers used the morning session to try both their primary and backup cars. The three Team Green drivers, Paul Tracy, Michael Andretti and Dario Franchitti, as well as Patrick Carpentier, Kenny Brack and Max Papis used only their primary cars today.

When the afternoon session got underway three hours later, the decisions between primary and backup had been made with Mario Dominguez the only driver to use the backup car.

Dominguez is one of two drivers competing in the FedEx Series at California Speedway for the first time. Dominguez and Tora Takagi took to the track early this morning for a 15-minute rookie session. Dominguez, with 17 career starts, won last weekend's event at Surfer's Paradise Australia.

Rounding out the day's top five were Dario Franchitti and Michael Andretti.

Qualifying for Sunday's 500-mile race gets underway on Saturday afternoon at 11:30 a.m.

Notes from the 500 presented by Toyota at the California Speedway:

The official track distance for the California Speedway is 2.029 miles. The scheduled race distance is 250 laps (507.25 miles)

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The maximum interval for pit stops will be 33 laps.

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Adrian Fernandez officially announced today that he would compete in CART in 2003. Tom Anderson made a public statement regarding the team's 2003 participation in CART at Road America in August, but today's announcement ended speculation that Fernandez might follow Honda to the Indy Racing League. Fernandez Racing currently runs two cars in the CART FedEx series.

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Bruno Junqueira will celebrate his 25th birthday on Monday, November 4. Jimmy Vasser will turn 36 on November 20th.

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Series INDYCAR