By David Reininger â€“ motorsport.com FONTANA, Calif. (November 2, 2001) â€“ Kenny Brack topped the speed charts in practice for Sundayâ€™s Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway. Brack toured the 2.029-mile superspeedway at an average speed of...
By David Reininger – motorsport.com
FONTANA, Calif. (November 2, 2001) – Kenny Brack topped the speed charts in practice for Sunday’s Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway. Brack toured the 2.029-mile superspeedway at an average speed of 230.597 mph.
“Our car has been strong all year on ovals,” said Brack, who has scored four of his six pole positions this season on ovals. “We haven’t run that much today, we blew up an engine this morning and put the spare car in the wall. Then this afternoon, we had an oil leak in the primary car, so we only ran a few laps.”
Brack was unhurt in this morning’s incident which destroyed one of the Team Rahal Shell-sponsored race cars. “The engine blew going into turn three. I nearly had it saved but in the end, it came around and I smacked the wall.
“We were up to full speed and the engine blew up. Oil got on the rear tires and then you’re a passenger.”
Brack’s teammate, Max Papis, also hit the wall in the morning session in a separate incident. Neither driver was injured.
Bruno Junqueira was second fastest in the Target Team Ganassi Toyota-powered Lola with an average speed of 230.292 mph in his first visit to the California Speedway.
Paul Tracy, who is looking to turnaround a dismal season in the FedEx Series, was third fastest today. “We were fast right off the truck, which is what you need to do at a place like this,” said Tracy after turning a lap at 229.908 mph.
One year ago, Tracy came to the California Speedway with three wins, contending for the championship until the last race of the season. This year, Tracy has yet to visit victory lane. “It’s been pretty disappointing, really,” said Tracy. “We started out this season with two podiums in three races, scoring 40 points in 3 races. We’ve made 30 points since then. It’s been extremely frustrating.
“We’ve had a lot of mechanical failures and a lot of problems. Plus I’ve made some mistakes along the way.”
But Tracy sees things turning around.
“Towards the end of the year now, we’ve found our difficulties and we’ve had speed in the race car. In the last two races we’ve qualified in the front. We qualified up front at Australia and raced up front. From that standpoint, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve go to focus on that light for four or five months and try to start next year strong.”
Alex Tagliani was fourth fastest with Memo Gidley, in the second Target Ganassi Racing car, rounding out the day’s top five.
The cars of the FedEx Series will practice from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning with qualifying for Sunday’s Marlboro 500 getting underway shortly thereafter at 11:15 a.m.
Notes from the Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota at the California Speedway:
Mo Nunn Racing announced today that Brazilian driver Tony Kanaan will return for his third season with the team in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Kanaan will drive the team’s Pioneer/WorldCom-sponsored entry. Mo Nunn Racing will also compete in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series with Felipe Giaffone driving the Hollywood cigarettes sponsored entry.
Bridgestone/Firestone unveiled today their 2002 tire for the CART FedEx Series. Bridgestone/Firestone officials cited the international appeal of the CART Series as one of their reasons to use the Bridgestone brand in the FedEx Series. The deal, which allows Bridgestone to be the exclusive tire supplier to CART, runs through the 2005 season.
Fourteen drivers are taking part in the “Champ Car Legends” festivities at the California Speedway this weekend. Drivers participating include: Mario Andretti, Wally Dallenbach, Emerson Fittipaldi, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Jim McElreath, Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, Tom Sneva, Danny Sullivan, and Bobby Unser, along with current drivers Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser and Gil de Ferran.
The official lap distance is 2.029 miles. The fuel allotment for Sunday’s race is 278.6 gallons based on a race distance of 515.366 miles (250 laps).
Interested spectators at the California Speedway today included Indy Racing League team owner Tom Kelley and Kelley Racing team manager Jim Freudenberg.
Kenny Brack’s rock and roll band RPM will gain some extra horsepower this weekend in the form of Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony. RPM will perform at the California Speedway at 5:15 p.m. Saturday night as an opening act for the Doobie Brothers. “I’ve been a big CART fan for several years and I wanted to play with Kenny when he got involved with his new band,” Anthony said.
Marlboro, Toyota and California Speedway are offering four complimentary tickets to area fire fighters, police officers and EMT professionals in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. An invitation form can be accessed via the California Speedway website at www.californiaspeedway.com.
Bruno Junqueira celebrates his 25th birthday on Sunday, Nov. 4. Other drivers celebrating November birthdays include Gil de Ferran, who turns 34 on Nov. 11 and Jimmy Vasser who will celebrate his 36th birthday on Nov. 20.