Phoenix Qualifying Race Ends Abruptly for Fittipaldi As Crown Royal Porsche Spun from Behind AVONDALE, Ariz. (Friday, May 12, 2006) Christian Fittipaldi and Stefan Johansson will start Saturday night's Grand American Rolex Series Gainsco Grand...
Phoenix Qualifying Race Ends Abruptly for Fittipaldi As Crown Royal Porsche Spun from Behind
AVONDALE, Ariz. (Friday, May 12, 2006) Christian Fittipaldi and Stefan Johansson will start Saturday night's Grand American Rolex Series Gainsco Grand Prix from the outside of the 10th row after getting spun from behind and then knocked out in a subsequent multi-car accident during tonight's 30-minute qualifying race in a multi-car accident.
Fittipaldi, who drove to victory in last year's Rolex Series race here, started seventh in the #39 Crown Royal Special Reserve Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford and held his position through the 20-lap qualifying race's midpoint. He made a pass on fellow Brazilian Oswaldo Negri during a Lap-10 restart in the Turn 1-2 combination coming off the NASCAR tri-oval, but was the spun from behind by Negri while finishing off the Turn 7 right-hander. Negri continued, but Fittipaldi's car was sliding sideways in the middle of the racing line and collected a number of cars behind him, ending his night. Negri was penalized by Grand American Rolex Series officials after the race for his role in the incident.
Fittipaldi's co-driver for the weekend, Swedish veteran Stefan Johansson, will start Saturday night's 2-hour, 45-minute race, then hand the car over to Fittipaldi for a mandatory driver change by race's end. Regular co-driver and team owner Eddie Cheever, Jr., is taking part in Pole Day qualifying for the Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend.
Race time Saturday is 7 p.m. local time (10 p.m. EDT) with SPEED-TV's tape-delayed race broadcast set to air at 3 p.m. EDT Sunday.
"There's not a whole lot to say. I got by (Oswaldo) Negri in Turn 1 or 2. There was a little contact, but nothing significant. I was finishing Turn 7 and he got inside of me and spun me, and I collected a bunch of cars. Now we are having to work all night to get the Crown Royal Porsche together so we can go racing tomorrow night. It won't be easy. But it's still a race and we still have to do the very best that we can. I think all the bad luck the last few races has put us in a huge hole that we can start to dig ourselves out of tomorrow night. We've got nothing to lose."
"It's a shame to have to start all over again because we had a pretty decent race car for tomorrow night. To have it all go away like that is just not right. We'll just start from the back and pedal as fast as we can and then see where we end up with the dust settles. This is a tough little track to go about this business of racing these sports cars. But everyone's got to do it, and everyone has to do a little better job of behaving themselves."