CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago Friday practice

By David Reininger - Chicago, IL (July 28, 2000) - Kenny Brack set the fastest lap in both practice sessions today driving the Team Rahal Ford-powered Shell car, in preparation for Sunday's Target Grand Prix at the Chicago...

By David Reininger -

Chicago, IL (July 28, 2000) - Kenny Brack set the fastest lap in both practice sessions today driving the Team Rahal Ford-powered Shell car, in preparation for Sunday's Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway. Brack's best lap of the day, set in the second practice session, was recorded at 22.557 seconds and 164.224 mph. Five drivers set times faster than the official track record of 162.559 mph set by Max Papis in qualifying for last year's race.

"We ran a successful test here a few weeks ago, and we've carried on from there really," said Brack. "The track hasn't changed that much for us, small changes here and there, the weather of course and stuff like that, but nothing major. The car felt pretty much like it did during the test, so we're just trying to fine tune here and there."

The four engine manufacturers competing in the CART FedEx Championship Series were all represented in the top-five today with Christiano da Mattta's Toyota second, the Honda-powered car of Helio Castroneves third and Tony Kanaan's Mercedes-powered car rounding out the top-five. Brack's teammate, Max Papis was fourth fastest in his Miller Lite Ford/Reynard.

Da Matta struggled through most of the day with a vibration, a gremlin the team didn't find until late this afternoon. After solving the problem, da Matta trimmed .306 seconds off his morning time to set the second fastest lap of the day.

"The car feels pretty good," da Matta said. "We had a little bit of vibration this afternoon, which made the car very, very hard to drive. So we changed tires twice thinking it night help, and after the second set it was much, much better. That is when we were able to make progress and the car felt pretty good. I hope it does not rain, because I think I have a car good enough for the pole."

Team Marlboro Penske driver Helio Castroneves was third fastest today. Castroneves' lap, just .134 seconds slower than Brack, didn't come easy as he later admitted he was driving on the edge all day. "Everyone was having problems with wiggle. We're still trying to find a good setup. It's good that we ran with this lap time, but it's important to come back and do better tomorrow."

Max Papis ended the day fourth fastest overall, relying on his time from the first session when he ran second to his Team Rahal teammate, Kenny Brack. "The car felt pretty good in the morning practice," Papis said. "We worked on race setup all afternoon. That is very important here."

"Last year, I led the first 60 laps or so and the car got a little loose. We are really working on getting a good car for the entire distance. Kenny was able to work on longer runs too this afternoon and I feel we have a strong chance with the Team Rahal cars."

Tony Kanaan, fifth overall, had the fastest Mercedes-powered car today, .075 seconds ahead of the next Mercedes car, driven by Mauricio Gugelmin. "It's great to back in the top-five," Kanaan said. Kanaan returned to CART FedEx competition at Michigan last week after missing four races due to an accident at Detroit's Belle Isle circuit in June.

"I'm feeling pretty good, physically. This track definitely requires more effort to get around than Michigan last week. But I've been doing a lot of go-karting. I went out and bought one for myself last week, and me and Cristiano went out and put in about 600 laps each in the last three days back home in Miami. That's then ideal way to get in shape for the small, tight tracks."

Juan Montoya, winner of last week's Michigan 500 and defending champion of the Target Grand Prix, was seventh fastest overall today. "The car is running well, we're pretty close to where we want to be for the race. I'm really happy to be back in Chicago, the Target Grand Prix was great for us last year, let's hope it's the same this year."

Kmart's chances of winning the Target Grand Prix were decreased when Christian Fittipaldi hit the turn two wall in the first practice session today. Fittipaldi, who was briefly unconscious at the scene according to Dr. Chris Pinderski of the CART Medical staff, was transported via ambulance to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood for a precautionary CAT Scan. Results of the CAT Scan were negative and Fittipaldi was released this afternoon.

Per CART rules, Fittippaldi was not cleared to drive this weekend and the Newman Haas Kmart Ford/Lola was withdrawn from the race. Fittipaldi will also miss a scheduled two-day test at Road America this week.

Good seats are still available for Sunday's Target Grand Prix. Tickets will be on sale at the track on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets may be obtained by calling the Chicago Motor Speedway at (773) 242-CARS (2277). Tickets can also be purchased at Ticketmaster locations.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack