CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Friday Track Notes

Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank FedEx Championship Series Track Notes (July 10, 1998) -- Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 11:30 a.m. The afternoon provisional ...

Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank FedEx Championship Series Track Notes

(July 10, 1998) --

Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 11:30 a.m. The afternoon provisional qualifying session will take to the track at 3:05 p.m. and will be split into two groups with Group One comprised of the fastest drivers from the previous road course qualifying results. The Group Two session will take the Green Flag at 3:50 p.m. Each group session will last 30 minutes.

BRYAN HERTA, winner of two out of three road course pole positions so far in the 1998 FedEx Championship Series season, will attempt to maintain his qualifying superiority this afternoon at 3:05 p.m. in a run for the Marlboro Provisional Pole. Though Canadian GREG MOORE leads the FedEx Series pole positions with three, two of his poles have come on ovals. HERTA also tied his best finish of the season last month on the winding Portland International Raceway course. HERTA logged a third at Portland to go with his third-place finish at Long Beach, coincidentally, the site of HERTA's other pole-winning effort. And for motivation, HERTA has 265,000 reasons to nail down first on the grid. The Marlboro Pole Award pays $10,000 to the fastest qualifier for this week's Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank and another $255,000 if that fastest qualifier goes on to win the race. ALEX ZANARDI, last year's pole and race winner, holds the track qualifying record with his 1997 lap of 133.048 mph (56.984 seconds) and along with MOORE, promises serious competition for the Marlboro Pole Award.

The first turn of the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport race course always bears watching on the first lap of the Cleveland Grand Prix each year. After taking the Green Flag, the FedEx Championship drivers bore down on a 140 degree angled-right-hand turn after a speedy straightaway measuring 3245 feet. Quite often, the inside and outside positions get "punted" at this corner in the packed scramble for position on the first lap. Furthermore, "Contact" as a reason for some drivers not finishing races again reared its ugly head at Portland road course last month in Round Nine. Seven cars left the race due to incidents, tying the second-highest total of the season, with three making the quick but unfortunate exit at the first turn of the race. (There were eight drivers sidelined by contact at Long Beach and St. Louis with seven more waylayed at Nazareth.) Two drivers, PAUL TRACY and GREG MOORE came away from the Portland race weekend on probation for rough driving, the penalties courtesy of CART Chief Steward, WALLY DALLENBACH. But on the bright side, the average number of cars out by contact per race in the 1998 FedEx season is only 4.8, with only 43 cars too damaged to continue racing in the first nine races of the 1998 FedEx Championship series season. Here's hoping for a clean start in Sunday's Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank!

RITCHIE HEARN, driver of the Della Penna Motorsports, Budweiser and Ralph's-sponsored Swift Ford had the honors of throwing out the first pitch in Thursday night's Cleveland Indians/ Minnesota Twins baseball game at Jacobs field. HEARN executed a perfect pitch in front of a standing-room only crowd.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 102 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F.

At 11:40 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #99 MOORE with a lap of 126.541 mph (59.867 seconds), followed by #3 RIBEIRO (124.775 mph; 1:00.762 ), and #27 FRANCHITTI (124.503 mph; 1:00.895).

At 11:43 a.m., #1 ZANARDI clocks the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 127.396 mph (59.512 seconds).

At 11:45 a.m., #1 ZANARDI ups his top speed to 128.519 mph (58.992 seconds).

At 11:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 128.554 mph (58.967 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (128.519 mph; 58.992 seconds) and #8 HERTA (127.662 mph; 59.388 seconds).

At 11:51 a.m., #7 RAHAL spins at Turn 5 and stalls on course.

RED FLAG waves at 11:53 a.m. so that CART safety workers can retrieve the stalled car of RAHAL.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:56 a.m. to resume the morning practice session.

At 12 p.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #18 BLUNDELL with a lap of 129.352 mph (58.612 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (128.554 mph; 58.976 seconds), and #1 ZANARDI (128.519 mph; 58.992 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 12:02 p.m. after #98 JONES stalls at Turn 5. CART safety workers get the car back to the pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:04 p.m. to resume the practice session.

At 12:09 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI runs off-course at Turn 10 and damages the front wing on his car. FRANCHITTI gets the car back on course and subsequently pits his car.

At 12:10 p.m., the fastest driver is #18 BLUNDELL with his earlier lap of 129.352 mph (58.612 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (128.554 mph; 58.976 seconds), and #1 ZANARDI (128.519 mph; 58.992 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 12:19 p.m. after #77 MEIER spins at Turn 10 and stalls on-course. CART safety workers get the car re-started and MEIER continues to his pit area.

At 12:20 p.m., 50 minutes into the session and under a full-course Red Flag, the fastest driver is still #18 BUNDELL with his earlier lap of 129.352 mph (58.612 seconds), followed by #5X DE FERRAN (129.176 mph (58.692 seconds), and #11 FITTIPALDI (128.619 mph; 58.946 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:23 p.m. to resume the practice session.

At 12:30, one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #18 BUNDELL with his earlier lap of 129.352 mph (58.612 seconds), followed by #5X DE FERRAN (129.176 mph (58.692 seconds), and #6X ANDRETTI (128.805 mph; 58.861 seconds).

At 12:35 p.m., #5X DE FERRAN logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 129.514 mph (58.538 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 12:40 p.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES stalls on-course at Turn 2. CART safety workers get the car back to the pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:44 p.m. to resume the practice session.

RED FLAG waves at 12:47 p.m. after #99 MOORE spins at Turn 6 and stalls on-course. CART safety workers get the car re-started and MOORE continues to his pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:49 p.m. to continues the practice session.

At 12:50 p.m., the fastest driver is still #18 BUNDELL with his earlier lap of 129.352 mph (58.612 seconds), followed by #5X DE FERRAN (129.176 mph (58.692 seconds), and #11 FITTIPALDI (128.917 mph; 58.810 seconds).

At 12:53 p.m., #6X ANDRETTI logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 130.902 mph (57.918 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 12:54 p.m. after #77 MEIER spins at Turn 6 and stalls off-course. CART safety workers get the car re-started and MEIER continues to his pit area.

At 12:55 p.m., #25 PAPIS runs off course at Turn 1 and continues back on-course without stalling the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:59 p.m. to resume the practice session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 1 p.m. with #8 HERTA the fastest driver with a lap of 132.104 mph (57.391 seconds), followed by #6X ANDRETTI (130.902 mph; 57.918 seconds), and #18 BLUNDELL (130.083 mph; 58.283 seconds). FedEx Championship drivers introduced 36 different cars to the track during the morning session with secondary cars utilized by 36X ANDRETTI, #5X DE FERRAN, #26X TRACY, #3X RIBEIRO, #19X JOURDAIN JR., #2X UNSER JR., #9X LEHTO, #16X CASTRO-NEVES, #98X JONES, and #11X FITTIPALDI.

The drivers logged a total of 525 laps during the morning session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:05 p.m. to start the Group One provisional qualifying session. Group One is comprised of the fastest qualifiers from the last road course qualifying session from last month at Portland. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 118 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 79 degrees F. at the drop of the Green Flag for Group One.

At 3:09 p.m., #19 JOURDAIN JR. spins at Turn 3. CART safety workers quickly get the car re-started and JOURDIN JR. continues to his pit

At 3:10 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 130.465 mph (58.112 seconds), followed by #20 PRUETT (130.237 mph; 58.214 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (129.525 mph; 58.534 seconds).

At 3:15 p.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 132.049 mph (57.415 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (131.762 mph; 57.540 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (131.534 mph; 57.640 seconds).

At 3:20 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:15 p.m. report.

At 3:25 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 ZANARDI with his earlier lap of 132.049 mph (57.415 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (131.762 mph; 57.540 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (131.584 mph; 57.618 seconds).

At 3:30 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 132.494 mph; 57.222 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (132.049 mph; 57.415 seconds) and #8 HERTA (131.762 mph; 57.540 seconds).

At 3:31 p.m., #8 HERTA breaks the existing track record with a lap of 133.181 mph (56.927 seconds), breaking ZANARDI's qualifying record lap of 133.048 mph (56.984 seconds), set in 1997.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:35 p.m. to end the session with #12 VASSER the fastest of the session and setting another new track record with his final lap of the session at a speed of 134.385 mph (56.417 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (133.181 mph; 56.927 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (132.990 mph; 57.009 seconds). ZANARDI fell to fourth-fastest of the session with final lap of 132.936 mph (57.032 seconds) with #6 ANDRETTI in fifth at a speed of 132.764 mph (57.106 seconds). There were no secondary cars utilized by FedEx Championship Series drivers during the Group One provisional qualifying session. The Group One drivers logged 174 laps during the Group One session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:50 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 118 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 80 degrees F. at the start of the Group Two qualifying session.

At 3:55 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver of the Group Two session is #26X TRACY with a lap of 131.388 mph (57.704 seconds, eighth-fastest overall), followed by #2 UNSER JR. (129.831 mph; 58.396 seconds, 15th-fastest overall) and #10 HEARN (129.642 mph; 58.481 seconds, 16th-fastest overall.)

At 4 p.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two driver is #18 BLUNDELL with a lap of 132.920 mph; 57.039 seconds, fifth-fastest overall), followed by #26X TRACY (131.388 mph; 57.704 seconds, ninth-fastest overall), and #17 GUGELMIN (131.097 mph; 57.832 seconds, 13th-fastest overall.)

At 4:01 p.m., #18 BLUNDELL pulls off course with a possible broken header just after logging the fastest lap of Group Two.

RED FLAG waves at 4:04 p.m. to allow CART safety workers to safely retrieve the stalled car of BLUNDELL.

At 4:05 p.m., 15 minutes into the session and under a full-course Red Flag, the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds unchanged from the 4 p.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 4:06 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

At 4:10 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds unchanged from the 4:05 p.m. report.

At 4:15 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 4:10 report.

At 4:17 p.m., #18 BLUNDELL spins off course at Turn 8. BLUNDELL keeps the car running and returns to the course. As BLUNDELL gets back up to speed, a piece of the left front wing flies off the car and lands on the track. BLUNDELL promptly pits the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 4:20 p.m. to end the Group Two practice session with #18 BLUNDELL the fastest of the Group Two drivers with a lap of 132.920 mph (57.039 seconds, fifth-fastest overall), followed by #26X TRACY (132.901 mph; 57.047 seconds, sixth-fastest overall), and #17 GUGELMIN (132.236 mph; 57.334 seconds, eighth-fastest overall.) Group Two drivers logged 174 laps during the session. Secondary cars were utilized by Group Two drivers #26X TRACY, and #16X CASTRO-NEVES.

JIMMY VASSER sits on the provisional pole with his track-record lap of 134.385 mph (56.417 seconds).

BRYAN HERTA sits second on the provisional grid with his lap of 133.181 mph (56.927 seconds).

DARIO FRANCHITTI is third in the provisional qualifying with a lap of 132.990 mph; (57.009 seconds).

The top 21 drivers are separated by less than two seconds on the provisional grid.

Quotes from today's top three provisional qualifiers follow:

JIMMY VASSER, Target Reynard Honda: "We had some major problems in the morning. We came with a setup that wasn't conducive to the circuit. You could only get a few laps out of your tires before they started to go away, but it wasn't so much the tires as it was the setup. Alex [Zanardi] seemed to have a pretty good setup, so going into qualifying, we took most of what Alex was doing and a little bit of what we were doing and threw something at the car, and it worked fantastic. The cones were in some tough places out there, but on my last lap, I really put one together, and lo and behold, one of the cones was gone in an area where you could make up a lot of speed. I was able to carry a lot of speed through there and that made a difference. This is probably one of the more physical races that we run. It's certainly fun, but it's one of the more difficult races of the year."

BRYAN HERTA, Shell Reynard Ford: "I got a front row seat for that [Vasser's provisional pole-winning lap]. I was following him, and my car was still on a pretty good lap, but I could see that he was inching away from me. I thought, 'Oh, he's gonna get me on that one,' and he did. Jimmy really put a good one together. I think the car was pretty good this morning, the track just got a little 'grippier' this afternoon. We're gonna have to chase it down a little bit tomorrow."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "It [the track] feels a little less bumpy than last year, but because of that, what bumps there are, are a lot more important. We spent a lot of the afternoon trying to find a balance over the bumps. The track got better as more rubber went down. Qualifying was a bit frustrating because I felt that there was more time in the whole package. But we're in a good group for tomorrow and we'll go back after it then."

Source: CART Online

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