CHAMPCAR/CART: Elkhart Lake Friday Track Notes

Good Morning from deep in the green hills of Central Wisconsin! The Champ Cars have arrived at Road America at Elkhart Lake for the first day of practice for Sunday's Texaco/Havoline 200, Round Ten of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season.

Good Morning from deep in the green hills of Central Wisconsin! The Champ Cars have arrived at Road America at Elkhart Lake for the first day of practice for Sunday's Texaco/Havoline 200, Round Ten of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season. The winding 14-turn. 4.048-mile racecourse awaits the fastest race drivers in the world. Today's weather has started out somewhat cloudy with some precipitation possible today from the northwest, remnants of last night's violent weather that swept through central Wisconsin. Temperatures are predicted to hover in the low 80's, sun or no sun. The weekend's first practice session is scheduled for the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. This full-field session will last 90 minutes. At 2:30 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the split-group provisional qualifying session with the fastest drivers from the FedEx Championship Series previous road-course venue's qualifying sessions making up Group One. Each split-session provisional qualifying Group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two groups' efforts. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars again on-track for practice from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. with the final round of qualifying scheduled from 12:45 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. This final qualifying session will again be in the split-group format with the fastest drivers from Friday's provisional qualifying comprising Group Two. Again, each group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15- minute break between the two Groups. Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 9:00 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 50-lap Texaco/Havoline 200 at 1 p.m. (All times are local.)

The official entry list for this weekend's race has a few changes from the usual CART line-up. MEMO GIDLEY will pilot a second Walker Racing entry in the #15 Alpine-sponsored Honda Reynard for the third week in a row, the car being vacant since the injury to season-starting driver NAOKI HATTORI at the Miami Grand Prix. Veteran GUALTER SALLES will replace ALEX BARRON for Dan Gurney's All American Racers team; again, for the third week in a row, sponsored by Denso/Castrol in a Toyota Eagle with Number 36. MARK BLUNDELL returns to the FedEx Championship Series in the #18 PacWest Racing Motorola-sponsored Mercedes Reynard, fully recovered from his practice incident at St. Louis May 4th. Welcome back Mark!

The Friday Forum will take place at 1:00 p.m. today in Room 6 of the Media Center. This week's forum will feature the Rookies of CART. Representing Honda will be MEMO GIDLEY. CHRISTIANO da MATTA will appear courtesy of Toyota and LUIZ GARCIA Jr. will be on-hand for FORD. Mercedes will not be represented in this week's forum as the manufacturer does not currently have any rookies in the 1999 season.

The CART PR staff would like to welcome veteran racing journalist CHRIS ECONOMAKI back to Road America. Chris is making his first visit to the track in over two decades.

There are a few Champ Car drivers nearing milestones at this weekend's Texaco/Havoline 200 Elkhart Lake. Once AL UNSER Jr. takes the Green Flag Sunday, he will tie retired-driver BOBBY RAHAL for the lead in the most race starts in CART history. Both drivers will have logged 264 starts after this weekend. Toronto should give UNSER Jr. the all-time lead, as Mr. Rahal resides behind the wall as a team owner these days.

Other people's money is always interesting and here's some CART drivers' situations here at Road America. Team Rahal driver MAX PAPIS needs $28,500 to hit his first million in CART career winnings. PacWest pilot MAURICIO GUGELMIN is coming up on $4 million in career earnings as he now has $3,924,230. Patrick Racing driver P.J. JONES is trying to go over $500,000 in career winnings this weekend. JONES now has $450,750.

Finally, DARIO FRANCHITTI has won $6,971,887 in his CART career and only needs a paltry $28,113 to go over $7 million in winnings.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 85 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 74 degrees F. at the start of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:37 a.m. to #8 HERTA for a Pit Road speed violation. HERTA subsequently pits to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 135.632 mph (1:47.444), followed by #44 KANAAN (135.616 mph; 1:47.456) and #20 JONES (133.069 mph; 1:49.513).

At 10:45 a.m. #10 HEARN enters the run-off at Turn 5 and enters the track again at Turn 13A without damage to the car.

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the practice session, the fastest driver is now #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 139.469 mph (1:44.488), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (138.566 mph; 1:45.169) and #40 FERNANDEZ (138.313 mph; 1:45.361).

Also at 10:50 a.m., the Black Flag is shown to #2 UNSER Jr. for a Pit Road speed violation. UNSER Jr. subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 10:54 a.m., the BLACK FLAG is shown to #44 KANAAN for a Pit Road speed violation that occurred at Pit In at 10:45 a.m. KANAAN subsequently pits to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 141.176 mph (1:43.224), followed by #33 CARPENTIER (140.591 mph; 1:43.654) and #11 FITTIPALDI (140.151 mph; 1:43.979).

Black Flag is shown at 11:04 a.m. to #6 ANDRETTI for a Pit Road speed violation. ANDRETTI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:08 a.m., #22 GORDON pits his car and a turbo fire briefly breaks out in the engine. The crew quickly extinguishes the fire and pushes the car back to the team pit area. GORDON has yet to record an official practice lap in this morning's session.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #33 CARPENTIER with a lap of 141.440 mph (1:43.032), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (141.176 mph; 1:43.224) and #27 FRANCHITTI (141.090 mph; 1:43.287).

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 141.176 mph (1:43.224), followed by #33 CARPENTIER (140.591 mph; 1:43.654) and #11 FITTIPALDI (140.151 mph; 1:43.979).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:04 a.m. to #6 ANDRETTI for a Pit Road speed violation. ANDRETTI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:08 a.m., #22 GORDON pits his car and a turbo fire briefly breaks out in the engine. The crew quickly extinguishes the fire and pushes the car back to the team pit area. GORDON has yet to record an official practice lap in this morning's session.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #33 CARPENTIER with a lap of 141.440 mph (1:43.032), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (141.176 mph; 1:43.224) and #27 FRANCHITTI (141.090 mph; 1:43.287).

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #33 CARPENITER with his earlier lap of 141.440 mph; 1:43.032), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (141.408 mph; 1:43.055) and #6 ANDRETTI (141.176 mph; 1:43.224).

RED FLAG waves at 11:24 a.m. after #44 KANAAN spins on course at Turn 8 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and KANNAN continues on course to his Pit Area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:28 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11:30 a.m., the fastest driver is now #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 142.006 mph (1:42.621), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (141.556 mph; 1:42.947) and #33 CARPENTIER (141.440 mph; 1:43.032).

RED FLAG waves at 11:32 a.m. after a squirrel crosses the Pit Lane at Pit Out without permission and pays the ultimate price. CART safety workers quickly man the shovel and clear the track.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:35 a.m. to resume the practice session.

RED FLAG waves at 11:38 a.m. after #27 FRANCHITTI stalls on course at Turn 6. CART safety workers tow the car back to the Pit Area. #33 CARPENTIER also stalls on course at Turn 9 and CART safety workers hook the car up and tow it back to the Pit Area. While under the Yellow Flag, #33 CARPENTIER slows at Turn 8 with smoke showing at the rear of the car.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:30 a.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:47 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:40 a.m. report.

At 11:53 a.m., #24 PRUETT spins off course at Turn 6 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

The BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:53 a.m. to #40 FERNANDEZ for a Pit Road speed violation that occurred at 11:47 a.m. at Pit In. FERNANDEZ subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:57 a.m., #99 MOORE cracks the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 142.128 mph; 1:42.533) on his 13th lap of the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the session with #6 ANDRETTI the fastest driver with a lap of 143.682 mph (1:41.424), followed by #17 GUGELMIN (142.885 mph; 1:41.990) and #4 MONTOYA (142.826 mph; 1:42.032). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 31 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #33X CARPENTIER, #7X PAPIS, #5X de FERRAN, #9X CASTRO-NEVES, #20X JONES, #2X UNSER Jr., #19X JOURDAIN Jr., and #6X ANDRETTI. CART drivers logged a total of 421 laps in this session. #22 GORDON and #18 BLUNDELL did not log any official laps during this morning's session.

J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice-President of Competition has announced that Sunday's race will be extended from the previously scheduled 50 laps to 55 laps. The race mileage length will stretch from 202.4 miles to 222.6 miles as a result.

PacWest driver MARK BLUNDELL, who has been sidelined since sustaining a teardrop flexion compression (burst fracture) of his seventh cervical vertebrae in a May 4th testing incident at St. Louis, will miss the next three rounds of FedEx Championship Series competition. BLUNDELL was examined by CART Chief Orthopedic Consultant Dr. Terry Trammell Friday morning at Road America, who advised him to delay his return to the cockpit of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz. ROBERTO MORENO who has substituted for BLUNDELL at the last five events, will continue to pilot for the PacWest team, including today's qualifying session. MORENO will be in the Group One session by virtue of his qualifying speeds posted at Cleveland, the last CART road course event. AL UNSER Jr. will be bumped to the Group Two session as a result of MORENO's entrance.

The provisional qualifying session today will have two Group Two drivers serving penalties from the Cleveland event. #10X HEARN spun at Cleveland with seven minutes left in the Saturday Group One final qualifying session and stalled between Turns 9 and 10. HEARN sat out the remainder of the Cleveland session and has been assessed the eight-minute penalty in the Provisional Qualifying session at Elkhart Lake. Also at 1:59 p.m. in the final Group One Saturday qualifying session at Cleveland, #36 GUALTER SALLES stalled at the Flag Stand with an engine fire. SALLES also collected the carryover eight-minute penalty to be assessed at Elkhart Lake in the Friday provisional qualifying session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 110 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 82 degrees F. at the start of the session. The CART drivers will be taking a shot at MICHAEL ANDRETTI's 1998 qualifying record speed of 145.745 mph (1:39.988).

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #99 MOORE with a lap of 142.848 mph (1:42.016), followed by #5 de FERRAN (142.531 mph; 1:42.243) and #6 ANDRETTI (142.347 mph; 1:42.375).

At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #99 MOORE with a lap of 142.848 mph (1:42.016), followed by #5 de FERRAN (142.531 mph; 1:42.243) and #26 TRACY (142.390 mph; 1:42.344).

At 2:46 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI spins off course between Turns 8 and 9 and stalls on the left side of the course.

RED FLAG waves at 2:49 p.m. to allow CART safety workers to retrieve the stalled car of #27 FRANCHITTI. CART safety workers tow the car back to the Pit Area and FRANCHITTI will serve the standard eight minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #4 MONTOYA with a lap of 143.374 mph (1:41.642), followed by #99 MOORE (142.848 mph; 1:42.016) and #5 de FERRAN (142.531 mph; 1:42.243).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:51 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

At 2:55 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 2:50 p.m. report.

At 2:56 p.m., #17X MORENO enters the qualifying session. As MORENO had started the Group One qualifying session in the #17 car, all of the times earned by the #17 car have been withdrawn.

RED FLAG waves at 2:57 p.m. after #33X CARPENTIER slide sideways off course at the Turn 1 sand pit. The left side of the car digs in and CARPENTIER launches into a series of five flips, right side over left, coming to rest against the tire barrier at the end of the pit. CARPENTIER exits the car under his own power and is uninjured in the incident but the car is totally destroyed.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:58 p.m. as the clean-up for the CARPENTIER incident will take longer than the two minutes left in the Group One session. #6 ANDRETTI is the fastest with his lap of 143.781 mph (1:41.354), followed by #4 MONTOYA (143.374 mph; 1:41.642) and #33X CARPENTIER (143.054 mph; 1:41.869).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session.

At 3:20 p.m., #20 JONES slides off course at Turn 8 but continues on course without damage to the car.

At 3:22 p.m., #44 KANAAN spins at Turn 5 but continues on course to his Pit Area.

At 3:25 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest Group Two driver is #15 GIDLEY with a speed of 141.613 mph; 1:42.906; ninth-fastest overall), followed by #44 KANAAN (141.481 mph; 1:43.002; 10th-fastest overall) and #7 PAPIS (141.356 mph; 1:43.093; 11th-fastest overall.)

At 3:26 p.m., #19 JOURDAIN Jr. slides off course at Turn 2 and takes a rough ride before regaining control and continues to his Pit Area.

At 3:30 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is now #9 CASTRO-NEVES (141.829 mph; 1:42.749; ninth-fastest overall), followed by #44 KANAAN (141.795 mph; 1:42.774; 10th-fastest overall) and #15 GIDLEY (141.613 mph; 1:42.906; 11th-fastest overall.)

Also at 3:30 p.m., #29 JONES spins off course at Turn 2 but regains control and continues on course.

RED FLAG waves at 3:33 p.m. after #10 HEARN spins at Turn 5 and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety workers pull the car to safety and HEARN is assessed the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session. As HEARN was already under a penalty from Cleveland that would take his last eight minutes of this session, HEARN will not return to the Group Two session today.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:35 p.m. to continue the Group Two session. At 20 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:30 p.m. report.

At 3:40 p.m., the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:35 p.m. report.

At 3:41 p.m., #20 JONES slides off course at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:43 p.m., #44 KANAAN slides off course at Turn 2 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:44 p.m., #71 GARCIA pulls off course between Turn 5 and 6 and stalls the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. with the fastest Group Two driver #15 GIDLEY with a final lap of 142.904 mph (1:41.976; fourth-fastest overall), followed by #44 KANAAN (142.823; 1:42.034; sixth-fastest overall) and #7 PAPIS (142.176 mph; 1:42.498; 10th-fastest overall.)

The next three reports occurred after the Checkered Flag but while the Group Two cars were still circling the track on their last laps. 7 At 3:46 p.m., #9 CASTRO-NEVES pulls off course at Turn 8 with fire showing at the rear of the car. CART corner workers quickly extinguish the fire and pull the car to safety to await the end of the session.

At 3:47 p.m., #22 GORDON slides into Turn 14 and across the grass, making contact with the outside wall and damaging the left front suspension. The driver is uninjured in the incident.

Also at 3:47 p.m., #7 PAPIS slides into the sand pit at Turn 14 and stalls the car.

Provisional qualifying ends for today with MICHAEL ANDRETTI on the Provisional Pole with his speed of 143.781 mph (1:41.354).

JUAN MONTOYA sits second on the provisional grid with a speed of 143.374 mph (1:41.642). MONTOYA is looking for his eighth consecutive top-five start.

PATRICK CARPENTIER is third after the provisional session ends today by virtue of his 143.054-lap (1:41.869). CARPENTIER will probably have to forfeit his times and use the primary car as the secondary car was destroyed in the session just after his fast lap that earned him the third place on the provisional grid. CARPENTIER is looking to equal or better his season-best start. CARPENTIER had previously started third at Miami.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI is after his 32nd pole position in his CART career in tomorrow's final round of qualifying. If he is successful, it will be ANDRETTI's first pole since winning the pole position here at Elkhart last year.

The provisional grid features nine drivers within one second of the provisional-pole winning effort of ANDRETTI with the top 18 drivers separated by less than two seconds in lap times.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers follow:

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "During the first run, the track was quite slippery, and a flat-spotted both my front tires. We put on the second set of tires and the track picked up quite a bit of grip. I think there's even more in the car for tomorrow, but I think everybody will tell you the same thing. I think the extra [20 miles added to the race distance] is going to make for better racing. You don't really want guys running 100 horsepower down just to make the race distance. [On pursuing series leader Juan Montoya] We've just got to keep finishing races. I think the team is capable of finishing on the podium at every race, and if we do that, I think we'll keep the pressure on him."

JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "We had used tires on and put in a good time, and we had just put our second set on when Carpentier spun, so we didn't get to use the second set of tires, so I think we'll be good for [final qualifying] tomorrow. This track has some quick corners, downhill uphill you don't really see much of that in Europe. It's quite exciting to drive. In testing here, we weren't very quick, but today, we were quick, so we'll have to see what happens."

PATRICK CARPENTIER, Player's Forsythe Racing Ltd. Mercedes Reynard: "I'm not really sure what it [the situation with the damaged car] is. I think if we withdraw the car, we have to withdraw the [qualifying] time, so I think we might try to rebuild the car, but I don't know if we'll succeed at that. But I think the track will be tomorrow anyway. It usually is on the second day. The car was good today; the Player's Forsythe Racing team did a good job. The car was great on the first set of tires, then when I went into the corner; the car went sideways at 200 miles per hour. When that happens, there isn't much you can do. The only thing I saw after that was gravel, sky, gravel, sky, gravel, sky about six times."

Ty Manseau, the vent/airjack man for Michael Andretti that was injured in the Miller Lite 225 at Milwaukee, was in attendance at the track today. This is the first day back at a race track since his accident on June 6th. Today was also the first opportunity the team has had to see Ty since he left the team's base in Lincolnshire, Illinois to recuperate in Minnesota a few days after the incident. Manseau is undergoing therapy to heal four muscle areas in his back that are still tight. A big Welcome Back Ty!!!

This concludes the Pit Notes for today from Road America in beautiful Elkhart Lake Wisconsin! We'll see you tomorrow morning for the Saturday practice session at 9 a.m. sharp. Have a safe evening!

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dan Gurney