CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Friday Practice Report

David Reininger - motorsport.com Fontana, Calif. (October 29, 1999) Mark Blundell set the fastest lap in practice for Sunday's Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota at the California Speedway this afternoon. All of the fast times of the day were set...

David Reininger - motorsport.com

Fontana, Calif. (October 29, 1999) Mark Blundell set the fastest lap in practice for Sunday's Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota at the California Speedway this afternoon. All of the fast times of the day were set during this morning's session before high winds made maneuverability at high speeds a problem.

"We pretty much had to trim everything out with our package to try and get our lap," said Blundell. "Fortunately, it worked. The speed came when we needed it. But of course it's a little bit tricky around here. If you get a small draft, a small tow from somebody, it makes a big impression on your lap time. We had a little bit of help. I was towing somebody, but it wasn't a great tow by any means. Still, I was pleased with my lap."

Max Papis averaged 234.747 mph around the 2.029-mile superspeedway this morning to set the second fastest lap of the day. Papis, who tested here recently, talked about the similarities between CART's two-mile superspeedways. "Actually, the setups are very different from Michigan and Fontana. But we changed some things during our test here a few weeks ago and the car feels good. It is never boring here or at Michigan."

Juan Montoya, Jimmy Vasser and Christian Fittipaldi rounded out the top-five fastest drivers of the day.

With high winds descending on the San Bernardino Valley this afternoon speeds dropped as drivers struggled to maintain control of their cars in the gusts of wind. The changing conditions also shuffled the names at the top of the speed list.

Juan Montoya set the fastest time in the afternoon session, recording a lap nearly three miles an hour slower than his morning time. The young Columbian driver's confidence will get a boost after setting top-five times in each session. "I feel comfortable with the track and everything," Montoya said. "If we can win, we will win it. If not, we won't. I'm going to give my best I don't think I can change anything from before. If I'm going to change something from before, it means I wasn't trying hard enough."

Tony Kanaan, Michael Andretti and Paul Tracy all made it into the top-five in this afternoon's session suggesting that changing condition may be a factor in the race. "In the morning all the cars were out, all the cars were drafting, so finding the right gear, and finding the right space to put in a clear lap, and not fool yourself is always difficult," said Papis.

Tracy, who ran ninth in the first session, was fifth fastest this afternoon. "It was a pretty good day," said Tracy. "The car was handling just fine this morning and we were able to scrub some tires this afternoon. But obviously we were a little more productive this morning before the wind picked up. I was trying to run on my own and keep clear of traffic, so we could figure out what speed we could do for qualifying. This afternoon you really had to be on your toes in the high wind. The wind could easily blow you off your line."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Tony Kanaan , Mark Blundell