CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Lola Friday report

Lola runners 2nd through 5th at California Speedway. Practice sessions yield quick times on 2.029-mile oval. Team Player's Alex Tagliani led all comers in two practice sessions for Sunday's 250-lap The 500 presented by Toyota. Jimmy Vasser...

Lola runners 2nd through 5th at California Speedway.
Practice sessions yield quick times on 2.029-mile oval.

Team Player's Alex Tagliani led all comers in two practice sessions for Sunday's 250-lap The 500 presented by Toyota. Jimmy Vasser showed he and the #8 Shell Lola/Ford team are on an upward swing, as Vasser's lap of 31.351 seconds (232.988mph) was just .099 seconds in arrears of the Canadian's quick tour. Tony Kanaan was the third fastest driver of the day in his #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, turning 31.364 seconds (232.891mph) in the morning session. Dario Franchitti, second in the morning took 4th overall in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda at 31.384 seconds (232.743mph). Michel Jourdain Jr., third in the afternoon practice was 5th for the day in his #9 Gigante Lola/Ford at 31.439 seconds (232.336mph).

"We had three piles of junk after last weekend," Vasser admitted. "The team did a great job getting everything back together. There's still some room to go to make the car better in traffic, but it came around better and better today." Vasser's crew then went on to win the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, netting $50,000 for their late afternoon efforts. Kanaan was "just working on having a good race car today. We had a bit too much understeer in traffic, but we'll work on that for tomorrow," he said.

Franchitti ran at the top of the standings throughout the day, working on his race setup, he stated and his best lap occurred on the 31st of 40 total in the morning session. Jourdain Jr. "had some trouble in the morning" and practiced in 13th spot. "Then we got going the right way on the settings. We need a good car for the race," the Mexican smiled. Patrick Carpentier practiced 6th for the day, followed by Michael Andretti's #39 Motorola Lola/Honda, which lapped at 31.487 seconds (231.981mph) in the morning practice. Kenny Brack was 8th for the day in his #12 Team Target Lola/Toyota (31.501sec/231.878mph), also set in the morning. Champion Cristiano da Matta was 9th this afternoon in the #1 Chevron Lola/Toyota, then posed for championship photos with his crew and with the Lola technical squad. Teammate Christian Fittipaldi rounded out the top ten in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota, based on his quick morning lap.

The weather was perfect for racing on this fall Friday, with temperatures in the high 60s in the air and similar track temps. The conditions are expected to be the same for Saturday's qualifying runs, which commence at 11:30am PST and are televised live on Speed Channel.

-lola cars-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain