CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Saturday's opening track notes

Marlboro 500 -- Saturday's Opening Track Notes CART Online (September 27) -- Saturday's Opening Track Notes from the Marlboro 500 Presented By Toyota at California Speedway Good morning and welcome to qualifying day at California Speedway ...

Marlboro 500 -- Saturday's Opening Track Notes

CART Online (September 27) -- Saturday's Opening Track Notes from the Marlboro 500 Presented By Toyota at California Speedway

Good morning and welcome to qualifying day at California Speedway for Sunday's Marlboro 500. Today's CART on-track activities begin with a one-hour practice session scheduled for a 9 a.m. start, followed by the first round of CART qualifying taking the green flag at 12 noon.

PLEASE NOTE that by resolution of the CART Board of Directors, henceforth, the qualifying order at oval events will be determined by using the best practice time achieved by each driver during that event. The qualifying list will be inverted (the driver with the fastest practice time will be the last driver to qualify).

PPG CART World Series champion Alex Zanardi will not compete in Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota because of a mild concussion sustained during Friday's practice at the California Speedway.

Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) was examined Saturday morning by Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs, and was not medically cleared to drive in Sunday's PPG CART World Series season finale. The concussion was the consequence of separate accidents that Zanardi had during Friday's two practice sessions.

The first incident occurred in the morning session when he ran over debris from the car of rookie Patrick Carpentier and made contact with the wall exiting Turn 4 of the 2-mile superspeedway. Zanardi was examined and cleared after the first incident, and returned for the afternoon practice session. With about two minutes remaining in the scheduled one-hour late session, Zanardi hit the wall in Turn 4 but walked away from the incident uninjured.

Zanardi, who never lost consciousness during either incident, has no other symptoms than dizziness from extreme motion, according to Dr. Olvey. Impact sensors developed by Ford Special Vehicle Operations showed that Zanardi pulled an estimated 88 'Gs' following the second incident. Olvey said that Zanardi is expected to recover in five to seven days.

Carpentier (Alumax Reynard Mercedes), who spent Friday evening at Loma Linda University Medical Center for observation following his morning accident, was scheduled to be released late Saturday morning.

Carpentier, the 26-year-old Canadian and leader in the CART Rookie of the Year race, was taken to Loma Linda on Friday for x-rays and a CAT scan, both of which were negative according to Dr. Olvey. Carpentier was scheduled for another set of x-rays Saturday morning after reporting a discomfort in his neck, but Dr. Olvey said that those x-rays should also prove negative.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the morning practice session.

At 9:05 a.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 VASSER with a speed of 237.064 mph (30.812 seconds), followed by #27 JOHNSTONE (232.151; 31.464 seconds) and #32 FERNANDEZ (231.621 mph; 31.536 seconds).

At 9:15 a.m., 15 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #17 GUGELMIN with a speed of 238.511 mph (30.607 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (237.781 mph; 30.625 seconds) and #1 VASSER (237.64 mph; 30.719 seconds).

At 9:25 a.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #17 GUGELMIN with a lap of 241.932 mph (30.192 seconds), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (239.795 mph; 30.461 seconds) and #1 VASSER (238.862 mph; 30.556 seconds).

At 9:35 a.m., #17 GUGELMIN ups the top speed of the session to 242.333 mph (30.142 seconds).

At 9:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #17 GUGELMIN with his earlier lap of 242.333 mph (30.142 seconds), followed by #1 VASSER (240.000 mph; 30.435 seconds) and #18 BLUNDELL (231.795; 30.461 seconds). YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:47 a.m. for debris on the track in Turn 3.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:53 a.m. after a delay of 6 minutes, 19 seconds. The time will not be added to the end of the session.

At 9:55 a.m. with five minutes left in the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 40-minute mark.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 10 a.m. to end this morning's session. The fastest driver is still #17 GUGELMIN with his earlier lap of 242.333 mph, followed by #1 VASSER (240.348 mph; 30.391 seconds) and #18 BLUNDELL (239.795 mph; 30.461 seconds). The top 20 drivers have eclipsed the 230-mph barrier in this morning's session and the top 15 drivers are separated by less than one second in lap times. #3X TRACY was the only driver to utilize a secondary car in this morning's session. CART drivers logged a total of 800 laps in this session.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Zanardi