CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Saturday Track Notes

The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota FedEx Championship Series Track Notes - Saturday Fontana, CA (October 31, 1998) - Good Morning from beautiful California Speedway for qualifying day for Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota....

The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota FedEx Championship Series Track Notes - Saturday

Fontana, CA (October 31, 1998) -

Good Morning from beautiful California Speedway for qualifying day for Sunday's Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota. Today's morning weather has brilliant blue skies and temperatures in the high 60's. Today's CART on-track activities begin with a one hour warm-up taking the Green Flag at 9 a.m. followed by qualifying scheduled for a 12 p.m. start.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 68 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 63 degrees F. at the start of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:05 a.m. after #77 MEIER brushes the wall in Turn 2. MEIER immediately pits the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:08 a.m. to resume the morning practice session.

At 9:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #26 TRACY with a lap of 233.808 mph (31.241 seconds), followed by #7 RAHAL (233.449 mph; 31.289) and #12 VASSER (232.913 mph; 31.361 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:13 a.m. for a track inspection after the crew of #40 FERNANDEZ reports a cut right front tire on their car upon examination in the pits.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:20 a.m. to resume the morning practice session. At 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #5 DE FERRAN with a lap of 236.879 mph (30.836 seconds), followed by #10 HEARN (235.923 mph; 30.961 seconds) and #40 FERNANDEZ (235.679 mph; 30.993 seconds).

At 9:25 a.m., #17 GUGELMIN becomes the fastest driver of the weekend with a lap of 237.464 mph (30.760 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:26 a.m. after #12 VASSER spins in Turn 1. VASSER's car comes to rest on the apron without making contact and CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and VASSER continues back to his pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:29 a.m. to resume the morning practice session.

At 9:30 a.m., halfway through the morning session, the fastest driver is still #17 GUGELMIN with his earlier lap of 237.464 mph (30.760 seconds), followed by #5 DE FERRAN (236.879 mph; 30.836 seconds) and #20 PRUETT (236.045 mph; 30.945 seconds).

BLACK FLAG is shown to #99 MOORE after course observers report smoke trailing from the rear of the car. MOORE immediately pits the car.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:34 a.m. for debris in Turn 1.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:37 a.m. to resume the morning practice session.

At 9:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #17 GUGELMIN with his earlier lap of 237.464 mph (30.760 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (237.202 mph; 30.794 seconds) and #5 DE FERRAN (236.879 mph; 30.836 seconds).

At 9:42 a.m., #99 MOORE logs the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 240.103 mph (30.422 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:43 a.m. for debris on the track. During the cool down lap, #7 RAHAL stalls on-course, short of the entrance to pit road and CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow RAHAL back to the pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:45 a.m. to resume the morning practice session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:50 a.m. for debris on the track. At this point of the session, the fastest driver is still #99 MOORE with his earlier lap of 240.103 mph (30.422 seconds), followed by #17 GUGELMIN (237.464 mph; 30.760 seconds) and #8 HERTA (237.202 mph; 30.794 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:52 a.m. to resume the morning practice session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves with the fastest driver of the session and the weekend still #99 MOORE with his earlier lap of 240.103 mph (30.422 seconds), followed by #17 GUGELMIN (237.464 mph; 30.760 seconds) and #8 HERTA (237.202 mph; 30.794 seconds). There are 19 cars within one second of the fast lap set by MOORE in this session. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 33 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #1X ZANARDI, #11X FITTIPALDI, #9X LEHTO, 99X MOORE, #6X ANDRETTI, #98X SOSPIRI, #21X KANAAN, and #3X RIBEIRO. CART drivers logged a total of 785 laps during the session. Yesterday's fastest driver in practice, #40 FERNANDEZ, was 11th -fastest in this morning's session.

GREEN FLAG will wave at 12 p.m. to start qualifying for Sunday's million-dollar Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota. The Marlboro Pole Award will pay the fastest driver $10,000 for the effort, plus the Pole Sitter will collect an additional $45,000 from the Marlboro Roll-Over Bonus if he can win the race on Sunday. The qualifying session is scheduled for 2 hours, fifteen minutes. The drivers will have up to three laps to build speed before the timed lap starts. The weather is perfect, a ton of sun with a light breeze blowing over the fourth turn wall.

GREEN FLAG waves to start qualifying with #34 VITOLO the first driver onto the track. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 93 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 73 degrees F. at the start of the qualifying session.

#34 VITOLO- no speed. VITOLO pulls off-course on the backstretch of his second lap and immediately pits the car. VITOLO will move to the back on the qualifying order if he makes another attempt to qualify.

#19X JOURDAIN JR.'s top speed: 225.014 mph; (32.462 seconds); second lap.

#98 SOSPIRI's top speed: 224.543 mph; (32.530 seconds); second lap. Dan Gurney's All-American Racers elected to run the Reynard chassis-equipped secondary car instead of the primary car that features Gurney's own Eagle chassis.

#77 MEIER's top speed: 228.455 mph; (31.973 seconds); first lap.

#21X KANAAN's top speed: 227.715 mph; (32.077 seconds); first lap.

#16 CASTRO-NEVES's top speed: 230.031 mph; (31.754 seconds); second lap.

#36 BARRON's top speed: 230.430 mph; (31.699 seconds); first lap. The YELLOW FLAG flies at 12:23 p.m. as BARRON enters Turn 1, low in the groove, on his cool down lap. The car's right rear end kicks out from underneath the car and BARRON swaps ends, contacting the wall with the left side of the car between Turns 1 and 2. The car slides back down the embankment and comes to rest at the infield apron of Turn 2. BARRON is uninjured in the incident and exits the car under his own power, but the car sustains major damage to the left side pod and suspension. CART safety workers quickly get to the scene and begin clean-up efforts. CART Race Control reports at 12:43 p.m. that BARRON has been cleared to drive in tomorrow's Marlboro 500 by the on-site CART Medical Staff.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:49 p.m. to resume the qualifying session< > #25 PAPIS's top speed: 227.452 mph; (32.114 seconds); second lap.

#3 RIBEIRO's top speed: 229.071 mph; (31.887 seconds); second lap.

#9X LEHTO's top speed: 228.691 mph; (31.940 seconds); first lap.

#2 UNSER JR.'s top speed: 230.787 mph; (31.650 seconds); first lap.

#33 CARPENTIER's top speed: 230.510 mph; (31.688 seconds); second lap.

#24 GORDON's top speed: 228.170 mph; (32.013 seconds); first lap.

#11 FITTIPALDI's top speed: 230.816 mph; (31.646 seconds), second lap.

#1X ZANARDI's top speed: 229.525 mph; (31.824 seconds); first lap.

#12 VASSER 's top speed: 233.360 mph; (31.301 seconds); first lap.

#10 HEARN's top speed: 232.795 mph; (31.377 seconds); first lap.

#20 PRUETT's top speed: 233.748 mph; (31.249 seconds); second lap.

#18 BLUNDELL's top speed: 232.321 mph; (31.441 seconds); second lap.

#26 TRACY's top speed: 230.801 mph; (31.648 seconds); second lap.

#40 FERNANDEZ's top speed: no speed. YELLOW FLAG waves at 1:30 p.m. as FERNANDEZ begins his exit of Turn 2 on the second lap. The car spins backwards into the wall and then completes a 360-degree loop before rear-ending the wall again, finally coming to rest in the middle of the backstretch. FERNANDEZ exits the car under his own power and is transported to the CART on-site Medical Facility for observation. Since FERNANDEZ had elected to take the Green Flag for qualifying on his second lap, he will only get one Green Flag qualifying lap in any subsequent qualifying attempt. FERNANDEZ had logged a speed of 232.876 mph (31.366 seconds) on the second warm-up lap. FERNANDEZ's crew immediately begins preparing the secondary car in the pit box for use in the session as FERNANDEZ is being transported to the CART Medical Facility.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:54 p.m. to resume the qualifying session. Also at 1:54 p.m., FERNANDEZ returns to his pit box to get ready to qualify in the secondary car.

#27 FRANCHITTI's top speed: 231.783 mph; (31.514 seconds); second lap.

#7 RAHAL's top speed: 232.669 mph; (31.394 seconds); second lap.

#5 DE FERRAN's top speed: 231.013 mph; (31.619 seconds); first lap.

#6 ANDRETTI's top speed: 232.832 mph; (31.372 seconds); first lap.

#8 HERTA's top speed: 229.944 mph; (31.766 seconds); second lap.

#17 GUGELMIN's top speed: 232.410 mph; (31.429 seconds); first lap.

#99 MOORE's top speed: 231.717 mph; (31.523 seconds); second lap.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:15 p.m. to end qualifying for the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota with SCOTT PRUETT winning the Marlboro Pole with a speed of 233.748 mph (31.249 seconds). PRUETT collects $10,000 from Marlboro for the effort and has a chance to collect an additional $45,000 from Marlboro if he can go on to win the race. This is PRUETT's first pole of the season and the fourth of his career. PRUETT sat on the pole at Detroit in 1996, and at Portland and Michigan in 1997. PRUETT has qualified among the top eight positions for the seventh time in the past 11 events. This also represents PRUETT's sixth consecutive top-ten start in a superspeedway, including a fourth place start here last year.

JIMMY VASSER will start second on the grid tomorrow. This is VASSER's seventh consecutive top-five start on a superspeedway and also VASSER's seventh top-five start in the eight oval events this season.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI sits third on tomorrow's grid which matches his season best start on an oval. ANDRETTI also started third at Nazareth this past spring. Tomorrow also represents ANDRETTI's 15th top-10 start of the season.

There are 24 drivers on the starting grid within one second of the pole-winning effort by PRUETT with the 26 drivers who logged official qualifying times separated by just 1.281 seconds. ADRIAN FERNANDEZ will start 27th on the grid after his incident ruined a good qualifying lap and DENNIS VITOLO will start 28th, as neither driver logged an official time during the session.

Today represents the seventh pole of the season for Ford, including three of the last four races. This also is the 18th pole out of the 19 poles of the season for Firestone.

Quotes from the top-three qualifiers from today's action follow.

SCOTT PRUETT, Visteon Reynard Ford: "I thought we had a good shot [at the pole] but it's always difficult. We took virtually all the gurney off the rear of the car. It may have been easy [to drive] flat out for Jimmy [Vasser], but it wasn't for me. It [the pole position] is exciting for me personally, being as how it's my last race with Visteon and Patrick Racing. It's a great way to start the weekend and puts us in good position for tomorrow. Ever since we made the announcement [about next year's move] to Toyota, MCI and Cal Wells, my goal with my guys has been to focus on the last few races and end this season on a high note, and everybody has. My relationship with [team owner] Pat Patrick has been great over the years. He's always been very fair with me. He hasn't changed his commitment to me one bit."

JIMMY VASSER, Target Reynard Honda: "We didn't have that great of a morning session. We struggled with some things and tried to get it back. But I had confidence that we knew what to do with the car and I told [engineer] Julian [Robertson], 'You know what to do.' I just told him we didn't need any wicker. And he did a magnificent job. It didn't matter whether you start second or 15th, we needed the point in our fight with Dario [Franchitti] for second place [in the FedEx Championship Series championship]. I think there are going to be a lot of similarities to the Michigan race, but not as exaggerated with the passing."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford: "It was a pretty good day. The car has been running really well, really consistent. I thought we had a shot at the pole, but it came down to a guessing game because of the weather. We just needed one small adjustment to be in contention for the pole, but it wasn't there today. I think we have a car that's capable of winning here, the key will be adapting to the changing conditions as the race goes on."

ALEX BARRON registered All-American Racer's best -ever qualifying attempt with his 15th place effort today. BARRON's time is just .008 seconds out of the top ten positions and only .400 off the pole.

MAX PAPIS wins today's Budweiser Accelerator Award as he posted the largest increase in speed from his first qualifying lap to his second. Budweiser will donate $1000 to CARA, the charitable auxiliary of CART, in PAPIS's name. AL UNSER JR. is the year-end winner of the Budweiser Accelerator Award after breaking a four-way tie with his PPG Points total. UNSER JR., ALEX BARRON, RICHIE HEARN, and JJ LEHTO were tied with two Budweiser Accelerator Awards in the chase for the prize, but UNSER JR. took home the $10,000 check and a trophy from Anheuser-Busch.

Saturday's post-qualifying activities were highlighted by BRYAN HERTA winning his second consecutive Mercedes-Benz E430 Sport from Marlboro. Each pole winner of the year received a key from a blind draw format that could possibly start the Mercedes. And for the second year, HERTA inserted the key he won at Laguna and for the second year in a row, that was the key that started the car. DARIO FRANCHITTI and GREG MOORE had five and four keys respectively representing their poles this year but struck out.

This concludes the Pit Notes for today. We'll see you bright and early at 9 a.m. for the traditional morning warm-up at 9 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota at 12:30 p.m. Have a great Halloween but lay off that candy or your pants will never fit!

Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dan Gurney