CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Test 98-09-18

California Speedway Testing Fontana, CA (September 18, 1998) - Preparations for the season-ending "Million Dollar Payday" at the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota concluded Thursday after two days of testing by several Champ ...

California Speedway Testing

Fontana, CA (September 18, 1998) - Preparations for the season-ending "Million Dollar Payday" at the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota concluded Thursday after two days of testing by several Champ Car teams on the two-mile oval near Fontana.

A number of Champ Car teams traveled directly from last Sunday's Texaco/Havoline 300, feature event of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway, to California Speedway, site of the Nov. 1 FedEx Championship Series season finale, which offers a $1 million purse to the winner.

On Wednesday, eight Champ Car drivers participated in a full day of testing while Thursday found six of them back in action in hot and sunny Southern California conditions.

All cars were equipped with the Handford Device, a wing-like aerodynamic piece adopted by CART to help contain speeds at superspeedway events. The device debuted at July's U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway and helped contribute to a race which featured a CART-record 63 lead changes, including one each over the final five laps of the 250-lap event.

Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford), one of three Goodyear-shod drivers participating in Wednesday's test, posted the unofficial top speed at 232.4 miles per hour. His speed was roughly 8 1/2 mph slower than the world-record speed of 240.942 mph set by Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) in winning the pole for last year's inaugural CART event at California Speedway.

Andretti was followed by Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda), at 231.5 mph; Andre Ribeiro (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), at 231.1 mph; Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda), at 231.0 mph and Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda), at 230.5 mph.

Gugelmin's fastest lap was clocked at 229.4 mph. He was followed by Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda), at 229.2 mph and Richie Hearn (Budweiser/Ralphs Swift Ford) at 226.9 mph.

Thursday's session saw Swifts register the top speeds.. Hearn recorded the quickest unofficial lap at 232.4 mph. Second-fastest was Andretti, who roared around the circuit at 232.0. Other lap times were: Vasser, 230.2; Gugelmin, 229.2; de Ferran, 228.2; and Andretti teammate Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Swift Ford) 228.0.

"We are running at 232 miles per hour and the car feels very comfortable," said Andretti. "The Handford Device slows the car here at California Speedway just like at Michigan Speedway. We put on a good show for the fans at Michigan in July and I think we can expect the same here. It would be great to win $1 million. What a great way to end the season and if a fan gets lucky, they can collect $1 million, too."

As part of the "Million Dollar Payday," a lucky fan may win $1 million as well through CART's first-ever major consumer promotion, a watch-and-win program during the live race telecast on ESPN.

"I won't be running 240 miles per hour at California Speedway this season," said Gugelmin. "The Handford Device has done its job in slowing the cars. It has also made the racing a lot closer. The Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota will be one of the closest and most competitive races ever, and I'd like to come out on top with a $1 million prize."

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Andre Ribeiro