NEWMAN-HAAS DRIVER CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI POSTED THE FIFTH FASTEST TIME IN PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING AT LAGUNA SECA. Fittipaldi, who had to serve an eight minute penalty after causing a red flag during qualifying last weekend in Vancouver, lapped the...
NEWMAN-HAAS DRIVER CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI POSTED THE FIFTH FASTEST TIME IN PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING AT LAGUNA SECA. Fittipaldi, who had to serve an eight minute penalty after causing a red flag during qualifying last weekend in Vancouver, lapped the 2.238-mile circuit in an average speed of 117.400 (1:08.627) miles per hour. Helio Castroneves claimed the provisional pole with a new track record (118.969 mph; 1:07.722), teammate Gil de Ferran was second quickest (118.792 mph; 1:07.823) while Dario Franchitti was third-quickest (118.225 mph; 108.148).
PATRICK CARPENTIER GOES OVER THE WALL IN PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING. Patrick Carpentier brought the first qualifying session to a premature halt with a spectacular crash that saw him flip over the wall in turn 4. Carpentier dropped a tire off the track approaching turn 4 and spun, going slightly airborne before backing into the tire barrier and flipping over the retaining fence in front of the fans seated in the bleachers. Carpentier, who complained of a sore neck and stretched his back, has been cleared to compete for the duration of the weekend. BRYAN HERTA LOOKING TO THREE-PEAT. Two-time defending champion Bryan Herta is gunning for his third straight victory at the Laguna Seca Raceway this weekend. After two stints as a substitute driver this season for Shinji Nakano and Tony Kanaan, Herta will drive the #77 car, powered by Ford-Cosworth, for the Forsythe Championship Racing team in this weekend's race.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth) - "Not bad. I was expecting my time to fall even further. When you have a penalty it's tough to sit out the final eight minutes of a qualifying session because that's when the track is quicker. Hopefully we can improve the car some more tomorrow and qualify farther to the front."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco-Havoline Ford Cosworth) - "It hasn't been a good day and the car is not right yet. We lost a lot of time this morning working on a few different things and it hurt not to run as much this morning. Tomorrow will be even tougher because it's supposed to be hotter, so we'll just have to sort the car out before qualifying. The points are tight right now so it's important to qualify near the front and run a flawless race. With only five races left, including Sunday's, there's no room for mistakes." PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I was coming into (turn) 4 and Kenny Brack was on the inside and I went on the outside to give myself a little more room maneuver. I must've put two wheels off (the track), went back backwards and the only thing I remember was when I landed. I didn't get hurt, but it was quite a hard impact when I landed, and I didn't even know that I was on the other side of the fence. You think that when you're in those cars you see everything, but when something like this happens you don't see anything. I remember I got airborne but I didn't know that I was over the fence. I got out of part of the car by myself and when the safety team came they helped me to finish getting out. They put a collar on my neck to protect me, but there was nothing." IS THE TRACK SAFE? "There's nothing wrong with the safety measures here. The track is pretty safe. The only problem is the gravel pits don't slow you down, but can launch you. These cars are very light and if a little bit of air gets underneath them they can take off easily. I will drive tomorrow. My neck is stiff but I'm okay."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - "Well we haven't been able to find the speed yet. We're struggling to get some balance on the car, but the car felt better this afternoon in qualifying even though the times are not there, so hopefully that's the direction we need to go for tomorrow. I think Roberto (Moreno) is trying different things and hopefully between the two of us we can get some good answers for tomorrow."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - HOW HAS YOUR DAY BEEN? - "It's alright. We were on a really quick lap and I didn't manage to put it together. I was on a nine-point one pace and I lost it in turn 10 (when) I went in the gravel. I'm pretty disappointed because I think we could've been the fastest of this group but still we have a lot of work to do on the car. It's not very easy to drive right now, always on the edge, but I think it's going to get better." YOU'VE DRIVEN HERE IN TOYOTA ATLANTICS BEFORFE. HOW BIG OF A DIFFERENCE IS IT TO DRIVE A CHAMP CAR HERE? - "Big difference. You need to drive it differently. There's a lot of downforce (and) a lot of grip on the track. There's a lot of small things that are different in the driving style."
ALEX BARON (#19 Sports Today Ford-Cosworth) - HOW HAS YOUR DAY GONE? - "It went okay. We had some car problems this morning that didn't allow us to run the first session. In qualifying we actually made quite a few changes because we were behind the eight ball (with) no track time this morning. The track is - there's no grip compared to when we were here testing (and) obviously the lap times show it. We tried quite a few things in qualifying and we were going for a hot lap when (Patrick) Carpentier flipped over the wall. I thought he was 'extreme games' or something. Pretty spectacular. We're just going to put our heads down tonight and try to make a good car for tomorrow."
BRYAN HERTA (#77 Ford-Cosworth) - WHAT HAPPENED? "This morning I thought was pretty good. It went pretty much according to plan - I wanted to play myself in pretty easy in the first few runs of the morning. Then we put a set of stickers (tires) on at the end of the session and like everybody we caught a couple of red flags so we didn't really get a lap on it. In between sessions we found a couple things on the set up of the car that weren't where we thought they were, so we set those back correctly and made a few other changes. I thought we'd have a pretty good shot at getting ourselves into the fast group for tomorrow but it looks like something wrong with the fuel pump or something in the fuel cell. The engine just wouldn't run, so you can't do anything about it." WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO FOR TOMORROW? - "Well it depends if it's something in the fuel system in the engine or if it's just in the fuel cell. If it's just the pump in the fuel cell they can change that. I don't think there's anything wrong with the engine, but until they get back and start taking it apart they don't know either."