CHAMPCAR/CART: Gateway Friday track notes

Friday morning track notes Good Morning from Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, for the first day of practice for Sunday's Motorola 300, Round 17 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season! The weather this morning is...

Friday morning track notes

Good Morning from Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, for the first day of practice for Sunday's Motorola 300, Round 17 of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season! The weather this morning is gorgeous, courtesy of a large high-pressure system situated over the Great Lakes pumping bright sunshine, fully tempered by cool breezes from the Northeast. The system is predicted to keep ambient temperatures in the mid-seventies all weekend long with no threat of rain; a perfect forecast for the last short-oval race of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season. And cooler temperatures equate to faster lap times, but it will be tough to crack the track qualifying record of 187.963 mph (24.324 seconds) set in 1997 by Raul Boesel in the pre-Handford Device era.

Friday morning's first practice session will be a split-group format with the first Group on track at 10:30 a.m. and lasting 45 minutes. The faster qualifiers from the previous oval, July 30's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer, will make up Group Two. At 2:45 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the afternoon 90-minute full-field practice session. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars again on track for a split group practice from 9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. (each Group again on track for 45 minutes) with qualifying scheduled at 1:30 p.m., lasting until 3 p.m. Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the Motorola 300 at 1:30 p.m. (All times are local.)

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend, with Group One taking to the track. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 90 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 72 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #40X FERNANDEZ with a lap of 171.210 mph (26.704 seconds), followed by #10 GIDLEY (170.788 mph; 26.770 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (170.769 mph; 26.773 seconds).

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #10 GIDLEY with a lap of 172.737 mph (26.468 seconds), followed by #20 MORENO (172.366 mph; 26.525 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI (171.409 mph; 26.673 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:52 a.m. to allow CART safety workers to conduct a track inspection looking for debris.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:59 a.m. to resume the Group One session.

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 10:50 a.m. report.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is still #10 GIDLEY with his earlier lap of 172.737 mph (26.468 seconds), followed by #20 MORENO (172.366 mph; 26.525 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI with a faster lap of 171.880 mph (26.600 seconds).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:15 a.m. to end the Group One session with #10 GIDLEY hanging on for the top spot with his earlier lap of 172.737 mph (26.468 seconds), followed by #20 MORENO (172.366 mph; 26.525 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI with a faster lap of 171.880 mph (26.600 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:30 a.m. to start the Group Two practice session. Target/Chip Ganassi Racing starts the secondary cars #1X and #12X to start the session.

At 11:35 a.m., five minutes into the Group Two session, #55 KANAAN moves to the morning's fastest overall practice speed with a lap of 174.039 mph (26.270 seconds) on his fifth circuit.

At 11:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is now #1X MONTOYA (175.785 mph; 26.009 seconds; first overall), followed by #7 PAPIS (173.397 mph; 26.216 seconds; second overall) and #55 KANAAN (174.039 mph; 26.270 seconds; third overall).

At 11:46 a.m., Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rolls out the primary cars for use in the remainder of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:47 a.m. to #26 TRACY for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 11:39 a.m. TRACY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 11:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 175.785 mph (26.009 seconds), followed by #3X CASTRONEVES (174.411 mph; 26.214 seconds) and #7 PAPIS (174.397 mph; 26.216 seconds).

At 11:58 a.m., #1 MONTOYA puts his primary car into second position in overall lap times with a speed of 175.617 mph (26.034 seconds).

At 12 p.m., 30 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is definitely #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 175.787 mph (26.009 seconds) in his secondary car, followed by #1 MONTOYA (175.617 mph; 26.034 seconds) in his primary car, and #3X CASTRONEVES (175.038 mph; 26.120 seconds).

At 12:10 p.m., 40 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 175.785 mph (26.009 seconds), now followed by #12 VASSER (175.664 mph; 26.027 seconds) and #1 MONTOYA (175.617 mph; 26.034 seconds).

At 12:14 p.m., #7 PAPIS logs the fastest lap of the morning with a speed of 176.805 mph (25.859 seconds) on his 36th circuit of the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12:15 p.m. to end the morning practice session with the fastest driver #7 PAPIS with his earlier lap of 176.805 mph (25.859 seconds), followed by #1X MONTOYA (175.785 mph; 26.009 seconds) and #12 VASSER (175.664 mph; 26.027 seconds). The top 14 cars are separated by less than one second in lap times at the end of the morning session, with the top 19 cars separated by less than two seconds. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 33 cars to the track in Friday morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #1X MONTOYA, #3X CASTRONEVES, #32X CARPENTIER, #17X GUGELMIN, #20X MORENO, #5X NAKANO, #12X VASSER, and #18X BLUNDELL. Last year's winner of the Motorola 300, MICHAEL ANDRETTI, winds up 18th-fastest with a lap of 170.922 mph (26.749 seconds).

Friday afternoon practice The temperatures have increased marginally as the Green Flag for the full-field afternoon practice session approaches, with the morning's light breeze morphing into a Northwest 15-20 mph wind blowing into the track from over the fourth turn wall.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:45 p.m. to start the afternoon session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 111 degrees F. and ambient temperature of 80 degrees F. at the start of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:49 p.m. after #1 MONTOYA breaks traction exiting Turn 2 and the car goes into a long broadslide, finally making contact with the rear of the car against the outside wall halfway down the backstretch. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car has the rear wing snapped off and light damage to the rear of the car. CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow it back to the garage as the crew readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:54 p.m. to resume the session.

At 2:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #55 KANAAN with a lap of 171.763 mph (26.618 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (170.622 mph; 26.796 seconds) and #16 JOURDAIN Jr. (170.191 mph; 26.864 seconds).

At 2:58 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 173.090 mph (26.414 seconds) on his 20th lap of the session.

At 3:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with his earlier lap of 173.090 mph (26.414 seconds), followed by #55 KANAAN (172.926 mph; 26.439 seconds) and #17 GUGELMIN (172.515 mph; 26.502 seconds).

At 3:10 p.m., #1X MONTOYA puts his secondary car on top of the speedboard with a lap of 176.737 mph (25.869 seconds) on his fourth lap of the session.

At 3:15 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 176.737 mph (25.869 seconds), followed by #33 TAGLIANI (173.596 mph; 26.337 seconds) and #17 GUGELMIN (173.182 mph; 26.400 seconds).

Also at 3:15 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ pits with a small fire at the front brakes. The crew quickly extinguishes the fire and the car sustains no damage.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:24 p.m. to allow CART safety workers to inspect the track for debris after several teams report small cuts on their tires upon examination in their respective Pit Boxes.

At 3:25 p.m., 30 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is still #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 176.737 mph (25.869 seconds), followed now by #3 CASTRONEVES (176.083 mph; 25.965 seconds) and #55 KANAAN (175.880 mph; 25.955 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:29 p.m. to resume the session.

At 3:35 p.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:25 p.m. report.

At 3:45 p.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:35 p.m. report.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. to allow CART safety workers to inspect the track for debris.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:53 p.m. to resume the session.

At 3:55 p.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:45 p.m. report.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:56 p.m. after #11 FITTIPALDI breaks a driveshaft at speed in Turn 2 and rapidly pulls to the bottom of the track. The Yellow Flag is immediately displayed for debris from the incident as FITTIPALDI slowly rolls back to his Pit Box. CART safety workers quickly deploy with the jet blowers to clean all of the race track.

GREEN FLAG waves at 4:05 p.m. to resume the session with the fastest drivers and speeds unchanged from the 3:55 p.m.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 4:08 p.m. after #55 KANAAN encounters a mechanical problem entering Turn 3 and pulls low with fire showing at the left rear of the car. KANAAN pulls to a halt in the Turn 4 apron and quickly exits the car as CART safety workers tend to the small fire and begin clean-up of the fluid at the bottom of Turns 3 and 4. The driver is uninjured in the incident and returns to Pit Road on foot.

GREEN FLAGS waves at 4:13 p.m. to resume the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 4:15 p.m. with #1X MONTOYA the fastest of the session with his earlier lap of 176.737 mph (25.869 seconds), followed by #3 CASTRONEVES (176.083 mph; 25.965 seconds) and #55 KANAAN (175.880 mph; 25.995 seconds). The field is definitely tightening as evidenced by the following fact: the top 21 cars are separated by less than one second in lap times with the entire field of 30 cars separated by less than 1.9 seconds. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 30 cars to the track in this afternoon's session with secondary cars utilized by #1X MONTOYA, #32X CARPENTIER, #40X FERNANDEZ, #20X MORENO, #33X TAGLIANI, and #26X TRACY. Last year's winner, #6 ANDRETTI, moved from 18th-best this morning to only 16th best this afternoon.

MAX PAPIS ends the day with the fastest lap from this morning in his Miller Lite/Team Rahal Ford Reynard. PAPIS logged a speed of 176.805 (25.859 seconds) on his next-to-last lap of the session. PAPIS is trying to win his first Pole of the 2000 season and second of his career. PAPIS started fifth at Detroit for his best qualifying performance of the year.

JUAN MONTOYA brings his secondary car home second-fastest on the day with his afternoon lap of 176.737 mph (25.869 seconds) in his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota Lola. MONTOYA is chasing his eighth front-row start, six of the seven front row starts coming on ovals.

HELIO CASTRONEVES is third overall at the end of the day in his Marlboro/Team Penske Honda Reynard, logging a 176.083 mph (25.965)-second lap. CASTRONEVES is attempting to earn his eighth top-three start of the season.

At the end of the day, the top 23 of 35 Champ Cars have logged a lap within one second of the fast time set by PAPIS with 33 of 35 separated by 1.826 seconds.

Quotes from today's top three qualifiers follow:

MAX PAPIS: "I didn't really learn a lot when we tested here because it rained, but the Ford engine is really good. Today doesn't really count. Our achievements have been lower than our expectations this year, but in the Miller team there is a lot of will to succeed. This is something I'm very proud of. Overall, our performance has been better on the ovals than the road and street courses. We had some good runs, like at Detroit, but on an overall basis, we've struggled to find the setup on the road or street courses. When we come to the ovals, we're a lot more comfortable with what we have in our hands. As far as our performance, it's disappointing, but I'm still a happy person. To enjoy a good day, you have to endure the bad days."

JUAN MONTOYA: "The car's been good on the ovals. We didn't really test here, but the car was good this morning. Then, this afternoon I went out and spun. I just got too close to Max on the back straight. That was not very nice. But I went to the spare car and went quick and then we went to full tanks so it was good. It's going to be very important to qualify up front."

HELIO CASTRONEVES: "It's a big transition from the road courses to the ovals. You have to adapt a little bit. It's definitely interesting. I didn't have the opportunity to test here because I was sick that week, but we started with Gil's setup this morning and it was good. It was tough in the second session because of all the yellows and track inspections. We did full tank runs like pretty much everybody else, and my car was kind of a handful, so we still have some work to do. The car was bad in traffic, so I'm hoping that everybody else is having the same problems."

This concludes the Track Notes for today from St. Louis. We'll see you for qualifying tomorrow. Have a safe evening!

_CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Raul Boesel , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing