CHAMPCAR/CART: Gateway Testing Final Day

Andretti Quickest in Final Day of St. Louis Tire Test Madison, IL (April 17, 1998) -- Michael Andretti led the way Friday in the final day of a three-day Goodyear tire test at Gateway International Raceway just across the Mississippi River...

Andretti Quickest in Final Day of St. Louis Tire Test

Madison, IL (April 17, 1998) -- Michael Andretti led the way Friday in the final day of a three-day Goodyear tire test at Gateway International Raceway just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis.

Andretti was joined by Al Unser Jr., and PJ Jones on the 1.27-mile oval Friday as the threesome prepared for the Saturday, May 23 Motorola 300 at the Madison, Ill. track. While rain was an off-and-on companion during Wednesday and Thursday sessions, Friday's test was conducted under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 70s.

Andretti pushed his Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford to an unofficial time of 25.9 seconds, 178.594 miles per hour, for the quickest clocking of the three days. Unser, in his Marlboro Penske Mercedes, timed in at 25.9, 176.525 mph, with Jones' best effort, in his Castrol-Degree Reynard Toyota, a 26.5, 172.528 mph.

"The car has a lot more downforce than the 1997 Swift," said Andretti. "It's much more stable and overall we have made great gains since last season. The track at Gateway is good but it has bumps in turns three and four otherwise, I like it.

"I think my win at Homestead (the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota on March 15) has shown that the guys at Goodyear have moved to the next level. I'm really looking forward to racing here Memorial Day weekend. Of course, I'm really looking forward to racing next weekend at Nazareth (Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota, Sunday, April 26 on ABC-TV, 12:30 p.m. ET). It's always special to race in front of your hometown crowd. I've got two wins there and it's time for my third."

The new wing configuration mandated through CART rules in 1998 has created more drag and less downforce for the Champ Cars and slowed the cars about 1 seconds from a year ago on the suburban St. Louis asphalt..

"This car is good, not only on short ovals but on all tracks," said Unser of the new Penske chassis that has three races under its belt. "Each time I'm in the car it seems to be quicker. Goodyear has the best tires and has done a tremendous job since last season. I like racing on short ovals so I'm really looking forward to this next stretch of races that includes Nazareth, St. Louis and Milwaukee. It would be super to win at one of these tracks or, even better, to win all three!."

The trio completed 700 miles of running Friday for a total of 1,300 miles for the three-day period. Front straightaway trap speeds averaged around 205 miles per hour.

"This week's test has been very beneficial for us," said Goodyear's Steve Orlando. "We have tested a lot of tires and gained a lot of good information that will help us in short oval races over the next several weeks. Working with this group of drivers, especially Michael and Al because of the years of driving experience they bring to the track, has been very beneficial to our program."

The fourth round of the 19-race FedEx Championship Series is set for next weekend in Nazareth with practice scheduled Friday, qualifying Saturday and the race Sunday on the one-mile oval in Eastern Pennsylvania.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti