Vasser Fastest During Testing For Honda Indy 300 SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 26, 2001) - Jimmy Vasser of Patrick Racing recorded the fastest time Friday during testing for Sunday's Honda Indy 300 on Australia's Gold Coast (1 p.m. ET ...
Vasser Fastest During Testing For Honda Indy 300
SURFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 26, 2001) - Jimmy Vasser of Patrick Racing recorded the fastest time Friday during testing for Sunday's Honda Indy 300 on Australia's Gold Coast (1 p.m. ET Sunday, tape delay, ESPN).
Vasser (Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard), winner of the 1996 CART event here, put together a lap of 103.827 miles per hour (1 minute, 36.911 seconds) on the 2.795-mile temporary street circuit to set the pace for Sunday's 20th and penultimate round of the FedEx Championship Series. His quick lap came during the morning practice session, which took place on a drying track following a morning downpour.
A scheduled afternoon practice was hindered by further rain, with the result that only three drivers took to the track.
Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske was second fastest Friday at 103.735 mph (1:36.997). With 141 points, he is one of three drivers still in contention for the FedEx Championship Series championship heading into this weekend's event.
Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard) of Fernandez Racing, the only owner-driver in the FedEx Championship Series, was third fastest at 103.261mph (1:37.442). He is the defending Honda Indy 300 champion, having driven to his seventh career victory here last year.
Rounding out the top five were Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota Reynard), Vasser's Patrick Racing teammate, who was fourth fastest at 103.082 mph (1:37.612); and Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, who was fifth at 102.664 mph (1:38.009).
FedEx Championship Series leader Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske did not post a practice speed, nor did his closest pursuer in the championship chase, Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal.
De Ferran, who is attempting to become the fourth driver ever to win back-to-back CART championships, holds a 179-153 lead over Brack with a maximum of 44 points available in the season's final two events. De Ferran can clinch the title outright by winning Sunday's race or by finishing ahead of Brack.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
JIMMY VASSER, Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard: "Certainly for some of the rookies, like Scott Dixon, Casey Mears, and Bruno Junqueira who were trying to get a little track time to learn the circuit, it's going to be a little bit of a hindrance for them, but it's the same for everybody. We knew rain was going to be a possibility, so we went straight out, and we had a test plan. Actually, we already had a few things already checked off our list. Hopefully, tomorrow will be dry and we can carry on and do well."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I think it's going to be really critical to do well here. We knew today that we had to go ahead and not waste any time. I was trying to go really fast and get used to the track again. They made a little change on the back straight. At least we have a little sense of where to go and where to start. Hopefully, we're going to have good weather for the weekend. It looks like it, so that's why we're not taking a chance and going out on the track now."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard: "They've done a good job with the track here. This is the first time that they've changed the track. I like this track; It's one of the best we come to. The atmosphere is better here, everybody is really excited. It's nice to see some improvements to the track this year. I've been enjoying the ownership part [of Fernandez Racing] a lot. It's very rewarding. It's been a lot of fun looking into the future and watching the team grow. The little things that go behind it, like the owners meetings and things like that, you see more things than as a driver. I've been doing my sponsorship and stuff before, but it's been great to have people like [co-owner] Tom Anderson and great mechanics and watching them grow."
* Jimmy Vasser (Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard) is seeking his eighth career pole position and his first since 1999 at Michigan International Speedway. He is chasing his second pole at Australia, having claimed his first career Champ Car pole en route to victory at Surfers Paradise in 1996.
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) is seeking his fourth pole of the season and the eighth of his career. His earlier poles came at Long Beach, Japan and Detroit.
* Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard) is seeking his second career pole position and his first on a road or street course. His earlier pole came at Michigan in 1998.
WHAT'S ON TAP
The Honda Indy 300 will air via tape delay on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.