CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Sunday Track Notes

Honda Indy 300 FedEx Championship Series Notes-Sunday, October 17, 1999 * Good Morning from cloudy Surfers Paradise, Australia for Race Day! Round 19 of the FedEx Championship Series season takes the Green Flag at 2 p.m. (12 p.m. Midnight, ...

Honda Indy 300 FedEx Championship Series Notes-Sunday, October 17, 1999

* Good Morning from cloudy Surfers Paradise, Australia for Race Day! Round 19 of the FedEx Championship Series season takes the Green Flag at 2 p.m. (12 p.m. Midnight, Saturday EST). A capacity crowd is expected again for the ninth year in a row, despite the almost constantly rain-threatening skies. The balconies of the twenty or so high rise buildings flanking the 12-turn, 2.795-mile (4.472 kilometer) track are packed with waving fans. Soon this morning, the streets will be clogged as well. And with yesterday's announcement that CART will be back for races until 2003, the Aussie enthusiasm for Champ Car racing is at fever pitch. First up this morning is the traditional 30-minute warm-up taking to the street course at 10 a.m.

* Weather-related worries may be a thing of the past for this weekend's Honda Indy 300. Each morning this weekend has greeted the Champ Car drivers and crews with moisture-darkened, shiny asphalt for the first session, if not out-and-out rain, but each day the skies seem to give way to sporadic sunshine by lunch, and mostly blue skies over the swelling Pacific by late afternoon. Today, the sun popped out at 10 a.m. for a change and most all drivers have mounted dry (slick) tires for the final practice session, though a few shiny spots still exist.

* Provisional-Pole sitter and fourth-place qualifier #26X PAUL TRACY will start his secondary car for today's race. TRACY damaged his primary car beyond repair in Saturday morning's practice session. #10X RICHIE HEARN, #2X AL UNSER Jr., and #16X SALLES all will start secondary cars as well due to on-track incidents Saturday.

* A brief review of the historical race statistics from Surfers Paradise events may allow the crafty Champ Car fan to pick a few bob off his less-aware mates! Over the last four events, the winner has had an average starting position of fifth or better, with the average start of the podium finishers ninth or better. Over the last eight events, the stats get even tighter. The winner has averaged a fourth-place start or better, with the podium finishers again coming from ninth or better. The Yellow Flag has flown an average of four times over the eight races, with contact being the reason for 75% of those Yellows. Finally, the first Yellow Flag of the day should appear by the eighth lap, if the averages hold. Ford engines have snatched four races with Honda and Chevrolet snagging two apiece. Rain has impacted two of the nine events here at Surfers, so should we wind up with rain for today's race, the Pit Note Specialist will claim total immunity from prosecution for the use of these numbers!

* GREEN FLAG waves at 10 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 95 degrees F ( 35 C.) and an ambient temperature of 78 degrees F. ( 26 C.) at the start of the session.

* At 10:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #25X da MATTA with a lap of 104.846 mph (1:35.969), followed by #8 HERTA (104.087 mph; 1:36.669) and #26X TRACY (103.896 mph; 1:36.847).

* BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:14 a.m. to #24 PREUTT for a Pit Road speed violation. PREUTT subsequently pits the car to comply with the BLACK FLAG drive-thru penalty.

* At 10:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #44 KANAAN with a lap of 105.300 (1:35.556), followed by #25X da MATTA (105.152 mph; 1:35.690) and #18 BLUNDELL (104.919 mph; 1:35.903).

* At 10:22 a.m., #4 MONTOYA slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

* At 10:25 a.m., #19 JOURDIAN Jr. goes over the curbing at the chicane at Turn 2, taking a rough ride before returning to the track and continuing on course to his Pit Area.

* BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:27 a.m. to #44 KANAAN for a Pit Road speed violation at Pit Out. KANAAN subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

* At 10:28 a.m., #71 GIDLEY brushes the tire barrier at Turn 2 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

* CHECKERED FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to end the final practice session of the weekend with the fastest driver now #18 BLUNDELL with a lap of 106.298 mph (170.077 kph; 1:34 .658), followed by #22 GORDON (105.792 mph 169.267 kph; 1:35.111) and #44 KANAAN (105.300 mph; 168.480 kph; 1:35.556). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 27 cars to the track in this morning's session, with secondary cars utilized by #25X da MATTA, #26X TRACY, #10X HEARN, #2X UNSER Jr., #12X VASSER, #17X BLUNDELL, and #16X SALLES. CART drivers logged a total of 175 incident-free laps during the morning session.

* RACE NOTES!!!

* As the start of the race nears, the heavy overcast starts to lift and all cars are on slicks with rain tires stacked in the Pit Area.

* At 1:57 p.m., the PPG Pace Car begins to roll with the field of 27 cars in tow for the first of three pace laps.

* GREEN FLAG waves to start the Honda Indy 300! As the field streams past the Start/Finish line, #8 HERTA is passed by #24 PRUETT and #26 TRACY, falling to fourth before Turn 1. As the field heads into Turn 8, #5 de FERRAN makes contact with the outside wall, breaking the right side suspension. De FERRAN subsequently retires from the race due to contact.

* On Lap 1, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 1.060 seconds, followed by #24 PRUETT, #26 TRACY, #8 HERTA, and #6 ANDRETTI.

* On Lap 2, #17 GUGELMIN begins to show smoke at the rear of the car while at speed around the course. GUGELMIN pulls the car into the run-off at Turn 9 and subsequently retires from the race due to a transmission problem.

* On Lap 3, #11 FITTIPALDI pulls off course at Turn 3 with fire showing at the rear of the car. FITTIPALDI exits the car under his own power, and CART safety workers quickly extinguish the fire but FITTIPALDI is out of the race due to a mechanical problem. This represents the first DNF (did not finish) for FITTIPALDI this season.

* On Lap 5, #40 FERNANDEZ passes #6 ANDRETTI to take over fifth place.

* On Lap 5, #27 FRANCHITTI leads by 1.168 seconds over #24 PRUETT, followed by #26 TRACY, #8 HERTA, and #40 FERNANDEZ.

* On Lap 7, #4 MONTOYA passes #6 ANDRETTI at Turn 9 to take over sixth place.

* On Lap 8, #36 MONTERMINI spins at Turn 4 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and MONTERMINI continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

* On Lap 10, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 1.156 seconds, followed by #24 PRUETT, #26 TRACY, #8 HERTA, and #40 FERNANDEZ. #4 MONTOYA is in sixth, 6.199 seconds behind the leader.

* BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 11 to #26 TRACY for a Start violation. CART Race Control determines that TRACY passed #8 HERTA before the Start Finish line at the Green Flag.

* #26 TRACY pits on Lap 12 to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty. TRACY falls from third place to tenth before he can get the car back up to speed.

* On Lap 15, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 3.539 seconds over #24 PRUETT, followed by #8 HERTA, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #4 MONTOYA. MONTOYA is 8.563 seconds behind the leader. #26 TRACY still rides in tenth position. At this point of the race, the sun has come out and the threat of rain has disappeared.

* On Lap 20, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 6.197 seconds over #24 PRUETT, followed by #8 HERTA, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #4 MONTOYA. MONTOYA trails by 10.449 seconds behind the leaders.

* Also on Lap 20, #44 KANAAN pits and hands seventh place to #99 MOORE. KANAAN returns to the race in 14th place.

* On Lap 21, #19 JOURDAIN Jr. and #33 CARPENTIER make side-to-side contact entering Turn 8. JOURDAIN Jr. continues on course but #33 CARPENTIER makes nose-first contact with the outside tire barrier. CART safety workers get CARPENTIER restarted and the driver continues on course.

* Also on Lap 21, leader #27 FRANCHITTI pits along with #24 PRUETT, #6 ANDRETTI, #99 MOORE, #25 da MATTA, and #26 TRACY. #40 FERNANDEZ takes over the lead.

* On Lap 22, #10 HEARN stalls on course at Pit In. HEARN subsequently retires from the race due to a transmission problem. At the same time, #2 UNSER Jr. stalls at Turn 2 and subsequently retires from the race with a throttle problem.

* Also, on Lap 22, #8 HERTA and #4 MONTOYA pit.

* On Lap 23, #15 HATTORI slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and stalls the car. #40 FERNANDEZ also pits on Lap 23, handing the lead back to #27 FRANCHITTI.

* YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 23 to allow CART safety workers to retrieve the stalled cars of #15 HATTORI, #2 UNSER Jr., and #10 HEARN.

* On Lap 25 and under a full course Yellow Flag, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading, followed by #4 MONTOYA, #8 HERTA, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #24 PRUETT.

* GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 27 to resume the race. As the field moves through Turn 3, #12 VASSER and #18 BLUNDELL make side-to-side contact and both cars stall nose- first into the outside tire barrier. CART safety workers get both cars restarted but both drivers lose a lap to the leaders before they can get back up to speed.

* YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 28 to allow the CART safety workers to retrieve the stalled cars of #12 VASSER and #18 BLUNDELL.

* GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 29 to resume the race.

* On Lap 30, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by .475 seconds over #4 MONTOYA, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, #8 HERTA, and #24 PRUETT.

* On Lap 33, #18 BLUNDELL makes contact with the left rear tire of #15 HATTORI at Turn 9 and slides into the outside wall with a broken right front suspension. HATTORI continues on course to his Pit Area. CART safety workers quickly remove the disabled car of BLUNDELL from the course. Both drivers are uninjured in the incident, but both cars are retired from the race due to contact.

* YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 35 to allow CART safety workers to tend to the HATTORI-BLUNDELL incident.

* All of the leaders pit under this Yellow Flag save for #7 PAPIS who takes over the lead.

* On Lap 36 and under a full course Yellow Flag, #19 JOURDAIN Jr. and #12 VASSER are penalized for Pit Road safety violations. Both cars are moved to the back of the pack.

* GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 37 to resume the race with #7 PAPIS leading by .649 seconds, followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #40 FERNANDEZ, #4 MONTOYA, and #8 HERTA. MONTOYA trails the leader by 1.204 seconds.

* On Lap 39, #44 KANAAN passes #26 TRACY to take over eighth place.

* On Lap 40, the running order is #7 PAPIS leading by 5.179 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, #4 MONTOYA, and #8 HERTA. MONTOYA is 7.758 seconds behind the leader.

* On Lap 44, #12 VASSER pulls off course at Turn 2 and retires from the race with a fuel pressure problem.

* On Lap 45, the top five running order is the same as Lap 40 with #7 PAPIS leading by 8.912 seconds. MONTOYA is 8.912 seconds behind the leader.

* On Lap 46, #7 PAPIS pits and hands the lead back to #27 FRANCHITTI. PAPIS returns to the race in 13th place, 28.387 seconds behind the leader.

* On Lap 47, #99 MOORE pits after slowing on course and subsequently retires from the race due to an electrical problem.

* YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 49 after #4 MONTOYA slides into the tire barrier at Turn 9 and severely damages the nose of the car. MONTOYA is uninjured in the incident but the car is retired from the race due to contact.

* On Lap 50, all of the leaders pit save for #20 MAGNUSSEN and #7 PAPIS. MAGNUSSEN takes over the lead.

* GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 53 to resume the race with #20 MAGNUSSEN leading, closely followed by #27 FRANCHITTI, #7 PAPIS, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #8 HERTA. As the cars pass the Start/Finish line, FRANCHITTI passes MAGNUSSEN to take over the lead.

* On Lap 55, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 1.193 seconds over #20 MAGNUSSEN, followed by #7 PAPIS, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #8 HERTA.

* Also on Lap 55, #44 KANAAN passes #25 da MATTA to take over seventh place.

* On Lap 60, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 2.889 seconds over #20 MAGNUSSEN, followed by #7 PAPIS, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #8 HERTA.

* On Lap 61, #71 GIDLEY pulls off course at Turn 7 and parks with fire showing at the rear of the car. CART safety workers quickly extinguish the fire. The driver is uninjured in the incident.

* On Lap 61, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 2.558 seconds over #20 MAGNUSSEN, followed by #7 PAPIS, #40 FERNANDEZ, and #8 HERTA.

* On Lap 62, #25 da MATTA's car begins to smoke heavily as the car circles the track.

* Also on Lap 62, #20 MAGNUSSEN pits and hands second place to #7 PAPIS. MAGNUSSEN returns to the race in 11th place.

* On Lap 62, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 3.705 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, #8 HERTA, and #6 ANDRETTI.

* On Lap 63, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 3.265 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, #8 HERTA, and #6 ANDRETTI.

* WHITE FLAG waves on Lap 64 for #27 FRANCHITTI, leading by 3.705 seconds over #7 PAPIS, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ, #8 HERTA, and #6 ANDRETTI.

* Also on Lap 64, #25 da MATTA pits with a small fire showing at the left rear of the car. The driver subsequently retires from the race with a transmission problem.

* CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 65 for the winner of the Honda Indy 300, DARIO FRANCHITTI! FRANCHITTI wins by 2.609 seconds over MAX PAPIS. ADRIAN FERNANDEZ comes home third, followed by BRYAN HERTA in fourth, and MICHAEL ANDRETTI in fifth.

* Today represents Team Kool Green's DARIO FRANCHITTI's third win of the season and sixth of his career, five of which have come on temporary street courses. Honda Reynard pilot FRANCHITTI is the third driver to win from the pole at Surfers. NIGEL MANSELL accomplished the feat in 1993 and JIMMY VASSER did the same in 1996.

* MAX PAPIS comes home second in today's contest, garnering the Italian his best finish in his CART career. PAPIS's Miller Lite Ford Reynard had previously finished third at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California last month. This is also PAPIS' tenth top-five finish of the season.

* ADRIAN FERNANDEZ logs a third-place finish today. The Tecate-sponsored Ford Reynard driver collects his third podium of the season as well as his career-best finish here at Surfers. FERNANDEZ's previous best finish was a sixth at Surfers, from last year's race.

* FRANCHITTI averaged 91.849 mph in today's victory, taking 1 hour; 58 minutes; and 40.726 seconds to accomplish the feat. FRANCHITTI led the most laps with 49, followed by MAX PAPIS with 11, JAN MAGNUSSEN with 3, and ADRIAN FERNANDEZ with 2. There were 12 cars running at the end with all 12 on the lead lap. The Yellow Flag flew 4 times for 11 laps.

* FRANCHITTI's win today represents Honda's 14th victory in the 19 races so far in the 1999 season.

* Firestone again adds to its temporary street course streak with FRANCHITTI's win today. Firestone has won every temporary street course race since 1997, a total of 17 races.

* DARIO FRANCHITTI takes over the lead for the PPG Cup after today's convincing maximum-point collecting victory. DARIO led a total of 49 laps to earn the most-laps-led point to add to the pole position point and the 20 points for today's victory: a total of 22. FRANCHITTI now leads second-place JUAN MONTOYA by a margin of 209 to 200 with $1,000,000 on the line for the race winner at Fontana in two weeks and another $1,000,000 to win the PPG Championship. FRANCHITTI also sets a CART record for the latest PPG Cup Points leader change by logging his victory in the 19th race of the 20-race season. The previous latest Points leader change took place when Bobby Rahal re-took the lead from Al Unser Jr. in race 15 of a 16-race season in 1992.

* Quotes from today's top three finishers follow:

* DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "At the start, I got a good jump on Brian, and after that it was fairly comfortable, and I worked on opening a consistent gap. The first [pit] stop took a little longer than I'd like, after that, it was just getting on with it, staying out front, saving fuel and being consistent. Then [team general manager] Kim Green came on the radio and said Montoya was out, and I thought 'This is what we've been waiting for. Don't make any mistakes.' It was a perfect weekend. I really have to thank Reynard, Honda and Firestone, because today, they proved to be the perfect package. It was just perfect, and now we hope for a similar result in Fontana."

* MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Reynard: "We started further back [on the grid] because we had some difficulties in qualifying, but we came out very strong. When everybody else pitted, I thought, 'Oh, my God!,' but I trust a lot on [team owner] Bobby [Rahal] and my crew. They were my eyes, and I have all confidence in them. I had a very, very fast car, maybe the fastest car on the track. The Ford engine was very strong. I want to thank Australia for putting on this show. The people here really make you feel like you're part of something very important and something very special."

* ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard: "My car was working very well at the start of the race. I managed to save a lot of fuel and I was able to do one lap more than anybody else. There was a little confusion with Bryan [Herta] and after that, I was able to move up. Then, it was just a question of seeing how the fuel strategy was going to play out. The tires were working well and the Ford engine worked really well all day. I'm very happy to finish my best race here in Australia."

* JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "Obviously, this isn't the way I wanted to end the day. I'm mostly disappointed because we had a winning car and a shot at a spot on the podium. I locked the rear brakes, turned around and tagged the wall. Now, we look towards Fontana."

* Gold Coast Events has announced a record shattering 250,817 FedEx Championship Series fans poured through the gates here at Surfers Paradise. Congratulations to the many loyal volunteers and professionals that make up the promoter's team!

* This concludes the Pit Notes for the Honda Indy 300! The FedEx Championship Series next travels to California Speedway in Ontario, California for the running of the final round of the FedEx Championship Series, the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on October 31st. Keep up with the comings and goings in CART through the official CART website; CART.com. Have a safe week and thanks for your interest in the FedEx Championship Series!

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Bobby Rahal , Kim Green