David Reininger - motorsport.com Homestead, Fla. (March 24, 2000) - In Formula One, there's Adrian Newey, in the World of Outlaws there's Karl Kinser, in the CART FedEx Series, there's Morris Nunn. With only five days of on track testing prior...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Homestead, Fla. (March 24, 2000) - In Formula One, there's Adrian Newey, in the World of Outlaws there's Karl Kinser, in the CART FedEx Series, there's Morris Nunn. With only five days of on track testing prior to today's practice sessions for Sunday's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, Mo Nunn Racing, a team only three months old, set the fastest lap of day at Homestead-Miami Speedway this afternoon.
After a pit lane incident in the morning session with rookie driver Alex Tagliani, Tony Kanaan rebounded in the afternoon by driving the Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz-powered Reynard around the 1.502-mile speedway at an average speed of 204.532 mph, placing him atop the speed charts at the end of the day.
"The morning was hard," said Kanaan. "I only did 12 laps before we got the little incident with Tag."
"In the afternoon, Morris said, 'why not try a qualifying run?' and it was a good one. I'm so proud because the team is only three months old and we're making a lot of progress. I don't want to get people too excited, but I'm happy to give this to Mercedes and the team."
Christian Fittipaldi, driving the Big Kmart Route 66 Ford-powered Lola was second fastest today. Fittipaldi think speeds will increase if the windy conditions experienced today subside. "Definitely the wind was bad for all of us out there this afternoon," Fittipaldi said. I had a big push in Turn 1 and 2, but the car was more neutral in (Turns) 3 and 4. But if the forecast is true, it will be less windy tomorrow and Sunday, but it will be less windy for everybody."
"Generally, I'm pretty happy. We made huge gains since the last time we were here."
Fittipaldi was consistently fast all day, setting the third fastest time in the morning session and second fastest time in the afternoon.
Third fastest on the day was Patrick Capentier, driver of the Player's Indeck Ford-powered Reynard. Carpentier simulated his qualifying run this morning, turning in a lap at 203.355 mph. In the afternoon session he worked on race setup, touring the speedway at 194.882 mph. "The morning session was good," Carpentier said. "We ran the qualifying setup and I was pretty happy this morning. The car was really good. We just ran full tanks in the afternoon session, and need some improvement. The car is pretty loose right now. It was pretty difficult with the wind, but it was pretty good for one or two laps."
Helio Castro-Neves put the Marlboro Team Penske Honda powered-Reynard in fourth place on speed charts by the end of the day. Team Penske has switched to a completely new chassis-engine package this year, after struggling with Penske-Mercedes combination last year. Castro-Neves picked up four miles an hour in this afternoon's practice session to turn a lap at 203.171 mph.
"We made some changes to the Marlboro car in the afternoon session which improved our time by more than half a second," said Castro-Neves. "The wind was a bit of a problem, especially in turn four, but otherwise the car was well balanced. We still have some work to do tomorrow but overall I'm really happy with where we are after our first day of practice.
Michael Andretti's Big Kmart Texaco Havoline Ford-powered Lola was fifth fastest on the day, just ahead of Team Rahal teammates Kenny Brack and Max Papis, also in Ford powered cars.
"We're not where we want to be right now," said Brack, winner of the 1999 Indianapolis 500. "But we are getting there. It's a fine line with this wind. Plus the track was very green this morning. There was a lot of sliding around. I had a few 'moments' out there if you know what I mean."
Brack's teammate Max Papis, who set fast time at Spring Training with a lap 25.7 seconds, thinks the Team Rahal cars will perform better tomorrow when conditions improve. "The track isn't close to being in the same condition as Spring Training," said Papis. "We started with our setup then (from Spring Training). But the wind really affected the car. It's a confusing situation right now. That's because we're not sure the wind will be the same for the rest of the weekend. We are not at our best but not at our worst either. We are caught in the middle right now."
Rounding out the top ten today were Alex Tagliani, Juan Montoya and Mauricio Gugelmin. Although Ford captured six of the top-ten positions today, each engine manufacturer was represented in the top-ten. Reigning series champion Juan Montoya's lap at 202.002 mph was the best of the day for Toyota.
"For the first race of the season, I'm very pleased with where we are after today's runs," said Montoya. "The Toyota engine was good and we still have a long way to go to be where we want to be with the whole package. We spent a lot of time today working on the race pace setup and it was good. I'm very confident we will be competitive."
Practice for Sunday's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami will continue tomorrow with qualifying starting at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.