CART Online (March 13, 1998) -- Good morning and welcome to the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex for opening day of the 1998 FedEx Championship Series season. Practice sessions will be held twice a day for the FedEx Champ Cars...
CART Online (March 13, 1998) -- Good morning and welcome to the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex for opening day of the 1998 FedEx Championship Series season. Practice sessions will be held twice a day for the FedEx Champ Cars both Friday and Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s Round One of the 1998 season, the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota, scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. green flag. · The international appeal of the FedEx Championship Series is certainly evident in the media presence for this weekend’s race. Over 600 journalists representing 22 countries will be on hand for the start of the chase for the 1998 PPG Cup. Journalists from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, Germany, Peru, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Argentina, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Bolivia, Austria, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Brazil, Greece, Venezuela, Columbia and Uruguay will cover the Miami Grand Prix Presented by Toyota for their respective compatriots. · CART FedEx Championship driver Bryan Herta and his Shell Oil racing team will host 65 fifth -grade students from Fair View Elementary School of Opa-Locka on Friday, March 13, as part of Shell’s Southeast Florida District Community School program. The goal of the visit to Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex is to provide the students with a unique and up-close look at racing and the people and the teamwork involved in the Shell Championship Car team. · Three-time CART FedEx champion Bobby Rahal begins his final racing season as a driver in the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami on Sunday, March 15. Driving his Miller Lite Reynard/Ford-Cosworth championship car, Rahal enters his 17th and final year in the very competitive CART FedEx Series with high optimism. A 24-time winner, Rahal is no stranger to racing in Miami, having driven in the rain of the first Grand Prix in 1983 and winning the first pole for the Championship Cars in 1985. He also won the first Marlboro Challenge at Tamiami Park in 1987. The only owner/driver in CART, Rahal and his partner, entertainer David Letterman, bring a strong effort to the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex with cars for himself and young star Bryan Herta. · Pop singing sensation and Miami resident Jon Secada will serve as Grand Marshal of the 1998 Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota when the popular motorsports event revs up Sunday, at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead. The National Anthem at Sunday’s race will be sung by the pioneer and creator of the Miami Sound, Willy Chirino. The Cuban-born Chirino was crowned King of the popular Calle Ocho Festival in Miami in 1993. He has written more than 100 compositions and has twice been nominated for Grammy Awards. Also in attendance this weekend from the music industry is the Rock band Smashmouth, currently at the top of the charts with their hit single "Walking on the Sun." Another star from the entertainment business here for the races this weekend is Sylvester Stallone. And finally, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, a former Indy Lights racer himself, will be holding the communication pit board for PAUL TRACY’s Team KOOL Green entry during this weekend’s race. GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI PRESENTED BY TOYOTA No. 2 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes – March 13, 1998 · Firestone will sponsor a news conference for Spanish-speaking media at 5 p.m. in the Media Center. Drivers Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain Jr. will attend, as well as Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone’s Director of Motorsports. · Hogan Racing has announced that its first official website, hogan-racing.com, is racing along the information super highway. Beginning today, race fans and media will be able to access information regarding the team, sponsors, driver JJ LEHTO, and the CART FedEx Championship Series. · Today’s FedEx Champ Car practice schedule will kick off with a morning practice session to begin at 10:30 a.m. and last for 90 minutes. A split practice session for the afternoon will follow, taking the green flag at 2:30 p.m. with the fastest drivers from the morning session making up Group One and the balance of cars in Group Two. The Group Two green flag will wave at 3:30 p.m. Each group will be on track for 45 minutes. · J. Kirk Russell, Vice President of Competition has reported that the official track length has been measured to be 1.502 miles. Sunday’s Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota will be 150 laps (225.3 miles). Fuel allotment for each team for the race will be 125.03 US gallons. · GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first FedEx Champ Car practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 94 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F. · YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:40 a.m. after CART safety workers report fluid on the track. · GREEN FLAG waves at 10:46 a.m. to resume the practice session. · At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1X VASSER with a lap of 209.557 mph (25.798 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (208.386 mph; 25.948 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI (208.282 mph; 25.961 seconds). · YELLOW FLAG waves 10:51 a.m. for another track inspection after CART safety workers report debris on the track. · GREEN FLAG waves at 10:56 a.m. to resume the practice session. · At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1X ZANARDI with a lap of 209.598 mph, (25.798 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 208.386 mph; (25.948 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI (208.282 mph; 25.961 seconds). · At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1X ZANARDI with his earlier lap of 209.598 mph; 25.798 seconds, followed by #6 ANDRETTI (209.095 mph; 25.860 seconds) and #11 FITTIAPLDI (209.030 mph; 25.868 seconds). GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI PRESENTED BY TOYOTA No. 3 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes – March 13, 1998 · At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #6X ANDRETTI with a lap of 210.021 mph, (25.746 seconds), followed by #1X ZANARDI with his earlier lap of 209.598 mph (25.860 seconds). #6 ANDRETTI’s primary car sits third in speed at 209.095 mph, (25.860 seconds). · At 11:30 a.m., the top speed and drivers remain unchanged from the 11:20 a.m. report. In the first hour of practice, 40 different cars have taken to the track with 32 cars recording laps in excess of 200 mph. For contrast, the qualifying record for the track before the 1997 spring and summer re-configuration-construction effort is 198.590 mph set by Paul Tracy in qualifying for the 1996 Grand Prix of Miami. · At 11:34 am., #12 VASSER logs the fastest lap of the session at 210.651 mph, (25.669 seconds). · At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #12 ZANARDI (210.651 mph, 25.669 seconds), followed by #6X ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 210.021 mph, (25.746 seconds), and #11 FITTIPALDI (209.030 mph; 25.860 seconds). · At 11:45 a.m., #8 HERTA becomes the fastest driver of the session with a lap of 211.707 mph (25.541 seconds), with CART rookie #9 LEHTO logging the second-fastest speed at 210.922 mph (25.636 seconds). · At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #11 FITTIPALDI (212.164 mph (25.486 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (211.707 mph; 25.541 seconds) and #9 LEHTO (210.922 mph; 25.636 seconds). FITTIPALDI has now eclipsed the fastest lap of 1998 Spring Training by #12 VASSER with his lap of 212.039 mph. · CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the morning practice session. The fastest driver is still #11 FITTIPALDI with his earlier lap of 212.164 mph (25.486 seconds), followed by #99X MOORE (211.814 mph; 25.528 seconds) and #8 HERTA (211.707 mph, 25.541 seconds). Teams introduced 41 different cars to the track during this 90 minute-session with secondary cars being utilized by #99X MOORE, #6X ANDRETTI, #1X ZANARDI, #5X DE FERRAN, #33X CARPENTIER, #10X HEARN, #20X PRUETT, #16X CASTRO-NEVES, #40X FERNANDEZ, #12X VASSER, #36X BARRON, and #27X FRANCHITTI. There were 34 cars logging laps in excess of the track qualifying record owned by Paul Tracy. FedEx Championship drivers logged a total of 1,126 laps during the incident-free session extending the incident-free run of Champ Car practice and racing laps to 7015 laps. MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI PRESENTED BY TOYOTA No. 4 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes – March 13, 1998 · GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the afternoon practice session for Group One drivers. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 115 degrees F and an ambient temperature of 80 degrees F as the first cars take to the track. · YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:37 p.m. for debris on the track after an in-car camera falls from the car of #1 ZANARDI. · GREEN FLAG waves at 2:39 p.m. to resume the practice session. · YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:44 p.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES makes heavy contact with the outside wall in Turn 4. The car sustained major damage to its rear, and CASTRO-NEVES was transported to the CART Mobile Medical Facility for examination. · According to Dr. Steve Olvey, CART director of medical affairs, Helio Castro-Neves sustained a bruised right knee from his incident in Turn 4. Olvey said that Castro-Neves was never unconscious and expects him to be able to drive Saturday. Castro-Neves currently is undergoing therapy on the knee and is expected to be released shortly. · 15 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #5 DE FERRAN with a lap of 210.225 mph (25.721 seconds), followed by #1X ZANARDI (208.653 mph; 25.916 seconds) and #12 VASSER (208.338 mph; 25.954 seconds). · GREEN FLAG waves at 3:10 p.m. to resume the practice session. · YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:12 p.m. after a piece of carbon fiber falls from #6 ANDRETTI on the backstretch. · GREEN FLAG waves at 3:14 p.m. to resume the session. · CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to end the Group One practice session with #5 DE FERRAN still the fastest driver with a lap of 210.225 mph (25.721 seconds), followedby #17 GUGELMIN (210.094 mph; 25.737 seconds) and #1X ZANARDI (208.643 mph; 25.916 seconds). FedEx Champ Car drivers logged only 201 laps during this abbreviated session. · GREEN FLAG waves at 3:30 p.m. to start the Group Two practice session. · YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:44 p.m. for debris on the track. · At 3:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #20 PRUETT with a lap of 210.503 mph (25.687 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (208.845 mph; 25.891 seconds) and #2 UNSER JR. (207.061 mph; 26.114 seconds). · GREEN FLAG waves at 3:49 p.m. to resume the Group Two session. MARLBORO GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI PRESENTED BY TOYOTA No. 5 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes – March 13, 1998 · YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:55 p.m. for debris on the track. At the same time, smoke begins to appear at the rear of the car of #10 HEARN as he pits his car. HEARN’s pit crew subsequently extinguishes a small fire in the engine. · GREEN FLAG waves at 3:58 p.m. to resume the practice session. · YELLOW FLAG waves at 4:01 p.m. after #36 BARRON makes contact with the wall in Turn 4. BARRON exits the car under his own power but the car sustains some damage. · GREEN FLAG waves at 4:13 p.m. to resume the Group Two practice session. · CHECKERED FLAG waves at 4:15 p.m. to end the Group Two session with #20 PRUETT still the fastest driver with a lap of 210.503 mph (25.687 seconds), followed by #21 KANAAN (209.452 mph; 25.816 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (209.087 mph; 25.861 seconds). · FedEx Champ Car drivers logged a total of 434 laps in this afternoon’s two sessions, but unfortunately, not incident-free. The Champ Car drivers had logged an additional incident-free 88 laps to run the incident-free total to 7103 laps dating to the open test at Motegi before CASTRO-NEVES contacted the wall in Turn 4 at 2:44 p.m. 27 out of 29 FedEx Champ Car drivers bettered 200 mph during today’s practice sessions. · Driver quotes from today’s practice sessions follow: · CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Kmart Budweiser Swift Ford: "It [qualifying] is going to be a matter of going out at at the right time, getting the right tires and perfect conditions. I think [the pole] is going to be between the 25.0 and 25.3 [second] range … This is a very important season for us. We’ve made some big gains in the car and some big gains in the tires and we’re definitely starting from a point where we’re a lot more solid than we were when we started last year." · GREG MOORE, Player’/Indeck Reynard Mercedes: "Qualifying is always important, especially on an oval like this. Passing for position will be important, especially when you’re in traffic. Last year in qualifying, we were close to flat [out]. This year driving on an outside line is an option, where last year it really wasn’t." · BRYAN HERTA, Shell Reynard Ford: "It was a pretty good day. It was good to get the first day out of the way because there’s so much buildup and hype for the first race. The car worked well in the morning. The afternoon was a little sporadic. I think we need a little more time to work on our race setups, but we’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow." · .Pit note #5 concludes our coverage of today’s events. We’ll see you Saturday morning!
Source: CART Online
*********** Motorsport News International Miami Internet Access Provided by: MIACOM, Inc. A Miami Internet Access Company http://www.miacom.net