CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Friday Track Notes

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston FedEx Championship Series Track Notes-Friday, Sept. 24, 1999 Good Morning from the city streets of Houston, Texas for the first day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Round 18 of the FedEx Championship Series...

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston FedEx Championship Series Track Notes-Friday, Sept. 24, 1999

Good Morning from the city streets of Houston, Texas for the first day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Round 18 of the FedEx Championship Series season, the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston! Today's weather has opened the weekend with a blue sky back-grounding the skyscraper glass of the Houston downtown. The weekend forecast features light cool breezes, and plenty of warm sunshine beaming down on the 1.527-mile, 10-turn temporary street course. Temperatures are predicted to reach the low 90's by mid-afternoon with a hot Texas sun for the rest of the weekend. The weekend's first practice session is scheduled for the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. This full-field session will last 90 minutes. At 2:30 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the split-group provisional qualifying session with the fastest drivers from the FedEx Championship Series previous road/street-course venue's qualifying sessions (Laguna Seca) making up Group One. Each split-session provisional qualifying Group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two groups' efforts. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars again on-track for practice from 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. with the final round of qualifying scheduled from 12:45 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. This final qualifying session will again be in the split-group format with the fastest drivers from Friday's provisional qualifying comprising Group Two. Again, each group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15- minute break between the two Groups. Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 11:00 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 100-lap, 152.030 mile- at 12 p.m. (All times are local.)

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 83 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 80 degrees F. at the start of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:31 a.m. to #2 UNSER Jr. for a Pit Road speed violation at Pit Out on the out lap. UNSER Jr. subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag penalty.

BLACK FLAG is shown again to #2 UNSER Jr. at 10:34 a.m. for a Pit Road speed violation. UNSER Jr. again pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 10:38 a.m., #33 CARPENTIER slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #26 TRACY with a lap speed of 87.347 mph (1:02.935), followed by #4X MONTOYA (86.947 mph; 1:03.225) and #33 CARPENTIER (85.840 mph; 1:04.040).

RED FLAG waves at 10:42 a.m. after #22 GORDON spins exiting Turn 5 and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety workers get the car restarted and GORDON continues to his Pit.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:46 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 10:48 a.m., #10 HEARN slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:48 a.m. to #5 de FERRAN for a Pit Road speed violation. DE FERRAN subsequently pits the car to comply with the drive-thru Black Flag penalty.

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, #26 TRACY is still the fastest driver with a speed of 87.347 mph (1:02.935), followed by #4X MONTOYA (86.947 mph; 1:03.225) and #9 CASTRO-NEVES (86.178 mph; 1:03.789).

At 10:53 a.m., #19 JOURDAIN Jr. slides into the run-off at Turn but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:55 a.m. after #11X FITTIPALDI slides into the run-off at Turn 1 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow it back to the Pit Area.

At 11:00 a.m., 30 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 88.242 mph (1:02.297), followed by #26 TRACY (87.347 mph; 1:02.935) and #7 PAPIS (87.333 mph; 1:02.945).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:01 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:06 a.m., #22 GORDON slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 11:06 a.m. after #25 da MATTA stalls at the outside entrance to Turn 1. CART safety workers get the car restarted and da MATTA returns to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:10 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 88.242 mph (1:02.297), followed by #44 KANAAN (87.354 mph; 1:02.930) and #26 TRACY (87.347 mph; 1:02.935).

At 11:12 a.m., #33 CARPENTIER slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:17 a.m., #44 KANAAN slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #7 PAPIS with a lap of 88.506 mph (1:07.111), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (88.242 mph; 1:02.297) and #11X FITTIPALDI (87.860 mph; 1:02.568).

At 11:21 a.m., #22 GORDON slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:26 a.m., #7 PAPIS bumps the tire barrier at Turn 7 with the left front of the car and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #7 PAPIS with his earlier lap of 88.506 mph (1:07.111), followed by #11X FITTIPALDI (88.277 mph; 1:02.272) and #27 FRANCHITTI (88.242 mph; 1:02.297).

At 11:37 a.m., #24 PRUETT slides into the run-off at Turn but continues on course to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #26 TRACY at 11:38 a.m. for a Pit Road speed violation. TRACY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 11:39 a.m., #12 VASSER brushes the wall at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #11X FITTIPALDI with a lap of 88.617 mph (1:02.033), followed by #7 PAPIS (88.506 mph; 1:02.111) and #8 HERTA (88.263 mph; 1:02.282).

At 11:41 a.m., #24 PRUETT slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:43 a.m. #20 MAGNUSSEN slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:44 a.m., #25 da MATTA brushes the wall at Turn 2 but continues on course. Da MATTA again brushes the wall at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #24 PRUETT at 11:46 a.m. for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at 11:42 a.m. at Pit In. PRUETT subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black FLAG drive thru penalty.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:49 a.m. to #26 TRACY for a Pit Road speed violation. TRACY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #8 HERTA with a lap of 89.015 mph (1:01.756), followed by #11X FITTIPALDI (88.622 mph; 1:02.030) and #7 PAPIS (88.506 mph; 1:02.111).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:52 a.m. to #15 N. HATTORI for a Pit Road speed violation. HATTORI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:53 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI slides into the run-off at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:54 a.m., #20 MAGNUSSEN slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:54 a.m. to #4 MONTOYA for a Pit Road speed violation. MONTOYA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

BLACK FLAG is again shown at 11:54 a.m. to #15 N. HATTORI for a Pit Road speed violation at Pit In. HATTORI subsequently pits the car again to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:55 a.m. to #71 GIDLEY for a Pit Road speed violation. GIDLEY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:56 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL slides into the run-off at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the session with the fastest driver still #8 HERTA (89.015 mph; 1:01.756), followed by #4 MONTOYA (88.931 mph; 1:01.814) and #6X ANDRETTI (88.680 mph; 1:01.814). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced a total of 35 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #6X ANDRETTI, #11X FITTIPALDI, 10X HEARN, #4X MONTOYA, #9X CASTRO-NEVES, #20X MAGNUSSEN, #99X MOORE, #19X JOURDIAN Jr., #22X GORDON, and #40X FERNANDEZ. CART drivers logged a total of 564 laps in this morning's session.

GREEN FLAG waves for the Group One qualifiers at 2:30 p.m. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 98 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 87 degrees F. at the start of the session. GREG MOORE holds the track-qualifying lap of 92.377 mph (59.508 seconds) set in last year's inaugural event.

At 2:35 p.m., five minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #7 PAPIS with a lap of 90.100 mph (1:01.012), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (89.973 mph; 1:01.098) and #44 KANAAN (89.099 mph; 1:01.698).

At 2:37 p.m., #9 CASTRO-NEVES slides into the run-off at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #26 TRACY with a lap of 90.717 mph (1:00.597), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (90.361 mph; 1:00.836) and #5 de FERRAN (90.159 mph; 1:01.972).

At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, the top drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:40 p.m.

At 2:47 p.m., #8 HERTA slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:49 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ brushes the right-side wall at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #26 TRACY with a lap of 90.717 mph (1:00.597), followed by #8 HERTA (90.511 mph; 1:00.735) and #27 FRANCHITTI (90.361 mph; 1:00.836).

At 2:55 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #26 TRACY with his earlier lap of 90.717 mph (1:00.597), followed by #5 de FERRAN (90.665 mph; 1:00.632) and #8 HERTA (90.511 mph; 1:00.735).

At 2:56 p.m., #26 TRACY makes light contact with the right side of the car against the wall at Turn 5 and continues on course to his Pit Area. His crew reports that the right rear suspension was bent in the incident and TRACY will not return to the Group One session.

At 2:56 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

Also at 2:57 p.m., #5 de FERRAN spins at Turn 3 but keeps the motor running and continues on course to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

Again at 2:57 p.m. #8 HERTA takes over the top spot with a speed of 91.471 mph (1:00.098) on his 12th lap of the session.

At 2:58 p.m., #12 VASSER spins at Turn 7 on the left side of the track. VASSER rights the car and continues to his Pit Area.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. to end the Group One qualifying session with #8 HERTA still the fastest driver with his earlier speed of 91.471 mph (100.098), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (91.060 mph; 1:00.369) and #44 KANAAN (90.758 mph; 1:00.570).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #33 CARPENTIER at 3:15 p.m. for a Pit Road speed violation as the Group Two drivers leave Pit Road. CARPENTIER subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 3:20 p.m., five minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is #4 MONTOYA with a lap of 90.233 mph (1:00.922; seventh-fastest overall), followed by #11X FITTIPALDI (88.974 mph; 1:01.784; 14th-fastest overall) and #25 da MATTA (88.903 mph; 1:01.834; 15th-fastest overall).

At 3:21 p.m., #18 BLUDNELL slides into the run-off at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:22 p.m., #22 GORDON slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but keeps the car running and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

Also at 3:22 p.m., #18 BLUDNELL again spins at Turn 5 but again, keeps the car running and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 3:23 p.m. after #22 GORDON stalls at Turn 2 in the middle of the track. CART safety workers tow the car back to the Pit Area.

At 3:24 p.m., as the Group Two drivers complete their lap before the Red Flag takes effect, #33 CARPENTIER logs the fastest Group Two speed with a lap of 91.169 mph (1:00.297; second-fastest overall.)

At 3:25 p.m. and under the Red Flag, the fastest Group Two driver is #33 CARPENTIER with his earlier lap of 91.169 mph (1:00.297; second-fastest overall), followed by #4 MONOTYA (90.989; 1:00.416; fourth-fastest overall) and #11X FITTIPALDI (90.985 mph; 1:00.419; fifth-fastest overall).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:28 p.m. to resume the practice session.

At 3:30 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 3:25 p.m. report.

At 3:33 p.m., #36 MONTERMINI brushes the wall at Turn 5 and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:35 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the top three Group Two drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:30 p.m. report.

At 3:37 p.m., the eight-minute penalty for #22 GORDON expires and GORDON rejoins the Group Two qualifying session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 3:38 p.m. to #15 N. HATTORI for a Pit Road speed violation. HATTORI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 3:40 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two driver is now #4 MONTOYA with a lap of 91.185 mph (1:00.286; second-fastest overall), followed by #33 CARPENTIER (91.169 mph; 1:00.297; third-fastest overall) and #11X FITTIPALDI (90.985 mph; 1:00.419; fifth-fastest overall).

At 3:41 p.m., #4 MONOTYA logs the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 91.797 mph (59.884 seconds; first overall) on his 11th lap of the session.

At 3:43 p.m., #20 MAGNUSSEN slides into the run-off at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car. · Also at 3:43 p.m., #33 CARPENTIER slides into the run-off at Turn 1 and stalls his car. As CARPENTIER is far from the racing line, the incident is handled with local Yellow flags.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. to end the Group Two qualifying session with #4 MONTOYA the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 91.797 mph ( 59.884 seconds; first-overall), followed by #11X FITTIPALDI (91.673 mph; 59.965; second-fastest overall) and #33 CARPENTIER (91.169 mph; 1:00.297; fourth-fastest overall).

JUAN MONTOYA wins the Provisional Pole for Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston with his lap of 91.797 mph (59.884 seconds). If MONTOYA can hang on to win the Pole tomorrow, he will tie Nigel Mansell's 19993 CART rookie record for pole positions in a season.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI sits second on the Provisional Grid by virtue of his 91.673-mph (59.965 seconds). FITTIPALDI is looking for his fourth top-five start of the season.

BRYAN HERTA is third after the Provisional Qualifying round with his lap of 91.471 mph (1:00.098). HERTA is after his second consecutive top three start as he won the pole two weeks ago at Laguna Seca.

Quotes from today's top three qualifiers

JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "When we went out this morning, the car felt pretty good, then the track started coming in, and we changed the car and changed the car and changed the car and it didn't get any better. We finally got going in the right direction late in qualifying, so I'm pretty happy. It's pretty difficult to clinch the championship this weekend. I need to get some points, and I need to finish in front of Dario [Franchitti]. That's the most important thing. I'm just going to go for it. My goal is to get good points and finish ahead of Dario, then maybe change my mentality when we go to Australia."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart Ford Swift: "This morning, obviously, I had to start a little slower and go from there. I was a little bit rusty and I had to shave a little here and there. Obviously, the track was better in the second session, but not more than two or three tenths [of a second]. Hopefully, we can improve for tomorrow and fight with these two guys and the others for the pole. I realize I was a little lucky in St. Louis, but it went the way it went, and I'm happy to be back in the car."

BRYAN HERTA, Shell Ford Reynard: "This morning was pretty uneventful, nothing dramatic. I made a couple of improvements to the car and it was quite good for qualifying. I'm pretty pleased. The track got better, and I think the car will be better tomorrow. I wanted to give myself a good spot [today], but tomorrow will be the important day for qualifying. Lap time is just a relative number. I don't really care what it is as long as we have the lowest one. We've got the car working better. We kind of lost our way this year; we lost our confidence, and when that happens, it's hard to find your way back, so we said, 'Let's go back to ground zero, to what we know will work,' and now we've gotten it turned around."

That's it for today from Houston, Texas! We'll see you tomorrow for the final round of qualifying for Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. Have a safe Friday night!

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Nigel Mansell