CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Friday Track Notes

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston FedEx Championship Series Friday Track Notes October 2, 1998 Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon provisional qualifying session will take...

Texaco Grand Prix of Houston FedEx Championship Series Friday Track Notes

October 2, 1998

Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon provisional qualifying session will take to the track at 2:30 p.m. and will be split into two groups with Group One comprised of the fastest drivers from the previous road course qualifying results. The Group Two session will take the Green Flag at 3:15 p.m. Each group session will last 30 minutes.

J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice President of Competition and Wally Dallenbach, CART Chief Steward have announced that the official track length for this weekend's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston as measured by Omega Timing, the official timers of the FedEx Championship Series, is 1.527 miles. The course contains 10 turns as it winds through the downtown section of Houston. The Start line is on the long Austin St. backstraight with the finish line in front of the pit area at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. FIRESTONE engineers report a track temperature of 101 degrees F. and 86 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 10:31 a.m., #1 ZANARDI logs the first lap of Champ Car history on the streets of Houston with a speed of 75.874 mph (1:12.452). ZANARDI wages a short battle with #99 MOORE for the distinction as both cars run nose-to-tail out of the pit area at the start of the session and ZANARDI wins by passing MOORE on the last turn of the lap to take the distinction..

At 10:38 a.m., #3X RIBEIRO slides into the run-off at Turn 5. CART safety workers get the car back on-track and RIBEIRO continues to his pit area without damage to the car.

At 10:40 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 82.903 mph (1:06.309), followed by #12 VASSER (80.459 mph; 1:08.323) and #26 TRACY (80.082 mph; 1:08.645).

At 10:43 a.m., the BLACK FLAG is shown to #98 SOSPIRI after race course observers report smoke trailing from the rear of the car. SOSPIRI immediately pits the car.

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 86.034 mph (1:03.896), followed by #20 PRUETT (85.977 mph; 1:03.938) and #7 RAHAL (85.954 mph; 1:03.955).

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 87.733 mph (1:02.658), followed by #12 VASSER (87.353 mph; 1:02.931) and #40 FERNANDEZ (86.889 mph; 1:03.267).

At 11:01 a.m., the BLACK FLAG is again shown to #98 SOSPIRI as course observers report smoke trailing from the rear of the car.

RED FLAG waves at 11:09 a.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES and #17 GUGELMIN make side-to-side contact at Turn 5. GUGELMIN spins backwards and makes light contact with the tire barrier at the outside of the turn. CASTRO-NEVES continues on-course to his pit area. CART safety workers get GUGELMIN restarted and GUGELMIN continues to his pit area.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with his earlier lap of 87.733 mph (1:02.658), followed by #12 VASSER (87.353; 1:02.931) and #1 ZANARDI (86.454 mph; 1:03.585).

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

At 11:16 a.m., #26 TRACY brushes the wall at Turn 3 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 11:17 a.m., #3 RIBEIRO again slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 88.031 mph (1:02.446), followed by #12 VASSER (87.353 mph; 1:02.931) and #40 FERNANDEZ (87.260 mph; 1:02.998).

At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:20 a.m. report.

At 11:39 a.m., #3 RIBEIRO spins at Turn 1 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 88.031 mph (1:02.446), followed by #12 VASSER (87.645 mph; 1:02.721) and #40 FERNANDEZ (87.260 mph; 1:02.998).

At 11:41 a.m., #21 KANAAN slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 11:44 a.m., #8 HERTA slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 88.100 mph (1:02.397), followed by #16 CASTRO-NEVES (87.662 mph; 1:02.709 mph) and #12 VASSER (87.645 mph; 1:02.721).

At 11:51 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 88.382 mph (1:02.198).

At 11:53 a.m., the BLACK FLAG is shown to #9 LEHTO, #26 TRACY, and #16 CASTRO-NEVES; each for an eight-minute penalty. All three drivers were assessed the penalty for practice-delaying spins at the previous race at Laguna Seca. There was no time left in the session at Laguna to assess the penalty, therefore the penalty carried over to the next race. All three drivers are now finished for this session as the Checkered Flag will wave in eight minutes.

At 11:55 a.m., ANDRETTI's teammate #11 FITTIPALDI takes over the top spot with a speed of 88.826 mph (1:01.887).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. with #40 FERNANDEZ the fastest driver of the session with a lap of 88.973 mph (1:01.785), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (88.826 mph; 1:01.887) and #25X PAPIS (88.742 mph; 1:01.946). The top fifteen cars from this morning's session are within one second of the top speed set by FERNANDEZ. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 39 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #25X PAPIS, #24X GORDON, #1X ZANARDI, #10X HEARN, #3X RIBEIRO, #19X JOURDAIN JR., #5X DE FERRAN, #40X FERNANDEZ, #98X SOSPIRI, #20X PRUETT, #2X UNSER JR., and #16X CASTRO-NEVES. CART drivers logged a total of 685 laps during this first practice session of the weekend. Toyota placed two cars in the top six speeds of the session with #25X PAPIS third and #24X GORDON sixth with a lap of 88.396 mph (1:02.188).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group One provisional qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 106 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 92 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 2:35 p.m., five minutes into the Group One qualifying session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 90.755 mph (1:00.572), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (90.611 mph; 1:00.668) and #99 MOORE (90.438 mph; 1:00.784).

At 2:40 p.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest Group One driver is now #99 MOORE with a lap of 90.955 mph (1:00.439), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (90.755 mph (1:00.572) and #11 FITTIPALDI (90.611 mph; 1:00.668).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 2:44 p.m. to #21 KANAAN for a pit road speed violation. KANAAN immediately pits for the drive-thru penalty.

At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group One qualifying session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 2:40 p.m. report.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #99 MOORE with a lap of 91.096 mph (1:00.345), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (90.755 mph; 1:00.572) and #5 DE FERRAN (90.620 mph; 1:00.622).

RED FLAG waves at 2:50 p.m. after #99 MOORE spins at Turn 4 and stalls the car in the middle of the track. CART safety workers get the car restarted and MOORE returns to his pit.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:52 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

At 2:55 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:50 p.m.

RED FLAG waves at 2:57 p.m. after #1 ZANARDI makes contact with the outside wall at Turn 5. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains damage to the right front suspension. CART safety workers tow the car back to the garage area. CART Race Control determines that ZANARDI will receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delay of the session during the final round of qualifying Saturday.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m., with the course under the Red Flag, to end the Group One provisional qualifying session with #99 MOORE the fastest of the session with his lap of 91.096 mph (1:00.345), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (90.755 mph; 1:00.572) and #5 DE FERRAN (90.620 mph; 1:00.662). The morning practice session's fastest driver #40 FERNANDEZ was fifth in provisional qualifying speed with a lap of 90.425 mph (1:00.793).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two provisional qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 102 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 91 degrees F. at the start of the Group Two provisional qualifying session.

At 3:20 p.m., five minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest Group Two driver is #10 HEARN with a lap of 89.278 mph (1:01.574; 15th overall), followed by #3 RIBEIRO (88.963 mph; 1:01.792; 16th overall) and #7 RAHAL (88.443 mph; 1:02.155; 17th overall).

At 3:22 p.m., #7 RAHAL clocks the fastest lap of the provisional qualifying with a lap of 91.329 mph (1:00.191) to take the top spot of Group Two and overall standings.

At 3:24 p.m., #77 MEIER spins at Turn 5 and comes to a stop. MEIER keeps the engine running and continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 3:25 p.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two and overall driver is still #7 RAHAL with his earlier lap of 99.329 mph (1:00.191), followed by #25 PAPIS (90.337 mph; 1:00.852; seventh-overall) and #16 CASTRO-NEVES (90.313 mph; 1:00.868; eighth-fastest overall.)

At 3:28 p.m., #3 RIBEIRO spins at Turn 3. RIBEIRO continues on-course without damage to the car.

Also at 3:28 p.m., #10 HEARN spins at Turn 7 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 3:30 p.m., the top Group Two drivers, speeds, and overall positions remain unchanged from the 3:25 p.m. report.

At 3:31 p.m., #10 HEARN spins again at Turn 4 after overtaking a rapidly-slowing #33 CARPENTIER, who slides into the run-off. HEARN keeps the car running and continues on-course without damage to the car. CART safety workers get CARPENTIER restarted and CARPENTIER continues to his pit.

At 3:35 p.m., the fastest drivers, speeds and overall positions remain unchanged from the 3:30 p.m. report.

At 3:37 p.m., #3 RIBEIRO spins at Turn 4 and continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 3:40 p.m., # 7 RAHAL is still the provisional pole-sitter with his earlier lap of 99.329 mph (1:00.191), followed by #25 PAPIS (90.699 mph; 1:00.609; 4th-fastest overall) and #26 TRACY (90.655 mph; 1:00.639; fifth-fastest overall).

At 3:41 p.m., #16 CASTRO-NEVES slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 3:44 p.m., #25 PAPIS slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

Also at 3:44 p.m., #19 JOURDAIN JR. spins at Turn 6 and stalls in the middle of the track. A brief fire breaks out at the rear of the car and is quickly extinguished by CART safety workers. CART safety workers get the car restarted and JOURDAIN JR. continues to his pit.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. with #7 RAHAL the fastest Group Two driver and the fastest driver overall with his lap of 99.329 mph (1:00.191), followed by #25 PAPIS (90.699 mph; 1:00.609; 4th-fastest overall) and #26 TRACY (90.655 mph; 1:00.639; fifth-fastest overall).

BOBBY RAHAL sits on the provisional pole for Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston by virtue of his lap of 99.329 mph (1:00.191). This is RAHAL's first provisional-pole since Vancouver in 1993. If RAHAL can hang on to win the pole, it will be his first since Toronto in 1992. It would also represent RAHAL's 19th pole position in his CART career, tying him for fourth in all-time CART poles with DANNY SULLIVAN. RAHAL's season-best start for 1998 is second at Long Beach.

GREG MOORE is in second position on the provisional grid with his lap of 91.096 mph (1:00.345). MOORE is chasing his fourth front-row start of the season. MOORE sat on the pole at St. Louis and Detroit and started second at Nazareth.

DARIO FRANCHITTI is third on the provisional grid with his speed of 90.755 mph (1:00.572). FRANCHITTI is attempting to earn his seventh front-row start in the last nine events. FRANCHITTI has three poles (Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and Vancouver) and three second-place starts (Portland, Cleveland, and Laguna Seca.)

Provisional qualifying ends with 16 drivers within one second of the fast lap set by RAHAL and 26 drivers out of the 28-driver field within two seconds of the provisional pole speed. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 28 cars to the track in today's provisional qualifying with a secondary car utilized only by #24X GORDON. Today's provisional qualifying also represents the first time in CART history that four different engine manufacturers are represented in the top four qualifying speeds. CART drivers logged a total of 313 laps during the two Group sessions.

Driver quotes from the top three provisional qualifiers follow.

BOBBY RAHAL, Miller Lite Reynard Ford: "I don't think it does much good to drive around a new circuit in a street car, because your perspective changes so much once you get into a Champ Car. We took a pretty conservative approach in the morning practice session, because we figured that, like most places, the track would get better as the day went on. In qualifying, you try to carry as much speed as you can through an inherently very slippery condition; you're really manhandling the car to get it to do what you want it to do. We were 20th this morning, but I don't think that was representative of what the car was capable of doing. Obviously, I'm very happy with the day. It could rain all day tomorrow for all I care." (On the momentum provided by teammate Bryan Herta's Sept. 13 victory at Laguna Seca Raceway) "We've been so close. Maybe Bryan's win took that collective monkey that we felt as a team off our backs. Everybody's confidence goes up, but I don't think it's something we needed as much as we needed a little luck."

GREG MOORE, Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes: "My day was actually pretty eventful. I had to serve an eight-minute penalty [during qualifying] from when I blew an engine during qualifying at Laguna Seca, and on my last lap before I had to come in to serve that penalty, I spun, so I'm going to have to serve another eight-minute penalty tomorrow. The track was very slippery this morning from not having any rubber on it, but just like most street circuits, as the day goes on, it gets quicker and quicker. And I think tomorrow, it will be quicker yet. All in all, I was pretty pleased."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "The track's not that bad. The second and third gear corners on the hot laps are pretty interesting, but overall, they've done a pretty good job with the place, and there are a number of places where you can make up time. I was on a good lap when [Alex] Zanardi spun, and I tried to get to the start/finish line before the red flag, but I wasn't able to do it. So, we'll just go out tomorrow and try to beat Bob."

That closes today's action from Houston, Texas! We'll see you tomorrow for the final round of qualifying for Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, taking the Green Flag at 12:45 p.m.

Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Bryan Herta