CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca Friday Tack Notes

· Good Morning from the rolling brown hills of Laguna Seca Raceway for the first day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Round 17 of the FedEx Championship Series season, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300! Today's ...

· Good Morning from the rolling brown hills of Laguna Seca Raceway for the first day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Round 17 of the FedEx Championship Series season, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300! Today's weather has opened the weekend with a heavy overcast that is expected to give way to crisp blue skies, light cool breezes, and plenty of warm sunshine this afternoon at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course. Temperatures are predicted to reach the low 80's by mid-afternoon with California 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 (Vancouver) 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 9:00 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 83-lap, 185.754 mile-Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 at 12 p.m. (All times are local.)

This weekend's official CART entry list again features quite a few changes. ADRIAN FERNANDEZ returns to the FedEx Championship Series in the Tecate/Quaker State-sponsored Patrick Racing Ford Reynard. Veteran pilot ROBERTO MORENO will again drive in the place of the recuperating CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI in the Big Kmart Ford Swift #11. A welcome is in order as SHIGEAKI HATTORI returns to the CART FedEx Championship Series to compete in this weekend's race in the Epson-sponsored #16 Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes Reynard. Finally, GONZALO RODRIEGUEZ returns to the Champ Car ranks in the #3 Marlboro-sponsored Team Penske Mercedes Lola.

· #71 GIDLEY will serve an eight-minute carryover penalty during this morning's session for causing a delay in the Saturday practice session incurred at Vancouver last week.

· The Manufacturer's Forum will be held in the press center conference room at 1 p.m. today. Scheduled guests for today's forum are PATRICK CARPENTIER (representing Mercedes), BRYAN HERTA (Ford), GIL de FERRAN (Honda) and ROBBIE GORDON (Toyota). The Manufacturer's Forum is open to all media and allows them the opportunity to discuss any subjects with a representative from each engine manufacturer. The forums usually run for a half-hour and are hosted by Mike Zizzo, CART Director of Public Relations.

· GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. The Monterey cloud cover has lifted and the sun is shining brightly. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 81 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 64 degrees F. at the start of the session.

· RED FLAG waves at 10:37 a.m. after #3 RODRIGUEZ spins at Turn 8 at the entrance to the famous corkscrew and stalls against the inside wall. The driver is uninjured in the incident and CART safety crews quickly clean the track and tow the car to the Pit Area.

· At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is #4X MONTOYA with a quick lap of 112.155 mph (1:11.836), followed by #24X PRUETT (110.043 mph; 1:13.215) and #12X VASSER (108.279 mph; 1:14.408).

· GREEN FLAG waves at 10:42 a.m. to resume the session.

· At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #18 BLUNDELL with a lap of 114.531 mph (1:10.346), followed by #8 HERTA (114.386 mph; 1:10.435) and #4X MONTOYA (114.250 mph; 1:10.519).

· At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #17 GUGELMIN with a lap of 115.036 mph (1:10.037), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (114.531 mph; 1:10.346) and #44 KANAAN (114.484 mph; 1:10.375).

· RED FLAG waves at 11:06 a.m. after #16 S. HATTORI spins at Turn 8 and makes light contact against the inside wall with the nose of the car. HATTORI is uninjured in the incident and CART safety crews tow the car to the Pit Area.

· At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #18 BLUNDELL with a lap of 115.405 mph (1:09.813), followed by #44 KANAAN (115.189 mph; 1:09.944) and #17 GUGELMIN (115.036 mph; 1:10.037).

· GREEN FLAG waves at 11:14 a.m. to resume the session.

· BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:15 a.m. to #25 da MATTA for a Pit Road speed violation at Pit In at 11:08 a.m. Da MATTA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag driver thru penalty.

· At 11:18 a.m., #44 KANAAN runs off course but drives back on at Turn 10, continuing on course without apparent damage to the car.

· At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:10 a.m. report.

· RED FLAG waves at 11:21 a.m. after #26 TRACY spins at the outside of Turn 8 and stalls the car on-track. CART safety workers get the car refired and TRACY continues to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

· GREEN FLAG waves at 11:24 a.m. to resume the session.

· RED FLAG waves at 11:29 a.m. after #20 MAGNUSSEN spins off-course into the gravel pit at Turn 2 and stalls the car. CART safety workers tow the car counter to the course to prevent dumping debris on the course as the car is filled with gravel from the off-course excursion.

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

· GREEN FLAG waves at 11:37 a.m. to resume the session.

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

· At 11:40 a.m., the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:30 a.m. report.

· RED FLAG waves at 11:41 a.m. after #8 HERTA spins exiting Turn 3 and slides nose-first into the outside wall midway between Turns 3 and 4, making very light contact. CART safety crews get the car restarted and HERTA continues to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car. Team Rahal quickly readies HERTA's secondary car for use in the remainder of the session.

· GREEN FLAG waves at 11:44 a.m. to resume the session.

· At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:40 a.m. report.

· At 11:52 a.m., #15 N. HATTORI slides off course at Turn 3 but regains control and drives back on course without apparent damage to the car.

· BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:53 a.m. to #24 PRUETT for a Pit Road speed violation at Pit In incurred at 11:50 a.m. PRUETT subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

· At 11:58 a.m., #8X HERTA clocks the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 116.089 mph (1:09.402) in his secondary car on the sixth lap of practice since parking his primary car involved in the incident at 11:41 a.m.

· CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. with #17 GUGELMIN logging the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 116.278 mph (1:09.289), followed by #8 X HERTA (116.089 mph; 1:09.402) and #18 BLUDNELL (116.012 mph; 1:09.448). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 37 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #8 X HERTA, #22X GORDON, #12X VASSER, #40X FERENANDEZ, #9X CASTRO-NEVES, #6X ANDRETTI, #20X MAGNUSSEN, and #24X PRUETT. CART drivers logged a total of 524 laps in this morning's session.

· GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 116 degrees F .and an ambient temperature of 72 degrees F. at the start of the session.

· At 2:35 p.m., five minutes in to the session, the fastest Group One driver is #44 KANAAN with a lap of 116.007 mph (1:09.451), followed by #99 MOORE (114.323 mph; 1:10.474) and #7 PAPIS (113.824 mph; 1:10.783).

· At 2:36 p.m., #99 MOORE runs off course at Turn 5 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· At 2:37 p.m., #18 BLUNDELL spins off Turn 3 and slides to stop against the outside wall halfway to Turn 4, stalling the car.

· RED FLAG waves at 2:38 p.m. to allow CART safety workers to attend to the stalled car of BLUNDELL. CART safety workers get the car restarted and BLUNDELL continues to his Pit Area. BLUNDELL receives the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session and will serve the penalty immediately.

· GREEN FLAG waves at 2:40 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

· At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One qualifying session, the fastest driver is now #8 HERTA with a lap of 116.711 mph (1:09.032), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (116.022 mph; 1:09.442) and #44 KANAAN (116.007 mph; 1:09.451).

· RED FLAG waves at 2:44 p.m. after #27 FRANCHITTI runs off course at Turn 6 on his fifth lap, broadslides through the dirt, comes back on track crossing the asphalt and makes hard contact against the wall with the left side of the car on the inside of the uphill straight leading to Turn 7. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major damage to the rear wing and left side suspension. The crew quickly readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the Group One session, but all times previously earned by the primary car will be forfeited. FRANCHITTI was second-fastest at the time of the incident with a speed of 115.521 mph (1:09.743) on his third lap of the session. FRANCHITTI will receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session, to be served immediately when the Green Flag flies.

· At 2:45 p.m. 15 minutes into the Group One session and under the Red Flag, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:40 p.m. report.

· At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session and still under the Red Flag, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:45 p.m. report.

· GREEN FLAG waves at 2:53 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session. FRANCHITTI will not be able to use his secondary car in the remainder of the session as his delay penalty will exceed the amount of Green time left in the Group One session.

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

· At 2:56 p.m., the penalty for #18 BLUNDELL expires and BLUNDELL rejoins the Group One qualifying session.

· Also at 2:56 p.m., #4 MONTOYA spins at Turn 6, sliding into the dirt before regaining control and continuing on course to his Pit Area. The car sustains damage to the front wing and MONTOYA does not return to the Group One session.

· At 2:59 p.m., #44 KANANN logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 117.210 mph (1:08.738).

· Also at 2:59 p.m., #26 TRACY runs off course at Turn 6 but regains control and continues on course to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

· At 3 p.m., #8 HERTA again takes the top spot with a speed of 117.903 mph (1:08.334).

· CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:00:022 to end the Group One session with the fastest Group one driver #8 HERTA with his earlier lap of 117.903 mph (1:08.334), followed by #44 KANAAN (117.210 mph; 1:08.738) and #7 PAPIS (116.911 mph; 1:08.914).

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

· At 3:19 p.m., #3 RODRIGUEZ runs off course at Turn 6, but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· At 3:20 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two driver is # 9 CASTRO-NEVES with a lap of 114.751 mph (1:10.211; 15TH-fastest overall), followed by #20 MAGNUSSEN (113.227 mph; 1:11.156; 16th-fastest overall) and #25 da MATTA (112.945 mph; 1:11.334; 17th-fastest overall).

· RED FLAG waves at 3:21 p.m., #16 S. HATTORI spins at Turn 6 and stalls on the outside of the track. CART safety workers quickly attend to the car and get the car restarted. S. HATTORI will receive an eight-minute penalty for delaying the Group Two qualifying session to be served immediately.

· At 3:25 p.m. and under the Red Flag, the fastest Group Two driver is #22X GORDON with a lap of 114.882 mph (1:10.131), followed by #9 CASTRO-NEVES (114.751 mph; 1:10.221) and #12 VASSER (114.648 mph; 1:10.274).

· GREEN FLAG waves at 3:26 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

· BLACK FLAG is shown at 3:26 p.m. to #71 GIDLEY for a Pit Road speed violation. GIDLEY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag driver thru penalty.

· BLACK FLAG is also shown at 3:26 p.m. to #15 N. HATTORI for a Pit Road speed violation. N. HATTORI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag driver thru penalty.

· RED FLAG waves at 3:30 p.m. after #10 HEARN spins at Turn 9 and stalls at the outside of the turn.

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

· GREEN FLAG waves at 3:34 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

· At 3:35 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest Group two drivers and speed remain unchanged from the 3:30 p.m. report.

· At 3:38 p.m., #12 VASSER spins at Turn 2 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· At 3:39 p.m., #22X GORDON spins on the uphill straight between Turns 6 and 7 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· At 3:40 p.m., the delay penalty expires for #16 S. HATTORI and the driver re-enters the qualifying session.

· At 3:40 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group two session, the fastest Group Two driver is #9 CASTRO-NEVES (115.890 mph; 1:09.521; 14th-overall), followed by #12 VASSER (115.104 mph; 1:09.996; 15th-overall) and #22X GORDON (114.977 mph; 1:10.073; 13th-fastest overall).

· At 3:41 p.m., #3 RODRIGUEZ runs off course at Turn 8 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

· At 3:43 p.m., the penalty to #10 HEARN expires and HEARN rejoins the Group Two session.

· Also at 3:43 p.m., #20 MAGNUSSEN spins into the tire barriers at the outside of Turn 8 and stalls the car. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains damage to the suspension.

· Again, at 3:43 p.m., #16 S. HATTORI spins exiting Turn 3 and slides nose-first into the outside wall and stalls the car.

· CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. to end the Group Two session with #40 FERNANDEZ the fastest Group Two driver with a lap of 116.440 mph (1:09.193; seventh-fastest overall), followed by #9 CASTRO-NEVES (116.164 mph; 1:09.357; 19th-fastest overall) and #12 VASSER (115.990 mph; 1:09.461; 13th-fastest overall).

· BRYAN HERTA sits on the Provisional Pole with a lap of 117.903 mph (1:08.334). HERTA is chasing his first pole of the 1999 season and the seventh of his CART career. HERTA previous best start was a second at Mid-Ohio.

· TONY KANAAN sits second on the provisional lineup with his 117.210 mph (1:08.738)-lap. KANAAN is looking for his second front row start of the season as he started on the pole at Long Beach.

· MAX PAPIS is third after today's Provisional round qualifying with a speed of 116.911 mph (1:08.914). PAPIS is after his season-best start on a road/street course. His current best road/street start was a fourth at Long Beach.

· Quotes from today's top three qualifiers follow:

· BRYAN HERTA, Shell Ford Reynard: "I don't have an explanation or a reason why things go so well for us here. They just do, and I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I see it as an opportunity, and I try to take as much advantage of it as possible. People tell you you're going to be quick, and you just hope that things will fall into place enough to make it happen. My driving style really clicks at a couple of different places and this is one of them."

· TONY KANAAN, McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard: "I really like this track. Every time I've been here since 1996, I've finished on the podium, so hopefully, we can keep that going this weekend. I was confident when we came here because we had the same car as we did at Mid-Ohio. We had a little bit of bad luck at Mid-Ohio, but the car was competitive. We've been a little bit inconsistent the whole year, but we made the right changes today. The car was very quick, but not quick enough to beat Bryan. The track for sure will be quicker tomorrow, so let's hang in there and see what's going to happen."

· MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Reynard: "The morning session was not really productive for anybody. We did some testing here so we came here with a good starting point. I think the car is OK. We have to make it a little better, but things are coming along pretty good. We're not quite where we want to be, but we're not so far [away]."

· This concludes the Pit Notes for today from Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. We'll see you tomorrow for the final round of qualifying for Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300. Have a great Friday night!

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske