CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca Sunday Track Notes

FedEx Championship Series Sunday Track Notes Laguna Seca(September 13, 1998) The weather is again sunny and warm with temperatures expected in the mid-eighties by noon. BRYAN HERTA sits on the pole for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey...

FedEx Championship Series Sunday Track Notes

Laguna Seca(September 13, 1998)

The weather is again sunny and warm with temperatures expected in the mid-eighties by noon. BRYAN HERTA sits on the pole for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 by virtue of his qualifying lap of 118.229 mph (1:08.146) in Saturday's run. CART on-track activities begin with the traditional 30-minute practice session starting at 9 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for Round 16 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 at 12 p.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 90 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 77 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 9:08 a.m., track observers report that #18 BLUNDELL's car is running rough as it circles the track on the first lap. BLUNDELL immediately pits his car.

At 9:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #99X MOORE with a lap of 113.737 mph (1:10.837), followed by #1 ZANARDI (113.726 mph; 1:10.844) and #9 LEHTO (113.108 mph; 1:11.231).

RED FLAG waves at 9:19 a.m. after #99X MOORE spins off of Turn 3 and makes light contact on the right side of the car with the outside wall. MOORE is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains light damage to the right front suspension. MOORE receives an eight-minute penalty to be carried over to the next session which will be the Friday morning session at Houston.

At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is #5 DE FERRAN with a lap of 115.295 mph (1:09.880), followed by #1 ZANARDI (114.751 mph; 1:10.211) and #9 LEHTO (114.490 mph; 1:10.371).

At 9:27 a.m., #16 CASTO-NEVES runs off course at Turn 4 but continues without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:28 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL stalls off-course at Turn 2. BLUNDELL exits the car to await the end of the practice session..

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9:30 a.m. to end the final practice session of the weekend with #5 DE FERRAN the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 115.295 (1:09.880), followed by #1 ZANARDI (115.230 mph; 1:09.919) and #9 LEHTO (114.490 mph; 1:10.371). Pole-sitter BRYAN HERTA was fourth-fastest in the session with a lap of 113.929 mph (1:10.718). CART drivers introduced 28 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #99X MOORE, #21X KANAAN, and #20X PRUETT. #18 BLUNDELL logged no official laps in the session after experiencing mechanical problems. CART drivers logged a total of 204 laps during this final session.

At 11:55 a.m., the National anthem is sung by Alfonso Ribeiro.

At 11:57 a.m., the command, "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!" is given by Grand Marshall Paul Sellers of American Honda.

At 11:59 a.m., the PPG Pace Car begins to roll with the field of 28 cars in tow for the first of three pace laps.

GREEN FLAG waves at 12:05 p.m. for the start of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300! Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 117 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 81 degrees F. at the start of the race.

Going into the first turn, #6 ANDRETTI and #9 LEHTO make side-to-side contact and ANDRETTI spins off-course. ANDRETTI keeps the car running and continues back on-course. LEHTO's car sustains damage to the right font suspension and limps around the track to his pit area. ANDRETTI also pits and returns to the race without losing a lap to the leaders. LEHTO subsequently withdraws from the race due to contact.

Also on Lap 1, #12 VASSER passes #27 FRANCHITTI to take over second place with FRANCHITTI falling to third. #5 DE FERRAN passes #17 GUGELMIN to take over ninth position with GUGELMIN falling to tenth.

#8 HERTA leads the first of 83 laps by with #12 VASSER in second, #27 FRANCHITTI third, #99 MOORE fourth, and #1 ZANARDI fifth.

On Lap 2, #10 HEARN has side-to-side contact with #7 RAHAL at Turn 6, and then side-to-side contact occurs at Turn 8 between HEARN and #24 GORDON.

On Lap 5, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 2.293 seconds over #12 VASSER, #27 FRANCHITTI, #99 MOORE, and #1 ZANARDI.

On Lap 10, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 3.680 seconds over #12 VASSER, #27 FRANCHITTI, #99 MOORE, and #1 ZANARDI. ANDRETTI trails leader HERTA by 49.536 seconds at this point of the race.

On Lap 13, 10th-place #17 GUGELMIN pits with an overheating problem. GUGELMIN subsequently withdraws from the race with a cooling system problem. #11 FITTIPALDI takes over tenth place.

On Lap 15, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 3.485 seconds over #12 VASSER, #27 FRANCHITTI, #99 MOORE, and #1 ZANARDI.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #19 JOURDAIN JR. for a suspected gear oil leak.

On Lap 20, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 4.819 seconds over #12 VASSER, #27 FRANCHITTI, #99 MOORE, and #1 ZANARDI.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 21 after #34 VITOLO spins off of Turn 3. A brief fire breaks out at the rear of the car. CART safety workers quickly extinguish the fire and tow the car to safety. VITOLO subsequently withdraws from the race.

On Lap 22, the top nineteen cars pit. #8 HERTA wins the race off pit road, followed by #12 VASSER, #27 FRANCHITTI, #1 ZANARDI, and #99 MOORE. VASSER was the only driver to pick up a position in the pit stops, moving up from fifth to fourth.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 24 to resume the race. #1 ZANARDI gets past #99 MOORE in Turn 2 to take over third position.

On Lap 25, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 1.543 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #99 MOORE.

On Lap 26, #7 RAHAL and #25 PAPIS make side-to-side contact at the entrance to Turn 8. RAHAL spins and PAPIS continues on-course. #10 HEARN slides to a stop to avoid making contact with the spinning car of RAHAL.

On Lap 30, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 1.320 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #99 MOORE.

On Lap 33, #16 CASTRO-NEVES spins at Turn 2 and stalls the car off the outside edge of the track. The incident prompts a local Yellow Flag. CART safety workers get the car restarted and CASTRO-NEVES returns to his pit area with some minor damage to the front wing. CASTRO-NEVES returns to the race one lap down in 22nd place.

On Lap 34, #18 BLUNDELL pits with a throttle problem. BLUNDELL subsequently withdraws from the race.

On Lap 35, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 1.039 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #99 MOORE.

On Lap 40, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 2.037 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #99 MOORE.

On Lap 43, #19 JOURDAIN JR. pulls off-course at Turn 4 and stalls the car with a mechanical problem. JOURDAIN JR. subsequently withdraws from the race.

Also on Lap 43, halfway through the race, the running order is On Lap 40, the running order is #8 HERTA leading over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #99 MOORE, #2 UNSER JR., #40 FERNANDEZ, #20 PRUETT, #5 DE FERRAN, and #21 KANAAN.

On Lap 45, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 2.723 seconds over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #99 MOORE.

On Lap 50, the running order is #8 HERTA leading over #12 VASSER, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, and #99 MOORE. Also on Lap 50, eighth-place #20 PRUETT pits and returns to the race in 16th position.

On Lap 51, second-place #12 VASSER pits and returns to the race in 11th. Seventh-place #40 FERNANDEZ pits and returns in 12th.

On Lap 52, third-place #99 MOORE pits and returns in seventh place. Leader #8 HERTA and second-place #1 ZANARDI pit and return in fifth and sixth place respectively.

On Lap 53, new leader #27 FRANCHITTI pits and returns to the race in third place.

BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 54 to #3 RIBEIRO for a pit road safety violation. RIBEIRO pits on Lap 55.

On lap 55 and after the pit stop sequence has been completed, #8 HERTA leads, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #21 KANAAN, and #12 VASSER.

On lap 60, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by .723 seconds, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #21 KANAAN, and #12 VASSER.

On Lap 62, #98 SOSPIRI spins at Turn 11 but continues on-course with no apparent damage to the car.

On Lap 63, #27 FRANCHITTI locks up his brakes going into Turn 2 and #21 KANAAN passes him to take over third place.

On Lap 64, #16 CASTRO-NEVES spins off-course at Turn 4 and keeps control to continue on-course to his pit area. CASTRO-NEVES subsequently withdraws from the race on Lap 70 due to contact.

On lap 65, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 1.267 seconds, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #21 KANAAN, and #12 VASSER.

YELLOW FLAG waves on lap 67 after #98 SOSPIRI spins off-course at Turn 2. SOSPIRI is uninjured in the incident and CART safety workers tow the car to safety. SOSPIRI subsequently withdraws from the race with brake problems.

On lap 70 and under the full-course Yellow Flag, the running order is #8 HERTA leading by 1.267 seconds, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #21 KANAAN, and #12 VASSER. ANDRETTI is up to 11th place at this stage of the race.

On Lap 71 and still under a Yellow Flag, sixth-place #99 MOORE pulls off-course coming out of Turn 4 with no power. CART safety workers pull the car to safety to await the end of the race.

On Lap 72 and as the field starts to pick up speed for an anticipated Green Flag, #36 BARRON spins into the tire barrier at Turn 6 and makes heavy contact. #2 UNSER JR. picks up a piece of debris from the incident in the cockpit of his car and throws it off-course one lap later. CART Race Control keeps the track under a full-course Yellow Flag to clean up the debris from the incident.

On lap 75 and still under the full-course Yellow Flag, the running order is #8 HERTA leading, followed by #1 ZANARDI, #27 FRANCHITTI, #21 KANAAN, and #12 VASSER.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 76 with #8 HERTA leading by about four car-lengths over #1 ZANARDI.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 77 as the field moves into Turn 2. #20 PRUETT and #5 DE FERRAN make side-to-side contact and then spin into #33 CARPENTIER at the apex of the turn. All three cars spin off-course and end up stalled in the gravel pit outside Turn 2. All three drivers are uninjured in the incident and all three cars are towed behind the wall by CART safety workers. The three drivers exit the race due to contact.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 81 to resume the race with two laps to go.

WHITE FLAG waves on lap 82 for #8 HERTA, leading by two car lengths over #1 ZANARDI.

CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 83 for the winner of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300, BRYAN HERTA! HERTA wins by 0.343 seconds over a fast-closing ALEX ZANARDI. CART Rookie TONY KANAAN finishes third, 3.779 seconds behind, with #27 FRANCHITTI fourth, and #12 VASSER fifth. Sixteen cars were running at the end with 14 cars on the lead lap. There were three caution flags for a total of 16 laps. There were two lead changes with HERTA leading a race-high 81 laps and FRANCHITTI leading two laps.

BRYAN HERTA wins his first FedEx Championship Series victory in his 71st start, spanning four seasons. HERTA's previous best finish was second at Cleveland in 1995, and Michigan and Laguna in 1996. HERTA's win from the pole gives $15,000 more to HERTA in addition to the $10,000 he won for the pole position and the $100,000 for the first-place purse; making his weekend take $125,000. HERTA is the tenth driver in sixteen CART events to win from the pole here at Laguna Seca. HERTA becomes the second first-time winner in the last three CART events and the eighth first-time winner since the 1996 season.

ALEX ZANARDI takes second in today's race. This is the 18th podium in the last 22 starts that ZANARDI has earned in CART competition. ZANARDI has been on the podium in all three of his career starts here at Laguna Seca. He won in 1996 and was third last year.

TONY KANAAN grabs third place for his season-best finish. KANAAN's previous best finish was a fourth at both Portland and Road America. This also represents the first podium finish for a rookie in FedEx Championship Series competition since CASTRO-NEVES at Milwaukee.

Today represents the fourth win of the 1998 season for Ford and the 15th-straight victory for Firestone.

Quotes from the top three finishers in today's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey follow.

BRYAN HERTA, Shell Reynard Ford: "Coming down towards the end, when first Jimmy[Vasser] was chasing me and then Alex, I had mixed emotions. I knew he [Zanardi] would be coming hard, and I told myself 'O.K. Herta, this is what you wanted.' But on the other hand, it was like, 'Be careful what you wish for.' I was fighting, scrapping to stay ahead and I don't know how many more laps I would have been able to hold him off. But fate shined on us today. The great thing is that at the end, it wasn't a fuel race. It means a lot to me to have raced Alex the way we did today. I regard him as the best driver in the series and to have won today makes me feel like it was a great accomplishment." [Regarding his duel with perennial nemesis Zanardi] "I'm sure that's the way it will be written, and it's a great story. But I've said many times over the last three years that I'm not that picky. If I could have won it [his first career victory] before this, I would have, believe me."

ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "I was looking for something that didn't come [at the end]. I knew I had a great race car after this morning's warm-up. Unfortunately, to gain position on this race track is very difficult. Because of that, I tried a very conservative strategy. I followed Bryan [Herta] in as much of a shadow as I could. Then, we had those yellows [flags] which changed everybody's strategy. N obody had to conserve fuel any more, and unfortunately, we had only two laps of green to try to catch him [Herta]. Br yan drove a hell of a race, and I have to be happy with second [place], which was a good as I could do today."

TONY KANAAN, LCI Reynard Honda: "It was a tough race. My car, I knew, wasn't the fastest in the race, but my car did a pretty good job. Steve Horne, my team owner, was working very closely with the Honda guys, and when all those other guys stopped for the second time, I had two more laps on them, so I pushed really hard before I came in, and in those two laps, I moved from 10th to fifth. The only thing I did today was drive the car. The rest of the credit goes to my team and the Honda guys."

With the 16 points Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) earned for today's runner-up finish, he boosted his PPG Cup points total to 234 and tied the single-season points mark set by Michael Andretti in his championship-winning season of 1991. Zanardi, who clinched the FedEx Championship Series crown at Vancouver, needs just one point in the final three events to establish a new mark for the scoring system that was introduced in 1981.

This concludes the Pit Notes for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300. Thank you for your interest in the FedEx Championship Series and we'll see you October 2nd for the opening rounds of practice and qualifying for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston!

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Alex Zanardi