Another Record-Breaking Day For Herta Laguna Seca, CA (February 25, 1999) - Team Rahal driver Bryan Herta unofficially shattered his existing track record for the second consecutive day as the two-day CART Open Test concluded Wednesday...
Another Record-Breaking Day For Herta
Laguna Seca, CA (February 25, 1999) - Team Rahal driver Bryan Herta unofficially shattered his existing track record for the second consecutive day as the two-day CART Open Test concluded Wednesday at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Herta, the current Laguna Seca qualifying record holder with a mark of 118.666 miles per hour (1:07.895 sec.) set in 1997, posted a top lap of 119.92 miles per hour (1:07.181) in the Shell Ford Reynard during the three-hour afternoon session on the 2.238-mile permanent road course.
The lap gave Herta, the defending race champion, additional bragging rights as he registered the fastest laps on both days among the seven Champ Car drivers who participated in the test session. His afternoon lap on Wednesday bettered the top one from the previous day when he was clocked at 118.95 mph (1:07.728).
The lap is considered an unofficial track record because it was accomplished during a test session and not a race weekend qualifying session. Herta will have an opportunity to take an official shot at his track record Sept. 10-12 when the FedEx Championship Series returns for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300.
"It was cooler here and that contributed to a little bit faster speeds," said Herta, referring to cool temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s. "The record is nice but it's like anything else. You're king for a day. You have to earn it every time out. Overall, it was a great two days of testing. I think we made good gains with our setup. It was a useful road course test for Firestone and usually we don't get that this early in the year."
Max Papis knocked his Team Rahal teammate out of the top overall spot in the morning session before Herta regained his leading position in the final afternoon session. Papis eclipsed Herta's mark established the previous day with a lap of 118.96 mph (1:07.722) in the Miller Lite Ford Reynard. He improved in the afternoon session with a lap of 119.16 mph (1:07.612), but still had to settle for second overall to Herta for the CART Open Test.
"The Miller Lite car ran very well," Papis said. "We ran faster than the track record, which is a good accomplishment for us, but we still have room for improvement."
Ironically, Herta damaged the front wing on his car in the morning session and used a wing from Papis' car during the afternoon session in which he posted the fastest time of the two-day test.
"I guess we are buddies now that he is loaning me his wings," Herta joked.
All seven Champ Car drivers improved their top laps from the previous day but the order of the top three remained the same. Rookie Juan Montoya took the third slot with a top lap of 118.26 mph (1:08.124) in a Target Honda Reynard.
"We ran pretty good today, but we still need to do some work," Montoya said. "We need to improve for the first race, but I feel setup-wise we are pretty good."
Patrick Racing teammates Adrian Fernandez and PJ Jones had their track time Tuesday hampered by car problems, but bounced back Wednesday by making the biggest improvements in the field. Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Swift) improved more than three miles per hour as he posted a top lap of 117.88 (1:08.346), fourth best overall for the test. Jones (Visteon Patrick Racing Ford) improved more than four miles an hour as his top lap of 117.77 mph (1:08.409) moved him from seventh to fifth overall in the test.
Robby Gordon was sixth overall with a top lap of 117.33 mph (1:08.667) in the Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota Swift package. Richie Hearn rounded out the field with a top lap of 117.23 mph (1:08.721) in the Budweiser Toyota Swift. The CART Open Test had three of the four engine manufacturers represented (Ford, Honda, Toyota) and two of the four chassis (Reynard, Swift). All of the cars in the test had Firestone tires.
Jones ran the most laps of the session with 86 and was followed by Papis (73), Fernandez (68), Hearn (56), Herta (55), Montoya (53) and Gordon (33). Papis led the morning group with 50 laps run and Herta the afternoon with 42.
Papis paced the group for the most laps over the two days of the CART Open Test with 141. Herta was second with 115.
...Steve Harwell, the lead singer for the rock group Smashmouth, was an onlooker Wednesday as a guest of Herta. Harwell is a friend of Herta and an avid fan of the FedEx Championship Series. "I'm trying to arrange our [concert] tour schedule for this year around the races so I can be right here on Sundays," said Harwell, pointing to Herta's pit box. He is planning to attend the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Texaco/Havoline 300 scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 12.
...A physics class from Golden Valley High School in Merced, Calif. was invited Wednesday to the CART Open Test as guests of Laguna Seca Raceway and CART. The students got a rare opportunity to learn about physics through auto racing as well as enjoy several added attractions. The class met and collected autographs from all the Champ Car drivers, received a tour headed by CART Assistant Vice President of Logistics Billy Kamphausen, gained a physics lesson or two from Swift engineer Henry Wolf and took a lap around the track in a van with Gordon.
Source: CART Online