Laguna Seca, 98-08-30 John Francis/MNI With the race at Laguna Seca only two weeks away, it was not really too much of a surprise to see a very good turnout for the CART test session this weekend. Twenty-two drivers from fifteen teams could be...
Laguna Seca, 98-08-30 John Francis/MNI
With the race at Laguna Seca only two weeks away, it was not really too much of a surprise to see a very good turnout for the CART test session this weekend. Twenty-two drivers from fifteen teams could be seen on track at one time or another. Target/Ganassi sent both drivers (Jimmy Vasser on Saturday, and Alex Zanardi on Sunday). The same strategy was followed by Team KOOL Green, by PacWest, by Patrick Racing, and by Arciero Wells (Tracy, Gugelmin, Pruett & Gordon on Saturday; Franchitti, Blundell, Fernandez and Papis on Sunday). The Players team had Moore and Carpentier splitting the days, with Moore taking morning duty on Saturday and the afternoon shift on Sunday.
Payton Coyne racing had Michel Jordain out on track both days, with Dennis Vitolo making an appearance on Sunday afternoon.
Newman-Haas, Penske, Team Rahal and All American Racing were each represented by just a single driver (Micheal Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Bryan Herta and Alex Barron). Rounding out the field were Gil de Ferran (Walker Racing), Richie Hearn (Della Penna), Arnd Meier (Davis Racing), and JJ Lehto (Hogan Racing).
Alex Barron was shaking down an All American Racing Eagle chassis (presumably a second one, as it bore the name of PJ Jones). The car seemed to be performing quite well, and Dan Gurney expressed quiet satisfaction in having a car that seemed to be, as he put it, in the hunt.
Probably the hardest working driver of the weekend was Arnd Meier. Whenever the track was open he would be out there, trying everything he knew to make the Lola competitive. Even after a spin in the corkscrew on Sunday morning (resulting in a small fire) he was back out on track as soon as the circuit was open. If the championship was awarded for effort he, and not Alex Zanardi, would be leading the field.
Zanardi, meanwhile, was doing his best to continue in the style that has him well out in the CART season lead. He put in at least one lap close to Bryan Herta's pole time from last year, while most other drivers spent much of the weekend one or two seconds off the pace. Alex had nothing new to say on the subject of his possible return to Formula One, but there no longer seems to be much doubt that this will indeed take place.
But before then there are three more races on the CART calendar, and Alex needs a few more points to ensure back-to-back drivers championships for him, and a third successive team championship for Chip Ganassi and the Target team. A good result at Vancouver next week could settle everything, but it is more likely that the race will be decided on September 13th when the Champ cars return to Laguna Seca.