CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Friday Pit notes

Friday Long Beach Pit Notes (April 3, 1998) -- Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach No. 1 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Friday, April 3, 1998 Good morning from Long Beach, California for the opening day of CART practice and qualifying...

Friday Long Beach Pit Notes

(April 3, 1998) -- Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach No. 1 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Friday, April 3, 1998

Good morning from Long Beach, California for the opening day of CART practice and qualifying for Round 3 of the FedEx Championship Series, Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Champ car teams have unloaded their cars and equipment at Los Angles International Airport from three FedEx 747's, fresh from the Budweiser 500 in Motegi, Japan last week. Now, they're ready to do battle on the demanding 1.586-mile temporary street course here in Long Beach. CART's on-track schedule will start with a 90-minute practice session at 10:30 a.m. followed at 2:30 p.m. by the first round of qualifying for Sunday's race at 2:30 p.m. The fastest drivers from the previous CART road course qualifying session (Laguna Seca-1997) will comprise Group One and they will be on-track for 30 minutes. Group Two will then start it's 30-minute qualifying session at 3:15 p.m. Saturday's schedule will have CART drivers beginning a 75-minute practice session at 9 a.m. followed by the final qualifying efforts for Group One at 12:45 p.m., again, the session will last 30 minutes. Group Two will then finish the day's activities with a qualifying session starting at 1:30 p.m. and finishing at 2 p.m. Sunday's schedule will feature the usual 30-minute CART warm-up session at 9:30 a.m. followed by the green flag for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at 1:30 p.m. Sunday's race will be televised live, nation-wide, on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m., 4 p.m EST.

On hand from the Long Beach Grand Prix Association for your media needs this weekend are Kevin O'Brien, Vice President of Public Relations and Communications; Jennifer Gaetano, Public Relations Specialist; and Pete Wickham, Public Relations Director. Also in attendance from Championship Auto Racing Teams for your media needs for this weekend are Ron Richards, Vice President of Communications; Mike Zizzo, Director of Public Relations; Steve Shunck, Director of Broadcast Public Relations; T.E. McHale, News Manager; Kevin Wilkerson, Advance Public Relations; and Mark Tate, Pit Note Specialist. Feel free to seek out any of these individuals with any questions that you may have concerning this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Hogan Racing announced today a worldwide cross-merchandising, marketing and promotions agreement with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group. Universal Studios will cross-license major film releases, top-rated television series, theme park rides and other properties from their film and television library. "This alliance provides Hogan Racing and our sponsors with the unique resources of one of the leading worldwide marketers," said Carl G. Hogan, team owner. "This relationship is a very important part of our sponsor development program," added Larry Albus, Hogan Racing vice president. Starting with the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Hogan Racing car will feature a T-Rex from "Jurassic Park: The Ride", one of the signature attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. Graphics from other Universal Studio properties will be featured in later races.

Please note the following driver change on your Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach entry list. GUALTER SALLES will be piloting the Payton Coyne Racing Ford in the place of DENNIS VITOLO.

GREEN FLAG waves a 10:30 a.m. to start the morning practice session. #8X HERTA is the first driver to take to the circuit. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 81 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 66 degrees F.

At 10:38 a.m., #40 FERNANDEZ spins in Turn 8 but continues on course with no damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:39 a.m. after #24 MATSUSHITA spins into the tire barrier at Turn 8. The driver is unhurt but the car sustains slight damage to the left front suspension area. CART safety workers tow the car back to his pit area.

At 10:40 a.m. with the race course under a full-course caution, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 101.563 mph (55.792 seconds), followed by #7 RAHAL (100.627 mph; 56.311 seconds) and #8X HERTA (98.036 mph; 57.799 seconds).

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

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #7 RAHAL with a lap of 108.005 mph (52.464 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (107.457 mph; 52.732 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (107.381 mph; 52.769 seconds).

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 108.510 mph (52.220 seconds), followed by #99 MOORE (108.022 mph; 52.456 seconds) and #7 RAHAL with his earlier lap of 108.005 mph (52.464 seconds).

RED FLAG waves after #36 BARRON stalls on the front stretch. CART safety workers quickly push the car off track.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:05 a.m. to resume the morning session.

RED FLAG waves at 11:09 a.m. after #34 SALLES stalls between Turn 2 and 3 and has to be towed back to the pit area by CART safety workers.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 108.510 mph (52.200 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (108.094 mph; 52.421 seconds) and #99 MOORE (108.022 mph; 52.456 seconds).

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

RED FLAG waves at 11:15 a.m. for debris on course at Turn 1.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:18 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #8 HERTA with a lap of 108.737 mph (52.111 seconds) followed by #6 ANDRETTI (108.510 mph; 52.220 seconds)and #7 RAHAL (108.251mph; 52.345 seconds).

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

RED FLAG waves at 11:36 a.m. after #33 CARPENTIER spins into the wall with the back of the car making slight contact. CARPENTIER gets the car restarted and returns to his pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:38 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:39 a.m., #12 VASSER brushes the wall with the left rear wheel at Turn 3 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #7 RAHAL at 108.927 mph (52.020 seconds); followed by #8 HERTA (108.737 mph; 52.111 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (108.597 mph; 52.178 seconds).

At 11:48 a.m., #20 PRUETT logs the fastest lap of the weekend with a lap of 108.932 mph (52.018 seconds).

At 11:49 a.m., #20 PRUETT ups his top speed to 109.297 mph (51.844 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 11:50 a.m. after #33 CARPENTIER spins into the tire barrier at Turn 8. The driver is uninjured but the car sustains damage to the left rear wheel and has to be towed to the pit area by CART safety workers.

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

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:56 a.m. to resume the morning session.

At 11:57 a.m., #5 DE FERRAN logs the fastest lap of the session at 109.099 mph (51.938 seconds) to place second on the speed board. On the next lap, DE FERRAN becomes the fastest driver with a lap of 109.774 mph (51.619 seconds). #11 FITTIPALDI then surpasses 7 DE FERRAN with a lap of 110.665 mph (51.203 seconds).

CHECKERED FLAG waves to end the morning session for FedEx Championship drivers with #11 FITTIPALDI still the fastest with his earlier lap of 110.665 mph (51.203 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (110.312 mph; 51.367 seconds), and #1 ZANARDI (109.820 mph; 51.597 seconds), #6 ANDRETTI (109.797 mph; 51.608 seconds), and #12 VASSER (109.784 mph; 51.614 seconds). There were 15 drivers within one second of FITTIPALDI's fastest lap during the session. There were 34 different cars on-track during this session with secondary cars utilized by #5X DE FERRAN, #33X CARPENTIER, #98X JONES, #36X BARRON, and #8X HERTA.

Viewers who tune into Sunday's 4 p.m. ET ESPN broadcast of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be treated to an uninterrupted final 10 minutes (11 laps) of Round 3 of the FedEx Championship Series Champ Car race through the streets of this Southern California city. The announcement was made today by Championship Auto Racing Teams' Vice President of Television, Keith Allo.

"We are constantly striving to make our telecasts more 'fan-friendly'," said Allo. "One of the areas where we have been looking to make some changes is in the placement of commercial blocks. We have worked with ESPN and OCC (the producer of CART's television for both ESPN and ABC) to create uninterrupted coverage of the final portion of this race.

"Toyota deserves credit for helping make this happen, too, because they have agreed to limit the 7 airing of their commercials during this time period. We will evaluate this following the race and determine what we will do going ahead from here. We hope fans will give us their feedback, too, through the CART website (www.cart.com) and through letters and phone calls."

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. for the start of the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 91 degrees F and an ambient temperature of 67 degrees F. First car out is #1 ZANARDI.

At 2:35 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #8 HERTA with a lap of 110.521 mph (51.270 seconds), followed by #5 DE FERRAN (110.458 mph; 51.229 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI (109.955 mph; 51.534 seconds).

At 2:43 p.m., #5 DE FERRAN clocks the fastest lap of the session with a lap of 110.906 mph (51.092 seconds).

At 2:45 p.m., halfway through the Group One session, #5 DE FERRAN is the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 110.743 mph (51.167 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (110.743 mph; 51.167 seconds) and #20 PRUETT (110.452 mph; 51.302 seconds).

At 2:48 p.m., #5 DE FERRAN spins at Turn 6 but continues on-course with no damage to the car.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, #5 DE FERRAN is the fastest with his earlier lap of 110.743 mph (51.167 seconds), followed by #8 HERTA (110.743 mph; 51.167 seconds), and #6 ANDRETTI (110.471 mph; 51.293 seconds).

At 2:52 p.m., #26 TRACY slides into the run-off area of Turn 6 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 2:53 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI also enters the run-off at Turn 6 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and FRANCHITTI continues on-course without damage to the car. Also at 2:53 p.m., #6 ANDRETTI stalls at the entrance to pit road.

At 2:53 p.m., #8 HERTA clocks the fastest lap of the session with a lap of 111.226 mph (50.945 seconds).

At 2:55 p.m., #19 JOURDAIN JR. stalls on the front straight and pulls to the inside of the track.

RED FLAG waves at 2:56 p.m. as #1 ZANARDI slides nose-first into the tire barrier at Turn 6 and damages the front of the car. The driver exits the car under his own power but the car sustains too much damage to continue.

CHECKERED FLAG immediately waves after CART Race Control determines that there is not enough time to clear the track and re-start the Group One qualifying session. There were only 4 minutes left in the session at this point.

#8 BRYAN HERTA is the fastest of the Group One session with his lap of 111.226 mph (50.945 seconds), followed by #5 DE FERRAN (110.906 mph; 51.092 seconds), #6 ANDRETTI (110.471 mph; 51.293 seconds), #20 PRUETT (110.452 mph; 51.302 seconds), and #27 FRANCHITTI (110.314 mph; 51.366 seconds).

Minutes after the end of qualifying, a light rain begins to fall on the course. The drizzle continues for several minutes before tapering off before the Group Two session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 86 degrees F and an ambient temperature of 64 degrees F at the start of the Group Two session.

RED FLAG waves at 3:19 p.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES spins backwards into the tire barrier at Turn 6 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car re-started and CASTRO-NEVES continues on-course to his pit area.

At 3:20 p.m.., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #40 FERNANDEZ (109.481 mph; 51.757 seconds), followed by #21 KANAAN (107.339 mph; 52.790 seconds) and #7 RAHAL (106.772 mph; 53.070 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:23 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

At 3:27 p.m., #7 RAHAL clocks the fastest lap of the Group Two session with a speed of 110.719 mph (51.178 seconds), third-fastest overall.

At 3:28 p.m., #77 MEIER enters the run-off at Turn 6.

At 3:30 p.m., #33 CARPENTIER spins backwards into the tire barrier at Turn 1 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car re-started and CARPENTIER returns to the course.

At 3:30 p.m., #7 RAHAL is the fastest driver of Group Two and the third-fastest overall of the qualifying session with his earlier lap of 110.719 mph (51.178 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (110.452 mph; 51.260 seconds), and #21 KANAAN (109.392 mph; 51.799 seconds).

At 3:35 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the top three drivers and speeds of Group Two remain unchanged from the 3:30 p.m. report.

At 3:40 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest three drivers and speeds from Group Two remain unchanged from the 3:35 p.m. report.

At 3:41 p.m., #7 RAHAL clocks the second fastest lap overall with a lap of 111.028 mph (51.036 seconds) on his 10th lap of qualifying. Also at 3:41 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ logs the third-fastest lap overall with a speed of 110.982 mph (51.057 seconds).

At 3:43 p.m., #34 SALLES logs the fourth-fastest lap of the session with a lap of 110.941 mph; (51.076 seconds).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 4 p.m. with #7 RAHAL the fastest of the Group Two qualifiers with his lap of 111.028 mph (51.036 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (110.982 mph; 51.057 seconds), and #34 SALLES (110.941 mph; 51.076 seconds).

BRYAN HERTA has earned provisional pole position for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach by virtue of his lap of 111.226 mph (50.945 seconds). HERTA is chasing his fourth career pole position in CART competition and his first on a temporary street course. If HERTA closes out Saturday with the Marlboro Pole, it will represent his third pole in the last eight events. (The other two poles were at Mid-Ohio and Laguna, both in 1997). The Marlboro Pole Award will garner the winner $20, 000 with a roll-over bonus of $150,000 if the pole winner goes on to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

#7 BOBBY RAHAL rides second in provisional qualifying with his lap of 111.028 mph (51.036 seconds) to make the provisional line-up an all Team Rahal front row.

#40 FERNANDEZ is the third-fastest in the provisional line-up with his lap of 110.982 mph (51.057 seconds). #34 SALLES is looking to make his best start in CART competition after his 110.941 mph, 51.076-second effort which netted him the fourth position in the provisional line-up. #5 DE FERRAN sits fifth on the provisional grid with a lap of 110.906 mph (51.092 seconds).

Driver quotes from the top-three provisional qualifiers from today's qualifying session.

BRYAN HERTA, Shell Reynard Ford: "I was real happy with my time and I was hoping Bob [Rahal] would have a shot to get into the fast group for tomorrow. It's good for us now to get some momentum; it helps validate the changes we made in the program over the winter. I think that setup-wise, we can definitely help the car to be faster still. I've had more provisional poles than I've had poles, so I know what this feels like and I know what I need to do tomorrow."

BOBBY RAHAL, Miller Lite Reynard Ford: "The car was really right from the get-go and it got better after we made some changes. I knew the car was capable of going quickly, and I feel like it's capable of even more. We need to make it even better yet. We're not there yet by any means. We've got some work to do to make sure we don't fall asleep tomorrow. Historically, [pole-winning] times are set on the first day here, and with the weather forecast being what it is, there's an urgency in that respect. At some circuits, you can say 'Oh, it's gonna get better tomorrow. We're going to go faster.' But historically, this is a track where that is not the case."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford: "We kept improving the car all the time and it felt very good at the end. I thought we'd have a shot at Bryan, but he did a very good job and he's very deserving [of the provisional pole]. If it rains tomorrow, I feel like we have a good starting position, but I've never had a pole, so I'd like to steal it from Bryan. But I feel like we have a good car for the race, and that's the most important thing."

SmithKline Beecham Champ Car Driver DENNIS VITOLO, who broke his finger in a spring training accident on February 25 and re-separated it during the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami on March 15, did not receive medical clearance to drive in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, taking place on April 5. He is planning to race in the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, on April 26. CART's Dr. Jack Johnston reiterated CART's position in Japan, that VITOLO's finger is still fractured. To comply with CART regulations, Payton Coyne Racing will run VITOLO's car with temporary driver GUALTER SALLES.

"I want to thank everyone at SmithKline Beecham for their understanding," says VITOLO. "Missing the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is frustrating, but it's necessary in order to get my hand in shape for the remainder of the season."

This concludes the press notes for Friday, April 3, 1998 for coverage of the FedEx Championship Series Round 3 Race, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. See you tomorrow morning!

Source: CART Online

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