CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Friday Track Notes

Good Morning from the sunny beaches of Southern California for the opening day of practice and qualifying for Race Two of the FedEx Championship Series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! Today's Long Beach weather has greeted the early arrivals...

Good Morning from the sunny beaches of Southern California for the opening day of practice and qualifying for Race Two of the FedEx Championship Series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach! Today's Long Beach weather has greeted the early arrivals to the downtown race course with partly cloudy skies and a cool ocean breeze from the Northwest . Temperatures are expected to rise to the mid-seventies by the Green Flag for today's Provisional Qualifying sessions. The weekend's weather has partly cloudy skies and mild temperatures for Saturday and Sunday's forecast.

The CART on-track schedule features the weekend's first practice session taking 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 previous road course (Australia, 1999) comprising Group Two. 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 10 a.m.-11:15 a.m. with the final round of CART qualifying scheduled from 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 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 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 82-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at 1 p.m. (All times are local.)

As with all street circuits on the FedEx Championship Series circuit, changes to the year-to-year layout of the course are the norm and the Long Beach track is no exception. In 1998, the race course covered 1.586 miles. In 1999, the track was re-configured to a 1.824 miles-length. Four new turns were added to the track configuration, circling the newly-constructed Aquarium of the Pacific. The new track contained 11 turns as well as a lengthened front straightaway on Shoreline Drive. This year, J. KIRK RUSSELL, CART Chief Steward, has announced that the official lap distance of the newly-configured Long Beach temporary street course has been measured by Omega Timing to be 1.968 miles. The twisting course again features 11 turns with this year's length mainly being added at the past the Turn 5 area at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. The scheduled race distance has been announced to be 82 laps (161.376 miles).

There are quite a few changes in the 2000-season line-up of drivers in the FedEx Championship Series, due to team changes in the off-season as well as unanticipated changes during the early part of the 2000 season. JUAN MONTOYA from Target/Chip Ganassi Racing changes from #4 to #1 to wear the traditional number of the previous year's CART Champion. Marlboro Team Penske features GIL de FERRAN in the #2 Honda Reynard, with teammate HELIO CASTRO-NEVES in the #3 Honda Reynard. SHINJI NAKANO takes over the controls of the #5 Walker Racing Avex Honda Reynard for the 2000 season, but NAKANO will not compete in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach due to injuries received in a testing incident at Milwaukee last month. CART veteran driver BRYAN HERTA will take over the controls for Walker Racing to sub for NAKANO. KENNY BRACK is the new driver in the brightly-colored, Shell-sponsored #8 Ford Reynard. NOBERTO FONTANA will pilot the #10 Della Penna Motorsports Toyota Reynard. MICHEL JOURDAIN Jr. takes over the #16 Herdez-sponsored Bettenhausen Mercedes-Benz Lola. #19 from Dale Coyne Racing will be driven by TAKUYA KUROSAWA, sponsored by MCI. ROBERTO MORENO takes over the Patrick Racing Visteon Ford Reynard #20 and the #25 will feature the Hollywood-sponsored LUIZ GARCIA Jr. in the brand-new 2000 Arceiro Project Racing Group Mercedes Reynard. ALEX TAGILIANA will compete in the Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard #33. Teammate PATRICK CARPENTIER will miss this weekend's race due to a broken wrist sustained in a home accident last week. Popular CART driver MEMO GILDEY re-appears here at Long Beach taking CARPENTIER's seat in the #32 Ford Reynard. GUALTER SALLES will drive the second Dale Coyne Ford Lola #34.

TONY KANAAN moves to the newly-formed Mo Nunn Racing Team featuring a Mercedes-Benz Reynard with the number #55. Finally, ORIOL SERVIA and CHRISTIANO da MATTA will campaign the 2000 season in the PPI Motorsports #96 and #97 Toyota Reynards, respectively. The CART Rookie Class is standing room only this year with NAKANO, BRACK, FONTANA, KUROSAWA, TAGLIANI and SERVIA competing for the honored distinction of CART Rookie of the Year.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 71 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 65 degrees F. at the start of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:37 a.m. to #32 GIDLEY for a Pit Road speed violation. GIDLEY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:39 a.m. to #55 KANAAN for a Pit Road speed violation. GIDLEY subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the practice session, the fastest driver is currently #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 97.877 mph (1:12.385), followed #5 (88.881 mph; 1:19.711) and #3 CASTRO-NEVES (86.294 mph; 1:22.101).

RED FLAG waves at 10:49 a.m. after #2 de FERRAN makes hard contact against the wall at Turn 6. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major suspension damage. CART safety workers quickly clean up the area.

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with a faster lap of 99.345 mph (1:11.315), followed by #3 CASTRO-NEVES (98.849 mph; 1:11.673) and #2 de FERRAN (98.064 mph; 1:12.247).

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:59 a.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:59 a.m. to #12 VASSER for a Pit Road speed violation. VASSER subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with his earlier lap of 99.345 mph (1:11.315), followed by #3 de FERRAN (98.849 mph; 1:11.673), followed by #3 CASTRO-NEVES (98.849 mph; 1:11.673) and #2 de FERRAN (98.064 mph; 1:12.247).

At 11:13 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL slides into the run-off at Turn 9 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

The BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:19 a.m. to #3 CASTRO-NEVES for a Pit Road speed violation. CASTRO-NEVES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:20 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #55 KANAAN with a lap of 100.542 mph (1:10.466), followed by #2X de FERRAN (100.486 mph; 1:10.505) and #12 VASSER (100.361 mph; 1:10.593).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:21 a.m. to #11 FITTIPALDI for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at 11:14 a.m. at Pit In. FITTIPALDI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

BLACK FLAG is also shown at 11:21 a.m. to #3 CASTRO-NEVES for a Pit Road speed violation. CASTRO-NEVES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 11:28 a.m., #55 KANAAN slides into the run-off at Turn 1. The incident is handled with local Yellow Flags until CART safety crew can get the car restarted.

At 11:28 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI slides into the run-off at Turn 9 and returns tp he course at Turn 5 minutes later.

At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #55 KANAAN with his earlier lap of 100.542 mph (1:10.466), followed by #2X de FERRAN (100.486 mph; 1:10.505) and #40 FERNDANDEZ (100.374; 1:10.374).

At 11:37 a.m., #40 FERNANDEZ logs the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 101.211 mph (1:10.000) on his 11th lap of the session.

At 11:39 a.m., #26 TRACY slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course from Turn 5 without any apparent damage to the car.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #40 FERNANDEZ with his earlier lap of 101.211 mph (1:10.000), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (101.118 mph; 1:10.065) and #55 KANAAN (100.759 mph; 1:10.314).

RED FLAG waves at 11:46 a.m. after #1 MONTOYA slows on course and eventually stalls at Turn 9 on course.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:50 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #40 FERNANDEZ with his earlier lap of 101.211 mph (1:10.000), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (101.118 mph; 1:10.065) and #55 KANAAN (100.759 mph; 1:10.314).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:52 a.m. to #19 JOURDAIN Jr. for a Pit Road speed violation. JOURDAIN Jr. subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:54 a.m. to #34 SALLES for a Pit Road speed violation. JOURDAIN Jr. subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

RED FLAG waves at 11:56 a.m. after second-fastest #18 BLUNDELL slides into the tire barrier at Turn 8. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains damage to the front suspension and nose.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the session with the fastest driver still #40 FERNANDEZ with his earlier lap of 101.211 mph (1:10.000), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (101.118 mph (1:10.065) and #7 PAPIS (100.913 mph; 1:10.207). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 31 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #2X de FERRAN, #20X MORENO, #33X TAGLIANI, #40X FERNANDEZ, #7X PAPIS, and #8X BRACK. The top 17 cars in this morning's session are separated by less than one second in lap times. CART drivers logged a total of 395 laps during the session.

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chip Ganassi , Dale Coyne , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing