CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan Walker Racing Preview




What: U.S. 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA Round Twelfth of the 20-races FedEx Championship Series for the PPGCup

When: Sunday July 25th , 1999 at 1:300 PM ET

Where: The Michigan Speedway is situated in Southern Michigan between the towns of Brooklyn and Cambridge Junction on State Highway 50, approx. 60 miles SW of Detroit.

Distance: 500 miles - 250 laps

Derrick Walker: Team Owner

"MIS - Always a track to approach with a solid plan which focuses on 500 miles, The team makes a very special effort in equipping the cars with the very best we have and with only half the time you would need to prepare these cars this year, makes you wonder who dreams up these schedules ? But we have a great team and they will as always be ready to do battle......"

The Circuit: Located on over 1,000 acres in the scenic Irish Hills, Michigan Speedway has a proud 30 year tradition of hosting America's best racing action. With 103-foot-wide, sweeping turns, three- or four-abreast racing around the two-mile oval is commonplace. The track, designed by Charlie Moneypenny, who was also responsible for the Daytona Oval, was built and first used in 1968. Even after 30 years, Michigan Speedway is considered one of the country's premier racing facilities due to improvements and updates like an innovative, polymer-enhanced asphalt child's play area for competitors' children. This year, the construction project expands the center grandstand's north end.

Dimensions: * D-shaped, two-mile oval * 18 degree banking in turns * 12 degrees on front straight * 5 degrees on back straight * 73 feet wide with 10-foot apron in turns * 45 feet wide with 12 foot apron on straightaways * backstretch is 2,242 feet long * front stretch is 2,229 feet long * pit lane is 50-feet wide * space for 44 individual pit areas

1998 Champion: Greg Moore

Defending Polesitter: Adrian Fernandez

Track Records: * Qualifying (one lap):1996, Jimmy Vasser, 234.665 mph * Race:1990 - Al Unser Jr - 189.727 mph



De Ferran is 5th in the PPG Cup standings with 88 points, has finished on the podium in three of the past five races, including a victory at Portland, runner-up effort at Cleveland and third at Milwaukee. He also has qualified among the top three drivers for the past four events, including pole at Toronto, second at Cleveland, third at Portland and Road America.

De Ferran Expects (Another) 'Wild' U.S. 500

As the first driver to test the Handford Device, Gil de Ferran had a special interest in the outcome of last year's U.S. 500 at the Michigan Speedway. De Ferran was running second in the Valvoline/Cummins Special when he fell out with nine laps to go and led 26 laps in the event which produced a record 62 lead changes among nine drivers.

The reason for all the action was the debut of the Handford Device, the large, drag-inducing rear wing intended to contain lap speeds on superspeedways. A consequence of the wing, which punches a "hole" in the air and gives a draft to the car behind, is the creation of what some have called CART's version of a NASCAR restrictor-plate race.

De Ferran, winner at Portland last month and currently fifth in the PPG Cup standings, tested the latest Valvoline/Cummins Honda-Reynard at Michigan a few weeks ago and said he expects another "wild" U.S. 500 this Sunday. "There has been no change at all. It (Handford Device) is exactly the same as last year," said de Ferran. "So, I think it is safe to say it will be a pretty exciting race."

De Ferran said last year's experience won't change his approach this time around. "What we did last year was not even worry about qualifying at all (started 10th)," he explained. "You have to have the car stuck on the track, in traffic, so you can make the draft work for you. If you have your car working well, you'll be OK, and you should be in a challenging position at the end of the race."

History: Year Start Finish 1998 10th 16th (US500) 1997 10th 3rd (US500) 1996 13th 9th (US500) 16th 19th 1995 15th 12th

1999 Cart Point Leaders:

1.  Juan Montoya -              113
2.  Dario Franchitti -          106
3.  Christian Fittipaldi -      96 
4.  Michael Andretti -          95 
5.  Gil de Ferran -             88

Michigan " Fast Facts"

* Super Speedway Five hundred miles in length. You have to endure the battle in order to win the war. Get the car set up over the first 400 miles, so you're in a position to sprint-race the last 100 miles.

* The Setup Engineering is narrowed down to a very small, but very high, window of speed. Gearing and aerodynamics must work in traffic and at speed.

* The Driving Style Maintaining a high average lap speed is important. Since the speeds are so high, the driver must be extremely smooth, because the car reacts so swiftly. You have bad problems if something goes wrong at 354 feet per second. Drafting is important strategically, but there's lots of turbulence to deal with.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Greg Moore , Al Unser