CARPENTIER, FRANCHITTI LEAD FIELD DURING FIRST DAY OF CART OPEN TEST AT MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 29, 1999) - Patrick Carpentier gave a first-hand demonstration of the Player's Forsythe Racing Team's commitment to road-course...
CARPENTIER, FRANCHITTI LEAD FIELD DURING FIRST DAY OF CART OPEN TEST AT MID-OHIO
LEXINGTON, Ohio (June 29, 1999) - Patrick Carpentier gave a first-hand demonstration of the Player's Forsythe Racing Team's commitment to road-course testing Tuesday when he paced 15 FedEx Championship Series drivers participating in the opening day of a two-day test at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The test, which concludes Wednesday, is being held to help drivers and teams prepare for the Aug. 15 Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio, Round 14 of 20 in the FedEx Championship Series.
Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ltd. Mercedes Reynard) recorded a lap of 123.3 miles per hour (1 minute, 5.927 seconds) on his quickest trip around the 2.258-mile permanent road course. He topped 11 drivers who were grouped within one second following morning and afternoon practice sessions.
In three years of FedEx Championship Series competition, Carpentier's best qualifying efforts (poles at Nazareth and Milwaukee last year) and race results (runner-up at Gateway in 1997) have come on ovals. But Player's Forsythe Racing has bolstered its commitment to road-course testing this season, and Carpentier credits that for Tuesday's success.
"I'm pretty happy," he said. "This is nothing official and hopefully we'll go quicker tomorrow, but it's not something I'm going to take for granted. We've worked hard in the off-season on road-course testing and we were decent from when we put the car on the track today. I really like it [at Mid-Ohio]. These are the types of tracks that I've been raised on. The car was very smooth to drive here, not like before when I was fighting with it. Because of that I could get into a rhythm. These kinds of courses allow me to do that."
Second-fastest Tuesday was Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) at 123.19 mph (1:05.981). He is the defending pole sitter at Mid-Ohio, and set the track record of 123.766 mph (1:05.679) during qualifying last year.
"The grip was pretty low, but it was getting better as the day went along," said Franchitti, who stands third in the FedEx Championship Series driver standings with 85 points, 27 behind leader Juan Montoya. "We tested pretty well here two or three weeks ago so we're using what we learned today and combining that with the useful information from before. We're still working out a few bumps that we need to improve on and I'm sure we'll have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow."
Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard) was third at 123.02 mph (1:06.077) followed by Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard), at 122.75 mph (1:06.220) and Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift) at 122.32 mph (1:06.450).
FedEx Championship Series leader Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), coming off Sunday's victory at Cleveland, was sixth-fastest at 122.31 mph (1:06.458). Montoya holds a 112-87 lead over second-place Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) in the FedEx Championship Series points standings heading into the July 11 Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. CART Open Test at Mid-Ohio 2-2-2-2
The remainder of Tuesday's participants included Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), seventh-fastest at 122.15 mph (1:06.545); Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard), eighth at 121.74 mph (1:06.770); Memo Gidley (Alpine Special Honda Reynard), ninth at 121.73 mph (1:06.773); Richie Hearn (Budweiser Ford Swift), 10th at 121.66 mph (1:06.814); Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Team. Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), 11th at 121.53 mph (1:06.887); JJ Lehto (Visteon Ford Swift), 12th at 120.18 mph (1:07.633); Gualter Salles (AAR/Denso Castrol Toyota Eagle), 13th at 119.17 mph (1:08.209); defending Miller Lite 200 champion Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), 14th at 118.85 mph (1:08.392) and Helio Castro-Neves (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola), 15th at 118.49 mph (1:08.602).
Lehto was tabbed by Patrick Racing to test the Swift chassis at Mid-Ohio in order to add to the team's information base as the chassis continues its road-course evolution.
The test continues Wednesday, with sessions scheduled from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 5 p.m. ET.