CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee Friday Lap Report

Miller Lite 200: FedEx Championship Series Lap Notes Milwaukee May 29, 1998) -- Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon practice session will be split into two groups...

Miller Lite 200: FedEx Championship Series Lap Notes

Milwaukee May 29, 1998) --

Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon practice session will be split into two groups with Group One comprised of the fastest drivers from this morning's practice session. Each group session will last 45 minutes.

J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice President of Competition and Wally Dallenbach, Chief Steward have announced the official lap distance at 1.032 miles and that Sunday's race distance will be 200 laps (206.400 miles). Additional information from Mr. Russell is that during the qualifying session for Sunday's event, each competitor may elect to receive the green flag on or before the fourth time by the start/finish line on the race track. Finally, the starting field for Sunday's Miller Lite 200 will be set at 26 race cars.

CART qualifying is set for Saturday at 1:15 p.m. Twenty-eight drivers will take a crack at the Milwaukee Mile track record, set by Paul Tracy in 1997 with a speed of 184.286 mph (20.160 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves to start the first practice session of the weekend at 10:30 a.m. First out on the track is #11 FITTIPALDI. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 90 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 77 degrees F.

At 10:35 a.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6X ANDRETTI with a lap of 178.016 mph (20.870 seconds), followed by #3X RIBEIRO (174.071 mph; 21.343 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (173.648 mph; 21.395 seconds).

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest #6X ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 178.016 mph (20.870 seconds), followed by #16 CASTRO-NEVES (175.130 mph; 21.214 seconds), and #2X UNSER JR. (174.087 mph; 21.341 seconds).

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, ANDRETTI holds the two best speeds of the session with the primary car #6 logging a lap of 178.985 mph (20.757 seconds), and #6X second-best with his earlier lap of 178.016 mph (20.870 seconds). Third is #16 CASTRO-NEVES with a lap of 177.024 mph (20.987 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:56 a.m. for a track inspection after the crew of #21 HEARN reports a cut left rear tire upon examination in the pit area.

At 11 a.m. and under a full-course caution, the top two speeds are still #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier laps of 178.985 mph (20.757 seconds) and 178.016 mph (20.870 seconds), followed by the third-fastest lap by #12 VASSER (177.481 mph; 20.933 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:02 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers are unchanged from the 11 a.m. report.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, ANDRETTI still holds the top two speeds reported in the 11 a.m. report with #26 TRACY third, with a speed of 177.820 mph (20.893 seconds). There are 25 cars within one second of the lead time set by ANDRETTI at this point of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:25 a.m. after #11 FITTIPALDI spins coming out of Turn 1 and makes hard contact against the outside wall with the rear of the car in Turn 2. The car slides to a stop on the back stretch. FITTIPALDI had just logged the fourth-fastest lap of the session, six laps before the incident, with a speed of 177.625 mph (20.916 seconds).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:33 a.m. after CART Race Control determines that time needed for clean-up from the incident will exceed the amount of time left in the session. The session is therefore over with ANDRETTI placing both his primary and secondary cars at the top of the speed chart with #6 fastest at 178.895 mph (20.757 seconds) and #6X with the second-best lap at 178.016 mph (20.870 seconds). Third-fastest is #26 TRACY with a lap of 177.820 mph; fourth is #11 FITTIPALDI (177.625 mph; 20.916 seconds), and fifth is #12 VASSER (177.481 mph; 20.933 seconds).

FedEx Championship drivers introduced 37 cars to The Milwaukee Mile during this first session of the weekend with the top 26 cars within one second of the fastest lap set by #6 ANDRETTI. Secondary cars were utilize by #6X ANDRETTI, #2X UNSER JR., #3X RIBEIRO, #99X MOORE, #40X FERNANDEZ, #12X VASSER, #21X KANAAN, #19X JOURDAIN JR. and #9X LEHTO. CART drivers logged a total on 1111 laps without a problem before the FITTIPALDI incident. The practice session ran for 64 minutes, 58 seconds of the scheduled 90 minutes before the waving of the checkered flag.

According to Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs, Christian Fittipaldi was initially unconscious at the scene of the incident, but was responsive approximately three minutes after impact. Olvey said that Fittipaldi was fully awake and alert during his examination at the CART Mobile Medical Facility. Fittipaldi, 27, was transported by ground to Milwaukee County General Hospital for a precautionary CAT scan and precautionary x-rays of his cervical spine, according to Olvey. Olvey said that it is doubtful that Fittipaldi will compete for the remainder of the weekend.

Following is a quote from FedEx Championship Series driver CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Kmart Swift Ford: "I went into the corner and the back of the car got a little away from me. I just kept it wide-open thinking it would correct itself. Then, I ran out of talent. This was a bigger hit than Australia [where Fittipaldi sustained a broken leg last year]. I didn't pass out like I did today in Australia. I don't remember the accident. I kept thinking I was having a bad dream and I would wake up and everything would be perfect. The leg is O.K. I was worried when it hurt, but it was just because the brace [which Fittipaldi wears while in the car] scratched me."

Precautionary x-rays taken of Fittipaldi following his accident proved negative, and he is expected to be released from the hospital later this afternoon.

Target/Chip Ganassi Racing has announced that they will host two gold medal-winning members of the U.S. Olympic ski team this weekend in West Allis in conjunction with the Miller Lite 200. Aerial skiers Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone will be available for interviews and photos with 1997 PPG Cup champion Alex Zanardi and the 1996 PPG Cup champion Jimmy Vasser on Saturday, May 30th from 11:15 a.m.-11:45 a.m. at the Target/Chip Ganassi transporters.

The Newman/Haas, K-Mart-sponsored team has announced that ROBERTO MORENO will replace CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI for this weekend's Miller Lite 200. FITTIPALDI, who was involved in an incident this morning during the first practice session of the weekend, will not be cleared to drive in the Miller 200 by CART Medical Director, Steve Olvey. MORENO, in his fifth season, will be making his 48th CART career start with Sunday's green flag. MORENO's career best finish in CART competition was third in the 1996 U.S. 500. MORENO has entered only two races in the FedEx Championship Series in 1998. MORENO finished 15th at Homestead and 22nd at Motegi.

Driver quotes from today's session follow:

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford: "We're very happy [with the top practice speed]. We had a really good test here a couple of months ago and we had high hopes that we had a good car, so we're very pleased. It would be nice to have a shot at the Marlboro money [the potential Marlboro Pole Award jackpot this weekend is a record $230,000]. It's getting nice and big and I haven't had a pole in awhile. The time I did today will probably be about 14th quick tomorrow, so we are going to have to make some improvements. "

PAUL TRACY, KOOL Reynard Honda: "I was very happy with my car. We had the opportunity to test here in quite different weather conditions and quite frankly we struggled. We had a lot of push so we made a lot of changes and they seemed to work out well. Towards the middle of the session, we started to bed in some tires for the race. Shortly after that, we did our quick lap, then Christian hit the wall. I think I was the last car on the track after it happened and I came in and parked it and said, 'I'm done for this session.'"

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Kmart Swift Ford: "I'm happy to be here. I guess it could have been 10 times worse. We're here to practice a very safe sport, and hopefully they'll come up with some good sensible solutions so that we can race safely here this weekend. I'm obviously very disappointed, but I'm somewhat happy because otherwise, maybe I wouldn't be able to talk to you today."

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing