CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee Saturday track notes

By Mark Tate • Good Morning from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for what we hope will be Qualifying Day at The Milwaukee Mile. Unfortunately for all but farmers, the rains have returned to area along with a dose of cold wind to accent...

By Mark Tate

• Good Morning from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for what we hope will be Qualifying Day at The Milwaukee Mile. Unfortunately for all but farmers, the rains have returned to area along with a dose of cold wind to accent the disappointment felt by the Champ Car community. The CART support series (Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantics) were lucky enough to get in some on-track time but at 9:15 a.m., it got dark and wet quickly. At 9:30 a.m., the scheduled split-session practice is postponed waiting for better weather. At 10:30 a.m., the rain has slacked to a drizzle but the radar image isn't pretty. Large storm cells hover over the northern reaches of Wisconsin, and it looks like they're going to pay a visit to the track before the day is over. Not much to do but wait and see.

• In the downtime, a few notes from the FedEx Championship Series have been offered up by the diligent PR folks of CART. From Newman/Haas Racing comes news that twin brothers and Wisconsin natives, Paul and Morgan Hamm, better known as members of the 2000 U.S. Men's Olympic Gymnastics Team as well as the Team Texaco Training Club, will be performing a repertoire of gymnastic feats for the Champ Car fans who will be waiting in line for the driver autograph session scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. The Hamm brothers hail from Waukesha and will be demonstrating their skills upon the pommel horse. The routines will consist of two performances lasting 15 minutes apiece. The brothers Hamm will then be available for autographs.

• Also from the PR world, CART entertained journalism students from Whitnall and Pius XI High Schools at the track Friday by allowing the future journalists to take part in the Fast Three press conference at the close of yesterday's test session. The students then interviewed driver Bryan Herta.

• Drivers MAX WILSON, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, NICK MANASSIAN, and MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. attended the Milwaukee Brewers game Friday night, guests of the team. The drivers got to meet the entire team and then were introduced to the sold-out crowd.

• How about some Milwaukee Mile race stats to improve the capital gains outlook for the astute Champ Car fan at the expense of his less-read buddies? Over the last six years, the winner of the Miller Lite 225 has come from an average starting position of 4.8, with second from 8.5 and third from 7.2 on the grid. So don't pick a driver from the fifth row back unless you are lucky with long shots! But those front four rows will be close all day; four out of the last six years have featured margins of victory of less than one second, averaging a 2.651-second overall due to bloated margins of six to seven seconds in 1998 and 1999. The first Yellow Flag flies by the eighth lap on average, but three races of the last six years have started under Caution. But only two cars should be out due to contact with 20.6 cars running at the end. Good Luck on your picks!

• At 2:46 p.m., Chief Steward Chris Kneifel announces that today's Champ Car activities have been cancelled due to the inclement weather that has plagued the track all day. Tomorrow's starting grid will be set by the current FedEx Championship point standings, putting KENNY BRACK on the Pole for the Miller Lite 225 without the benefit of the usual one point that goes to the polesitter, as per CART qualifying rules. HELIO CASTRONEVES will start on the outside of the front row alongside BRACK.

• Quotes from the two front row starters follow:

• KENNY BRACK: "You don't have much to do at the track when you're not racing. It gets kind of boring. Of course, it's worse for the fans, because they come out to the track and don't see anything running. We didn't run a race setup yesterday because we struggled during the early part of practice. (Jokingly) I guess we're going to have to beat Helio on talent. No, we've still got the warmup tomorrow morning, and we should be all right."

• HELIO CASTRONEVES: "I had a chance as soon as I started practicing (yesterday) to do a fast lap, so we concentrated on the full-tank setup. We wanted to make sure we don't have the same problem we had at Nazareth. I know what the car is going to be like for tomorrow, and I'm very comfortable. It was a very busy day for me anyway. I was able to talk to all the people I didn't have a chance to talk to before, and we also had the opportunity to see the fans. It's disappointing that they didn't get to see any cars on the track, but at least they got to see us up close."

• This concludes the Pit Notes for today from the Milwaukee Mile. With a little luck, we'll see you first thing in the morning for the traditional morning warm-up at 11 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the running of Round Six of the FedEx Championship Series, the Miller Lite 225! Have a good evening!


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Kneifel , Bryan Herta