Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 29, 2003 Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's clocked the second and third fastest times respectively in a Champ Car World Series practice session on Thursday that marked the first time laps were run under...
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 29, 2003 Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's clocked the second and third fastest times respectively in a Champ Car World Series practice session on Thursday that marked the first time laps were run under the lights. The historic session, in preparation for Saturday night's 250-lap race, took place on the 1.032-mile Milwaukee oval.
Tracy, the co-leader of the drivers' standings, registered the quickest lap - 21.444 seconds (173.251 mph) - and was four miles an hour faster than his closest rival in the first practice session, conducted in the afternoon.
He continued on a blistering pace in the evening, moving into P1 with a lap of 21.075 seconds (176.285 mph / 283.703 km/h). But about halfway through the session, Tracy grazed the turn 4 wall and the upper arm on the car's right rear suspension was bent. Tracy did not return for additional laps in an effort to improve his time. In the waning moments of the session, Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr. put in the quickest lap (21.040) nudging Tracy out of the top spot. At one point in the session, Canadians had the three best times. Alex Tagliani was third behind Tracy and Carpentier before ending up eighth.
"I got too high and lost the front end at the exit," explained Tracy of the incident that ended his session. "I'm a bit disappointed. I wish I would have been there until the end, but we showed that we had a very fast car in both of the practice sessions, and that's very encouraging."
Tracy, who stressed the importance of being able to score maximum points this weekend to open up a lead in the drivers' standings, said neither the lights nor the tire temperature in the cool of the evening were a problem. "I didn't find that the lights were all that bright," he added. "We could probably even use just a bit more lighting, but CART has done a good job setting things up for this first night racing. I did see some shadows from the wall at certain places on the track, but it's not something that hinders us. And I don't think tire temperature will be a problem. We can race with no problem if it doesn't get any colder. Tonight it was in the 14-degree (Celsius) range, and the tire temperature wasn't affected much."
Carpentier, who still owns the track record with a sizzling lap of 20.028 seconds that he ran in 1998, was eighth in the afternoon session before showing significant improvement under the lights. His third-place time was 21.146 seconds (175.693 mph / 282.750 km/h)
"The car was a lot better in the evening session than in the afternoon," Carpentier remarked. "For the second session, we basically took Paul's setups because they had worked well for him in the afternoon, and we simply made some adjustments along with that to suit my style. The changes worked because we ended up with the second and third fastest times. I thought I had a good shot at doing better near the end of the session because I was on a new set of tires, and whenever I was on new tires I did well. But the yellow came out just as I was about to go for a hot lap, and we didn't get that chance."
Carpentier said that racing at night is "more like tunnel vision. You have a wider view during the day. It was a bit like riding on a snowmobile; everything seemed narrower. But the lighting itself didn't bother me. The lights are high enough so that they don't affect you. Also, when you come up behind a car, you think you're farther away than you actually are. Things seem to go a lot quicker, but that's just a perception."