CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Thursday report

Ryan Hunter-Reay Paces Opening Day of Practice for Champ Car World Series Night Race at Milwaukee Mile INDIANAPOLIS (June 3, 2004) -- The drivers and teams of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford lit up the...

Ryan Hunter-Reay Paces Opening Day of Practice for Champ Car World Series Night Race at Milwaukee Mile

INDIANAPOLIS (June 3, 2004) -- The drivers and teams of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford lit up the night for the first time during the 2004 campaign Thursday evening at the Milwaukee Mile, running their first practice sessions for Saturday night's Time Warner Cable Road Runner 250 Presented by U.S. Bank.

The teams put in a full three hours of practice time on the Wisconsin State Fair Park oval Thursday, half of that time coming under brilliant sunshine while the other half took place under equally brilliant Musco Lighting. The teams ran well into the Wisconsin night in preparation for Saturday's 250-lap event, and appeared to have done their homework. Times in the night session were already better than last year's polewinning effort around the 1.032-mile oval while the field ran a pair of incident-free practices in the series' only oval-track visit of the year.

The 18-car crowd was paced by second-year pilot Ryan Hunter-Reay (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who got around the four-cornered track in 20.722 seconds (179.288 mph) to top the charts. The sophomore from Florida took the knowledge and confidence gained from a May test session at the Mile to put his car atop the speed sheets in Thursday's practice.

"Just having this team, this car and the opportunity to test here makes for a big improvement over last year," Hunter-Reay said. "Running the oval track takes a little getting used to at first but I think we've got a good setup and I feel pretty good heading into tomorrow."

The American was chased by a pair of Canadians on the final charts as track record holder Patrick Carpentier (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and his Forsythe Championship Racing teammate Paul Tracy (#1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) joined Hunter-Reay as the only drivers to break the 21-second barrier. Carpentier put up a best time of 20.821 seconds (178.345 mph) with three-time Milwaukee winner Tracy carding a 20.970 (177.167 mph).

Third-year Herdez pilot Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made it an Herdez/Forsythe top-four after posting a time of 21.009 seconds (176.838 mph). Bruno Junqueira (#6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five after a lap of 21.060 seconds (176.410 mph) as the Brazilian looks to rebound from a first-lap crash at Milwaukee in 2003.

Rodolfo Lavin (#3 Corona Forsythe Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was sixth-best in the day and put himself in line to earn a career-best qualifying result after taking a time of 21.164 seconds (175.543 mph). Series points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was seventh on the day with Oriol Servia (#11 yokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), former Milwaukee winner Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and rookie A.J. Allmendinger (#10 BG Products/Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) completing the top 10.

Allmendinger and fellow rookie Alex Sperafico (#14 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) took full advantage of their practice time, each running over 100 laps under the lights. Meanwhile, new Dale Coyne Racing driver Gaston Mazzacane (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) completed 77 trouble-free laps in his first nighttime Champ Car session, putting up a best time of 22.354 seconds (166.198 mph).

Final qualifying will take place in single-car fashion Friday night with the session getting underway at 8 p.m. Central Time. The session will set the grid for Saturday night's race, which can be seen live on HDNet, and on a tape-delayed basis Sunday afternoon on Spike TV.

-champcar-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gaston Mazzacane , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Alex Sperafico