CHAMPCAR/CART: Moneterrey Saturday track notes

Saturday, March 10, 2001 • Good Morning from cloudy Monterrey, Mexico for Qualifying Day in the FedEx Championship Series! Yesterday’s brilliant sunshine that contributed to the "slick-track" conditions that plagued the Champ Car drivers in ...

Saturday, March 10, 2001 • Good Morning from cloudy Monterrey, Mexico for Qualifying Day in the FedEx Championship Series! Yesterday’s brilliant sunshine that contributed to the "slick-track" conditions that plagued the Champ Car drivers in Friday’s sessions has been replaced with cool temperatures and dark gray skies. GIL de FERRAN logged the fastest lap in yesterday’s sessions with a speed of 96.390 mph (155.217 kph; 1:18.581). Though rain is not in the local forecast, the teams must be prepared and "wet" tires have been readied behind the Pit Wall. With no rain, the Fundidora Race Course may be a little faster due to the colder track, but any rain at all will make the track slicker than sprint-car clay. Either way, the chassis set-ups learned in yesterday’s sessions may not work as well today and the engineers will be earning their money again. New country; new track; new conditions: it’s what makes quick preparation and anticipation a hallmark of the FedEx Championship Series!

• Team KOOL Green driver PAUL TRACY will be serving an eight-minute carryover penalty at the end of this morning¡¦s practice session for causing a Red Flag in the last ten minutes of yesterday’s afternoon session as per CART practice rules. TRACY contacted the Turn 12 wall with five minutes left in the session.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 9:45 a.m. to start the Saturday morning 90-minute session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 59 degrees F. (15 C.) and an ambient temperature of 60 degrees F. (15 C.) at the start of the session.

• At 9:53 a.m., #3X CASTRONEVES spins at Turn 11A but keeps the engine running and continues on course to his Pit Box without apparent damage to the car.

• At 9:55 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6 da MATTA with a lap of 93.428 mph (1:21.072), followed by #7 PAPIS (93.014 mph; 1:21.433) and #16X JOURDAIN Jr. (91.850 mph; 1:22.465).

• At 10:05 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #6 da MATTA with a lap of 97.651 mph (1:17.566), followed by #55 KANAAN (97.039 mph; 1:18.055) and #27 FRANCHITTI (96.588 mph; 1:18.420).

• At 10:08 a.m. #22 SERVIA spins at Turn 5 but gets the car straightened and continues on course to his Pit Box.

• At 10:15 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 da MATTA with a lap of 97.651 mph (1:17.490), followed by #39 ANDRETTI (97.234 mph; 1:17.899) and #55 KANAAN (97.039 mph; 1:18.055).

• At 10:16 a.m. #1 de FERRAN runs off course at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• RED FLAG waves at 10:16 a.m. after CART course observers report a large amount of debris and dislodged turf littering several of the corner of the race track. CART safety workers quickly clean the entire track.

• Also at 10:16 a.m., #22 SERVIA spins after the display of the Red Flag. SERVIA continues to his Pit Box without apparent damage to the car.

• At 10:20 a.m. as the track inspection continues, CART safety workers note that a layer of bricking underlying the turf at the outside of Turns 5 and 6 has been dislodged by the continuous contact of the Champ Cars sliding off course as they travel through the apex of the corner. CART race Control orders CART safety workers to place cones at the outside line of the track and the drivers are warned that any contact with the cones will result in a Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 10:44 a.m. to resume the session.

• At 10:45 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 de FERRAN with a lap of 97.747 mph (1:17.490), followed by #6 da MATTA (97.651 mph; 1:17.566) and #16X JOURDAIN Jr. (97.329 mph; 1:17.823).

• At 10:47 a.m., #7 PAPIS spins at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to his car.

• At 10:50 a.m., #33 TAGLIANI slides off course under heavy braking at Turn 1 but regains control and continues on course to his Pit Box.

• At 10:55 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 99.208 mph (1:16.349), followed by #6 da MATTA (98.595 mph; 1:16.823) and #55 KANAAN (98.586 mph; 1:16.830).

• At 10:59 a.m., #16 JOURDAIN Jr. slides off course at Turn 8 but regains control and continues on course to his Pit Box.

• At 11:02 a.m., #5 TAKAGI slides off course at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• RED FLAG waves at 11:03 a.m. after #6 da MATTA spins at Turn 4 and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and da MATTA continues on course to his Pit Box.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 11:08 a.m. to resume the session.

• BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:09 a.m. to #4 JUNQUEIRA for jumping the Green Flag that just resumed the session. JUNQUEIRA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag Stop-and-Go penalty.

• RED FLAG waves at 11:10 a.m. after #66 ZANARDI has a long plume of fire and smoke erupt from the rear of the car at the end of the front straight entering Turn 1. ZANARDI pulls off course at the outside of Turn 2 and quickly exits the car uninjured. ZANARDI will receive the standard eight-minute carryover penalty for delaying a practice session in the last ten minutes of the session.

• CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:11 a.m. after CART Race Control determines that there will not be enough time to clean the track from the ZANARDI incident. #27 DARIO FRANCHITTI ended the session at the top of the speedboard with a lap of 99.208 mph (159.655 kph; 1:16.349) in his Team KOOL Green Honda Reynard, followed by #1 GIL de FERRAN (98.827 mph; 159.042 kph; 1:16.349; Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard), and #6 CRISTIANO da MATTA (98.595 mph; 158.670 kph; 1:16.823; Texaco/Havoline Toyota Lola). The top six cars are separated by less than one second in lap times. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 30 cars to the track in this morning’s session with secondary cars utilized by #16X JOURDAIN Jr., #11X FITTIPALDI, #3X CASTRONEVES, and #52X NAKANO.

• As the Green Flag approaches for the start of the first qualifying session of the 2001 season, the sun has made its first appearance of the day here at the Fundidora Race Course. And that means that the track temperature will go up with the traction going down. Group One will go out at 1:45 p.m. for their 30-minute qualifying run. Group One will also contain the six rookies present for the 2001 season. Each Group will be guaranteed a 20-minute Green Flag run in the session. Group Two will contain the faster drivers in this week’s entry list.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 1:46 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 107 degrees F. (41 C.) and an ambient temperature of 77 degrees F. (24 C.) at the start of the session. This is nearly 50 degrees F. hotter than this morning’s measurements!

• At 1:51 p.m., five minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #55 KANAAN with his fourth lap of 96.601 mph (1:18.409), followed by #18 DIXON (95.999 mph; 1:18.901) and #12 MINASSIAN (95.326 mph; 1:19.458).

• RED FLAG waves at 1:56 p.m. after #52 NAKANO slips the left rear wheel into the grass while setting up for the sharp right hand turn, overcorrects left and slides off course and into the inside tire barrier nose-first. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains some damage to the front. The car is ineligible for use in the remainder of the session and the driver will have an eight-minute penalty assessed immediately for delay of the qualifying session, as per CART qualifying rules.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 2:04 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

• At 2:06 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #55 KANAAN with his lap of 98.437 mph (1:16.947), followed by #77 HERTA (98.194 mph; 1:17.137 on his sixth lap) and #18 DIXON (97.823 mph; 1:17.430; fifth lap).

• At 2:11 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #55 KANAAN with his lap of 98.437 mph (1:16.947), followed by #77 HERTA (98.194 mph; 1:17.137 on his sixth lap) and #17 GUGELMIN (97.897 mph; 1:17.371) on his 12th lap.

• At 2:12 p.m., #4 JUNQUEIRA slides off course through Turns 10 and 11 before regaining control. The car sustains damage to the right front wing in the process and JUNQUEIRA heads to his Pit Box, apparently through for the session.

• At 2:13 p.m., the delay-of-session penalty assessed to #52 NAKANO expires but the team elects to remain in the pits standing on his 13th-best time of the Group One standings.

• At 2:15 p.m., #16 JOURDAIN Jr. loops his car in the Turn 11 area, regaining control and continuing on course but ruining his flyer lap.

• CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:16 p.m. to end the Group One qualifying session with #55 KANAAN staying at the top of the speedboard with a faster lap of 98.822 mph (1:16.647) on his 13th lap. #33 TAGLIANI moves to second with his 13th lap, clocking a speed of 98.733 mph (1:16.716). Third-fastest is #18 DIXON with a lap of 98.592 mph (1:16.826) also on his 13th lap.

• The start of the Group Two session is being delayed from its scheduled 2:31 p.m. start (15 minutes after the end of the Group One session) due to repairs need on the course curbing. CART safety workers aid the local track workers in replacing cones around the course and then retreat to their safety stations for the start of the Group Two session.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 2:37 p.m. for Group Two.

• At 2:42 p.m., five minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is #7 PAPIS with his second lap of 97.549 mph (1:17.647; ninth-overall), followed by #22 SERVIA (95.978 mph; 1:18.918: 13th-overall) and #1 de FERRAN (95.893 mph; 1:18.988; 14th-overall).

• At 2:43 p.m., #11 FITTIPALDI spins off of Turn 12 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• At 2:44 p.m., #1 de FERRAN clocks the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 99.955 mph (1:15.778) on his fourth lap.

• Also at 2:44 p.m., #39 ANDRETTI spins at Turn 11 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• Also at 2:46 p.m., #26 TRACY slides off course at Turn 1 before regaining control and continuing on course without damage to the car.

• At 2:47 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is now #6 da MATTA with a lap of 100.404 mph (1:15.439), followed by #1 de FERRAN (99.955 mph; 1:15.778) and #8 BRACK (99.356 mph; 1:16.235; fourth lap).

• At 2:52 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, #6 da MATTA is still the fastest with his earlier lap of 100.404 mph (1:15.439), still followed by #1 de FERRAN with a faster lap (100.249 mph; 1:15.556; eighth lap) and #8 BRACK (99.356 mph; 1:16.234; fourth lap).

• At 2:57 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest two drivers and speed are unchanged with #3X CASTRONEVES moving into third-place with a speed of 100.007 mph (1:15.739; ninth lap).

• At 3 p.m., #26 TRACY again runs off course, this time at Turn 11 and forfeits a flyer lap while regaining control in the grass. TRACY continues on course without apparent damage to his car.

• At 3:02 p.m., 25 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:57 p.m. report.

• At 3:03 p.m., #8 BRACK clocks the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 100.665 mph (1:15.244) on his 13th lap and takes over the top of the speedboard.

• Also at 3:03 p.m., #32 CARPENTIER spins at turn 2 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• At 3:04 p.m., #33 TAGLIANI spins off of Turn 11, regains control and continues on course, but loses his flyer lap.

• At 3:05 p.m., #22 SERVIA spins in the middle of Turn 11 but keeps the motor running and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• At 3:06 p.m., #51 FERNANDEZ spins off of Turn 4, sliding across the grass before making light contact with the rear of the car against the outside wall. FERNANDEZ is uninjured in the incident but his qualifying effort is over.

• Also at 3:06 p.m., #8 BRACK pits on his 16th lap after failing to better his session-best speed, and pulls on Pit Road to await the challenges to his qualifying time.

• CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:07 p.m. to end the Group Two session with #8 KENNY BRACK winning the pole for Sunday’s Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix by virtue of his 100.665 mph (161.999 kph; 1:15.244)-lap in his Shell-sponsored Ford Lola. #6 CRISTIANO da MATTA hangs on for second place with his 100.404 mph (161.581 kph; 1:15.439)-lap in his Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola. Third place on the grid is secured by #1 GIL de FERRAN with his 100.255 mph (161.341 kph; 1:15.249)-lap in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard. Teammate #3X HELIO CASTRONEVES takes fourth in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard (100.217 mph; 161.279 kph; 1:15.580) and fifth will be #39 MICHAEL ANDRETTI (99.527 mph; 160.169 kph; 1:16.104) in the Team Motorola Honda Reynard. The top rookie qualifier is New Zealander SCOTT DIXON in his Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota Reynard with his lap of 98.592 mph (158.663 kph; 1:16.826; 14th-best). The top five positions on the grid are separated by less than one second in lap times. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 28 cars to the track in this afternoon’s qualifying sessions with secondary cars utilized by #3X CASTRONEVES, #11X FITTIPALDI, #66X ZANARDI, #16X JOURDAIN Jr., and #52X NAKANO.

• KENNY BRACK wins his first pole Position in his FedEx Championship Series career today during his 21st start. BRACK’s previous best was a second at Japan last year. BRACK has also started in the top ten in all five career starts on permanent road course. BRACK started fifth at Portland, fourth at Mid-Ohio, ninth at Road America, and sixth at Laguna Seca. This also represents the first Ford Pole win since ROBERTO MORENO at Cleveland last year. This is the third Ford Pole since 1999 Laguna Seca. This is also Brack’s first Pole win since August 17, 1996 in the Formula 3000 series at Silverstone, England.

• CRISTIANO da MATTA logs his career-best start with his second-place performance today. Da MATTA’s previous best start was a seventh at Mid-Ohio last year.

• GIL de FERRAN’s third-place start represents his 17th top-five qualifying effort in the past 121 starts dating to the start of the 2000 season. De FERRAN has also started in the top three in his past five starts on previous permanent road courses. De FERRAN won last years’ Pole at Mid-Ohio, and managed a second-place start at Portland, Road America, and Laguna Seca.

• Quotes from today’s top three qualifiers follow:

• KENNY BRACK: "I want to thank my team, I want to thank Ford and Shell. Ford made a great effort over the winter to give us a good engine. We made a lot of changes over the winter, we changed chassis and I really didn’t think we’d be as competitive as we have been. But as soon as we rolled the car off the truck it’s been pretty good. I think the car will be pretty good overall on both road courses and ovals, I just figured we would have more to learn on the road courses. This track is new for everybody and it has very low grip levels. It’s a good start to the season."

• CRISTIANO DA MATTA: "It makes it a lot easier when you unload the car off the truck and it’s already doing well. Since Friday afternoon we haven’t had to change the car a lot. Our race weekend has been pretty smooth so far. No mechanical problems. I’m very happy to be starting second for the first time with the team and I’m looking forward to tomorrow."

• ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: "It’s a great job by Kenny and Cristiano and Gil. It’s been a tough weekend for us. It’s our first race as a team and we have a lot of things to learn to get better and that’s to be expected. It’s my first time as an owner and my first time racing in Monterrey, Mexico for CART and our schedule has been very hectic. It’s been difficult to focus as a driver and as a team. I haven’t been able to find grip on the track and put the power down. I’ve started (in the back) before and I always have hope. I always believe I have a chance to win until I see the checkered flag."

• CART Chief Steward Chris Kneifel has announced that tomorrow’s race will be 80 laps in length, covering 168.320 miles (270.827 km).

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Kneifel
Teams Team Penske