Fernandez Still Leads Pack By Robin Miller MOTEGI, Japan -- Adrian Fernandez and Mauricio Gugelmin continued to set the pace at Twin Ring Motegi during Friday morning practice for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500. Fernandez lowered...
Fernandez Still Leads Pack By Robin Miller MOTEGI, Japan -- Adrian Fernandez and Mauricio Gugelmin continued to set the pace at Twin Ring Motegi during Friday morning practice for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500.
Fernandez lowered quick time to 25.398 seconds with a lap of 219.561 mph in the Tecate Reynard/Ford/Firestone. It was the third straight practice period the 33-year-old veteran led the way with his pieced-together car.
"It's a '97 tub with '98 suspension, and it feels pretty good for an old car," joked Fernandez following an incident-free 75-minute session. "I don't know if we can do a 25-flat lap, but I think with these good conditions it's possible."
Unlike Thursday's cold, windy conditions it was sunny and very mild Friday morning, which suited Gugelmin just fine.
"That wind [25 mph gusts] was no fun, and today the conditions are very conducive to speed," said Big Mo after turning a 25.444 second (219.164 mph) lap in the Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone.
Honda, which built this ultra-quick 1.5-mile oval and very much wants a victory in front of its home crowd, logged the third-best time as Jimmy Vasser found 25.498 (218.700 mph) in the Target Reynard/Honda/Firestone.
"We've been making steady progress, and qualifying should be interesting," said the 1996 CART champion, who started on the pole in Motegi's inaugural race last year. Fernandez run that race.
Because qualifying was rained out in '98, there is no official track record. But the morning's top trio all bested Vasser's top practice time of 25.584 seconds.
Greg Moore jumped up to fourth overall in the Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone with a lap of 25.590 (217.913 mph), and P.J. Jones was fifth fastest at 25.593 seconds (217.888 mph) in the Visteon Reynard/Ford/Firestone.
Qualifying promised to be tight as the first 24 drivers were separated by only nine-tenths of a second in the morning session.
Source: CART Online