CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Friday Notes

Newsgroups: Organization: MNI - Motorsport News International Approved: From: Motorsport News International <> Followup-To: Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 08:21:50...

Newsgroups: Organization: MNI - Motorsport News International Approved: From: Motorsport News International <> Followup-To: Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 08:21:50 -0400 (EDT)

Praying for wings By Robin Miller A wing and a prayer describe the situation CART's drivers are facing at the small ovals on the 1999 FedEx Championship.

And they're collectively hoping that Saturday morning the car owners will provide them with some relief.

CART's owners have a board meeting today and one of the topics is the rear wing controversy. In an effort to slow the speeds, CART voted to run the tiny super speedway rear wing on the cars at all short ovals.

But, after the season opener and recent tests at Nazareth, the drivers are clamoring for a switch back to the higher downforce wings.

"There's no way Nazareth is going to be a good race with those wings," said Mauricio Gugelmin, who owns the all-time open-wheel qualifying record of 240.942 mph (set at Fontana in 1997). "You almost have to be a magician to drive with such little downforce.

"I hope they change this rule because if they don't I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of broken drivers and broken cars."

Bryan Herta echoed those sentiments. "You just feel like a passenger because you have so little control," said Herta. "And it didn't make for much of a show at Homestead because it's so difficult to get next to somebody."

Paul Tracy, one of the toughest drivers to beat at the 1-mile Nazareth oval, also predicted bad things. "None of the drivers like it (small wings) and it's such a handful there's going to be a lot more accidents than good racing," said Tracy. "Here at Motegi you can make downforce with those little wings because you're going too quick. But at those low speeds at Nazareth, you can't." The wings are also scheduled to be used at St. Louis and Milwaukee.

Montoya apologizes

The Michael Andretti/Juan Montoya feud has cooled. At least on the surface. After crashing into Andretti during practice Thursday, Montoya was fined $5,000 and placed on probation by chief steward Wally Dallenbach. He met with Andretti Thursday evening and apologized. "We will go on but he's got to learn you can't use your race car as a weapon out there," said Andretti, who suffered a stiff neck in a hard impact crash following Montoya's chop job going into the first turn at 220 mph. Several drivers voiced their concern to the 23-year-old rookie who is taking Alex Zanardi's spot ay Team Target. "It was damn stupid," said Gugelmin. "This is not Formula 3 or Formula 3000 and you have to respect your fellow drivers and ovals."

Things didn't get much easier for Montoya during qualifying. He sideswiped the wall on his second lap and wound up 15th on the grid. "It's frustrating because the car felt good and it's unfortunate because I had a really good lap going," he said. "I'm going to clear my head and get ready to race.'

Fernandez slows, Jones has best career start

After posting the fastest speed in all three practice periods, Adrian Fernandez had to settle for fourth fastest. "I don't think we had the right gear in the car for qualifying and that cost us a bit," said Fernandez, whose Tecate sponsored Reynard has a '97 tub, '98 sidepods and '99 suspension. "But we have a good race car and we're in good shape for the race. "This is my second year with this team and I feel very confident and very comfortable." The 32-year-old Mexican native won last year's inaugural race here. Teammate P.J. Jones turned in his best-ever qualifying effort with the ninth quickest speed in the Visteon Reynard/Ford/Firestone. "We may not have the fastest car but I think we've got a good race car," said Jones, in his first season with Patrick Racing.

Source: CART Online

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , P.J. Jones , Robin Miller