CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Race Day Pit Notes

RACE DAY MOTEGI PIT NOTES (March 28, 1998) -- BUDWEISER 500 No. 6 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Saturday, March 28, 1998 Good morning and welcome to the inaugural race day at Twin Ring Motegi. Today's sunrise brought ...

RACE DAY MOTEGI PIT NOTES

(March 28, 1998) -- BUDWEISER 500 No. 6 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Saturday, March 28, 1998

Good morning and welcome to the inaugural race day at Twin Ring Motegi. Today's sunrise brought beautiful weather to the Motegi, Japan countryside in stark contrast to the rainy conditions that forced cancellation of Friday's qualifying session. Today's FedEx Championship Series on-track action begins with a final practice session at 9 a.m., scheduled to last 45 minutes. Champ Cars will be placed on the grid at 12:15 p.m. with the drop of the green flag at 1:05 p.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the warm-up session.

At 9:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #40 FERNANDEZ with a lap of 212.192 mph (26.280 seconds), followed by #99X MOORE (209.979 mph; 26.557 seconds) and #8 HERTA (209.789 mph; 26.581 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:14 a.m. for a track inspection after the pit crew of #20 PRUETT reports a cut right rear tire on the car upon examination by the crew in the pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:19 a.m. to resume the morning session.

At 9:20 a.m., the fastest driver is #3 RIBEIRO with a lap of 212.621 mph (26.227 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (212.192 mph; 26.280 seconds) and #26 TRACY (211.620 mph; 26.351 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:23 a.m. for a track inspection after the pit crew of #17 GUGELMIN reports a cut right rear tire on the car upon examination by the crew in the pits.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:27 a.m. to resume the morning practice.

At 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #2X UNSER JR. with a lap of 213.467 mph (26.123 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (213.076 mph; 26.171 seconds) and #20 PRUETT (212.702 mph; 26.217 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 9:40 a.m. for debris in Turn 2. CART safety workers quickly remove a piece of aluminum from the track.

Also at 9:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 215.263 mph (25.905 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (214.238 mph; 26.029 seconds), and #10X HEARN (213.680 mph; 26.097 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:42 a.m. to resume the morning session.

BUDWEISER 500 No. 7 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Saturday, March 28, 1998

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9:45 a.m. to end the morning warm-up session with #1 ZANARDI still the fastest driver with a lap of 215.964 mph (25.821 seconds), followed by #21X KANAAN (214.584 mph; 25.987 seconds) and #10X HEARN (214.403 mph; 26.009 seconds). FedEx Championship Series drivers took 34 cars to the track for this final warm-up session with 33 drivers exceeding 200-mph laps. The top 23 cars logged laps within one second of the top speed set by ZANARDI. Secondary cars were utilized by #21X KANAAN, #10X HEARN, #2X UNSER JR., #9X LEHTO, #5X DE FERRAN, and #99X MOORE. The CART drivers completed 659 laps during the session, incident-free.

BUDWEISER 500 No. 8 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Saturday, March 28, 1998

At 12:58 p.m., the command "Gentlemen, start your engines" is given by the mayor of Motegi, Takeshi Abe.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:05 p.m. to start the Budweiser 500. Goodyear engineers report a track temperature of 97 degrees F. at the start of the race.

#40 FERNANDEZ leads the first lap by 1.06 seconds over second-place #12 VASSER. This is the first time FERNANDEZ has led a lap since Toronto in 1996, site of his only victory in CART competition.

On Lap 10, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #12 VASSER by .0611 seconds. #5 DE FERRAN rides third with #1 ZANARDI fourth and #99 MOORE fifth.

On Lap 12, #99 MOORE passes #1 ZANARDI to take fourth place.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #11 FITTIPALDI for improving his position before the start/finish line. FITTIPALDI immediately pits his car.

On Lap 17, #98 JONES begins to smoke and pits the car showing evidence of an oil leak. JONES subsequently withdraws from the race due to oil leak.

On Lap 20, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #12 VASSER by .269 seconds with #5 DE FERRAN third, #99 MOORE fourth, and #27 FRANCHITTI fifth.

On Lap 23, #12 VASSER takes over the lead from #40 FERNANDEZ.

On Lap 25, #5 DE FERRAN passes #40 FERNANDEZ to take over second place.

On Lap 30, #12 VASSER leads #5 DE FERRAN by 2.871 seconds with #40 FERNANDEZ third, #99 MOORE fourth, and #27 FRANCHITTI fifth. #1 ZANARDI has fallen back to eighth place by this point of the race.

On Lap 39, #3 RIBEIRO breaks part of the front wing and pits the car, falling out of the top ten.

On Lap 40, #12 VASSER leads by 4.197 seconds over #5 DE FERRAN, #40 FERNANDEZ, #99 MOORE, and #27 FRANCHITTI. #6 ANDRETTI has moved up from 14th to 6th, and UNSER JR. has moved up from 15th to 7th. #7 RAHAL has moved from 17th to 11th.

On Lap 45 , #12 VASSER pits and hands the lead to #40 FERNANDEZ who had just passed second-place #5 DE FERRAN.

On Lap 47, #40 FERNANDEZ pits and #12 VASSER goes back into the lead with #20 PRUETT in second.

BUDWEISER 500 No. 9 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Saturday, March 28, 1998

On Lap 50, #12 VASSER leads #40 FERNANDEZ, #6 ANDRETTI, #99 MOORE, and #27 FRANCHITTI.

On Lap 54, #6 ANDRETTI passes #40 FERNANDEZ to take over second.

On Lap 60, #12 VASSER leads #6 ANDRETTI, #40 FERNANDEZ, #2 UNSER JR., and #99 MOORE. There are 10 cars on the lead lap at this point of the race.

On Lap 69, #6 ANDRETTI passes #12 VASSER going into Turn 3 to take the lead.

On Lap 70, #6 ANDRETTI leads #12 VASSER by .757 seconds, with #2 UNSER JR. third, #40 FERNANDEZ fourth, and #99 MOORE fifth.

On Lap 80, #6 ANDRETTI leads #2 UNSER JR., #40 FERNANDEZ, #5 DE FERRAN, and #12 VASSER.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #43 MATSUDA for a pit road speed violation. MATSUDA subsequently pits the car.

On Lap 87, #2 UNSER JR. takes over the lead after #6 ANDRETTI dramatically slows on course. ANDRETTI subsequently pits the car and stalls in the middle of pit road. CART safety workers push the car to his pit area. ANDRETTI lost six laps to the leaders before he could return to the track.

On Lap 90, #2 UNSER JR. leads #40 FERNANDEZ, #12 VASSER, #7 RAHAL, and #26 TRACY.

On Lap 96, #40 FERNANDEZ takes over the lead when #2 UNSER JR. pits his car.

On Lap 97, #15 MORENO withdraws from the race with transmission problems.

On Lap 99, #40 FERNANDEZ pits and hands the lead to #2 UNSER JR.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 100 when #11 FITTIPALDI suddenly loses power coming out of Turn 2. FITTIPALDI's car shows a large amount of smoke as he pits his car. FITTIPALDI subsequently withdraws from the race with engine problems.

On lap 101, halfway through the race and the race under the caution flag, #2 UNSER JR. has the lead with #40 FERNANDEZ in second, #99 MOORE in third, #7 RAHAL in fourth, #5 DE FERRAN in fifth, #12 VASSER in sixth, #21 HEARN in seventh, #27 FRANCHITTI in eighth, #1 ZANARDI in ninth, and #26 TRACY in tenth. Ten cars are on the lead lap at this point of the race.

On Lap 109 and just as the GREEN FLAG was beginning to wave, #17 GUGELMIN spins his car in Turn 3 and continues on-course. The starter continues the YELLOW FLAG conditions until the field resorts to the correct order.

On Lap 111, #5 DE FERRAN pits and drops out of fifth place.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 114 to restart the Budweiser 500 with #2 UNSER JR. leading #40 FERNANDEZ.

On Lap 117, #40 FERNANDEZ passes #2 UNSER JR. going into Turn 3 to take the lead.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 119 after #1 ZANARDI makes contact with the wall in Turn 4 and stalls at the top of the track in Turn 2. ZANARDI is uninjured and exits the car under his own power.

On Lap 120 and under the caution flag, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. with #99 MOORE in third, #7 RAHAL in fourth, and #12 VASSER in fifth. Nine cars are on the lead lap at this point of the race.

On Lap 121, #99 MOORE pits under the caution flag and turns fifth place over to #21 KANAAN.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 128 to restart the race.

On Lap 129, #26 TRACY passes #21 KANAAN to take fifth place.

On Lap 130, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. by .657 seconds with #7 RAHAL in third, #12 VASSER in fourth, and #26 TRACY in fifth.

On Lap 140, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. by 1.228 seconds with #7 RAHAL in third, #12 VASSER in fourth, and #26 TRACY in fifth.

On Lap 147, #5 DE FERRAN passes #21 KANAAN to take over sixth place.

On Lap 150, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. by .437 seconds, with #7 RAHAL in third, #12 VASSER in fourth, and #26 TRACY in fifth. Also on Lap 150, #19 JOURDAIN JR. withdraws from the race with mechanical problems.

On Lap 151, #17 GUGELMIN withdraws from the race with a wheel bearing problem.

On Lap 156, #20 PRUETT withdraws from the race with overheating problems.

On lap 158, #2 UNSER JR. pits and hands third place to #26 TRACY.

On Lap 159, #40 FERNANDEZ pits and hands the lead to #26 TRACY.

On Lap 160, #26 TRACY leads #5 DE FERRAN by 5.013 seconds with #99 MOORE in third, #40 FERNANDEZ in fourth, and #27 FRANCHITTI in fifth.

On Lap 164, #26 TRACY pits and #5 DE FERRAN takes over the lead.

On Lap 165, #5 DE FERRAN pits and hands the lead to #99 MOORE with #40 FERNANDEZ in second and #2 UNSER JR. in third.

On Lap 170, #99 MOORE leads #40 FERNANDEZ, with #2 UNSER JR. in third, #7 RAHAL in fourth, and #26 TRACY in fifth.

On Lap 171, #99 MOORE pits and hands the lead over to #40 FERNANDEZ with #2 UNSER JR. in second.

On Lap 180, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. by .740 seconds with #7 RAHAL in third, #5 DE FERRAN in fourth, and #99 MOORE in fifth.

YELLOW FLAG waves on Lap 186 after #7 RAHAL makes contact with the outside wall and flips the car coming out of Turn 2. RAHAL slides across the track and contacts the inside wall with the car still on its side. RAHAL is helped from the car by CART safety workers and is uninjured.

On Lap 190 and under a caution flag, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. with #5 DE FERRAN in third, #99 MOORE in fourth, and #26 TRACY in fifth. Five cars remain on the lead lap at this point.

GREEN FLAG waves on Lap 196 to restart the race with #40 FERNANDEZ leading #2 UNSER JR. and #5 DE FERRAN.

On Lap 197, #40 FERNANDEZ opens up a .751 second lead over #2 UNSER JR. with #5 DE FERRAN in third. #26 TRACY gets by #99 MOORE to take fourth.

On Lap 198, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. by 1.084 seconds with #5 DE FERRAN in third.

On Lap 199, #40 FERNANDEZ leads #2 UNSER JR. by 1.298 seconds with #5 DE FERRAN in third. #3 RIBEIRO passes #18 BLUNDELL to take ninth position.

WHITE FLAG waves on Lap 200 for #40 FERNANDEZ as he leads #2 UNSER JR. by 1.334 seconds, with #5 DE FERRAN in third.

BUDWEISER 500 No. 12 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes - Saturday, March 28, 1998

CHECKERED FLAG waves for #40 ADRIAN FERNANDEZ the winner of the BUDWEISER 500 at Twin Ring Motegi. #2 UNSER JR. comes home second, 1.086 seconds behind the winner and #5 DE FERRAN finishes in third. #99 MOORE slips past #26 TRACY on the last lap to take fourth. #26 TRACY finishes fifth.

Today's race winner, ADRIAN FERNANDEZ , records his second victory in CART competition and his first on an oval. FERNANDEZ averaged 159.393 mph over the 201 laps in today's race. This is FERNANDEZ's first victory since Toronto in 1996. FERNANDEZ led more laps today (102) than he has in his entire CART career. (He previously led 1 lap at Vancouver in 1994 and 17 laps at Toronto in 1996.) Today also represents the 20th career CART victory for Patrick Racing. By virtue of his win today, FERNANDEZ now leads the FedEx Championship Series Points chase for the PPG Cup with 29 points, the first time in his CART career that he has been atop the points board.

Today's victory represents the second victory in a row for Ford engines. Ironically, Ford also scored victories in the first two races of the 1997 CART season.

AL UNSER JR.'s second-place finish represents his first podium visit since Nazareth in 1997 (Round 4 of the season). Today also represented UNSER JR.'s best showing since Milwaukee in 1996. UNSER JR. led 16 laps today, the first time he has led since Road America in 1996.

GIL DE FERRAN's third place finish represents his 14th podium finish in 52 career CART starts and his best finish since Vancouver in 1997 (Round 15). Today's finish is also DE FERRAN's eighth podium in the last 14 starts.

Five drivers finished on the lead lap in today's Budweiser 500. There were 17 cars running at the end of the race with two cars out due to contact and the remainder of the field out with mechanical difficulties. There were 13 lead changes among seven drivers. FERNANDEZ led the most with laps with 102, followed by VASSER with 44, UNSER JR. with 26, ANDRETTI with 17, and TRACY, DE FERRAN, and MOORE with 4 laps each. There were three caution flags for a total of 33 laps. Today's Budweiser 500 took 1 hour, 57 minutes, and 12.016 seconds to complete.

Source: CART Online

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