CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Thursday wrap-up

MOTEGI, Japan (May 11, 2000) - Rookie Kenny Brack of Team Rahal made a memorable debut at the Twin Ring Motegi motorsports complex Thursday when he posted the fastest speed on the opening day of practice for the Firestone Firehawk 500. In ...

MOTEGI, Japan (May 11, 2000) - Rookie Kenny Brack of Team Rahal made a memorable debut at the Twin Ring Motegi motorsports complex Thursday when he posted the fastest speed on the opening day of practice for the Firestone Firehawk 500.

In preparation for his fourth career FedEx Championship Series start in Saturday's 500-kilometer event, Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) posted a top lap of 213.885 miles per hour (26.072 seconds) on the 1.549-mile oval late in the afternoon practice session. Another practice session begins 9:45 a.m. local time Friday (8:45 p.m. ET Thursday), with qualifying scheduled to begin 1:15 p.m. local time (12:15 a.m. ET Friday).

Brack will be chasing the first pole of his FedEx Championship Series career when qualifying begins. His best start to date is fourth at Rio de Janeiro two weeks ago.

Target/Chip Ganassi driver Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola), the defending FedEx Championship Series champion and 1999 CART All-Star, led a Toyota charge by recording the second-fastest lap at 213.721mph (26.092 seconds). He has started on the front row in two of three events to date, in addition to claiming the pole for the weather-delayed Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota at Nazareth Speedway, rescheduled for May 27.

Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola), Montoya's teammate at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, was third with a lap of 213.328 mph (26.140 seconds). He is looking to better a season-best start of second at Long Beach.

Rounding out the top five drivers were Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports, fourth at 212.030 mph (26.300 seconds), and Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, fifth at 211.990 (26.305 seconds). Twenty-four of 33 cars (including secondary cars) posted lap times that were within a second.

KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Reynard: "It's a fantastic facility, and the track is fun, too. We're working away at it, trying to go faster and faster, and trying to have a good day tomorrow, too. It's the first day of practice and things change over the weekend. The most important thing is to be on top during the last lap of the weekend, but if there's a list. It's good to be on top."

JUAN MONTOYA, Target Toyota Lola: "I think everything started pretty well. This afternoon we had a problem with the oil seal; I couldn't even hold it flat through [Turns] 1 and 2. So we pulled it in and went back to working on the other car. I was only able to run for four minutes and I went 26.3, 26.1 and 26.0, so that's pretty good. It was a long day, but it was good. It was the first time all year we've had a problem in practice. So, hopefully, we get it out of the way before the race."

JIMMY VASSER, Target Toyota Lola: "Things are going pretty good. We had a problem this afternoon, and we didn't really get started until the last green [flag period]. Toyota's been doing a lot of work, every time out it gets a little better and a little better, so hat's off to them. The chassis is working well and I think we're in good position for the weekend. We've got a lot of friends at Honda, no question about it. But as much as we like them, we're gonna work really hard to disappoint them as much we can this weekend."

* Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) will be seeking Team Rahal's first pole position since Bryan Herta won the pole at Laguna Seca last year, going onto victory in the race. Team Rahal's last pole on an oval came from Max Papis in last year's inaugural FedEx Championship Series event at Chicago Motor Speedway.

* Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) seeks his fourth front-row qualifying effort of the season Saturday. He started second at Homestead and Rio de Janeiro and earned the pole for the rescheduled Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota, May 27 at Nazareth Speedway.

* Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) won the pole for the inaugural FedEx Championship Series event at Twin Ring Motegi in 1998. He was awarded the pole after qualifying was rained out and the starting grid was based on practice times.

* Shinji Nakano (Avex Honda Reynard) of Walker Racing posted the 18th-fastest time in his return to competition after missing two events due to several small brain contusions sustained in a March 31 testing accident at The Milwaukee Mile. Nakano averaged 209.073 mph (26.672 seconds) on his fastest lap of the track. "It was my first time back in the car other than a brief test yesterday," Nakano said. "The car was much better this afternoon than this morning. There's still a lot of setup work to do. I feel we reached 80 percent of our potential, but we had to scrub some tires because it may rain tomorrow. My neck is just a little sore because I'm out of practice."

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Bryan Herta , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta