CHAMPCAR/CART: New Rules for 1998

Qualifying Procedures, Tire Rules Revamped for FedEx Championship Series Campaign CART Online (March 4, 1998) -- Rules changes involving qualifying and tire selection are among those which will be in effect when the FedEx Championship ...

Qualifying Procedures, Tire Rules Revamped for FedEx Championship Series Campaign

CART Online (March 4, 1998) -- Rules changes involving qualifying and tire selection are among those which will be in effect when the FedEx Championship Series season opens its 1998 season at the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota, March 13-15 at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Fla.

A new rule taking effect during qualifying for all FedEx Championship Series events stipulates that all drivers must attain a qualifying time within 110 percent of the average of the times established by the front-row qualifiers. Entries not meeting this standard will be allowed a maximum of two provisional starts per season.

A driver will be suspended upon failing to meet the qualifying standard three times in a season, and will only be reinstated upon demonstration of his ability to be competitive.

"In so many areas, weon the rise," said J. Kirk Russell, CART"Each year, the level and depth of competitiveness in our series increases. Itmaintained, and the 110 percent rule ensures that the drivers with the sharpest skills will be a constant presence in our series."

In order to create continued drama at oval-track events, the qualifying system instituted late last season, in which drivers qualify in descending order based on practice times rather than by blind draw, will be continued in 1998.

"Since this is a competition, it doesnqualifying order according to a draw," Russell said. "The performance of our drivers is laid out in practice times for the event, so it made sense to use practice times as the mechanism to determine qualifying order.

"From a fan standpoint, therewhoqualified."

In another significant change from last yearbeen eliminated, except in cases where the manufacturer withdraws the primary tire due to safety considerations. A tire may not be withdrawn without approval of the technical director and chief steward. Tires withdrawn by the manufacturer may not be used by any entrant for the remainder of the event.

All qualifying times previously credited to an entrant using the withdrawn tire will be forfeited. If the primary tire is withdrawn by the manufacturer after qualifying, any entrant using the option tire will be placed on the grid behind all other entries.

"When two tire manufacturers became competitive in our series [in 1995], we felt that an optional tire was desirable as a fallback because of the high level of competition associated with two manufacturers," Russell said. "However, it has become evident that the option tire was not needed as a fallback, and that it has since become part of the competition arsenal. Elimination of the option tire will help simplify the process of choosing a race tire. We hope this will encourage the manufacturers to produce a harder tire which will result in fewer marbles and cleaner racetracks."

All restarts following full-course caution flags during the 1998 season will be single file. The only realignment in the field will be placement of the race leader behind the pace car.

In other rules changes for 1998, CART has adopted a time-certain schedule. All track-related activities will start and end as listed on the event schedule published by CART prior to the event.

CART will also continue the testing blackout policy which was adopted late last season. No testing will be allowed for two days either before or after New YearChristmas.

The 1998 FedEx Championship Series includes 19 events in five countries (United States, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia). Defending PPG Cup champion Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing is seeking to become the seriessince Bobby Rahal won back-to-back titles in 1986 and Rahal (Miller Lite Reynard Ford), in his final season of competition as a driver, will be joined by Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford), Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda), Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda), Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) and Greg Moore (PlayerReynard Mercedes) as a regular field of 29 competitors attempts to deny Zanardi his second consecutive championship.

All 19 FedEx Championship Series events will be televised by either ABC or ESPN this season.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Mauricio Gugelmin , Chip Ganassi , Greg Moore
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing