CHAMPCAR/CART: Newman/Haas Rockingham Thursday notes

After arriving at the track for the inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series event at the Rockingham Motor Speedway with partial blue skies overhead, a steady attempt to dry the track from previous days of rain forced cancellation of the...

After arriving at the track for the inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series event at the Rockingham Motor Speedway with partial blue skies overhead, a steady attempt to dry the track from previous days of rain forced cancellation of the 9:30-11:15 am practice session. The attempt to dry the track continued through the lunch hour and resulted in a dry surface but water was weeping through the surface. ASCAR stock cars took to the track for a one-hour practice session in the afternoon but unfortunately the water continued weeping through the surface. CART determined that they would hold two, five-lap sessions so that all competitors could make installation runs to get ready for a full day on Friday after track officials worked to remedy the situation.

CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The angle of the corners of the track are good and the surface is mostly smooth. As far as I could tell, the track was designed and built well. I am looking forward to a full day of practice tomorrow. I hope the weather cooperates like it did for most of the day. The best thing that happened today though was hearing that Alex is awake and on his way to recovery."

· Will be his first Champ car race in England. Last competed in England during the 1996 Formula 3000 series. Also ran in England during the 1995 British Formula 3 season where he won one race and finished eighth in the Championship. Is currently only 52 points out of first place in the Championship with 78 with five races to go.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The track seemed a little bumpy but we were no where near the speed we are going to run in a regular practice or for the race so it is hard to tell. The track is wide but seems small. You should be able to pass in the early stages if you have a good car. We didn't have a good car in Germany and need to get some track time to sort out our set-up. It didn't help us that we didn't run more than 10 laps today. I was glad to hear that Alex came out of the medicated coma and seemed to be in good spirits today relative to what he has been through. That is good news for sure. My thoughts are with him and his family right now."

Is currently 74 points back from first place in the Championship standings in 13th place with 54 to leader Kenny Brack, 131. Racing history in Englandâ^À¦Will be his first time to race at Rockingham. Has raced in England extensively while competing in Formula One from 1992-1994, Formula 3000 (1991) where he won the Championship and in the British Formula 3 series (1990) where he won a race and finished fourth in the Championship.

The Rockingham 500 will mark the second European event sanctioned by Championship Auto Racing Teams in the organization's 23-year history.

The Rockingham 500, round 17 of 21, will air live in the United States beginning at 7:30 a.m. on ESPN. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Saturday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network - which will provide audio to nearly one million American servicemen and women worldwide through the American Forces Radio Network - and on CART's official website, which will also carry Friday's qualifying, at www.cart.com .

Following the Rockingham 500, the FedEx Championship Series returns home for Round 18, the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, Oct. 5-7 on the streets of downtown Houston, Texas. Newman/Haas Racing co-owner Carl A. Haas is a co-promoter of the event with Texaco/Havoline.

-NHR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack