CHAMPCAR/CART: Penske Plans New Speedway

By Mike Stucker - Motorsport.com Fridays first practice session for the CART FedEx Champ Cars got under way on the streets of Houston, Texas, at 9:30 am under cloudy skies. There were several incidents during the session that each time...

By Mike Stucker - Motorsport.com

Fridays first practice session for the CART FedEx Champ Cars got under way on the streets of Houston, Texas, at 9:30 am under cloudy skies. There were several incidents during the session that each time required it to be red flagged, the worst being when Bruno Junqeira spins and backs his Lola into the Turn 1 tire barrier, knocking off his rear wing. When the checkered flag falls at 11:15 to end the session, Gil de Ferran is fastest at 1:01.222 and 89.791 mph, followed by Christian Fittipaldi (1:01.406) and Helio Castroneves (1:01.418).

During the lunch break, the skies darken and a light drizzle begins to fall. These are the track conditions when the second practice session begins at 1:45 pm. Again there are several minor incidents. The two worst coming when Fittipaldi damages his right front suspension on the Turn 10 tire barrier, and when Tora Takagi does the same in Turn 5. Shinji Nakano ends up being the fastest in the wet session at 1:12.499 and 75.824 mph. But de Ferran, Fittipaldi, and Castroneves remain the three fastest for the day.

Talking about the wet afternoon session, de Ferran said that the rainy session was an easy "rain test". "It was an opportunity to make changes to the car in the wet conditions that we don't have a lot of opportunity to do." Normally this season, the rain has come in qualifying or during the race, when there is no time to experiment.

When asked about his accident, Fittipaldi jokingly replied "I just ran out of talent." He later continued, "I had a pretty decent day today, but to be honest -- and I'm trying to change this from the last few races -- I've been having a pretty (crappy) season. It's definitely good to be here. We're changing the car and getting it a lot better than it was in the last three street courses and more like it was in the early street courses."

Commenting on the Houston streets, Castroneves called them difficult because they are bumpy in the braking areas. But Fitiipaldi stated that he like the street courses because "you have a little bit of room to play with the cars."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Christian Fittipaldi , Tora Takagi , Shinji Nakano