CHAMPCAR/CART: Press notes 96-02-29

Christian Fittipaldi had an impressive four-day test session for Newman/Haas Racing last week at Texas World Speedway. The team completed more than 1,600 miles during the preseason test from Feb. 19-22 and Fittipaldi posted a top lap of 234.9...

Christian Fittipaldi had an impressive four-day test session for Newman/Haas Racing last week at Texas World Speedway. The team completed more than 1,600 miles during the preseason test from Feb. 19-22 and Fittipaldi posted a top lap of 234.9 miles per hour in the Kmart/Budweiser Lola Ford Cosworth on Goodyear tires. "When I first got out of the car, it took me awhile to get used to being still," Fittipaldi said. "It was like I had been twirling in a chair for hours and then tried to get up and walk. It was excellent to get a lot of practice one week before the season starts. Like with any sport, the more you practice, the more you learn." The Newman/Haas team also learned a good amount about the endurance of the Cosworth XD engine. "We chose Texas World Speedway because the track is very demanding," team manager Lee White said. "You have the throttle down over 95 percent of the lap. We were very encouraged because we tested three engines for 550 to 570 miles each with no problems. The test was specifically to prepare us for the U.S. 500 and the Marlboro 500."

IndyCar rookie Jeff Krosnoff is in good hands with co-owner Frank Arciero Sr. Arciero has been a master at helping mold young careers, including those of Pamelli Jones, Bobby Unser and Michael Andretti. His racing teams also have won four rookie-of-the-year awards in Indy Car racing, all of which came in a three-year span. Randy Lanier was the top Indy 500 rookie in 1986, Fabrizio Barbazza swept the IndyCar and Indy 500 honours in '87 and John Jones was IndyCar's rookie of the year in 1988. "I have always believed in hiring rookie drivers," said Arciero, who shares the IndyCar team with Cal Wells III. "They tend to listen more. My father always told me that you bend a tree when it's young, not when it's old because then it will break." Krosnoff will be driving the No. 25 Arciero-Wells Racing 1996 Reynard Toyota with Firestone tires.

After 27 Formula One outings, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Alessandro Zanardi will be immediately introduced to oval racing with his IndyCar debut coming at the 1.51-mile oval of the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. Zanardi, driving a Reynard Honda on Firestones, got a taste of what to expect during Spring Training at Homestead and produced a lap of 191.980 mph during the February testing session. "It was a very good test for me," said Zanardi, who completed for Jordan, Minardi and Lotus during his Formula One career. "It was very important because I felt how the car was like in traffic. In the tests we did before, I was not driving with other cars around me. It was something that I had to learn." Zanardi's teammate, Jimmy Vasser, had the top lap of Spring Training at 195.936 mph.

ESPN will provide live coverage of the inaugural U.S. 500's two-day qualifying session scheduled for May 11-12 at Michigan International Speedway. The cable sports network will broadcast the time trials Saturday, May 11 from 2:30 - 4 p.m. and Sunday, May 12 from 4-5 p.m. (All times EST). "ESPN's decision to televise live coverage of the U.S. 500 time trials is a reflection of the growing public interest in the race," said Rena Shanaman, general manager of the U.S. 500. "ESPN is the leader in motorsports programming, and we're happy to have their additional involvement in the U.S. 500." The broadcast of the qualifying will push ESPN's total coverage of the event to six hours. ESPN will broadcast live the U.S. 500 beginning at 2 p.m. on May 26.

From the home office in Columbus, Ohio, here are David Letterman's "Top 10 Perks of Being A Member of Team Rahal". 10) Speeding tickets no longer a problem thanks to special Merritt Parkway "testing permit". 9) If my car breaks down anywhere in the country, Bobby will personally come and tow it. 8) Empty methanol drums make great pool toys. 7) Now when I need a pit pass, only have to suck up to myself. 6) For a change, get to be part of a team that is not in last place. 5) Thanks to Tony George, Indy 500 race-day traffic jams no longer a problem. 4) Chance to have photo taken with Indy Car hunk Paul Page. 3) After each race, I get to check Bobby's helmet for hair. 2) If Bobby wraps up championship early in season, I get [Bryan] Herta's ride. And the No. 1 perk of being a member of Team Rahal: Finally, someone I can talk to about my half-shaft problems.

Scott Goodyear and his wife, Leslie, announced the birth of their second child, Michael Evan, on Feb. 23 in Indianapolis, Ind. Michael weighed seven pounds, six ounces and was 21 inches long. The Goodyears' other child is four-year-old Christopher.

IndyCar drivers Emerson Fittipaldi, Paul Tracy and Bobby Rahal, as well as former star Rick Mears, will be participating tonight in a Marlboro-sponsored celebrity bartender even at Dan Marino's American Sports Bar & Grill in Coconut Grove, Fla. The cost to attend the event, which runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m., is $10 and all proceeds benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Fittipaldi, Tracy and Mears will also team up with al Unser Jr. And several other IndyCar drivers Thursday for Harley-Davidson motorcycle caravan to the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. The group will depart at 11 a.m. from the Harley-Davidson South dealership at 17631 S. Dixie Highway and head to the track, where they will take a parade lap around the oval on their Harleys.

The PPG Indy Car World Series opens this weekend with ABC-TV and ESPN2 providing qualifying, pre-race and race coverage of the Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota at the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex.

ESPN2 opens the coverage Saturday with a one-hour, tape-delay broadcast of pole qualifying beginning at 5 p.m. (All times EST). The cable network also will rebroadcast the qualifying later that night, starting at 12:30 a.m.

On Sunday, ESPN2 will provide a half-hour, pre-race show beginning at 1 p.m. The coverage then shifts over to ABC for live broadcast of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. The Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota will be the first of 12 IndyCar races to be televised on ABC-TV this season.

In other television news, the state of Indy Car racing will be the topic of a special report by Paul Crane at 11 p.m. tonight on CNN Sports Tonight. The majority of the IndyCar footage and interviews that will be shown were taken during the inaugural Spring Training at Homestead in February. The feature was scheduled to air Tuesday evening, but was reformatted because of the breaking news regarding the trade of NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky.

Lubricant specialist Castrol has signed a three-year partnership agreement with All American Racers and Toyota to become a major sponsor of Dan Gurney's new Toyota-powered AAR Eagles. In addition to its motorsports partnership with AAR, Castrol will become a technical partner with the auto maker in the development of its new Indy engine. "This is a business partnership…," said Tim Stevenson, chief executive officer of Castrol International. "Castrol has teamed with Dan Gurney to win Formula One and IndyCar races in the past, and we look forward to winning again with AAR in the future." The partnership between Castrol and Gurney dates back nearly three decades. "Castrol and All American Races have been a winning combination since as far back as 1967 when we won two Formula One races with the No. 36 Castrol-lubricated Eagle," Gurney said. "This year's program has Castrol and the car No. 36, so hopefully it bodes well for us winning in the future."

The Marlboro Pole Award returns to the PPG Indy Car World Series for its fourth season, but will add a new twist to its generosity. In addition to its $400,000 pool of bonus money, Marlboro also will give away a 1996 Mercedes- Benz E 420 Sport at the season-ending Toyota Grand Prix of Monterey. Each pole winner throughout the season will receive a Mercedes key for his efforts and then will use their accumulated keys to find the one that starts the car at the season finale. The program begins with Saturday's qualifying for the season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota. The program, which includes every event except the U.S. 500, awards $10,000 to the pole winner and an additional $15,000 for also winning that race. If the pole-sitter does not win, the bonus rolls over to the next week. This week's race will have a $45,000 rollover from last season, leaving a $55,000 bonus for any driver who can capture the pole and a victory at Homestead.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Goodyear , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dan Gurney , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi , Jeff Krosnoff , Randy Lanier
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing