CORBY, England (September 21, 2001) - A second consecutive day of unsuitably wet track conditions forced postponement of Friday's practice sessions for Saturday's inaugural Rockingham 500, Round 17 of the FedEx Championship Series, at Rockingham...
CORBY, England (September 21, 2001) - A second consecutive day of unsuitably wet track conditions forced postponement of Friday's practice sessions for Saturday's inaugural Rockingham 500, Round 17 of the FedEx Championship Series, at Rockingham Motor Speedway, and caused Saturday's race time to be moved to accommodate round-the-clock repair work.
The persistent dampness, which caused postponement of Thursday's Champ Car testing, is being caused by a buildup of water pressure beneath the race track, rather than by inclement weather. As a natural means of releasing that pressure, the water flowed to the weakest seams on the track surface, where it collected to form a continual network of "weepers," consistently soaking small portions of track asphalt throughout 1.5-mile oval.
Efforts to dry the track, which endured several days of rain prior to Thursday's initial day of scheduled on-track activity, continued around the clock through Friday evening. Equipment and workers were called in from across England to help drill quarter-sized holes in an effort to facilitate track drainage. In addition, a fifth jet blower - compared to the usual two at most FedEx Championship Series events - was brought on site and additional jet fuel was carried in from nearby Northampton Airport to help supply the blower fleet.
Saturday's amended schedule calls for morning practice at 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), with the green flag for the 210-lap Rockingham 500 scheduled to fly at 3:17 p.m. local time (10:17 a.m. ET). Due to the adjustment to Saturday's on-track schedule, the Rockingham 500 will not air live on ESPN as originally scheduled. The event will now be broadcast via tape delay at noon ET Saturday on ESPN2.
The starting grid for Saturday's race will be based on championship points. Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal, who leads the FedEx Championship Series with 131 points, will receive credit for his series-high sixth pole position of the season, but will not receive the championship point that accompanies a pole earned on the race track.
Brack's previous pole positions this season have come at Mexico, Texas, Milwaukee, Michigan and Road America.
Starting alongside Brack will be defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Honda Reynard) of Team Penske, who stands second in the championship with 120 points. He will make his fourth front-row start of the season, including poles at Toronto, Mid-Ohio and Germany.
Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) of Team Motorola will start on the inside of the second row. Andretti, CART's all-time victory leader (41), entered the weekend with 115 championship points. His start from the third position represents a season best.
Joining Andretti on the second row will be reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (Honda Reynard) of Team Penske, who will start fourth. With 111 points, he trails Andretti by four entering Saturday's event, while Scott Dixon (Nextel Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group
In the absence of Friday's on-track activities, all Champ Car drivers conducted an extended autograph session Friday afternoon, which was followed by a paddock and garage tour for those fans in attendance.