The CART Sneak Preview continued this afternoon with Cristiano da Matta dominating proceedings once again in his Newman/Haas Lola Toyota. The Brazilian was the only driver in the first of today's two practice session to lap the Laguna Seca circuit...
The CART Sneak Preview continued this afternoon with Cristiano da Matta dominating proceedings once again in his Newman/Haas Lola Toyota. The Brazilian was the only driver in the first of today's two practice session to lap the Laguna Seca circuit in less than 70-seconds, but this afternoon, despite improving his time was joined in the 69-second bracket by both Players cars of Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier.
The two Players drivers lapped inside the top-ten through out the two and a half hour session, but it was the dying minutes that saw the Ford powered Reynard's jump to second and third fastest.
While this may only be a pre-season test, there really was a feel that this was like any other race meeting. Certainly teams are still learning about their 2002 specification equipment and some drivers are adapting to their new working environment, but don't be mistaken, many drivers were on the limit today.
Bruno Junqueira, recently re-signed with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, set the fourth fastest time, while teammate and Last year's championship runner up Kenny Brack was eighth fastest overall underlining that Ganassi may well be back on their way to being a regular front runner.
Scott Dixon, Rookie of the Year in 2001, was back in action for PacWest Racing, setting the fifth fastest time while probable 2002 teammate Oriol Servia was 13th.
Michael Andretti was sixth fastest after complaining initially that his Honda engine was down on power in his Motorola entry, while Christian Fittipaldi was sixth for Newman/Haas.
Townsend Bell was ninth fastest for Patrick Racing, despite still being classed as a Rookie this season. While only ninth, the Indy Lights Champion lapped seven-tenths of a second slower than da Matta.
Tony Kanaan rounded out the top ten times in the single Mo Nunn entry ahead of Michel Jourdain Jr who today ran for the first time for Rahal since signing a deal for the 2002 season.
Adrian Fernandez was 12th fastest ahead of Servia with Max Papis was next up having joined the Sigma Autosport team for the coming year. The Italian was black-flagged during the session as excessive smoke was reported to be trailing from his Lola Cosworth, but Papis was soon able to rejoin the test after a short pit stop.
Dario Franchitti sat out the first test session today and only joined the second session late on, but still managed to record the 15th fastest time in his Team KOOL Green entry ahead of teammate Paul Tracy who fought all day to get the Reynard to his liking.
Jimmy Vasser, now with Team Rahal, was 18th overall in this second test session ahead of Tora Takagi, Mario Dominguez and Shinji Nakano.
The CART Sneak Preview weekend continues tomorrow at 12:00 noon EST.
00 mins - Air temp 73, track 76 degrees.
00 mins - Franchitti failed to record a lap time in the first test session.
00 mins - Green Flag.
01 mins - Andretti sets the first timed lap.
01 mins - Tracy pits as his radio plugs fell out of his ears.....
05 mins - Andretti complaining of down on power Honda.
05 mins - Townsend Bell fastest (1:11.354) from Vasser and Jourdain Jr.
08 mins - Dominguez (Herdez) moves second to Bell - the only Rookies in the series.
12 mins - Vasser moves second to Bell.
14 mins - Patrick Carpentier moves fastest in his Players car (1:10.511).
15 mins - Dominquez (6th for Herdez) - "Some traction would be nice"
15 mins - Servia moves third for PacWest or PWR as they like to call themselves this year.
18 mins - Servia up to second.
20 mins - Brack moves fastest in his Ganassi Lola Toyota (1:10.232) followed by new teammate Bruno Junqueira.
25 mins - Order - Brack, Junqueira, Carpentier, Servia, Bell, Vasser, Tracy, Papis, Dominquez, Kanaan, Jourdain Jr, Andretti, Takagi.
27 mins - Papis (Sigma) - suffering from push.
33 mins - Cristiano da Matta jumps from fourth to fastest (1:10.054)
38 mins - Dario Franchitti (Team KOOL Green) has not completed a times lap so far today in either session.
58 mins - Andretti moves third behind Brack.
66 mins - Red Flag - Carpentier (6th) in mechanical difficulties.
66 mins - Tracy (12th - Team KOOL Green): "I need ton of front end in this thing. I'm not talking about 100 pounds of spring rate or some ride height. I'm talking like the chassis equivalent of 5 turns of front wing. This is ridiculous, we're two seconds off the pace."
76 mins - Green Flag.
77 mins - Red Flag - Tora Takagi (Walker Racing) stops on track.
85 mins - Green Flag.
87 mins - Quick spin for Dixon who continues.
90 mins - Dixon moves fifth.
90 mins - Tracy off track but continues.
98 mins - Papis' Sigma Car is reported to be putting out some smoke.
100 mins - Order - Da Matta, Brack, Andretti, Junqueira, Dixon, Kanaan, Carpentier, Servia, Brack (X) and Bell.
102 mins - Da Matta's crew to begin practicing pit stops.
104 mins - Dominguez off track, Bell sideways but recovers.
104 mins - Dixon moves fourth fastest.
106 mins - da Matta improves his own best time (fastest) to 1:09.500.
112 mins - Black flag for Papis as his Sigma car is still smoking.
117 mins - Tracy (16th) complaining that his tires "are shagged" and understeer.
119 mins - Bell moves third fastest behind da Matta and Brack.
122 mins - Order: da Matta, Brack, Bell, Dixon, Andretti, Tagliani, Junqueira, Kanaan, Carpentier and Servia.
123 mins - Franchitti finally on track - slowest at the moment in his Team KOOL Green car having completed five laps.
136 mins - No change at the top.
147 mins - Carpentier moves third.
147 mins - Junqueira moves third, then improves to second (1:09.739).
148 mins - All going for a fast time now.
149 mins - Tagliani moves second (1:09.545), Andretti fifth.
150 mins - Carpentier third behind teammate Tagliani.
150 mins - Checkered - Order - Da Matta, Tagliani, Carpentier, Junqueira, Dixon and Andretti.