MOTEGI, Japan (May 11, 2000) - Juan Montoya led the Toyota assault on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi circuit as three Toyota-powered drivers placed in the top four in the first day of practice for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 FedEx ...
MOTEGI, Japan (May 11, 2000) - Juan Montoya led the Toyota assault on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi circuit as three Toyota-powered drivers placed in the top four in the first day of practice for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 FedEx Championship Series race.
Montoya, who has qualified in the top three at each Champ Car race this season, was just .020 seconds off the top time of the day despite changing to his back-up Target Toyota and running less than 15 laps late in the session. Right behind Montoya was Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmy Vasser in third. Vasser, too, was less than a tenth off the fast time, trailing the top spot by a scant .068 seconds. The 1996 CART champion currently stands second in points this season.
Joining the two Target cars in the top four was Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota driver Cristiano da Matta. Coming off a career-best matching fourth at Rio, last year's Rookie of the Year runner-up was consistently fast throughout each practice session. He placed seventh in the morning session and improved to fourth in the afternoon.
Da Matta's PPI teammate Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota) made it four Toyotas in the first dozen with a 12th-place showing in the afternoon - only five-tenths off fast time. Norberto Fontana rounded out the Toyota contingent with a 22nd in his first trip to Motegi in his Videomatch Toyota.
Overall, 21 cars were separated by less than a second as cars lapped in excess of 213 mph as they prepared for tonight's qualifying.
Saturday evening's Firestone Firehawk 500 will be shown on tape-delay Sunday at 1 p.m., EDT on ABC.