CHAMPCAR/CART: Thursday Pit Notes

(March 26, 1998) -- BUDWEISER 500 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes – Thursday, March 26, 1998 Good morning from Motegi, Japan for the opening day of practice at the brand-new, 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval for Saturday's...

(March 26, 1998) -- BUDWEISER 500 FedEx Championship Series Press Notes – Thursday, March 26, 1998 Good morning from Motegi, Japan for the opening day of practice at the brand-new, 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval for Saturday's Round Two of the FedEx Championship Series, the Budweiser 500. Today's on-track CART action will begin with a 90-minute practice session, time certain, for the full field of 30 drivers at 10:30 a.m. A 90-minute afternoon practice session will follow at 2:30 p.m., to wrap up today's schedule. Practice laps should be in the 210-220 mph range as were logged by FedEx Champ Car drivers last November in a two-day open test session at the track. JIMMY VASSER clocked the fastest lap in that test session with a speed of 215.180 mph (25.915 seconds). On hand from CART for your media needs for this weekend are Ron Richards, Vice President of Communications; Mike Zizzo, Director of Public Relations; Steve Shunck, Director of Broadcast Public Relations; T.E. McHale, News Manager, and Mark Tate, Pit Note Specialist. Feel free to seek out any of these individuals with any questions that you may have concerning this weekend's Budweiser 500. In honor of the inaugural FedEx Championship Series race at Twin Ring Motegi, the top three finishers in Saturday's Budweiser 500 will leave a lasting impression at the track. After the post-race ceremonies, each podium finisher will leave his handprints and signature in cement to be permanently on display at the track. Payton-Coyne Racing has announced that GUALTER SALLES will be driving in place of DENNIS VITOLO for this week's race, Round Two, the Budweiser 500 at Twin Ring Motegi. VITOLO is presently hampered by a broken finger sustained at Homestead. VITOLO is expected to be back in the Payton-Coyne car next week for Round Three of the FedEx Championship Series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the morning practice. The first driver to take to the track is #12X VASSER. At 10:35 a.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #12X VASSER with a lap of 199.871 mph (27.900 seconds), followed by #2 UNSER JR. (190.178 mph; 29.322 seconds), and #19 JOURDAIN JR. (190.055 mph; 29.341 seconds). YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:43 a.m. for a track inspection after the pit crews of #21 KANAAN and #40 FERNANDEZ report cut tires on their respective cars upon examination in the pit area. GREEN FLAG waves at 10:50 a.m. to resume the morning practice session. At 11 a.m., the fastest driver is #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 211.171 mph (26.407 seconds), followed by #12 VASSER (209.497 mph; 26.618 seconds) and #26 TRACY (209.332 mph; 26.639 seconds). At this point of the session, 23 drivers are over 200 mph in lap speeds. YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:05 a.m. after #9 LEHTO loses power going through Turn 3 and stalls on the front stretch. LEHTO had just turned his fastest lap of the session with a speed of 204.107 mph (27.321 seconds). GREEN FLAG waves at 11:20 a.m. after a 15-minute caution period to allow CART safety workers to clean the track. YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:24 a.m. after #26 TRACY stalls at pit entry. At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the morning session with the race course still under the yellow flag, the fastest driver is #12 VASSER with a lap of 212.726 mph; 26.214 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (211.171 mph; 26.407 seconds), #11 FITTIPALDI (209.576 mph; 26.608 seconds), #99X MOORE (209.379 mph; 26.633 seconds), and #26 TRACY (209.332 mph; 26.639 seconds). GREEN FLAG waves at 11:38 a.m. to resume the morning practice session. At 11:45 a.m., the fastest driver is #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 213.206 mph (26.155 seconds), followed by #12 VASSER (212.726 mph; 26.214 seconds) and #40 FERNANDEZ (212.240 mph; 26.274 seconds). At 11:48 a.m., #12 VASSER again becomes the fastest driver of the session with a lap of 215.471 mph; 25.880 seconds) on his 31st lap of the session. CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the morning session with #12 VASSER still the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 215.471 mph (25.880 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (215.172 mph; 25.916 seconds), #1 ZANARDI (214.816 mph; 25.959 seconds), #11 FITTIPALDI (213.198 mph; 26.156 seconds), and #99X MOORE (213.051 mph; 26.174 seconds). CART teams introduced 35 different cars to the track with 31 cars logging laps over 200 mph and 25 cars clocking speeds within one second of VASSER's speed. Secondary cars were utilized by #99X MOORE, #10X HEARN, #26X TRACY, #9X LEHTO, #12X VASSER, #33X CARPENTIER and #36X BARRON. CART drivers logged a total of 1210 laps during the morning session. CART Race Control has announced that today's afternoon session has been extended. The afternoon session will start at 2:30 p.m. and last a full two hours, time certain. The practice session has been extended today due to rain expected in the Motegi area Friday which may cut short the Friday practice sessions. GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the afternoon practice session. YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:39 p.m. for debris on the track. At the same time, #10 HEARN stalls his car in Turn 1 and has to be towed back to his pit area by CART safety personnel. At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 216.131 mph (25.801 seconds), followed by #12 VASSER (212.394 mph; 26.255 seconds) and #33 CARPENTIER (212.378 mph; 26.257 seconds). GREEN FLAG waves at 2:46 p.m. to resume the afternoon practice session. At 2:58 p.m., #12 VASSER clocks the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 216.829 mph (25.718 seconds). At 3 p.m., 30 minutes into the session, #12 VASSER is still the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 216.829 mph (25.718 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (216.131 mph; 25.801 seconds) and #5 DE FERRAN (215.488 mph; 25.878 seconds). YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:10 p.m. for a track inspection after CART safety workers report debris on the track. GREEN FLAG waves at 3:16 p.m. to resume the practice session. YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:24 p.m. for a track inspection for debris. At 3:30 p.m., halfway through the two hour session, the fastest driver is still #12 VASSER with a clocking of 217.548 mph (25.633 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (216.812 mph; 25.720 seconds) and #5 DE FERRAN (216.685 mph; 25.735 seconds). GREEN FLAG waves at 3:31 p.m. to resume the afternoon session. At 3:37 p.m., #12 VASSER ups his top speed to 217.964 mph (25.584 seconds). YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:38 p.m. after #77 MEIER cuts a left rear tire spreading debris on the track as he exits Turn 2. GREEN FLAG waves at 3:57 p.m. to resume the practice session. At 4 p.m., 90 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #12 VASSER with his earlier lap of 217.964 mph (25.584 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (217.701 mph; 25.615 seconds) and #5 DE FERRAN (217.116 mph; 25.684 seconds). YELLOW FLAG waves at 4:12 p.m. after #18 BLUNDELL stalls at the end of pit road. At 4:15 p.m., with 15 minutes left in the session and the track under a caution flag, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 4 p.m. report. GREEN FLAG waves at 4:18 p.m. to resume the session. YELLOW FLAG waves at 4:23 p.m. after #99 MOORE makes heavy contact with the outside wall in Turn 3. MOORE exits the car under his own power but the car sustains major damage to the right side suspension. CHECKERED FLAG waves at 4:25 p.m. to end the afternoon session as the track clean-up from the MOORE incident will exceed the five minutes that were left in the session. #12 VASSER remains the fastest driver of the day with his earlier 217.964 mph (25.584 second) effort, followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (217.701 mph; 25.615 seconds), #5 DE FERRAN (217.116 mph; 25.684 seconds), #1 ZANARDI (216.812 mph; 25.720), and #99 MOORE (216.526 mph; 25.754 seconds). CART drivers introduced 32 cars to the track in the afternoon session, with all but one car exceeding 200 mph laps. The top 24 cars are separated by less than one second in lap times. CART drivers logged a total of 1478 laps during the afternoon session. The top eight drivers exceeded the top speed of 215.180 mph (25.915 seconds) for Twin Ring Motegi set by JIMMY VASSER in the November, 1997 open test. Driver quotes from the three fastest drivers from today's practice sessions follow. JIMMY VASSER, Target Reynard Honda: "I think we'll be a little quicker tomorrow. With so many race cars going around the track so close together, it's creating a vortex of wind, and maybe some people are getting a little bit of a tow. I think we'll be a little quicker tomorrow, but the times for the pole will be similar to what we ran today." ADRIAN FERNANDEZ, Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford: "I'm very happy to be fighting at the front, in the second race of the year. We have a very good package with the Reynard chassis, Ford engine and Firestone tires. The car was good from the beginning and has been very responsive to changes, but it's going to be very close at the front, as you can see." GIL DE FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda: "This is a very fast race track. You're almost flat in Turns 1 and 2, so it's very important not to scrub off so much speed going through there. You have to brake going into Turn 3, but still try to carry your speed. It's a very difficult job."

Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar