CHAMPCAR/CART: Thursday Track Lap Report

FedEx Championship Series Lap Report- Thursday, May 21, 1998 J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice-President of Competition has announced the official track distance for the Gateway International Speedway is 1.270 miles and the race distance will be 236...

FedEx Championship Series Lap Report- Thursday, May 21, 1998

J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice-President of Competition has announced the official track distance for the Gateway International Speedway is 1.270 miles and the race distance will be 236 laps (299.720 miles).

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the week. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 106 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 85 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the morning session, the fastest driver is #12X VASSER with a lap of 175.058 mph (26.117 seconds), followed by #1 ZANARDI (171.738 mph; 26.622 seconds), and #21 KANAAN (171.057 mph; 26.728 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:43 a.m. for a track inspection after the crew of #18X BLUNDELL reports a cut, right rear tire on BLUNDELL's car after examination in the pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:50 a.m. to resume the practice session. #12X VASSER is still the fastest driver of the session with his earlier lap of 175.058 mph (26.117 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (172.672 mph; 26.478 seconds), and #16 CASTRO-NEVES (171.847 mph; 26.605 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:55 a.m. for a track inspection for debris.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:57 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #12X VASSER with his earlier lap of 175.058 mph (26.117 seconds), followed by #9X LEHTO (173.728 mph; 26.317 seconds), and #2 UNSER JR. (172.789 mph; 26.460 seconds).

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #9X LEHTO with a lap of 175.233 mph (26.091 seconds), followed by #12X VASSER (175.058 mph; 26.117 seconds), and #2 UNSER JR. (174.471 mph; 26.205 seconds).

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:10 a.m. report.

At 11:30 a.m., 60 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:10 a.m. report.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:34 a.m. for a track inspection after the crew of #3 RIBEIRO reports a cut left, rear tire on RIBEIRO's car upon examination in the pits.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the practice session and under a full-course caution flag, the fastest driver is now #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 175.421 mph (26.063 seconds), followed by #9X LEHTO (175.233 mph; 26.091 seconds), and #12X VASSER (175.058 mph; 26.117 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:41 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #12 VASSER with a lap of 177.161 mph (25.807 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (175.657 mph; 26.028 seconds), and #6 ANDRETTI (175.590 mph; 26.038 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:57 a.m. after #24 GORDON stalls at the entrance to pit road. CART safety workers tow the car to GORDON's pit.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the morning session with #99X MOORE the fastest driver with a lap of 177.505 mph (25.757 seconds), followed by #12 VASSER (177.161 mph; 25.807 seconds), and #21 KANAAN (177.106 mph; 25.815 seconds).

CART drivers introduced 40 different cars to the track this morning with secondary cars utilized by #99X MOORE, #9X LEHTO, #12X VASSER, #98X JONES, #17X GUGELMIN, #6X ANDRETTI, #2X UNSER JR., #40X FERNANDEZ, #5X DE FERRAN, #20X PRUETT, #18X BLUNDELL, and #19X JOURDAIN JR. The top 25 cars are separated by less than one second in lap times. CART drivers logged a total of 1319 incident-free laps during this morning practice session.

At approximately 1:30 p.m., a strong line of thunderstorms covered the St. Louis area, drenching the Gateway International Speedway and causing a cancellation of the afternoon practice sessions for all series. The CART on-track schedule will pick up again with a morning practice session scheduled to take the green flag Friday at 10 a.m.

Quotes from the fastest three drivers in this morning's practice follow.

GREG MOORE, Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes: "I'm very comfortable with the laps we ran today. We didn't test at all here, so like Nazareth, we spent the first hour getting used to what the car felt like with speedway wings. The last half-hour, we concentrated on getting some good laps in, and it seemed to work out well."

JIMMY VASSER, Target Reynard Honda: "The car has a lot less downforce and a lot less grip [with speedway wings], but we're still achieving higher top end speeds down the straightaways. It's a matter of working with the engineers to get more mechanical grip. We were able to test here one time in this configuration late last year, in October or November, and some of what we learned there has transferred to the [19]98 car, but not everything. We're still confident that we can work with the engineers to solve whatever problems still remain. It's always a challenge to take any car in any configuration to the limit. The thing about our series is that we're constantly adapting to situations like that. One of the great things about our series is that there are so many diverse types of tracks, cars and configurations, and the way the driver lineup is shaping up, every driver is a champion in his own right."

TONY KANAAN, LCI Reynard Honda: "[The rain] puts us a little bit behind, but at least it's the same for everybody. We had a pretty good run today, and I hope the weather can stay the same tomorrow as it was this morning. If not, there could some problems."

Source: CART Online

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