CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Friday Pit Notes

Pit Notes / MOLSON INDY Good Morning from downtown Toronto, Ontario for the first day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy! Today's weather has opened the weekend with partly cloudy skies and plenty of sunshine for the ...

Pit Notes / MOLSON INDY

Good Morning from downtown Toronto, Ontario for the first day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy! Today's weather has opened the weekend with partly cloudy skies and plenty of sunshine for the first Canadian CART event of the 1999 season. Temperatures are predicted to hover in the low 80's, sun or no sun. The weekend's first practice session is scheduled for the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. This full-field session will last 90 minutes. At 2:30 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the split-group provisional qualifying session with the fastest drivers from the FedEx Championship Series previous road-course venue's qualifying sessions making up Group One. Each split-session provisional qualifying Group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15-minute break between the two groups' efforts. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars again on-track for practice from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. with the final round of qualifying scheduled from 12:45 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. This final qualifying session will again be in the split-group format with the fastest drivers from Friday's provisional qualifying comprising Group Two. Again, each group will be on-track for 30 minutes with a 15- minute break between the two Groups. Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the 95-lap Molson Indy at 2 p.m. (All times are local.)

This weekend's official CART entry list again features a few changes. Veteran pilot ROBERTO MORENO will again drive the PacWest Motorola-sponsored Honda Reynard in place of the recuperating MARK BLUNDELL. Also, SHIGEAKI HATTORI returns to the CART FedEx Championship Series to compete in this weekend's Molson Indy in the Epson-sponsored Bettenhausen-owned Mercedes Reynard after a planned two-race hiatus. Finally, DENNIS VITOLO will drive the #71 Payton-Coyne owned Tang-sponsored Ford Cosworth this weekend in place of Rookie LUIZ GARCIA. Another change to the usual format here at Toronto has been announced by CART Chief Steward WALLY DALLENBACH and CART Vice President of Competition J. KIRK RUSSELL. The official distance here at the Toronto Exhibition Place temporary street course as measured by Omega Timing, the official Timing of the FedEx Championship Series, has been announced at 1.755 miles, up from last year's 1.721 miles. The race length will be 166.725 miles, but still the traditional 95-lap affair.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 100 degrees F. (37 C.) and an ambient temperature of 83 degrees F. (28 C.) at the start of the session. #22 GORDON will have to sit out the last eight minutes of this morning's session as a penalty for causing a delay in the last ten minutes of the last practice of Elkhart Lake last week.

At 10:39 a.m., #71 VITOLO slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and stalls the car. CART safety workers attend to the car and get the car restarted. VITOLO continues to his Pit Area.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #24 PRUETT with a lap of 103.914 mph (1:00.800), followed by #20X PRUETT (102.607 mph; 1:01.575) and #27 FRANCHITTI (102.502 mph; 1:01.590).

RED FLAG waves at 10:50 a.m. after CART course observers report a small piece of the concrete has broken loose in Turn 1. CART corner workers quickly clear the track.

Also at 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 105.794 mph (59.720 seconds), followed #11 FITTIPALDI (105.142 mph; 1:00.090) and #44 KANAAN (105.114 mph; 1:00.106). GREEN FLAG waves at 10:53 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 10:50 a.m. report.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTTI with a faster lap of 105.991 mph (59.609 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (105.866 mph; 59.679) and #11 FITTIPALDI (105.714 mph; 59.765 seconds).

At 11:16 a.m., #71 VITOLO brushes the wall at Turn 2 and continues on course without damage to the car.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTI with a lap of 106.303 mph (59.434 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (105.866 mph; 59.679) and #11 FITTIPALDI (105.714 mph; 59.765 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 11:22 a.m. after #4X MONTOYA makes contact with the right rear tire of #36 SALLES at Turn 10. MONTOYA's car spins to a stop while SALLES continues on course to his Pit with a flat right, rear tire. Both drivers are uninjured in the incident but MONTOYA's car sustains slight damage to the right side suspension.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:28 a.m. to resume the practice session. At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 106.303 mph (59.434 seconds), followed by #44 KANAAN (106.269 mph; 59.453 seconds) and #11 FITTIPALDI (106.035 mph; 59.584 seconds).

At 11:34 a.m., #19 JOURDAIN Jr. slides into the run-off at Turn 8 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and JOURDAIN Jr. continues to his pit.

Chuck Matthews, a vehicle dynamics engineer for Walker Racing who handles the team's fuel calculation, collapsed in the team's pits during the morning practice session, according to Dr. Nick Bonfilio, attending physician on the CART Medical Team. Toronto EMS responded to the scene and transported Matthews via ambulance to St. Michael's Hospital. He was conscious prior to transportation. More details will follow when available.

RED FLAG waves at 11:36 a.m. to allow an ambulance transporting Mr. Mathews to exit the racetrack.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:40 a.m. to resume the practice session. Also, at 11:40 a.m. the fastest three drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 11:30 a.m. report.

At 11:42 a.m., #16 HATTORI slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:45 a.m., #71 VITOLO slides into the run-off at Turn 8 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and VITOLO continues to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 106.303 mph (59.434 seconds), followed by #44 KANAAN (106.269 mph; 59.453 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (106.117 mph; 59.538 seconds).

At 11:52 a.m., #22 GORDON pulls onto Pit Road and parks the car to comply with the penalty from Elkhart Lake.

At 11:55 a.m. with five minutes left in the session, #11 FITTIPALDI clocks the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 107.312 mph (58.875 seconds), followed by #18 MORENO (106.556 mph; 59.293 seconds).

At 11:58 a.m., #15 GIDLEY slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and stalls the car. The driver decides to stay put to await the end of the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. to end the session with #6 ANDRETTI again the fastest driver with a lap of 107.570 mph (58.734 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (107.312 mph; 58.875 seconds) and #4 MONTOYA (107.290 mph; 58.887 seconds). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 33 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #12X VASSER, #4X MONTOYA, #7X PAPIS, #20X JONES, #19X JOURDAIN Jr., and #5X de FERRAN. The top 13 drivers are separated by less than one second in lap times. CART drivers logged a total of 653 laps during this morning's session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 121 degrees F. (49 C.) and an ambient temperature of 90 degrees F. (32 C.) at the start of the session.

At 2:35 p.m., five minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #44 KANAAN with a lap of 107.941 mph (58.532 seconds), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (107.768 mph; 58.626 seconds) and #26 TRACY (107.669 mph; 58.680 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 2:36 p.m. after #44 KANAAN and #11 FITTIPALDI slide into the tire barrier at Turn 3 and stall their cars. CART safety workers quickly get both cars restarted and both cars return to their respective Pit Areas. Both drivers are uninjured in the incident and neither car appears to sustain significant damage, but both drivers earn the traditional eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying process and will immediately serve those penalties once their cars have reached their Pit Areas.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:38 p.m. to resume the Group One session. At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:35 p.m. report.

At 2:42 p.m., #12 VASSER spins at Turn 3 and stalls in the middle of the track. #27 FRANCHITTI slides into the run-off at Turn 3 to avoid VASSER. Both cars restarted and continued on course to their pit areas.

At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #5 de FERRAN with a lap of 108.246 mph (58.367 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (108.096 mph; 58.448 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (108.009 mph; 58.495 seconds).

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:45 p.m. report.

At 2:55 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is now #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 109.023 mph (57.951 seconds), followed by #5 de FERRAN (108.760 mph; 58.091 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (108.410 mph; 58.279 seconds).

At 2:58 p.m., #26 TRACY slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:59 p.m., #25 da MATTA brushes the wall in Turn 2 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. with #27 FRANCHITTI the fastest Group One driver with a lap of 109.023 mph (57.951 seconds), followed by #5 de FERRAN (108.760 mph; 58.091 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (108.410 mph; 58.279 seconds). The top six drivers have broken the existing time record of 58.618 seconds set by DARIO FRANCHITTI in 1997 for the Toronto course. There are 12 of the 13 Group One drivers within one second of the fastest lap set by FRANCHITTI.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. #22 GORDON will have to sit out the last eight minutes of the Group Two session due to a penalty for delaying the qualifying session at Elkhart Lake last week.

At 3:20 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two driver is #18 MORENO with a lap of 106.385 mph (59.388 seconds; 14th-fastest overall), followed by #9 CASTRO-NEVES (105.842 mph; 59.693 seconds; 15th-fastest overall) and #10 HEARN (105.739 mph; 59.751 seconds; 16th-fastest overall).

At 3:21 p.m., #20 JONES slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:22 p.m., #16 HATTORI slides into the run-off at Trun 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car. BLACK FLAG is shown to #22 GORDON at 3:23 p.m. after CART course observers report a spray from the rear of the car while at speed. GORDON subsequently pits the cars to comply with the Black Flag.

At 3:25 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is #24 PRUETT (107.372 mph; 58.842 seconds; 10th-fastest overall), followed by #9 CASTRO-NEVES (106.978 mph; 59.059 seconds; 14th-fastest overall) and #33 CARPENTIER (106.896 mph; 59.104 seconds; 15th-fastest overall).

At 3:30 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 3:25 p.m. report. BLACK FLAG is shown at 3:34 p.m. to #22 GORDON after CART course observers again report a spray from the rear of the car while at speed. GORDON again pits the car. GORDON was due in to serve the Elkhart Lake delay penalty at 3:37 p.m. and therefore GORDON will not reappear in the session.

At 3:35 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is #33 CAPENTIER with a lap of 107.429 mph (58.811 seconds; 10th-fastest overall), followed by #24 PRUETT (107.372 mph; 58.842 seconds; 11th-fastest overall) and #9 CASTRO-NEVES (106.978 mph; 59.059 seconds; 15th-fastest overall).

At 3:40 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is still #24 PRUETT with a lap of 107.590 mph (58.723 seconds; ninth-fastest), followed by #18 MORENO (107.550 mph; 58.745 seconds; 10th-fastest overall) and #33 CARPENTIER (107.429 mph; 58.811; 12th-fastest overall).

At 3:44 p.m., #2 UNSER Jr. stalls at the outside wall at the exit of Turn 3. UNSER Jr. waits in the car for the end of the session. CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:45 p.m. to end the Group Two session with the fastest Group Two driver #9 CASTRO-NEVES with a lap of 107.937 mph (58.534 seconds; seventh-fastest overall), followed by #24 PRUETT (107.590 mph; 58.723 seconds; tenth-fastest overall) and #18 MORENO (107.550 mph; 58.745 seconds; 11th-fastest overall).

DARIO FRANCHITTI sits on the provisional pole in his Team Kool Green Honda Reynard by virtue of his 109.023 mph (57.951 seconds). FRANCHITTI is chasing his third consecutive pole at the Molson Indy tomorrow as well as his first pole of the season and his sixth top-five start of the 1999 season. PAUL TRACY was the last driver to win three consecutive poles, accomplishing the feat at Elkhart Lake in 1992, 1993, and 1994.

GIL de FERRAN sits second on the provisional grid in the Valvoline-sponsored Reynard Honda with a speed of 108.760 mph (58.091 seconds). De FERRAN is after his third front row start of the season. De FERRAN started on the pole at Japan and started second at Cleveland.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI in the K-Mart Texaco/Havoline-sponsored Ford Swift is third after today's provisional qualifying with a lap of 108.410 mph (58.279 seconds). ANDRETTI is trying to grab his third consecutive top-three start. ANDRETTI started third at Cleveland and won the pole at Elkhart Lake.

The top 16 drivers are separated by less than one second in lap times with the seven fastest drivers breaking the time record of 58.618 seconds set by DARIO FRANCHITTI in qualifying for the 1997 Molson Indy. Secondary cars were utilized by #12X VASSER and #7X PAPIS. CART drivers logged a total of 308 laps in today's provisional qualifying.

Quotes from the top three provisional qualifiers follow: DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "The track has changed a little from last year. They've widened it at certain points. I was 12th this morning, but I wasn't too concerned. We made a couple of changes to the car for qualifying and the car got better. It was nice to do a quick time, but I don't think it counts for too much, unless it rains tomorrow, which would be quite nice. We've still got a lot of work to do. Michael is pushing hard, and Gil is pushing hard and we definitely can't stand still."

GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard: "It was a very good day for us. In the morning, we were working mostly on race setup and I was very happy with the car and confident for qualifying since the car was handling quite well. In qualifying, we were lucky to get a clear lap on each set of tires. I was a little bit disappointed that Dario was able to beat me on his second set of tires, since I had the pole on the first set, but that's what he's supposed to do. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "The credit for the [track record] speeds has to go to the tires. They're really quick and very grippy. We ran pretty well this morning. I was happy with the car and we made some changes for qualifying, which made it better yet. Late in the session, I got a little sideways on the straightaway and lost three-tenths [of a second]. I think it kept us from getting the pole. But I think we have a car capable of getting the pole and we'll go back out and go after it tomorrow."

MEDICAL UPDATE: Walker Racing team member Chuck Matthews, who collapsed in the team's pits during the morning practice session, was released from St. Michael's Hospital earlier this afternoon. Matthews underwent tests under the supervision of Dr. Ross Blondell at St. Michael's and results revealed the problem as heat exhaustion, according to Blondell. Matthews returned to the team hotel and is resting comfortably. His status for the remainder of the week is uncertain at this time. Matthews is a vehicle dynamics engineer for Walker Racing who handles the team's fuel calculation.

This concludes the Pit Notes for today from Toronto. We'll see you bright and early tomorrow for the Saturday morning practice session at 9 a.m., followed by the final round of CART qualifying at 12:45 p.m! Have a safe evening and

Source: CART.com

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