CHAMPCAR/CART: Walker Racing Homestead Preview

RACE PREVIEW: HOMESTEAD What: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota Round one of the 20-races FedEx Championship Series for the PPG Cup When: Sunday, March 22, 1999 - 2:00 p.m. (local time) Where: ...

RACE PREVIEW: HOMESTEAD

What: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota Round one of the 20-races FedEx Championship Series for the PPG Cup

When: Sunday, March 22, 1999 - 2:00 p.m. (local time)

Where: Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex

1.502 mile        Oval track
650 ft.                Radius of turns
6 degrees        Degree on banking in corners
80 ft.                Width of corners
1760 ft.        Length of straightaways
3 degrees        Degree of banking in straight-aways
60 ft.                Width of straight-aways

Distance: 225.3 miles, 150 laps

Records: Qualifying (one lap): 1998, Greg Moore, 217.541 mph Race 1998, Michael Andretti, 144.339 mph

Broadcast: Qualifying - ESPN2, March 21 - 8:00 a.m.- 9:00 a.m. CART 2Day - ESPN2, March 21 - 11:30 a.m. RACE Same-day on ABC TV, March 21, 4:00 p.m.

History: 1998 De Ferran qualified 11th and finished 7th, 6.810 seconds behind winner Michael Andretti, passed Zanardi on the restart to lead laps 44-65, 77-94. Scored PPG Cup points for the seventh consecutive race. Led 40 laps to become the only driver to lead all FedEx Championship Series events at Homestead. 1997 Qualified 3rd, led 37 laps, and finished 22nd. He made contact with a slower car while attempting to lap that driver while leading. 1996 Qualified and finished 2nd and led 18 laps.

GIL DE FERRAN, # 5 VALVOLINE/CUMMINS - HONDA/REYNARD/GOODYEAR

De Ferran's New Approach for New Season

Gil de Ferran says he has adopted a new approach for CART's FedEx Championship Series, which begins Sunday with the Marlboro Grand Prix at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex. "I always get excited at the start of a new season. The day I don't get excited, I think I should stop racing," explains the Valvoline/ Cummins Honda-Reynard driver. "However, this year, I did something that I haven't done for a long time.

"Obviously, we had a very wearing season last year (12th in points), so I basically did very little in terms of driving in November and December. I had a lot of time to unwind. I had a very good off-season in many ways. The effect that's had on me has been remarkable. I have a new pool of energy and am very excited to start racing.

"The testing has been going very well. There have been some changes in the team (additional crew to support new teammate Naoki Hattori) and that has been for the better. I start in a very positive frame-of-mind."

The 1997 PPG Cup runner-up, now in his third campaign in the Derrick Walker-owned Valvoline/Cummins Special, was fourth fastest overall during Spring Training at Homestead in February and historically has been a factor on the 1.5-mile oval. He finished second in 1996 after leading 18 laps, ran in front for 37 laps until an accident in 1997, and came home seventh and led 40 laps in 1998. Demonstrating how competitive the field can be, he took the checkered flag just 6.8 seconds behind winner Michael Andretti last year. Teammates and Competitors:

For the first time in his five-year CART career, Gil de Ferran has a teammate in 1999, rookie Naoki Hattori.. Does it make a difference to de Ferran ?

"Not really," says de Ferran, pilot of the Valvoline/Cummins Honda- Reynard. "It doesn't change at all the way I go about my business, the way I go through my race weekends, and my testing. What sometimes is beneficial is you have a little more (technical) information that might be helpful. It doesn't really impact on me as a driver. I think it is good for the team because there are more heads there, and when you have more heads, that can mean better ideas."

NAOKI HATTORI (R), # 15 ALPINE - HONDA/REYNARD/GOODYEAR

Naoki Hattori ready for his first Champ Car race at Homestead:

"I am really looking forward to racing the champ car at my first race of the CART series. It is still hard for me to imagine how the distance would be like with racing the champ car and with the high intensity of the CART series since I raced in the Indy Lights last two years. However, I am ready to show my best performance to my fans. Also, I really would like to finish well my debut race in the CART series."

"I like the race track in Homestead. Last two years of my experience with the Indy Lights series will definitely help me race the champ car at this track. Throughout car tests, we are getting good feelings about set-ups for our cars, and I am getting very comfortable racing my car. I am also excited about racing the Champ car with Honda engine. This is going to be my first time to race Honda's car in the States. Over all, I believe that I have good possibility to get a decent result at this race." said Naoki Hattori.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Naoki Hattori , Greg Moore