BUSCH: Richmond: Rain washes Fittipaldi's chances away

A large thunderstorn washed out NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for Friday's Hardee's 250 putting Christian Fittipaldi's ...

A large thunderstorn washed out NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for Friday's Hardee's 250 putting Christian Fittipaldi's #30 mike's hard lemonade Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the hauler and heading back home to Charlotte.

This was to be Fittipaldi's 2002 Busch Series debut and so the car was without car owner points and thus left off the grid. One of five cars to not make the field, it would not have been so disappointing had practice not gone so well.

The two hour pre-qualifying practice started in the sun and with warm temperatures. Fittipaldi and the mike's hard lemonade crew began with a baseline set-up that came out of the test session they conducted at Richmond International Speedway just three weeks ago.

Fittipaldi ended up with the 23rd fastest time in the session traversing the .75-mile D-shaped oval in 21.707 seconds (124.384 mph) just .390 seconds off the fastest car driven by Winston Cup regular Johnny Benson. Certainly showing that Fittipaldi, a regular in the CART FedEx Championship series, would qualify solidly on time for the Friday night race.

Just 30 minutes before qualifying was to begin, the heavens opened up and delayed the session. The track drying began as soon as the rain stopped but just as the crews reported to the cars to begin the final qualifying preparations, the rain began again. NASCAR waited as long as they could but seeing that the rain was not going to let up cancelled qualifying just after 7:00pm. The field was set by car owner points not by previous practice session times as they do in CART.

"This was an up and down day for sure," said Fittipaldi. "We started with a set-up from our test and went from there. We worked well together and each time we made a change the car just kept getting better. We would have qualified in the top 25 and raced even higher. But now we have to look forward to Charlotte."

"It is a major disappointment but we can't control the weather," said Fittipaldi. "I am very happy with the way we worked together and the way the car was working. I can't wait for Charlotte in three weeks. I am confident that if the weather cooperates this time we will get the job done."

Fittipaldi will once again be behind the wheel of the #30 mike's hard lemonade Chevy for the Car Quest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 25.


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Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Johnny Benson