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Marlboro boys sandwich Andretti in Friday Practice
by Mark Cipolloni 

June 2, 2000

1st Gil de Ferran

                          
2nd Michael Andretti  3rd
Helio Castroneves


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WEST ALLIS, WI - In the waning moments of practice Friday, Gil de Ferran laid down a fast lap that knocked Michael Andretti from the top spot in practice at The Milwaukee Mile.  By the time de Ferran was able to pip Andretti's time, Andretti had parked his car for the day and sat out the remainder of the session, content knowing his car was fast.  Helio Castroneves ended up third fastest, giving Roger Penske hope that win 101 might come a lot faster than 100.

De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who brought Penske Racing its landmark 100th race victory at Nazareth Speedway last Saturday, put together a lap of 173.697 miles per hour (21.389 seconds) on the 1.032-mile oval located outside Milwaukee. A final practice session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday, after which de Ferran will be seeking his third pole of the season when qualifying begins 2:30 p.m. ET.

De Ferran's previous poles were recorded at Homestead and Long Beach, in the first two completed events of the FedEx Championship Series season. He was followed on Friday's time sheet by Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, whose fastest lap clocked in at 173.575 mph (21.404 seconds). Andretti, a five-time FedEx Championship Series winner at The Milwaukee Mile, will be chasing his third career pole at Milwaukee when qualifying begins Saturday afternoon.

Andretti and a number of other drivers alternated between their race car and their backup car, one setup for qualifying, the other in race trim.  Andretti spent the majority of the afternoon practice in his backup car, and only drove 4-laps in his primary car.  In those 4-laps he put up quick time for the day, a time that remained fastest until Gil bumped him.  Considering de Ferran drove 100 laps in his primary car, to Andretti's 4 laps, one would think Andretti is feeling pretty good about his chances Sunday.  Traditionally Andretti has qualified mid-field at this track, only to see him move to the front when the green flag drops on race day.  Watching Andretti carve his way thru the field at Milwaukee is usually one of the highlights of the season.

Mauricio Gugelmin, Paul Tracy, Adrian Fernandez, Juan Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top-10 fastest times.  CART races have become two races in one.  The qualifying race and the real race.  At some tracks starting up front is essential because passing is so difficult.  However, at Milwaukee two lanes usually develop and moving up through the field from the back is possible if a team hits the right race setup.

However, that may not be as easy this year.  It seems that tire marbles are still a big problem in CART.  Firestone continues to develop their tires and make them faster, not willing to sit back on their laurels, for fear that another tire company, such as Michelin, will come in and beat them with a better tire, much like Firestone did to Goodyear.  Not until CART mandates a single tire series, ala NASCAR, will Firestone take comfort in knowing they can build a harder tire and eliminate the marbles.  All three top drivers were very outspoken today about the marbles and how they continue to ruin what could be better racing.  CART will need to take a serious look at this situation, as a harder tire would result in slower, safer speeds, and better races.

Of 34 cars, including secondary cars, introduced to the track Friday, 27 were covered by less than a second.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I like coming here. I think for me, just as Nazareth, it's one of the most challenging small ovals. That's why I like coming here, because it's very tough. The first time I came here in '95, it was very bumpy. But then they resurfaced it in '96, and now I love it."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "The car feels really good. We had a really good test here the Sunday before Nazareth and it was good. The first session this morning, I thought, 'Whew, this feels pretty good,' so we didn't push it, we just made small changes this morning. The car is very good. There are two different setups -- qualifying and race. I think we've got good setups for both. We thought, 'Let's not push it this afternoon. It's going to be a little calmer tomorrow morning, so we'll work more on our qualifying setup then.' But it's pretty close now."

"The car was pretty good when we tested here two weeks ago but it was even better today. The car felt so good that we parked it with 25 minutes left in the session. I thought 'Lets not push it and take a chance." On my first run today I though 'Oh, the car feels pretty good.' We ran a long run in the back-up car and then got in the racecar and ran a fast one. Then we parked it because it felt good enough. I think we have a top-three car right now. We might not have a pole car but top three is good enough. 

(On the HANS (Head and Neck System) safety device:) "I was going to run it in the race here but (helmet maker) Bell was not ready for us to race with it. There is a hole in the back of the helmet where the tethers are connected and Bell wants to double check everything before we use the system." 

HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "It came off the truck pretty good, we did a test here way back and it was pretty good. We did exactly the same thing today and the car felt pretty good. This afternoon we worked on race setup and it was really tough, there was lots of traffic. We did 124 laps, trying to do a race simulation. We were on the same tires and we wanted to see what it would do for the race."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "I struggled a little too much with oversteer when I tried to put the power down. My big problem was that the car wasn't comfortable when I put the power down. I got into both cars to see if one was better than the other but we didn't find any big solution there. We are going to work hard tonight to 
come up with a better set-up for the car." 

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY

  • Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) will be seeking his ninth career FedEx Championship Series pole position when qualifying begins Saturday afternoon. He owns two career poles on ovals, at Japan last year and in this year's season opener at Homestead.

  • Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) owns two career pole positions at Milwaukee (1986, '88), and has started outside the top 10 only three times in 15 career appearances at The Milwaukee Mile. His five victories at Milwaukee (1986, '87, '91, '92 and '96) are more than any active FedEx Championship Series driver has recorded at any venue. 

  • Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who earned his first career pole position at Milwaukee last year, also established a career-best FedEx Championship Series finish of second -- since matched at Gateway last year and Long Beach this year - in his debut at The Mile in 1998. 

  • Defending Miller Lite 225 champion Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), fifth fastest Friday, is two-time pole-sitter at Milwaukee (1996, '97) and has started outside the top 10 only once in seven career appearances there. He also won at Milwaukee in 1995 and holds a 59-48 lead over Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) in the FedEx Championship Series points race entering the weekend.

  • Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi and drivers Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) and Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) met with the media this afternoon to talk about their recent experiences at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Montoya has had a particularly busy week since winning the Indianapolis 500 last Sunday. "On Monday morning, I had to wake up at six o'clock in the morning, and Chip was already there [at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway]," Montoya said. "I had to do 'Good Morning America,' pictures, pictures, and more pictures, and then I got on a plane and went to New York and did interviews, interviews, and more interviews. Then, I got to throw the ball [Montoya threw out the first pitch at Tuesday night's New York Yankees game], and I didn't do a very good job. They told me to throw it high and hard, and that's what I did [Montoya threw the ball into the grandstands]. Everything was exciting for all two weeks of Indianapolis. I haven't been home, I've been staying in hotel rooms, but I've had fun. When you have fun, it doesn't matter." 

WHAT'S ON TAP

Qualifying for the Miller Lite 225 will air 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on the CART Radio Network and on the official CART web site 

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TOP SPEEDS

Pos No. Driver Last Completed Fastest Behind Speed (MPH) Speed (KPH)
Lap Time Lap Time Leader Prior Last Fastest Last Fastest
1 2   Gil de Ferran 100 0:32.657 96 0:21.389 0.000 0.000 113.764 173.697 183.160 279.652
2 6   Michael Andretti 4 0:42.971 3 0:21.404 0.008 0.008 86.458 173.575 139.197 279.456
3 3   Helio Castroneves 124 0:30.701 115 0:21.449 0.060 0.045 121.012 173.211 194.829 278.870
4 17   Mauricio Gugelmin 100 0:21.569 99 0:21.468 0.079 0.019 172.247 173.058 277.318 278.623
5 26   Paul Tracy 73 0:22.490 47 0:21.588 0.199 0.120 165.193 172.096 265.961 277.075
6 40   Adrian Fernandez 84 0:30.800 82 0:21.588 0.199 0.000 120.623 172.096 194.203 277.075
7 55   Tony Kanaan 66 0:29.578 23 0:21.660 0.271 0.072 125.607 171.524 202.227 276.154
8 8   Kenny Brack 76 0:30.874 19 0:21.683 0.294 0.023 120.334 171.342 193.738 275.861
9 32   Patrick Carpentier 106 NA 7 0:21.684 0.295 0.001 162.805 171.334 262.116 275.848
10 7   Max Papis 72 NA 8 0:21.714 0.325 0.030 152.933 171.097 246.222 275.466
11 18   Mark Blundell 81 0:22.238 74 0:21.732 0.343 0.018 167.065 170.955 268.975 275.238
12 12   Jimmy Vasser 83 NA 23 0:21.778 0.389 0.046 169.497 170.594 272.890 274.656
13 1   Juan Montoya 93 0:37.197 83 0:21.779 0.390 0.001 99.879 170.586 160.805 274.643
14 27   Dario Franchitti 81 0:23.592 37 0:21.843 0.454 0.064 157.477 170.087 253.538 273.840
15 20   Roberto Moreno 75 0:30.179 67 0:21.856 0.467 0.013 123.105 169.985 198.199 273.676
16 20 X Roberto Moreno 12 NA 12 0:21.860 0.471 0.004 169.954 169.954 273.626 273.626
17 96   Oriol Servia 89 0:22.045 72 0:21.872 0.483 0.012 168.528 169.861 271.330 273.476
18 16   Michel Jourdain, Jr. 69 0:22.124 22 0:21.943 0.554 0.071 167.926 169.311 270.361 272.591
19 11   Christian Fittipaldi 60 0:32.814 36 0:21.968 0.579 0.025 113.220 169.119 182.284 272.282
20 33   Alexandre Tagliani 79 NA 79 0:21.979 0.590 0.011 169.034 169.034 272.145 272.145
21 97   Cristiano da Matta 81 0:22.410 62 0:22.011 0.622 0.032 165.783 168.788 266.911 271.749
22 11 X Christian Fittipaldi 16 0:30.967 8 0:22.119 0.730 0.108 119.973 167.964 193.157 270.422
23 55 X Tony KaNAan 14 0:32.614 12 0:22.334 0.945 0.109 113.914 166.347 183.402 267.819
24 18 X Mark Blundell 18 0:23.496 17 0:22.355 0.966 0.021 158.121 166.191 254.575 267.568
25 34   Tarso Marques 62 NA 53 0:22.394 1.005 0.039 165.091 165.902 265.797 267.102
26 5 X Shinji NAkano 96 0:31.037 87 0:22.494 1.105 0.030 119.702 165.164 192.720 265.914
27 6 X Michael Andretti 68 0:34.644 14 0:22.507 1.118 0.013 107.239 165.069 172.655 265.761
28 8 X Kenny Brack 15 NA 9 0:22.721 1.332 0.214 162.250 163.514 261.223 263.258
29 25   Luiz Garcia Jr. 77 0:23.522 44 0:23.193 1.804 0.472 157.946 160.186 254.293 257.899

 

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