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FRANCHITTI TOPS THE SPEED CHARTS ON FIRST DAY OF OPEN TESTING AT CHICAGO MOTOR SPEEDWAY
July 6,  2000


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CHICAGO (July 6, 2000) - With a best lap of 22.876 sec. (161.934 mph), Team KOOL Green pilot Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) was the quickest of 19 drivers to turn laps in the first day of a two-day open test at Chicago Motor Speedway. Franchitti topped defending FedEx Championship Series champion Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola), who turned the second fastest time of the day at 22.932 sec. (161.538 mph).

In other news from today's open test sessions in Chicago, the teams and drivers tested the original Handford Device Mk I, which had previously been used only at California Speedway and Michigan Speedway (both two-mile superspeedways), during the morning session. Between the morning and afternoon sessions, however, it was determined that the originally-planned Handford Mk II wing package will be used for the remainder of the open test at Chicago Motor Speedway, as well as for the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer on July 28-30.

"After a thorough analysis, we have decided not to change the wing package," said CART President of Racing Operations, Hal Whiteford. "We are going with the original identified wing package for Chicago. We appreciate the teams' cooperation in this test, which has resulted in important data which can be used in the future."

The choice of the Mk II wing package resulted in a substantial increase in speeds from the morning to the afternoon session, as Franchitti's quick lap was over eight miles per hour quicker than the quickest speed from the morning session turned by Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard). Today's first and second quickest drivers welcomed the opportunity to test both wing packages.

"I thought it was a great idea to run both sets of wings, otherwise you don't really get a true judgment," said Franchitti. "I thought the downforce level was pretty good (on the Mk II), but for me, turbulence was still a bit of a problem. Overall, the car feels very good. We're not really going for times here. We're playing it reasonably conservative and trying to work through a few things, but overall, the team was happy." 

"I thought it was good that the teams decided to use the big wing package," Montoya added. "Personally, I like that wing package a lot better. I thought the car was a lot more stable through the corners. Overall, we were only able to run about 20 laps on the wings that we'll use in the race, but you always try to learn a few things every time on the track."

Third quickest on the day was Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) with a best lap of 23.048 sec. (160.725 mph), followed by da Matta at 23.056 sec. (160.670 mph). Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) rounded out the top five with a quick lap of 23.081 sec. (160.496 mph).

The remainder of Thursday's practice times and speeds were as follows: Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard), 23.118 sec. (160.239 mph); Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), 23.199 sec. (159.679 mph); Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard), 23.420 sec. (158.173 mph); Tarso Marques (Panasonic Ford Swift), 23.649 sec. (156.641 mph); Mark Blundell (Nextel Mercedes Reynard), 23.708 sec. (156.251 mph); Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State Ford Reynard), 23.797 sec. (155.667 mph); Takuya Kurosawa (Sports Today Ford Lola), 23.913 sec. (154.912 mph); Shinji Nakano (Avex Honda Reynard), 24.258 sec. (152.708 mph); Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), 24.585 sec. (150.677 mph); Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), 24.728 sec. (149.806 mph); Norberto Fontana (Della Penna Motorsports Toyota Reynard), 24.749 sec. (149.679 mph); Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), 24.786 sec. (149.455 mph); Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), 24.818 sec. (149.263 mph); Adrian Fernandez (Visteon Ford Reynard); 24.837 sec. (149.148 mph); and Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez Mercedes Lola) 25.409 sec. (145.791 mph).

The morning session was slowed twice due to contact, as Tagliani crashed between Turns 3 and 4 and de Ferran made contact with the inside wall on the backstretch. Neither driver was injured, and the afternoon session was incident-free.

Fernandez was the only driver to use two different cars in today's sessions, driving teammate and current FedEx Championship Series points leader Roberto Moreno's Visteon-sponsored machine for a short time this morning before climbing into his Tecate/Quaker State car for the remainder of the day.

The Chicago open test concludes tomorrow with a full day of on-track activity. Test sessions are scheduled to get underway at 9:00 a.m. and go until 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour break from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Chicago Motor Speedway is open to the public for tomorrow's test sessions.

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