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Carpentier tops 1st day of Laguna Seca Testing

8/24/00


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MONTEREY, Ca. (August 24, 2000) - Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing turned a quick lap of 69.133 sec. (116.541 mph) Thursday on the first day of a two-day CART open test at Laguna Seca Raceway. Carpentier's top time was set during the afternoon session on the 2.238-mile permanent road course.

"I'm very happy, although we should've been quicker," said Carpentier. "On our quick lap I had to pass a car on the inside as he was coming into the pits and that slowed the car a bit but it was still a good day. We will continue to do our best here and I'm still convinced that I will win a race this year and Laguna Seca would be a great place to do it."

Carpentier, competing in his fourth CART FedEx Championship Series season, is still searching for his first series victory.

The Marlboro Team Penske combination of Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves continued their recent road course success during the first day of testing. De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who had the top time in the morning session, recorded the second-fastest lap of the day at 69.162 sec. (116.492 mph). Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) posted the third-fastest lap of 69.293 sec. (116.271 mph).

"I'm happy with today's results," said de Ferran. "We're trying different things, not specifically trying for the fastest time of the day. This is what these kinds of tests are for; they're not for fine-tuning."

Castroneves, who along with his teammate has captured two victories this season, said, "There were a lot of red flags today, but we definitely made progress. We ran on the same set of tires in both sessions today and we were still pretty competitive. Tomorrow the track conditions will have improved and we will run four sets of tires."

The test session serves as a tune-up for the 16th round of the CART FedEx Championship Series, the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, at Laguna Seca on September 10. 

The start of the test session was delayed by about an hour this morning as dense fog caused poor visibility. With testing scheduled to get underway at 9 a.m. PT, the course did not go green until shortly 10 a.m. PT. 

Once the cars did hit the track, there were a number of minor incidents that interrupted both the morning and afternoon sessions. There were a total of 11 red flags displayed on the day, four in the morning and seven in the afternoon. There were no injuries in any of the day's incidents.

Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel Mercedes Reynard) had the fourth-best lap of the day at 69.315 sec. (116.235 mph) while Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) rounded out the top five with a quick lap of 69.395 sec. (116.101 mph).

The remainder of Thursday's practice times and speeds were as follows: Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola), 69.555 sec. (115.834 mph); Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard), 69.592 sec. (115.772 mph); Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), 69.600 sec. (115.759 mph); Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard), 69.695 sec. (115.601 mph); Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Reynard), 69.749 sec. (115.511 mph); Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), 69.829 sec. (115.379 mph); Alex Tagliani (Player's Indeck Ford Reynard), 69.938 sec. (115.199 mph); Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), 70.024 sec. (115.058 mph); Max Papis (Mller Lite Ford Reynard), 70.151 sec. (114.849 mph); Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard), 70.224 sec. (114.730 mph); Tony Kanaan (Hollywood Mercedes Reynard), 70.308 sec. (114.593 mph); Scott Dixon (Nextel Mercedes Reynard), 70.422 sec. (114.407 mph); Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State Ford Reynard), 70.482 sec. (114.310 mph); Shinji Nakano (Avex Honda Reynard), 70.524 sec. (114.242 mph); Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez Mercedes Lola) 70.639 sec. (114.056 mph); Alex Barron (SPORTSTODAY Ford Lola), 70.878 sec. (113.671 mph); Luiz Garcia Jr. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/BancoSofisa Mercedes Reynard), 71.927 sec. (112.014 mph); Tarso Marques (Panasonic Ford Swift), 72.360 sec. (111.343 mph).

Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard clocked the sixth-fastest time among 23 cars taking part in this morning’s opening session of a two-day CART FedEx Championship Series open test at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. Kanaan toured the 
2.238-mile hillside road course in 1 minute 10.308 seconds (an average of 114.593 mph) during his 23 laps of work in the morning session, which started more than an hour late due to fog that shrouded the track. In the afternoon session, mechanical problems limited him to just three laps, during which he recorded a best time of 1:11.303 (112.994 mph) that placed him 21st in the order for the session. Overall on the day, Kanaan’s morning time was the 16th fastest among all participants. 

TONY KANAAN  “We got in just 20-something laps in the morning because we had to wait for the fog to clear, so we basically had time enough to get the balance right on the car in preparation for an all-out run in the afternoon. We came here with some definite things we wanted to work on these two days. Between the weather in the morning and our problems in the afternoon, we got a little sidetracked. But, weather permitting, we plan to hit the ground running and finish the job we came here to do on Friday. In the limited time we had, I got the car to where it was feeling very comfortable, although we’ll have to wait until Friday to be able to really put our foot in it. I love this track. I’ve had some good success here in Indy Lights, and in my first two years in a Champ Car. I’m so glad to have the opportunity to test here with everybody else. It’ll be nice to not have to be playing catch-up with everybody else that tested here come race weekend.” 

POSITIVE DAY FOR PACWEST AT LAGUNA SECA TEST 

(Laguna Seca, Ca) – PacWest Racing’s Mauricio Gugelmin was one of the fastest and rookie Scott Dixon produced some solid running in the first half of the two-day CART Open Test at Laguna Seca Raceway in California today. 

Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz, finished fourth-fastest with a lap time of 1:09.315 at an average speed of 116.235mph around the challenging 2.238-mile venue – his place will be taken by teammate Mark Blundell tomorrow. 

Dixon, the current leader of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship in his Invensys/Powerware sponsored car, made the most of his first day of Champ Car open testing after completing his rookie evaluation under the watchful eye of Memo Gidley at Putnam Park near Indianapolis two weeks ago. 

The 20-year New Zealander, did a total of 67 laps during the day and set the 17th-quickest time of the 23 cars at the test with a time of 1:10.422 at an average speed of 114.407mph. Dixon showed the maturity of a driver many years his senior as he worked with the team on engine and set-up programs. 

MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ – 4th 
“The car was handling pretty good and really has been for the last couple of races or so,” said Gugelmin, who completed 59 laps in a day which was delayed a couple of hours due to fog. 
“We learned some stuff mechanically and today has certainly provided us with a little confidence boost with this race happening in two weeks time. Scott (Dixon) did a good job and kept his car on the black stuff when a couple of regular drivers could not.” 

SCOTT DIXON - PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ – 17th 
“Basically it was a pretty good day as I tried to get myself fitted into the car,” said Dixon. “I had a goal of doing as many constructive laps as possible and getting up to a reasonable speed without falling off and we managed to achieve that. “My quickest time was OK, but I messed up my new tire run to some degree. “I will have three new sets of tires to run tomorrow so we will see how we go. “It will be nice to sleep on today’s sessions and come out here again tomorrow. “Obviously the car is a lot different to the Lights car and I really enjoyed driving it. “It was the first time I had run on a track with so much Champ Car traffic, but it wasn’t a problem because everyone was trying to stay out of everyone else’s way.” “I think we can certainly pick up some time tomorrow, but I won’t be doing anything stupid.” 

Another full day of activity is on tap for Friday with testing scheduled to get underway at 9 a.m. PT. After a short lunch break, the test will conclude with an afternoon session slated for 1:30-4:30 p.m. PT.

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