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Time flies as drivers put wing to test

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


CICERO, Ill. -- Kenny Brack calls it the one-mile oval syndrome.

What it amounts to is an uncomfortable ride for CART's drivers on the short tracks because of the use of a second-generation rear wing called the Handford MKII.

The wing, intended to slow the cars enough to make racing on the short ovals more competitive, instead is making the cars hard to balance and even harder to pass.

Brack, who earlier in the day was given a one-year contract extension, taking him through the 2001 season with Team Rahal, led Friday's opening rounds of practice for the Target Grand Prix.

The Swedish driver, a rookie in CART but the winner of the 1999 Indianapolis 500 in the rival Indy Racing League, turned a fast lap of 164.224 mph on the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval.

That was unofficially considerably faster than the track record of 162.559, set in qualifying last year for the inaugural Chicago race by Max Papis, who is now Brack's teammate.

"We didn't do anything major," Brack said. "The car felt pretty much the way it did in tests."

During tests that involved most of the CART teams, drivers drove with the MKII and the original Handford Device, which has been used on the bigger ovals in Michigan and California since 1998.

In the 500-mile events on the bigger tracks, the bigger Handford wing has been a great success, producing competitive races with lots of passing.

Cristiano da Matta, second Friday at 164.355, had problems with vibrations from his tires before smoothing things out with his third set of Firestone Firehawks.

"For a while, it almost felt like there was an earthquake in the track," he said.

Helio Castroneves, the third of five drivers to unofficially top the track record, turned a lap of 163.245.

Papis and Tony Kanaan were the other drivers to surpass the track record, turning laps of 163.046 and 163.031, respectively.

Defending series and race champion Montoya, whose car owner, Chip Ganassi, is part owner of the Chicago track, was seventh at 162.360, while series points leader Andretti was 19th at 159.631.

CARQUEST AUTO PARTS 250: Rain forced the postponement Friday night of qualifying for the Busch Grand National event, meaning the field will be set and the race run today in Madison, Ill.

The session will set the top 36 positions on speed and add seven more provisional starters. The race will be start at 9 p.m.

Jeff Green, who leads teammate Jason Keller by 552 points in the standings, should be the odds-on favorite in both qualifying and the race. The Kentucky native has five wins and six poles this season.

Green is shooting for his second consecutive victory. He held off older brother David for the win last Saturday at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

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