Tracy fastest in Spring Training at Laguna Seca

Updated: March 9, 2007, 10:35 PM ET
Associated Press

MONTEREY, Calif. -- Former series champion Paul Tracy was the fastest of nine drivers who unofficially surpassed the track record Friday on the first of two days of the Champ Car World Series Spring Training at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

With all the teams using the new DP01 chassis, Tracy's Forsythe Championship Racing team led the way with a lap of 1 minute, 6.707 seconds (120.779 mph). Track records are set only during official practice or races, but that lap is considerably quicker than the previous Champ Car record of 1:07.722 (118.969), set in 2000 by Helio Castroneves.

"This was by far the best test we've had this year," Tracy said. "The Forsythe team did a great job. We shattered the track record [unofficially] and we were only a few tenths [of a second] from the Formula One record."

At last year's historic races at Laguna, Toyota brought its F1 car, the TF106, to the track for a series of exhibition laps with Ricardo Zonta behind the wheel. His quickest lap of the weekend was 1:06.309.

"This car is really fast," Tracy said. "It's the downforce, it's really good. We had a pretty bad test at Houston, but finally, things are coming together."

Three-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais of Newman Haas Lanigan Racing was close behind Tracy at 1:06.737 (120.725), followed by rookie Neel Jani of PKV Racing at 1:06.749 (120.703).

Will Power of team Australia, rookie Robert Doornbos of Minardi Team USA, rookie Graham Rahal of Newman Haas Lanigan, rookie Simon Pagenaud of Team Australia, 2006 series runner-up Justin Wilson of RuSPORT and Alex Tagliani of Rocketsports Racing also bettered the track record.

The final hour of Friday's session was devoted to practicing standing starts. While it hasn't been established when, the series plans to try standing starts, like those used in Formula One for years, during the upcoming season. Right now, the field takes the green flag on a rolling start following pace laps.

The 2007 season begins April 8 with a new street race in Las Vegas.

Longtime Champ Car team owner Dale Coyne confirmed Friday that Katherine Legge, who was let go by PKV Racing after last season, will drive for his team in 2007.

"We haven't decided on the second driver." said the owner of Dale Coyne Racing.

Three-time series runner-up Bruno Junqueira, the 2005 runner-up Oriol Servia and Mario Dominguez, a two-time race winner, were all walking the pits Friday looking for a ride.

Paul Newman, founding partner of Newman/Haas Racing with Chicago businessman Carl Haas, announced that Michael Lanigan, president of Mi-Jack Products Inc. and also from Chicago, has joined the team as a partner. The team will now be known as Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. Lanigan has been involved in racing as a sponsor, team owner and race promoter since 1992.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press