Greg Moore, runner-up in last year’s Marlboro 500, broke a finger in a scooter accident in the California Speedway paddock Saturday morning and was unable to qualify, but will start today’s race at the rear of the 27-car field.
Moore suffered a broken forefinger on his right hand, as well as cuts on that hand and a bruised right hip, according to Dr. Steve Olvey, CART medical director.
More than an hour after the conclusion of qualifying, Moore was granted permission to test his hand in a special session. After running two laps of 219 mph, he came in and told the Player’s Forsyth crew and CART observers that he felt he could race.
It will be Moore’s last drive for Jerry Forsyth. He has signed to drive next year for Roger Penske.
Gusty winds caught Gil de Ferran and sent the Valvoline driver into the wall during qualifying, but he came back to qualify 12th at 232.713 mph after the rest of the field had completed their runs in front of a crowd at its peak estimated to be 65,000.
“A gust just blew as I came out of turn two,” the Brazilian veteran said. “I almost caught it and kept my foot hard on the throttle, but the back end finally came around and I just brushed the wall. I still wanted to run this car, and the guys were able to check it out and replace the [damaged] rear wing, so all in all, I’m very happy to be 12th.”
Wally Dallenbach is retiring today after 20 years as CART chief steward. Among his most controversial decisions was banning Paul Tracy from this year’s opening race for rough driving in an incident with Michael Andretti last year in Australia.
“Wally and I have come to an understanding now,” Tracy said. “I think that I’ve learned something and it has made me a better driver. Of course, I think that Wally owes me too. After all, if it wasn’t for me he’d probably have gotten bored and quit his job a long time ago.”
The departure of Al Unser Jr. for the Indy Racing League after today’s race will make Andretti CART’s elder statesman. The Marlboro 500 will be Andretti’s 250th CART start. Unser will have 272.
“I have always enjoyed racing with Al so it will be weird to not have him on the same track,” Andretti said. “I think Al really helped build our series and he will definitely be missed.”
Dorricutt Racing teammates Oriol Servia of Spain and Casey Mears of Bakersfield will decide the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights series championship today in a 100-mile race at 9:50 a.m. Servia leads by 14 points and can win by finishing fifth or better.
Servia will start on the front row alongside pole-sitter Jonny Kane of Indianapolis, who qualified his Team Kool Green car at 186.346 mph on Friday. Mears will start eighth.
California Speedway and CART announced that they will continue conducting CART FedEx championship races at the Fontana track through 2004.
“We are very pleased to be able to come to terms to return to this wonderful facility,” said Andrew Craig, CART president. “To be able to end our season here . . . is the perfect conclusion to our season.”
The first race was held here in 1997.
Craig also announced he will commemorate the careers of Unser and pole-sitter Scott Pruett with special plaques after the season. He has requested the driving shoes of both drivers to be bronzed. After being mounted on separate plaques, they will be given to Unser and Pruett at a later date.