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Gil de Ferran keeps Team Penske on  top
by Mark Cipolloni 

June 23, 2000

1st Gil de Ferran

                          
2nd Christian Fittipaldi  3rd
Patrick Carpentier


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Gil de Ferran prepares to qualify his Marlboro Penske Honda
(Click on any photo to see enlargement)

PORTLAND (June 23, 2000) - - Defending champion Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske continued to display his mastery of Portland International Raceway Friday when he captured the provisional pole for Sunday's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco (7 p.m. ET Sunday, tape delay, ESPN2). 

De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), owner of two poles already this season, recorded a lap of 120.991 miles per hour (58.586 seconds) during the first of two sessions on the 1.969-mile permanent road course. The second session is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET Saturday, after which the grid will be set for Sunday's 112-lap, 220.53-mile event, the eighth of 20 rounds in the FedEx Championship Series.

De Ferran's previous poles this season have come at Homestead and Long Beach. He also owns a race victory at Nazareth last month, the 100th in the storied history of Penske Racing. His best start at Portland, where he owns three podium finishes in five career starts, is second in 1997. 


With the help of Engineer Todd Bowland, Christian Fittipaldi was 2nd quick in his Lola Ford

Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing qualified second on the provisional grid at 120.524 mph (58.813 seconds). He seeks a season-best start Saturday, improving on second at Nazareth.

Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier primed himself for Sunday's FedEx CART Championship race by covering the 1.967-mile Portland International Raceway permanent road course in 58.993 seconds (120.157 miles per hour) today, the third-fastest lap on the first day of qualifying.

Carpentier's fast lap was only four-tenths of a second behind provisional pole-sitter Gil de Ferran of Brazil and less than two-tenths from Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi. They were the only three drivers in the 26-driver field to record a fast lap in under 59 seconds.


Patrick Carpentier was 3rd quick in his Players Reynard Ford

Carpentier, who considers the Portland road course as one of his favorites on the CART circuit, lauded the Player's crew for correcting an understeer problem that arose in the morning practice. The adjustments that were made constantly improved the car and produced a set-up that put Carpentier among the provisional-qualifying leaders.

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani clocked the 19th-fastest time (60.997 seconds, 116.209 mph). Tagliani, who is tied for second place in the CART rookie standings, encountered a few difficulties while he was trying to put in fast laps.


Beautiful Portland International Raceway

Team KOOL Green’s Dario Franchitti was fifth fastest in provisional qualifying in preparation for the Freigthliner/G.I. Joe’s 200 at Portland International Raceway. Franchitti turned 16 laps during his 30 minutes of track time with a quick lap of 59.103 seconds, averaging 119.933 mph. 

Gil de Ferran earned the provisional pole with a time of 58.586 seconds (120.991 mph), 0.517 seconds better than Franchitti. Christian Fittipaldi was second to De Ferran with a time of 58.813 seconds (120.524 mph) and Patrick Carpentier was third with a lap of 58.993 seconds (120.157 mph). Michael Andretti was fourth quick ahead of Franchitti. 

Paul Tracy was among the first 13 cars to take qualifying laps when track conditions were poor on the 1.969-mile road course. He was third quick in the first group, clocking a time of 60.543 seconds (117.080 mph). Adrian Fernandez was fastest with a time of 60.343s (117.468 mph), followed by Jimmy Vasser with a time of 60.429s (117.080 mph). However, all three drivers tumbled down the timesheet with each driver respectively 13th, 14th, and 15th behind the 12 cars running in the second group. 

Bryan Herta spent his first day pinch-hitting for injured regular Tony Kanaan in the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard working to get comfortable in the car and gradually bringing it up to speed. This morning’s practice session was Herta’s first time in the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team car. He replaced Kanaan, who sustained a broken left forearm and four cracked ribs in a qualifying session accident at Detroit last Saturday and will be out four to six weeks. 


West end of track

In this afternoon’s 30-minute provisional qualifying session over the scenic 1.967-mile, Herta lost the first 10 minutes while the crew had to correct a glitch in the rear end of the car. He managed to record a fast lap of 1 minute, 01.322 seconds (an average of 115.593 mph), which placed him 22nd on the provisional grid. Gil de Ferran is on the provisional pole with a lap of 58.586 seconds (120.991 mph). 

The 25-car field returns to the track for a practice session tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. with qualifying at 1:45 p.m. Pacific Time. Sunday’s race will be broadcast via tape delay on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. 

WHAT THEY SAID

GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "It was quite a good day today. We were quite happy with the car from the time we unloaded it, and we worked on making the balance better, even with old tires. The track was not in good condition this afternoon, but it kept improving as the session went on. We put a second set of tires on and concentrated on squeezing everything we could out of it. It's important not to get overconfident. I think if we want to maintain our position, we have to concentrate on improving a bit more tomorrow."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Reynard: "I'm pretty happy with the car but I made a mistake on the last lap or could have possibly gone quicker. I'm pretty sure we have a shot at the pole. I would love to have pole but I would easily trade it for a win on Sunday. We will keep working to make the Big Kmart/Route 66 car better and go for it tomorrow. The car is much better than it was in Detroit. The track conditions were difficult but it was the same for everyone. The track got better as the session went on. The car ran solid all day, which shows in our results. I think there will be more speed tomorrow. Three are at least six or seven drivers that have a shot at it (pole) tomorrow. I hope we will come out on top and win the pole. We are pretty confident that we have a shot at it." 

PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:
“The track was in really bad shape when we were running. At the very end of the session, it was getting better for us in the first group. Unfortunately, you have absolutely no hope to improve when the track gets better and better for group two. I think that we need to reconsider what cars are on track prior to our qualifying sessions. The stock cars put down oil and coolant, not to mention that their tires are incompatible with ours. It was like an ice rink out there. The track for the first group was three seconds off the pace.” 
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: 
“It was a weird session because the track was just so slick. There was no grip out there. We definitely improved the KOOL car from this morning’s session. We overcame a lack of mechanical grip from this morning. I’m pretty happy with that. But we’ve still got a long way to go. Now we need to get more grip from the rear end.” 

BRYAN HERTA  “We knew what we got ourselves into, and we knew it’s going to take a bit of time to get up to speed. The key is getting the car the way I like it, and we’re just not there, yet. Naturally, you like to yourself at the top of the charts, and there will come a time, if all goes well, that we will be there. But we just have to work through the details of getting me comfortable in the car. We lost some time at the beginning of the qualifying session, which hurt us. Ever minute of track time is important in this situation. But we’ll do our best and take it as it comes. This is a great group to work with.” 

MORRIS NUNN  “We’ve got quite a challenge this weekend, bringing Bryan up to speed in a car he’s never driven before. Our challenge is to give him a car that he is comfortable with and we are slowly but surely chipping away at it. These tings take time, there’s no two ways about it. Of course, we’d like to accelerate that process as much as we can. We’ve got a solid foundation to build on after the first day here. We’ll see what we can do to move him up the grid tomorrow.” 

PATRICK CARPENTIER "I'm very happy with third place," said Carpentier, who has three top-5 finishes in the four races in which he has competed this season. "I really have to credit the great work done by the Player's team in Detroit last weekend to put me into the fastest qualifying group today. The fine job that they did sure paid off today."  "The Reynard and Ford package is working very well," remarked Carpentier, who has finished in the top 10 the last two years he has raced at Portland. "We are very quick on the fastest part of the track, but we still need to improve the car because it's pushing a bit in the first six corners and we have problems putting the power down. We still have another session tomorrow, and the Player's team will have everything worked out for the final qualification and we're going to go all out for the pole."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, # 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola "The car wasn't too bad. Unfortunately on my second set of tires I only got one good lap in and ran into traffic after that. It was slippery out there with the different rubber on the track but it got better toward the end of the session. It was definitely an advantage to be in the fast group today. On a road course, how the car handles is very important. Horsepower is always good as well but the handling of the car is key. Overall, I am pretty happy with the progress of the first day. The Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team worked hard to get to this point and be a contender for the win. Overall we have run well in Portland over the years but have not won since 1992 for a variety of reasons. Last year we ran the fastest lap but had the car shut off while we were trying to leave the pits after a stop. We were taken out of the race on the first lap in 1998 (Moore). We ran as high as fourth place 
in 1997 but finished eighth. We had a problem in 1996 and dropped to 28th place and had to fight back up to 11. Overall, we were competitive but just didn't managed to finish well here. It would be nice to get back into victory circle this weekend." 

ALEX TAGLIANI "The track was very slippery following the NASCAR session," he explained. "They use a different tire compound and their cars are heavier and they don't lay down rubber at the same places we do, so it was hard to get a good track line. We also had some brake problems during the session and we lost time in the pits bleeding them while the other drivers were running on a set of new tires. The Player's team will sort things out for tomorrow once they check with my teammate's data." 

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY
 Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske has qualified among the top-five drivers at six of seven FedEx Championship Series events to date. Included are poles at Homestead and Long Beach, fourth-place starts at Milwaukee and Detroit and fifth-place results at Japan and Nazareth, site of his third career victory.

· De Ferran, the defending Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco champion, also owns podium finishes of second at Portland International Raceway in 1996 and '97.

· Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) will be seeking the second pole of his career, and his first on a road course, during final qualifying Saturday. He earned his first at Rio de Janeiro last year.

· Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), who qualified third, will be seeking a career-best start on a road or street course, topping sixth at Cleveland last year.

WHAT'S ON TAP

Qualifying for the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's Presented by Texaco will air 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.

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TOP QUALIFIERS

Pos No. Driver Last Completed Fastest Behind Speed (MPH) Speed (KPH)
Lap Time Lap Time Leader Prior Last Fastest Last Fastest
1 2   Gil de Ferran 21 1:18.808 18 0:58.586 0.000 0.000 89.945 120.991 144.811 194.796
2 11 X Christian Fittipaldi 14 1:03.223 12 0:58.813 0.227 0.227 112.117 120.524 180.508 194.044
3 32   Patrick Carpentier 16 1:24.485 13 0:58.993 0.407 0.180 83.901 120.157 135.081 193.453
4 6   Michael Andretti 19 1:00.383 16 0:59.041 0.455 0.048 117.391 120.059 189.000 193.295
5 27   Dario Franchitti 16 0:59.300 15 0:59.103 0.517 0.062 119.535 119.933 192.451 193.092
6 3   Helio Castroneves 20 0:59.440 19 0:59.137 0.551 0.034 119.253 119.864 191.997 192.981
7 1   Juan Montoya 12 0:59.171 12 0:59.171 0.585 0.034 119.795 119.795 192.870 192.870
8 20   Roberto Moreno 17 1:08.202 14 0:59.334 0.748 0.163 103.932 119.466 167.331 192.340
9 8   Kenny Brack 14 1:20.941 10 0:59.709 1.123 0.286 87.575 118.716 140.996 191.133
10 97 X Cristiano da Matta 12 1:00.194 10 0:59.810 1.224 0.101 117.759 118.515 189.592 190.809
11 7   Max Papis 20 1:00.049 18 0:59.841 1.255 0.031 118.044 118.454 190.051 190.711
12 96   Oriol Servia 2 1:00.027 8 0:59.886 1.300 0.045 118.087 118.365 190.120 190.568
13 40   Adrian Fernandez 14 1:00.343 14 1:00.343 1.757 0.457 117.468 117.468 189.123 189.123
14 12   Jimmy Vasser 14 6:07.467 14 1:00.429 1.843 0.086 19.290 117.301 31.057 188.855
15 26   Paul Tracy 13 0:00.000 13 1:00.543 1.957 0.114 117.080 117.080 188.499 188.499
16 17 X Mauricio Gugelmin 13 1:00.711 13 1:00.711 2.125 0.168 116.756 116.756 187.977 187.977
17 18   Mark Blundell 17 1:00.730 17 1:00.730 2.144 0.019 116.720 116.720 187.919 187.919
18 16   Michel Jourdain Jr. 17 1:01.550 13 1:00.797 2.211 0.067 115.165 116.591 185.416 187.712
19 33   Alexandre Tagliani 13 1:00.997 13 1:00.997 2.411 0.200 116.209 116.209 187.096 187.096
20 5   Shinji Nakano 15 1:10.815 14 1:01.189 2.603 0.192 100.097 115.844 161.156 186.509
21 10 X Norberto Fontana 7 1:01.374 6 1:01.282 2.696 0.093 115.495 115.669 185.947 186.227
22 55   Tony Kanaan 11 1:01.322 11 1:01.322 2.736 0.040 115.593 115.593 186.105 186.105
23 34   Tarso Marques 12 1:02.080 9 1:01.461 2.875 0.139 114.182 115.332 183.833 185.685
24 25   Luiz Garcia Jr. 15 1:09.266 13 1:01.540 2.954 0.079 102.336 115.184 164.761 185.446
25 19   Takuya Kurosawa 18 1:02.781 17 1:02.380 3.794 0.840 112.907 113.633 181.780 182.949

 

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