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Brazilians sweep top-3 spots in Portland quals 
as Helio stays hot
by Mark Cipolloni 

June 23, 2000

1st Helio Castroneves

                          
2nd Gil de Ferran  3rd
Roberto Moreno


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Helio Castroneves
Tom Malaska Photo
(Click on any photo to see enlargement)

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 24, 2000) - Marlboro Team Penske swept the front row for the first time since 1994 as Helio Castroneves captured his first pole of the season and Gil de Ferran earned the outside position during Saturday's qualifying for the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco at Portland International Raceway.

Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), riding the momentum of his first career win last week in Detroit, established a track record with a lap of 122.768 miles per hour (57.738 seconds) on the 1.969-mile permanent road course. He was one of seven drivers to eclipse the previous track record of 121.808 mph (58.193), set by Juan Montoya last season, en route to the second pole of his career. His other came at Milwaukee last season.

De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) landed his second outside pole in four seasons at Portland - the other was in 1997 - with a lap of 122.594 mph (57.820). It also was the seventh time in eight starts this season that de Ferran has qualified among the top five. The front-row sweep was the first for Marlboro Team Penske since 1994 at Nazareth when Emerson Fittipaldi won the pole and teammate Paul Tracy started on the outside.


Max's red hair did not help him this time as he could only muster a 13th starting spot.

The Marlboro Team Penske duo will lead the 25-car Champ Car field for the start of Sunday's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco, which will begin at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. local PT (ESPN2, 7 p.m., tape delayed).

Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing gave Brazil a sweep of the top three starting positions with his lap of 122.262 mph (57.977) in the Visteon Ford Reynard. The start is a season best - topping fourth at Japan - as well as a career best at Portland. His previous best was 11th, established last year.

Roberto Moreno got to the post qualifying press conference a bit late but that didn’t stop him from expressing an opinion that is probably rather prevalent in the paddock. 

"I’m tired of all these Brazilians," the diminuitive Brazilian said jokingly about Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran. 

Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green registered his third consecutive top-four start of the season. Franchitti, who started on the outside pole at Milwaukee and Detroit, respectively, earned the fourth position with a lap of 122.090 mph (58.059) in the KOOL Honda Reynard. Rookie Kenny Brack rounded out the top five with a lap of 122.008 mph (58.098) in the Shell Ford Reynard. It marked his seventh top-seven qualifying performance in eight starts this season.

Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green, the FedEx Championship Series points leader, qualified 17th at 119.370 mph (59.382). Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, the defending FedEx Championship Series champion and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, qualified eighth at 121.593 mph (58.296).

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.


Roberto Moreno was 3rd quick in his Visteon 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.

Paul Tracy will once again need to make a charge from the back of the field, starting from 18th on the grid. Tracy turned his quickest lap of the weekend around the 1.969-mile road course in 59.472 seconds (119.189 mph). With improving track conditions and faster cars taking times, Tracy slid down the timesheets. Still, he has finished in the top-10 three times this season starting from as far back as the ninth row. He started 17th and finished 3rd at Homestead, started 17th and won at Long Beach and started 20th to finish 6th in Japan. 


Max Papis talks handling with engineer Tim Reiter

Bryan Herta, subbing for the injured Tony Kanaan, will start the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard from the 21st spot in Sunday’s Freightliner/G.I. Joe’s 200. He posted a final qualifying time today of 59.746 seconds (an average of 118.642 mph) over the 1.967-mile Portland International Raceway road circuit. It was only the second day ever for Herta in the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing entry, and it was a day of limited action, at that. Just 30 minutes into this morning’s 1-hour, 15-minute practice session, mechanical problems sent the car to the garage. And the team is without a running back-up car after Kanaan’s 
qualifying accident last weekend in Detroit. Kanaan sustained a broken left forearm that required surgery and four fractured ribs on his left side and is expected to be out four to six weeks. The team will have its back-up car ready in time for next weekend’s Medic Drug Grand Prix in Cleveland. 

Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, who respectively sit on the outside of Row 6 and the inside of Row 8 for Sunday's FedEx CART Championship race on Portland's 1.969-mile road course, are confident that sound strategy and racing savvy will enable them to work their way into contention.

Carpentier, whose fast lap of 58.659 seconds was the 12th-best time, missed most of the morning practice session because of a broken turbo hose, and Team Player's was thus unable to test the changes they had planned for the car. Carpentier was among the leaders when he put in a fast lap on his first set of tires, although he reported the car had too much push.  Tagliani recorded the 15th-fastest lap (59.352 seconds) using his backup car, after an oil leak sidelined the No. 1 car. 

The 24-car field returns to the track for warm-up tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. with the green flag for the race at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The event will be broadcast via tape delay on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. 

WHAT THEY SAID

HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I think everybody saw how happy I was last week. For the whole entire week, it was fantastic. This morning, we worked a little bit on the setup of the car. We had a little trouble with the downshift in Turn One, but other than that I was very happy. We've worked very, very hard to achieve this position and place. It's not like it just fell out of the sky. But let's keep working harder because it's going to be even more difficult tomorrow."

GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I've really been pretty happy since we arrived here. This morning and afternoon, the car was pretty good. It was just a matter of trying to squeeze everything out of it, and obviously, the time shows that we're pretty close. Helio was able to get us, but generally, I'm pretty pleased."

ROBERTO MORENO, Visteon Ford Reynard: "We had a very, very slow start. We came here with some ideas and we played with the car a lot. If you'd have seen us yesterday morning, you would never have thought that we'd have qualified well. We tried some things and kept what was good, and the car started getting better. We took advantage of some things Adrian [Fernandez, Patrick Racing teammate] learned in his car and we put on a second set of tires and went out and did the time."


Christian Fittipaldi

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth Lola.  Fittipaldi improved seven-tenths of a second from his second-place provisional qualifying on Friday but dropped to sixth fastest in final qualifying. "We didn't have a good balance in the Big Kmart/Route 66 car. You couldn't push it to the limit without it getting out from under you. We made a major change this morning that didn't work out so we went back to our set-up from yesterday. It didn't work as good today. I said that I didn't mind trading a pole for a win on Sunday so I hope that is where we are headed. I would love to win a race in Portland. I have had some good racing memories of this place and would love to win because of that and the other obvious reasons."  NOTE: Fittipaldi's highest Portland start of third place came in 1997 on his return to racing from an accident in the second event of the season (Australia) when he was hit from behind by Gil de Ferran and drove head-on into the concrete barriers at 190 mph. He suffered a broken right leg (tibia and fibula) as well as his left foot. In his racing comeback, he ran in second place before he was passed on the last lap by two cars that were equipped with faster "slick" tires on the drying course while the previous race leaders were on rain tires. He finished fourth. His highest finish in Portland is third place in 1996.


Andretti studies lap diagram with peter Gibbons

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, # 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola.  "I was sliding all over the place. I didn't have any grip. The track was fine because other guys managed to go quick. It's disappointing because we haven't been able to qualify well for a while. I thought we were on to something but it didn't materialize. Winning is so much about track position these days and ours isn't so good here. I would love to have a good finish here in Portland for the Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team and have this be a starting point to start collecting big points from here on out. The DNF's have really hurt us this season." NOTE: Andretti has won three in Portland ('90, '91, '92) and has started on the front row three times (started 2nd in '86, '90, '92). Of his 39 victories, 25 have come on a road/street course. This will be his 16th start at Portland. Has led in seven of his 15 Portland races. Set the fastest race lap in the '99 event before his engine cut out while exiting his pit and he finished 10th.


Will Portland be 8 for 8?  Seven different winners in the first seven CART events this year. Ford drivers Max Papis (left), Adrian Fernandez (third from left) and Michael Andretti (fourth from left) are joined at Portland by Paul Tracy, Gil de Ferran, Juan Montoya and Helio Castroneves (left to right)
(Click on any photo to see enlargement)

PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:  “I’m trying to collect as many Budweiser Hard Charger Awards as I can (the award given to the driver for the biggest improvement from starting to finishing position in the race). We just can’t get the car figured out for qualifying. We change everything on the car and nothing seems to make any difference. As a race car, the KOOL car is fine. I can drive at race pace all day long. The only consolation we have is that we have a lot of tires saved up. We have four sets for the race.  “We might need a different race strategy than the leaders to improve our track position. If the yellows fall our way and we have strong pit stops, I believe we will move up from the back like we have before. We need to, to protect the championship lead.” 

DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:  “The last two races we have done better in qualifying (qualified 2nd both times). But I haven’t won a pole position, so I’m still not very happy. I pushed the car pretty hard there today. I was taking all the KOOL car would give me. I told the guys that I thought I could push a bit harder. Then I thought about it again. There’s such a fine line between pushing too hard and getting to the absolute limit, especially with these track conditions. I realized that I got the best out of the car today. Now we’re going to go back and work on it for tomorrow, hopefully coming back with something better.” 

BRYAN HERTA  “It’s been one of those weekends, so far. We haven’t gotten nearly as many laps as wish we could have. This morning’s problems set us back even further. We just don’t have the car to my liking, yet. You need seat time to get that done. We’ll make some changes for tomorrow’s warm-up, see where we are, and make whatever adjustments we have to after that. We just have to keep chipping away at it. It’s a good car, and this is a solid team. The race isn’t here, yet, and that’s what ultimately matters the most, anyway. Hopefully we’ll have this thing figured out by showtime. I have every confidence we can do it. We just need a few breaks.” 


Patrick Carpentier
All photos courtesy of MSI except as noted

PATRICK CARPENTIER "Starting 12th means that I'll have to be more aggressive," explained Carpentier, who has finished in the top 5 in three of the four races he has competed this season. "There are not too many places to pass on this track. The only good place is corner 1. But we've seen so far this season that you can make a lot of progress with good pit stops and taking advantage of every opportunity." 

"The Player's team changed the front springs, and I guess we may have gone a bit too far," he explained. "Then, on my second set of tires, I got stuck in traffic and couldn't put in a good lap when the tires were at their best. For the race, we're going to go back to Friday's set-up, which enabled us to clock the third-fastest time."

ALEX TAGLIANI "I went out with the back-up with only four minutes left, and I managed a decent time considering the fact it was my first time on the track with it, and it didn't have the proper shocks and springs," remarked Tagliani. "We also had to use the sticker tires, and it's hard to get them up to temperature in only four laps. I'm still optimistic about the race. The Player's team will come up with the right set-up on the backup car, and I'm more than ready to work my way toward the front." 

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY
· Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) became the second consecutive driver to follow his first victory of the season with a pole at the ensuing venue. Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing won the race at Milwaukee earlier this month and followed with a pole position at Detroit.

· Defending Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco champion Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) extended an outstanding record of success at Portland International Raceway by qualifying second. He also qualified second in 1997 and owns three podium finishes in five career starts at Portland, including seconds in 1996 and '97 in addition to last year's victory.

· Roberto Moreno's (Visteon Ford Reynard) third-place qualifying effort matches a career-best performance on a road or street circuit, equaling third at Detroit in 1997 and at Road America in 1985 and '86.


Kenny Brack showed his road racing skills with a 4th place start.

· Rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) qualified fifth at 122.008 mph (58.098 seconds), and has now qualified among the top seven drivers at seven of eight events this season, topped by an outside pole at Japan.

· Rookie Oriol Servia (Telefonica Toyota Reynard) recorded a career best qualifying effort of seventh, at 121.871 mph (58.163 seconds). His previous best was 12th at Detroit last week.

· Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel Mercedes Reynard) was disqualified from his 14th qualifying position during post-qualifying technical inspection for failure to maintain the required two inches of clearance at the chassis reference plane. 

 

WHAT'S ON TAP

CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2 while ESPN2's tape-delayed broadcast of the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco airs 7 p.m. ET.

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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 3   Helio Castroneves 12 1:12.998 8 0:57.738 0.000 0.000 97.104 122.768 156.337 197.656
2 2   Gil de Ferran 18 1:17.591 14 0:57.820 0.082 0.082 91.356 122.594 147.083 197.376
3 20   Roberto Moreno 21 0:58.846 18 0:57.977 0.239 0.157 120.457 122.262 193.936 196.842
4 27   Dario Franchitti 12 0:58.374 9 0:58.059 0.321 0.082 121.431 122.090 195.504 196.565
5 8   Kenny Brack 18 0:58.488 15 0:58.098 0.360 0.039 121.194 122.008 195.122 196.433
6 11 X Christian Fittipaldi 18 1:03.525 17 0:58.115 0.377 0.017 111.584 121.972 179.650 196.375
7 96   Oriol Servia 16 0:58.305 15 0:58.163 0.425 0.048 121.574 121.871 195.734 196.212
8 1   Juan Montoya 21 1:05.709 15 0:58.296 0.558 0.133 107.876 121.593 173.680 195.765
9 97 X Cristiano da Matta 16 0:59.076 14 0:58.487 0.749 0.191 119.988 121.196 193.181 195.126
10 40   Adrian Fernandez 15 1:01.467 13 0:58.540 0.802 0.053 115.320 121.086 185.665 194.948
11 6   Michael Andretti 18 1:03.763 15 0:58.619 0.881 0.079 111.168 120.923 178.980 194.686
12 32   Patrick Carpentier 16 1:01.464 6 0:58.659 0.921 0.040 115.326 120.841 185.675 194.554
13 7   Max Papis 17 1:00.539 16 0:58.864 1.126 0.205 117.088 120.420 188.512 193.876
14 12   Jimmy Vasser 7 1:12.602 5 0:59.269 1.531 0.055 97.634 119.597 157.191 192.551
15 33 X Alexandre Tagliani 4 0:59.352 4 0:59.352 1.614 0.083 119.430 119.430 192.282 192.282
16 18   Mark Blundell 16 1:00.201 6 0:59.382 1.644 0.030 117.746 119.370 189.571 192.186
17 26   Paul Tracy 15 1:03.575 12 0:59.472 1.734 0.090 111.497 119.189 179.510 191.894
18 34   Tarso Marques 11 0:59.812 10 0:59.572 1.834 0.100 118.511 118.989 190.803 191.572
19 16   Michel Jourdain Jr. 16 0:59.749 4 0:59.624 1.886 0.052 118.636 118.885 191.004 191.405
20 55   Bryan Herta 15 0:59.916 12 0:59.746 2.008 0.122 118.306 118.642 190.473 191.014
21 5   Shinji Nakano 15 1:00.131 4 1:00.014 2.276 0.268 117.883 118.112 189.792 190.160
22 25   Luiz Garcia Jr. 16 1:00.383 5 1:00.061 2.323 0.047 117.391 118.020 189.000 190.012
23 10 X Norberto Fontana 16 1:00.187 16 1:00.187 2.449 0.126 117.773 117.773 189.615 189.615
24 19   Takuya Kurosawa 18 1:02.781 17 1:02.380 4.642 2.193 112.907 113.633 181.780 182.949
25 17   Mauricio Gugelmin 0 0:00.000 0 0:00.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000

 
Grid No. Driver Best Lap Speed MPH Speed KPH
1 3Helio Castroneves Lap #8 (0:57.738 sec) 122.768 197.656
2 2Gil de Ferran Lap #14 (0:57.820 sec) 122.594 197.376
3 20Roberto Moreno Lap #18 (0:57.977 sec) 122.262 196.842
4 27Dario Franchitti Lap #9 (0:58.059 sec) 122.09 196.565
5 8Kenny Brack Lap #15 (0:58.098 sec) 122.008 196.433
6 11Christian Fittipaldi Lap #17 (0:58.115 sec) 121.972 196.375
7 96Oriol Servia Lap #15 (0:58.163 sec) 121.871 196.212
8 1Juan Montoya Lap #15 (0:58.296 sec) 121.593 195.765
9 97Cristiano da Matta Lap #14 (0:58.487 sec) 121.196 195.126
10 40Adrian Fernandez Lap #13 (0:58.540 sec) 121.086 194.948
11 6Michael Andretti Lap #15 (0:58.619 sec) 120.923 194.686
12 32Patrick Carpentier Lap #6 (0:58.659 sec) 120.841 194.554
13 7Max Papis Lap #16 (0:58.864 sec) 120.42 193.876
14 12Jimmy Vasser Lap #5 (0:59.269 sec) 119.597 192.551
15 33Alexandre Tagliani Lap #4 (0:59.352 sec) 119.43 192.282
16 18Mark Blundell Lap #6 (0:59.382 sec) 119.37 192.186
17 26Paul Tracy Lap #12 (0:59.472 sec) 119.189 191.894
18 34Tarso Marques Lap #10 (0:59.572 sec) 118.989 191.572
19 16Michel Jourdain Jr. Lap #4 (0:59.624 sec) 118.885 191.405
20 55Bryan Herta Lap #12 (0:59.746 sec) 118.642 191.014
21 5Shinji Nakano Lap #4 (1:00.014 sec) 118.112 190.160
22 25Luiz Garcia Jr. Lap #5 (1:00.061 sec) 118.02 190.012
23 10Norberto Fontana Lap #16 (1:00.187 sec) 117.773 189.615
24 19Takuya Kurosawa Lap #17 (1:02.380 sec) 113.633 182.949
25 17Mauricio Gugelmin Lap #0 (0:00.000 sec) 0 0.000

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