nips Michael Andretti and Kenny Brack for the provisional Marconi GP
of Cleveland pole
Autocourse CART Yearbook 1999-2000
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CLEVELAND (June 30, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green continued a recent run of strong FedEx Championship Series qualifying performances Friday when he captured the provisional pole position for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar at Burke Lakefront Airport (1 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ABC-TV).
Franchitti, runner-up in the 1999 FedEx Championship Series, enters the weekend ranked 10th in this year's championship, with 44 points, 24 behind leader Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing (68). Moreno was seventh fastest on Friday's provisional grid, at 130.293 mph (58.189 seconds).
Rounding out the top five drivers were Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), fourth at 130.432 mph (58.127 seconds) and Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), fifth at 130.398 mph (58.142 seconds).
Paul Tracy was among the first 13 cars in the split session of qualifying, but will move into the faster second group tomorrow. Tracy stood atop the timesheet before the second group went faster, taking advantage of more rubber build-up on track. Tracy’s time was 58.260 seconds (130.134 mph), 0.001 seconds better than Juan Montoya in 10th. Qualifying was tight, as Tracy was just nine-thousandths behind Cristiano da Matta in 8th.
The top 16 drivers were separated by less than one second on the provisional grid.
It was a day of high hopes for the Project Racing Group and
driver Luiz Garcia Jr.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "We're just getting it together. As soon as we got on the track at Japan something clicked. Apart from my mistake at the start of the Nazareth it's been pretty good lately. We're still learning the car and I'm still learning to work with my engineers, but they made some good changes to the car after the morning session and we're right there. It takes a while to get used to how a new engineer works with the car and the fact that I had the accident at Homestead and (engineer) Steve (Challis) had a stroke, it makes it really hard. It felt at one point that people were chucking obstacles at us, but we're getting better."
“It wasn’t a perfect lap, but it was better than the other guys managed. The track is so bumpy that half the time you get a good lap by missing some of the bumps. The bumps are consistently bad. So, we’re working on the car. The car isn’t what we need yet, but it’s obviously not too bad. We’ll keep working, trying to improve the KOOL car because the rest of the guys will be trying to catch up. I’m sure that tomorrow will be a lot faster. When the rubber gets down, the track just gets faster and faster. I think the fastest lap tomorrow will be the last lap.”
ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "It's been pretty good. This morning we were second quick and we didn't put on new tires and it felt pretty good. We got in a pretty good lap this afternoon, but then Dario went out and got us by a
hundredth of a second, but it's pretty good. We're still working on it, the same as everybody else right now. The conditions are a little slippery but it's the same for everybody, plus the pressure's on and we're all going for it."
"This morning we were the quickest so we were pretty confident about
qualifying. We put new tires on at the beginning of qualifying and I had a
hard time getting a clean lap. The car was okay but not good. In the middle
of the session we just worked on the setup and them put new tires on at the
end. We made two big changes and the car was much better. Doggoned Dario
had to get by us by about one-hundredth of a second. We've been right there
in terms of competitiveness but haven't been able to pull better finishes
off. A lot of people can say that. Nobody has grabbed this Championship and
KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Reynard : "It's been an interesting day. It's my first time at this track and it's a very nice track. I think we've done a good job today. The Shell/Ford Team Rahal team did a good job today. I'm still learning the course and there's a few bumps out there if you're looking but I think we're doing better and better. It's one of the most bumpy circuits I've ever been on, but the layout is very nice. A lot of tracks have a lot of hairpins and chicanes an stuff like that, so it's nice to have a track like this that's wide and has some slow corners and some fast corners." "This place is bumpier than the front straight at Indy," said Brack. "It is a flat track and an enjoyable course to drive. The curves are very fast and that is a nice change from the tight curves and sharp chicanes that so many of the newer tracks have. I spent some time with Bobby [Rahal] this morning driving around the track and I picked his brains for tips and tricks. It obviously paid off."
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN “The car is a lot better this weekend than it was last week in Portland. And this is a track I’ve always done fairly well at. The KOOL car wasn’t that good early in this morning’s practice. But we’ve been able to make steady improvements with the car every time we go out. We should be able to qualify well here this weekend. The difference is we’ve been able to get the rear of the car stable. That has been our problem. We can get rid of understeer, but at the sacrifice of getting big oversteer. We haven’t been able to get the two ends (front and rear) closer together in terms of balance. We’re a lot closer to it now.”
Max Papis - "We didn't have good balance today with the car," said Papis. "We had over steer and the rear was just too loose. With the bumpy track the rear end wants to hop around a lot. I know the track was getting better as the day went on so being in the first qualifying session hurt us. I think we can get the car settled down and have a competitive car on Saturday."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, "We definitely went backward from being second fastest this morning. I can't put the power down. The car slides all over the place. We have no grip. We either went the wrong way on the setup or something is wrong with the car. The Big Kmart/Route 66 car will be back out tomorrow and hopefully we will have learned something overnight. The worst part is that we will be in the slow group for qualifying. The track gets better as the rubber gets laid down and the second group always goes quicker. Now we are in the first group, which is not the ideal situation. We will have our work cut out for us but I am confident we will figure it out."
PATRICK CARPENTIER -32- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 19th - "The car just dives down when I hit the bumps and creates a huge push. I tried pushing it really hard and had a decent lap going but I went off. I'm giving everything I have, but we're not even close. The car is very bad over bumps, and it's not going where we want it. We also changed the suspension today with a totally different geometry and it's not working very well, so tomorrow we're going to switch it back and hope we do better."
Norberto Fontana: “I think it was a good first day. When we put new tires on the car late in the qualifying session, we also made a change that wasn’t right. I went off-course a couple of times struggling with the set-up. We’ ll go back on that change for the morning and go from there.”
Luiz Garcia Jr. "We're having the same problems we had in Portland during the race. The throttle's not responding like it should. The track and conditions are good, but we'll have to improve a lot tomorrow." "The tires were a bit cold and I was pushing hard. When that happens sometimes you slide and I happened to fishtail on that one. I tried to correct it, but I didn't have throttle response. It hurt as we lost time because of the penalty, and I'm not sure how many laps completed. The spin wasn't a big deal as there was no damage to the car."
· Rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal has started seventh or better in seven of eight FedEx Championship Series events to date in 2000. Included are road or street-course starts of seventh at Long Beach and Detroit and fifth at Portland.
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