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Roberto Moreno's first ever pole an emotional one
by Mark Cipolloni

7/1/00


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Gil de Ferran, Roberto Moreno and Mauricio Gugelmin meet the press following qualifying
(Click on any photo to see enlargement)

CLEVELAND (July 1, 2000) - Roberto Moreno, the series leader, collected another point for winning his first career Champ Car pole position to count 69 to date. It was a very emotional first-ever pole for Moreno, and he shed tears of joy when he stepped out of the car.  He and a friend stopped at a church this morning on the way to a track for a quick prayer.  Maybe the man upstairs didn't let it go unnoticed.

Moreno powered around the 2.106-mile temporary circuit at Burke Lakefront Airport in 57.436 seconds, averaging 132.001mph. Two points ahead of Gil de Ferran in the standings, Moreno was also 0.088 seconds quicker than his Brazilian countryman atop the timesheets. De Ferran’s best lap was his last, posting a time of 57.524 seconds (131.799 mph). Brazilians swept the top three positions, as Mauricio Gugelmin turned a lap of 57.538 seconds (131.767 mph).  

Moreno, who - despite not being numbered among the season's seven race winners to date - brought a 68-67 championship lead over Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske into this weekend's event, recorded a lap of 132.001 miles per hour (57.436 seconds) on the 2.106-mile temporary street circuit. The championship point he earned for the effort padded his lead over de Ferran to two points (69-67) entering Sunday's ninth of 20 rounds in this year's championship on the runways at Burke Lakefront Airport.


Roberto shed tears of joy when he stepped out of the car

De Ferran joins Moreno on the front row after a lap of 131.799 miles per hour (57.524 seconds), adding to an effort which saw four Brazilians qualify among the top five starters for Sunday's event. Moreno, meanwhile, exceeded his previous career-best start of second, established at Rio de Janeiro in 1997.

De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), the season's only two-time winner to date, will make his fourth front row start of the season, including poles at Homestead and Long Beach. Another native Brazilian, he also earned the outside pole last week at Portland. 

Fellow Brazilian Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Mercedes) of the PacWest Racing Group qualified third at 131.767 mph (57.538 seconds). It marked his best qualifying performance of the season and his best overall since earning the outside pole at Japan last year.

American Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing helped avert a Brazilian sweep of the top five places by qualifying fourth at 131.682 mph (57.575 seconds). It marks a season-best start for Andretti, CART's all-time victory leader (39), eclipsing sixth at Homestead.

Rounding out the top five qualifiers was Brazilian Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), fifth at 131.664 mph (57.583 seconds). The qualifying performance marked a career-best for da Matta, improving on sixth at Detroit two weeks ago and Homestead last year.

Team KOOL Green drivers Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy will start from the fourth and ninth rows respectively for tomorrow’s Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Franchitti, who earned the provisional pole yesterday, qualified eighth and Tracy dropped from ninth on the provisional grid to 17th for the start of the race. 

Qualifying was an adventure for Tracy, who was forced into his spare car when he suffered an engine failure after only five laps in his primary car. Stuck on the other side of the track, Tracy caught a ride with a safety vehicle and then a golf cart to make it back to the pit. A lot of valuable time was lost before he was strapped into the spare and the decision was made to go back out for a better time. Both TKG drivers were hampered further by an untimely red flag with about three minutes remaining. Moreno had spun and stalled his car on track in Turn 6. When the track was cleared there was only enough time for one flying lap, but Tracy and Franchitti could not improve their times. Franchitti’s quick lap was 57.677 seconds (130.889 mph), while Tracy clocked a time of 58.534 seconds (123.917 mph). 

Max Papis and the Miller Lite car found some speed and stability in the morning session posting the eighth fastest lap of the session at 58.432 sec./129.751 mph. In the afternoon qualifying, Papis again was in the first (slower) session based on his qualifying time on Friday. Papis was among the fastest drivers in his session turning a lap of 58.044 sec./130.618 mph, however, that put him 14th on the starting grid. 

Kenny Brack suffered through a frustrating day on the airport tarmac of Cleveland. Brack struggled through the morning session, as the stable car from Friday suddenly was very loose. Adjustments to the car helped but Brack was unable to recover the lost speed finishing the morning session 17th overall (58.871 sec./128.763 mph). In qualifying Brack clipped the wall and bent a rear toe link. He failed to better his qualifying speed from Friday and ended up 15th on the grid using his time from Friday.

While Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier both managed to shave more than a half-second off their times of the previous day, they were able to make only modest improvements to their position on the starting grid for Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland.  Tagliani covered the 2.1-mile Burke Lakefront Airport road course in a fast lap of 58.644 seconds to take the outside of Row 9 on the grid for Round 9 of the series, while his teammate is right behind him, on the inside of Row 10.  As was the case in Friday's session, Carpentier found the car tough to handle because of a lack of mechanical grip in the corners. "The Ford engine is 10 miles an hour faster on the straights but I'm one second slower than last year," he noted. "It's going to be a long night for Team Player's as it readies the car for tomorrow's race."

Getting the proper grip during his ride was also a problem for Tagliani, but the rookie maintained a positive outlook. "Fortunately, the car handles better with a heavy load of fuel, so I'm hopeful for the race," he said. "As we all saw last week in Portland, anything can happen during a race, especially at the start of it. Also, with smooth pit stops, Team Player's can work its way up to the front."

Sixteen of the 25 qualifiers were covered by less than one second. Defending FedEx Championship Series and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola), who is also the defending event champion, qualified sixth at 131.623 mph (57.601 seconds).

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING


Mauricio Gugelmin drove his Reynard Mercedes to a 3rd place start position.

ROBERTO MORENO -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 1st (57.436) - "It's been a great day. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those who gave me an opportunity to be in this position. We made a few changes in the setup between the first and second set of tires, changing the air pressures. This is a great moment for me, especially with such a competitive field."

GIL DE FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "It was a good day. I had a really good car in the morning, and I was very happy with everything we were doing. Unfortunately, I was not as happy in qualifying. I wasn't happy with the car on the first set of tires, and I had the same problem with the second set, and then the red flag came out and I still hadn't put in a lap that I felt was representative of the car. Luckily, we were able to get that one lap to get us up here. That was the only lap I had to do. That was tough because I was nowhere and the pressure was on. It was tense."

MAURICIO GUGELMIN, Nextel PacWest Mercedes: "I had a pretty trouble-free day, and I was happy with the car this morning. Always this place is very difficult because the conditions are always improving. I got a pretty good lap in before, but the computer was saying that I was doing pretty good on the last lap. Unfortunately, I ran out of fuel on the last chicane. It's still good, I think my best qualifying this season before this was seventh at Motegi, and I'm happy for Roberto because it's his first pole."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 14th (57.707) - "The car was very good. We just ran out of fuel during qualifying, and that was it. I am very frustrated, but we're just going to have to do our same old thing tomorrow for the race. It's a very good car. It could have been on the front row."

MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 14th (58.044) - "I couldn't get a complete lap today. I was fast in different segments but couldn't put one lap together. We improved the car a lot from Friday but I didn't get the lap I wanted. The only good thing about starting in the middle of the field is that the track is wide and you can pass in many places. I'm mad at myself because I felt good about the car and I couldn't get the most out of it today."  The only good thing about starting in the middle of the pack here at Cleveland is that the track is wide - the widest on the CART circuit - and you can pass in many places." 

KENNY BRACK -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 15th (from Friday - 58.045) - "We just weren't as good today as Friday. The car didn't feel stable in turns five, six and seven. It never felt secure under me like it did on Friday. I clipped the wall early in the session and we bent a rear toe link, nothing serious. But the car was okay after that. I couldn't find the right balance today. It's frustrating especially after we were so quick on Friday (third fastest)." 

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, "I tried to go out and get the pole but Roberto's strategy worked. I had one of the quickest splits up until he spun. We had a good lap going. I think it would have been enough to get pole. Now the next goal is to get through turn one okay and ahead of everyone else. What a shame. We had a good one (lap) going. It will be a fuel mileage race and Roberto is looking good. He'll try to finish the race in two stops. He's making a serious bid for the Championship. The Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline has a good race set-up so we need to run a good race strategy wise. It will definitely be exciting."  · NOTE: Retired Philadelphia Flyer National League Hockey player, Tim Kerr, is a guest of Andretti this weekend. Kerr is one of the all-time leading scorers for the Flyers. Andretti, an avid hockey fan, is a partial owner of the Lehigh Valley Extreme (UHL) in Lehigh Valley, Pa., and is a Flyers fan. 

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 13th (57.941 - "Basically, it was a lack of performance. We did not figure out a good setup for the car but it will be a long race tomorrow. On Friday morning, I thought we would be in the hunt when we were second fastest but we didn't keep up at the end of the day. In qualifying, the car was jumping all over the place. The back end was poor. We improved from yesterday but obviously not enough." 

ALEX TAGLIANI -33- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 18th (58.644) - "It's very frustrating to be sitting in 18th place, but it's really tough to improve our time if we can't get the proper grip. I'm pushing as hard as I can but I can't make it go faster during qualifying. Fortunately, the car handles better with a heavy load of fuel so I'm hopeful for the race. As we all saw last week, anything can happen during the race, especially at the start."

PATRICK CARPENTIER -32- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 19th (58.717) - "The team kept on improving the setups on the car and we were lowering our times as the weekend goes on, but so are the other teams. We were nowhere on Friday and today we were playing catch up. We are still lacking the mechanical grip in the corners. The Ford-Cosworth engine is 10 mpg faster on the straights but I'm one second slower than last year."


The press swarms around Moreno following his run

BRYAN HERTA “What a great effort by the guys for getting me a car that feels so comfortable to drive. They’ve had to go from one driver to another, and Tony and I have very different driving styles. This is where we should’ve been last weekend in Portland. You know, before I subbed for Derrick Walker’s team earlier in the year, we were able to sneak in a day of testing before Long Beach, and that made all the difference in the world (with a fifth-place qualifying effort and fifth-place finish). Here, we did our test session, in essence, in actual practice, qualifying and race conditions at Portland. The car is finally to where I can really work with it. There’s still a lot more left in it, so we’ll make some adjustments before warm-up tomorrow morning and see where that takes us. It’s a great feeling to be in a race car, to begin with, but an even greater feeling to have a car that works well. I can’t wait for the race. I love this place.” 

PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:  “It was an easy decision to take a run at a better time with the spare car. Starting 20th or starting 17th it doesn’t really matter. Moving up into today’s fast group was all for nothing after that session. It’s the way it goes I guess. Qualifying always matters no matter where you are. You’ve got to be in the fast group and today we couldn’t keep in it because we had an engine failure. The spare KOOL car was set-up totally different. It’s got a different differential and different brake discs and pads. I had never even driven the thing before. I just couldn’t get it up to speed. It’s unfortunate that we’re not starting up front, but the positive thing is there are a lot of opportunities to pass on these wide runways.” 

DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: “The car is just not working over the bumps. For that one lap, when you have to carry that little bit more speed through the corners, it’s not able to. I think I got the limit out of the KOOL car on the first set of tires. Then we made a couple of adjustments and I pushed to try to go quicker, but it was worse over the bumps. The harder I would try to go quicker, the slower I would go. We had a couple of problems, but it’s just disappointing. We need to try to get the car working better. I’m sure we could have done better, but we got screwed up by [Roberto] Moreno’s spin. We were right in the middle of our fastest lap all weekend, but that spin resulted in an untimely red flag. At the end of the day, we didn’t do it.” 

Norberto Fontana: “It’s disappointing. We weren’t able to improve the set-up of the car from yesterday. The car was OK, but I wasn’t able to attack or I’d lose time over the bumps. Right now, I’m hopeful to finish the race strongly for our new sponsor, DIRECTV.” 

Michel Jourdain Jr., Car #16, Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports: "The car was much better, we still have to work on it, mainly because it developed oversteer and we need it to perform better on the bumps. Nevertheless, we improved our times more than one second, but I still believe that we could do it much, much better. I made a mistake when I was doing which I think it could be my best lap. I spun and the tires were worn out. I only could complete one more lap, but the tires were not good enough. We will make some changes for the warm-up session and we hope to get some points." 

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." 


Garcia's crew services his Reynard/Mercedes

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY

· Despite the fact that Saturday marked his first career pole position in FedEx Championship Series competition, Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) has started among the top 10 drivers in seven of the eight previous events this season. Two of those starts are top fives, third at Portland and fourth at Japan.

· Moreno's pole ends a run of four consecutive poles at Cleveland for Honda-powered drivers. Gil de Ferran (1996), Alex Zanardi (1997 and '98) and Juan Montoya (1999) were the drivers contributing to the effort.

· Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) outside pole-winning effort extends a run which has seen him qualify on the front row for four of his six appearances at Burke Lakefront Airport. Also included are a pole in 1995, his first in the FedEx Championship Series, as well as outside poles in 1997 and '99. 

· Mauricio Gugelmin's (Nextel PacWest Mercedes) third-place qualifying effort was his best on a road or street course since qualifying third at Long Beach in 1997. His career-best road or street course start is second in the 1995 season opener in downtown Miami. 

· Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) qualified fourth earn his ninth top-four start in 15 career appearances at Burke Lakefront Airport. Included is a pole position in 1989.

WHAT'S ON TAP

Qualifying for the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar will air 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day," airs 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN2, while ABC-TV's live race broadcast airs 1 p.m. ET. 

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TOP QUALIFIERS

Pos Driver Car#       Lap Speed Speed B. Leader B. Next
Engine Chassis Tires Time Mph Kph    
1 Roberto Moreno 20   Ford Reynard Firestone 0:57.436 132.001 212.522 0.000 0.000
2 Gil de Ferran 2 X Honda Reynard Firestone 0:57.524 131.799 212.196 0.088 0.088
3 Mauricio Gugelmin 17 X Mercedes Reynard Firestone 0:57.538 131.767 212.145 0.102 0.014
4 Michael Andretti 6   Ford Lola Firestone 0:57.575 131.682 212.008 0.139 0.037
5 Cristiano da Matta 97   Toyota Reynard Firestone 0:57.583 131.664 211.979 0.147 0.008
6 Juan Montoya 1   Toyota Lola Firestone 0:57.601 131.623 211.913 0.165 0.018
7 Bryan Herta 55 X Mercedes Reynard Firestone 0:57.671 131.463 211.655 0.235 0.070
8 Dario Franchitti 27   Honda Reynard Firestone 0:57.677 131.449 211.633 0.241 0.006
9 Adrian Fernandez 40   Ford Reynard Firestone 0:57.707 131.381 211.523 0.271 0.030
10 Helio Castroneves 3   Honda Reynard Firestone 0:57.722 131.347 211.469 0.286 0.015
11 Oriol Servia 96   Toyota Reynard Firestone 0:57.818 131.129 211.118 0.382 0.096
12 Jimmy Vasser 12 X Toyota Lola Firestone 0:57.930 130.875 210.709 0.494 0.112
13 Christian Fittipaldi 11 X Ford Lola Firestone 0:57.941 130.850 210.669 0.505 0.011
14 Max Papis 7   Ford Reynard Firestone 0:58.044 130.618 210.295 0.608 0.103
15 Kenny Brack 8   Ford Reynard Firestone 0:58.049 130.607 210.277 0.613 0.098
16 Mark Blundell 18   Mercedes Reynard Firestone 0:58.259 130.136 209.519 0.823 0.215
17 Paul Tracy 26 X Honda Reynard Firestone 0:58.534 129.525 208.535 1.098 0.485
18 Alexandre Tagliani 33   Ford Reynard Firestone 0:58.644 129.282 208.144 1.208 0.110
19 Patrick Carpentier 32   Ford Reynard Firestone 0:58.717 129.121 207.885 1.281 0.073
20 Michel Jourdain Jr. 16 X Mercedes Lola Firestone 0:58.941 128.630 207.094 1.505 0.224
21 Shinji Nakano 5   Honda Reynard Firestone 0:58.985 128.534 206.940 1.549 0.044
22 Tarso Marques 34   Ford Swift Firestone 0:59.442 127.546 205.349 2.006 0.457
23 Norberto Fontana 10   Toyota Reynard Firestone 0:59.470 127.486 205.252 2.034 0.028
24 Luiz Garcia Jr. 25 X Mercedes Reynard Firestone 1:00.756 124.788 200.909 3.320 1.286
25 Takuya Kurosawa 19   Ford Lola Firestone 1:00.767 124.765 200.872 3.331 0.011

 

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