DE FERRAN CLAIMS PROVISIONAL POLE AT MEDIC DRUG GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR CLEVELAND (June 25, 1999) - Gil de Ferran of Walker Racing, looking to recapture the magnitude of success at Burke Lakefront Airport that ...
DE FERRAN CLAIMS PROVISIONAL POLE AT MEDIC DRUG GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR
CLEVELAND (June 25, 1999) - Gil de Ferran of Walker Racing, looking to recapture the magnitude of success at Burke Lakefront Airport that characterized his early FedEx Championship Series career, earned the provisional pole Friday for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN).
De Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) recorded a lap of 131.294 miles per hour (57.745 seconds) to earn the provisional pole position for Sunday's ninth round of the championship. De Ferran has compiled a glittering record at Cleveland that includes his first career pole during his 1995 rookie season, a victory in 1996 and a runner-up finish in '97.
De Ferran will be seeking his second pole position of the season when final qualifying begins 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday. His earlier pole came in Round 2 of the series at Japan in April.
De Ferran will also be chasing his second consecutive FedEx Championship Series victory following last week's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline at Portland International Raceway.
The provisional outside pole qualifier is Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), who recorded a lap of 131.199 mph (57.787 seconds). He is seeking to match or better his season-best start of second at Gateway International Raceway last month.
Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard) qualified a provisional third at 131.120 mph (57.822 seconds). Like de Ferran, he has a strong Cleveland resume which includes podium finishes of second in 1995 and third in '97.
Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) qualified fourth at 131.049 mph (57.853 seconds) and was followed by series leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), at 130.984 mph (57.882 seconds).
Montoya, a rookie, holds a 90-85 lead over Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), who qualified a provisional ninth (130.468 mph, 58.103 sec.) through eight rounds of the championship.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard: "The track is a little bit difficult because of the lack of reference points. Obviously, it's harder to hit the wall here, but if you are driving well and are well conditioned mentally, having walls or not shouldn't dictate the way you drive. But there's no denying that it gives you a little more freedom to try something that if it doesn't work out, it'll still be OK, so it does make a difference from that standpoint."
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "Conditions were pretty good today, and I'm pretty happy with the car, but there was a lot of debris being kicked up out there which made it tough to put up a time. Tomorrow is going be much quicker, and we're going to need to improve the car. I think we'll need to get into the 56s [seconds]; I think that's what the pole time is going to be. But overall, I'm very happy with the car and we'll be ready to go after the pole tomorrow."
BRYAN HERTA, Shell Ford Reynard: "Practice went pretty good and we didn't make too many changes to the car for qualifying, but the session was a little disjointed and I wasn't able to really run three laps together. It was tough to try and put up a good time, I just threw in a last-minute lap and we moved to third. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the car, but like Paul [Tracy] said, we need to improve for tomorrow. It was pretty slippery out there today, and I'm sure the track will be better tomorrow."
* PJ Jones (Visteon Ford Reynard) was disqualified from his sixth-place provisional qualifying position for failure to pass post-qualifying technical inspection, which revealed that Jones' car was underweight. Jones will have an opportunity to re-qualify the car during Saturday's final session.
* Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) will be seeking his sixth FedEx Championship Series career pole position when final qualifying begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Four of his five career poles to date have come on temporary street circuits, including Cleveland in 1995, Long Beach in '96 and '97, and Detroit in '97.
* Provisional outside pole-sitter Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) is seeking his best FedEx Championship Series start on a road or street course since earning the outside pole at Australia in 1997.
* Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard) qualified a provisional third. In five previous career appearances at Cleveland his career-best start at Cleveland is third in 1995 and '96.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar will air 12:30 a.m. ET Saturday/early Sunday on ESPN2.