Fernandez Masters bumpy Denver street track; Lola drivers cop top six spots in provisional qualifying. Adrian Fernandez has a knack for driving bumpy, grip-less street circuits, as he set top lap in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Shell...
Fernandez Masters bumpy Denver street track; Lola drivers cop top six spots in provisional qualifying.
Adrian Fernandez has a knack for driving bumpy, grip-less street circuits, as he set top lap in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Shell Grand Prix of Denver on the 1.647-mile track that surrounds the city's Pepsi Center, guaranteeing himself a front-row start. Fernandez' lap in the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda of 62.073 seconds (95.520mph) bested Christian Fittipaldi's lap in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota around the nine turns of 62.440 seconds (94.958mph), by .367 seconds. Tony Kanaan was third in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, .014 seconds behind Fittipaldi with a tour of 62.454 seconds (94.937mph), despite two off-course excursions that wiped out one of his quicker times.
"This is a new venue, of course, and it's a little bit like Monterrey (Mexico) with more bumps," Fernandez noted. "My car has been good since this morning (when he was 2nd to Cristiano da Matta) but with the bumps and lack of grip, it's been difficult to be consistent." Fittipaldi joked that he "can't breathe -- it's too high here. Seriously, the track is not smooth -- it's very bumpy -- and the grip needs to get better. They did a good job on the track but it's still very difficult to judge braking points." Kanaan revealed that "the grip is zero. It's not coming up but it's a little better than this morning.
Scott Dixon, carrying the Coors Light colors on his #44 Lola/Toyota was fourth for the afternoon with a lap of 62.468 seconds (94.916mph). "Our car was pretty good, but I had traffic on my fast lap and Tony's rear wing was all over the track," the Kiwi said. Da Matta, quickest in morning practice turned the fifth best lap in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota on his third of eight tours of the circuit, at 62.810 seconds (94.399mph). Da Matta wasn't "able to get a clear lap and the car was good all day." The final driver within a second of the leader, Bruno Junqueira was fifth in the #4 Target Lola/Toyota at 62.950 seconds (94.189mph), yet "couldn't get a fast lap in today. I pushed a little too hard going into turn one and the back end just came around," causing the session to end under red.
This hot day, with air temperatures in the 84-88 range and track temps around 117-122 degrees yielded plenty of stoppages for incidents in both practice (five) and two in qualifying. There is a threat of thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon, similar to those that inundated the Denver area Thursday. Final qualifying will be shown live on Speed beginning at 1:30pm MDT.