CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana: Lola qualifying report

Kanaan quickest in California Speedway qualifying. Lola nabs top six starting spots for The 500 Presented by Toyota. Tony Kanaan's ...

Kanaan quickest in California Speedway qualifying.
Lola nabs top six starting spots for The 500 Presented by Toyota.

Tony Kanaan's #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda has been quick since practice began Friday for The 500 Presented by Toyota. Fast in both morning sessions, the Brazilian parlayed that into pole position for Sunday's 250-lap event, logging a lap of 31.483 seconds (232.011mph) in single car time trials. He bested Bruno Junqueira's 31.601- second (231.145mph) lap in the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota by .118 seconds. Third went to Cristiano da Matta's #1 Chevron Lola/Toyota, which lapped the 2.029-mile superspeedway oval at 31.679 seconds (230.575mph).

"I knew the car was strong this morning when I turned a 232mph lap on my own," Kanaan allowed. "I was concerned about track position for this race and I was really on the limit with the car. My Lola feels really comfortable for the race." Junqueira's car "wasn't very good on Friday and we improved a lot today. But we didn't expect to be up here and qualify this high." Last year's winner Da Matta realizes a consistent car is key to a good finish in this 500-miler. "The car feels good. I ran alone a lot in practice and in qualifying, I was flat all around." All set their times on the first of two flying laps.

Michael Andretti earned 4th starting slot with his first lap of 31.685 seconds (230.532mph) in the #39 Motorola Lola/Honda. "I thought we had a shot at pole, and my car has been working well in traffic," the CART veteran said. Paul Tracy starts 5th in the #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda with a lap of 31.734 seconds (230.176mph) and was "pretty happy. The balance is pretty good but we still need to learn more about what our Lola wants as the race progresses." Jimmy Vasser's #8 Shell Lola/Ford has 6th place on the grid with a 31.736-second lap (2340.161mph) and noted, "The car felt good. We couldn't trim it out any more. There's going to be a lot of passing Sunday, so we'll ride around for 400 miles and then go racing flat out."

Team Player's Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier share row 4 on the 18-car grid. Dario Franchitti starts 9th in his #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda and admitted, "We just didn't trim it out enough. I guess we were a bit cautious." Subbing for the injured Adrian Fernandez in the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda, Max Papis earned 10th on the grid. "We have to be patient and it's very difficult," the Italian said. "We will fight to take back what we thought we won last year (when he finished 2nd to da Matta)."

Conditions for mid-day qualifying were ideal, with hazy sunshine, little wind and air temps in the high 60s. Added clouds and cooler temps are on tap for race day, and the 12:30PST start of The 500 Presented by Toyota. The race airs live on Speed Channel.

-lola cars-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Cristiano da Matta