CHAMPCAR/CART: Franchitti, Tracy Cleveland qualifying report

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Team KOOL Green drivers Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti fell victim to the weather today when heavy rain fell during the second group's qualifying session for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. The first group of ...

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Team KOOL Green drivers Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti fell victim to the weather today when heavy rain fell during the second group's qualifying session for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland.

The first group of qualifiers (14th through 26th in points) ran nearly their entire 30-minute session in the dry, with light rain beginning to fall at the very end. The second group, including Tracy and Franchitti, started out in light rain that turned to a heavy downpour, and the session was red-flagged with just over 10 minutes remaining. When the rain stopped, qualifying resumed but the track was never dry enough to produce lap times comparable to the earlier session.

CART splits the field into two groups based on points, in order to lessen the amount of traffic on track during qualifying.

Franchitti, the only driver of the second group to break the one-minute mark, placed 14th with a lap of 126.776 mph / 59.803 seconds, while Tracy starts at the back of the field in 26th, after turning a lap of 109.157 mph / 1:09.456.

Mauricio Gugelmin earned his first pole of the season, with a fast lap of 132.185 mph / 57.356 seconds. Adrian Fernandez starts second (131.815 mph / 57.517) and rookie Max Wilson lines up third (130.961 / 57.892).

The FedEx Champ Cars drivers have a 30-minute warm-up session Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., with the 100-lap Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. (EDT). The race will be televised live on ABC.

PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD:
(26th with a lap-average speed of 109.157 mph / 1:09.456)

"It's a giant pain in the butt! Everyone tries to be a weather expert and second-guess what's going to happen. Our plan was to hang on till there were cars out there, find a hole a go for it. When the other cars went out early, they managed to get a couple laps in before we left the pits. And then when it started to sprinkle, what do we do? Wets? Dries? You go around in circles biting your own tail. It was our mistake not to get out there when the track was faster. We'll just have to see what happens when the race starts. We tend to be pretty good in traffic, particularly at the start of the race. Team KOOL Green's initial strategy will be, do what the leaders don't do. Then we'll have to adjust the plan after we see how things go. Fortunately, there is a lot of passing opportunity here so I'll just have to go for it."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD:
(14th with a lap-average speed of 126.776 mph / 59.803 seconds)

"We made the best of a bad deal there, really. It was pretty bad luck for Team KOOL Green - the rain started just as the first qualifying session ended. People complain about being in the slow group, but today being in the slow group was an advantage, so you can see where it does even out a bit. Turn One is always interesting, regardless of where you are. Getting through there is going to be the first trick and then we'll see what happens from there on. It will be even more interesting because there's a lot of quick guys in the back and a couple of guys up front who are not as fast, so let's hope everybody uses their head. We'll try to be as clever as we possibly can, and gain as many places as we can through strategy, but it would be nice to sort of drive away. That's what we'll be aiming for."

-TKG- k

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Max Wilson