CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Friday Qualifying Report

Rahal Poised For First Pole Since '92 Houston, TX (October 2, 1998) - Team Rahal owner/driver Bobby Rahal, looking to provide a memorable climax to his final season as a FedEx Championship Series competitor, positioned himself for his best ...

Rahal Poised For First Pole Since '92

Houston, TX (October 2, 1998) - Team Rahal owner/driver Bobby Rahal, looking to provide a memorable climax to his final season as a FedEx Championship Series competitor, positioned himself for his best start since 1992 when he earned the provisional pole position for Sunday's inaugural Texaco Grand Prix of Houston (4 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV).

Rahal, a 17-year veteran who has three FedEx Championship Series races remaining before his retirement at the conclusion of the season, averaged 91.329 miles per hour (1 minute, .191 seconds) on his quickest lap on the 1.527-mile downtown street circuit. If he maintains his position following Saturday's final qualifying session at 1:45 p.m. ET, Rahal will claim his first pole since 1992 at Toronto, 105 starts ago.

Saturday's pole winner earns the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award with the opportunity to collect an additional $15,000 should he go on to win Sunday's race. The last two FedEx Championship Series events have been won from the pole, with Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) winning at Vancouver and Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford) at Laguna Seca, respectively.

Rahal's best qualifying performance this season is second at Long Beach. The last time he was on the provisional pole was at Vancouver in 1993. Rahal ranks fifth on the CART career list with 18 career pole positions, one behind Danny Sullivan.

Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) was second fastest at 91.096 mph (1:00.345). He seeks his fifth front-row start of the season, following poles at Homestead, St. Louis and Detroit, and an outside pole at Nazareth.

Franchitti was third at 90.755 mph (1:00.572). If he improves his position Saturday, he will earn his seventh front-row start in the last nine events, dating to an outside pole at Portland.

Max Papis (MCI Reynard Toyota) qualified fourth at 90.699 mph (1:00.609). It marked the first time in FedEx Championship Series history that four different engine manufacturers had been represented among the top four qualifiers, either provisionally or in final qualifying.

Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda) was fifth at 90.655 mph (1:00.639). He seeks to match or improve on his best start of the season, fifth at Cleveland.

The top 16 drivers were separated by less than a second, and the top 26 were covered by less than two seconds.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

BOBBY RAHAL, Miller Lite Reynard Ford: "I don't think it does much good to drive around a new circuit in a street car because your perspective changes so much once you get into a Champ Car. We took a pretty conservative approach in the morning practice session because we figured that, like most places, the track would get better as the day went on. In qualifying, you try to carry as much speed as you can through an inherently very slippery condition; you're really manhandling the car to get it to do what you want it to do. We were 20th this morning, but I don't think that was representative of what the car was capable of doing. Obviously, I'm very happy with the day. It could rain all day tomorrow for all I care." (On the momentum provided by teammate Bryan Herta's Sept. 13 victory at Laguna Seca Raceway) "We've been so close. Maybe Bryan's win took that collective monkey that we felt as a team off our backs. Everybody's confidence goes up, but I don't think it's something we needed as much as we needed a little luck."

GREG MOORE, Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes: "My day was actually pretty eventful. I had to serve an eight-minute penalty [during qualifying] from when I blew an engine during qualifying at Laguna Seca, and on my last lap before I had to come in to serve that penalty I spun, so I'm going to have to serve another eight-minute penalty tomorrow. The track was very slippery this morning from not having any rubber on it, but just like most street circuits, as the day goes on, it gets quicker and quicker. And I think tomorrow, it will be quicker yet. All in all, I was pretty pleased."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "The track's not that bad. The second and third gear corners on the hot laps are pretty interesting, but overall they've done a pretty good job with the place and there are a number of places where you can make up time. I was on a good lap when [Alex] Zanardi spun and I tried to get to the start/finish line before the red flag, but I wasn't able to do it. So we'll just go out tomorrow and try to beat Bob."

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY:

Bobby Rahal's (Miller Lite Reynard Ford) provisional pole Friday added further to his mystique in FedEx Championship Series road or street course events. Over the course of his 17-year career, Rahal has won inaugural CART events contested at Cleveland (1982), Toronto ('86), Detroit's Raceway on Belle Isle ('92) and New Hampshire International Speedway (1992), the latter no longer an active venue in the FedEx Championship Series.

Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes), who qualified second, is seeking his fourth pole position of the season, which would tie him with Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) for the series lead. Moore has previously earned poles at Homestead, Gateway and Detroit.

Third-place qualifier Franchitti seeks his seventh front-row start in the last nine events, including poles at Toronto, Mid-Ohio and Vancouver and outside poles at Portland, Cleveland and Laguna Seca. All six of his previous front-row starts have come on road or street courses.

WHAT'S NEXT:

Qualifying for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston will air 4 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta , Danny Sullivan , Greg Moore