Jack Durbin - motorsport.com Houston, TX (September 24, 1999)
Juan Montoya (Target Honda #4) took the provisional pole for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston with a lap time of 59.834 seconds. He is followed by Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford) in second with a time of 59.985 seconds and Bryan Herta (Shell Ford) with a time of 1:00.096. In forth and fifth positions are Patrick Carpentier and Naoki Hattori, respectively. Rounding out the top ten are: Dario Franchitti, Richie Hearn, Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, and Gil de Ferran.
This the best qualifying effort Naoki Hattori has put forth this year. The highest qualifying Toyota is the Budweiser #10 of Richie Hearn.
The morning practice session and both qualifying sessions were free of incidents. There were many runoffs at turns 1 and 5 as the drivers were learning the course under dry conditions, unlike the very wet conditions of last years inagural race. The most spectualar of these runoffs involved Tony Kanaan at turn 5. The CART safety workers rushed to the track access opening and were initially unable to locate Tony. He had run around three sets of tires and one concrete barrier in an attempt to get turned around, and had come to rest behind the black sheeting which covered the fencing. Once located, all that was needed was a bump start to get him back underway.
Juan Montoya was, "surprised by how smooth the course is here, especially for a street circuit. The are a couple of manhole covers that are very slippery, but otherwise it's pretty good. The track is getting quicker and quicker every session. You need a pretty good car to go quick here, and Morris (Nunn) and the guys gave me an excellent car today."
"I am happy with where we ended up today and I feel pretty good that we can improve on out time tomorrow and go for the pole," said Christian Fittipaldi about his outside pole qualifying effort. "The track is going to be a lot quicker and you are going to have to be out there at just the right time to put together a pole winning lap."
"Right at the end of qualifying the track really started to come in, so I expect the times to continue to improve (tomorrow), was Michael Andretti's assessment of Friday's 12th place qualifying.
"The guys are excited to show up again on race weekend, I am excited again to show up on race weekend, and we are competitive again and it feels good," said Bryan Herta who is coming off a win at Laguna Seca two weeks ago.
Tony Kanaan was not happy with his 8th place qualifying effort. "We made a huge improvement in the car this afternoon, but we are still far away from the pole," he said.
Naoki Hattori on his 5th place qualifying said, " We made some changes to the car from the morning practice session that resulted in the car being more comfortable, and better for me. The new Goodyear tires gave me good grip and balance."
Practice continues on Saturday Moring, with final qualifying in the afternoon for the Second annual Grand Prix of Houston.