Rising CART star Junqueira captures pole position for 86th running of the Indianapolis 500. INDIANAPOLIS (May 11, 2002) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Bruno Junqueira recorded the fastest qualifying lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway...
Rising CART star Junqueira captures pole position for 86th running of the Indianapolis 500.
INDIANAPOLIS (May 11, 2002) - Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Bruno Junqueira recorded the fastest qualifying lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in six years today as he captured the pole position for the 86th Indianapolis 500, scheduled to be run on Sunday, May 26.
Junqueira, a 25-year-old Brazilian who is in his second year of competition in the CART FedEx Championship Series, was the first driver to qualify Saturday and he showed his speed quickly, turning a four-lap average speed of 231.342 mph. Junqueira then had to sit and wait to see if his quick time would remain at the top of the scoring chart as rain interrupted qualifying during the course of the afternoon.
Twenty three drivers qualified after Junqueira's effort and none could post a faster speed. In winning the pole, Junqueira became the first driver since his countryman and fellow Champ Car driver Emerson Fittipaldi to capture the top starting position as the first driver to qualify on Pole Day at Indianapolis. Fittipaldi accomplished the feat in 1990.
Junqueira also became the fastest polesitter at Indy since the late Scott Brayton in 1996. Brayton was the last driver to win the pole with an average speed in excess of 230 mph (233.718 mph). Arie Luyendyk set the record for the fastest qualifying average that same year (236.986 mph) but did not earn the pole because it came on the second day of qualifying.
"The car had pretty good handling," Junqueira said. "I did good laps, good average speed. Today the wind is blowing and turn 4 is really difficult. One thing with ovals is you must be patient. I have to be patient. The car was really good and everything worked really fine for me."
A former road racing champion, Junqueira, who captured the FIA International F3000 Championship in 2000 and the South American F3000 title in 1997, has adapted quickly to oval racing. He earned his first pole position in the CART FedEx Championship Series last season at the one-mile Nazareth Speedway oval. Junqueira also recorded fourth-place finishes in two other oval events in 2001 - at Milwaukee and in the season finale at California Speedway - and he earned his first CART victory on a road circuit at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
In his first superspeedway effort, Junqueira performed well in last season's Indy 500 finishing fifth for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
After finishing 16th in the final FedEx Championship Series standings in his rookie season in 2001, Junqueira has gotten off to a fast start this year. He earned his second career pole two weeks ago in qualifying for the Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Motegi, Japan and he went on to claim his second career Champ Car win in CART's most recent event on the 1.548-mile oval at Twin Ring Motegi. Junqueira is currently fifth in the CART FedEx Championship Series point standings with 23 points through three rounds of competition.
Several other current CART FedEx Championship Series pilots also qualified for the Indy 500 Saturday. Tony Kanaan (fifth), Max Papis (18th), Jimmy Vasser (19th), Kenny Brack (21st) and Michael Andretti (23rd) all earned spots among the 24 drivers who qualified this afternoon.
Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Former series champions Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser are among the stars who will battle for the 2002 FedEx Championship Series title on ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that travel at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as American Honda, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport, and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 20-race 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS, FOX, and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.CART.com.