By David Reininger â€“ motorsport.com Cicero, Ill. (July 28, 2001) â€“ Tony Kanaan will start from the pole position in Sundayâ€™s Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway after qualifying at 160.052 mph (23.145 seconds). Kanaan now has...
By David Reininger – motorsport.com
Cicero, Ill. (July 28, 2001) – Tony Kanaan will start from the pole position in Sunday’s Target Grand Prix at the Chicago Motor Speedway after qualifying at 160.052 mph (23.145 seconds). Kanaan now has two career pole positions with his first coming at Long Beach in 1999.
Forecasted rain didn’t materialize until 15 of the 25 drivers had turned in their time forcing a 43-minute delay to dry the track. Kanaan, who had all ready made his run, sat through the delay, waiting to see if he’d be knocked off the pole.
With the qualifying line determined by inverting the season points, several pole contenders sat through the delay, waiting for their chance to assume the top spot on tomorrow’s starting grid. Both Marlboro Team Penskes sat in the line, as did Kenny Brack, who has earned four poles this season.
De Ferran was the first of the Penske drivers to take to the track, but he came up short, qualifying12th, three-tenths of a second off the pole time.
“When Gil (de Ferran) went out qualifying, he didn’t do very well,” said Kanaan. “My guys said, ‘the only guy now is Kenny (Brack).’”
But Kanaan knew better. His teammate at Tasman Motorsports in Indy Lights was Helio Castroneves. Castroneves had scored three pole positions this year behind the wheel of the Honda-powered Penske car and Kanaan knew he would make another strong bid for the pole.
He was right.
Castroneves was quick right away, turning a lap very close to the pole speed on his warm up lap.
Kanaan, waiting in his pits, said, “Everyone was relaxed until they saw his warm up lap. I cheer for this guy all the time, but today I wasn’t.”
Castroneves’ first lap was good enough for the outside of the front row, just three one-thousandths of a second off Kanaan’s best. Knowing he had a good lap in the books, Castroneves pushed for more on his second, but the car sputtered as he rounded the final pair of turns.
“On the green flag lap I made a little mistake, I did a 23.15,” said Castroneves. “On the next one I thought I’d go for it and I was a tenth and a half quicker on the back straightaway. All I had to do was make the turn and finish. All of a sudden the fuel pressure light comes on and the car starts slowing down.”
Running out of fuel cost him a chance at the pole, but Castroneves was upbeat about starting on the front row. Tenth in this morning’s practice session, his speed improved in qualifying by nearly two mph from this morning.
“I have to thank my engineer. He, all of a sudden, changed all of the setups out of the blue. We were having a hard time this morning, but during qualifying, my car was awesome. On my warm up lap, I did a 23.1 and I thought, ‘here we go.’
“After this morning I wasn’t thinking I would be starting on the front row so I have to thank my engineer for making big changes after this morning.”
Adrian Fernandez, who was the eighth driver to qualify, turned a lap at 159.653 mph (23.148 seconds), taking the provisional pole until Kanaan knocked him off the top spot five cars later.
“The car has been very consistent all weekend long,” said Fernandez, who will make his 136th start on Sunday. “The car was a little bit on the edge but that is what you need to be able to make the car fast. I just went with what I had in the car and managed to put in a time that was better than my previous practice times.”
Memo Gidley will start fourth followed by Kanaan’s teammate, Alex Zanardi.
The entire field for Sunday’s Target Grand Prix, from pole sitter Kanaan to last place Max Papis, is covered by a spread of .839 seconds.
Papis was the last driver to run before the rain delay. “In qualifying it was sprinkling pretty hard when I went out. I almost lost it when I went into turn three on my first lap. I was able to save it but it really messed up both laps. I don’t know if should have got another chance to make a qualifying lap since they stopped the session for 40 minutes to dry the track.”
Notes from the Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway:
The Barber Dodge Pro Series, the official entry-level series of the CART FedEx Series, announced the mandatory use of the HANS device for all oval races in 2001. Consideration is being given to mandating its use at all events in 2002.
With an announcement made today at the Chicago Motor Speedway the U.S. Department of Transportation and CART launched “Safety: The Ultimate Rush,” a public service campaign featuring driver Bryan Herta.