Fontana, Calif (November 2, 2002) - Tony Kanaan earned the pole position for Sunday's 500 presented by Toyota after averaging 232.483 mph around the 2-mile California Speedway. Kanaan used just one of his two qualifying laps before returning to the pits.
"Well to begin with, this is a payback to Bruno (Junqueira) for Japan earlier this year," Kanaan said.
At the Motegi oval in Japan, Kanaan thought he secured the pole but Junqueira managed to knock his fellow countryman from the top spot.
The roles were reversed today, as Junqueira's lap at 231.145 mph didn't hold up, forcing him to start on the outside of the front row. "We improved a little bit from yesterday. It's good to qualify second of course. We tried for the pole, but Tony was just faster."
Although his speed was fast enough to start on the outside of the front row, Junqueira reported a problem with his car. "It was unbelievable! I almost spun on my second lap. It was a little loose and that made me nervous, but I just hung on and held my breath. Luckily my speed was good enough."
Newly crowned CART champion Cristiano da Matta will start third after qualifying at 230.575 mph. "It's a 500-mile race so it's important to have a consistent car. But third is not too bad at all. We should be very strong for the race tomorrow.
Michael Andretti will start fourth with his Team Green teammates, Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti starting fifth and ninth, respectively.
Although Andretti was pleased with the handling of his car, he was disappointed with his speed. "I thought we would be a little bit quicker. I was hoping to get a lap around 231 mph," said Andretti, who qualified at 230.532 mph. "Starting position really doesn't matter here at Fontana unless you're on the pole. It's a little disappointing because we wanted to be first."
Paul Tracy, who will start fifth, says he is "still trying to figure a few things out."
Although he was just 0.049 seconds behind Andretti, Tracy said, "We're experimenting with how much downforce we wanted to run. In this race we want to be light on downforce so we can't be passed that easily. We still have to find out in the warm up where we want to start the race at."
Jimmy Vasser will start sixth followed by Alex Tagliani and his Team Players teammate Patrick Carpentier. Dario Franchitti and Max Papis round out the top ten.