Fittipaldi leads Lola assault at Mid-Ohio earns outside front row slot on last qualifying lap. Final qualifying for the 21st CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio was an uninterrupted, fast affair, held under sweltering skies at the 2.258-mile road course.
Fittipaldi leads Lola assault at Mid-Ohio earns outside front row slot on last qualifying lap.
Final qualifying for the 21st CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio was an uninterrupted, fast affair, held under sweltering skies at the 2.258-mile road course. On a sunny day when Bridgestone tire engineers noted air temps of 92 and track temperatures in the 130-degree range, Patrick Carpentier backed up provisional pole, leading #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota driver Christian Fittipaldi's final, 14th and best lap of 66.263 seconds (122.675mph) by just .135 seconds. Point leader Cristiano da Matta secured third starting spot, hustling his #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota around this traditional road circuit at 66.394 seconds (122.433mph). Twelve of 18 starters set times within one second of the leader and nine of the top 12 rode with Lola chassis to their best lap times.
Fittipaldi's car was "better than this morning (3rd in practice). I was really connected and I could really push the car, so I'm pretty happy with this starting spot," the veteran said. "It's going to be a tough race tomorrow because we're racing a lot of laps (92) and this place is very physical, pretty hard on the neck muscles." Da Matta, who again led morning practice, had traffic on his final try to usurp Carpentier and his teammate. "We just didn't have enough grip to improve on our time," da Matta explained.
Kenny Brack starts 4th in the #12 Target Lola/Toyota, setting his fast lap of 66.434 seconds (122.359mph) with just over 4 minutes remaining. "We had a good car yesterday but just weren't able to show it. Qualifying is like a lottery out there," the Swede remarked. Tony Kanaan earned fifth grid spot with a lap of 66.631 sec/121.997mph in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, "consistent since we rolled it out of the garage Friday morning." Bruno Junqueira, irritated to have his quick lap negated Friday, starts sixth in his #4 Target Lola/Toyota at 66.714sec/121.845mph, unable to get the balance as he needed it. Michael Andretti's #39 Motorola Lola/Honda took 8th on the grid on his final, 13th lap at 66.822sec/121.649mph, CART's win leader getting "the best I could out of the car." Paul Tracy was 9th in today's time trials, hauling the #26 Team KOOL Green to a tour of 66.867sec/121.567mph.
The CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio -- a 92-lap marathon with 26-lap pit stop intervals -- gets underway at 12:30pm EDT and airs live on CBS Sports.