CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Saturday qualifying report

Player'S/Forstyhe'S Patrick Carpentier backs up provisional run by winning champ car pole for Sunday'S Cart Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio. LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 10, 2002) - Patrick Carpentier ( ...

Player'S/Forstyhe'S Patrick Carpentier backs up provisional run by winning champ car pole for Sunday'S Cart Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio.

LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 10, 2002) - Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Reynard/Bridgestone) had a front-row starting spot all sewn up for Sunday's CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio by virtue of his provisional pole-winning effort from the day before, but with his first Champ Car pole since 1998 within reach, Carpentier wasn't about to rest on his laurels.

After 50 minutes of the 60-minute final qualifying session Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Carpentier was holding on to his front-row starting spot but wasn't even in the top five for the day until the clock spun under the 10-minute mark. With time running out, Carpentier first got into the fray by retaking the pole with eight minutes to run, only to find himself dropping back as the rest of the field found more speed.

In one of the most competitive qualifying sessions of the 2002 season, Carpentier roared back with just two minutes on the clock to cement the pole, besting the field with a lap of 1:06.128 (122.925 mph) to take his first pole of the year and third of his CART career. The pole is Carpentier's first on a road course and first since he took the honors at the Milwaukee Mile in 1998. The pole is also the first of the season for Reynard and second of the campaign for Ford-Cosworth.

The leapfrogging did not end with Carpentier however, as Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) used his final lap to best his Newman/Haas teammate Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) for the second spot, snapping off a lap of 1:06.263 (122.675 mph) to claim his first front-row starting spot since he started second at Nazareth last season. Fittipaldi will be making his best-ever Mid-Ohio start Sunday when the green flag flies over the backstretch of the 2.258-mile road course, and also allowed him to beat da Matta on a qualifying run for the first time since the Milwaukee event this season.

Da Matta would settle for the third spot on the day with a best lap of 1:06.394 (122.433 mph), ending his string of three-consecutive pole positions. The Brazilian, who led Saturday's morning practice, owned the pole for most of the session and actually would re-take the top position from Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and then Fittipaldi before seeing Carpentier claim the spot for good.

Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) made his presence felt as well for most of the session, swiping the pole from Carpentier with four minutes remaining, but would settle for fourth despite the fact that last year's series runner-up ran an even faster lap of 1:06.434 (122.359 mph) with the hourglass running out on the session.

Kanaan would round out the top five with a best effort of 1:06.631 (121.997 mph) as the Mo Nunn Racing driver looks to build on his recent run of strong finishes. Kanaan entered the weekend coming off of his first podium of the season when he placed third at Vancouver and paced the Honda contingent Saturday with his fifth-place run.

Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) improved four spots from a Friday finish that left the Target Chip Ganassi Racing sophomore angry with some of his fellow competitors. Junqueira, who lectured a few of his compadres about track etiquette after yesterday's run, vaulted to the sixth spot with an orbit in 1:06.714 (121.845 mph).

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) earned his best road-course starting spot since Portland while wrapping up the seventh spot on the grid by running a fast lap of 1:06.722 (121.831 mph). Three-time Mid-Ohio polewinner Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) would lock down the eighth spot in the field with a best effort of 1:06.822 (121.649 mph) as he seeks to match Emerson Fittipaldi as the only CART drivers to win three races at Mid-Ohio.

Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) made the biggest move of the day, climbing six positions from his Friday finish to take the ninth grid spot with Walker Racing's Tora Takagi (#5 Pioneer/Denso Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) rounding out the top 10.

The Champ Cars will take to the track for a brief warmup at 9 a.m. Sunday morning with the 92-lap CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio set to take the green at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time in a race that will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.

CHAMP CAR TOP-THREE QUALIFIER QUOTES

PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I'm extremely happy. I think it [provisional pole] was a fluke yesterday with the red flag situation so I'm glad we were able to back it up. Ford did a great job and came up with some new stuff this weekend. I feel like I'm starting to understand how to work with our engineers a little bit more and it's starting to pay off." (On his first pole since 1998) "It's been a long time, a little bit too long. I came from a road course background and have been successful qualifying on ovals. So winning the pole on a road course is very satisfying."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "My car was actually better than yesterday. But everyone had problems with grip today because it was so much hotter today. My car was quick early on, so I knew I could get more out of it later in the session. Patrick did a great job yesterday and today. Today we didn't."

CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I had a pretty good session. I was getting tense because nobody was going out. I went out later and tried to get a clear section on the track. I got my best lap on the third lap of my second set of tires but I couldn't get the traction. I need about two tenths so we can catch Patrick tomorrow." (When asked if he was surprised that a Ford-Cosworth/Reynard was on pole) "This series races on so many different tracks where you need different setups, so I'm not surprised. Patrick mentioned he has qualified anywhere from first to 15th this year. The Lola chassis we run is consistent everywhere and we usually qualify somewhere in the top five. But no, I'm not surprised the Reynard is up here."

NOTEWORTHY:

* Patrick Carpentier moved into a three-way tie for third place after earning the championship point for winning the pole. Carpentier's new total of 74 knots him with Bruno Junqueira and Michel Jourdain Jr. for third place, just 10 digits behind Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) in second.

* Sunday's CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio will be Carpentier's 100th Champ Car career start, making him the ninth current CART driver to reach triple digits in starts.

* Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) turned in his best qualifying effort since the season opener when he took the 12th spot in Saturday qualifying. Servia started the year from the 11th spot after qualifying in the season-opening race in Monterrey, Mexico.

* The CART FedEx Championship Series 2003 schedule will be released at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday.

-cart-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain , Mo Nunn
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , ART Grand Prix