David Reininger - motorsport.com Lexington, OH (August 13, 1999) - Dario Franchitti, driving the Team Kool Green Honda-Reynard, claimed the provisional pole for Sunday's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today. Franchitti's lap...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Lexington, OH (August 13, 1999) - Dario Franchitti, driving the Team Kool Green Honda-Reynard, claimed the provisional pole for Sunday's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today. Franchitti's lap clocked at 65.347 seconds and 124.394 mph was nearly a half a second faster than his closest competitor.
Franchitti, the defending pole sitter, broke his own track record of 123.766 mph, set last year.
"We spent four days testing here over the last couple of months. The track doesn't feel as good as when we tested," Franchitti said. "We Had a five-zero (65.0 seconds) in testing and there were other guys quicker than that. To do a five-three (65.3) in that session was definitely a bit of a shock. I looked down at the dash and I thought, 'where the hell did that come from', because it wasn't a hot lap, it wasn't on the limit. I was surprised to be so quick.
Most drivers, including Franchitti, expect times to improve tomorrow. "Tomorrow we're going to expect faster times. I think the track will definitely be faster tomorrow because there just isn't any mechanical grip out there."
Bryan Herta, who drives for the Columbus, Ohio-based Team Rahal, qualified his Shell car in second place on the provisional grid. Rahal's team tends to do well at Mid-Ohio since the team uses the track to test extensively. "Normally that's not true but this year it is," said Herta. "We did test here a lot. The track's been a bit slippery, a bit off, compared to the way it was (during) the tests we did."
With a rain shower early this morning, the track was still a bit green when the CART FedEx Champ cars took to the track for their qualifying session. "We've just been biding our time, running the car the way it is, thinking the track is going to come more to the car, than the other way around," Herta said.
Mark Blundell managed to put his Digital DNA car into the third slot on the grid after suffering some fatigue in this morning's session from an injury suffered earlier in the year. "The morning went quite well. Everything was looking nice. We were sitting in the top three or four cars for most of the session," said Blundell.
The twisting 2.258-mile road course took its toll on the Pac West driver halfway through this morning's practice session. "I had to get out of the car, just for ten or fifteen minutes, and have a bit of a rest. My neck is actually giving me a little bit of trouble in terms of strength, it's just fatiguing. This track is extremely physical, probably one of the hardest that we run on all year long."
After a bit of a rest, Blundell took the No. 18 car out for a qualifying run, but he found his way blocked by traffic, as everyone tried to get a flyer in early under the threatening skies. Late in the session he recorded a lap at 65.881 seconds and 123.386 mph to place third on the grid. "Qualifying went well," said Blundell. "The rest of the session we trimmed the car out and squeezed out a little bit more time. It felt really good."
The second round of qualifying gets underway on Saturday afternoon at 12:45.