NAZARETH, Pa. (April 8, 2000) - Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing became the second driver in FedEx Championship Series history to win consecutive pole positions at Nazareth Speedway on Saturday when he claimed the pole for Sunday's ...
NAZARETH, Pa. (April 8, 2000) - Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing became the second driver in FedEx Championship Series history to win consecutive pole positions at Nazareth Speedway on Saturday when he claimed the pole for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota (1 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV).
Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) averaged 176.868 miles per hour (19.255 seconds) for his fastest lap on the 0.946-mile oval, repeating the pole he claimed in 1999, when he recorded a dominant victory, leading 210 of 225 laps.
Montoya, whose pole was the eighth of his two-year CART career, joined Paul Tracy (1996-97) as the only drivers to win consecutive poles at Nazareth. It was also the second pole of Toyota's five-year history in the FedEx Championship Series, following Scott Pruett's pole-winning effort at California Speedway last year.
Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing earned the outside pole at 176.401 miles per hour (19.306 seconds). He will make the second front-row start of his five-year career, having earned his first career pole position at Rio de Janeiro in his homeland of Brazil last year.
Helio Castro-Neves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske earned his second top-three start in as many years at Nazareth by qualifying third at 175.918 mph (19.3 seconds). He qualified on the outside pole last year and led the 15 laps not led by Montoya, before exiting due to contact after 175 laps.
Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) was fourth at 175.891 mph (19.362 seconds), followed by Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) at 175.628 mph (19.391 seconds). FedEx Championship Series points leader Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) qualified 16th at 171.619 mph (19.844 seconds)
Twenty-one of the 22 race starters were covered by less than one second.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Toyota Lola: "The car has been good all weekend long. The wind didn't effect me that much. I was surprised. Tomorrow, I think the stints are really gonna be long, and saving tires will be very important. The Toyota has been really good so far. I think tomorrow will be a really interesting race."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola: "The conditions were pretty tough, but they were tough for all the cars out there. It was tough coming out of Turn 4; we lost a bit of downforce. It was a little bit better [during qualifying] than this morning. I reckon we could have gone with a more neutral setup, but I'm very happy to start on the front row. The top four or six [qualifiers] tomorrow are going to have a big advantage."
HELIO CASTRO-NEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I was expecting a change in my car, but I think I waited too long. The car was handling well, then the green flag came, and I thought we needed to do something. I ran a 19.3 [second lap] and I wished I could have had one more lap, but everyone says that. I've got a very good package; if it's going to be cold I think we need to bring some Brazilian heat for the tires, but it's gonna be a really good show for the fans."
* Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) will be seeking his fourth career victory from the pole Sunday, having earned three while winning the FedEx Championship Series championship last year. Montoya's 1999 wins from the pole came at Nazareth, Cleveland and Vancouver.
* Montoya's pole was the first for Lola since Helio Castro-Neves earned the pole at Milwaukee last year.
* Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), who starts second, has scored FedEx Championship Series points in three of four career starts at Nazareth, with a best finish of seventh last year. He also finished 11th in 1998 and ninth in '96.
* Helio Castro-Neves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who qualified third, has qualified fifth or better for his past four starts on one-mile ovals, including second at Nazareth, a pole at Milwaukee and fifth at Chicago, all in 1999.
* Fourth-place qualifier Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) is a two-time winner at Nazareth (1994, '97 from the pole), with additional podium finishes of third in 1992, '93 and last year. He has finished out of the top 10 only once in nine career starts (26th in 1995).
* Gualter Salles (Dale Coyne Racing Ford Lola) and Luiz Garcia Jr. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard) will not compete in Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota. Salles was withdrawn by Dale Coyne Racing due to equipment damage sustained in a one-car accident during practice Friday afternoon. Garcia Jr. failed to meet CART's minimum qualifying requirement of 110 percent of the pole-winning time.
CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast due to begin at 1 p.m. ET.