CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland Saturday's Qualifying Wrapup

SERIES LEADER MONTOYA GAINS POLE POSITION FOR BUDWEISER/G.I. JOE'S 200 PRESENTED BY TEXACO/HAVOLINE PORTLAND, Ore. (June 19, 1999) - Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Juan Montoya became the seventh different pole winner in the past seven ...

SERIES LEADER MONTOYA GAINS POLE POSITION FOR BUDWEISER/G.I. JOE'S 200 PRESENTED BY TEXACO/HAVOLINE

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 19, 1999) - Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Juan Montoya became the seventh different pole winner in the past seven years for the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline on Saturday with a record-breaking performance at Portland International Raceway.

Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) captured his FedEx Championship Series-leading third pole of the season but first on a road or street course with a lap of 121.808 miles per hour (58.193 seconds) on the 1.969-mile permanent road course. Montoya, whose other poles came at the ovals of Nazareth and Gateway, eclipsed the track record of 121.341 mph (58.193 seconds) established by Bryan Herta last season en route to his sixth consecutive top-five starting position.

The pole position for Sunday's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline (4 p.m. ET live, ABC-TV) also allowed Montoya to pad his lead in the FedEx Championship Series title race. Montoya earned a PPG Cup point for the effort to push his lead to 74-71 over the surging Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), who qualified 12th.

Helio Castro-Neves will start on the outside of Montoya in an extremely competitive field that featured 22 of the 28 drivers qualifying within one second of each other. Castro-Neves' fastest qualifying lap of 121.622 mph (58.282 seconds) in the Hogan Motor Leasing Lola Mercedes earned him his fifth top-four start of the season, which includes three on the front row. His prior front-row starts were a pole at Milwaukee and an outside pole at Nazareth.

Gil de Ferran took the third spot with a qualifying lap of 121.504 mph (58.339 seconds) in the Valvoline/Cummins Honda Reynard. It will be his third top-four start of the season, the others being a pole at Japan and a fourth starting position at Rio.

Rounding out the top five are Herta (Shell Ford Reynard), the 1998 polesitter, and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), one of five drivers who has been victorious this season.

The 28-car field also includes the all-time CART victory leaders at Portland International Raceway, Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) and Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) who own three victories each in the 15-year history of the event. Andretti won three in a row from 1990-92 while Unser Jr. won in 1984 - his first career CART triumph - and back-to-back in 1994 and '95.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "When I went out this morning, the car started pushing and I thought I'd maybe be fifth or sixth on the grid. But we made some changes and the car improved and I went out and pushed as hard as I could. Everyone is in the same trouble [regarding the shortage of practice time due to Friday's rain]. I think it's up to us a bit to save some fuel [during the race], but it should be OK."

HELIO CASTRO-NEVES, Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola: "The car is good, but I have to give the credit to Hogan Racing. We didn't test here at all, and because of the rain [Friday], we had no idea of which way to go. Thank God we had a good base setup to work from. On my last lap, we were going very quickly, unfortunately, we ran out of fuel. I think we could have been very excited at the end of that lap, but I'm happy right now. I expected to do well, and I did."

GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard: "We were very confident in the car in the morning, so going into qualifying, we were feeling pretty good about our chances, and qualifying went pretty well. We were not able to improve the car during qualifying, but we put another set of tires on and we were able to do a quick time. I think Goodyear has made tremendous gains. We came here twice to try to come up with a successful tire for here and Cleveland, but we will only know tomorrow it its consistent enough. I have to say I feel fairly confident about its longevity."

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY

* Juan Montoya's (Target Honda Reynard) pole position makes him the seventh different driver in the last seven years to win a FedEx Championship Series pole position at Portland. The others were Emerson Fittipaldi (1992), Nigel Mansell ('93), Al Unser Jr. ('94), Jacques Villeneuve ('95), Alex Zanardi ('96), Scott Pruett ('97) and Bryan Herta ('98). The race has seen three winners from the pole including Danny Sullivan (1988), Unser Jr. ('94) and Zanardi ('96).

* Montoya's pole position was the fifth of the season for Honda and the seventh for Firestone.

* Four of the top six qualifiers are graduates of the PPG/Dayton Indy Lights series. They include second-place Helio Castro-Neves (Hogan Motor Leasing Inc. Mercedes Lola), fourth-place Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard), fifth-place Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) and sixth-place Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard). Tracy and Herta were Indy Lights champions, in 1990 and '93, respectively.

* Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) saw his streak of five consecutive front-row starts on road or street courses come to an end when he qualified sixth. The streak encompassed pole positions at Vancouver and Australia last year and outside poles at Laguna Seca and Houston last year and Long Beach this season.

* Tracy and seventh-place Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard) tied with identical qualifying times of 58.403 seconds (121.370 mph). Tracy was awarded the higher grid position based on having the faster second-best qualifying lap.

* Walker Racing driver Memo Gidley (Alpine Special Honda Reynard) qualified 25th for his FedEx Championship Series debut at 119.615 mph. Gidley has been tabbed as a relief driver for Naoki Hattori at road and street events while Hattori continues his recovery from a fractured leg sustained in the season opener at Homestead.

WHAT'S ON TAP

CART 2Day airs noon ET Sunday. The live broadcast of the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline begins 4 p.m. ET.

Source: cart.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Bryan Herta , Nigel Mansell , Scott Pruett , Naoki Hattori , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing