CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland Saturday track notes

Good Morning from cloudy Portland, Oregon for the final day of qualifying for Sunday’s Freightliner/G.I. Joe’s 200 Presented by Texaco! This morning’s weather features a heavy cloud cover and cool temperatures in the sixties. The...

Good Morning from cloudy Portland, Oregon for the final day of qualifying for Sunday’s Freightliner/G.I. Joe’s 200 Presented by Texaco! This morning’s weather features a heavy cloud cover and cool temperatures in the sixties. The fans might not be quite as fortunate as yesterday when the cloud cover lifted by 10 a.m. to produce one of the finest days of sunshine the FedEx Championship Series has experienced in this weather-impacted season. But on the flip side, the drivers will have a much easier time negotiating the 12-turn, 1.969-mile permanent road course with cooler track temperatures providing the badly needed grip to make a run at BRYAN HERTA’s track qualifying record of 121.341 mph (58.358 seconds). So, if the cloud cover holds up, look for faster speeds in today's final round of qualifying. And, of course, the drivers will also have to compete with the track record holder as HERTA is in this weekend’s race, taking over the driving chores for the injured TONY KANAAN in the Hollywood/Moe Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard #55. KANAAN will miss up to six weeks recuperating from injuries sustained in a practice incident at the Detroit Grand Prix last week and Moe Nunn wisely tapped the road-racing expert HERTA as a substitute in the next three events, all street or road courses.

First up today on the CART on-track activities is the 75-minute practice session taking the Green Flag at 10 a.m. followed by the start of qualifying at 1:45 p.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 80 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 68 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 10:02 a.m., #12 VASSER spins at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:04 a.m., #20 MORENO spins at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:07 a.m., #1X MONTOYA parks his secondary car and climbs into the #1 car for use in the remainder of the session. MONTOYA had not logged an official timed lap yet in the #1X.

At 10:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 118.274 mph (59.932 seconds), followed by #97X da MATTA (118.195 mph; 59.972 seconds) and #18 BLUNDELL (117.562 mph; 1:00.295).

RED FLAG waves at 10:11 a.m. after #12 VASSER spins again, this time at Turn 5. The driver stalls the car and CART safety workers quickly get the car re-fired and VASSER returns to his Pit Area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:17 a.m. to resume the session.

At 10:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 118.391 mph (59.873 seconds), followed by #97X da MATTA (118.195 mph; 59.972 seconds) and #2X de FERRAN (117.945 mph; 1:00.099).

RED FLAG waves at 10:26 a.m. after CART course observers report a piece of debris on the racing line at Turn 7. CART safety workers quickly dispatch to the scene and conduct an inspection of the remainder of the track.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:28 to resume the session.

At 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #3 CASTRONEVES with a faster lap of 118.875 mph (59.629 seconds), followed by #97X da MATTA (118.195 mph; 59.972 seconds) and #32 CARPENTIER (118.044 mph; 1:00.049).

BLACK FLAG is shown to #32 CARPENTIER at 10:31 a.m. after CART course observers report smoke trailing from the car at speed on the backstretch over the last two laps. CARPENTIER subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag. The team finds a small bit of insulation that had been overheating and quickly correct the problem, sending CARPENTIER back into the session. The Canadian driver had just moved into the third spot in lap times when the smoke report was called into CART Race Control.

At 10:35 a.m., #1 MONTOYA moves to second in fastest lap speeds with a clocking of 118.242 mph (59.948 seconds).

BLACK FLAG is shown to #3 CASTRONEVES at 10:36 a.m. for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 10:34 a.m. CASTRONEVES subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 10:37 a.m., #2 de FERRAN takes the top spot on the speedboard with a lap of 119.414 mph (59.360 seconds) on his sixth lap of the session.

At 10:38 a.m., #8 BRACK slowly enters Pit Road with no power. The Shell crew runs to meet the driver and push the car back to the Pit Area.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:38 a.m. to #20 MORENO for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 10:35 a.m. MORENO subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive thru penalty.

At 10:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #2 de FERRAN with his earlier lap of 119.414 mph (59.360 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (119.037 mph; 59.548 seconds) and #3 CASTRONEVES (118.875 mph; 59.629 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 10:42 a.m. after #3 CASTRONEVES slides into the gravel pit at Turn 1 and stalls the car. CART safety workers quickly free the car from the gravel pit and get the driver restarted on course.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:48 a.m. to resume the session.

At 10:49 a.m., #26 TRACY and #1 MONTOYA both miss the corner at Turn 1 and slide thru the run-off, continuing on the other side without apparent damage to either car.

At 10:50 a.m., the top three drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 10:40 a.m. report.

RED FLAG waves at 10:52 a.m. to allow safety workers to retrieve the stalled car of #17 GUGELMIN at Turn 9. CART safety workers quickly get the car restarted and GUGELMIN continues to this Pit Area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:54 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11 a.m., the fastest driver is still #2 de FERRAN with his earlier lap of 119.414 mph (59.360 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (119.037 mph; 59.548 seconds) and #3 CASTRONEVES (119.043 mph; 59.545 seconds).

At 11:01 a.m., #40 FERNANDEZ climbs to second on the speedboard with a lap of 119.307 mph (59.413 seconds).

At 11:03 a.m., #26 TRACY runs off course at Turn 7 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 11:04 a.m. after #25 GARCIA Jr. stalls on course at Turn 3, out of fuel. CART safety workers quickly tow the car back to the Pit Area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:09 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #2 de FERRAN with a lap of 119.414 mph (59.360 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (119.307 mph; 59.413 seconds) and #1 MONTOYA (119.237 mph; 59.448 seconds).

At 11:12 a.m., #20X MORENO logs the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 119.639 mph (59.248 seconds).

At 11:13 a.m., #1 MONTOYA grabs the top spot with a lap of 120.475 mph (58.837 seconds) on his 29th lap.

At 11:13.30 a.m. and immediately after MONTOYA moves to the top, #27 FRANCHITTI eclipses MONTOYA with a lap of 120.533 mph (58.809 seconds) on his 29th lap.

At 11:14 a.m., #1 MONTOYA again grabs the top spot with the fastest speed all weekend; a lap of 121.138 mph (58.515 seconds)

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:15 a.m. with #1 JUAN MONTOYA hanging onto the top spot with a lap of 121.138 mph (58.515 seconds) in his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Lola on his 30th lap of the session. #3 HELIO CASTRONEVES is second with a lap of 120.732 mph (58.712 seconds) in the Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard with #27 DARIO FRANCHITTI third with lap of 120.533 mph (58.809 seconds). Provisional Pole sitter #2 GIL de FERRAN wound up 12th in this morning’s session with a best lap of 117.945 mph (1:00.099). The speed differential between the competitors is tightening up as the top 25 cars are separated by less than two seconds and the top 13 cars are separated by less than one second in lap times. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 30 different cars to the track in this morning’s session with secondary cars utilized by #97X da MATTA, #20X MORENO, #11X FITTIPALDI, #10X FONTANA, #2X de FERRAN, #17X GUGELMIN, #19X KUROSAWA, #32X CARPENTIER, and #34X MARQUES. CART drivers logged a total of 736 laps in this morning’s session.

As the Green Flag approaches for the start of the final round of qualifying, the overcast skies have broken open to reveal the blue from yesterday's sessions. While the fans revel in the warmth of the now-dominate sunshine, the track an ambient temperatures again begin the steady climb to the levels of yesterday's Provisional sessions. GREEN FLAG waves at 1:45 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 121 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 82 degrees F. at the start of the session. RED FLAG waves at 1:53 p.m. after #33 TAGLIANI has an engine problem as the driver runs down the long backstretch to Turn 9. The driver pulls the car off course at Turn 10 and exits the car for a long walk back to the Pit Area while his crew readies the secondary car (#33X) for use in the remainder of the Group One session. TAGLIANI will have to serve an eight-minute penalty at the end of the Group One session for delaying the qualifying session, as well as forfeit the times earned by the primary car #33 (2 laps and a 12th ranking in Group One). There is a substantial amount of clean-up needed on the backstraight from the TAGLIANI incident. The Group One competitors have received 8.5 minutes of Green Time of the guaranteed 20 minutes of Green time that each Group will receive. At 1:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One qualifying session and under the Red Flag, the fastest Group One driver is #40 FERNANDEZ with a lap of 119.830 mph (59.154 seconds), followed by #12 VASSER (119.597 mph; 59.269 seconds) and #17 GUGELMIN (119.450 mph; 59.342 seconds). At 2:05 p.m., the clean-up efforts are coming to a close. GREEN FLAG waves at 2:11 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session. At 2:17 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group One Green time, the fastest Group One driver is now #40 FERNANDEZ with a lap of 119.830 mph (59.154 seconds; seventh-overall), followed by #12 VASSER (119.597 mph; 59.269 seconds; eighth-overall) and #17 GUGLEMIN (119.450 mph; 59.342 seconds; ninth-overall). CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:22 p.m. to end the Group One qualifying session with #40 FERNANDEZ the fastest driver with a lap of 121.086 mph (58.540 seconds; first overall), followed by #17 GUGELMIN (119.708 mph; 59.214 seconds; eighth-overall) and #12 VASSER (119.597 mph; 59.269 seconds; ninth-overall). #33X TAGLIANI logged four laps in his secondary car, reaching 119.430 mph (59.352 seconds; tenth-overall; an improvement of 3.221 mph over his Provisional qualifying, making bringing the #33X car into the session a good decision GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group Two session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 128 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 83 degrees F. at the start of the group Two session. At 2:35 p.m., five minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, #2 de FERRAN has just broken the track qualifying record with a lap of 121.748 mph (58.222 seconds; first overall), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (121.383; 58.397 seconds; second overall) and #97X da MATTA (121.070 mph; 58.548 seconds; fourth overall). At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, #3 CASTRONEVES has just re-broken the track record with a lap of 122.319 mph (57.950 mph), followed by #2 de FERRAN (121.748 mph; 58.222 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (121.383 mph; 58.397 seconds). At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:40 p.m. report. At 2:48 p.m., #32 CARPENTIER spins off course at Turn 5 but the driver avoids contact and returns to the course and heads to his Pit Area with no apparent damage to the car. At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 2:45 p.m. report. At 2:54 p.m., #2 de FERRAN betters the track record again with a lap of 122.594 mph (57.820 seconds) and takes over the top spot. #96 SERVIA takes third with a 121.871 mph (58.163 second)-lap. At 2:55 p.m., #3 CASTRONEVES again betters the track record as well with a lap of 122.768 mph (57.738 seconds) on his 8th circuit, followed by #2 de FERRAN (122.594 mph; 57.820 seconds; second-overall) and #20 MORENO (122.262 mph; 57.977 seconds). At 2:58 p.m., #8 BRACK pulls off course at Turn 3, out of fuel. BRACK had just taken fifth-best with a lap of 122.008 mph (58.098 seconds). CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. to end qualifying for Sunday's Freightliner/G. I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco with HELIO CASTRONEVES winning the Pole! CASTRONEVES wins the Pole by virtue of his track-record 122.768 mph (57.738 seconds) in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard. This is CASTRONEVES first Pole of the 2000 season as well as his second in his CART career. He previously won the Pole at Milwaukee in 1999. This is also CASTRONEVES' second consecutive front-row start here at Portland International Raceway, as the Brazilian started second in the 1999 race. GIL de FERRAN sits second on the grid with his 122.594 mph (57.820)-second lap in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard. This is de FERRAN's second front-row start at Portland, the other coming in 1997. De FERRAN has qualified among the top five spots in seven of eight races this season. ROBERTO MORENO will start third tomorrow with his 122.262 mph (57.977 second) lap in his Visteon Ford Reynard. This represents the season-best start for MORENO and a career-best at Portland. MORENO previously started 11th here in 1999. Today represents the first front-row sweep for Marlboro Team Penske since 1994 when Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy logged the first two positions respectively at Nazareth, Pennsylvania. This is the third Pole win for Honda in the 2000 season. Seven drivers bettered the 1999 track record set by JUAN MONTOYA (121.808 mph; 58.193 seconds). Quotes from today's top three qualifiers follow: HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I think everybody saw how happy I was last week. For the whole entire week, it was fantastic. This morning, we worked a little bit on the setup of the car. We had a little trouble with the downshift in Turn One, but other than that I was very happy. We've worked very, very hard to achieve this position and place. It's not like it just fell out of the sky. But let's keep working harder because it's going to be even more difficult tomorrow." GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I've really been pretty happy since we arrived here. This morning and afternoon, the car was pretty good. It was just a matter of trying to squeeze everything out of it, and obviously, the time shows that we're pretty close. Helio was able to get us, but generally, I'm pretty pleased." ROBERTO MORENO, Visteon Ford Reynard: "We had a very, very slow start. We came here with some ideas and we played with the car a lot. If you'd have seen us yesterday morning, you would never have thought that we'd have qualified well. We tried some things and kept what was good, and the car started getting better. We took advantage of some things Adrian [Fernandez, Patrick Racing teammate] learned in his car and we put on a second set of tires and went out and did the time." MAURICIO GUGELMIN was disqualified from his 14th qualifying position during post-qualifying technical inspection for failure to maintain the required two inches of clearance at the chassis reference plane. GUGELMIN will start last on the grid with no qualifying time.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi , Tim Green
Teams Team Penske