ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 18, 2000) - Gil de Ferran continued Marlboro Team Penske's recent run of success at FedEx Championship Series road-course events Friday when he captured the provisional pole for the Motorola 220 at Road America (4 p.m....
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 18, 2000) - Gil de Ferran continued Marlboro Team Penske's recent run of success at FedEx Championship Series road-course events Friday when he captured the provisional pole for the Motorola 220 at Road America (4 p.m. ET Sunday, tape delay, ABC-TV).
De Ferran averaged 145.159 miles per hour (1 minute, 40.392 seconds) for his fastest lap of the 4.048-mile permanent road course to earn the provisional top starting spot for Sunday's 14th round of the championship. Final qualifying is scheduled for Saturday, beginning 2:45 p.m. ET.
De Ferran is chasing his fourth pole of the season, to join previous pole-winning efforts at Homestead, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio. He and teammate Helio Castroneves have won the poles and races at both of the FedEx Championship Series events contested on permanent road courses this season, with Castroneves winning the pole at Portland and the race at Mid-Ohio and de Ferran the pole at Mid-Ohio and the race at Portland.
Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) was eighth-fastest Friday at 144.182 mph (1:41.072).
Second on the provisional grid went to two-time defending Motorola 220 polesitter Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing. Andretti, who holds a 125-106 lead over de Ferran in the championship, was just off the pace set by de Ferran, at 145.146 mph (1:40.401). He seeks a season-best start Saturday, improving on second at Michigan.
Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green was third fastest at 145.036 mph (1:40.477). Franchitti, who earned his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Road America in 1998, seeks his second consecutive top-three start in the series, following third at Mid-Ohio last weekend.
Rounding out the top five drivers were rookie Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing, fourth at 145.029 mph (1:40.482), and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), fifth at 144.886 mph (1:40.581).
Defending event champion Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing was sixth fastest at 144.262 mph (1:41.016).
The top 16 drivers were separated by fewer than two seconds on the 4.048-mile road course, the longest in the FedEx Championship Series.
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "Obviously, things are going pretty well. I was fairly happy with the car this morning. We made a few changes and we went a little bit quicker this afternoon. I'm taking nothing for granted. Even though this is a four-mile track, everybody is very, very close. I know I said it last week at Mid-Ohio, but I definitely think it's going to be quicker tomorrow. I'm not taking anything for granted, just taking it one day at a time. I'm just hoping we'll be able to stay here tomorrow."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "We unloaded pretty good. We put a good lap in on our first set of tires and never really got a chance to do a good lap on the second set. I got behind Adrian Fernandez and he kind of messed up a couple of my laps, and then the red flag came out. Hopefully, we'll be able to get two sets of tires in tomorrow. We just need to keep doing what we're doing, keep pushing. This track is one of my favorites because it has everything you want as a race driver. It was a boring race last week. [Marlboro Team Penske] made it boring. I hope we can keep them more honest this week. We have a better car this week, so I hope we can keep them honest."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "We learned a lot in the test here, stuff we could use at Mid-Ohio as well as here, and hopefully for the rest of the year. It was a productive test. It was quite a lot like today. It was hard because there were a lot of red flags, and it was really hard to get a clear lap. It was pretty frustrating. This is the best race track I've ever raced on. It's a lot of fun. If you really get on with it, it rewards you in lap times."
* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) will be seeking his 11th top-five start of the season during final qualifying Saturday afternoon. He owns poles at Homestead, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio and outside poles at Portland and Cleveland in addition to fourth-place starts at Milwaukee and Detroit and fifths at Japan, Nazareth and Michigan. De Ferran is also seeking the 10th pole of his career.
* Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) is seeking his third consecutive pole at Road America and the 33rd of his FedEx Championship Series career. He owns the track qualifying record of 145.745 mph (1 minute, 39.988 seconds) established in 1998, and is looking to become the third driver ever to win three consecutive poles at Road America, joining Danny Sullivan (1988-90) and Paul Tracy (1992-94).
* Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) has started among the top five drivers in six of his past eight FedEx Championship Series starts. Included are outside poles at Milwaukee and Detroit, third at Mid-Ohio, fourth at Portland and Michigan and fifth at Toronto.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Road America 220 will air 5 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.