CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Saturday qualifying report #2

Franchitti Takes Toronto Pole, Again CART Online (July 18, 1998) --- Team KOOL Green driver Dario Franchitti became the first back-to-back pole winner in the 13-year history of the Molson Indy on Saturday when he placed his KOOL Reynard Honda...

Franchitti Takes Toronto Pole, Again

CART Online (July 18, 1998) --- Team KOOL Green driver Dario Franchitti became the first back-to-back pole winner in the 13-year history of the Molson Indy on Saturday when he placed his KOOL Reynard Honda in the top starting spot for Sunday's 11th round of the 19-race FedEx Championship Series season.

Franchitti averaged 105.558 (58.694 seconds) miles per hour en route to his second pole position of the season and second on the 1.721-mile street circuit at Exhibition Place. His first career pole position came at Toronto last year during his rookie season. His other career pole came earlier this season at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Franchitti earned the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award, with the opportunity to pick up an additional $270,000 in rollover bonus money with a victory in Sunday's race (3 p.m. ET, tape delay, ABC-TV), as well as a PPG Cup point in the series championship race.

Including the $100,000 winner's purse, the potential payout for a victory from the pole this weekend is $380,000. The Marlboro Pole Award rollover bonus has been accumulating at a rate of $15,000 per event since Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) became the most recent driver to win from the pole at Cleveland more than a year ago.

Zanardi, the FedEx Championship Series points leader, starts second based on his fast lap of 105.480 mph (58.737 seconds) recorded during Friday's provisional qualifying session. Zanardi collected his third outside pole of the season, equaling his qualifying performances at Rio and Detroit, respectively. He takes a 155-96 lead over Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) into Sunday's event.

Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) qualified third with a lap of 105.461 mph (58.748 seconds) Saturday. The effort matched his season-best start of third at Nazareth and was his best qualifying performance on a street or road circuit since starting second at Vancouver in 1996.

Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) qualified fourth at 105.256 mph (58.862 seconds) and was followed by Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Swift Ford) at 105.012 mph (58.999 seconds). Both drivers are making season-best starts on a road or street course.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "It feels good. The track has been really strange all weekend. It seems like yesterday it was more grippy when it was raining. It doesn't make any sense. Today, it almost seems mirror-like out there. The guys told me to go for it and that's what I did. It was a good lap. I've been waiting a year in hopes I would get the pole again so I could make amends for what happened last year. It was very disappointing to win the pole here and then be off in the first corner. I'm glad to have another chance. We'll see what happens tomorrow."

ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "I'm obviously a little disappointed. The pole would have been better than second. I've probably been in some people's way sometimes, and sometimes it can happen to you. It happened to me today. Hats off to Dario. It was a fantastic lap on a day when the track probably wasn't any better than it was yesterday. I'll try to send all the Italians here home with smiles on their faces tomorrow. I think in the race the car will be driveable. The only thing is, it will be really, really slippery, as it was last year during the end of the race. But this year, it seems even more so."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford: "The track was slower today, which I was a little afraid of. The track was slippery, still we were capable of the pole. I had a good lap going until the last three corners, but I screwed up the second left-hander and lost two-tenths. I'm very frustrated with myself right now. The tires are good for one lap, and that was my best lap. I had the chance and I blew it. I was trying hard, maybe a little too hard. The race tomorrow [Sunday] is going to be a race of fuel mileage and conserving tires. At the moment, Alex can't do a whole lot wrong and he takes advantage of the things that go his way. That's how you win championships. But we're not giving up, by any means."

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY:

* Dario Franchitti became the first back-to-back pole winner at the Molson Indy Saturday, as well as the fourth driver to win multiple pole positions at Toronto. Emerson Fittipaldi (1986, '89 and '93) is the career pole leader at Toronto with three while Franchitti joins Danny Sullivan (1988, '90) and Bobby Rahal (1987 and '92) with two each. Michael Andretti is the only driver to win from the pole at Toronto, in 1991.

* Franchitti also will make his third consecutive start on the front row, after winning outside poles at Portland and Cleveland, respectively.

* The PPG Cup point which Franchitti earns for the pole position gives him 65 for the season, allowing him to close to three points of Andretti for fifth place in the FedEx Championship Series points standings.

* Alex Zanardi's second-place qualifying effort gave him his 21st front-row start in 43 career races.

* Gil de Ferran, starting fourth, recorded his best qualifying effort on a road or street course since fourth at Mid-Ohio last year. Christian Fittipaldi's fifth-place start is his best at a road or street venue since third at Portland last year.

* Defending race champion Mark Blundell (Motorola PacWest Mercedes) qualified 15th at 103.385 mph (59.668 seconds).

* Zanardi was named second-quarter winner of the Driver of the Year award in balloting by a blue-ribbon panel of 15 motorsports journalists. Zanardi, the defending FedEx Championship Series champion, received 11 of 15 first-place votes and scored 123 points to outdistance Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who scored 74. Zanardi thus becomes a prime candidate for the Driver of the Year award to be presented at the conclusion of the season. "This is obviously something that makes me really proud," Zanardi said, "especially because this is something that comes out of a jury of people who are qualified because they've worked their whole lives in the sport." Zanardi will receive his quarterly award during driver introductions at the U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota next Sunday at Michigan Speedway.

Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Mark Blundell , Emerson Fittipaldi , Greg Moore