De FERRAN SECURES FIRST STREET/ROAD COURSE POLE SINCE 1997 AT MOLSON INDY IN TORONTO TORONTO (July 17, 1999) - Gil de Ferran of Walker Racing secured his first road or street course pole position since 1997 ...
De FERRAN SECURES FIRST STREET/ROAD COURSE POLE SINCE 1997 AT MOLSON INDY IN TORONTO
TORONTO (July 17, 1999) - Gil de Ferran of Walker Racing secured his first road or street course pole position since 1997 Saturday when he earned the right to lead 26 FedEx Championship Series competitors to the green flag for the Molson Indy (3 p.m. ET Sunday, tape delay, ABC-TV). De Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) set a track record on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit with a lap of 110.565 miles per hour (57.143 seconds). The pole was his second of the season and first on a road or street course since Detroit in 1997. De Ferran, whose earlier pole this year came at the Motegi oval in Japan, earned a PPG Cup point, which trims his deficit to series leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) to 25 points, 113-88. Montoya qualified eighth at 108.637 mph (58.157 seconds). Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) qualified second at 110.102 mph (57.383 seconds) to earn his third consecutive front-row start at Toronto, following pole-winning efforts in 1997 and last year. The start matches a season best established at Long Beach and Rio de Janeiro. Franchitti stands fourth in the championship, trailing third-place de Ferran by three points, 88-85, entering Sunday's 11th of 20 rounds in the series. Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift), second in the championship, qualified third at 109.594 mph (57.649 seconds). He will make his third consecutive top-three start of the season, following third at Cleveland and a pole last week at Road America. Andretti's 95 points place him 18 behind Montoya heading into Sunday's race. Jimmy Vasser (Target Honda Reynard) qualified fourth at 109.520 mph (57.688 seconds). The start is his best since an outside pole at Milwaukee and his best on a road or street course since starting third at Houston last year. Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift) rounded out the top five qualifiers at 109.384 mph (57.760 seconds). He comes off his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Road America last year.
GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard: "It was a bit of a nail-biting session for us. We started the session and I thought we did a pretty good lap, and we fell to fourth place. [After that] I just concentrated as hard as I could not to make a mistake and push really, really hard and the car responded. Basically, that was it. The car has been consistently quite good, and the main reason for that is not any magic on the team's behalf. I think it's been the evolution of Goodyear, which keeps giving us a great tire race after race."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "Our main qualifying problem was not being fast enough. We've improved our braking a lot, unfortunately we couldn't use the advancement during qualifying. It was a great effort by Gil. I thought after I went 57.3 [seconds], 'That's pretty good, let's see what happens.' And the next thing I know, Gil was two-tenths faster. We've won the pole for the last two years and we haven't finished either race, so we're looking for a bit of a change of luck tomorrow."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "This morning, we had a problem with the brakes and I was a little bit worried. As it ended up, because of the brakes the car didn't feel as good. Basically, I didn't get a clear lap through the whole session when our tires were at their best. We had one really good lap going which I know would have won the pole, and basically we're really disappointed that it didn't end up being a clear lap. We'll just come back and go after it again tomorrow."
* Gil de Ferran's (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) pole was the sixth of his FedEx Championship Series career, five of which have come on temporary street circuits. The others: Cleveland in 1995, Long Beach in '96 and '97, and Detroit in '97.
* Dario Franchitti's (KOOL Honda Reynard) outside pole-winning effort will mark his 10th front-row start in the last 14 FedEx Championship Series road or street course events, dating to Portland last year.
* Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) qualified third, extending a streak that has seen him qualify among the top 10 drivers for all 13 of his starts at Toronto. The streak includes a pole in 1991.
* Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) was honored by the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday evening prior to the Jays' game against the Florida Marlins at Skydome. Tracy, a nine-year veteran of the FedEx Championship Series, was honored in an on-field ceremony in which he was presented with an honorary Blue Jays' jersey by pitcher and motorsports enthusiast David Wells. Tracy drove his own Harley-Davidson motorcycle onto the Skydome turf to participate in the ceremony.
* Federal Express Canada Ltd. announced Friday the launch of FedEx Learning Labs , a program to provide funding for educational centres at Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada locations in communities across Canada to give more youth access to technology. FedEx Learning Labs will consist of a computer, printer, Internet access and educational software. The program was officially launched at Friday's VIP Drivers Party, part of the festivities surrounding this weekend's Molson Indy. Local Big Brothers and Sisters members and Federal Express hosted a reception before the party to kick off the program. Part of the proceeds from the Drivers Party benefited Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada. "FedEx is excited to work with Big Brothers and Sisters to help give more Canadian youth access to computers and the opportunity to explore the fascinating world of technology," said Jon Slangerup, president of Federal Express Canada, Ltd. "Many of the children in our programs do not have access to technology outside of their schools. Federal Express has been a great supporter of Big Brothers and Sisters and with programs like this, FedEx is helping us give the youth the tools they need to excel."
"CART 2Day" airs 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's tape-delayed broadcast scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET. The race will also air on the CART Radio Network and both qualifying and the race will be broadcast on the CART website, at www.cart.com.