Vancouver, BC (September 4, 1998) - Two-time defending pole-sitter Alex Zanardi positioned himself for his first FedEx Championship Series pole in a year Friday when he claimed the provisional pole for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord...
Vancouver, BC (September 4, 1998) - Two-time defending pole-sitter Alex Zanardi positioned himself for his first FedEx Championship Series pole in a year Friday when he claimed the provisional pole for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place.
Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda), who has won a series-high six events this season but has not earned a pole since last year at Vancouver, averaged 100.052 miles per hour (1 minute, 4.838 seconds) on his quickest lap of the newly reconfigured 1.802-mile temporary street circuit.
Final qualifying is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. ET Saturday. The pole winner earns the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award, with the opportunity to collect a record rollover bonus of $330,000 with a victory in Sunday's race. The rollover has been accumulating at a rate of $15,000 per event since Zanardi drove to victory at Cleveland last year.
Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) was second at 99.868 mph (1:04.958) and followed by Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) at 99.788 mph (1:05.010). Franchitti, who claimed his first career FedEx Championship Series victory at Road America in the series' previous event Aug. 16, seeks his sixth front-row start of the season while de Ferran looks to equal or eclipse his season-best of third at Japan.
Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Swift Ford) was fourth at 99.307 mph (1:05.325) and was followed by Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) at 99.141 mph (1:05.434). Fittipaldi comes off a season-best third-place finish at Road America. Moore seeks his best start since winning the pole at Detroit.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "It [the track] is a good improvement from last year. There are still some areas which could be improved, although we obviously should be grateful to everyone who helped with these improvements. It's very challenging and the circuit is nice, although I'm not so optimistic about how easy it's going to be to pass. Every one of us tries very hard to win every race and this is what I'm doing. I'm looking forward to having a good race in Vancouver because this place has been very bitter to me the last two years. I felt we had the car to win in both 1996 and last year, but it didn't happen. The championship is the main focus, but obviously the championship came because we were able to win races."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "This morning, we tried to get in the ballpark, because we really weren't. The crew spent a lot of time between practice and qualifying working with gear ratios, and obviously, we picked up a lot. I think there's a lot more in the car, so it's going to be interesting tomorrow."
GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda: "I enjoy the track very much. The layout is a definite improvement. It's a lot more fun to drive than last year's track. The last turn in front of the pits is extremely quick, but fun nonetheless. It's gonna be a tough track to overtake, like the previous one, but still a little better."
Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) has won the pole position in both of his appearances in the Molson Indy Vancouver (1996, '97). His pole in '96 was the third of a CART-record six in a row while last year's pole was his most recent in the FedEx Championship Series.
Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) is seeking a series-high sixth front-row start of the season after qualifying a provisional second Friday. Included are poles at Rio de Janeiro, Toronto and Mid-Ohio, and outside poles at Portland and Cleveland. Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) and Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) join Franchitti with five front-row starts this season.
While FedEx Championship Series drivers spent the Friday morning practice session learning the new temporary street circuit at Concord Pacific Place, three of the six fastest drivers in the session were rookies. They included JJ Lehto (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Reynard Mercedes), third at 97.848 mph (1 minute, 6.299 seconds); Helio Castro-Neves (Alumax Aluminum Reynard Mercedes), fourth at 97.592 mph (1:06.473) and Tony Kanaan (LCI Reynard Honda), sixth at 97.214 mph (1:06.731). Kanaan holds a 58-33 lead over Castro-Neves in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year points standings entering Sunday's event.
Friday's attendance of 44,898 set a Friday record for the nine-year history of the Molson Indy Vancouver.
WHAT'S ON TAP:
Molson Indy Vancouver pole qualifying will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.
Source: CART Online