VANCOUVER, British Columbia (August 31, 2001) - Alex Tagliani of Player's Forsythe Racing delighted a partisan Canadian crowd of 43,917 Friday when he recorded the fastest lap of the day during testing for the Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord ...
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (August 31, 2001) - Alex Tagliani of Player's Forsythe Racing delighted a partisan Canadian crowd of 43,917 Friday when he recorded the fastest lap of the day during testing for the Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place (6 p.m. ET Sunday, tape delay, ESPN2).
Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), a native of Montreal, cut loose a lap of 104.713 miles per hour (1 minute, 1.230 seconds) late in the afternoon testing session to set the pace among the 26 drivers who will compete for victory in Sunday's 15th round of the FedEx Championship Series championship. He will be chasing his second career pole position when qualifying begins 4:45 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon.
A 75-minute practice session will precede Saturday's qualifying session, beginning 1 p.m. ET.
Tagliani enters the weekend with the longest active streak of points-paying results in the FedEx Championship Series. He has scored in seven straight events, dating to a 12th-place finish at Portland and including a career-best runner-up effort at Toronto. Tagliani enters this weekend in 14th place in the FedEx Championship Series championship, with 49 points.
Second-fastest Friday was FedEx Championship Series points leader and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, who recorded a lap of 104.359 mph (1:01.438) on the 1.781-mile temporary street circuit. Castroneves, who holds a 110-105 championship lead over Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal, will be seeking his fourth pole of the season and his eighth front-row qualifying effort of the campaign when qualifying begins Saturday.
Brack was sixth fastest Friday at 103.572 mph (1:01.905).
Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota Reynard) of Patrick Racing posted the day's third-fastest speed of 104.243 mph (1:01.506) during a strong afternoon session. He seeks a season-best start Saturday, improving on seventh at Detroit and Chicago.
Defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske was Friday's fourth-fastest competitor at 104.194 mph (1:01.535). He stands third in the championship with 99 points heading into this weekend's event.
Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing rounded out the top five drivers at 103.365 mph (1:01.867). His best starts to date have been outside pole positions on the permanent road courses at Mexico and Portland.
ALEX TAGLIANI, Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard: "The Player's team has been very consistent in the last seven races. The car is very good out of the trailer, and that makes it easier to be quick on a day like this. We're more confident now and it allows us to do more things on a difficult track like this. There's more pressure to do well from the media here in Canada, but you have to take the good with the bad. When you come to a race here, you've got more support from the fans and they expect you to do well, so there's some more pressure. But I would like it better to race in Canada all the time."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I feel great. There was a lot of traffic around this place, but I always expect that. There's still a lot of work to do on our car. If the weather cooperates, it's going to be much faster tomorrow. We know we have a good car, and we're not trying to invent stuff. I also think the communication between the drivers definitely helps. The whole atmosphere of the team is the key to our success."
ROBERTO MORENO, Visteon Toyota Reynard: "For sure, the Visteon crew gave me a great car from the word, 'Go.' We've been concentrating on fine-tuning the car, so that's a good position to be in. The car was also very good on old tires, and I think the car will also be good in the rain. This place I always drive well, and I know a few tricks about how to get around here. Rain upsets you if you're just thinking you should be racing in the dry, but it's just part of the game for us."
* Alex Tagliani (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) will be seeking the second pole position of his FedEx Championship Series career, and his first on a road or street course, when qualifying begins Saturday. His earlier pole came at Brazil last year. His season-best start is second at Road America.
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) owns three pole positions this season, at Long Beach, Japan and Detroit. Two of his three victories to date have come from the pole, at Long Beach and Detroit. Castroneves also owns outside poles at Milwaukee, Toronto, Chicago and Mid-Ohio.
* Roberto Moreno (Visteon Toyota Reynard) is seeking his best start since winning the pole last year at Cleveland, site of his first career FedEx Championship Series victory. Moreno, who was third-fastest Friday, has not qualified better than seventh in the 24 FedEx Championship Series events since.
* CART and Molson announced Friday that they had reached an agreement to extend the Molson Indy Vancouver for an additional three years, through the 2004 season. Under terms of the agreement, the race will remain at its downtown location in Concord Pacific Place. The announcement was made by Molstar Sports and Entertainment Vice President and General Manager Bob Singleton, and CART Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Heitzler. The extended agreement with Molstar for the Vancouver event means that CART will visit three Canadian cities - Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal - next season. Earlier this year, CART and Molstar announced a five-year agreement to conduct an event on Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve beginning in 2002. The agreement for the annual Molson Indy in Toronto runs through 2004. "You really have to give a large amount of credit to the race fans in Vancouver for their enormous support to keep the race in the city through letters, e-mails and phone calls," Heitzler said. "In addition, Molstar is an outstanding partner for CART in promoting events, and the combined efforts of the two clearly showed us it was extremely beneficial to return to Vancouver." Dates for the 2002 Molson Indy Vancouver have not been released, pending confirmation of CART's 2002 FedEx Championship Series schedule.
Qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver will air 1 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.