CICERO, Ill. (July 27, 2001) - Rookie Bruno Junqueira of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who has displayed impressive mastery of one-mile ovals during his initial FedEx Championship Series season, continued to show that success Friday when he paced...
CICERO, Ill. (July 27, 2001) - Rookie Bruno Junqueira of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who has displayed impressive mastery of one-mile ovals during his initial FedEx Championship Series season, continued to show that success Friday when he paced the field during testing for Sunday's Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer at Chicago Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV).
Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola), the 2000 European Formula 3000 champion, put together a lap of 156.212 miles per hour (23.714 seconds) in preparation for Sunday's 12th round of the FedEx Championship Series championship. He will be chasing his second pole of the season when qualifying begins 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday. A 90-minute practice session gets under way 10:30 a.m. ET prior to qualifying.
Junqueira's earlier pole came on the one-mile oval at Nazareth in May. He also has recorded the best finish of his rookie season, fourth, at The Milwaukee Mile last month.
FedEx Championship Series championship leader Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) was second fastest Friday at 156.100 miles per hour (23.731 seconds). Brack, who holds an 84-81 championship lead over Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green in the championship, will be chasing his series-high fifth pole of the season Saturday afternoon.
Rookie Tora Takagi (Pioneer/DENSO Special Toyota Reynard) of Walker Racing was third fastest at 155.870 miles per hour (23.766 seconds). His best FedEx Championship Series start to date has been third last week at Michigan, where the starting grid was based on practice times due to a rainout of qualifying.
Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard) of Fernandez Racing was fourth fastest at 154.853 mph (23.922 seconds), followed by reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, who was fifth at 154.743 mph (23.939 seconds).
Franchitti was 13th at 153.876 mph (24.074 seconds). Thirty-one of the 37 cars which took to the race track were separated by less than one second.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, Target Toyota Lola: "This morning I started learning the track. I did, like, five laps in the backup car and it was really fast. I was in second place for a while. It took a long time to get faster in the primary car. We went to work on the primary car this afternoon and unfortunately we had a problem, so we switched to the backup car. The car was not perfect, but it was pretty good. After the session finished, I was really happy that I was first.
"We had a little bit more in the car, and we're going to try to get the pole tomorrow. It's really strange. I'm really comfortable on the ovals, apart from Texas and Michigan because they're just flat-out. I think I'm getting better results on the ovals. I had some good results on the road courses, like Detroit, but I think I've been kind of unlucky. Everybody at Team Target wants to win a race this year. There's no place better to win a race than here."
KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Lola: "I think we had a good day today. We were working on the setup; it's a little different from last year because they changed the wing package. I think the Shell Ford is right on target. It's tough because there are so many teams and drivers. If you have a bad weekend here, you're not going to be third or fourth like Ferrari in Formula One, you're going to be 23rd or 24th. But you can't be there every weekend, and I think the results this year and last year have proved that. It's about stringing together results consistenly. It's very tough, especially when you have back-to-back races on different kinds of tracks, and you only have a couple days to recover."
TORA TAKAGI, Pioneer/DENSO Toyota Reynard: "Since the Toronto race, thanks to better communications between our team and a good set-up from the start, the car has been quick from the very practice day. When the car is easy to drive like it was today and last week in Michigan, I have a lot of time to think about other things in the race car besides keeping the car on the track. It is a remarkable difference."
* Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) has scored championship points in three of four oval starts during his rookie FedEx Championship Series campaign. In addition to his career-best result of fourth at Milwaukee, he also finished seventh at Nazareth - where he earned his first career FedEx Championship Series pole position, and ninth at Michigan.
* Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) owns previous pole positions at Mexico, Texas, Milwaukee and Michigan this season. His pole at Milwaukee came after rain washed out all Saturday Champ Car activities and the starting grid was based on championship points. Brack earned his fourth pole when rain washed out qualifying at Michigan last week and the starting grid was based on Saturday morning practice times.
* Tora Takagi (Pioneer/DENSO Toyota Reynard) will be seeking his best start of the season during qualifying Saturday afternoon. His best start to date is third at Michigan, where the starting grid was based on practice times, and his best qualifying performance to date is eighth at Cleveland.
* Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group sustained a bruised left leg following a single-car accident during Friday afternoon's test session. Gugelmin was treated and released from the CART Mobile Medical Facility and has been cleared to drive for the remainder of the weekend. "I'm pretty stiff right now, so I'll have to do a lot of icing tonight on my shoulders," Gugelmin said. "The doctors said I have been cleared to drive tomorrow, so I'll do some work tonight with a trainer and then report to CART medical [CART Mobile Medical Facility] in the morning for some physical therapy. The hit registered 123 Gs in just .03 seconds, so I anticipate quite a bit of soreness tonight and tomorrow. Really, I walk away with just a few minor cuts and bruises, so I'm very fortunate to have been wearing the HANS [head and neck support] device and thankful that these cars are so safe today. We will reevaluate things in the morning, but I'll be all right."
Qualifying for the Target Grand Prix Presented by Energizer will air 6 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.