CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago: Lola Cars qualifying report

Franchitti snares 11th Champ Car pole; takes top spot on sweltering Chicago day. Scotsman Dario Franchitti was quickest CART FedEx qualifying today at Chicago Motor Speedway, the 1.029-mile paperclip of an oval in suburban Cicero. The twelfth...

Franchitti snares 11th Champ Car pole; takes top spot on sweltering Chicago day.

Scotsman Dario Franchitti was quickest CART FedEx qualifying today at Chicago Motor Speedway, the 1.029-mile paperclip of an oval in suburban Cicero. The twelfth of 18 drivers to qualify for the fourth annual Chicago Grand Prix, Franchitti's lap of 23.428 seconds (158.118mph) in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda earned the six-year veteran a bonus point, moving him within four of Lola drivers Bruno Junqueira and Michel Jourdain Jr., that duo tied for second place with 54 points each. Franchitti's quick lap bested Alex Tagliani by .006 seconds; the field is separated by .891 seconds.

With humid air temperatures between 91-96s and track temps around 121-124, Franchitti admitted his quick lap was "a bit of a surprise" as he is still learning the intricacies of his Lola B02/00 chassis. With his car good off the trailer, "I felt I could push 100% from the beginning of practice this morning and we adjusted the car as the track changed. There's always more grip as rubber goes down on the surface and we took advantage."

Point leader Cristiano da Matta earned third on the grid in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota with a lap of 23.443 seconds (158.017mph). The Brazilian was "happy to be third even though I made a mistake," giving him a lag of .015 seconds to Franchitti. "We have made improvements and picked up the pace" in his team's oval setups.

Tony Kanaan, quickest in morning practice earned fourth starting spot. Last year's polesitter, Kanaan hustled his #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda to a fast lap of 23.526 seconds (157.460mph). This is his fourth race with the Lola chassis and he's had no tests with this package. "We made changes just before qualifying and it wasn't the right call. We know we have a great race car, so starting fourth isn't all that bad" on a circuit where track position is paramount.

Bruno Junqueira took the #4 Team Target Lola/Toyota to fifth on the grid, the Brazilian's sixth straight top-five qualifying effort. "It's important to start up front here and I think we'll have a good car in the race tomorrow," he allowed. Junqueira and da Matta are the only two Champ Car drivers to earn top 10 starting posts in all seven events held to date.

In an unusual move, Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda) and Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Lola/Honda) both vacated qualifying laps set in their primary cars, attempting to improve their starting slots. Fernandez, originally 17th will begin the race tomorrow in sixth after posting a single flyer of 23.611sec/156.892mph; Andretti moved up one slot 14th after a solitary timed lap.

Similar weather conditions are on tap for Sunday's 250-lap contest, televised live by CBS Sports at 3:30 pm EDT.

-lola-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain