CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Friday qualifying notes

As the Green Flag approaches for the Group one qualifying session, the heat has increased here at Burke Lakefront Airport. This may well hinder the run to better the track qualifying record of 134.385 mph (56.417 seconds) set by JIMMY VASSER in...

As the Green Flag approaches for the Group one qualifying session, the heat has increased here at Burke Lakefront Airport. This may well hinder the run to better the track qualifying record of 134.385 mph (56.417 seconds) set by JIMMY VASSER in 1998.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:16 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 120 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 78 degrees F. at the start of the session.

At 3:26 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #26 TRACY with a lap of 128.895 mph (58.820 seconds), followed by #55X HERTA (128.772 mph; 58.876 seconds) and #17X GUGELMIN (128.755; 58.884 seconds).

At 3:30 p.m., #25 GARCIA JR. spins off course at Turn 9 and stalls the car. RED FLAG waves at 3:31 p.m. to allow CART safety workers to attend to the stalled car of #25 GARCIA JR. CART safety workers hook the car up and tow it back to the Pit Area. GARCIA JR. will have to serve an eight-minute penalty immediately for delaying the Group One qualifying session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:35 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

At 3:36 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 3:25 p.m. report.

At 3:37 p.m., #34 MARQUES spins at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:40 p.m., #55X HERTA takes over the fastest speed of Group One with a lap of 129.154 mph (58.702 seconds) on his 12th lap of the session.

At 3:41 p.m., #12X VASSER moves to the top of Group One with a speed of 129.372 mph (58.603 seconds) on his 14th lap of the session.

At 3:42 p.m., #10 FONTANA spins between Turns 7 and 8 but regains control and continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

Also at 3:42 p.m., #19 KUROSAWA spins at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 3:43 p.m., #55X HERTA retakes the top spot with a lap of 129.764 mph (58.426 seconds).

Also at 3:44 p.m., the penalty for #25 GARCIA JR. expires and GARCIA JR. returns to the track.

At 3:45 p.m., #26 TRACY takes the top spot in Group One with a lap of 130.134 mph (58.260 seconds) on his 17th lap of the session.

At 3:45 p.m., #10 FONTANA spins at Turn 6 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:46 p.m. to end the Group One qualifying session with #26 TRACY the fastest driver with a lap of 130.134 mph (58.260 seconds), followed by #17X GUGELMIN (130.105 mph; 58.273 seconds) and #12X VASSER (129.846 mph; 58.389 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 4 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session.

At 4:04 p.m., #2 DE FERRAN runs off course at Turn 9 on his fourth timed lap and breaks his suspension in the grass before he can regain control. DE FERRAN slowly drives to his Pit Area and parks the car. The crew readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the session. DE FERRAN will forfeit the laps and times earned in the primary car, no big loss as he was 26th with four timed laps at the time of the incident.

At 4:05 p.m., #1 MONTOYA runs off course at Turn 6 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 4:10 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest Group Two driver is #97 DA MATTA with a lap of 130.154 mph (58.251 seconds; first overall), followed by

#8 BRACK (130.129 mph; 58.262 seconds, third overall) and #1 MONTOYA (129.862 mph; 58.382 seconds; fifth overall).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 4:14 p.m. to #97 DA MATTA for a Pit Road speed violation. DA MATTA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 4:16 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI earns the fastest lap of the day with a clocking of 130.277 mph (58.196 seconds) on his 10th circuit.

At 4:20 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #27 FRANCHITTI with his earlier lap of 130.277 mph (58.196 seconds), followed by #97 DA MATTA (130.154 mph; 58.251 seconds) and #8 BRACK (127.714 mph; 58.262 seconds).

At 4:25 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ clocks the fastest lap of the day with a speed of 130.113 mph (58.180 seconds) but is immediately eclipsed by #6 ANDRETTI riding right behind the Mexican with a lap of 130.774 mph (57.975 seconds). Just as ANDRETTI logs the lap, he spins at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 4:27 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI goes to the top of the speedboard with a lap of 130.805 mph (57.961 seconds) on his 19th lap.

At 4:29 p.m., #40 FERNANDEZ spins at Turn 4 and stalls the car off track in the grass.

Also at 4:29 p.m., #96 SERVIA spins at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 4:30 p.m. to end Provisional Qualifying with #27 FRANCHITTI on the pole with his lap of 130.805 mph (57.961 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (130.774 mph; 57.975 seconds) and #8 BRACK (130.607 mph; 58.049 seconds). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 25 different cars to the track in this afternoon's session with secondary cars utilized by #2X DE FERRAN, #17X GUGELMIN, #12X VASSER, #55X HERTA, #11X FITTIPALDI, #16X JOURDAIN JR., and #19X KUROSAWA. There are 16 drivers within one second of the top lap set by FRANCHITTI.

DARIO FRANCHITTI wins the Provisional Pole for Sunday's race with his lap of 130.805 mph (57.961 seconds) in his Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard. FRANCHITTI is looking to better his season-best start of second at both Milwaukee and Detroit. If FRANCHITTI can hang on Saturday in the final round of qualifying, he will take his first pole position since Surfers Paradise in 1999.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI sits second on the Provisional Grid with a 130.774 mph (57.975 seconds) lap in his Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford/Lola. ANDRETTI's previous best start this year was a sixth at Homestead in the first race of the year.

KENNY BRACK is third after Friday's Provisional session with a speed of 130.607 mph (58.049 seconds) in his Shell Team Rahal Ford/Reynard. If BRACK can hang onto his spot Saturday, he will have five top-six starts in the last six events. BRACK's season-best start is a second in Japan.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "We're just getting it together. As soon as we got on the track at Japan something clicked. Apart from my mistake at the start of Nazareth it's been pretty good lately. We're still learning the car and I'm still learning to work with my engineers, but they made some good changes to the car after the morning session and we're right there. It takes a while to get used to how a new engineer works with the car and the fact that I had the accident at Homestead and [engineer] Steve [Challis] had a stroke, it makes it really hard. It felt at one point that people were chucking obstacles at us, but we're getting better."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "It's been pretty good. This morning we were second-quick and we didn't put on new tires and it felt pretty good. We got in a pretty good lap this afternoon, but then Dario went out and got us by a hundredth of a second, but it's pretty good. We're still working on it, the same as everybody else right now. The conditions are a little slippery, but it's the same for everybody, plus the pressure's on and we're all going for it."

KENNY BRACK: "It's been an interesting day. It's my first time at this track and it's a very nice track. I think we've done a good job today. The Shell/Ford Team Rahal team did a good job today. I'm still learning the course and there's a few bumps out there if you're looking, but I think we're doing better and better. It's one of the most bumpy circuits I've ever been on, but the layout is very nice. A lot of tracks have a lot of hairpins and chicanes and stuff like that, so it's nice to have a track like this that's wide and has some slow corners and some fast corners."

-CART-

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Series IndyCar