SERIES LEADER MONTOYA LOGS FOURTH POLE AT MEDIC DRUG GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR CLEVELAND (June 26, 1999) - FedEx Championship Series leader Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing added to his ...
SERIES LEADER MONTOYA LOGS FOURTH POLE AT MEDIC DRUG GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY FIRSTAR
CLEVELAND (June 26, 1999) - FedEx Championship Series leader Juan Montoya of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing added to his successful rookie resume Saturday when he garnered the pole position for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar at Burke Lakefront Airport (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN). Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) recorded a lap of 133.448 miles per hour (56.813 seconds) to secure his series-high fourth pole of the season as well as his third in the last four events. The PPG Cup point he earned for the pole position extended his points lead over second-place Dario Franchitti to 91-85 entering Sunday's ninth round of the championship. Montoya also earned his seventh consecutive top-five start, dating to a fifth-place qualifying effort at Long Beach, site of his first career victory. His previous poles have come at Nazareth, Gateway and Portland. Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard), Friday's provisional polesitter, qualified second at 132.971 mph (57.017 seconds). He will make his second front row start of the season, following a pole-winning effort at Japan. Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) qualified third with a lap of 132.457mph (57.238 seconds). His start is a season best, though Andretti lost the opportunity to improve on the effort when he was accessed a standard eight-minute penalty for causing a red flag during the final 10 minutes of a session. He caused the red flag with a spin during Friday's provisional qualifying session. Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard) qualified fourth at 132.051 mph (57.414 seconds) and was followed by Roberto Moreno (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), at 131.904 mph (57.478 seconds). Herta will make his fourth top-five start of the season while Moreno will make a season-best start in his fifth event since taking over as a substitute driver for the injured Mark Blundell.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "We've been changing the car a lot and we were able to improve it over the bumps. This morning, we made some changes for qualifying and I was surprised at how quickly I was able to go fast. I went out and did a 57.3 [-second lap], and I thought, 'That should be enough.' But it wasn't. Fortunately, we were able to get out and make it even better. Obviously [during the race], you want to save some fuel, but I can't tell you how the race is going to go. Gil [de Ferran] is very quick, Michael [Andretti] was very, very quick this morning ... we'll just have to see what's going to happen."
GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard: "Conditions were definitely better today [than Friday]. The track has a little more grip, but one of the things that was very different today was the wind, which changed the car dramatically for a couple of turns. We did one good lap on our second set of tires and got close to Juan [Montoya] but we couldn't get it done and after that, I didn't get another chance."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "The spin [during qualifying] hurt yesterday and the penalty killed me today because I had to sit out the last eight minutes when the track was getting better. You could see it improving almost minute by minute. It was kind of frustrating watching guys pick me off when I was on the pole, but after Gil [de Ferran] got by me, I was kind of hoping someone else would, too, because I'd almost rather start third here than second. So thanks, Juan!"
* Juan Montoya's (Target Honda Reynard) pole position was his FedEx Championship Series-high fourth of the season and third on a different type of course. He earned his first career pole position at Nazareth on a short oval, his third career pole at Portland on a permanent road course and Saturday's came fourth on a temporary street circuit.
* Montoya's pole was the sixth of the season for Honda and seventh for Firestone
* Gil de Ferran's (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) outside pole position is his third front-row start in five career appearances at Cleveland. He claimed the pole in 1995 and started on the outside pole in 1997.
* Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) will start third for his sixth top-three start at Cleveland. Andretti's impressive qualifying performance at this venue is highlighted by a pole in 1989.
* Patrick Carpentier's (Player's Forsythe Racing Ltd. Mercedes Reynard) sixth-place qualifying effort represents a career-best FedEx Championship Series start on a road or street circuit, exceeding eighth at Portland last week.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Pole qualifying for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar will air 12:30 a.m. ET Saturday/early Sunday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs noon ET Sunday on ESPN2 with the broadcast of the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.