Kenny Brack remains the only CART driver to win a pole at Rockingham Motor Speedway by taking top spot in Friday qualifying. CORBY, Northamptonshire, England - (September 13, 2002) - Kenny Brack ( ...
Kenny Brack remains the only CART driver to win a pole at Rockingham Motor Speedway by taking top spot in Friday qualifying.
CORBY, Northamptonshire, England - (September 13, 2002) - Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) inherited the pole for last year's inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series event at Rockingham Motor Speedway by virtue of his series points lead when wet conditions cancelled qualifying at the 1.479-mile oval.
Friday he went out and used his Toyota-powered machine as a weapon to defend his crown, winning his first pole of the season and his first since joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing, leading a 19-car field to take the top spot for Saturday's Sure For Men Rockingham 500. Brack put up a new track-record lap of 24.908 seconds (213.763 mph/344.017 km/h) to best the field, doing so after posting the sixth-best time in the morning practice.
Brack would turn his top time, then sit back and watch as seven cars tried to unseat him, including series points leader Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) and morning practice leader Alex Tagliani (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone), but none would be successful as Brack claimed the seventh pole of his CART career.
The day was a welcome turnaround, not only for Brack, who took his first pole since he led the field to the green in last year's Rockingham event - a race that he led on the final lap before getting passed by eventual winner Gil de Ferran, but for CART's all-time victory leader Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone). Andretti snagged then second starting spot for Saturday's race with a best circuit of 24.928 seconds (213.951 mph/343.741 km/h), taking the outside of the front row for his best grid position since he qualified second in the 2000 season finale at Fontana.
Da Matta would come up a bit short in his pursuit of Brack's pole time, but the series points leader would earn the third spot on the grid with a top orbit of 24.954 seconds (213.369 mph/343.383 km/h), matching his best oval start of the year. Da Matta gridded third at Chicago in CART's last oval trip and would go on to take the win while leading 82 of the day's 250 laps.
Walker Racing's Tora Takagi (#5 Pioneer/Denso Special Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) had his best-ever qualifying day in the Champ Cars, earning the fourth spot for Saturday's race with a time of 24.958 seconds (213.334 mph/343.328 km/h). Takagi easily garnered his best qualifying result of the 2002 season with the run and threatened his best all-time starting spot of third at Michigan. His third-place run at Michigan however, was earned by virtue of his practice time as the qualifying was rained out, making today's run the best qualifying effort of his two-year Champ Car career. Despite the fact that he had no training on ovals prior to joining CART, Takagi has been at his best on the circular tracks this year, qualifying in the top 11 at all three prior ovals and finishing fourth at Chicago.
Dario Franchitti (#27 Team Green Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) carried the Scottish flag on his machine this weekend and flew the banner to a top-five qualifying position with a best lap of 25.001 seconds (212.967 mph/342.737 km/h). Franchitti was able to earn his third top-five grid position in four oval races this season - and did it in front of one of his native country's greatest racing heroes as former Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart was on hand to award the pole flag to today's top qualifier.
Two of CART's 2002 oval-track winners occupied the next two places on the grid as Motegi champ Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) would take the sixth spot was a best lap of 25.003 seconds (212.950 mph/342.710 km/h) while Milwaukee victor Paul Tracy (#26 Team Green Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) locked up the seventh spot. Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) held the pole for much of the early part of the session before settling for the eighth spot while Player's/Forsythe Racing teammates Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) would round out the top 10.
The 211-lap Sure For Men Rockingham 500 will take the green flag at 1:30 local time (8:30 a.m. Eastern Time) on Saturday with the race to be broadcast live on SPEED Channel, with audio available through www.cart.com.
CHAMP CAR TOP-THREE QUALIFIER QUOTES
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think it went well today. It's been a tough year of course for us. We've always had the speed, it's just been a matter of putting it all together. This is a tough track with a different configuration than we're used to. Turn 4 is the most difficult point for the drivers. I think passing will be tough because these cars are so closely matched. We had a lot more time to dial in the car this year. A lot more than last year because of the weather." (On the track location) "It's nice to be in Europe and do well. There were a lot of Swedish fans here last year. Hopefully there will be a lot of Swedes here tomorrow instead of seeing all the Brazilian flags. This race is good for CART because of the strong European following and the popularity."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Team Motorola did a very good job, along with help from Team KOOL Green. We just tweaked the car here and there throughout the whole session. I just closed my eyes and held it down and here we are." (On the mood here compared to last year) "It was hard to really focus on this event last year. I think we all just really wanted to get home last year."
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm happy overall. Since the start of the day, the car was running very well. The car is much better than what we had here last year. I don't think I had the speed to beat Kenny [Brack]. But for the race I think I have a car that will be consistent until the end. It will be important to have a car like that in order to run with him [Brack] to the end."
* Kenny Brack's new track record in qualifying goes on the books as the official Rockingham standard, although the unofficial fastest lap posted at the 1.479-mile oval belongs to Tony Kanaan, who led last year's only practice session with a best lap of 24.719 seconds (215.397 mph).
* Cristiano da Matta's third-place qualifying run today put him in the second row for Saturday's race, marking the 11th time in the season's 15 races that the Newman/Haas driver will start the race in the top two rows.
* Today's pole position is the 10th of the season for a Toyota-powered car and the 21st overall pole position for Toyota in Champ Car competition. Toyota will now be shooting for its third win in four CART oval races this season in tomorrow's Sure For Men Rockingham 500.
* Kenny Brack earned a championship point for leading qualifying on Friday, boosting his total to 75 on the season. Brack is 11th in the championship but could move into the top six in the standings with a victory on Saturday.