CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit Qualifying Story

David Reininger - Detroit, Mich (August 7, 1999) - Juan Montoya captured the pole position for Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit this afternoon, lapping the 2.346-mile Belle Isle street circuit at an average...

David Reininger -

Detroit, Mich (August 7, 1999) - Juan Montoya captured the pole position for Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit this afternoon, lapping the 2.346-mile Belle Isle street circuit at an average speed of 114.773 mph. This is the rookie's fifth pole position this season. He needs only two more to tie the record for pole positions by a rookie, set by Nigel Mansell. There are seven races left this season.

Although Montoya's fastest lap this morning placed him in 16th position for the session, he felt the car was capable of qualifying on the front row. "We did some changes throughout the morning to try to improve the car. We had really old tires this morning. But I thought the car was pretty good for the tires. When we went out for qualifying, I knew the track wasn't very quick. I went out and I pushed it as hard as I could," said Montoya.

Paul Tracy, who qualified on the provisional pole in yesterday's time trials, a tick ahead of Montoya, swapped positions with the rookie driver and will start on the outside of the front row tomorrow. Tracy pushed hard as soon as he went out, only to make mistakes on the laps where his tires were at their peak

"That was a real compromise lap because when the tires were fresh I really pushed hard to try and get through (turns) one and two really well. I made mistakes on three laps in a row. That was the best out of the tires. On the last lap the tires were pretty well worn but still hanging on grip wise. The car was balanced well and I was able to put together a lap that was pretty much a compromise from what I was trying to do. I felt there was more time there but to be second on the grid, starting up front with the KOOL car is great." said Tracy.

Starting position is extremely important on a street circuit because of the difficulty in setting up a pass. "On the start, I want to slot in first or second if I can. If Montoya gets the jump then that's fine. I'm here to get points. We've got to win the race on the last lap, not the first one," Tracy said.

Gil de Ferran moved up two spots from his provisional spot from Friday. De Ferran will start third, the same position he has finished in the last three years at Detroit. "It was a good qualifying run for us today," said De Ferran. "Yesterday I was quite confident I could be in the first two rows. This morning we actually had a very good morning. We made a number of changes and everything that we did was going the right way, so I was feeling fairly good about my possibilities here in the qualifying session."

"I did the run on the first set of tires and the car was behaving quite well. When we went out on the second set of tires I couldn't quite do as well as I thought. The car was a little bit more oversteering. I was having big moments there at the end of the lap. I couldn't quite do the whole lap well. I would start the lap quite well, and then I would have quite a bit of oversteer. But third is a good position. Last year I started ninth and finished third. Hopefully, this year I'll start third and go a little better."

Dario Franchitti will start fourth, directly behind his teammate Paul Tracy. Franchitti, who had an off track excursion yesterday, lost valuable track time this weekend. "The lack of track time yesterday certainly hurt us. I've been playing catch-up really," said Franchitti. "I learn something new about the track every time I go out there. At the start of qualifying, we were working on set up and the KOOL car felt pretty good. I was finding my limit each time out, trying to keep it inside the barriers."

Given his limited amount of track time, Franchiti was still pleased with his starting position. "I'm thrilled to be starting fourth. It's nice to have a good starting spot because you can stay out of trouble in turn one. I don't mind passing a few people and having a fight to move up to the front."

Roberto Moreno, substituting for Christian Fittipaldi, who was injured at St. Louis on Monday, will start fifth in a Newman Haas Swift chassis. Moreno, who just finished subbing for Mark Blundell, drove a Reynard during his stint at Pac West. "I am very happy with the team. They did a great job," Moreno said. "We posted a solid time today with only a little bit of seat time in the car. It's a testament to the guys who work on the car. I am still getting used to the car because it is a much different mechanical and aerodynamic package than the Reynard. Saturday was definitely a better day than Friday and I hope that race day is even better than the previous two."

Moreno's teammate, Michael Andretti, who was third after provisional qualifying on Friday, will start eighth on Sunday. "I screwed up my first run at the pole," Andretti said. "We decided to make a big change to the set up and again, like Friday, we went the wrong way. Starting eighth is going to be tough tomorrow. This is a tight track where you really have to set up your passes. We are really going to have to work hard tomorrow."

So are the 18 drivers starting behind Andretti.

The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit takes the green flag at 3:00 p.m. for 75 laps around the Belle Isle circuit. Tape delay television coverage of the race starts at 4:00 p.m. EDT on ABC.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Nigel Mansell , Mark Blundell