Dario Franchitti took the bonus point for the pole position for the CART Grand Prix of Chicago, with a fast lap of 23.428 seconds (158.118 mph.) around the 1-mile Chicago Motor Speedway. The Team Green driver was the twelfth driver to make his...
Dario Franchitti took the bonus point for the pole position for the CART Grand Prix of Chicago, with a fast lap of 23.428 seconds (158.118 mph.) around the 1-mile Chicago Motor Speedway. The Team Green driver was the twelfth driver to make his run under CART's oval qualifying procedures, where the drivers make their attempts in reverse order of their fastest practice times.
Dario praised his crew's oval setup, but was worried about qualifying after his practice session: "We offloaded quick, but we lost balance as the track got faster."
Obviously pleased with his 11th career CART pole position, Dario quipped:" It's possible to win from either end (of the grid), but it's certainly better from the front."
Franchitti had to wait a little longer than usual to wave the flag that CART awards to this year's pole winners, because two drivers, Adrian Fernandez and Michael Andretti, chose to withdraw their previously qualified cars and qualify again using their designated backup cars. Both drivers had trouble with the pop-off valves on their engines during their initial attempts and made the re-runs in an attempt to improve their lot on the hard-to-pass Chicago oval. Fernandez jumped all the way up to sixth in the backup car, while Andretti moved up from 17th to 14th with his car change.
Alex Tagliani blew the engine of his car near the end of the only practice session, so wasn't able to make a simulated qualifying run, but the Forsythe Racing team put the car back together well enough for Tagliani to push the car to the outside of the front row. Due to the uncertainty, he chose a conservative setup and credited that and the slower times turned by all the cars in the hot afternoon sun for his good run.
Points leader Cristiano da Matta qualified 3rd, his best oval performance of the year. Da Matta won here two years ago for his first CART victory, but had struggled to find a good oval setup on the Newman/Haas' team's Lola this season. He has been dominant at times on the road and street circuits, but that success has not transferred to the ovals. Da Matta was really excited about his team's improvement, saying: "More than the result, I'm very happy with the progress we've made."
Tony Kanaan had been fastest in the long morning practice session, but could only manage to qualify 4th. Target Ganassi Racing's Bruno Junqueira, second in series points, was 5th. The single practice session marked a change in CART's normal weekend schedule, Chicago being the first test of the abbreviated two-day weekend format that will be used at a few venues the season.
The green flag waves on the CART Grand Prix of Chicago on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm CDT. The race will be shown live on CBS.