Portland, OR (June 19, 1998) -- Dario Franchitti positioned himself to collect his second pole position of the FedEx Championship Series season Friday when he earned the provisional pole for Sunday's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by ...
Portland, OR (June 19, 1998) -- Dario Franchitti positioned himself to collect his second pole position of the FedEx Championship Series season Friday when he earned the provisional pole for Sunday's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline at Portland International Raceway.
Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) earned the provisional pole with a track-record speed of 120.386 mph (58.821 seconds), eclipsing the previous track standard of 119.246 mph (59.383 seconds) set by Scott Pruett last year. If Franchitti holds his position during Saturday's final qualifying session, he will earn his second pole of the season, following a previous-pole winning effort at Rio de Janiero, and third of his two-year career. Final qualifying is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. local time) Saturday.
The pole winner collects the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award, with the opportunity to add an additional $240,000 in rollover bonus money with a victory Sunday. The rollover, which has accumulated at a rate of $15,000 per event since series champion Alex Zanardi's victory at Cleveland last July, is a record for the six-year history of the Marlboro Pole Award.
Meanwhile, Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda), placed on probation June 11 by CART Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach for an incident at the ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix, was fined $20,000 and will be excluded from Saturday's qualifying for a qualifying incident with Michel Jourdain Jr. (Herdez/Viva Mexico! Reynard Ford) during Friday's session.
Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford) was second at 119.657 mph (59.179 seconds), followed by Pruett (Visteon Reynard Ford), the defending polesitter, at 119.657 mph (59.180 seconds). The top six provisional qualifiers bettered Pruett's previous track record.
Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) was fourth at 119.393 mph (59.310 seconds), followed by Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford) at 119..365 mph (59.324 seconds). Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) was sixth at 119.321 mph (59.346 seconds).
Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda), the FedEx Championship Series points leader, was 18th at 118.136 mph (59.941 mph).
In fining and excluding Tracy from further qualifying Saturday, Dallenbach cited Tracy for unjustifiable risk, according to Rule 8:13 of the CART Rule Book, for the incident that occurred with Jourdain Jr. during the qualifying session for Group Two. "As far as the Friday incident, the accident was preventable and should not have happened on an 'out' lap for both race cars," said Dallenbach, referring to the lap when the drivers exited the pits and were still getting up to speed. With the decision, Tracy will be forced to stand on Friday's qualifying time (59.630 sec./118.752 mph), which presently ranks 12th among 28 drivers. Tracy will be allowed to participate in Saturday's practice session, scheduled for 9 a.m. PT.
The top 15 qualifiers are within a second of each other. Tony Kanaan (LCI Reynard Honda) is 15th at 59.793 seconds (118.450 mph).
Pruett is chasing his season-best start after qualifying third in Friday's provisional action. His season-best is seventh at Long Beach.
Herta is looking for his second front-row start of the season. His other came at Long Beach, where he captured the pole.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Reynard Honda): "We're starting [Saturday's qualifying session] from the right place. We struggled here this morning trying to find more grip. Our guys sorted it out and did a good job getting the car straightened out for qualifying. I think they changed almost everything before this afternoon's session. I'm pretty happy, especially after this morning. It was just a matter of putting a smooth lap together. The mechanical grip that was available through the tires [during the April test at Portland] was just amazing. I think that the more rubber they lay down here, the faster it's going to get."
BRYAN HERTA (Shell Reynard Ford): "We were sliding around a lot. It really was slippery. The balance on the track changed quite a pit from the morning to the afternoon. Everybody's chasing hard right now. There's a lot more out there if somebody could get this place figured out. I noticed that the top six cars today were at the test [in April], so it appears they must have learned something. I didn't come here with a particular expectation on a lap time, I just thought we could run well here. [During his morning contact with the Turn 2 tire barrier] I was trying to go fast and I just lost it. I actually got quite lucky and I thought maybe I was going to miss the tires. I'm going to talk to Wally [Dallenbach, CART Chief Steward] and see if he can extend that barrier a little bit. The tires definitely softened the blow. I could have done quite a bit more damage."
SCOTT PRUETT (Visteon Reynard Ford): "We all three were here testing at the same time [after Long Beach] and we ran in the 57s [seconds]. That's a far cry from the 58s we were running today. It's all going to depend on the conditions. I've always loved it up here. My wife [Judy] and I came up here with both our daughters. My wife is from this area, and I've always liked this area, and the race track."
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.
Source: CART Online