WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2000) - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske continued to display his mastery on one-mile ovals Friday when he topped the combined practice sheet for Round 6 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Miller Lite 225 at The...
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2000) - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske continued to display his mastery on one-mile ovals Friday when he topped the combined practice sheet for Round 6 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Miller Lite 225 at The Milwaukee Mile (4 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ABC-TV).
De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who brought Penske Racing its landmark 100th race victory at Nazareth Speedway last Saturday, put together a lap of 173.697 miles per hour (21.389 seconds) on the 1.032-mile oval located outside Milwaukee. A final practice session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday, after which de Ferran will be seeking his third pole of the season when qualifying begins 2:30 p.m. ET.
De Ferran's previous poles were recorded at Homestead and Long Beach, in the first two completed events of the FedEx Championship Series season. He was followed on Friday's time sheet by Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, whose fastest lap clocked in at 173.575 mph (21.404 seconds). Andretti, a five-time FedEx Championship Series winner at The Milwaukee Mile, will be chasing his third career pole at Milwaukee when qualifying begins Saturday afternoon.
Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) made it another enjoyable day for Team Penske by taking third place on the speed chart, at 173.211 mph (21.449 seconds). Castroneves is the defending polesitter at Milwaukee, having earned his first career pole at an average speed of 169.404 mph (21.931 seconds), a speed topped by 17 drivers Friday.
Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Mercedes) of the PacWest Racing Group, coming off a runner-up finish at Nazareth, was fourth fastest Friday at 173.058 mph (21.468 seconds). FedEx Championship Series points leader and defending race champion Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green and Patrick Racing's Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) deadlocked for fifth on the speed chart at 172.096 mph (21.588 seconds).
Of 34 cars, including secondary cars, introduced to the track Friday, 27 were covered by less than a second.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I like coming here. I think for me, just as Nazareth, it's one of the most challenging small ovals. That's why I like coming here, because it's very tough. The first time I came here in '95, it was very bumpy. But then they resurfaced it in '96, and now I love it."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "The car feels really good. We had a really good test here the Sunday before Nazareth and it was good. The first session this morning, I thought, 'Whew, this feels pretty good,' so we didn't push it, we just made small changes this morning. The car is very good. There are two different setups -- qualifying and race. I think we've got good setups for both. We thought, 'Let's not push it this afternoon. It's going to be a little calmer tomorrow morning, so we'll work more on our qualifying setup then.' But it's pretty close now."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "It came off the truck pretty good, we did a test here way back and it was pretty good. We did exactly the same thing today and the car felt pretty good. This afternoon we worked on race setup and it was really tough, there was lots of traffic. We did 124 laps, trying to do a race simulation. We were on the same tires and we wanted to see what it would do for the race."
* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) will be seeking his ninth career FedEx Championship Series pole position when qualifying begins Saturday afternoon. He owns two career poles on ovals, at Japan last year and in this year's season opener at Homestead.
* Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) owns two career pole positions at Milwaukee (1986, '88), and has started outside the top 10 only three times in 15 career appearances at The Milwaukee Mile. His five victories at Milwaukee (1986, '87, '91, '92 and '96) are more than any active FedEx Championship Series driver has recorded at any venue.
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who earned his first career pole position at Milwaukee last year, also established a career-best FedEx Championship Series finish of second -- since matched at Gateway last year and Long Beach this year - in his debut at The Mile in 1998.
* Defending Miller Lite 225 champion Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard), fifth fastest Friday, is two-time pole-sitter at Milwaukee (1996, '97) and has started outside the top 10 only once in seven career appearances there. He also won at Milwaukee in 1995 and holds a 59-48 lead over Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) in the FedEx Championship Series points race entering the weekend.
* Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi and drivers Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) and Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) met with the media this afternoon to talk about their recent experiences at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Montoya has had a particularly busy week since winning the Indianapolis 500 last Sunday. "On Monday morning, I had to wake up at six o'clock in the morning, and Chip was already there [at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway]," Montoya said. "I had to do 'Good Morning America,' pictures, pictures, and more pictures, and then I got on a plane and went to New York and did interviews, interviews, and more interviews. Then, I got to throw the ball [Montoya threw out the first pitch at Tuesday night's New York Yankees game], and I didn't do a very good job. They told me to throw it high and hard, and that's what I did [Montoya threw the ball into the grandstands]. Everything was exciting for all two weeks of Indianapolis. I haven't been home, I've been staying in hotel rooms, but I've had fun. When you have fun, it doesn't matter."
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Miller Lite 225 will air 5:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on the CART Radio Network and on the official CART web site, at www.cart.com .