MADISON, Ill. (September 16, 2000) - Juan Montoya earned his second consecutive pole position at Gateway International Raceway and his FedEx Championship Series-high sixth of the season Saturday, leading a Target Chip Ganassi front-row sweep for...
MADISON, Ill. (September 16, 2000) - Juan Montoya earned his second consecutive pole position at Gateway International Raceway and his FedEx Championship Series-high sixth of the season Saturday, leading a Target Chip Ganassi front-row sweep for the Motorola 300 at Gateway International Raceway (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN2).
Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) completed a sweep of short-oval pole positions during the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season with a lap of 180.334 miles per hour (25.353 seconds) on the 1.27-mile oval located outside St. Louis. His earlier short-oval poles came at Nazareth, Milwaukee and Chicago, and he also owns poles at Japan and Detroit during the current campaign.
Montoya's effort keyed a Target Chip Ganassi Racing sweep of the front row, as Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) qualified on the outside pole at 180.227mph (25.368 seconds). Although Target Ganassi has won an unprecedented four consecutive FedEx Championship Series championships, it marked the team's first front-row qualifying sweep since 1996 at Mid-Ohio, when two-time series champion Alex Zanardi won the pole and Vasser qualified second.
Montoya will be chasing his third victory of the season, following earlier triumphs at Milwaukee and Michigan. He earned a point for the pole, giving him 86 heading into Sunday's 17th of 20 rounds in the championship.
Vasser's outside pole matched a season-best start at Long Beach. It is his best start on an oval since winning the pole at Michigan last year.
Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green qualified third at 179.294 mph (25.500 seconds). He has started among the top-three drivers for two of the past three events, including an outside pole at Vancouver, and two of his past three oval starts, including a pole at Michigan.
Team KOOL Green swept the second row, as Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) will start alongside Tracy after qualifying fourth at 179.196 mph (25.514 seconds). It marks his fifth consecutive top-four start, including poles at Road America and Vancouver, and sixth in the past seven events.
Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing qualified fifth at 179.182 mph (25.516 seconds). It is his best start since qualifying third at Milwaukee.
The two frontrunners for the FedEx Championship Series championship struggled, as leader Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske qualified 13th at 177.099 mph (25.816 seconds) and second-place Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) qualified 15th at 176.307 mph (25.932 seconds). De Ferran holds a 132-126 points lead over Andretti entering Sunday's event.
The top 20 qualifiers were separated by under one second.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Toyota Lola: "The car had a lot of understeer this morning. We did some changes before qualifying, and the car was a lot better this afternoon. It still had a little bit of understeer, but it is a lot better. I left a little bit out there, I had to lift quite a bit in Turn 3. But I was still able to put in a good speed and get the pole, so it's good. You just go out and drive. You never expect to break down again."
JIMMY VASSER, Target Toyota Lola: "We really didn't get a chance to throw a couple sets of tires at it this morning, because I had an electronic problem or something. I knew the car was a little twitchy at the back, but we made some small changes and the back of the car was much better this afternoon. I think the conditions were about the same as this morning. Some of the other guys must have thought the conditions were going to change more than they did."
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "It's a good showing for me and [teammate] Dario [Franchitti]. I struggled this morning. The car was well-balanced, but I just couldn't get a good lap. But we got a good one in qualifying. Some of the other contenders [for the championship] are pretty far back. As long as we get a good start, we should be in good shape. You can always count the points you didn't get, but the key is to get points and not get frustrated. If frustration gets into the team, that can be bad. Our team isn't like that. We just think we should always give 100 percent, and if we don't get it, we gave 100 percent and that's all we can do."
* Juan Montoya's (Target Toyota Lola) pole position was the 13th of his two-year FedEx Championship Series career, tying him with Paul Tracy for eighth place on the CART career list. It was also his sixth of the season, tying him for 10th-place on the CART single-season list with Rick Mears (1981), Teo Fabi (1983), (Bobby Rahal 1985), Jacques Villeneuve (1995) and Alex Zanardi (1996).
* Montoya's pole was his fifth in eight oval events this season. His earlier poles came at Japan, Nazareth, Milwaukee and Chicago.
* Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola)'s outside pole position matched a career best at Gateway International Raceway, established in 1998, when the starting grid was based on practice times due to a rainout of qualifying. He owns two top-five starts in three qualifying appearances at Gateway, including fourth in 1998 and fifth in 1997.
* Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) has qualified among the top seven drivers for five of his past seven starts, beginning with a pole at Michigan. He also qualified on the outside pole at Vancouver and seventh at Chicago and Road America.
* Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) qualified fourth, the 10th time in his past 12 starts that he has qualified among the top five drivers. Included are pole positions at Road America and Vancouver.
* Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Mercedes) and Luiz Garcia Jr. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard) were both moved to the back of the starting grid after failing post-qualifying technical inspection. Gugelmin was under weight and Garcia's car failed to meet the required two inches of clearance between the ground and the chassis reference plain. Gugelmin will start 24th and Garcia 25th.
* Voting for the WorldCom Most Popular Driver Award concludes on Monday, September 18. Over 15,000 votes have been cast by fans voting at the track, on the Internet (via cart.com or worldcomracing.com) and through various racing publications. One lucky fan will win a trip for two to the FedEx Championship Series season finale at California Speedway, and will present the award to the winning driver as part of the FedEx Championship Series Awards banquet on Monday, October 30th. The top five vote-getters to date, in alphabetical order are: Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing, Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green and Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing..
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Motorola 300 will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" will air 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with the live race broadcast scheduled to begin 2:30 p.m. ET, also on ESPN2.