>From CART Media Relations Target/Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Zanardi, pursuing his second PPG CART World Series record in as many races, earned the provisional pole position Friday for Sunday's Sunbelt IndyCarnival Australia on the ...
>From CART Media Relations
Target/Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Zanardi, pursuing his second PPG CART World Series record in as many races, earned the provisional pole position Friday for Sunday's Sunbelt IndyCarnival Australia on the Gold Coast.
Zanardi, the 1996 PPG CART World Series rookie of the year, toured the 2.795-mile temporary street circuit at Surfers Paradise at an average speed of 104.643 miles per hour in his Target Reynard Honda during the first of two qualifying sessions prior to Sunday's feature (ABC-TV, 1:30 p.m. ET, tape delay).
If Zanardi maintains the top spot during Saturday's final qualifying session, he will establish a PPG CART World Series mark with his sixth consecutive pole position, breaking a tie with Mario Andretti (1984) and Danny Sullivan (1988). Zanardi won the final four poles of the 1996 campaign, and added the fifth at the season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota on March 1.
Zanardi's pole at Miami marked his ninth consecutive front-row start, setting a PPG CART World Series record. He led the series with six pole positions in 1996, and could earn the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award if he retains the pole through Saturday's qualifying session.
"It was a very good lap," Zanardi said. "Nevertheless, I'm sure the circuit is going to get much better [Saturday]. I'm having some problems, but other people are having more. We'll just try to make it better tomorrow, which is what we always do. Last year, the circuit was two seconds faster the second day [of qualifying]. I would expect the same kind of improvement this year."
Second place on the provisional grid went to Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart/Budweiser Swift Ford), who averaged 103.478 mph on his quickest trip around the Surfers Paradise layout. If he maintains that spot , Fittipaldi would earn the best starting position of his three-year CART career.
"I am very happy," Fittipaldi said. "The car improved a little bit from this morning, and I ran some good laps out there. It honestly wouldn't bother me if it rained tomorrow. We pretty much have a good setup in the rain. If it rains, I'm confident we can do a good job."
Scott Pruett (Brahma Reynard Ford), who earned the provisional pole for the 1996 IndyCarnival Australia, qualified third at 102.999 mph.
"Last year, we were one of the quickest and trying to stay up there," Pruett said. "This year, we're third and trying to go quicker. As things are, it's good for today, but it's going to be even better tomorrow."
Pruett was followed by Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) at 102.997 mph and Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami winner Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) at 102.942 mph. A total of 28 drivers posted qualifying times for Sunday's second round of the PPG CART World Series, which takes the green flag at 2 p.m. Australia time.