FRANCHITTI WINS HIS 8TH CAREER POLE TRACY STANDS ON TIME TO START FOURTH CART FedEx Championship Series - QUALIFYING Round 19 of 20 - Honda Indy 300 SURFERS PARADISE, Australia, (Oct. 16, 1999) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti tightened...
FRANCHITTI WINS HIS 8TH CAREER POLE TRACY STANDS ON TIME TO START FOURTH
CART FedEx Championship Series - QUALIFYING Round 19 of 20 - Honda Indy 300
SURFERS PARADISE, Australia, (Oct. 16, 1999) - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti tightened the gap in the championship race by claiming his eighth career pole position for the start of tomorrow's Honda Indy 300 at 2:00 p.m. local time. Franchitti also earned a single point for the pole and now trails Juan Montoya by just 12 points, as the Colombian rookie hangs on to a 200-188 advantage.
Franchitti smashed his own qualifying record by 0.585 seconds set in winning the pole at Surfers Paradise last year. Franchitti pushed his KOOL Honda-Reynard to the limit, clocking a time of 1:31.703 seconds for an average speed of 109.724 mph. Nobody on track today could challenge Franchitti, as Bryan Herta was next on the time sheet, 0.892 seconds behind.
Paul Tracy, who earned the provisional pole yesterday, may have been the only driver capable of challenging Franchitti if not for an accident in morning practice. The damage to the car could not be repaired in time for afternoon qualifying. Tracy waited in his spare car prepared to go out should he have fallen beyond the top-10 on the grid. His lap of 1:32.700 seconds (108.544 mph) from yesterday was good enough for fourth, standing up to the assault until the final four minutes. Herta was first to beat Tracy until Franchitti's flying lap, while Scott Pruett also slipped ahead of Tracy for third in the closing minutes. Pruett's time was 1:32.616 seconds (108.642 mph).
Row three holds Michael Andretti and Juan Montoya, two of Team KOOL Green's biggest rivals this season. Andretti lapped the 2.795-mile circuit in 1:32.899 seconds (108.311 mph), while Montoya posted a time of 1:33.018 seconds (108.173 mph). While Montoya is trying to fend off Franchitti, Andretti is trying to chase down Tracy in the standings. Tracy is third overall with 155 points, whereas Andretti has 141.
Only two races remain on the calendar with the season-finale at California Speedway two weeks from now and tomorrow's 65-lap race. The Honda Indy 300 will be broadcast live on ESPN very early Sunday morning at 12 a.m. EDT. (Surfers Paradise is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time)
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (1st with a lap-time of 1:31.703 seconds / 109.724 mph)
"When I came in to get my second set of tires I didn't think there was much more in the car, but my engineer Don [Halliday] found it. I went out there and stood on it. There was not much else there. I was trying to keep control at certain points and at other points just really going for it. The guys at Team KOOL Green did a great job. We haven't had too many poles this year, so we'll take this one.
"We struggled a bit all weekend, but my engineers and I worked really hard last night to get the car right. I just had to grit my teeth and get on with it really, which is what I tried to do. The race package is looking really good, probably better than our setup for qualifying. Sixty-five laps around here will be hard work, but we have the car and team to do it."
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (4th with a lap-time of 1:32.700 seconds / 108.544 mph)
"It was a bit nerve-racking having to sit, but you must start the race on your qualifying set. We now have four brand new sets of Firestone tires to use for the race. I don't think anyone else in the paddock has that, so we have a big advantage on tires. Starting fourth is good and I'm pretty happy. It could have been a lot worse. This is the KOOL car that I won with in Houston. Somebody on the team told me that, so I think we'll stay with this one for good luck."
BARRY GREEN, OWNER OF TEAM KOOL GREEN:
"That's step one and now it's an even 12 points between Juan [Montoya] and Dario. It was a brilliant job on Dario's part, as well as for Paul and everybody on Team KOOL Green. It was really hard on Paul to sit out. He wants to be out there for every minute, but it was the right decision to stand on yesterday's time. We have Dario on the pole, Paul fourth and we have Montoya behind us. I said to Dario 'that's a Dario Franchitti kind of lap'."