CHAMPCAR/CART: Honda Racing Fontana qualifying notes

Gil de Ferran claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Marlboro 500 in dramatic fashion, establishing a new world closed-course speed record of 241.428 mph in his Honda-Reynard and earning one more point in his quest for the CART FedEx...

Gil de Ferran claimed the pole position for Sunday’s Marlboro 500 in dramatic fashion, establishing a new world closed-course speed record of 241.428 mph in his Honda-Reynard and earning one more point in his quest for the CART FedEx Championship Series title.

The Marlboro Team Penske driver now has 154 championship points, six more than his closest rival, Adrian Fernandez, and 20 more than remaining title contenders Paul Tracy and Kenny Brack. With 20 points awarded for a win, the title race will be decided tomorrow over 500 miles here at California Speedway, the final event of the 2000 season.

Three other Honda-powered drivers also qualified in the top 10. Helio Castroneves lines up fourth in his Marlboro Team Penske machine, with the Team KOOL Green’s Dario Franchitti seventh. Teammate Tracy also kept his title hopes alive with a ninth place run. Tomorrow’s 250-lap contest will be televised live on ESPN, starting at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Gil de Ferran (#2 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Pole qualifier, his 5th pole of 2000 and 10th front row start in 20 races; series-leading 11th pole for Honda and the company’s 51st Champ Car pole since 1994:
“Obviously, I’m very, very pleased with both the pole and the record. But the most important thing is the (championship) point. Hopefully, we won’t need it tomorrow, but now it’s there if we do. Most of the credit goes to my team and Honda. The whole Marlboro Team Penske crew worked incredibly hard preparing for this event and it paid off today. And Honda brought us a fantastic engine today. To be honest, the lap was not that difficult! But one hour from now we will forget about today and start planning for the race tomorrow.”

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Qualified 4th:
“Of course, I would prefer to be on the pole, but the second row it still pretty good. Anything can happen tomorrow. Five hundred miles, three hours, seven or eight pit stops - it’s going to be a long day. I’m really looking forward to it. We have a good race setup and the car works very well in traffic. We just need to be patient and see how the race plays out.”

Dario Franchitti (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Qualified 7th:
“The first lap went pretty well, and I thought the second lap would be even quicker, but then we lost the fuel pressure coming out of turn four and I lost any advantage I had. It’s a shame, because the car was good. I’ll be trying as hard as anyone to win the race tomorrow. It’s always good to win, especially when there’s a million dollars at stake.”

Paul Tracy (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Qualified 9th:
“I’m not sure what happened. The gearing wasn’t right and the rpms were way down. That cost us a lot of speed. I thought we should have run at least what Dario did, or better, but it didn’t work out that way. For tomorrow, we’ve just gotta be ready to race all the way to the end. The car feels good, and has been good all weekend. We’re going to start from the top ten and we can win from there.”

Shinji Nakano (#5 Avex/Alpine/Walker Racing Honda) Qualified 24th:
“I was flat out all the way, from the time I left pit lane to the finish, and that was all the speed we had. Tomorrow will be a long race, but the car is OK in traffic, so we will see how the race develops.”

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack
Teams Team Penske