CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston GP Friday summary

HOUSTON (September 29, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green continued his outstanding qualifying performances on the streets of downtown Houston Friday when he secured the provisional pole for the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston (4...

HOUSTON (September 29, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green continued his outstanding qualifying performances on the streets of downtown Houston Friday when he secured the provisional pole for the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston (4 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ABC-TV).

Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) put together a lap of 92.493 miles per hour (59.434 seconds) on the 1.527-mile temporary street circuit to earn the provisional top starting spot for Sunday's 18th of 20 rounds in the championship. A second round of qualifying is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET.

Franchitti will be chasing his third pole of the season, his third in the past five events, and the 11th of his career Saturday afternoon. He also will be seeking his third top-four start in as many appearances at Houston, exceeding a current best of second in 1998.

Franchitti's provisional pole continued Team KOOL Green's current run of excellence at Houston. Franchitti drove to victory in the inaugural Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix in 1998, and teammate Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) was dominant en route to victory last year.

Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing qualified second at 92.187 mph (59.631 seconds). He seeks his third front-row start of the season and second in a row, following an outside pole at Gateway.

Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) qualified a provisional third at 92.182 mph (59.634 seconds). He is chasing a season-best start, improving on his current best of second at Nazareth.

Franchitti and Fittipaldi will be looking for quick starts to Saturday's one-half hour qualifying session, as both will be required to sit out the final eight minutes due to penalties incurred for causing stoppages during Friday's session.

Rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal was fourth fastest at 92.158 mph (59.650 seconds), followed by Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, who was fifth at 92.138 mph (59.663 seconds).

The top 12 drivers were separated by less than one second.

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "Things weren't going very well this morning. We spent most of the morning in pit lane, but we pretty much knew what the car was going to do, it was going to have a little bit of understeer like everybody else. This afternoon, we went out and did a 59.4 [second lap] pretty much right off. On the second set of tires, the car was a little bit better, but I went off [course] and, lo and behold, there was a tire barrier there. I think the team has hit on a good setup for this place. My driving style and [teammate] Paul's [Tracy] driving style are quite a bit different, but we're both still able to go pretty quick here. But we need to push because everybody's getting quicker and closer."

JIMMY VASSER, Target Toyota Lola: "The farther up you qualify, the better it's going to be, but it's not impossible to come from the back on street courses. [Alex] Zanardi came from a lap down at Long Beach and he came from last place at Cleveland with no yellows. The planets just need to line up. Everybody's in different positions. I still consider myself in the points championship. Now, I might be in the position to be more aggressive than, say, [points leader] Gil de Ferran. I don't see why he would be too aggressive, but I can be more aggressive in the race."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola: "I had a very good morning. The car was pretty good, apart from a little push. This afternoon, at the beginning the car was up to what I expected. On the second set of tires, the car was a little worse than on the first set, but I was a little quicker along the back. Then, I was going down the back straight, and I just went off. I almost saved it, but I got into the tire wall, and that was the end, not only for me, but for everyone else as well. This is the toughest form of motor racing I've ever been in in my life. Even when I was in karting and there were 130 drivers and only 30 made it to the finals, it's still tougher here. We don't have 130 drivers, but there are 15 guys that can win any time. It's so much more difficult than any other series I've been in."

Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) is chasing his third pole position of the season and his third in the past five FedEx Championship Series events. The earlier poles came consecutively at Road America and Vancouver. He has also started among the top five drivers in 10 of the past 12 events, including outside poles at Milwaukee and Detroit and starts of third at Mid-Ohio and Laguna Seca, fourth Portland, Michigan and Gateway and fifth at Toronto.

Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) is seeking his third front-row start of the season and his second on a temporary street circuit. He qualified second at Long Beach.

Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) is chasing a season-best start on a road or street course, exceeding fifth at Mid-Ohio.

Qualifying for the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Kenny Brack , Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing