CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Saturday Qualifying Report

Moore Quickest In Texas Shootout Houston, TX (October 3, 1998) - Greg Moore of Player's Forsythe Racing tied Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green for the FedEx Championship Series lead in pole positions Saturday when he earned his fourth of the...

Moore Quickest In Texas Shootout

Houston, TX (October 3, 1998) - Greg Moore of Player's Forsythe Racing tied Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green for the FedEx Championship Series lead in pole positions Saturday when he earned his fourth of the season at the inaugural Texaco Grand Prix of Houston.

Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) averaged 92.377 miles per hour (59.508 seconds) to earn the right to lead 28 drivers to the green flag in Sunday's 100-lap, 152.7-mile 17th round of the 19-race FedEx Championship Series (4 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV).

The pole was the second of his four that has come on a temporary street course, the other coming at Detroit. His other poles came at the ovals in Homestead and St. Louis. Moore earned the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award, with the opportunity to collect an additional $15,000 Sunday for becoming the third successive FedEx Championship Series driver to win from the pole, following Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) at Vancouver and Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford) at Laguna Seca, respectively.

Moore will be chasing his third victory of the season Sunday, following victories at Rio de Janeiro in May and Michigan in July. He enters Sunday's race ranked fourth in the PPG Cup points race with 118.

Franchitti starts on the outside pole after qualifying at 92.281 mph (59.570 seconds). He makes his seventh front-row start in the past nine events, dating to an outside pole at Portland. Franchitti will be seeking his third victory in the past four races, following back-to-back triumphs at Road America and Vancouver, respectively.

Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) qualified third at 92.050 mph (59.720 seconds) to earn his eighth top-three start of the season and fourth in the last six events. He enters Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston with 136 points, second to Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda), who has already clinched his second consecutive FedEx Championship Series championship with 234 points.

Rounding out the top five were Paul Tracy (KOOL Reynard Honda), fourth at 92.026 mph (59.735 seconds) and Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Swift Ford), fifth at 91.983 mph (59.763 seconds). Tracy makes his best start of the season, exceeding fifth at Cleveland, while Fittipaldi matches his best road-course start of the season, established at Toronto.

Provisional pole-sitter Bobby Rahal (Miller Lite Reynard Ford) qualified ninth at 91.329 mph (1:00.191) while Zanardi was eighth at 91.641mph (59.986 seconds).

The top 15 drivers were separated by less than a second, while 26 of the 28 qualifiers were covered by less than two seconds.

POST QUALIFYING QUOTES:

GREG MOORE, Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes: "It was one of those laps when you were pushing for every last little inch of track that you could get. I felt like I hit every corner almost perfectly. I maybe could have gotten another 10th [of a second] out of the car, but I don't know. Starting up front will be good here in Houston, and I'm hoping we can take advantage of it tomorrow. Obviously [the race] is going to be tough and long, but like Jimmy [Vasser] said, it might be possible to do it in one stop. Because I had my eight-minute penalty [incurred during Friday's provisional qualifying session], I had to sit and watch guys get closer and closer and closer to what I'd done. I saw Dario [Franchitti] do a 59.5 [seconds] and I thought 'Oh no, he's gonna do it,' but when he came around again, it was another 59.5 and I could breathe a little easier."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "We didn't make a enough gains [from Friday to Saturday]. Greg got us just by a little bit. This morning was a short session for us. I locked up the wheels after my fast lap and damaged the car a little bit, and the guys did a good job to get it repaired. We were just chasing it the whole session, just attacking it for one lap, and we couldn't manage to do it."

JIMMY VASSER, Target Reynard Honda: "We were actually happy with the car off the transporter on Friday, but we had some problems getting a good clean lap with the red flags and the traffic in qualifying yesterday, and again [in practice] this morning. We had trouble finding a rhythm. We unloaded with a good car and we felt we had a good plan for the weekend, but you've got to put it all together. A track of this length makes it very difficult to get an open lap. I think there's a possibility of running [the race] on one stop, depending on the amount of yellows and the fuel mileage. It will be interesting strategically. I think the circuit is very fun to drive. They did a fantastic job with the layout."

NOTES FROM AROUND THE TRACK

CART team owner Derrick Walker announced Saturday that Walker Racing will campaign a second car in the 1999 FedEx Championship Series, to be driven by Japanese driver Naoki Hattori. Hattori will join incumbent driver Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda), who will return for a third season with Walker Racing next year. Hattori, 32, has spent two seasons driving for Team KOOL Green in the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship and currently ranks ninth in this season's standings. Hattori's car will be Honda-powered but other details, including the car's sponsorship, will be announced at a later date. "I'm pleased to have Naoki join Walker Racing and move up to the FedEx Championship Series," Walker said. "It has been my goal to expand our team and run a second car. That offers us the possibility of a variety of benefits, including additional testing opportunities and technical development, which is very important in such a competitive series." While Walker was making Saturday's announcement, Hattori was in his native Japan, driving a Honda-powered Champ Car in an exhibition at Twin Ring Motegi as part of Honda's 50th anniversary celebration.

Greg Moore's (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) fourth pole position of the season was also the fourth of his career, and his sixth front-row qualifying effort of the season. In addition to pole positions at Homestead, St. Louis and Detroit, he also qualified on the outside pole at Nazareth and Milwaukee.

Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) qualified on the outside pole to earn his seventh front-row start in the last nine events. Included in the span are pole positions at Toronto, Mid-Ohio and Vancouver as well as outside poles at Portland, Cleveland and Laguna Seca. Franchitti earlier won a pole at Rio de Janeiro giving him the series lead with four poles this season prior, a total matched by Moore Saturday.

Jimmy Vasser's (Target Reynard Honda) eighth top-three start of the season includes poles at Japan and Cleveland, outside poles at St. Louis, Michigan and Mid-Ohio and third-place efforts at Homestead and Laguna Seca.

Honda, which owns a 43-point lead over Ford Cosworth in the CART Manufacturer's Championship, could clinch its second Manufacturer's title Sunday by leaving Houston with a 44-point advantage. Honda won its initial manufacturer's crown in 1996 behind the performance of PPG Cup winner Vasser. Honda, which entered CART competition in 1994, has won 10 FedEx Championship Series races this season, topped by series champion Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) who has a series-high six victories. Points for the Manufacturer's Championship are awarded according to the same scale used to determine the PPG Cup winner (20-16-14-12-10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1), with only the highest-placing driver in each event scoring for his manufacturer. Single points are awarded for the pole position and most laps led.

By finishing 12th or better or leading the most laps in Sunday's Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, Zanardi will establish a new FedEx Championship Series record for points scored through 17 events. Zanardi enters Sunday's 17th round of the championship with 234 points, tying him with Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford), who scored the same number en route to the 1991 title. Zanardi qualified eighth Saturday at 91.641 miles per hour (59.986 seconds).

WHAT'S ON NEXT:

CART 2Day airs 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, one-half hour prior to ABC-TV's live race broadcast.

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Naoki Hattori , Chip Ganassi , Greg Moore
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing