CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston: Team KOOL Green Qualifying Notes Round 18

PAUL TRACY AND DARIO FRANCHITTI STARTING FROM ROW TWO CART FedEx Championship Series - Final Qualifying Round 18 of 20 - Texaco/Havoline GP of Houston HOUSTON, Tex., (Sept. 25, 1999) - Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti will...

PAUL TRACY AND DARIO FRANCHITTI STARTING FROM ROW TWO

CART FedEx Championship Series - Final Qualifying Round 18 of 20 - Texaco/Havoline GP of Houston

HOUSTON, Tex., (Sept. 25, 1999) - Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti will share the second row for tomorrow's 100-lap Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Sunday's race will be broadcast live on ABC at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Points leader Juan Montoya earned another point towards the championship by smashing the track qualifying record to win his seventh pole of the season. Montoya now leads Franchitti by 29 points, 200 to 171. The Columbian rookie covered the 1.527-mile street circuit in 58.699 seconds, averaging 93.651 mph. He beat Greg Moore's pole time from last year by .809 seconds and was .387 seconds quicker than his nearest competitor Bryan Herta.

Herta, who won from the pole at Laguna Seca two weeks ago, will line-up beside Montoya with a qualifying time of 59.086 seconds (93.037 mph). Tracy was not far behind Herta, powering his way over the bumpy streets in 59.106 seconds (93.006 mph). Only .073 seconds separate Tracy and his teammate Franchitti, whose best lap was 59.179 seconds (92.891 mph).

Last year, Franchitti started second and led all 70 laps to win the inaugural CART FedEx Championship Series event in Houston.

PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (3rd with a lap-time of 59.106 seconds / 93.006 mph)

"I'm pretty happy really. I felt that we could have done a little bit better, but to be third is plenty good. It's a little better than last year 's qualifying [Started 4th], so I'm pretty satisfied. The KOOL car is pretty good. We did a real long run this morning on old tires and the car was holding up. So I think for the race that we're in better shape than other guys because we saved a set of tires from yesterday's qualifying. "This is a physical track. There's not a lot of straightaways to rest, so it's one of those tracks where you're hard on it all the time. It's going to be a long, physical race if it's hot like this."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE: (4th with a lap-time of 59.179 seconds / 92.891 mph)

"Not good. On my best lap I got blocked when the tires were at their best. After that, I was pushing the KOOL car really hard. I just don't think we had the car today. Even if we had the setup just right, it wouldn't have mattered because I got blocked on my fastest lap.

WHAT DON HALLIDAY, FRANCHITTI'S RACE ENGINEER HAD TO SAY:

"We found one basic thing that was wrong with the car in the morning session, even though he was fourth fastest. So we had a little bit of adjusting to do for this qualifying session. With a bit of a damp track early on, the session was really tough. The last set of tires came up a little strong on pressure and he still hung in there."

KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship - FINAL QUALIFYING

Team KOOL Green's Alex Gurney moved up one position in today's final qualifying and will start seventh for tomorrow's 45-lap KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship race. Gurney improved upon his time from yesterday by 0.546 seconds, lapping the 1.527-mile street circuit in 68.740 seconds (79.970 mph). Gurney was fourth in today's session and bettered Nicolas Rondet's time from provisional qualifying to move from eighth to seventh on the grid.

Buddy Rice's provisional time of 67.968 seconds (80.723 mph) was good enough to keep the pole for the start of tomorrow's race at 12:30 p.m. Central Time. Light rain towards the end of the session prevented any serious challenge for the pole. As a result, Anthony Lazzaro will share the front row based on his quick lap yesterday of 68.099 seconds (80.723 mph). Andrew Bordin will start third.

ALEX GURNEY, #27 Team KOOL Green Toyota/Swift: (7th with a lap-time of 68.740. seconds / 79.970 mph)

"It was one of my best sessions ever for Team KOOL Green. It's nice to cap off the season with a good qualifying session. We stumbled across something that we found with the setup yesterday that I liked a lot. We went more in that direction today and the car felt really good. Our straight-line speed may not be optimal, but overall balance is strong. I got to follow [Buddy] Rice for a while and I think we're okay for tomorrow.

"It's probably an advantage to start on the inside here. Picking up that position on [Nicolas] Rondet was a big gain. Coming into that first corner, if you're on the outside. you might end up being in trouble."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Gurney , Paul Tracy , Bryan Herta , Anthony Lazzaro , Buddy Rice , Andrew Bordin , Greg Moore