Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran captured the pole position and set a new track record during final qualifying Saturday for the season-ending Marlboro 500. With his pole-winning run, de Ferran earned one valuable point and is now six...
Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran captured the pole position and set a new track record during final qualifying Saturday for the season-ending Marlboro 500. With his pole-winning run, de Ferran earned one valuable point and is now six markers ahead of Adrian Fernandez in a tight drivers' championship derby, with 21 points to be awarded following Sunday's 250-lap contest. De Ferran's hot lap of 30.255 seconds (241.428 mph) on the 2.029-mile superspeedway oval eclipsed the 240.942-mph mark set by Mercedes-Benz driver Mauricio Gugelmin in 1997. Tony Kanaan led the Mercedes-Benz contingent with a lap in 31.101 seconds (234.861 mph), and will start from 12th position. The Brazilian pilot earned his first Champ Car victory in a 500-mile superspeedway race at Michigan Speedway last year. "We got the most out of our car today," said Kanaan. "It's been a clean weekend so far -- the engine is running well and the car is very good. It's a long race. I've won from a lap down before, so I believe I can win tomorrow. If I didn't think that, I wouldn't get in the car. I don't want to just participate -- I want to win."
Motorola PacWest Mercedes driver Mark Blundell, who won this race in 1997 to notch his third Champ Car triumph, lapped the oval in 31.642 seconds (230.845 mph) and will line up in 21st position on the grid. Gugelmin, who was in the top 12 in the morning practice, switched to his backup Nextel PacWest Mercedes for final qualifying due to a loss of power in his primary machine. He posted a time of 31.708 seconds (230.365 mph) and will start 22nd. Michel Jourdain Jr. starts 23rd (32.042 seconds/227.963 mph), and Luiz Garcia Jr. starts 26th (32.849 seconds/222.363 mph).
The winner of the Marlboro 500 claims a $1 million prize, while the FedEx Championship Series champion also takes home $1 million. The green flag for the Marlboro 500 waves at 11:30 a.m. PT Sunday (live, ESPN).