MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2000) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske broke a three-year-old Laguna Seca Raceway qualifying record Friday while winning the provisional pole for the Shell 300, featured event of the Honda Grand Prix of ...
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2000) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske broke a three-year-old Laguna Seca Raceway qualifying record Friday while winning the provisional pole for the Shell 300, featured event of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey (3 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN).
Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), who posted the fastest speed of the CART Open Test at Laguna Seca two weeks ago, posted a lap of 118.969 miles per hour (1 minute, 7.722 seconds) to gain the provisional top starting position for Sunday's 16th of 20 rounds in FedEx Championship Series championship. A second round of qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET Saturday.
Castroneves broke the 1997 track qualifying standard of 118.666 miles per hour (1 minute, 7.895 seconds) established by two-time defending Shell 300 champion Bryan Herta. He will be chasing his third pole of the season during final qualifying Saturday.
Marlboro Team Penske ended up with a provisional front-row qualifying sweep when Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) qualified second at 118.792 mph (1:07.823). Like Castroneves, de Ferran is seeking his fourth pole of the season Saturday afternoon.
Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green qualified third at 118.225 mph (1:08.148). He has been the polesitter for the past two FedEx Championship Series events, at Road America and Vancouver.
Rounding out the top five provisional qualifiers were Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth at 117.542 mph (1:08.544); and Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, fifth at 117.400 mph (1:08.627).
FedEx Championship Series points leader Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) was ninth fastest at 117.074 mph (1:08.818). Herta (Forsythe Championship Racing Team Ford Reynard), the two-time defending event champion who has been tabbed to pilot the first entry of the season for the Forsythe Championship Racing Team, did not post a qualifying speed due to a fuel pickup problem.
The top 15 drivers were separated by fewer than two seconds on the 2.238-mile permanent road course.
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I'm very happy. I'm very proud of Marlboro Team Penske. They did a good job at the test here a couple weeks ago, and we came back and ran almost the same time today. I'm happy for today, but I know that today is one thing and tomorrow will be another. I know everybody is going to go quicker tomorrow, and we're going to have to go quicker tomorrow, too."
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "We had a good day apart from a small indiscretion this morning. I also went off this afternoon on my first set in Turn 6, and it was a pretty bumpy ride, so I came into the pits to make sure there were no problems. I got a good lap in early on my second set of tires, but I wasn't able to improve it. I'm just making a list of things I want to improve. Hopefully, I can keep it on the island tomorrow."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "I tested here a couple of weeks back, and I'm not sure I can say what the car was like in public. It was a pretty big nightmare. We couldn't get a handle on the car and I couldn't go quicker than about 15th. We went back and did a major rethink, and the car was much better straightaway this morning. I was surprised, I actually got a good lap in on my first set, and I couldn't improve on my second set. My goal for today was just not to crash. The last two years I crashed in the exact same spot in Turn 6. It's good to get a good lap in, but we've got some more work to do for tomorrow."
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) is seeking his third pole position of the season, following previous pole-winning efforts at Portland and Toronto.
* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) owns previous poles at Homestead, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio. He has qualified fifth or better for 12 of 15 starts during the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season.
* Marlboro Team Penske drivers have won two of the three poles contested at permanent road courses this season. Castroneves won the pole at Portland while de Ferran turned the trick at Mid-Ohio.
* Honda power will be looking for a sweep of 2000 season poles at permanent road courses Saturday, as Dario Franchitti's (KOOL Honda Reynard) pole at Road America makes Honda three-for-three at permanent road courses this season.
* Franchitti, who qualified third, is seeking his ninth top-five start in his past 11 appearances, including back-to-back poles at Road America and Vancouver.
* Player's Forsythe Racing Team driver Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) was examined at and released from the CART Mobile Medical Center following a single-car accident in Turn 4 during qualifying. According to Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs, Carpentier, who posted the third fastest speed in his qualifying group at 115.849 mph (1:09.546) has been cleared to drive for the remainder of the weekend. He was 14th-fastest overall.
Qualifying for the Shell 300 will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.