MONTEREY, Calif. (September 10, 1999) - Bryan Herta of Team Rahal continued his recent run of success at Laguna Seca Raceway on Friday by capturing the provisional pole position for the Shell 300, feature event of the Honda Grand Prix of...
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 10, 1999) - Bryan Herta of Team Rahal continued his recent run of success at Laguna Seca Raceway on Friday by capturing the provisional pole position for the Shell 300, feature event of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey (3 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ESPN). Herta (Shell Ford Reynard), who won this event from the pole last season for his first career FedEx Championship Series victory, recorded a lap of 117.903 miles per hour (1 minute, 8.334 seconds) to top 29 entries who posted provisional qualifying times on the 2.238-mile permanent road course. Herta will be in search of his seventh career pole position and third in a row at Laguna Seca when final qualifying gets under way at 3:45 p.m. ET Saturday. Herta's season-best qualifying performance to date is second at Mid-Ohio. He was followed in the provisional lineup by Tony Kanaan (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard), who was second at 117.210 mph (1:08.738). Kanaan will be seeking his second pole of the season Saturday, as well as his second in California, after winning his first career pole earlier this season at Long Beach. Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), who won his first career pole at Chicago three weeks ago, gave Team Rahal two of the top three spots by taking third at 116.911 mph (1:08.914). Greg Moore (Player's Forsythe Racing Team, Ltd. Mercedes Reynard) qualified fourth at 116.681 mph (1:09.050) and was followed by Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) at 116.573 mph (1:09.114). The two primary contenders for the FedEx Championship Series championship qualified outside the top 10. Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), second in the championship, was 12th at 116.022 mph (1:09.442) while Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard), the leader by a 23-point margin, was 16th at 115.900 mph (1:09.515). Montoya is attempting to tie FedEx Championship Series records for victories in a season (8) and consecutive victories (4) this weekend, following wins at Mid-Ohio, Chicago and Vancouver.. BRYAN HERTA, Shell Ford Reynard: "I don't have an explanation or a reason why things go so well for us here. They just do, and I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I see it as an opportunity, and I try to take as much advantage of it as possible. People tell you you're going to be quick, and you just hope that things will fall into place enough to make it happen. My driving style really clicks at a couple of different places and this is one of them." TONY KANAAN, McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard: "I really like this track. Every time I've been here since 1996, I've finished on the podium, so hopefully, we can keep that going this weekend. I was confident when we came here because we had the same car as we did at Mid-Ohio. We had a little bit of bad luck at Mid-Ohio, but the car was competitive. We've been a little bit inconsistent the whole year, but we made the right changes today. The car was very quick, but not quick enough to beat Bryan. The track, for sure, will be quicker tomorrow, so let's hang in there and see what's going to happen." MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Reynard: "The morning session was not really productive for anybody. We did some testing here so we came here with a good starting point. I think the car is okay. We have to make it a little better, but things are coming along pretty good. We're not quite where we want to be, but we're not so far [away]."
Bryan Herta (Shell Ford Reynard) will be seeking his third consecutive pole position at Laguna Seca Raceway during final qualifying Saturday. He holds the track record of 118.666 miles per hour (1:07.895), established while winning the pole position in 1997. Herta is the defending champion of the Shell 300 and also finished second at Laguna Seca in 1996. Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), who stands third on the provisional grid, is chasing a career-best start on a road or street course. His current best is fourth at Long Beach this season. Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) returned to the FedEx Championship Series following a four-race absence and qualified seventh at 116.440 mph (1:09.193). He has been out since Aug. 6 with a fractured radius bone in his right wrist sustained in a race practice crash at Detroit. "The wrist is a little sore and I am a little rusty as a driver, but other than that, everything is good," said Fernandez, who stands eighth in the championship. "I really missed racing. I think the excitement of coming back compensates for the soreness I am feeling. Every time I jump in the car, the wrist feels better. The more I run, the more I get into a rhythm. The biggest thing is, I have to drive the car very smooth, because if I lose it, it is hard to be quick enough with my wrist to catch the car." Although they qualified 16th and 12th, respectively, on the provisional grid, FedEx Championship Series leader Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) and second-place Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) are likely to improve their positions during final qualifying. Franchitti completed only five qualifying laps before contact with the Turn 7 wall ended his session due to the eight-minute penalty for causing a red flag. Montoya spun in Turn 6 on his sixth qualifying lap, causing damage to his front wing that ended his session. In a combined 32 FedEx Championship Series starts this season, Montoya and Franchitti have qualified outside the top 10 on only three occasions.
Qualifying for the Shell 300, featured event of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey, will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.