Laguna Seca John Francis/MNI At the start of the first Saturday qualifying session the temperature had climbed to almost ninety degrees, some fifteen degrees warmer than the morning practice session. Patrick Carpentier set the early ...
Laguna Seca John Francis/MNI
At the start of the first Saturday qualifying session the temperature had climbed to almost ninety degrees, some fifteen degrees warmer than the morning practice session. Patrick Carpentier set the early pace, followed by Scott Pruett and Alex Zanardi, who was running in the first group as a result of being excluded from the Friday qualifying session.
Carpentier also logged the first spin of the session, but managed to keep the car going. Helio Castro-Neves was not so lucky, and lost power coming out of turn ten. He was able to coast down the hill to the pit lane, but left a trail of smoke behind him. He also left oil on the track, and Scott Pruett managed to spin in it. Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Paul Tracy had managed yet another spin - this time in turn seven. After a fairly long cleanup session the track goes green, but Denis Vitolo soon brings out the red flag again with a spin in turn two. Fortunately thatis the last red flag of the session, and the final ten minutes are run under the green. Alex Zanardi set a new fast lap, with Richie Hearn and Paul Tracy not far behind. Zanardi managed to improve his time slightly, while Scott Pruett and Andre Ribeiro moved up into positions two and three. Then Paul Tracy regained the third position just before the end of the session.
Fifteen minutes later the second group of cars took to the track in slightly cooler conditions. Greg Moore, Mauricio Gugelmin and Dario Franchitti set the early running, but soon Bryan Herta moved up into the number one position, even though both Moore and Gugelmin managed to improve their times slightly.
Dario Franchitti had an off-course excursion in turn two, but brought the car back on track. By this time he had moved up into second place in the session. A couple of minutes later he had a spin in the same corner, but again managed to keep the car running.
Greg Moore also had an incident, and pulled the car off-track at the entrance to the corkscrew with smoke coming from the rear of the car. With only a couple of mintes to go before the end of the session the safety workers just pulled the car off track until the checkered flag.
Bryan Herta is the first driver to capture back-to-back poles at Laguna Seca since Michael Andrettin in 1991-92. He will start the race alongside Dario Franchitti, with Jimmy Vasser and Greg Moore on row two. Alex Zanardi could manage no better than fifth place, alongside Adrian Fernandez.