CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Saturday qualifying track notes

At 1:15 p.m., the rains have stopped and the qualifying session looks like it will be run on at least a partially dry track as the support series have helped the effort. And, as predicted, the winds from the west have picked up considerably....

At 1:15 p.m., the rains have stopped and the qualifying session looks like it will be run on at least a partially dry track as the support series have helped the effort. And, as predicted, the winds from the west have picked up considerably. Today's qualifying session will be the split group format with the faster qualifiers from last month's Mexico race making up Group Two.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:45 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Most if not all Group One drivers are starting the session on rain tires as quite a few wet spots still remain on almost every turn. But the long front straight on Shoreline Drive is completely dry. Rain tires are considerably slower than dry tires but it's the only way you can get around the track with the moisture that is present on course. You can expect all drivers to hope to get the track dry enough to dash in and mount the slicks for the remainder of the session.

RED FLAG waves at 1:48 p.m. after #4 JUNQUEIRA makes contact at the outside wall exiting Turn 10 on his third lap. JUNQUEIRA will receive the standard eight-minute delay-of-session penalty to be served immediately on the display of the Green Flag.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:52 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying effort.

At 1:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest Group One driver is #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 98.448 mph (1:11.965), followed by 77 HERTA #(96.668 mph; 1:13.290) and #33 TAGLIANI (94.564 mph; 1:14.921).

RED FLAG waves at 2:02 p.m. after #20 MORENO slides into the tire barrier at the exit of Turn 10. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains damage to the front right side suspension and wing. MORENO will receive an eight-minute delay-of-session penalty to be served immediately on the display of the Green Flag.

At 2:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #16X JOURDAIN Jr. with a lap of 101.809 mph (1:09.589), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (101.213 mph; 1:09.999) and #32 CARPENTIER (100.820 mph; 1:10.272).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:06 p.m. to resume the session.

RED FLAG waves at 2:08 p.m. after #51 FERNANDEZ spins off of Turn 11 and stalls in the middle of the track. CART safety workers get the car re-fired and FERNANDEZ continues to his Pit. FERNANDEZ will receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session and that effectively ends the driver's qualifying effort. FERNANDEZ will also be assessed a carryover penalty to the next road/street event.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:11 p.m. to resume the session.

RED FLAG waves at 2:12 p.m. after #25 WILSON makes hard contact nose-first with the outside wall exiting Turn 8. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major damage to the front nose and suspension. WILSON will also receive the standard eight-minute delay-of-session penalty and the carryover penalty, effectively ending WILSON's qualifying effort today.

Also at 2:12 p.m., another rain shower crosses the racetrack, again wetting the track. Of course, slowing down the Group Two drivers would be the best thing going for current Group One leader, #16X JOURDAIN Jr. as the Mexican could win his first CART-career Pole.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:16 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session. As each group is guaranteed 20 minutes of Green Flag time as per CART qualifying rules, the Group One session will extend to 2:19 p.m.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:19 p.m. to end the Group One qualifying session with #16X JOURDAIN Jr. the fastest with his earlier lap of 101.809 mph (1:09.589), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (101.213 mph; 1:09.999) and #33 TAGLIANI (101.193 mph; 1:10.013). • GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. The track is considerably wetter that the one the Group One drivers qualified on.

At 2:36 p.m., #39 ANDRETTI is one of the first Group Two drivers to put on slicks (dry racing tires) to use in the remainder of the session.

At 2:40 p.m., the fastest Group Two driver is #8 BRACK with a lap of 90.824 mph (1:18.006; 14th-overall), followed by #26 TRACY (89.179 mph; 1:19.445; 15th overall) and #3X CASTRONEVES (89.162 mph; 1:19.460; 16th overall). The rain has again stopped and the track is quickly drying out, but the previous shower has cost the Group Two drivers at least five to six seconds in lap times.

At 2:49 p.m., #18 DIXON slides into the run-off at Turn 5 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is #8 BRACK with a lap of 99.863 mph (1:10.945; 10th-overall), followed by #26 TRACY (99.471 mph; 1:11.225; 11th-overall) and #6 da MATTA (99.308 mph; 1:11.342; 12th-overall).

At 2:51 p.m., #8 BRACK slides into the run-off at Turn 6 but continues to Pit Out and goes back on course.

At 2:52 p.m., #6 da MATTA logs the fastest Group Two lap so far (100.702 mph; 1:10.354 and jumps to 13th overall). The track is rapidly drying out and the slicks are performing better every lap. Only the wet track at Turns 9 through 11 is keeping the Group Two drivers from surpassing the fast lap set by #16X JOURDAIN Jr. in the Group One session.

At 2:53 p.m., #55 KANAAN slides into the run-off and continues on course through the Turn 5 shortcut, forfeiting the qualifying lap.

At 2:55 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two driver is still #6 da MATTA with his earlier lap of 100.702 mph (1:10.354; sixth overall), followed by #26 TRACY (100.275 mph; 1:10.654; seventh- overall) and #55 KANAAN (100.133 mph; 1:10.754; 11th -overall).

At 2:58 p.m., #8 BRACK knocks #16X JOURDAIN Jr. off the Pole with a lap of 102.111 (1:09.383) on his 14th lap of the session.

At 2:59 p.m., #1 de FERRAN ups the Pole speed with a lap of 102.169 mph (1:09.344) on his 18th lap of the session but is immediately replaced by #3X CASTRONEVES with a lap of 102.461 mph (1:09.146). Seconds later, #8 BRACK takes over the Pole with a speed of 102.461 mph (1:09.097).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. to officially end the Group Two session with all of the Group Two drivers headed to the Finish Line on their last lap. Seconds later, #3X CASTRONEVES crosses the Finish Line and retakes the Pole with a speed of 103.343 mph (1:08.556). #8 BRACK then crosses but cannot better CASTRONEVES' time. Seconds later, #55 KANAAN crosses and jumps to third overall with a lap of 102.347 mph (1:09.223). The Pole changed hands six times in the last two minutes. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 28 cars to the track in this afternoon's sessions with secondary cars utilized by #3 CASTRONEVES, #16X JOURDAIN Jr., #40X VASSER, #17X GUGELMIN, #25X WILSON, and #51 FERNANDEZ.

HELIO CASTRONEVES wins the Pole for Sunday's Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix in his Marlboro/Team Penske Honda Reynard by virtue of his 103.343 mph (1:08.556)-lap. This is CASTRONEVES fifth career Pole in the FedEx Championship Series season and the first of the 2001 season. This is also CASTRONEVES second Pole on a street course, his other coming at Toronto last year. This also represents Honda's fifth Pole in the last six races at Long Beach.

KENNY BRACK will line up second tomorrow after his 102.534 (1:09.097)-lap in his Shell/Team Rahal Ford Lola. BRACK will log his second consecutive front row start as he won the Pole at Mexico. This is also BRACK's career best start on a street course, his previous best being seventh last year at Detroit, Toronto, and Long Beach.

TONY KANAAN will start third tomorrow in his Hollywood Honda Reynard after posting a 102.348 mph (1:09.223)-lap. This is KANAAN's season-best start as the Brazilian started 12th at Mexico. This is also KANAAN's best start since a third in Chicago last year.

Quotes from the top three qualifiers follow:

Helio Castroneves: "This is special because we've been up and down all weekend looking for a good set up. This morning I woke up and I thought we had it all figured out but then I saw it was going to rain and I thought 'Oh my goodness, we'll have to start from zero again.' I still knew that the car had a good set up on the dry and it was also good on the wet. The last car on the track was going to be the fastest and I just tried to be the last one. The strategy was great by Marlboro Team Penske. We had no traffic and it worked out great for us."

Kenny Brack: "We were hoping that the first qualifying group would dry out the track and we were a little disappointed when we saw it starting to rain. It came down to who had the last lap and I think I braked a little too late on the last lap and that was it for us. Being on the front row for this race is exciting and it should be fun tomorrow."

Tony Kanaan: "It was tough out there. It was fun for you guys to watch. When I came into the pits I said we needed to put slicks on, Michael did that already. We still had a lot of push in the car and I was fighting that. We made a couple of changes to correct that and then the track started drying so quickly and I knew the last lap would be the quickest. Going into the race I know that I have a good car. Qualifying just came down to who got the right lap at the right time."

The #17 Nextel Toyota Reynard driven by Mauricio Gugelmin will be sporting decals on its engine cover for the upcoming Franchise Pictures film "DRIVEN," starring Sylvester Stallone and directed by Renny Harlin, thanks to an agreement made between PacWest Racing Group owner Bruce McCaw and Warner Brothers. The decal reads, "DRIVEN: Welcome To The Human Race." "DRIVEN" will premiere at Mann's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, April 16, and is scheduled to be released nationwide on Friday, April 27. Portions of "DRIVEN" were filmed at several venues on the 2000 FedEx Championship Series schedule.

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack , Bruce McCaw
Teams Team Penske