David Reininger - motorsport.com Long Beach, Calif. (April 15, 2000) - Gil de Ferran won the pole position for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach driving the Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Reynard. De Ferran was two-tenths of a...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Long Beach, Calif. (April 15, 2000) - Gil de Ferran won the pole position for Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach driving the Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Reynard. De Ferran was two-tenths of a second faster than outside pole sitter Jimmy Vasser.
"We thought we did our homework and everything, but it's really nice to get it confirmed," said de Ferran. "I love this type of qualifying because it's so nerve racking. All I had to do was calm myself down, concentrate hard and try to squeeze every ounce out of the car that I had."
Many of the top drivers admitted to brushing the wall on their fast laps. "I really tried hard to put a lap in, I touched the wall a couple of times on my fast lap and that slowed me down a little bit, but the car is really good."
Target Chip Ganassi teammates, Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya will start second and third respectively. Vasser's second place starting position marks the fourth straight time that Toyota powered cars have started on the front row.
Adrian Fernandez, who captured the provisional pole in Friday's qualifying, was fourth fastest today. "Basically the Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Cosworth was better today than yesterday, but for some reason we just couldn't get the most out of the car," said Fernandez. "However, even if I had put together a perfect lap I don't think we would have been more than two or three tenths of a second quicker and that would not have put the team on the pole."
"I think we have good car for the race tomorrow. We will just have to go out and try our best."
Brian Herta, subbing for Shinji Nakano, who was injured while testing at Milwaukee, qualified fifth.
Qualifying sixth and seventh were Team Rahal teammates Max Papis and Kenny Brack. Papis, driving the Miller Lite car was a bit disappointed with his efforts after setting third fastest time in Friday's qualifying. "It wasn't quite as good as we would have liked," Papis said. "But you always want to start up front here at Long Beach. I still think we have a good race car. This field is very tight and you have to be good on long runs. Fuel could also be a factor. With the new section of track, you are on the throttle harder in more places. So pit strategy could come into play on Sunday."
After struggling through Friday's qualifying session, running only 3 laps in the back up car, Kenny Brack managed to set the seventh fastest time today. "I feel this is a little more representative of my road racing experience. Friday was a tough day with the fuel pressure problem and jumping into the backup car at the last minute. It feels good to be back road racing again. In Europe, you read about the Long Beach race. Now I'm in it and ready to go."
Team Kool Green teammates continued to struggle today. Dario Franchitti had to rest on his time from Friday after making contact with the wall early in today's qualifying session.
"I'm disappointed," said Franchitti. "The guys worked hard to get the engine back in the Kool car. I made a mistake. I went out there and was trying a bit too hard on my first lap. I turned in at turn five where the car had understeer before and it didn't understeer this time. I was surprised that it gripped as hard as it did. I caught the wall, so it's my mistake."
Franchitti will start 19th tomorrow.
Paul Tracy managed to improve his time from Friday but still qualified a dismal 17th. "We've been round and round trying to find the right setup on the Kool car, but we can't get a handle on it. Now we'll have to pull some hero stuff from the back of the grid. We just need to finish the race and see if we can pick up some points."
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes the green flag at 1:00 p.m. local time. Same day television coverage of the race starts at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.