CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Team Kool Green Saturday qualifying report

FRANCHITTI REMAINS 3rd IN FINAL MEXICO CITY QUALIFYING MEXICO CITY - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti has been near the top of the charts all weekend and remained firmly planted there today, as he retained his third-place qualifying position...

FRANCHITTI REMAINS 3rd IN FINAL MEXICO CITY QUALIFYING

MEXICO CITY - Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti has been near the top of the charts all weekend and remained firmly planted there today, as he retained his third-place qualifying position for Sunday's Gran Premio Telmex Gigante. Franchitti seemed poised to make a run for the pole, but saw two potentially very fast laps nullified - the first due to a red flag from Tora Takagi's spin, the second when the Scot spun in fluids on the track (deposited by TKG teammate Paul Tracy's car) and slid into the wall. Fortunately, Franchitti's quick lap from yesterday held up and he will start third for tomorrow's CART season finale.

Tracy also appeared to be headed for a good qualifying run. After struggling all weekend with setup on his KOOL Honda-Lola-Bridgestone, the team hit on some changes that had PT optimistic about his chances to move up the grid. However, he too had to settle for his best lap from Friday (1:26.971 / 115.321 mph) after a mechanical problem cut his qualifying session short. Tracy will line up eighth.

Bruno Junqueira was the fastest qualifier for the second straight day to keep the pole, improving his time with a new quick lap of 1:25.941 / 116.703 mph. Like Franchitti (1:26.147 / 116.424 mph), Christian Fittipaldi's lap from Friday was good enough to maintain his grid position (1:26.027 / 116.587 mph) and he will start second. TKG technical partner Michael Andretti improved to 10th, with a lap of 1:27.053 / 115.213 mph.

CART FedEx Champ Car drivers have a 30-minute warm up Sunday morning at 10:30, with the Gran Premio Telmex Gigante scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. (all times local). SPEED Channel's live television coverage begins with a pre-race show at 3:30 p.m., followed by the live race broadcast at 4:00 p.m. (all times EDT).

Paul Tracy - #26 KOOL Honda-Lola-Bridgestone

"I had a good out lap and a good fast lap going when we had a problem. The good news is we've been struggling with the KOOL car all weekend and it looked like we'd finally made some improvements for qualifying. I didn't get much time on the track, but it felt better and I was looking for a good lap to try and move up some on the grid. I'm glad we were at least able to maintain eighth place. We'll just keep working on it in warm-up tomorrow and hopefully have a good car for the race."

<pre> Morning Session Position: 16th Speed: 113.024 mph Time: 1:28.739

Final Qualifying Position: 3rd Speed: 115.321 mph Time: 1:26.971 </pre> John Anderson, Team KOOL Green Race Consultant

"Paul felt he was capable of getting in the low 1:26's, which was great considering our trials with setup the past two days. We're finally getting on top of it but unfortunately we didn't have the chance to see the results today. We'll keep on it in warm-up tomorrow. If we give him the right car, I have no doubt PT can move it up in the race."

Dario Franchitti -- #27 KOOL Honda-Lola-Bridgestone

"Our objective today was to get the pole for Team KOOL Green, and we definitely had the car to do it. Twice I was on a really good lap - and lost them both. It's certainly not Paul's (Tracy) fault. I'm pretty disappointed with the officials, though. (Tora) Takagi spins in a pretty harmless place and they throw the red flag immediately, yet Paul left a massive slick of oil and other fluids on the track and they leave the track green. The car took a pretty big hit, and the guys are looking it over to see what we need to do." <pre> Morning Session Position: 8th Speed: 113.672 mph Time: 1:28.233

Final Qualifying Position: 3rd Speed: 116.424 mph Time: 1:26.147 </pre> Allen McDonald - Chief Engineer

"It's really a shame, because as far as Dario got on that last lap, he was two-tenths up so it looked to be a good one. We certainly would have liked the pole, but at least we're starting near the front. We made some changes yesterday, but with the wet weather and all we decided to go back to our original setup for today and obviously it was fairly good. We'll just have to get the car ready for tomorrow and go for it."

-TKG-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tora Takagi , John Anderson