CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Lola qualifying report

Fernandez and Tracy comprise all-Lola rront row. Duo beat heat to top Miller Lite 250 CART qualifying On a sweltering Saturday afternoon bereft of cloud cover, Adrian Fernandez set the pace in qualifying for Sunday's Miller Lite 250 at the ...

Fernandez and Tracy comprise all-Lola rront row.

Duo beat heat to top Miller Lite 250 CART qualifying

On a sweltering Saturday afternoon bereft of cloud cover, Adrian Fernandez set the pace in qualifying for Sunday's Miller Lite 250 at the historic Milwaukee Mile. Driving his #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda, the Mexican turned the fastest lap of all 19 Champ Car entries at 22.176 seconds (167.532mph) in a field separated by .751 seconds. "I almost lost it on my first lap in turn two and that was the first time my car had tried to get away from me all race weekend," Fernandez explained. "I knew my second lap had to be good so I kept the momentum up in the third and fourth turns, nearly dancing at the exit of turn four. I couldn't be fast in all three practices and not take pole position today."

Paul Tracy's #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda takes second on the grid at 22.205 seconds (167.314mph). The Canadian thought "the car wasn't good when we started here, but it's getting better." Getting re-acquainted with his Lola/Honda after finishing second at the Indianapolis 500 was a challenge for Tracy and his team. "We're starting to gain momentum here" after a disappointing 2001 season.

Scott Dixon, making his first start in the #44 Team Target Lola/Toyota logged the fourth best lap of 22.357 seconds (166.176mph), pipping teammate #4 Bruno Junqueira's tour of 22.376 seconds (166.035mph) by just .033sec. Motegi winner Junqueira kept hitting the rev limiter on his run and was disappointed in his two-lap qualifying run, while Dixon noted, "the car was pretty solid out there today. I could have gone a little faster, but I wanted to be sure I kept it on the track," Ganassi's new hire said.

Shinji Nakano, teammate to Fernandez in a #52 Avex Alpine Lola/Honda starts sixth, validating Fernandez' belief that the two-year-old team is starting to come together well. Cristiano da Matta took seventh in the #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota, acknowledging "the car feels so much nicer than it did in Japan or even yesterday morning." Tony Kanaan, making his first start in a #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda is "still working to understand" his Lola chassis, yet set the eighth best lap in qualifying. Dario Franchitti, also marking his first race in a #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, starts ninth.

While temperatures ranged from 91 to 95 degrees ambient and 107-112 degrees on the track surface today, Sunday should be much different. At the 11:45am CDT start, overcast skies are expected and temperatures should top out at 60 degrees, a vast change. "With lower temperatures forecast for tomorrow's race, I think we'll all be able to get more grip and downforce out of our cars, and more power," Tracy declared. "Right now, [the 1.032-mile] track is very slippery."

-lola-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Shinji Nakano , Cristiano da Matta