TORONTO (July 15, 2000) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske continued a torrid month of FedEx Championship Series success Saturday when he earned the pole for the Molson Indy (3 p.m. ET Sunday, one-hour tape-delay, ESPN) before a record...
TORONTO (July 15, 2000) - Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske continued a torrid month of FedEx Championship Series success Saturday when he earned the pole for the Molson Indy (3 p.m. ET Sunday, one-hour tape-delay, ESPN) before a record Saturday crowd of 52,535.
Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard), whose first career Champ Car victory came four weeks ago at Detroit, put together a lap of 110.455 miles per hour (57.666 seconds) on the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place. The pole position was the third of his career and his second in as many events, including one June 24 at Portland International Raceway.
Castroneves will also make his eighth top-10 start in 10 events this season, as well as his fourth top three in the past six outings.
Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) of PPI Motorsports will join Castroneves to form an all-Brazilian front row after qualifying second at 109.804 mph (57.539 seconds). Da Matta's outside pole-winning effort is a career best in his 29th start, topping fifth at Cleveland two weeks ago.
Starting third will be Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, who will make a season-best start, improving on fourth at Cleveland. With the effort, Andretti has now qualified among the top 10 drivers in all 14 career appearances at Toronto.
Rounding out the top five drivers were defending FedEx Championship Series and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fourth at 109.066 miles per hour (57.928 seconds); and defending race champion and provisional polesitter Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green, fifth at 109.044 mph (57.940 seconds).
FedEx Championship Series points leader Roberto Moreno (Visteon Reynard Ford) was 16th-fastest at 108.107 mph (58.442 seconds). He lost the final few minutes of his half-hour qualifying session after spinning in Turn 6 and being unable to get restarted.
Moreno holds a 90-68 lead over Andretti in the championship entering today's 10th of 20 rounds.
Twenty-three of the 25 qualifiers were separated by fewer than two seconds.
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I have to thank Marlboro Team Penske, what a fantastic job. I also have to thank Honda. Everybody's working very hard together. I'm really happy because, not only does it bring my car to the front, but also (teammate) Gil (de Ferran)'s car. Yesterday, I knew we had a good car. Today, basically it was just be patient. I was in the zone. I didn't have any traffic and everything went really well. I was very pleased with the way everything is going. I'm just very pleased."
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard: "I'm particularly happy, especially because yesterday we didn't start with what I would call a good setup. From the morning session to qualifying (today), we made just a couple of fine tunings. Everything just came in one piece and it was a good run. I'm happy to see the team and me progressing the way we are right now. I think we need to just keep working as we have been working since the beginning of the season and the good results and race wins are going to come."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "This morning wasn't bad. I didn't get a real clean lap but I was happy with the car. (In qualifying) I put a good lap in early but we made a change and I didn't get the optimum out of the second set of tires. I was blocked a couple of times. I don't know if we would have had enough for Helio, but we definitely had enough to be on the front row. I'm a little disappointed, but we're starting third and we're in decent shape for tomorrow. I love this race track, it seems to suit my style, and I love Toronto, it's a great city."
*With Saturday's pole position, Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) has now qualified among the top three drivers for four of his past six FedEx Championship Series starts, including third at Nazareth, third at Detroit and the pole at Portland. His other career pole came at Milwaukee last year.
*The pole was the fourth of the season for Honda, all of which have been recorded by either Castroneves or Marlboro Team Penske teammate Gil de Ferran (Homestead, Long Beach).
*Outside pole-sitter Cristiano da Matta (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard) has matched or eclipsed his then-career best star of sixth in three of the past four races, including sixth at Detroit and fifth at Cleveland.
*By qualifying third, Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) extended his string of top-10 qualifying efforts at Toronto to 14, including a pole in 1991. He has won the race five times (1989, '91, '92, '94 and '95).
*Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) has qualified fifth or better for all four of his career appearances at Toronto, including pole positions in 1997 and '98 and an outside pole last year, from which he drove to victory.
"CART 2Day" airs 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. The Molson Indy broadcast, tape-delayed by one-hour, airs 3 p.m. ET. The race will also air live on the CART Radio Network and on CART's official website, at www.cart.com .