CHAMPCAR/CART: Molson Toronto Indy Saturday track notes

Molson Indy Toronto Saturday track notes Good Morning from beautiful downtown Toronto, Ontario, for the final day of Qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy! DARIO FRANCHITTI sits on the Provisional Pole after his stellar effort in Friday's ...

Molson Indy Toronto Saturday track notes Good Morning from beautiful downtown Toronto, Ontario, for the final day of Qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy! DARIO FRANCHITTI sits on the Provisional Pole after his stellar effort in Friday's weather-punctuated qualifying sessions. Today's CART on-track activities kick off with a 75-minute morning practice session taking the Green Flag at 10 a.m. followed by the final rounds of qualifying at 1:45 p.m.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10 a.m. to start the morning session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 91 degrees F. (33 degrees C.) and 75 degrees F. (24 degrees C.) at the start of the session.

RED FLAG waves at 10:04 a.m. after #3 CASTRONEVES stalls at Pit In with an electrical problem. CART Pit Road Stewards push the car to the crew.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:09 a.m. to resume the session.

At 10:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #20 MORENO with a lap of 102.840 mph (1:01.435), followed by #7 PAPIS (101.654 mph; 1:02.152) and #12 VASSER (100.831 mph; 1:02.659).

At 10:12 a.m., #2 DE FERRAN slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #11 FITTIPALDI with the fastest lap of the session and the weekend (107.449 mph; 58.800 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (106.462 mph; 59.345 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (106.441 mph; 59.357 seconds).

At 10:24 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:25 p.m., #96 SERVIA enters the run-off at Turn 8 but continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. after CART course observers unfortunately report that a bird was struck by a car at speed. CART safety workers quickly clean the track.

At 10:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is still #11 FITTIPALDI with his earlier lap of 107.449 mph (58.800 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA with a slightly faster lap of 106.949 mph (59.076 seconds) and #3X CASTRONEVES (106.441 mph; 59.357 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:32 a.m. to resume the session.

At 10:37 a.m. #18 BLUNDELL brushes the wall at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage.

RED FLAG waves at 10:39 a.m. after #25 GARCIA JR. stalls at the exit of Turn 2. CART Race Control had just called for a Black Flag to be displayed for GARCIA JR. after CART course observers called in multiple reports of smoke trailing from the rear of the car. CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow GARCIA JR. back to the pits.

At 10:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session and under the Red Flag, the fastest driver is still #11 FITTIPALDI with his earlier lap of 107.449 mph (58.800 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (106.949 mph; 59.076 seconds) and #18 BLUNDELL (106.837 mph; 59.137 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:42 a.m. to resume the session.

At 10:45 a.m., CART course observers report smoke trailing from #97 DA MATTA. DA MATTA subsequently pits the car, but no problem is reported by the crew.

At 10:49 a.m., #96 SERVIA slide into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 10:50 a.m., the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 10:40 a.m. report.

At 10:56 a.m., #18 BLUNDELL slows on course and completes a full lap very slowly before pitting his car.

At 10:57 a.m., #11 FITTIPALDI spins at Turn 3 and stops in the middle of the right hand corner. The driver keeps the engine running and continues on course to his Pit Box.

At 10:58 a.m., #8 BRACK brushes the wall at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is still #11 FITTIPALDI with his earlier lap of 107.449 mph (58.800 seconds), now followed by #97 DA MATTA (107.401 mph; 58.826 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (106.989 mph; 59.053 seconds).

At 11:01 a.m., #97 DA MATTA again pits after CART course observers report a thin trail of smoke from the rear of the car on acceleration. The crew reports no problem with the car after examination in the Pit Box.

At 11:02 a.m., #16 JOURDAIN JR. slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:03 a.m., #97 DA MATTA logs the fastest lap of the session and the weekend with a lap of 107.646 mph (58.693 seconds) on his 32nd circuit.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:08 a.m. to #17 GUGELMIN for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 11:06 a.m.

At 11:08 a.m., #26 TRACY slides into the run-off at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:09 a.m., #8 BRACK brushes the wall at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 108.560 mph (58.198 seconds) on his 30th lap, followed by #6 ANDRETTI (107.939 mph; 58.533 seconds) and #97 DA MATTA (107.645 mph; 58.693 seconds).

At 11:13 a.m., #8 BRACK slides into the run-off at Turn 8 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

Also at 11:13 a.m., #96 SERVIA slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:14 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 11:15 a.m. with #1 MONTOYA the fastest driver with a lap of 108.560 mph (58.198 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (108.374 mph; 58.298 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (107.939 mph; 58.533 seconds). There are 13 cars within one second of the fast time set by MONTOYA. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 28 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #26X TRACY, #3X CASTRONEVES, #33X TAGLIANI, #34X MARQUES, #40X FERNANDEZ, and #25X GARCIA JR.

What a difference a day makes! On Friday, the lunch hour featured fans and competitors running for cover, and going through a brief karma check with lightening overhead, but Saturday it's a different story. Now it's cool breezes from the southeast tempering a bright sun shining down from partly cloudy skies on a dry racetrack. The competitors are ready, the stands are filling and the final round of qualifying is an hour away.

At 1:40 p.m., the team of #25 GARCIA JR. announces that it will use the secondary car #25X for the final session of qualifying Saturday and all times earned by the #25 primary car from Friday's session will be forfeited.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:45 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 102 degrees F. (39 degrees C) and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F. (24 degrees C.) at the start of the session.

At 1:51 p.m., #34 MARQUES brushes the wall at Turn 11 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

At 1:55 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #40 FERNANDEZ with a lap of 108.826 mph (58.056 seconds), followed by #8 BRACK (108.760 mph; 58.091 seconds) and #26X TRACY (108.242 mph; 58.369 seconds).

At 2:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest Group One drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 1:55 p.m. report.

At 2:08 p.m., #8 BRACK moves to the fastest of the Group One drivers with a speed of 108.961 mph (57.984 seconds) on his 16th circuit.

At 2:10 p.m., #26 TRACY brushes the wall at Turn 6 and continues on course to his Pit Area. After examination in the Pit Box, the crew reports that Tracy has bent a lower left A-arm on the car and driver unhooks his belts and climbs out of the car. TRACY is third-best of Group One with a lap of 108.242 mph (58.369 seconds).

At 2:11 p.m., #8 BRACK pulls into the run-off at Turn 3 and radios his crew that he is out of fuel.

At 2:12 p.m., #25 GARCIA JR. slides into the run-off at Turn 3 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:15 p.m. with #8 BRACK hanging on to the top Group One spot with a lap of 108.961 mph (57.984 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (108.826 mph; 58.056 seconds) and #26X TRACY (108.242 mph; 58.369 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the final Group Two qualifying session.

At 2:35 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI moves to third overall on his fourth lap of the Group Two session with a speed of 108.607 mph (58.173 seconds).

At 2:36 p.m., #6 ANDRETTI logs the fastest lap of the session and the weekend with a speed of 109.034 mph (57.945 seconds) on his fourth lap but is immediately eclipsed by #3 CASTRONEVES with a clocking of 109.172 mph (57.872 seconds) on his fourth lap.

At 2:37 p.m., #20 MORENO brushes the wall at Turn 8 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

Also at 2:37 p.m., #6 ANDRETTI retakes the top spot with a lap of 109.562 mph (57.666 seconds) on his fifth lap.

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is still #6 ANDRETTI with his earlier lap of 109.562 mph (57.666 seconds), followed by #3 CASTRONEVES (109.172 mph; 57.872 seconds) and #27 FRANCHITTI (109.044 mph; 57.940 seconds).

RED FLAG waves at 2:43 p.m. after #27 FRANCHITTI slides nose-first into the tire barrier at Turn 8, making fairly hard contact with the barrier. The driver is uninjured in the incident, but the car sustains moderate damage to the nose and front suspension. FRANCHITTI will also receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session, to be served at the appearance of the Green Flag resuming the session.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 2:40 p.m. report. The fastest Group One driver, #8 BRACK, has now fallen to sixth overall on the grid.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 2:52 p.m. to #12 VASSER for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit Out. VASSER subsequently pits his car for the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 2:55 p.m., the fastest Group Two drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 2:45 p.m. report.

At 2:56 p.m., the penalty levied against #27 FRANCHITTI for delaying the qualifying session expires, but the team elects to stand on the fourth-best time rather than forfeit the results earned by entering the session with the secondary car.

At 2:58 p.m., #20 MORENO spins at Turn 6 and stalls in the middle of the track, facing backward but about 15 feet off the racing line. The incident is handled with a local Yellow Flag.

At 2:59 p.m. #3 CASTRONEVES slides nose first into the tire barrier at Turn 3, making light contact with the barrier. The driver keeps the engine running and CASTRONEVES continues to his Pit Area.

Also at 2:59 p.m., #12 VASSER spins at Turn 3 and pulls into the run-off to await the end of the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. to end qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy with the fastest driver #3 CASTRONEVES with a faster lap of 110.455 mph (177.721 kph; 57.200 seconds), followed by #97 DA MATTA (109.804 mph; 176.674 kph; 57.539 seconds) and #6 ANDRETTI (109.562 mph; 176.285 kph; 57.666 seconds). The fastest Group One driver, #8 BRACK, winds up seventh on the grid. Provisional Pole sitter #27 FRANCHITTI ends up fifth. The top 10 drivers are separated by less than one second. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 25 different cars to the track in Saturday afternoon's qualifying session, with secondary cars utilized by #26X TRACY, #33X TAGLIANI, #34X MARQUES, and #25X GARCIA JR. CART drivers logged 457 laps during the session.

HELIO CASTRONEVES wins his second Pole Position of the season Saturday in his Marlboro Team Penske Honda/Reynard, his first coming from Portland last month. This represents the Brazilian's third career Pole, adding to his 1999 Milwaukee feat. CASTRONEVES also has qualified among the top three in four of the last six events.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA lines up second on the grid Sunday in his Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota/Reynard. This represents DA MATTA's CART career-best start, as the Brazilian previously earned a fifth at Cleveland. DA MATTA has also started within the top six in three of the last four races.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI is third on the grid Sunday, his best start of the season. ANDRETTI had previously started fourth at Cleveland. ANDRETTI has qualified among the top 10 in all 14 Molson Indy appearances.

This is the fourth Pole of the season for Honda.

Quotes from today's top three qualifiers follow:

HELIO CASTRONEVES: "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 Gil'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: "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 [Saturday], 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: "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 racetrack, it seems to suit my style, and I love Toronto, it's a great city."

A quick reminder for fans of the FedEx Championship Series is in order on the eve of the race. Sunday's Molson Indy will take the Green Flag at 2 p.m. and will run 112 laps (192.75 miles; 308.4 kilometers), excluding the three Warm-up/Pace laps.

A new attendance record has been established for the Saturday Molson Indy qualifying events, with 52,535 Champ Car fans pouring through the gates here at Exhibition Place.

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske