Franchitti on front row for season opener MONTERREY, Mexico - It was a good news / bad news day for Team KOOL Green at the CART season-opening race in Monterrey, Mexico as afternoon rain meant that the grid for tomorrow's race would be set ...
Franchitti on front row for season opener
MONTERREY, Mexico - It was a good news / bad news day for Team KOOL Green at the CART season-opening race in Monterrey, Mexico as afternoon rain meant that the grid for tomorrow's race would be set from yesterday's provisional qualifying session.
That's good news for Dario Franchitti who had set the second fastest time in Friday qualifying when he turned a quick lap of 1 minute,19.798 seconds, an average speed of 95.634 mph around the 2.1-mile Fundidora Park temporary road course.
Unfortunately for Paul Tracy, his Team KOOL Green teammate, the rainy qualifying session meant he couldn't improve on his Friday qualifying time of 1 minute, 20.716 seconds (93.84 mph average speed) and he'll line up 20th on the grid for tomorrow's race.
An estimated 56,000 people showed up to watch countryman Adrian Fernandez set the provisional pole on Friday, and at least as many people were on hand today in spite of the rain. Fernandez again didn't disappoint them, setting the fastest lap in today's rainy qualifying session (1:46.320 / 71.242 mph) to earn another point and hanging onto the pole position for tomorrow's race. (Fernandez's pole-winning time was 1 minute, 18.929 seconds, an average speed of 95.965 mph.)
The schedule for race day includes a 30-minute warm-up session beginning at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), with the 85-lap race set to start at 4:00 p.m. (EST). Television coverage of tomorrow's activities is on Speed Channel beginning with a pre-race show at 3:30 p.m., followed by the live race coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. (EST).
Paul Tracy -- #26 KOOL Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone
"I'm incredibly disappointed the rain came and kept us off the track this afternoon (in qualifying). Team KOOL Green did a good job overnight and we ran great in this morning's practice (sixth fastest), so I was confident we could qualify in the top five. But the rain showed up and we didn't even get a chance. Tomorrow's race is going to be tough, no doubt. We're going to have to rely on great pit stops, great pit strategy and a little bit of luck"
Speed: 98.549 mph
Time: 1:16.859 seconds
Speed: 93.84 mph
Time: 1:20.716 seconds
Steve Challis, Paul Tracy's Race Engineer:
"I know Paul (Tracy) is disappointed and I don't blame him. We made some changes to the car overnight and we had a very promising practice session this morning. It looked like Paul was going to be able to post a good qualifying lap and have a decent starting position. We can control a lot of things at Team KOOL Green, but the weather isn't one of them. It's going to be a difficult race tomorrow, but don't ever count out Paul Tracy."
Dario Franchitti -- #27 KOOL Honda-Reynard-Bridgestone
"My engineer Allen McDonald and I were discussing what our strategy will be tomorrow with the three required pit stops (per new CART rules). We're starting up front (second) now and that will affect our strategy. I think it's one of those situations where you've got to react to what's happening. You know you've got to react very quickly and make the right moves. You're going to have to try to look ahead and react to things that are happening one lap before. It's going to be very, very interesting tomorrow. It's very important for me to start up front at this first race. You know traditionally qualifying is one of my strongest points and last year we just could not get the balance right in the car to qualify well. The fact that we got the lap in yesterday was good and, apart from being held up, we could have gone for the pole. That's a good feeling. If we can continue to do that all season, Team KOOL Green will be looking good."
Speed: 97.996 mph
Time: 1:17.293 seconds
Speed: 95.634 mph
Time: 1:19.798 seconds
Kyle Moyer, Team KOOL Green Team Manager:
"When the qualifying session started we were all sitting here thinking that Adrian (Fernandez) should go out and set a time and that's what he did. As the provisional pole sitter he was the one who could gamble, he could put it on the line in the halfway dry conditions. (New rule provides a point to fastest qualifier on Friday and Saturday.) We were hoping the track would dry out all the way, we weren't expecting the heavy rain. We just weren't willing to gamble too much. So we're starting second with Dario and that's a really, really good place to start. Anytime we start up front with him it seems like he can get up and go. I think Adrian (Fernandez, pole sitter) is going to have his hands full tomorrow. It will be exciting at the start and I think the race is going to be really, really tough. I think there is going to be a lot of guys making mistakes. But the good thing about this track is that you can make a mistake, go off on the grass and keep going. So I don't think there will be a lot of yellow flags, but I think there will be a lot of mistakes."