CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterey: Friday provisional qualifying report

CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterey: Friday provisional qualifying report
Jun 9, 2002, 5:35 AM

Kenny Brack scores front-row starting spot for Sunday's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300. MONTEREY, Calif. (June 7, 2002) - Kenny Brack ( ...

Kenny Brack scores front-row starting spot for Sunday's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300.

MONTEREY, Calif. (June 7, 2002) - Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) drew first blood on a glorious California Friday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as he won the provisional pole for Sunday's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, ensuring himself a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race as well as a vital championship point.

Brack got around the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca layout in 1:10.066 (114.989mph/185.051km/h) to lead the way in Friday's provisional qualifying, putting up his best time on his last flying lap of the session to eclipse the time of Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone).

Brack's effort gave him his first front-row starting spot in his three trips to Laguna Seca, a spot that is ensured for Sunday in accordance with the new CART FedEx Championship Series rules, giving the three-year veteran his first front-row grid spot since winning the pole last season at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, England. There will be a final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon that will set the final grid, but Brack is guaranteed the grid spot in the front row by virtue of today's results.

Da Matta's time of 1:10.103 (114.928mph/184.954km/h) would hold up for the second spot, giving Toyota the top two spots on the provisional grid and four of the top six. The qualifying effort was the strongest for the Brazilian driver in his four trips to the Monterey, California track, as he looks to improve on his personal-best Laguna starting spot of seventh from a year ago.

Da Matta led the session for most of its 60 minutes, first taking the top spot at the halfway point with a lap of 1:10.733, lowering it by nearly a full half-second on his next time by. He would then swap the pole with Brack as the Swede put up a 1:10.212 with 14 minutes to run, but da Matta stormed back with his best lap of the day 10 minutes later.

That move put the pressure on Brack to reclaim the vital championship point, with the new rules which state that no driver can run more than 15 laps played into his favor. Brack rolled out with seven minutes to run in the session, as most of the field had already finished their allotment of orbits, giving Brack a clear track to run on. He took advantage and the provisional pole with his 1:10.066 circuit, leaving just four drivers on the track as the clock ticked down.

Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) carded his best effort of 1:10.218 (114.740mph/184.651km/h) with his penultimate flying lap, and hearing that he had one more chance for the pole, he went after the point on his next lap with typical abandon, putting up good numbers before dropping a wheel in the dirt in Turn 10 and spinning his machine.

He backed into the outside wall leading into the final turn, damaging his rear suspension and starting a small fire in the backup car. Carpentier was uninjured and was not penalized for bringing out the red flag, as his accident occurred just as the time in the session expired.

Tony Kanaan (# 10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) made the most of their opportunities as the last cars on the track to climb into the top five, with Kanaan taking the fourth spot with a lap of 1:10.264 (114.665mph/184.530km/h) while Fittipaldi joined da Matta, his Newman-Haas teammate, in the top five after posting a top run of 1:10.322 (114.570mph/184.378km/h).

Series points leader Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was 16th fastest on the day while the second-placed driver in the championship, Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) was 19th. Defending race winner Max Papis (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) earned the 12th position heading into Saturday's final qualifying.

Final qualifying for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 airs live on SPEED Channel

Saturday afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET. Live audio coverage, as well as live Timing & Scoring data will also be available on the official web site of the CART FedEx Championship Series, Sunday's event will also be carried live by the SPEED Channel beginning with the pre-race show at 4 p.m. ET.

Quotes from the top three finishers in Friday's qualifying session follow below:

KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I personally like the new qualifying rules. They allow me to sleep in tomorrow because I still have a front row starting spot on Sunday. We made some good decisions regarding the car and our engineers made some positive changes as well. So to be on the provisional pole feels great for us. The Target team is just looking to improve tomorrow." (On the addition of Scott Dixon to Target Chip Ganassi Racing) "The structure of our team is such that it allows us to accommodate another car because of the amount of people we have and the facility we work out of. As far as Scott goes, I think he will definitely add depth to the team along with much needed information - just as long as he stays behind me."

CRISTIANO DA MATTA: (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm certainly happy to be back on the road courses. Our car at Milwaukee was better than our car at Motegi, so things are looking better for us and we continue to improve all the time. We've tested here and have been fairly successful so we are looking forward to tomorrow's final qualifying session."

PATRICK CARPENTIER: (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The run we had today wasn't too bad. On the last lap I had two wheels off near Turn 4 and then it came around on me obviously in Turn 10. But I was telling myself to push and I went off. The traction control really did its job, but oh well, they told me the time I turned was good. Actually, the car doesn't have a lot of damage. It should be easily fixed because there are so many Reynards around these days." (On being one of the few drivers running a Reynard chassis) "I really feel they are just as competitive as the Lola. Our test at Mid-Ohio helped a lot. The car is either at the back or the front of the pack so far this season. Overall, I think the Reynard is a very good, competitive car."


* BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) made it four Toyota-powered cars in the top six in Friday's provisional qualifying, joining Brack, da Matta and fifth-placed Fittipaldi.

* TOWNSEND BELL (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) was the fastest rookie of the day, posting the eighth-fastest time with an effort of 1:10.721 (113.924mph/183.337km/h) as the former Indy Lights champion looks to better his career-best starting spot of fifth that he earned at Long Beach this season.

* Team KOOL Green will have their appeal of the finish of the Indianapolis 500 heard Monday, June 17 at 10:00 a.m. Team Green will have an opportunity to present evidence that they believe shows driver Paul Tracy to be the winner of the 500-mile race.


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