CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Honda Racing qualifying

For the second consecutive day, Gil de Ferran led the Honda-powered field today at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit north of Tokyo, and will start fifth in tomorrow's Firestone 500, 27/100ths of a second slower than pole qualifier Juan Montoya. It...

For the second consecutive day, Gil de Ferran led the Honda-powered field today at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit north of Tokyo, and will start fifth in tomorrow's Firestone 500, 27/100ths of a second slower than pole qualifier Juan Montoya. It was the sec ond pole of the season for the defending series champion, while de Ferran also has two poles so far this year.

Higher than expected winds during qualifying resulted in most teams struggling for speed up the long Motegi back straight, with Montoya's pole time actually two-tenths of a second slower than Kenny Brack's quick time set in Friday's practice sessions. Amo ng the Honda-powered drivers, Helio Castro-Neves and Dario Franchitti in particular lost time during their qualifying runs.

Shinji Nakano will start his second Champ Car race from 11th position for Walker Racing, while Paul Tracy continued to struggle with inconsistent handling aboard his Team KOOL Green entry to qualify 20th.

Tomorrow's 500-kilometer event will start at 12:00 p.m. local time, with live internet coverage at CART.com and ABC television coverage in the United States set for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

GIL de FERRAN (#2 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Qualified 5th: "The car is handling well, it's just that those last two-tenths (of a second) are so hard to find. But I'm happy. We have a good, consistent car and that is exactly what you need here to do we ll in the race. That makes me believe we're okay for tomorrow."

SHINJI NAKANO (#5 Avex Group/Walker Racing Honda) Qualified 11th: "The wind seems to have picked up this afternoon. The setup of the car is not perfect yet. Better than it was this morning, but still a little nervous over the (turn 2) bump. It's great to be racing again. Last year I was a test driver [for Jordan Grand Prix], and I missed the crowds, the excitement of racing. Physically, I feel fine. I'm in good shape. But I'll probably be a little sore after the race tomorrow."

HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Qualified 14th: "The balance of the car was okay, we were just a little bit slower than we wanted. We'll have to look at the data and see what happened. The good news is the races this year have been so unpredictable, every winner has come from back in the field. So [starting 14th] could be a good sign!"

DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Qualified 17th: "I'm really pretty happy with the handling. We had a gearbox problem this morning that restricted our running, but (engineers) Steve (Challis) and Tino (Belli) came up with a pretty good qualifying setup. But we're down on straight line speed at the moment, and that hurt us a bit today."

PAUL TRACY (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Qualified 20th: "The car just isn't very consistent. You go out on cold tires and the car is loose, then it goes to a big push as soon as the tires get some heat in them. It has been 'hit or miss' for us in oval qu alifying so far this year. We qualified well at Rio (3rd) and Nazareth (4th), but missed at Homestead and here."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack
Teams Team Penske