Nazareth, PA (April 25, 1998) -- Canadian Patrick Carpentier led a vanguard of 10 FedEx Championship Series drivers who broke the Nazareth Speedway track record Saturday en route to his first career pole position for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug...
Nazareth, PA (April 25, 1998) -- Canadian Patrick Carpentier led a vanguard of 10 FedEx Championship Series drivers who broke the Nazareth Speedway track record Saturday en route to his first career pole position for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota (12:30 p.m. ET, live, ESPN).
Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes), a second-year FedEx Championship Series driver, circled the .946-mile Nazareth Speedway in 18.419 seconds (184.896 mph), topping Paul Tracy's previous track record of 18.831 seconds set last year. The pole position improved on his previous career-best start of third, which also came at Nazareth last year.
Twenty-five of the 26 drivers in the starting field qualified less than a second apart, from Carpentier's 18.419 second lap through 25th-place PJ Jones (Castrol-Degree Reynard Toyota) at 19.332 seconds.
Carpentier collected $10,000 from the Marlboro Pole Award fund, and stands to add an additional $165,000 in rollover bonus money with a victory in Sunday's 225-lap Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota.
"The pole means a lot in terms of confidence," said Carpentier, last year's FedEx Championship Series Rookie of the Year. "We had a good season last year on ovals; not so good on road courses. We tested last week at Portland, and we were very quick on the road course. I think it's going to be a good year, not only on ovals but on road courses."
Carpentier's Player's Forsythe Racing teammate, Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes), qualified second in 18.628 seconds (182.822 mph). It marked the second consecutive event at which teammates have qualified on the front row, but only the third time in the past 40 FedEx Championship Series events. Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Ford) and Bobby Rahal (Miller Lite Reynard Ford) started first and second, respectively, April 5 at Long Beach.
"Our engineers exchange a lot of information and it was very beneficial for both of us," Carpentier said. "Greg ran well this afternoon and I felt like the foundation was in place and we were able to build on it. It's a long race, but I know that if you qualify on the pole here, there's a good chance of winning."
Moore will make the second front row start of his career, after winning the pole at the season opener in Homestead. He owns 10 top-10 qualifying performances in his last 11 FedEx Championship Series oval starts, dating to 1996 at Michigan Speedway.
"I think Patrick getting the pole and me starting second is going to light a fire under everyone on this team," said Moore, currently second to Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford) in the PPG Cup standings. "There aren't any team orders, other than to try not to take each other out, that's for sure. We're two different drivers with two different styles."
Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) qualified third in 18.636 seconds (182.743 mph). He makes his 10th top-10 start in 11 appearances at Nazareth, including seven among the top five.
"The car is really good," Andretti said. "I'm kind of disappointed because I thought we had a shot at the pole, and it's been a long time since the last pole [1995, Long Beach].
"I thought I might have had it until I went into Turn 3 and developed a push," said Andretti, a resident of nearby Bethlehem. "We need to get the ball rolling again. It would be great to win tomorrow in front of the hometown fans."
Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) qualified fourth at 18.640 seconds (182.704 mph), followed by Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) at 18.652 seconds (182.586 mph). Fernandez, who holds a 41-37 lead over Moore in the PPG Cup race, qualified 11th in 18.847 seconds (180.697 mph).
Qualifying for the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota will air 2 a.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs noon ET Sunday on ESPN2, one-half hour prior to ESPN's live race broadcast.
Source: CART Online