CHAMPCAR/CART: Nazareth Qualifying

CART: Nazareth Qualifying Ken Plotkin - Nazareth, PA April 8, 2000 - With a west wind gusting across Nazareth Speedway, twenty two CART Fedex Championsip cars qualified for tomorrow's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix. Continuing...

CART: Nazareth Qualifying

Ken Plotkin -

Nazareth, PA April 8, 2000 - With a west wind gusting across Nazareth Speedway, twenty two CART Fedex Championsip cars qualified for tomorrow's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix.

Continuing his reign as speed king of the weekend, last year's winner Juan Montoya claimed pole position running his Marlboro/Team Penske Honda Reynard at a speed of 176.868 mph, 19.255 seconds.

"The car has been good all weekend long.  The wind didn't affect me that
much.  I was surprised.  Tomorrow, I think the stints are really gonna be
long, and saving tires will be very important.  The Toyota has been really
good so far.  I think tomorrow will be a really interesting race."

While Montoya's teammate Jimmy Vasser could only muster eleventh fastest, owner Chip Ganassi was pleased with the team's results. "It's nice to have the small victory to reinforce the decisions we made for our chassis and engine manufacturers. For as happy as we are for Juan, we need to find the balance and get some luck in Jimmy's direction. The next victory for us will be big - a race."

Christian Fittipaldi put his Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola on the outside of the front row at a speed of 176.401 mph, 19.306 seconds. This is the second time in his CART career that Fittipaldi has started on the front row. He captured the pole at Rio de Janeiro last year.

"The conditions were pretty tough, but they were tough for all the cars out there. It was tough coming out of Turn 4; we lost a bit of downforce. It was a little bit better this morning. I reckon we could have gone with a more neutral setup, but I'm happy to start on the front row. The top four or six tomorrow are going to have a big advantage."

Fittipaldi's teammate Michael Andretti has no such advantage, with a run at only 172.917 mph, 19.755 seconds. "This hurts a lot. This is a huge disappointment. We just can't get the balance right for my style of driving. I was hoping for a top-five, but now I just hope to be in the top -fifteen." Michael's time place him 15th on the grid. Michael thinks it's still possible to win from back there, but "You're gonna need some luck."

Helio Castro-Neves was third fastest in his Marlboro Honda Reynard, but thought he had left a little something out on the track.

"I was expecting a change in my car, but I think I waited too long. The car was handling well, then the green flag came, and I thought we needed to do something. I ran a 19.3 and I wished I could have had one more lap, but everyone says that. I've got a very good package; if it's going to be cold I think we need to bring some Brazilian heat for the tires, but it's gonna be really good for the fans.

Paul Tracy put his KOOL Honda Reynard on the outside of the second row with a speed of 175.891 mph, 19.359 seconds.

"I'm happy with our starting position because we had the car on a real fine edge balance-wise. We made a couple of changes after a little wiggle in practice this morning. And, I think the car was too nervous in qualifying with the wind coming up in the afternoon. We did the best we could and we're fourth. We're a lot better off than we were last race when we were 17th."

Gil de Ferran and Kenny Brack filled the sixth row.

De Ferran, with a speed of 175.628 mph, 19.391 seconds from his Marlboro Honda Reyard, was not happy with his effort but looks forward to tomorrow's race. "The Marlboro car has run well all weekend, but when it came to qualifying I don't think I got the most out of the car. I think I could've improved another tenth of a second so I'm not 100% happy. However, I do feel pretty good about tomorrow's race. To start in the first three rows is always a good position here."

Brack, with a speed of 175.393 mph, 19.417 seconds from his Shell Ford Cosworth Reynard, talked of the effect of weather. "Eveyone is guessing a little bit with the setup because of the wind. It's windy and it really moves the car around a lot. But that's why we get paid." In a thought counter to Castro-Neves' "Brazilian Heat" idea, Kenny quipped "I heard it's going to snow too, so maybe my experience driving on the ice back in Sweden will help."

Roberto Moreno, qualifying outside of the top six, was relaxed and satisfied with his seventh-place run of 175.393 mph, 19.417 seconds in his Patrick Ford Cosworth Reynard.

"I'm very happy with it. We took a cautious run, and I think it paid off for us. My car has always been pushing a little bit. We were going to take a little step towards making it neutral for qualifying but when Adrian went before me he was a little loose so we didn't do anything. The car is really good for the race tomorrow and I think we'll be up there." Today's wind gave him no trouble: "My car is so good it has not been upset." Nor did the prospect of rain bother the now fully-employed ex-super-sub. "We've got our rain tires ready to go," he joked.

Further back, Homestead winner Max Papis was not content with his sixteenth starting position, noting problems with the wind. "The wind conditions were terrible for me. I was sliding very bad in turn three. The car just didn't feel right. It was moving all over. The wind seemed to pick up with each lap during qualifying. Again I will have to come back like at Homestead."

Luiz Garcia, slowest of the day at 131.475 mph, said that the team was here to live up to commitments and to gain experience working together. "We know that we're only going to improve our performance with the new car. We're expected to have our new 2000 car at Long Beach so we can start working on our program properly." Luiz will not start tomorrow's race, due to CART's 110% rule.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Kenny Brack , Chip Ganassi , Luiz Garcia
Teams Team Penske