CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland pole qualifying

CASTRONEVES ON POLE IN PORTLAND Joao Martins - motorsport.com This morning the weather was pretty much like yesterday and as the practice started it seemed the result would be too. But a red stain grew up in front of the red and white ones...

CASTRONEVES ON POLE IN PORTLAND
Joao Martins - motorsport.com

This morning the weather was pretty much like yesterday and as the practice started it seemed the result would be too. But a red stain grew up in front of the red and white ones and despite Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves' efforts, Juan Montoya posted the best lap time. Montoya did a flying lap in 58.515 s, average speed of 121.138 mph and toped the time table, followed by Castroneves, with a lap in 58.712 s and Dario Franchitti, with 58.802 s.

Remembered the last race in Belle Isle, Detroit, and appeared that Montoya was running race set up yesterday and today he would show what he had reserved for qualifying. But it was not the case this time and as the session started, the red and white cars went back to top times. Running in the first group, Adrian Fernandez got the pole at the end of the session with a lap time of 58.540, followed by Mauricio Gugelmin and Jimmy Vasser.

When the second group went to the track quickly de Ferran got the pole and there was a lot of changes in the fastest lap time. Most of the time the changes were between de Ferran and Castroneves, while the fight for third and above was among Montoya, Franchitti, Brack, Servia and da Matta. Among the six top times Castroneves was the only that ran half the number of laps of his competitors gave the idea that he was setting up the car and waiting for the best opportunity to go back to the track.

Finally, close to the end of qualifying session Castroneves did a flying lap in 57.738 s, and estabilished a new record for the track, beating last year's Montoya record, 58.108 s, for the new track configuration. the track was reconfigured in 1998. "What a day, huh? The track changed so much you never knew what to expect, but the Marlboro Team Penske crew gave a great car. There's no secret why I have the pole, it was a great team effort. Tomorrow we just have to be patient and try to finish one-two. With this track and the heat tire management is going to be important" said Castroneves.

De Ferran completed front row all Penske with a lap time of 57.820 s, ahead of Roberto Moreno with 57.977 s in his best lap. Last time Penske got front row was in Nazareth 1994 when Emerson Fittipaldi was in the pole and at his side his teammate Paul Tracy. Dario Franchitti, Kenny Brack and Christian Fittipaldi filled the top six in the grid.

Moreno did a quick analysis on his performance and commented "We had a very, very slow start. We came here with some ideas and we played a lot with the car. If you saw us yesterday morning you'd think we weren't going to qualify well because we were trying new things in the car and trying new stuff. We also took advantage of some things that Adrian learned in the first session and with my second set of tires I went quite well. I'm extremely happy with Visteon guys, they worked hard and they worked really well."

On top six there are three Honda's and three Ford's, with five reynards and one Lola. The best Toyota this time is Oriol Servia, seventh, and best Mercedes, 16th, driven by Mark Blundell. The only Swift with Tarso Marques is 18th and Brian Herta subbing Tony Kanaan, is 20th. Four drivers qualified in their X car, Fittipaldi, da Matta, Tagliani and Fontana. Among top six drivers four are Brasilian, that swept top three and best American driver is Michel Andretti, starting 11th. Mauricio Gugelmin's car did not pass technical inspection and was disqualified because the side pod base was not 2" from car's bottom and he will start last in the grid.

The Freightline/GI Joe's 200 starts this Sunday 2:00pm PST and is scheduled to be tape delay by ESPN2 at 7:00 EST.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Adrian Fernandez , Tarso Marques , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Oriol Servia , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell , Emerson Fittipaldi , Brian Herta