CHAMPCAR/CART: Rain Washes Out Qualifying

(March 27, 1998) -- Jimmy Vasser’s top practice speed from Thursday went unchallenged in rainy conditions Friday, earning him the pole position for Saturday’s Budweiser 500 on the new oval at the Twin Ring Motegi motorsports ...

(March 27, 1998) -- Jimmy Vasser’s top practice speed from Thursday went unchallenged in rainy conditions Friday, earning him the pole position for Saturday’s Budweiser 500 on the new oval at the Twin Ring Motegi motorsports complex. Vasser (Target Reynard Honda) recorded a lap of 217.964 miles per hour (25.584 seconds) during Thursday’s opening day of practice, and picked up his fifth career pole position when practice and qualifying were rained out Saturday. The starting grid was determined by drivers’ best practice speeds from Thursday’s combined sessions. Vasser will lead 30 drivers to the green flag at 1 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET Friday) for Saturday’s second round of the FedEx Championship Series. The race will be televised Saturday by ABC-TV, with the tape-delayed broadcast beginning at 2 p.m. ET. Vasser has built a record of success during the early history of Twin Ring Motegi. He was the fastest of 14 drivers during an open test on the 1.549-mile oval in November when he recorded a lap of 215.180 mph. On Thursday, Vasser was one of eight drivers who bettered last November’s standard. He was credited with his fifth career pole position, and his first since winning the pole for the 1996 Marlboro 500 at Michigan Speedway, but will not receive the PPG Cup championship point which accompanies a pole position earned during qualifying. No money was awarded from the Marlboro Pole Award fund, making a victory from the pole at the April 5 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach worth a record $170,000. "It [the start] is advantageous for us, but it’s a long race," Vasser said. "I think that where the yellows [caution flags] fall will dictate our strategy." Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford) will start second – his best starting position in 72 CART career starts – by virtue of Thursday’s practice lap of 217.701mph (25.615 sec.). He qualified second for the 1996 Inaugural U.S. 500 at Michigan Speedway, but was involved in an accident as the field approached the green flag and was not credited with a start. "We are excited about the race," Fernandez said. "It’s a shame we didn’t qualify so that all the Japanese people could see how exciting our qualifying is. Now, we’ll concentrate on giving them a good show during the race." Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) claimed the third-place starting position, his best start since sitting on the outside pole at Cleveland last year. His top practice speed Thursday was 217.116 mph (25.684 sec.). "I wanted to hit the track today," de Ferran said. "Hopefully, we could have improved a couple of positions because yesterday I felt the car was very good. But we can’t control God’s actions, can we?" Defending PPG Cup champion Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) starts fourth after practicing at 216.812 mph (25.720 sec.). Greg Moore’s (Player’s/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) top practice speed of 216.526 mph (25.754 sec.) earned him fifth on the starting grid. Despite an accident at the end of Thursday’s practice which damaged his primary car, Moore will start fifth due to CART qualifying rules which stipulate that the driver, rather than the car, qualifies for the race. The top 23 drivers were separated by less than a second during practice, the top 17 by less than .5. Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Alex Zanardi , Greg Moore