ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 19, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green put together a late, track-record charge Saturday to earn his first FedEx Championship Series pole position since last year during final qualifying for Sunday's Motorola...
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 19, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green put together a late, track-record charge Saturday to earn his first FedEx Championship Series pole position since last year during final qualifying for Sunday's Motorola 220 at Road America (4 p.m. ET, same-day tape delay, ABC-TV).
On his 10th and final lap of the qualifying session, Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) put together a lap of 145.924 miles per hour (1minute, 39.866 seconds) to grab the pole for Sunday's 14th round of the championship on the 4.048-mile permanent road course. His track-record effort eclipsed the track standard of 145.745 mph (1 minute, 39.988 seconds) established by Michael Andretti in 1998.
It was the ninth pole of Franchitti's career and his first since Australia last year. Franchitti, who claimed the first victory of his Champ Car career at Road America in 1998, will also be seeking his first overall victory since last year at Australia when the green flag falls Sunday afternoon.
Interestingly, Franchitti's ninth career pole tied him with Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske for 13th on the CART career list. De Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), Friday's provisional pole sitter, qualified second Saturday at 145.504 mph (1:40.154).
De Ferran will make his sixth front-row start of the season, including poles at Homestead, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio.
Rookie Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing qualified third at 145.350 mph (1:40.260). It marks his best career start on a road or street course, exceeding 11th at Long Beach earlier this season.
Rounding out the top five qualifiers were FedEx Championship Series points leader Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing, fourth at 145.146 mph (1:40.401) and Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing, fifth at 144.886 mph (1:40.581). Andretti holds a 125-106 championship points lead over de Ferran entering Sunday's event.
Defending Motorola 220 champion Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola) qualified eighth at 144.425 mph (1:40.902).
The top 17 qualifiers were separated by less than two seconds on the 4.048-mile permanent road course.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "This morning, we were just looking for that little bit that we were talking about yesterday, and we tried to improve on what we had. We didn't, in fact, the car got worse, so we went back to what we had yesterday for qualifying and improved throughout the session. I wanted to get in both sets of tires early and not get caught in a situation where there was a red flag with two minutes to go and not be able to get enough heat in the tires. The strategy worked perfectly today. Now we've just got to concentrate on the race tomorrow. I think we've got a pretty good car, we just need some luck."
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "I'm pretty happy. I was happy with the car in the morning and pretty happy with the car in qualifying. I made a mistake going into Turn 3 and went off. That's what happens when you're going for it. I'm just glad we were able to get back out there and get a good lap in. Dario just beat us today. It's really hard to predict what's going to happen tomorrow. It's definitely possible to pass here. It's always been a race that's been tight on fuel, and there's no reason to expect that it won't be the case again tomorrow."
ALEX TAGLIANI, Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard: "I'm very happy for the whole Player's/Forsythe team. We struggled quite a lot earlier in the year on the road and street courses. We came here and tested a few weeks ago and had a pretty good test here. I'm just happy to have a car that's good enough to fight for the pole. I hope we're able to pass tomorrow, because we're not quite up at the front yet."
* Dario Franchitti's (KOOL Honda Reynard) pole represents his best qualifying effort in four career starts at Road America, exceeding fourth in 1997. He has started among the top five drivers in seven of the past nine events, including outside poles at Milwaukee and Detroit; third at Mid-Ohio, fourth at Portland and Michigan and fifth at Toronto.
* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) makes his sixth front-row start of the season, including poles at Homestead, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio and outside poles at Portland and Cleveland. He has qualified among the top five drivers for 11 of 14 starts, including fourth at Milwaukee and Detroit and fifth at Japan, Nazareth and Michigan.
* Rookie Alex Tagliani (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) will be looking to continue a recent trend when he starts from the third position in search of his first career FedEx Championship Series victory Sunday. Tagliani claimed the first pole of his FedEx Championship Series career at Rio de Janeiro earlier this season. The past two pole winners at Rio have gone on to their first career Champ Car victories at Road America later in that same season. Dario Franchitti did so in 1998 before Christian Fittipaldi accomplished the same double last year.
* Dario Franchitti's pole was the series-leading seventh for Honda, including a sweep of all three on permanent road courses to date. Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske won the pole at Portland and Gil de Ferran at Mid-Ohio prior to Franchitti's effort.
WHAT'S ON TAP
"CART 2Day" airs 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, while ABC-TV's same day, tape-delayed race broadcast begins 4 p.m. ET.