LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2000) - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske continued his qualifying mastery on the streets of Long Beach on Saturday when he earned his third career pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (5 p.m. ET...
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 15, 2000) - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske continued his qualifying mastery on the streets of Long Beach on Saturday when he earned his third career pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (5 p.m. ET Sunday, one-hour tape delay, ESPN).
De Ferran posted a lap of 104.969 miles per hour (1 minute, 7.494 seconds) on the reconfigured 1.968-mile temporary street circuit to earn his second pole of the season and eighth of his career. It was his third at Long Beach, with the others coming in 1996 and '97, and tied him for the career record for pole positions with Mario Andretti and Michael Andretti.
For Marlboro Team Penske, it was its first pole on a road or street course since Paul Tracy was the 1994 polesitter at Laguna Seca, a race he went on to win.
The championship point earned by de Ferran for the pole position breaks a tie with the injured Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) and moves him into sole possession of fifth place in the FedEx Championship Series standings, with 11 points. Carpentier is sidelined from this weekend's event after sustaining a broken left wrist earlier this week in an accident at his Las Vegas home.
Jimmy Vasser (Target Toyota Lola) of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing qualified second at 104.645 mph (1:07.703). He makes a career-best start at Long Beach, improving on third in 1996, when he drove to victory.
Defending FedEx Championship Series and race champion Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing qualified third at 104.213 mph (1:07.984). He will make his fourth consecutive top-three start, dating to last year's season finale at California Speedway.
Rounding out the top five drivers were Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing, fourth at 104.178 mph (1:08.007), and Bryan Herta (Avex Honda Reynard) of Walker Racing, fifth at 104.170 mph (1:08.086). Fernandez was Friday's provisional pole-sitter at 103.223 mph (1:08.636) while Herta turned in an outstanding drive as a substitute for the injured Shinji Nakano, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a May 31 testing accident at The Milwaukee Mile.
FedEx Championship Series leader Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Reynard) of Team Rahal qualified sixth at 104.057 mph (1:08.086). He holds a 20-16 lead over Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing heading into Sunday's 82-lap race, which takes the green flag at 4 p.m. ET. Moreno qualified eighth at 103.705 mph (1:08.317).
WHAT THEY SAID
GIL DE FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "It was a very nerve-wracking qualifying session. Every time it looked like you had a good lap, somebody else would come along. The car's been handling quite well all weekend. Today we managed to get a reasonably fast lap, although I brushed the wall on my fast lap and it slowed me down a little bit. Tomorrow's a different day, these guys are pretty tough. Hopefully, I'm just going to disappear off at the start and it will be the most boring race you've ever seen. But with all these guys, I don't think that's going to happen."
JIMMY VASSER, Target Toyota Lola: "It's been going pretty good. We've been running a lot of old tires in practice so we hadn't done a lot of fast laps in practice, but we were good in qualifying. We've got a good handle on the setup of the car, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I think we've got a shot at the race win tomorrow. I'm pretty happy with the car and if we can just keep the consistency, we should be there for the championship. We've got a great group of people on the race team. That gives us a lot of confidence. But you've got to give Chip Ganassi credit because he's made some pretty bold decisions on the chassis and engine that don't seem so ludicrous right now. But you still have to give most of the credit to the guys working under the tent."
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Toyota Lola: "All weekend we were really struggling with the setup. (Engineer) Bill (Pappas) has been working really hard on the setup. In qualifying, I was surprised how far I went. I thought it was going to be a really tough time. "
* Gil de Ferran's (Marlboro Honda Reynard) pole was the first for Marlboro Team Penske on a temporary street circuit since Al Unser's at Cleveland in 1994. It was also the ninth consecutive pole on a temporary street circuit for a Honda-powered driver, dating to Dario Franchitti's at Australia in 1998.
* Jimmy Vasser's (Target Toyota Lola) start on the outside of the front row is his first front-row start since winning the pole at Cleveland in 1998.
* By qualifying third, Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) extended a run which has seen him qualify among the top eight drivers in 10 of 11 FedEx Championship Series appearances on road or street courses.
* Memo Gidley (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) qualified 10th at 103.393 mph (1:08.523). It was a career-best qualifying performance for Gidley, who is substituting for the injured Patrick Carpentier, in his 11th FedEx Championship Series start.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will air 1 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. CART 2Day airs 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. ESPN's race broadcast, airing via one-hour tape delay, begins at 5 p.m. ET.