Friday at Motegi started as another clear warm day but clouds, strong winds and cooler temps moved in for the afternoon qualifying session. The changing conditions were just one of the many obstacles the drivers and teams faced. Max Papis found...
Friday at Motegi started as another clear warm day but clouds, strong winds and cooler temps moved in for the afternoon qualifying session. The changing conditions were just one of the many obstacles the drivers and teams faced.
Max Papis found additional speed in the Miller Genuine Draft Ford-Cosworth/Lola in the Friday morning session posting a fast lap of 211.885 mph or nearly three miles an hour faster than his fast lap on Thursday. Papis was still battling an understeer condition that had plagued the team the day before. Papis would post a fast lap of 210.676 mph in qualifying, which at that time put him fifth on the grid. At the end of the session Papis found himself 17th on the starting grid.
Kenny Brack like Papis found more speed in his Shell car on Friday. Brack posted a fast lap of 214.892 mph in the morning session which put him fifth overall on the speed chart. Brack's attempt at a fifth straight front row start fell short when he posted a lap of 213.976 mph which was good for fourth at the time. Brack would eventually settle for sixth on the starting grid.
The pole was captured by Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves (215.591 mph) with Team Green's Dario Franchitti (214.413 mph) taking the outside spot on row 1. On Saturday (Tape Delayed - ABC 1:00-3:00 PM) Team Rahal will look to help Ford Racing continue it's dominance at the Twin Ring Motegi track, as a Cosworth powered engine has won each of the three previous races held at the 1.5-mile oval.
Max Papis (#7 Miller Genuine Draft Ford-Cosworth/Lola) - "I went flat out (on the throttle) in Turn 1 and Turn 2 and the car pushed. So I slowed into the Turn 1 on the second lap and we actually went faster. We didn't have a very good qualifying car but we do have a good car for the race. You have to have a free car in the corners. The car pushed too much in qualifying. We have been better on longer runs this weekend. I'm a bit disappointed in terms of the qualifying. Come race time I think things will be very different. We will be very competitive on Saturday. "
Kenny Brack (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola) - "We have been struggling this weekend with our Shell car. The handling just hasn't been where we wanted. Qualifying was a big step forward for us. We were having a problem in turn one with the bump. I was finally flat (on the throttle) once this morning and in qualifying this afternoon. We improved the car for qualifying, but I think we went a little too conservative with the setup. We had to take that approach because of the trouble we had earlier this weekend. Let's hope we can make some more changes for the race. It hasn't been that lucky to start on the front row so far this year. So I'll take a win from farther back on Saturday. I am so impressed with the Japanese racing fans. They are so dedicated to the sport and the drivers. We had a difficult day at the track yesterday (Thursday) but it was a joy being here with the fans. It is really special with the atmosphere they bring to the track."