Zanardi Secures Provisional Pole Toronto, Ontario (July 17, 1998) -- FedEx Championship Series points leader Alex Zanardi, chasing his first pole since Vancouver last year, moved closer to his first this season Friday when he secured ...
Zanardi Secures Provisional Pole
Toronto, Ontario (July 17, 1998) -- FedEx Championship Series points leader Alex Zanardi, chasing his first pole since Vancouver last year, moved closer to his first this season Friday when he secured the provisional pole position for Sunday's Molson Indy.
Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) averaged 105.460 miles per hour (58.737 seconds) on his quickest lap of the 1.721-mile temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place, where the qualifying session was held in intermittent rain. Zanardi, who has 10 career poles, will look to break a 12-race pole drought when final pole qualifying begins 12:45 p.m. ET Saturday.
The winner earns the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award, with the opportunity to pick up an additional $270,000 in rollover bonus money with a victory Sunday. Including the $100,000 winner's purse, the potential payout for a victory from the pole this weekend is $380,000. The Marlboro Pole Award rollover bonus has been accumulating at a rate of $15,000 per event since Zanardi became the most recent driver to win from the pole at Cleveland more than a year ago.
Zanardi has earned consecutive victories at Detroit, Portland and Cleveland, respectively, and is attempting to tie Unser Jr.'s record of four consecutive wins set in 1990. As a result of his recent success, Zanardi holds a 155-96 lead over Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) in his bid to repeat as FedEx Championship Series title holder.
Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) qualified second at 105.256 mph (58.862 seconds) followed by Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco//Havoline Swift Ford) at 105.007 mph (59.002 seconds). De Ferran's top start this season is third at Japan while Andretti's is third at Nazareth.
Rounding out the top five were Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) at 104.512 mph (59.281 sec) and rookie Tony Kanaan (LCI Reynard Honda) at 104.428 mph (59.329 sec).
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "I didn't want to go out [because of the light rain conditions]. I just went out to please Chip [Ganassi, team owner], and I found some grip that I was amazed was there. This circuit must be so unique that when it's hot and dry, it doesn't grip and when it's cold and rainy, it does. I just hope it's sunny and dry tomorrow. I woke up this morning and looked at my watch - in America you are superstitious about Friday the 13th, but in Italy, it's Friday the 17th - I looked at my watch and I thought I was going to have a very bad day, but I got my first provisional pole of the season, so obviously I'm very happy."
GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda: "Goodyear is really helping us this weekend. Ever since we got on track this morning, we've been fairly quick. I was a little concerned about the slippery conditions. When Zanardi got a good lap in, we came in and put on a second set [of tires]. But I just got one lap in and that was it. We got some traffic and that was it. I didn't think we'd have been able to repeat that lap anyway, because we'd lost the tires."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford: "I'm very frustrated. Things got a little messed up because of the rain. I finally got a good one [lap] going and then Paul [Tracy] got in my way, and I think it cost us. I just have to hope the car gets better tomorrow. We were hoping, but [the tires] are always an unknown when you come to a place where you can't test. We were sort of optimistic that they would be good, now we just have to see how they hold up in the race. We're definitely in more of a competitive position [with the Goodyears]. Hopefully, they will help us get a good starting position and maybe we can win a race for them. This is a great track, one of the better street circuits we run on."
Alex Zanardi is attempting to tie a CART record with his fourth consecutive victory this weekend. The record is currently held by Al Unser Jr., who posted successive victories at Toronto, Michigan, Denver and Vancouver in 1990. Zanardi and Unser Jr. are the only drivers in CART history to record two separate streaks of three or more victories. Unser Jr. has done it three times, in 1990 and twice in 1994. Zanardi won three in a row last year at Michigan Speedway, Mid-Ohio and Road America.
Zanardi's best start this season is second at Rio de Janeiro and Detroit. His top career start at Toronto is second in 1996.
Toronto Blue Jays All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens, first baseman Carlos Delgado and outfielder Shawn Green were guests at Friday's practice session. Clemens, who received a pace car ride from FedEx Championship Series Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach, was a guest of Player's/Forsythe Racing, which campaigns Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) and Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) in the FedEx Championship Series. "I could use Wally on the days when I'm running late to the ballpark," Clemens joked following his pace car ride. Delgado and Green were guests of Marlboro Team Penske, which owns the cars driven by Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) and Andre Ribeiro (Marlboro Penske Mercedes).
WHAT'S ON TAP
Molson Indy pole qualifying will air 2 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.
Source: CART Online
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