TORONTO (July 14, 2000) - Defending event champion Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green continued to display his mastery of the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place when he earned the provisional pole Friday for the Molson Indy on the ...
TORONTO (July 14, 2000) - Defending event champion Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green continued to display his mastery of the temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place when he earned the provisional pole Friday for the Molson Indy on the streets of Toronto (3 p.m. ET Sunday, one-hour tape delay, ESPN).
Franchitti, a two-time pole winner at Toronto (1997, '98), recorded a lap of 107.308 miles per hour (58.877 seconds). He will be seeking his first pole since last year at Australia when final qualifying begins 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday.
Franchitti was in the second of two qualifying groups, which took to the track after an early-afternoon shower made navigation of the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit tricky for members of the first group. All drivers in the second group started their 30-minute session on rain tires, but following the lead of Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel PacWest Mercedes), ultimately switched to slicks, upon which Franchitti recorded his fast lap.
Franchitti led all 95 laps from the pole en route to victory at Toronto last year. He is seeking a season-best start, improving on second at Milwaukee and Detroit
Defending FedEx Championship Series and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing qualified second on the provisional grid at 107.272 miles per hour (58.897 seconds). He will be seeking his sixth front-row start of the season, including poles at Japan, Nazareth, Milwaukee and Detroit, when final qualifying begins Saturday.
Third on the provisional grid went to Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, at a speed of 106.299 mph (59.436 seconds). He seeks his fourth top-three start of the season, including a pole at Portland.
Rounding out the top five drivers are Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), who qualified fourth at 106.133 mph (59.529 seconds) and Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) , who was fifth at 106.110 mph (59.542 seconds). Andretti seeks to improve on a season-best start of fourth established at Cleveland two weeks ago, while de Ferran is the defending polesitter for the event, and is chasing his eighth top-five start in nine events this season.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "This is definitely a rhythm course, but this definitely wasn't a rhythm session. The track was changing all the time. I think tomorrow is when it's really going to count, but if it rains tomorrow, we're going to be looking pretty good. As of (the race in) Japan, I think we got a grip on our car. Before that we were struggling. Honda's giving us new parts all the time, but I think all the guys at Team KOOL Green have also gotten a grip on our car since Japan. We're not done yet."
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Toyota Lola: "I'm pretty happy to be up here. Last year was a pretty big disaster here. I think the car is fast enough to get the pole, but we didn't get enough fuel in the car and I had to watch the last three minutes. But it's still good to be up here, especially after what happened last year. You really don't know what the other guys are doing until you cross the line, and I thought I'd go straight to the back when I ran out of fuel. But here I am in second."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "In the wet in qualifying it was a little exciting. When we started it was great and when we put on stickers I had a pretty big moment. I had to take it easy to get back to the pits. But it was very good today. Marlboro Team Penske is working very good. Let's see what happens tomorrow. If it rains, it'll be good for us, but if not, we'll come out tomorrow and see what happens."
* Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) will be seeking his ninth career FedEx Championship Series pole position when final qualifying begins 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday. He is a two-time pole winner at Toronto (1997, '98), and is the only driver to earn back-to-back pole positions in 14 events at Toronto.
* Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) will be after his seventh front-row start of the season, including poles at Nazareth, Japan, Milwaukee and Detroit. Outside pole positions at Homestead and Rio de Janeiro are also part of the run.
* Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) will be seeking his fourth top-three start in six events during final qualifying Saturday. A third-place start at Nazareth began the run, which also includes third at Detroit and a pole at Portland.
* Twenty-seven hours. Three announcements. Three countries. More than 12,000 flight miles. The net result - three more dates on the CART FedEx Championship Series schedule in 2001. CART interim President and CEO Bobby Rahal was on a whirlwind tour this week, making announcements for new Champ Car races at Texas Motor Speedway, EuroSpeedWay in Germany and at England's Rockingham Speedway. The Texas announcement (noon ET, Tuesday) included 1996 FedEx Championship Series champion Jimmy Vasser while 1989 series winner Emerson Fittipaldi and CART team owner Derrick Walker joined Rahal for the announcement in Berlin (6 a.m. ET, Wednesday). The Rockingham race was announced by the three-time CART champion Rahal during an event (3 p.m. ET, Wednesday) at London's Planet Hollywood. Rahal jumped on a plane Thursday morning to reach Toronto for the Molson Indy, the Round 10 of the 20-race FedEx Series. He was on the ground in Toronto at 2:45 p.m. ET, and later attended Thursday evening's annual Molson Indy Foundation Black and White Gala prior to the start of the Molson Indy race weekend.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Molson Indy will air 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPN2.