CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver Saturday qualifying report

>From IndyCar media relations Zanardi Top Marlboro Pole Winner of Season with Fifth of the Year at Vancouver VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Aug. 31, 1996) -- The Molson Indy Vancouver track record tumbled Saturday for the second consecutive day...

>From IndyCar media relations

Zanardi Top Marlboro Pole Winner of Season with Fifth of the Year at Vancouver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Aug. 31, 1996) -- The Molson Indy Vancouver track record tumbled Saturday for the second consecutive day as Target/Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Alex Zanardi captured his series-leading fifth pole of the PPG Indy Car World Series season.

Zanardi recorded a lap of 113.576 miles per hour in a Target Reynard Honda on the 1.703-mile Concord Pacific Place street circuit to eclipse the day-old mark of 111.616 mph set by Michael Andretti and improve from Friday's qualifying effort of 12th. It was his third pole in a row and marked the seventh consecutive race he has started on the front row, leaving him one shy of equaling the CART record. Zanardi earned $10,000 from the Marlboro Pole Award program as well as a PPG Cup point. Zanardi, third in the championship race, now trails teammate Jimmy Vasser (Target Reynard Honda), the PPG Cup leader, by 26 points, 136-110.

"It is a difficult circuit not to learn but to get familiar with, and I don't feel 100 percent yet," Zanardi said. "It was a fantastic lap and I'm very satisfied, but tomorrow we hope to get even better. ... We made a lot of changes to the car this morning, and the car was even worse [than Friday]. So [team engineer] Morris Nunn had a long discussion in the trailer and put a completely different setup on the car for qualifying. It was a shot in the dark, really, but we knew it was in the right direction and we ended up with a very good car."

Zanardi was one of four drivers to break the track mark Saturday, but he was the only one to accomplish such a feat on two different occasions. After Vasser and the Team Rahal tandem of Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard Mercedes) and Bobby Rahal (Miller Reynard Mercedes) enjoyed their time in the top spot, Zanardi initially gained control with a lap of 112.960 mph. Nine minutes later, he posted a lap of 113.576 mph to secure the ninth pole of the season for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and the 11th for Honda.

Andretti bettered his provisional pole-winning speed with a lap of 112.526 mph to grab the outside pole in the Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Lola Ford. It was a season-best effort and marked the 10th season in a row of PPG Indy Car World Series competition for Andretti that he has started on the front row at least once. It also was the third consecutive race that Andretti has re-established a season-best qualifying performance.

"I caught traffic on my quick one [lap]. The next lap was going to be my quick one, but I had to back out of it. I didn't get the total optimum out of the tire," said Andretti, who competed in Formula One in 1993. "A little bit of luck comes into it when you get a clear lap. ... We qualified fourth fastest in Mid-Ohio, third fastest in Road America and second here. I guess that means we'll be on pole at Laguna."

Team Rahal swept the next two positions with Rahal qualifying third and Herta fourth. Rahal's effort was a season best and was the sixth time in seven years that he has qualified third or better at the Molson Indy Vancouver. For Herta, it was the third consecutive race he has qualified among the top six.

"I'm very pleased with our qualifying as a team," said Rahal, who previous best start was fifth at the season opener in Miami. "This is the best Team Rahal has qualified as a pair. Now we just have to stay out of harm's way in the race."

Vasser had the fastest lap (112.251 mph) in the slower group to initially take the pole, but slid to fifth after the second group completed its session. It was an improvement of 12 positions from Friday's qualifying, where he was 17th.

"For certain we're better off than 17th," Vasser said. "We changed the setup today. It was better, but still not perfect."

ESPN2 will televise a pre-race show at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, and then coverage switches to ESPN for the start of the Molson Indy Vancouver at 5 p.m. ET.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bobby Rahal , Alex Zanardi , Bryan Herta , Morris Nunn , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing