VANCOUVER, B.C. (September 2, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green, who won the 1998 Molson Indy Vancouver from the pole position, put himself in position to do so again Saturday when he captured the pole for Sunday's Molson Indy before a...
VANCOUVER, B.C. (September 2, 2000) - Dario Franchitti of Team KOOL Green, who won the 1998 Molson Indy Vancouver from the pole position, put himself in position to do so again Saturday when he captured the pole for Sunday's Molson Indy before a crowd of 49,576 at Concord Pacific Place (4 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV).
Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) recorded a track-record lap of 106.144 miles per hour (1 minute, .405 seconds) to claim his second pole in succession and the 10th of his career. It capped an emotional afternoon during which he earned the Greg Moore Pole Award, given annually to the polesitter at both Vancouver and Toronto in memory of the Canadian Champ Car driver, Franchitti's close friend, who lost his life in a racing accident at last year's season finale.
Franchitti's effort keyed a Team KOOL Green sweep of the front row, as teammate Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) qualified second at 105.989 mph (1:00.493).
It marked Team KOOL Green's first front-row qualifying sweep in seven seasons of FedEx Championship Series competition. Franchitti's new track record broke the existing mark of 105.730 mph (1:00.641) established by Juan Montoya of Target Chip Ganassi Racing last year.
Franchitti's 10th career pole moved him into a 10th-place tie in CART career history with Teo Fabi, Nigel Mansell and Alex Zanardi. He will chase his seventh career victory when the green flag falls 4 p.m. ET Sunday for Round 15 of 20 in the championship.
Tracy, coming off a victory at Road America two weeks ago, will make a season-best start on a road or street course, exceeding seventh at Road America. The start is also his first on the front row in a road/street event since qualifying on the outside pole at Detroit last year.
Marlboro Team Penske swept the second row, as Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) qualified third at 105.470 mph (1:00.791) and Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) took fourth at 104.753 mph (1:01.207). De Ferran extends an outstanding qualifying record that has seen him qualify among the top five drivers for 12 of the past 15 events. Castroneves, meanwhile, will make his seventh top-four start in the past 11 events.
Defending Molson Indy Vancouver polesitter and race winner Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) rounded out the top five at 104.669 mph (1:01.256). Montoya, who used his victory here last year as a springboard to the FedEx Championship Series championship, has qualified fifth or better for 11 of 15 events this season.
Current FedEx Championship Series points leader Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) qualified eighth at 104.220 miles per hour (1:01.520). Andretti holds a 125-112 points lead over Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) entering Sunday. Moreno qualified 10th Saturday at 104.037 mph (1:01.628). DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Honda Reynard: "[The car] certainly ranks up there. I've had some pretty good cars in the past, but this one's definitely up there. The car's pretty good, and I'm very happy. It's all going according to plan right now. I didn't get the best out of the first set of tires, and Paul did a pretty good job and got up there. I thought, 'This is not the plan. What is going on here?' I just couldn't go any quicker because I was making some mistakes, but the car was quicker. It was very important to me to get the pole because of the Greg Moore Trophy. Greg's mom, Donna, came up to me and said, 'I really want you to win this.' That was on my mind during qualifying and there was a lot of pressure, because I knew Paul wanted to win it, too. I'm glad I got it."
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "I think my best opportunity was when I went out at the beginning of the session. I was quick for the first couple laps and then I came in. When I went back out, the car was really quick. Then, on the second set [of tires], it takes awhile for the tires to build up to temperature. I turned a quick lap, and then on the next lap I looked down at the display and thought, 'This is going to be a really quick lap.' But the red flag came out when I was three-fourths of the way around. It takes a while for the tires to build back up to optimum temperatures and I didn't have enough time, so I had to settle for second."
GIL de FERRAN, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "On my first set of tires, there were several laps where I was ahead of where I was yesterday, but I kept making mistakes. I think I was trying a little too hard. On the second set, [engineer Tom] German made a few changes and I just wanted to get into a rhythm and go for it. Unfortunately, because of the red flag, I didn't get many laps to do it. On the last lap, I said, 'Well, this is it.' I wanted to go for it, but I didn't want to make any mistakes. I wish I could have gotten one more lap."
* Dario Franchitti's (KOOL Honda Reynard) pole position was the fourth on Canadian soil of his four-year Champ Car career. Prior to Saturday's effort, he earned poles at Toronto in 1997 and '98 and at Vancouver in '98. He also owns race victories at each of those venues, at Vancouver in '98 and Toronto last year.
* Franchitti's pole was the eighth of the season for Honda, and its third in a row.
* Paul Tracy's (KOOL Honda Reynard) start on the outside pole represents a career-best qualifying performance in nine career starts at Vancouver, exceeding third last year.
* Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard) qualified third to earn his 12th top-five start in 15 FedEx Championship Series starts this season. The run includes poles at Homestead, Long Beach and Mid-Ohio; outside poles at Portland, Cleveland and Road America; fourth at Milwaukee and Detroit and fifth at Japan, Nazareth and Michigan.
* Sunday's pre-race ceremonies will include the retirement of car number 99, piloted by Greg Moore, from CART, Indy Lights and Toyota Atlantic competition. Moore, a native of Maple Ridge, B.C., near Vancouver, earned five victories and five pole positions during his four-year Champ Car career, and finished among the top 10 drivers in the series championship in each of his FedEx Championship Series seasons. He also won the 1995 Indy Lights championship and owns the series record for career victories, with 13. National Hockey League legend Wayne Gretzky will be among the participants in the retirement ceremonies. Car No. 99 joins the No. 14 of all-time Champ Car victory leader A.J. Foyt as the only retired numbers in CART history.
* By starting Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver, Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) will move into sole possession of second-place on the CART career starts list with 265, breaking a tie with current CART President and Chief Executive Officer Bobby Rahal. Andretti, in his 17th FedEx Championship Series season, currently trails CART career starts leader Al Unser Jr. (273) by nine.
WHAT'S ON TAP
Qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver will air 1:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. "CART 2Day" airs 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast scheduled to begin 4 p.m. ET. The race will also air live on the CART Radio Network and on CART's official website at www.cart.com .