IRL: St. Pete: Patrick Carpentier Saturday report

CARPENTIER TO START THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG FROM ROW 7 St. Petersburg, Florida, Saturday, April 2, 2005 - Second driver to go out for his single-lap qualifying run on Saturday afternoon, Patrick Carpentier drove his ...

CARPENTIER TO START THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG FROM ROW 7

St. Petersburg, Florida, Saturday, April 2, 2005 - Second driver to go out for his single-lap qualifying run on Saturday afternoon, Patrick Carpentier drove his Dallara-Toyota around the 14-turn, 2.8968-kilometer St. Petersburg temporary street course in 64.4630 seconds for an average speed of 161.776 km/h. The time gave him provisional pole but with 17 other drivers to go, it did not take long for the Canadian to lose top spot to finish 14th overall, the position he will start Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. This is Carpentier's best starting position since his debut in IRL. Alex Barron stopped the clock at 64.3051 seconds to give him 13th place overall, one spot ahead of his teammate Carpentier. They will share row seven. Carpentier's day in Florida started a lot better than Friday, when the Red Bull Cheever Racing driver managed to earn ninth place in Saturday morning's third practice session.

''This is not the ideal starting position for this type of track,'' Carpentier said following his qualifying run. ''It is a bit disappointing, but the team had to expect such a result after missing most of Friday's practice sessions with one mechanical failure after another. Friday, we ran 14 laps and this morning (Saturday) 15. That's 60% less lap time than most of the other drivers. When we went out this morning, we never tried to set-up the car for qualifying. Instead, we ran in short race mode to see how the car was handling. Everybody thought it would be best that way to go since points are gathered in a race. The car feels fine, and as we saw in the first two races this season, there is always hope for a good finish on race day.''

Round 3 of the Indy Racing League Series 2005 schedule, is a historic moment as it is the first-ever IRL race on a street/road course. But with so many teams and drivers with road course experience and background, nobody looked out of place in this new environment.

At the conclusion of the single-lap qualifying session there was a 10-minute break for adjustments for the fastest six qualifiers' cars. Dario Franchitti was the quickest on the initial session, followed by Helio Castroneves, Tomas Enge, Bryan Herta, Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Kanaan. They all took part in the 10-minute Firestone Fast Six Shoot-out designed to give them an opportunity to better their qualifying position. Three did improve their times and change or keep their position on the grid.

Bryan Herta was the big winner as he moved from fourth to first, to win his second consecutive pole of the season. The American will write his name in the record book as the first driver to win an IRL pole on a street/road course. Herta, who drives for Andretti Green, improved his time by almost one second to 62.5096 seconds, to edge Helio Castroneves (62.6933 s). The Penske driver started the shoot-out second, improved his time by half a second to hold on to his spot on the front row. Row two will be filled by Brazilian Tony Kanaan who improved by seven-tenths of a second to go from sixth to third. Kanaan's teammate, Dario Franchitti, of Scotland was the big loser in the shoot-out . The Andretti Green driver was quickest in the single-lap run, but could not improve in the final go. The top four drivers are all former Champ Car veterans. Panther Racing driver Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic will share the third row with Series points leader and Team Penske driver Sam Hornish Jr. of the USA.

Drivers will return to the track on Sunday morning for a 30-minute warm-up session.

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, April 3 on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. The race, the first non-oval event in IndyCar Series history, will be telecast live by TSN at 3:30 p.m. (EDT)

-mdo-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Enge , Helio Castroneves , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske