CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America Qualifying Report

DeFerran Sets Track Record, Takes Provisional Pole Elkhart Lake, WI(August 14, 1998) -- Gil de Ferran covered the longest track in the FedEx Championship Series in the shortest time ever Friday when he established a new track record during ...

CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America Qualifying Report
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DeFerran Sets Track Record, Takes Provisional Pole

Elkhart Lake, WI(August 14, 1998) -- Gil de Ferran covered the longest track in the FedEx Championship Series in the shortest time ever Friday when he established a new track record during provisional qualifying for the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America.

De Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) recorded a lap of 145.055 miles per hour (1 minute, 40.484 seconds) on the 4.048-mile permanent road course, eclipsing the track record of 142.342 mph (1 minute, 42.540 seconds) established by Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) last year.

De Ferran will be seeking his fifth career pole position, and his first since last year at Detroit, when final qualifying begins 1:45 p.m. ET (12:45 p.m. local) Saturday.

The pole winner earns the $10,000 Marlboro Pole Award, with the opportunity to collect a record rollover bonus of $315,000 with a victory in Sunday's race. The rollover has been accumulating at a rate of $15,000 per event since Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) drove to victory at Cleveland last year.

Combined with the $100,000 winner's purse in Sunday's race, the potential payoff for a victory from the pole Sunday is $425,000.

Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda), last week's pole sitter at Mid-Ohio, qualified a provisional second at 144.801mph (1:40.860). He is seeking his fifth front-row start in as many road or street course events.

Michael Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford) was third at 144.619 mph (1:40.767). He seeks his best start on a permanent road course since third at Road America in 1996. Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) was fourth at 144.309 mph (1:40.983) and was followed by Zanardi, the defending race champion and PPG Cup points leader, at 144.177 mph (1:41.076).

Andre Ribeiro (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), Unser Jr.'s teammate, sustained a fractured left fibula when he made contact with the Turn 9 wall during qualifying. According to Dr. Terry Trammell, CART's Chief Orthopedic Consultant, no surgery will be required, and the leg will not be placed in a cast. Ribeiro's driving status for the remainder of the weekend remains undetermined.

Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) posted the fourth-fastest speed at 144.354 mph (1:40.952), but had his time disallowed because of failure to clear the post-qualifying technical inspection. Moore's car failed the two-inch rule, which requires that the car maintain at least two inches of clearance between the chassis and the pavement at three separate reference points. Moore will qualify in the slower of two groups Saturday.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:

GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda: "We had a great day today and I have to say it was largely due to Goodyear. Before we went to Mid-Ohio, I came here and had a very successful test. We were able to come up with a good recommendation for this race and thank God our suspicions proved to be correct. Since we unloaded the car this morning, it has been very, very good so everything's fine. If the temperature goes down, I think we'll have to get into the 39s to maintain the pole position. This track requires that you run very little downforce to go fast, and there are some heavy braking areas, so the car slides around a lot here."

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "We tested up here a couple of weeks ago and obviously we discovered that the track was a lot quicker than it had been in previous years. Somebody put a lot of stuff on the track in the carousel. That's a very long corner and I got a little bit sideways in it and lost some time. I'm happy with where we are in qualifying today, but I know we'll need to go faster tomorrow. I've got a little bit of understeer, but generally, I'm very happy with the car. All in all, it was a good day. I'm feeling pretty confident for tomorrow and Sunday as well."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford: "It seems like all year long I've been in the wrong place at the wrong time. We had a very quick lap going but unfortunately Al [Unser] Jr. got in my way. He tried to get out of the way, but I was just a victim of circumstance. It was disappointing, but we're hoping for a little more tomorrow as the track gets better. (On last week's accident at Mid-Ohio) I've only seen it a couple of times. I was sore on Monday and a little bit on Tuesday, but I started working out again Tuesday and Wednesday. It was one of those things that I think since I didn't hit anything hard, it looked a lot worse than it was. The car did its job and so did the sand trap. (On the Goodyear tires) We did a long run on these tires at the test [prior to Mid-Ohio] and they held up. Hopefully, they'll stay under us. They've made a big gain, and they're working very hard to get it right on road courses. Hopefully, they will continue to keep improving."

WHAT'S NOTEWORTHY:

Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard Honda) has started on the front row for the past four FedEx Championship Series road or street course events, including pole positions at Toronto and Mid-Ohio, respectively, and outside poles at Portland and Cleveland. He has started eighth or better in eight of the past nine events and 10 of 13 overall this season.

Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) qualified a provisional fifth. He is seeking his best start of the season on a road or street course, exceeding seventh last week at Mid-Ohio, and his best overall on a road or street course since fifth at Road America in 1995.

Davis Racing announced that effective Saturday, it will enter a new ownership agreement with J.A.G. Sports Management, LLC of Hannover, Germany. Under terms of the deal, J.A.G. owner J. Andreas Grajewski will join second-year CART owner Gerald Davis as part owner of the team. Davis will retain majority ownership of the team, which campaigns Arnd Meier (Hasseroder/Total Tel Lola Ford). J.A.G.'s role will be to secure additional sponsorships and create the foundation for a successful racing program. "I'm happy to have J.A.G. as a marketing partner," said Davis. "Their experience in sports marketing will be very valuable for our team to progress to the next level."

Source: CART Online

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