Fontana 1999 Saturday Qualifying

Saturday Qualifying

Christian Fittipaldi signs an autograph for a fan.

10:10 Fujicolor Smart F100 SS1/250 CF8.0



Roger Penske, co-owner of the track and owner of Team Penske, checks his stopwatch.

10:31 Fujicolor Smart F100 SS1/700 CF5.6

PJ Jones in Patrick Racing's Swift qualifies 23rd. "We just have not been able to find the setup this weekend. We have been a little behind all weekend. Hopefully we can get tuned for the race tomorrow. It doesn't really matter where we start here, we can race hard tomorrow."

10:44 Fujicolor Smart F100 SS1/500 CF5.6

PJ Jones


Adrian Fernandez qualified thirteenth, benefiting from going out before the wind picked up too much. How important is pole for a 500 mile race? "It is good to get the pole for the extra championship point but apart from that it's not important. Last year we qualified last and finished fourth. So, you can win from the back of the pack if you have a good race car. The most important thing is to stay out of trouble, get good pit stops so you can be there for the end."

10:45 Fujicolor Smart F100 SS1/350 CF5.6

Alex Barron qualifies the Penske car 14th. "The car was perfect. I hope we can do well for Mr. Penske at his track. A good result here will do a lot for my career. It will look good to finish a 500-mile race up front."

10:58 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Barron and Penske

Pruett Takes Pole

Only half an hour into the session Scott Pruett lays down a time that gives him the poll ."Our approach today was a very deliberate attempt to get just one good lap, which was pretty tricky with the wind. John [Dick, his race engineer] and I knew we had to free the car up so we wouldn't lose speed in the turns, and that meant running the car really loose. I really hung it out there and gave it everything I could. After the first lap I was on the radio telling the guys, 'That's it, that's all it's got.' And we just had a feeling it might be enough."

11:00 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1000 CF5.6

Gil de Ferran surveys the damage to his car. "The car was really good this morning, so we really trimmed out the car and set out for the pole. The weather conditions were ideal at the start of qualifying, but just before we went out the wind started to pick up. A gust just blew as I came out of turn two, I almost caught it and kept my foot hard on the throttle, but the back end finally came around and I just brushed the wall."

11:27 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/350 CF8.0

de Ferran Damage Survey


Patrick Carpentier squats on the pit wall discussing his seventh place qualifying position. "The car was good, and I think we have a good set up for a long run. The car has been stable all weekend."

11:31 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/500 CF9.5

Nearby, Greg Moore was sitting out the qualifying session. He had broken a bone in the back of his hand and received 15 stitches as the result of an accident on his motorbike in the paddock area on Friday. Although we're told his injury played no part, Greg had a terrible accident on lap ten of the race and lost his life.

Ironically, Roberto Moreno was lined up to take his place if he wasn't able to drive in the race.

11:33 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/180 CF8.0

Greg Moore's Hand

Franchitti Qualifying

Dario Franchitti, leading the championship points qualified eighth. "I think we got everything out of the KOOL car that we could. The wind seemed to gust a lot when we went out. I could really feel it on the straight. If I couldnít be on the pole, I didnít want Juan to get it and collect that extra point."

11:40 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

So then it is Juan Montoya's turn and Dario's wish was granted as Juan qualifies third. "I'm a little disappointed about missing the pole, and the championship point. But it's OK. My car was perfect, there wasn't another tenth of a mile an hour left in it. It's just the wind."

11:42 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/1500 CF5.6

Juan Goes Out
Andretti's Attempt

Michael Andretti, driving a Swift for the last time, was also having trouble with the wind. "The car was fine. We were flat out all the way around. The wind was blowing us around a little but you can't blame that, we just didn't have a car quick enough. The car feels really good for tomorrow and has been really comfortable all weekend."

11:51 Fujifilm Nexia A200 SS1/700 CF5.6

At the Winner's Circle Fan Club meeting Max Papis is happy with his front row position. Although he went out last and had to contend with the higher winds, he was only 0.113 of a  second behind Scott Pruett's time.

15:51 Fujifilm Nexia D100 SS1/45 CF5.6

Mad Max


The drivers are asked what happens if they need to "relieve" themselves in the middle of a 500 mile race. Most of the drivers say that they just go and don't worry about it. Helio Castro-Neves says it is not so easy for him because he has a white driving suit, so it would show when he got out of the car!

15:56 Fujifilm Nexia D100 SS1/45 CF5.6

Tony Kanaan qualified eleventh and is in a cheerful mood, joking around as usual at the meeting.

15:59 Fujifilm Nexia D100 SS1/30 CF5.6

Lights Champs

Indy Lights driver Casey Mears is asked about his performance at the Runway Madness party the night before. He came second in the championship after Spanish driver Oriol Servia (on the left), who graduates to Champ Cars for the 2000 season.

16:06 Fujifilm Nexia D100 SS1/60 CF5.6

Juan Montoya is looking forward to the race tomorrow and doesn't seem stressed about his fight for the championship. With Toyota taking their first pole today, he's also confident with that engine for next year.

16:28 Fujifilm Nexia D100 SS1/45 CF5.6


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