Firestone Firehawk 500 Qualifying Report - 2001

5/21/2001 4:25:49 PM

Honda Racing Report
Friday, May 18, 2001

Firestone Firehawk 500 Qualifying Report
Circuit: Twin Ring Motegi (1.54-mile oval) Motegi, Japan
2000 Pole: Juan Montoya (Toyota) 212.540 mph
2000 Winner: Michael Andretti (Ford) 157.154 mph race average
Weather: Clear, warm, 80-degrees F

Starting Grid:

Ps. Driver                Manufacturer   Time         Speed
1.  Helio Castroneves     Honda          25.849 sec.  215.591 mph
2.  Dario Franchitti      Honda          25.991 sec.  214.413 mph
3.  Gil de Ferran         Honda          25.993 sec.  214.396 mph
4.  Tony Kanaan           Honda          26.022 sec.  214.157 mph
5.  Bruno Junqueira       Toyota         26.035 sec.  214.050 mph
6.  Kenny Brack           Ford Cosworth  26.044 sec.  213.976 mph
7.  Michel Jourdain       Ford Cosworth  26.057 sec.  213.870 mph
8.  Alex Zanardi          Honda          26.088 sec.  213.615 mph
9.  Adrian Fernandez      Honda          26.097 sec.  213.542 mph
10. Patrick Carpentier    Ford Cosworth  26.147 sec.  213.133 mph
11. Michael Andretti      Honda          26.215 sec.  212.581 mph
12. Cristiano da Matta    Toyota         26.274 sec.  212.103 mph
13. Shinji Nakano         Honda          26.280 sec.  212.055 mph
14. Christian Fittipaldi  Toyota         26.366 sec.  211.363 mph
16. Paul Tracy            Honda          26.432 sec.  210.835 mph

Honda Drivers Sweep Motegi Qualifying

Led by Long Beach Grand Prix race winner Helio Castroneves, Honda-powered drivers swept the top four positions today in qualifying for this weekend's Firestone Firehawk 500 here at the Twin Ring Motegi oval, the fifth round in the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series.

Located approximately 65 miles northeast of Tokyo, the state-of-the-art Twin Ring Motegi facility was built by Honda in 1997, and Marlboro Team Penske driver's pole is the third here for Honda in the four year history of the event. It also is the second pole of the season for both Castroneves and Honda.

Alongside Castroneves on the grid is 1999 championship runner-up Dario Franchitti, the Team KOOL Green driver having his best qualifying run of the season to-date. Just two-thousandths of a second slower, defending series champion Gil de Ferran will start on the inside of the second row along side Tony Kanaan in the Mo Nunn Racing Honda.

Alex Zanardi and Adrian Fernandez also were top-ten qualifiers today. Tomorrow's 500-kilometer race starts at 12:30 p.m. local time, with television coverage on ABC starting Saturday, May 19, at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) pole qualifier: "Our car has been very quick from the start of the weekend. The wind shifted a bit for qualifying but it had no effect on us today. And Honda, these guys, I tell you, they're really working hard all of the time. We have a very good engine for this weekend, as we always do. I'm still very excited, and can't wait for tomorrow. I want to win my first oval race." [Note: Castroneves has three CART career wins, all on permanent road courses or temporary street circuits.]