De Ferran takes pole despite crash

Gil de Ferran retained his provisional pole from Saturday despite crashing near the end of today's final qualifying session at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

De Ferran takes pole despite crash

De Ferran turned the fastest time of day once again but was a few tenths of a second slower than his best from yesterday. He was trying to shave a little more time off when an apparent transmission fauilure caused his rear wheels to lock as he entered the first turn at around 160 mph. His car flew off the road, hit a tyre barrier and flipped, but de Ferran was entirely uninjured in the accident.

"The rear wheels seized up and I lost the rear end right on entry," de Ferran said. "From there it was accident control technique! I tried to keep the car sliding and stop it from going into a spin. I knew I was carrying a lot of speed through the gravel. I thought I was going to hit pretty hard. I leaned back a little bit and put my head back."

De Ferran was relieved with the outcome of the accident as he came to a rest upside-down, but completely conscious and unscarred. "I was surprised. It didn't hit too hard and when I finally opened my eyes I was upside-down. I was fine. I just started talking to the team and the guys, telling them I was OK."

De Ferran said track conditions weren't quite as good today as yesterday. The weather has been perfect at Mid-Ohio this weekend, with almost cloudless skies and temperatures barely reaching the lows 80s (F). But with so much sun on the track conditions were a little more slippery today than on Friday. "I felt the track was a little more slick and more difficult today," de Ferran said.

Provisionally, until the stewards confirm otherwise, de Ferran's teammate Helio Castroneves will start second on Sunday, based on yesterday's qualifying time. A question remains about whether Dario Franchitti's fastest lap today will be allowed. If so, it will move Franchitti up to second on the grid between the Penske teammates.

Franchitti produced his fast lap at the end of today's qualifying, just as the red flag came out for de Ferran's accident. Franchitti believes he completed his quick lap before the red flag, but CART officials provisionally disallowed the time, saying it was completed after the red flag was displayed.

"The red flag was displayed after my hot lap," Franchitti said. "The first red was shown to me entering the bridge at turn one. As far as I'm concerned, the time should stand."

At this point, Franchitti will start third however, behind the pair of Penske/Reynard-Hondas. Kenny Brack was fourth today followed by Christian Fittipaldi, Max Papis, Cristiano da Matta and championship leader Michael Andretti in eighth.

"I was sliding around a lot," Andretti said. "Now I have to work on getting a top five in the race. It's hard to pass here so we will have to make up some spots in the pits. It will just be a race of hanging in there and bringing home some points toward the championship."

Patrick Carpentier will start ninth with defending champion and last year's Mid-Ohio racewinner Juan Pablo Montoya starting tenth. "The car feels pretty good," Montoya said. "It was handling much better today. I've been pushing the car and taking it to the limit and to do that you've really got to move with the car. I have had good results at this track and tomorrow will hopefully be the same."


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