Penske pair blitz warm-up too

Marlboro Team Penske's dominance of the Portland race weekend continued in the race day warm-up

Penske pair blitz warm-up too

Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran have already secured the front row of the grid for Roger Penske's resurgent squad, and the Brazilian duo also led the way in the warm-up.

Detroit race winner Castroneves was 0.2s quicker than his team-mate, but the nearest non-Penske, Adrian Fernandez in Pat Patrick's Reynard-Ford, was over 0.5s back.

After several years in the doldrums, Penske has bounced back spectacularly this season. The team's dominance of the Portland weekend so far has brought back memories of their crushing 1994 season, when Al Unser Jr, Paul Tracy and Emerson Fittipaldi finished one-two-three in the series in Roger Penske's cars.

Behind the Penskes however, we could be in for a good race. The Patrick cars of Fernandez and Roberto Moreno, Cal Wells' PPI Motorsports pairing Cristiano da Matta and Oriol Servia, as well as Dario Franchitti and Christian Fittipaldi, were all fast in both qualifying and the warm-up.

Moreno could be in for a particularly good day. Starting third, he is within reach of the championship lead and with main rivals Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser well down the grid, the Brazilian is well placed to take advantage. The same applied at Detroit however, and there he crashed out while heading for the podium...

Norberto Fontana is also worth watching out for. The Della Penna driver took his time to get to grips with the 1.9-mile road course but shot up to sixth place in warm-up on his final flying lap. However, he still faces a hard race from 23rd on the grid.

Those in trouble include reigning champion Juan Montoya and team-mate Jimmy Vasser, series leader Paul Tracy and PacWest's Mauricio Gugelmin. The latter had his qualifying times disallowed for a technical infringement and will have to fight his way through from the back of the grid.

Montoya was fastest in pre-qualifying practice but was troubled by oversteer when it mattered and is only eighth on the grid. Worse still, his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Lola-Toyota was only 21st quickest in the warm-up.

The top two in the championship, Paul Tracy and Jimmy Vasser, improved to sit just outside the top ten in the warm-up, but are still only 17th and 14th respectively in the starting line-up.

The race is due to start at 10pm UK time. Hot weather is forecast and with the race distance extended for 2000, it should be a tough afternoon, particularly for anyone not driving a Penske. Autosport.com will be bringing you live race updates right through from the pre-race build-up to the chequered flag, plus a full post-race report.

Warm-up times from Portland:

1 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Reynard-Honda 1m00.329s
2 Gil de Ferran Team Penske Reynard-Honda 1m00.612s
3 Adrian Fernandez Patrick Racing Reynard-Ford 1m00.882s
4 Christian Fittipaldi Newman-Haas Lola-Ford 1m00.993s
5 Cristiano da Matta PPI Motorsports Reynard-Toyota 1m01.089s
6 Norberto Fontana Della Penna Reynard-Toyota 1m01.156s
7 Oriol Servia PPI Motorsports Reynard-Toyota 1m01.162s
8 Roberto Moreno Patrick Racing Reynard-Ford 1m01.251s
9 Dario Franchitti Team KOOL Green Reynard-Honda 1m01.253s
10 Max Papis Team Rahal Reynard-Ford 1m01.282s
11 Paul Tracy Team KOOL Green Reynard-Honda 1m01.391s
12 Jimmy Vasser Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m01.399s
13 Alex Tagliani Player's/Forsythe Reynard-Ford 1m01.410s
14 Kenny Brack Team Rahal Reynard-Ford 1m01.427s
15 Shinji Nakano Walker Racing Reynard-Honda 1m01.480s
16 Patrick Carpentier Player's/Forsythe Reynard-Ford 1m01.528s
17 Bryan Herta Mo Nunn Racing Reynard-Mercedes 1m01.623s
18 Michael Andretti Newman-Haas Lola-Ford 1m01.639s
19 Mauricio Gugelmin PacWest Reynard-Mercedes 1m01.724s
20 Mark Blundell PacWest Reynard-Mercedes 1m01.830s
21 Juan Montoya Ganassi Lola-Toyota 1m01.906s
22 Luiz Garcia Jr Arciero Project Reynard-Mercedes 1m01.928s
23 Takuya Kurosawa Dale Coyne Racing Lola-Ford 1m02.005s
24 Tarso Marques Dale Coyne Racing Swift-Ford 1m02.075s
25 Michel Jourdain Jr Bettenhausen Lola-Mercedes 1m02.730s

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