Fernandez wins provisional CART pole

March 8, 2002 at 8:10 PM
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MONTERREY, Mexico, March 8 (UPI) -- Mexico City native Adrian Fernandez grabbed the provisional pole Friday for the season-opening CART Grand Prix of Monterrey.

Fernandez averaged 95.965 miles per hour in a Honda-Lola and under CART's new rules earns one point and will start no worse than the outside of the front row Sunday. A second round of qualifying will be held Saturday.

"It's a fantastic feeling and it couldn't have happened at a better place for me because this is the home of Tecate," Fernandez said, referring to one of his sponsors. "It was very exciting at the end because there were a lot of drivers out there and we were lucky to be in the right gap."

Fernandez struggled last season as CART's only owner-driver, finishing a distant 18th in the standings. His best results were thirds at Toronto and Road America.

"This was a great day for the whole team, especially since we struggled here last year," he said. "But today the car was very well-balanced and we managed to find a gap out there with no traffic, which was remarkable with all the cars out there, then managed to take advantage of the opportunity we had."

Brazil's Christian Fittipaldi actually eclipsed Fernandez, but because he brought out a red flag earlier in qualifying, Fittipaldi's top lap was disallowed and he wound up fourth in a Toyota-Lola.

Scotland's Dario Franchitti, who married actress Ashley Judd last December, had the second-fastest lap at 95.634 mph.

"My quickest lap would have been my last one, but I caught Max (Papis) with three corners left and that held me up," Franchitti said. "But those things happen and we had a good car."

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