DETROIT (AP) -- Juan Montoya, Paul Tracy, Dario Franchitti. Some of the biggest names on the CART FedEx championship circuit are all praying for sunny skies.
The track on Belle Isle was slow and bumpy Friday. As a result, the top drivers had rather slow runs in provisional qualifying. If they run again Saturday, they have a chance to move up on the starting grid.
But if it rains, they'll be working their way through the pack in the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit on Sunday.
Italian Max Papis, Brazilian Helio Castroneves and Kenny Brack of Sweden ran the three fastest times in first-day qualifying.
Montoya, the Colombian sensation seeking his fourth straight CART pole and second straight CART victory, was sixth with a qualifying lap of 113.522 mph.
''The car is really good,'' said Montoya, who also won the crossover Indianapolis 500 this month.
Papis was clearly happy to be back on a road course, even one as bumpy as Detroit's.
Papis, seeking his second win of the CART FedEx championship season, turned in a lap of 114.280 mph to earn the provisional pole.
''The grip is limited out there,'' Papis said of the 2.3-mile, 14-turn course on Belle Isle, an island in the middle of the Detroit River. ''One problem we have out there is what I call the typical American concrete patches.
''The track surface is not as enjoyable to drive as, say, Portland.''
Castroneves was second with a lap of 113.654 mph, with Kenny Brack of Sweden next at 113.622.
''I was expecting to go faster,'' Castroneves said. ''There's a lot of really tough competition out there right now.''
Franchitti, who won this race last year, was fifth with a first-day run of 113.548 mph.
''We're still not there, but we're working on it,'' Franchitti said in his rich Scottish brogue. ''Unfortunately, we were in the slow group today and the track isn't rubbered in yet.''
New tires are what put a lot of rubber on the racing surface. Teams generally use one or two sets of new tires in qualifying, making the race course a tad less slippery in the turns.
Tracy, Franchitti's teammate on the Team KOOL Green team, is seeking his second win in seven races. But he was 16th with a first-day run of 111.295 mph.
''Qualifying has not been all that good to us this year, so we've had to scrap for everything we can get on race day,'' said Tracy, who leads the points standing with 59 points, seven better than Brazilian Roberto Moreno.
Moreno was 11th with a provisional run of 111.587 mph. Jimmy Vasser, who is third in the points standings with 48 points, was 12th with a lap at 111.421 mph.
''We ran both cars during this morning's practice session so we could play around with the differential settings and get the tires to match the course,'' Vasser said. ''We had a bit of understeer all day, but I think we'll have a good race car.''
Brazilian Gil de Ferran, who won at Nazareth, Pa., was fourth with a lap of 113.620 mph. Michael Andretti, who won the Indy-car circuit's May 13 race in Japan, was eighth at 112.983 mph. Adrian Fernandez of Mexico, who won in Rio, was 15th at 111.315 mph.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.