Cars 'n' Stars: Michael has Molson Provisional Pole; Saab also Conquers Pikes Peak; CART Heads for Japan in 1998

21 July 1997

Michael Andretti finally did what everyone knew he would do and captured (provisionally) the pole for a major CART event: The Molson Indy at Toronto. Andretti is CARTs most active pole winner (with 30), but hasn't had the front row slot since Long Beach, 1995. He cut a lap of 104.289 mph and Mark Blundell followed with a 103.443 for Sunday's 200 mile event. Dario Franchitii had third fastest time.

As it appeared here last week Rod Millen won the overall speed award at Pikes Peak on the fourth of July, and Larry Webster, driving a stock Saab 900 Turbo, won the showroom Stock 2WD class with a run of 14 minutes, 13.46 seconds. Millen's Toyota did it in just about 10 minutes.

Championship Auto Racing Teams continues to think globally. The association has just signed on to stage a race at the Twin Ring Motegi Motorsports complex in Japan, March 28, 1998. Budweiser will be the title sponsor of the Budweiser 500. The track holds 50,000 fans and is 60 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The Super Touring car series will be running at Toronto this weekend, and Tasman Motorsports has entered a Honda for driver Neil Crompton. Desire Wilson will pilot a Mazda in Sundays race. VW's 1998 Passat will go head to head with BMW and Mercedes models.

Ford takes the gold stars this week for Federal crash testing, as six models received five stars (tops) in frontal and side impact tests.

General Motors will raise prices for 1998 by 1.3%.

Mercedes new sport ute is the ML320 and will go up against Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Bill Tucker is the "gas man" on Johnny Benson's Pennzoil Pontiac. That's weekends. During the week he practices law in Albamarle, N.C.

The Toyota Atlantic championship race at Cleveland was won by Bertrand Godin driving a Ralt. The field consisted of 30 Ralts, Reynards and Swifts.

Top Honda-powered qualifiers at CART/Toronto are Gil DeFerran, 4 and Alex "zig-zag" Zanardi, 6. Old friend Bryan Wagner just joined the flack staff (PR) at Honda Racing in Torrance, CA.

The new Mercedes CLK/GTR won the 4-hours of Nurburgring FIA GT championship event last week.

An electric Toyota RAV 4 costs $42,000. The basic RAV 4 costs 15 grand and change.

Michael Andretti loves Toronto because of Hockey and restaurants. Mo Gugelmin says Toronto has the best Sushi. Michael has five wins at Toronto; defending champion is Andre Ribeiro.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel

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