MICHAEL ANDRETTI, ...
# 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola
QUALIFYING POSITION: 2nd (30.550 lap time, 239.097 mph)
Will be his 4th start at Fontana. He has led in all three of his previous races here but has retired with problems all three times. Led 36 laps in 1997 before his car overheated while leading; crashed while in second place after leading 44 laps in 1998 near the end of the race; led 62 laps in 1999 before an oil fire took him out of the lead and the race. Has led a total of 142 laps at the California Speedway.
"The car was just okay. I was hoping to be a little bit quicker but I had too much understeer. I said after I qualified that if anyone else hits it (the set-up) right, they would beat us and I think Gil did. The pole would have been nice. I haven't had a pole on an oval since 1992 (Nazareth). We thought we had it at Michigan and were pretty disappointed not to get it so we were hoping to get the pole here. The car feels really good. We have had bad luck in some races and we just want to end on a high note. We almost won in Michigan and we hope to take the "almost" out of it here. If the car runs all day I think we'll have a shot at it. There are so many variables in a 500-mile race. It's an interesting place to end the Championship because anything can happen. Especially with so many mathematical possibilities in the Championship. This race will be different from the Michigan race. No one wanted to lead the last lap there but here they might want to here."
#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola:
QUALIFYING POSITION: 3rd (30.553 lap time, 239.073 mph)
This will be his fourth start at Fontana. His highest finish here is third in last year's race where he set the record for fastest lap. Has led a total of 37 laps here. Finished ninth in 1997; finished seventh in 1998; and finished third in 1999.
"We figured out in Michigan that you don't learn anything driving in the tow just to set a fast time so I tried to run alone and work on the car. I was slow in the morning practice because I was trying to run in clean air and not by anyone so I could work on the car. It definitely helped because the car is good. The car was almost as good as it was in Michigan but it wasn't an absolutely perfect car but I am very happy with it. It has been good right off of the truck so after I ran a qualifying set-up and it was good, I parked it and said lets put some fuel and wing in and work on the race set-up. When I ran the solid 39, to be honest, it was a bit of a surprise but I'll take it for sure. The race is too, too long though and anything can happen. There is still one more race to go to get a win in 2000 and that is our goal. We qualified good this season but just didn't manage to put the races together. Sooner or later it comes back around and everything starts working right again. This is our last chance to win in 2000 and the $1 million prize money would help make it worth the wait."
(On ending his reign as one of the most eligible bachelors in racing:) "Racing is major in my life but there is a little more to it than that. I am getting married on the 10th of February to Andrea (Iversson)." (Brazilian who currently lives in Sao Paulo and works at an advertising agency.)