CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago: Team Motorola Saturday qualifying report

CHICAGO, Illinois (June 29, 2002) Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti decided to shake up qualifying this afternoon when they withdrew their first attempt and made a second effort with the back-up car. "We knew that we had a problem in our...

CHICAGO, Illinois (June 29, 2002) Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti decided to shake up qualifying this afternoon when they withdrew their first attempt and made a second effort with the back-up car. "We knew that we had a problem in our first run with the pop-off valve that cost us quite a bit of speed," said general manager Kim Green. "So we decided to take a bit of a gamble and go back out to try to gain a few positions and it worked in our favor." Andretti had originally qualified 15th and then Adrian Fernandez withdrew his primary qualifying car and went out and re-qualified sixth, bumping Andretti back to 16th position. At that point the decision was made to take a chance and re-qualify the back-up car. "We knew we were taking a bit of a gamble," Andretti explained. "But it was a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained." In the second qualifying attempt, Andretti improved his starting position to 14th with a time of 23.884 seconds, 155.100 mph.

Andretti's technical partner, Dario Franchitti, captured today's pole, his first of the season, with a time of 23.428 seconds (158.118 mph). Alex Tagliani took second place with a time of 23.434 seconds (158.077 mph) and Cristiano daMatta qualified third with a time of 23.443 seconds (158.017 mph). Michael Andretti's other technical partner, Paul Tracy, will be starting beside Michael in the seventh row after qualifying 13th with a time of 23.847 seconds (155.340 mph). Tomorrow's race begins at 2:30 p.m. CT and will be shown live on CBS.

Michael Andretti - #39 Honda-Lola-Bridgestone

"In the run with my primary car the pop-off valve stuck wide open on both timed laps. That is critical because I didn't even get into sixth gear on the straightaway so I knew we were giving up a lot of speed. When we saw Adrian (Fernandez) go back out with his back-up car we decided to go ahead and take the gamble and do the same. We knew going out that even if we went a bit slower we would only lose one or two spots so it was a situation of nothing ventured, nothing gained. Our gamble wasn't going back out, it was not having any new tires because we had already scrubbed them all for the race. Going out on old tires we knew that we would be a couple of tenths down on speed. But it worked in our favor, we gained a few spots and that's going to be very important in tomorrow's race because starting position is key. The whole field is separated by only a few tenths and that means passing is going to be really difficult. Team Motorola will need great pit stops and Kim Green and Tony Cotman are going to have to be on the top of their strategy game to get us to the front tomorrow."

Kim Green -- General Manager

"It was a good decision to re-qualify based on the type of problem we had in our first qualifying attempt. We had a pop-off valve opening issue that we couldn't get settled down. We were certainly hopeful that we could have gained a couple more spots on the second run, but the unfortunate thing was we had already scrubbed all of our tires for the race so we didn't have a brand new set of tires. That probably hurt us a little bit but we still gained some spots and that was the idea. This puts us in a little better position for tomorrow and as close as the competition is, we're going to need great pit stops and see if we can't get up near the front."

Sunday will be Michael's 297th start of his career.

In 2001, Michael started 17th and finished 24th in this race.

Michael leads all active Champ Car drivers with 296 race starts, 42 wins, 32 poles and 6,563 laps led.

-tm-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Kim Green , Cristiano da Matta