BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 21, 2000) - Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green took advantage of ideal weather conditions Friday to post the fastest lap of the opening day of practice for Sunday's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway. Tracy...
BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 21, 2000) - Paul Tracy of Team KOOL Green took advantage of ideal weather conditions Friday to post the fastest lap of the opening day of practice for Sunday's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota at Michigan Speedway.
Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) recorded a lap of 236.749 miles per hour (30.412 seconds) on the two-mile oval to top 25 drivers who posted practice speeds for Sunday's 500-mile 11th round of the FedEx Championship Series (1:30 p.m. ET, live, ABC-TV). Tracy's speed bettered the track qualifying record of 234.665 mph (30.682 seconds) recorded by Jimmy Vasser during qualifying for the 1996 Marlboro 500, but does not stand as a track standard, which must be established in qualifying or race conditions.
Qualifying begins 11 a.m. ET Saturday. Tracy will be seeking his first pole since 1997 at Milwaukee, and will also be looking to exceed his season-best start of third at Rio de Janeiro.
Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing was second fastest Friday at 235.479 mph (30.576 seconds). His quick time came in the morning practice session, while those of Tracy and third-place Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) came in the afternoon.
Like Tracy, Andretti is chasing a season-best start, topping the third-place effort from which he drove to victory at Toronto last week.
Castroneves, of Marlboro Team Penske, was third at 235.356 mph (30.592 seconds). He is seeking his third pole in the past four events, to join previous pole-winning performances at Portland and Toronto.
Defending FedEx Championship Series and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Montoya (Target Toyota Lola) of Target Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth fastest at 235.110 mph (30.624 seconds). He was followed by Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green, the man Montoya dueled for the championship last year.
Franchitti was fifth fastest at 234.154 mph (30.749 seconds).
The top four drivers all posted speeds exceeding Vasser's track standard.
FedEx Championship Series leader Roberto Moreno (Visteon Ford Reynard) of Patrick Racing was 16th fastest at 230.378 mph (31.253 seconds). He holds a 90-88 championship lead over Andretti heading into Sunday's event.
PAUL TRACY, KOOL Honda Reynard: "It was a big tow. I got help from Adrian [Fernandez] and [Roberto] Moreno, who were running nose-to-tail on the back straight. It was a bit hair-raising at the end of the back straight. I looked down at the dash as it said, '248 [miles per hour].' I stayed in it, but it was pretty fast. I think it might be time to make some more changes to slow the cars down."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola: "The car unloaded really quick. [Andretti's Newman/Haas Racing teammate] Christian [Fittipaldi] tested here and really liked the racecar. It was quick right off the truck, so I'm pretty happy. We just need to maintain that, and we should be in good shape."
HELIO CASTRONEVES, Marlboro Honda Reynard: "When we took the car out of the truck it felt pretty good right off the bat. Of course, the draft here is unbelievable. In the afternoon, I was in the draft a lot. My fast lap was behind either Michael or Christian. The car felt really good in the draft. If the car's like this for the rest of the weekend, it'll be good because we have a good car. I'm hoping that we keep doing what Marlboro Team Penske is doing because, right now, it's fun."
Defending Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota champion Tony Kanaan (Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard) of Mo Nunn Racing was 20th fastest Friday in his return from a fractured left forearm and four cracked ribs sustained in a June 17 qualifying accident at Detroit. Kanaan's fast lap clocked in at 229.241 mph (31.408 seconds).
Paul Tracy (KOOL Honda Reynard) is a 12-time pole winner in the FedEx Championship Series, but has not started from the front of the field since 1997 at Milwaukee. His top start in nine career appearances at Michigan is fifth in 1993.
Michael Andretti (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola) has started among the top three drivers five times in his career, including a pole position in 1987, from which he drove to victory.
Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske is seeking his fifth top-three start in his past seven FedEx Championship Series events. Included are pole positions at Portland and Toronto and starts third at Nazareth and Detroit.
Qualifying for the Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota will air 12:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2.