CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan Saturday Newman-Haas notes

MICHAEL ANDRETTI ...

MICHAEL ANDRETTI
#6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola

Andretti was second quickest in the morning practice session and therefore qualified second from last. He held pole position for a few moments before Paul Tracy ran his qualifying laps. His second place start is his highest so far this season after qualifying third in Toronto. He has won two 500-mile races in his career (1987 and 1989) and both came here at Michigan International Speedway. Although he has not competed in the Indy 500 since 1995, Andretti still holds the dubious honor of having led the most laps without a victory - a total of 356 laps.

"It doesn't matter where you qualify here because you can win from any position but I am a little disappointed that we didn't get pole. It would have been nice to reward the guys with a pole. Especially since I haven't won a pole on an oval since 1992. We are very happy with the car. We unloaded fast. I thought my time would stick but then Paul went out and put a good lap together. I was impressed but disappointed. It would have been nice to get the point for the pole as well. Now all we have to keep in mind is finish, finish, finish. This race is a mental game. Now more so than ever with the Handford wing. You are racing wheel-to-wheel for three hours. You can't let your mind wander. You have to really be on it for three hours and you are exhausted after the race. It amazed me when Christian put up his time and then it stuck for a long time. I saw that and I knew we had a shot a pole since our cars are almost identical in set-up. I think all of us are surprised at how fast we went. I don't think there will be as much passing as there was in the previous races here but there will still be a lot."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI
#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth Lola

NOTES: Fittipaldi had a water leak in his radiator this morning and had to run both his racecar and his back-up car in the practice session, as he had to do on Friday. Despite limited track time, Fittipaldi was happy with the set-up on his racecar. In 500-mile races Fittipaldi's highlights include a second place in his first and only appearance in the 1995 Indy 500 where he was also named "Rookie of the Year." In his previous 500-mile race at the 1999 season-finale at the California speedway, Fittipaldi drove the fastest race lap and finished third in his fourth race back after suffering a subdural hemitoma when his transmission failed during an August 2nd testing accident at Gateway Intentional Raceway.

"I am very happy with the car. We had some small mechanical problems so I didn't get to run a lot either day but we knew we were happy with the car anyway. We had to keep switching the cars in the practice but we knew we were in good shape. I feel very optimistic about the race. We just need to stay toward the front until the last 20 or so laps and then go for it. It will be a long day tomorrow in the office. I think there will be a lot of passing tomorrow and a lot of dicing through the whole race. If you don't win and finish second, it is still a good result in a 500-mile race. We all just want to get out of here in one piece."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy