BROOKLYN, MI., (July 22, 2000) -- Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy stood on it in qualifying, powering his way to the pole position for the start of tomorrow's Michigan 500 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Tracy broke Jimmy Vasser's qualifying record from...
BROOKLYN, MI., (July 22, 2000) -- Team KOOL Green's Paul Tracy stood on it in qualifying, powering his way to the pole position for the start of tomorrow's Michigan 500 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Tracy broke Jimmy Vasser's qualifying record from 1996 (30.682s / 234.665 mph) by .037 seconds, turning a lap of 30.645 seconds for an average speed of 234.949 mph. It's Tracy's 13th career pole, his first driving for Team KOOL Green and his first since taking the pole at Milwaukee in May of 1997.
Tracy, who had been fastest in practice and earned the right to qualify last, knocked Michael Andretti from the pole. Andretti went out before the #26 KOOL Honda-Reynard, posting an impressive lap of 30.687 seconds (234.627 mph). Helio Castroneves, who had an engine problem earlier in the session, had one last shot at removing Tracy from the pole in his spare car. Castroneves' qualifying run was only good enough for 13th. Andretti's teammate Christian Fittipaldi was third quick with a time of 30.739 seconds (234.230 mph), while Tracy's teammate Dario Franchitti will start fourth with a lap of 30.878 seconds (233.176 mph).
The 24-car field returns to the track for a 30-minute warm-up tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. before the 200-lap race begins with the live broadcast on ABC-TV at 1:30 p.m.
PAUL TRACY, #26 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:
(1st with a lap-time of 30.645 seconds / 234.949 mph)
"It was a great run. I owe it to the Team KOOL Green engineering staff, especially Tino Belli, who has done a fantastic job with all the work they've done over the winter in the wind tunnel. I also have to thank Honda for the engine that they let me run here this weekend. It was a one-off special that was in my car and it obviously gave us enough power to outrun the Fords. We've been having a great weekend and it has a lot to do with our race in Toronto, getting the monkey off our back by finishing third. It's nice to be on the pole and get an extra point, but we have to be there at the end tomorrow.
"I was surprised by the 234 (mph) lap by Michael (Andretti). When I went out, I heard on my radio that Michael did 234.6 and I thought that was pretty good. My last warm-up lap was a 234.4, so I knew that we had a little bit more speed in the car. The car slid a little bit in turns three in four on the first lap and scrubbed off a little speed. I made a sway-bar change and just let the car flow up the track. That freed it up and got the speed I needed."
DARIO FRANCHITTI, #27 TEAM KOOL GREEN HONDA/REYNARD/FIRESTONE:
(4th with a lap-time of 30.878 seconds / 233.176 mph)
"Before the session the Team KOOL Green engineers and I were debating about how much wing to put in the car due to it being a little warmer this afternoon. I think they did a pretty good job because it was pretty near perfect. It's a long race, so qualifying isn't as important as it usually is. But it's always good to be up near the front. We'll put the setup back on that we used in practice, which I'm very happy with, and we should be in great shape for the race.
"A 500-mile race is very mentally taxing. For three-and-a-half hours you can't make any mistakes. You can't be an inch off line, you can't get your car in the wrong position behind someone and you're averaging laps of 230 mph -- it's pretty hard work."