CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan Saturday track notes

Good Morning from the heavily-occluded Irish Hills for Qualifying Day at Michigan Speedway! A beautiful sunrise greeted the early arrivals to the track this morning, but was quickly replaced with a low-level cloud mass drifting in from the west...

Good Morning from the heavily-occluded Irish Hills for Qualifying Day at Michigan Speedway! A beautiful sunrise greeted the early arrivals to the track this morning, but was quickly replaced with a low-level cloud mass drifting in from the west over the frontstretch stands. But the weather this morning isn't threatening rain, but it is threatening to render a record-breaking Pole run if the track stays cool. Yesterday saw four drivers over the 234.665 mph, 30.682-second track record from JIMMY VASSER's 1996 run, but those speeds were aided by the enormous draft being produced by the Champ Cars' Hanford Device. It remains to be seen whether the solo efforts will be as fast.

GREEN FLAG waves at 8 a.m. for the first practice session of the day. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 63 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 62 degrees F. at the start of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 8:01 a.m. to #33 TAGLIANI for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit Out. TAGLIANI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 8:05 a.m., #1 MONTOYA has already climbed to the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 237.092 mph (30.368 seconds) on only his fourth lap of the session.

At 8:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 237.092 mph (30.368 seconds), followed by #2 de FERRAN (235.564 mph; 30.666 seconds) and #33X TAGLIANI (232.611 mph; 30.953 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 8:12 a.m. after a long plume of smoke erupts from the rear of the car of #19 KUROSAWA. KUROSAWA coasts onto Pit Road without power as CART safety crews begin clean-up of the backstraight.

GREEN FLAG waves at 8:15 a.m. to resume the session.

At 8:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 237.092 mph (30.368 seconds), now followed by #26 TRACY (236.718 mph; 30.416 seconds) and #2 de FERRAN (236.664 mph; 30.565 seconds). In addition, de FERRAN has logged an unofficial 246.026 mph clocking at the Start/Finish line.

At 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 237.092 mph (30.368 seconds), followed by #33X TAGLIANI (236.725 mph (30.416 seconds) and #26 TRACY (236.718 mph; 30.416 seconds).

At 8:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #26 TRACY with a lap of 237.240 mph (30.349 seconds) on his 22nd circuit, followed by #1 MONTOYA (237.240 mph; 30.349 seconds) and #33X TAGLIANI (236.725 mph; 30.416 seconds).

At 8:41 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI clocks the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 238.687 mph (30.165 seconds) on his 29th circuit of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 8:43 a.m. after #10 GIDLEY has a large amount of smoke appear at the rear of the car at speed on the backstraight. GIDLEY pulls low on course and coasts to his Pit Area while safety crews begin cleaning fluid and parts from the backstretch.

At 8:50 a.m., 50 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the top three drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 8:50 a.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 8:52 a.m. to resume the session.

At 8:55 a.m., #97 da MATTA moves to the second-fastest of the weekend with a lap of 238.933 mph (30.134 seconds) on his 34th circuit.

At 8:56 a.m., #26 TRACY takes the top spot with a lap of 238.933 mph (30.134 seconds) on his 29th circuit.

At 8:57 a.m., #5 NAKANO dramatically slows on course and pulls low, coasting to Pit Road without power.

At 8:58 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI climbs back to second-fastest with a lap of 238.687 mph (30.165 seconds) on his 29th circuit of the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9 a.m. with #26 TRACY again the session's fastest with his earlier lap of 238.933 mph (30.134 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (238.687 mph; 30.165 seconds) and #97 da MATTA (238.269 mph; 30.218 seconds). There are 18 cars within one second of the fast lap set by TRACY. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 30 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #33X TAGLIANI, #32X CARPENTIER, #11X FITTIPALDI, #55X KANAAN, #19 KUROSAWA, #10 GIDLEY, and #40 FERNANDEZ. CART drivers logged a total of 984 laps during the session.

At 8:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 237.092 mph (30.368 seconds), now followed by #26 TRACY (236.718 mph; 30.416 seconds) and #2 de FERRAN (236.664 mph; 30.565 seconds). In addition, de FERRAN has logged an unofficial 246.026 mph clocking at the Start/Finish line.

At 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 237.092 mph (30.368 seconds), followed by #33X TAGLIANI (236.725 mph (30.416 seconds) and #26 TRACY (236.718 mph; 30.416 seconds).

At 8:40 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #26 TRACY with a lap of 237.240 mph (30.349 seconds) on his 22nd circuit, followed by #1 MONTOYA (237.240 mph; 30.349 seconds) and #33X TAGLIANI (236.725 mph; 30.416 seconds).

At 8:41 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI clocks the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 238.687 mph (30.165 seconds) on his 29th circuit of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 8:43 a.m. after #10 GIDLEY has a large amount of smoke appear at the rear of the car at speed on the backstraight. GIDLEY pulls low on course and coast to his Pit Area while safety crews begin cleaning fluid and parts from the backstretch.

At 8:50 a.m., 50 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the top three drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 8:50 a.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 8:52 a.m. to resume the session.

At 8:55 a.m., #97 da MATTA moves to the second-fastest of the weekend with a lap of 238.933 mph (30.134 seconds) on his 34th circuit.

At 8:56 a.m., #26 TRACY takes the top spot with a lap of 238.933 mph (30.134 seconds) on his 29th circuit.

At 8:57 a.m., #5 NAKANO dramatically slows on course and pulls low, coasting to Pit Road without power.

At 8:58 a.m., #6 ANDRETTI climbs back to second-fastest with a lap of 238.687 mph (30.165 seconds) on his 29th circuit of the session.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9 a.m. with #26 TRACY again the session's fastest with his earlier lap of 238.933 mph (30.134 seconds), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (238.687 mph; 30.165 seconds) and #97 da MATTA (238.269 mph; 30.218 seconds). There are 18 cars within one second of the fast lap set by TRACY. FedEx Championship Series drivers intorduced 30 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #33X TAGLIANI, #32X CARPENTIER, #11X FITTIPALDI, #55X KANAAN, #19 KUROSAWA, #10 GIDLEY, and #40 FERNANDEZ. CART drivers logged a total of 984 laps during the session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11 a.m. to start qualifying. The Champ Car drivers will have up to three times by before starting the official timed laps. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 90 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 69 degrees F. at the start of the qualifying session.

#25 GARCIA JR.'s top speed: 220.089 mph (32.714 seconds), second lap. This is the quickest lap that GARCIA JR. has run all weekend and the driver is, of course, currently on the Pole.

#34X MARQUES' top speed: 215.957 mph (33.340 seconds), first lap. YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:05 a.m. as MARQUES pulls low with a mechanical problem as he crossed the Start/Finish line on his first qualifying lap. CART safety crews reach MARQUES as the car stalls on the backstraight and tow the driver back to the Pit Area. MARQUES is currently second on the grid.

GREEN FLAG waves to resume qualifying.

#5X NAKANO's top speed: 225.812 mph; 31.885 seconds, second lap. Currently on the Pole.

#19X KUROSAWA's top speed: No Speed. YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:17 a.m. after KUROSAWA breaks traction entering Turn 3 on his first timed lap and the right rear side turns up the track. KUROSAWA makes hard contact against the outside wall with the left rear tire and sidepod. The car then slides backwards along the wall trailing a brief fire and comes to a stop in the middle of Turn 4. The fire immediately extinguishes and CART safety workers are immediately on the scene with the driver.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:34 a.m. to resume qualifying.

#16 JOURDAIN JR.'s top speed: 223.776 mph; 32.175 seconds; second lap. Currently second on the grid.

#55X KANAAN's top speed: 226.166 mph; 31.835 seconds; first lap. Currently on the Pole.

MEDICAL UPDATE: Dale Coyne Racing rookie driver Takuya Kurosawa is being airlifted to Foote Hospital in Jackson for precautionary x-rays following his incident in Turn 3 during qualifying. According to Dr. Steve Olvey, CART Director of Medical Affairs, Kurosawa was briefly unconscious at the scene but was awake and alert at the CART Mobile Medical Unit. Olvey said that Kurosawa reported pain in his neck and left foot and was transported for precautionary x-rays. Kurosawa will not compete in Sunday's race per CART rules that stipulate that any driver who is unconscious for any amount of time following an incident is not permitted to compete that weekend.

#18 BLUNDELL's top speed: 226.558 mph; 31.780 seconds, first lap. Currently on the Pole.

#40 FERNANDEZ's top speed: 231.169 mph; 31.146 seconds, first lap. Currently on the Pole.

#20 MORENO's top speed: 228.086 mph; 31.567 seconds; second lap. Currently second on the grid.

#10 GIDLEY's top speed: 224.628 mph; 32.053 seconds; second lap. Currently sixth on the grid.

#8 BRACK's top speed: 231.772 mph; 31.066 seconds; second lap. Currently on the Pole.

#11X FITTIPALDI's top speed: 234.230 mph; 30.739 seconds, second lap. Currently on the Pole. #17 GUGELMIN's top speed: 225.642 mph; 31.909 seconds, first lap. Currently eighth on the grid.

#7 PAPIS' top speed: 231.310 mph; 31.127 seconds, second lap. Currently third on the grid.

#3 CASTRONEVES' top speed: No Speed. YELLOW FLAG waves at 12:08 a.m. after CASTRONEVES has a large plume of smoke erupt from the rear of the car off Turn 2 on his first timed lap. CASTRONEVES pulls low on the backstraight and stalls at the bottom of Turn 3. CART safety crews quickly attend to the car, hooking it up for a tow-in and other crewmen begin clean-up of the backstretch. The crew readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the session. CASTRONEVES will be allowed to take a qualifying spot at the rear of the unqualified cars and if time permits, the driver will be allowed to take up to three warm-up laps and one timed lap instead of the usual two, as per CART qualifying rules.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:20 a.m. to resume the qualifying session.

#32X CARPENTIER's top speed: 231.989 mph; 31.036 seconds, first lap. Currently second on the grid.

#2 DE FERRAN's top speed: 232.980 mph; 30.904 seconds, first lap. Currently second on the grid.

#96 SERVIA's top speed: 229.511 mph; 31.371 seconds, second lap. Currently seventh on the grid.

#33X TAGLIANI's top speed: 232.333 mph; 30.990 seconds, first lap. Currently third on the grid.

#27 FRANCHITTI's top speed: 233.176 mph; 30.878 seconds, second lap. Currently second on the grid.

#1 MONTOYA's top speed: 232.536 mph; 30.963 seconds, first lap. Currently fourth on the grid.

#12 VASSER's top speed: 232.761 mph; 30.933 seconds, first lap. Currently fourth on the grid.

#97 DA MATTA's top speed: 229.878 mph; 31.321 seconds, first lap. Currently 11th on the grid.

#6 ANDRETTI's top speed: 234.627 mph; 30.687 seconds, second lap. Currently on the Pole and .005 seconds shy of the track record.

#26 TRACY's top speed: 234.949 mph; 30.645 seconds, second lap. TRACY is currently on the Pole and a new track record is established!

#3X CASTRONEVES' top speed: 230.762 mph; 31.201 seconds, first and only lap. Currently 13th on the grid.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12:56 p.m. to end Qualifying for Sunday's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota with PAUL TRACY winning the Pole! There are 16 cars within one second of the Pole-winning speed set by TRACY. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 26 cars to the track in the qualifying session with secondary cars utilized by #11X FITTIPALDI, #33X TAGLIANI, #32X CARPENTIER, #3X CASTRONEVES, #55 KANAAN, #5 NAKANO, #10 GIDLEY, #34 MARQUES, and #19 KUROSAWA.

PAUL TRACY wins his first Pole of the season, the 13th of his career, and breaks the track record in his Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard with a 234.949 mph (30.645-second) lap. TRACY's last pole came at Milwaukee in 1997.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI logs his season-best start with his 234.627 mph (30.687-second) lap in his Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford/Lola. ANDRETTI's previous best start was a third at Toronto last week.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI takes his ninth top-10 start in 11 events of the 2000 season with his lap of 234.230 mph (30.739 seconds) in his Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford/Lola. This is FITTIPALDI's best career start at Michigan, his previous best being a ninth in 1998.

The effect of the draft is very evident in examining the qualifying speeds from Saturday's session. Only two drivers bettered their practice speeds: #11X FITTIPALDI and #25 GARCIA JR. Most drivers fell off 3-5 mph on their solo attempts.

Honda wins its fifth Pole of the 2000 season and its 45th career pole with Saturday's run by TRACY. It is also Honda's second consecutive pole at Michigan Speedway as JIMMY VASSER sat on the Pole in a Honda-powered car in 1999.

Quotes from the top-three qualifiers follow:

PAUL TRACY: "My last warm-up lap was 234.5 [miles per hour], and I thought that was pretty good. Then on the first lap the car had a little push and it just slid up the track in Turn 3. On the second lap the car was planted in Turns 1 and 2 and I just let it slide up in 3 and 4 and got a 234.9 [mile per hour lap]. It definitely boosts the team up. Our qualifying has been disappointing, but our performance in the races has been good. I think [the race] is going to be faster than last year. Last year we ran 224 and 225 [mile per hour laps]. I'm expecting 228s and 229s this year. We just need to settle in and run a good pace. If you're running in the lead pack, you won't have a choice but to get in the lead sometimes with these wings. It's great. We've been looking for a pole for a long time. It's just self-gratifying for the team."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "[The speeds] just amazed me. When Christian put up his time, I thought, 'Whoa.' I thought I'd be in pretty good shape because our setups are pretty identical, but then it [Fittipaldi's lap] help up for quite a while so I didn't know what the conditions were going to be like. The conditions were pretty good. There was a little wind, but not too bad. I had a lap that I thought would hold, but then Paul went out and did a blistering lap. I'm a little disappointed. It would have been nice to get my first pole on an oval in what seems like forever. But we've got a good car for the race. We've just got to think, 'Finish, finish, finish,' and we'll be right there."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: "The car felt good the whole weekend. When we came and tested before [the race in] Detroit, we only ran for a couple of hours because the car was already good. The car was good when we got here, but we had a few little problems in practice yesterday and again this morning. I wasn't worried about the lap, I just wanted to be in the top five. I didn't think the pole would be that quick. Tomorrow, it's going to be a long day in the office. You just have to be patient. You could be running at the front in the beginning or in the middle and it doesn't say anything. The last 10 laps are when it counts."

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuya Kurosawa , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing