MICHAEL ANDRETTI , ...
MICHAEL ANDRETTI , # 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola QUALIFYING POSITION: 16th TIME: 25.932
Will be his fourth start at Gateway. Has led every CART event held at this track. Won the event in 1999 after starting 11th and leading 91 laps. Led 133 laps in the 1998 event but finished second. Led 66 laps in the inaugural event in 1997 before a wing problem dropped him to an 11th place finish.
"We are making life more difficult for ourselves by not qualifying well. You can come from mid-pack and win but you use up all of your chances. At least it is a long race. We are going to have to keep moving up the entire race. We won from 11th place last year but this is obviously going to be a little more challenging. We had too much push in the qualifying set-up but the car is good in race trim. We have been working on that and the car feels okay. We stumbled onto something good this morning that should be good for the race so that keeps us optimistic. As far back as we are means that we'll have to gamble again on pit strategy and I don't like doing that. It works against you more than it works for you but maybe the odds will be with us since we have had a couple of bad experiences recently. It's not easy to pass here but it is better than a lot of places. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The pressure is on since there are only four races to go. We are going to have to fight hard for every single point. We just need to stay in the thick of the fight."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI , #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola: QUALIFYING POSITION: 18th TIME: 26.009
First time back at the track where he suffered a subdural hemitoma during a testing accident on August 2, 1999 when his transmission failed. He was only 28 points out of first place in the CART Championship after scoring his first win and pole and having completed all but two laps during the season, the most of all drivers in the series. Will be his third start at Gateway. Ran in second place in the 1999 event before a right rear problem during a pit stop dropped him to a ninth place finish. Was hit by the spinning car of Tracy in the 1998 event and had to fight back into 11th place after a lengthy stop to replace a rear wing. Did not compete in 1997 because he was recovering from an accident in Australia where he was hit from behind by Gil de Ferran.
"We had a fuel pressure problem on the second lap which would have been better than our first one based on the splits on my dash. I figure I would have had a 25.7 or 25.8, which would have moved us up a little. I'm not really happy with qualifying. There is a lot more in the car that we didn't capitalize on. By no means would we have set the world on fire but we sure would have been quicker than we ended up. We came here pretty confident but we have been struggling all weekend. It's a long race so anything can happen. We just need to stay with the leaders."