CHAMPCAR/CART: Andretti, Fittipaldi Road America provisional qualifying


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

NOTES: He will be making his 16th start at the track. He has won the pole the previous two years at this track and completed a one-two finish for the team with his second place finish behind teammate Fittipaldi. Overall, he has three wins ('90, '91, '96); two poles ('98 and '99) and six total podiums (second in '85 '86 and '99). He started in the top-five in 10 of 15 events.

"We unloaded the Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline car pretty good. We were only two-and-one-half-feet behind Gil on a four-mile track. That's pretty tight at this place. I never got a new set of tires in the first session and the car was good. In the qualifying session, we put on some new tires and ran a quick lap. We started making some changes to see how good the car was and we got caught up in the red flags and behind traffic. I came up on Fernandez on two different laps. I'm sure a lot of people can probably say the same thing. We hope to improve on our position tomorrow. I think it is too early (in the Championship hunt) to be conservative. There are too many points out there to get so far. We just have to keep pushing, keep pushing. Maybe I'll start to look at it differently in the last few races."


* NOTES: Fittipaldi scored his first CART victory at this track last year after leading the final seven laps. He finished third despite a neck problem on race day in 1998. Soldiered home in fourth place despite an electronics problem that reduced his engine's performance in 1997. Led 15 laps in the 1996 event and was in second place when his engine blew with six laps to go. Previous race leader, Al Unser Jr's engine blew on the following lap, handing the win to third place runner Andretti. A miscalculation caused his team not to call him in to pit in his first race at Elkhart and he dropped from third to an eighth place finish. Has led a total of 22 laps here.

"I'm reasonably happy with our progress. We aren't maxed out yet. There is more in the car. Tomorrow we will shoot for the pole. If I come up short, I'll be happy with a top-four start. It's tough to get a good lap on a four-mile track. You have to driver every foot of the track perfect in order to set the fastest time. The car is better than sixth quick. I think we can gain one-half of a second by just running a lap at the right time during the session without others slowing you down or going off and bringing out a red flag. I made a mistake on my quickest lap in the Canadian corner then I made another mistake when I forgot to hit the pit speed button and got a black flag penalty which cost us some track time. Tomorrow is a new day. I think we have a car that will run well in qualifying and the race. It would be great to score back-to back wins but just to keep working in the right direction to make a good race car is the first step." k

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser