CHAMPCAR/CART: Andretti quick at Homestead

Indianapolis, IN-- Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti continued their winter testing yesterday in the brisk winds of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Team Motorola was scheduled to test their ...

Indianapolis, IN-- Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti continued their winter testing yesterday in the brisk winds of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Team Motorola was scheduled to test their #39 Honda-Reynard both Thursday and Friday but after running less than 28 laps on Thursday, the team felt comfortable on the oval and cancelled today's test session so the day could be used for a road course test at a later date.

"We were a bit slow getting on the track on Thursday but once we turned a lap, we were anything but slow", said team manager Tony Cotman. "The test was a good example of the benefit of our technical partnership with Team KOOL Green. This was Michael's first time out on the oval with Team Motorola but we had utilized set-up information from an earlier test with Paul and right out of the box we were fast. The partnership helped cement our decision to bank our Friday test day since Dario will still be running at Homestead and gathering oval information. Now we can use that day in Sebring next week where we need to try new set-ups on the road course."

The opening of the test didn't look very promising when the initial attempts to fire the engine were unsuccessful. After inspection it appeared that an ignition crank sensor had failed so the crew spent most of the morning on an engine change. Once Team Motorola got on the track it was all business as Andretti set the quickest lap of the day at 26.85 seconds in only his eighth turn around the 1.5-mile oval. "I am very happy with the car right now", said Andretti. "It's a good feeling to come out on the oval for the first time this season and be quick right away. To have such a good race car this early in testing is surprising in a way, but with such a quality group at Team Motorola I'm really not that surprised."

After posting the quick time early out in the run the team focused on practicing pit stops. The Team Motorola crew simulated six live pit stops in their new pit crew positions and with their new driver. Team manager Tony Cotman oversaw the practice and was happy with the performance. "Although we've been practicing in the shop this was our first chance to practice with Michael and the car in a live simulation," said Cotman. "I couldn't be happier with the way these guys are working together and I think it will really make a difference come race day."

Team Motorola will resume testing February 14th and 15th on the Homestead Road Course in preparation for the CART Fed Ex Series season opener in Monterey, Mexico on March 11, 2001.

- Jana Griffith

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti