CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Friday Newman-Haas notes

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, ...

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, # 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola
PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING POSITION: 2nd (57.975)

"This morning we were the quickest so we were pretty confident about qualifying. We put new tires on at the beginning of qualifying and I had a hard time getting a clean lap. The car was okay but not good. In the middle of the session we just worked on the setup and them put new tires on at the end. We made two big changes and the car was much better. Doggoned Dario had to get by us by about one-hundredth of a second. We've been right there in terms of competitiveness but haven't been able to pull better finishes off. A lot of people can say that. Nobody has grabbed this Championship and ran with it. If we keep doing our job and the breaks go our way, we should be able to stay in there for the Championship. This is a unique racetrack. This series is about the versatility of tracks. The Midwest is the heart of auto racing. The fans are great here. You can see the whole track from the grandstands which makes it even more unique as a road course.

(On whether the series should cut the engine horsepower to make the racing closer:) "It might make racing better. It's hard to alter the downforce with the level of horsepower we have now. The Handford Mk II made the car feel better to drive but it made a big wake behind you, which made it hard to pass. If you were able to reduce both, it might make racing closer. If the cars are also slower, and something goes wrong, you won't hit something as hard." * NOTE: Andretti has won one race (1991) and one pole (1989) and has scored six podium finishes. Of his 39 victories, 25 have come on a road/street course. This will be his 16th start at Cleveland. Has led in six of his 15 Cleveland races. Last year, Andretti drove to a third place finish despite a penalty for speeding in the pits. He has led 101 of his 6,160 total CART laps led at Cleveland.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth Lola
PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING POSITION: 14th (58.576)

"We definitely went backward from being second fastest this morning. I can't put the power down. The car slides all over the place. We have no grip. We either went the wrong way on the setup or something is wrong with the car. The Big Kmart/Route 66 car will be back out tomorrow and hopefully we will have learned something overnight. The worst part is that we will be in the slow group for qualifying. The track gets better as the rubber gets laid down and the second group always goes quicker. Now we are in the first group, which is not the ideal situation. We will have our work cut out for us but I am confident we will figure it out."

* NOTE: Fittipaldi has led a total of 23 laps in Cleveland (21 in 1998 and 2 in 1997). His highest finish in Cleveland is sixth. He is looking for his second Street/Road course victory after scoring his maiden CART victory at Road America race in 1999. He led the 1997 event but his airjack broke, dropping him to a sixth place finish. He was leading the 1998 event when a yellow came out and he was immediately called into the pits but his radio was not working on the part of the track near the pit entrance. The rest of the field pitted but Fittipaldi was forced to stay on course and hope for another caution that ultimately did not come. He finished 11th after leading 21 laps. The rain soaked 1999 event was Fittipaldi's (self-proclaimed) worst event of the season due to spinning on slick tires while trying to get into the pits for grooved tires. He also spun in front of teammate Andretti and almost made contact with him as well as spun entering his pit box. He went two laps down due to the problem. Entering the event, he was the only driver to have completed every lap and was a strong championship contender. He left Cleveland (9th event in 1999) still having led the most laps and did so until he missed the 13th of 20 events due to a testing accident caused by a transmission failure.

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Series IndyCar