CORBY, England (September 13, 2002)-- Michael Andretti and Team Motorola are off to a positive start of the race weekend after posting a second place qualifying effort for tomorrow's 211-lap Rockingham 500. Â Today's effort was Michael's best ...
CORBY, England (September 13, 2002)-- Michael Andretti and Team Motorola are off to a positive start of the race weekend after posting a second place qualifying effort for tomorrow's 211-lap Rockingham 500. Today's effort was Michael's best qualifying effort of the 2002 season and his best overall effort since starting second in Fontana in 2000. "Team Motorola did a really good job setting up the car," said Andretti. "We were quick right away and on my run, I just closed my eyes and held it wide open." Andretti's qualifying time of 24.928 seconds on the 1.5-mile oval was the provisional pole time for most of the qualifying session until Kenny Brack pipped Michael with a time of 24.908 seconds. "Michael kept a little bit up his sleeve this afternoon," said general manager Kim Green. "But it was just a tick slow to stay on pole."
Cristiano da Matta rounded out today's top three in qualifying with a time of 24.954 seconds. Andretti's technical partners Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy, will be starting fifth and seventh respectively after posting times of 25.001 seconds and 25.034 seconds. Team Motorola will have a final warm-up at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow and the race begins at 1:30 p.m. local time and will be shown live on SpeedChannel.
Michael Andretti -- #39 Honda-Lola-Bridgestone
"Today's qualifying run went really well. I just closed my eyes and held it wide open and it was a great run, but it just wasn't enough to beat Kenny (Brack). I was wide open all the way around and the car just felt really good. Team Motorola did a good job with our set-up. We came into this race weekend and we were fast right off the bat so that was really nice. The track has improved a lot this year. It has a lot more grip and we couldn't ask for better weather. I think track position will be king in tomorrow's race. Passing is going to be tough so where you start is going to be a big factor. I think we'll be in good shape and I know the Team Motorola guys will do an excellent job on our pit stops and strategy."
Kim Green -- General Manager
"It's been a great trip to Rockingham so far. We unloaded this morning and the car was good right away. For a good part of the morning session our Team Green drivers were one-two-three so it was apparent the engineers did a good job base lining the car for this weekend. With this being a two-day event that was critical for us to be good right off the bat because there is no time for mistakes. Michael kept a little bit up his sleeve for qualifying. He put a good lap together and Team Motorola did a good job of preparing the car. We think tomorrow will be a difficult race. Starting up front is definitely critical at this track but passing will be tough so we will need sound pit stops and good strategy to come out on top."
Sunday will be Michael's 305th start of his career, a record for active Champ Car drivers.
In 2001, Michael started third and finished fifth in this race.
Michael leads all active Champ Car drivers with 304 race starts, 42 wins, 32 poles and 6,564 laps led.