David Reininger - motorsport.com Detroit, Mich. (August 16, 1999) - Paul Tracy turned in the fastest lap of the day in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Tracy's qualifying lap at 113.716 mph was over...
David Reininger - motorsport.com
Detroit, Mich. (August 16, 1999) - Paul Tracy turned in the fastest lap of the day in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Tracy's qualifying lap at 113.716 mph was over two miles an hour faster than his time set in the morning session. Yet Tracy was happy with his car after setting the sixth fastest time in this morning's practice session.
"I was pretty happy with the car this morning," said Tracy. "We ran heavy on fuel. We ran one set of tires throughout the whole morning. When we stopped we were P-2. We didn't change anything for qualifying, we felt that the track would get better."
But the track didn't improve as much as Tracy had hoped. "We went out this afternoon and the track was still very slick, and kind of dirty. I really had to slide the car a lot to get that (fast) time. It's not too bad but we're going to need to improve for tomorrow. I think the track is going to improve quite a bit. We need to improve the grip level for tomorrow."
Should it rain during qualifying tomorrow Tracy will make his 125th career start from the pole position on Sunday. "There's a pretty good possibility of rain for tomorrow so we were going for it today to establish a good time. Our goal was a top-five and to be on the provisional pole is great. It's definitely a big, big advantage to start at the front. All the street course are tough to pass on. But I don't think this one is any tougher than any of the other ones we go to."
Juan Montoya set the second fastest lap of the day, just one tenth of a second slower than Tracy.
"When we started this morning the car felt good," Montoya said. "I'm not sure we went the right way right at the end of qualifying, but we still managed to go pretty quick. I think there is some time left in the car and in myself. It is my first time at this track in this car, so it's like my first time here."
Montoya has driven on the Belle Isle circuit back when he raced in the Barber Series. The Champcars are so much faster than the Barber cars that Montoya doesn't feel the prior experience helped him today.
"The track has changed a bit," said Montoya "There are a couple of corners I can remember a bit, to give me an idea of the race line. The speeds are so different, it's about a twenty second lap time difference, so it doesn't really help."
Michael Andretti resides in third position in the provisional lineup. Chasing his fifth consecutive top-four start, Andretti was pleased with his car soo after starting practice this morning.
"The morning session was pretty good. I was pretty happy with the car," said Andretti "We never even put on new tires and we were still up in the top-three, so we were quite happy with it. We put in a couple of laps with our first set of tires and it went pretty well. I thought we were going to be able to improve the car. We made a change and we went the wrong way, basically. That was the end of the session. We were a little disappointed in that because I think there a little more left."
Despite being third fastest in this morning's session as well, Michael thought he should have done better in qualifying. "We should have been on pole. I just screwed up my lap. It would have been a real quick lap. I just messed up over around the fountain area. I just got loose and lost it. It's a shame because it would have been nice to have a Ford up front here in Detroit."
Greg Moore, who left Detroit after qualifying to race in the final round of the IROC series in Indianapolis, currently sits in fourth place on the provisional grid. "We had a productive session this morning while trying different set-ups," said Moore, who was tenth fastest in this morning's session. "The Players team made a couple of changes to the car during the break and it translated into a very good qualifying session. Still, there are a couple of places on the track where we can improve. I'm sure we can cut a couple of tenths off during tomorrow's qualifying."
The second round of qualifying for Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit gets underway Saturday afternoon at 12:45 p.m. on the 2.346-mile Belle Isle circuit.