ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (July 10, 1999) - Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing put together a last-second charge Saturday to earn his second consecutive Texaco/Havoline 200 pole position at Road America (2 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ...
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (July 10, 1999) - Michael Andretti of Newman/Haas Racing put together a last-second charge Saturday to earn his second consecutive Texaco/Havoline 200 pole position at Road America (2 p.m. ET Sunday, live, ABC-TV). With just moments to go in the qualifying session, Andretti (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) was able to start a final lap on the 4.048-mile permanent road course and pursue the current polesitter at that time, FedEx Championship Series points leader Juan Montoya. Andretti was successful in his pursuit as he posted a lap of 145.428 miles per hour (1 minute, 40.206 seconds) to earn the 32nd pole of his glittering 17-year FedEx Championship Series career. It was his first pole since winning last year's top starting spot at Road America. Andretti, who posted his fourth top-five start of the season with the pole, earned a PPG Cup point for the pole to bring his total to 79, fourth in the championship. Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) had to settle for the outside pole - his first of the season after four pole-winning efforts - with his lap of 145.227 mph (1:40.345). It also marked his eighth consecutive start among the top five. Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard), who trails Montoya, 112-87, in the championship race, secured his third consecutive top-three start with a lap of 144.921 mph (1:40.557). Christian Fittipaldi (Big Kmart Ford Swift), Andretti's Newman/Haas Racing teammate, qualified fourth at 144.692 mph (1:40.716). Adrian Fernandez (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard) qualified fifth at 144.452 mph (1:40.883). Fittipaldi's start is exceeded only by his pole at Rio de Janeiro this season while Fernandez qualified among the top five for the fourth time this season and second in the past three events. Defending Texaco/Havoline 200 champion Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), two points behind second-place de Ferran in the championship, qualified seventh at 144.345 miles per hour (1:40.958). The top 15 qualifiers were separated by less than two seconds on the 4.048-mile layout.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift: "I knew today was going to be quicker; I think everybody did. We made a change overnight and thought it would improve the car and it did. On the first set of tires, I couldn't get a clear lap, and when I came in to put on a second set of tires, I didn't know whether to go out right away or wait. We decided to go out and did three laps, then I came in because I was out of fuel. When we went back out, I was able to do my 'flyer,' which says something about these tires. And this is the best engine I think I've ever had here. It really puts down the power and this is a good place to do that. Hopefully, we'll be able to do just as well tomorrow."
JUAN MONTOYA, Target Honda Reynard: "We had a really bad car this morning. It wasn't where I wanted it to be. I started qualifying with too much understeer, so now I'm pretty pleased. It's good for Michael to get the pole, and I'm pretty pleased with what we did because I thought coming in here that I would probably start eighth or ninth."
GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard: "I didn't feel that the time we did yesterday [eighth] was representative. This morning we concentrated on race setup and I was pretty confident about the car. We made some changes for qualifying and had a good first run, then we made a few more changes and put on a second set of tires, and the car was really good. Unfortunately, we ran out of fuel, so I wasn't able to make a better time. It was a shame because the car was really handling well. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."
* Michael Andretti's (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift) pole position was the 32nd of his FedEx Championship Series career, second on CART's all-time list to Rick Mears, who leads with 39 career poles. It was also Andretti's 24th career pole on a road or street circuit, the past two coming at Road America.
* Outside polesitter Juan Montoya (Target Honda Reynard) earned his fifth front-row start of the campaign, including poles at Nazareth, Gateway, Portland and Cleveland. It is his eighth consecutive top-five start, dating to fifth at Long Beach.
* Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Honda Reynard) qualified third to earn his third consecutive top-three start, following third at Portland, where he drove to victory, and an outside pole at Cleveland.
* Saturday's top-three qualifiers also filled the top three starting spots at Cleveland two weeks ago. At that event, Montoya qualified on the pole and was followed by de Ferran and Andretti. The same three drivers then finished the race in their exact qualifying order.
* Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola) qualified 19th at 142.059 miles per hour (1:42.583). By taking the green flag Sunday, Unser Jr. will tie Bobby Rahal's FedEx Championship Series record of 264 career starts.
CART 2Day" airs 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2,, with ABC-TV's live race broadcast beginning at 2 p.m. ET.