CHAMPCAR/CART: Flu hinders Fittipaldi, Andretti in Laguna Secs Qualifying


CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola:
TIME: 68.627

* NOTES: With flu-like symptoms since this morning, Fittipaldi dropped from fifth fastest to eighth in the final qualifying today as he was unable to better the time he set yesterday. He matched his best qualifying of eighth place from 1996 today. Fittipaldi has run in the top-four in the past eight races but only finished three times which were two 3rd place finishes and a fourth. Did not compete in Laguna last year due to a testing accident at Gateway Intl. when his transmission failed. Will be his fifth start at Laguna Seca. Retired with mechanical failure in two of four starts. His highest finish here is a ninth place in 1998.

"We lost grip from yesterday and this morning. I don't know what to do to make the car better. We are still working on the set-up and are behind where we should be. We have to put our thinking caps on and figure out the car before the race. It doesn't help that I am sick. Right after the morning practice, I had to lay down and drink lots of fluids. It was a strange day. There were not a lot of people that went quicker today."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, # 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola

* NOTES: Around 2 a.m. this morning, Andretti awoke with a stomachache that progressed into a flu before he went to meet with his engineers prior to the 10 a.m. practice session. Andretti was unable to set a faster time than his qualifying speed from provisional qualifying yesterday and dropped from ninth on the starting grid to 11th place. This will be his 17th start at Monterey. Has won two races (1991, 1992) and scored one second-place finish (1988) and three third place finishes ('84, '86, 90) as well as a total of 12 top-10 finishes. Also has scored two poles here in '91, '92. Has led a total of 179 laps at Monterey. Calls his favorite race the 1991 event at Laguna where he won the pole, led every lap, won the race and clinched the championship as well as finished on the podium with his father Mario. He also won the invitational Marlboro Challenge from the pole the same weekend.

"We have no grip. It's not good at all. It obviously puts more pressure on us to get to the front and collect some points. The fact that we are starting in the back will play into our strategy. We've been fighting the car all weekend. Now I am also fighting the flu. I woke up a two a.m. and had a stomachache. Now I feel bad all over. It certainly doesn't make driving a racecar any easier. I plan to get a lot of rest tonight and hope to feel better tomorrow. It's going to be a long race if I still feel this way."

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