CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Fontana qualifying notes

ANDRETTI AND FITTIPALDI QUALIFY SECOND AND THIRD, RESPECTIVELY, FOR TOMORROW'S RACE - Christian Fittipaldi took the provisional pole with a lap of 239.073 miles per hour before teammate Michael Andretti took it from him with a lap of 239.097 ...

ANDRETTI AND FITTIPALDI QUALIFY SECOND AND THIRD, RESPECTIVELY, FOR TOMORROW'S RACE - Christian Fittipaldi took the provisional pole with a lap of 239.073 miles per hour before teammate Michael Andretti took it from him with a lap of 239.097 miles per hour. However Gil de Ferran, the final qualifier of the day, claimed the pole for tomorrow's Marlboro 500 with a track-record lap of 241.428 miles per hour. Helio Castroneves qualified fourth at 239.011 miles per hour, while Juan Montoya will start the race from fifth position (237.688). De Ferran now moves six points ahead of defending race champion Adrian Fernandez, who qualified 16th with a lap of 233.659 miles per hour, by claiming the championship point for winning the pole. Conversely Roberto Moreno, who needed to score a maximum 22 points this weekend, was mathematically eliminated from the championship after qualifying 20th (231.672 mph).

MAX PAPIS AND ROBERTO MORENO GET TOGETHER IN MORNING PRACTICE - Both Papis and Moreno made contact with Papis making contact with the wall during the morning practice session. While neither Moreno or Papis suffered any injuries in the incident, Papis was dazed and sat out the remainder of the session for observation while Moreno jumped into his backup car and continued in the session following a brief medical examination. Although Papis, who's impact measured 80 G's on the Ford Blue Box, did not participate in the rest of the morning practice, CART Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey cleared him for the afternoon qualifying session.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco-Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 2nd - "It was okay. I had a little too much oversteer so I'm afraid if somebody hits it right they're going to be able to beat us." HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CAR FOR TOMORROW? "It's a long day, but the car feels really good. We ran full tanks all day yesterday and I was real happy with it, so if the thing runs all day I think we have a shot at it."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 3rd - "I'm very happy with that but it's a 500-mile race and there's a lot of racing tomorrow. The most important thing is to have a great set up in the car, and I think we're okay for the race."

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON DURING THE WEEKEND? "During the session yesterday we did one run, which was my first run in qualifying trim just to see how the car was. The car was perfect, so I said, 'boy, let's pack it in and just run the stuff we'll use in the race.'"

KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 8th - "That was the fastest we've run by ourselves all weekend so that was pretty good. It's a long race and a lot of things can happen. Race strategy changes as the day goes on, so we just have to play it by ear tomorrow. If we have the speed in the car we should have as good a chance as anyone else I would think."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Players'/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 10th - "We were struggling a little bit yesterday and this morning but the car seems better and it improved quite a bit. We did some pretty big changes before qualifying and it worked out this time and we're pretty happy. Tonight we'll work on the race car and hopefully we'll have the same kind of car we had at Michigan."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RACE TOMORROW? "We have been very unlucky this season and I've been disappointed this year for me and the team because we've been close so many times. But that's the way racing goes and we're going to try and make this thing happen tomorrow."

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR FIRST SEASON? "I was expecting more consistency with my results and more points at the end of the year - maybe less competitive and less fast, but it's been the other way around. I've been really quick, starting from the pole, third, fifth, and fighting for the front, but we've had a lot of problems and been inconsistent. But I've been pretty pleased because it's so tough in CART and when you're fast you're happy."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Players'/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 11th - "We had a problem - the engine wouldn't come up in the revs and I think the pop-off valve or something went bad. So we had to use a much shorter gear than we thought we would and hoped we would get a lot more speed than that, but we'll see - we should be good for the race tomorrow."

WHAT'S YOUR PLAN FOR TOMORROW? "Just to be there at the end. It's a long race and we think we have a good race car so hopefully we'll be there at the end. If we're there at the end I think we'll be battling for the lead."

MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Light Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 13th - "I'm alright - I feel comfortable. We gave it a good run and were flat for the two runs but that's all the speed we have in the car. It seems like we aren't as dominant as we were last year in qualifying, but I feel comfortable we've done a good job despite the little accident this morning."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 14th - "We knew it was going to be difficult and we don't have the speed for some reason. I'm going flat out and we just didn't have the speed. Why? I don't know."

HOW DO YOU GET TO THE END OF THE RACE TO HAVE A SHOT TO WIN? "Stay out of trouble at the beginning of the race and just stay clean. Hopefully we'll have dialed our car in enough to have a shot at the end."

WHAT'S YOUR RACE SET UP FOR TOMORROW? "Tomorrow is another day, but cannot discount that the Penske team is very strong for this weekend. We just have to do what we've done all year and that's just be patient. We're going to be the hunters again, so we just have to do our best and hopefully the car will carry us through to the end of the race. If that happens I think we'll be in good shape."

CASEY MEARS (#91 MCI Worldcom Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 15th - "This was my first time ever in a (Champ Car) qualifying run and I'll tell ya, I felt really comfortable. A lot of that is how the Team Rahal guys put this car together and worked me up to speed. I've been comfortable all weekend and qualifying was the same - we just went out and did what we needed to do. I was flat all the way around and maybe we could've trimmed it out a little bit more to get some more push out of it, but I feel really good about it. It was an awesome day, just to be in the show and I feel really good going into the race."

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO DRIVE A CHAMP CAR HERE? "It's awesome. Compared to the (Indy) Lights car everything is just better - the works better, the tow pulls you harder, but all the same theories apply a Champ Car just like they do to a Lights car. I'm learning as we go here, so I'm going to take the first 250 miles to learn some more and then go racing in the second 250 miles."

HOW ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE DOUBLE DUTY TOMORROW? "I'm just not thinking about it and trying to relax and go racing like I always have. I'm going racing in the morning then get out and go racing in the afternoon, so hopefully things will turn out okay."

ROBERTO MORENO (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 19th - YOU HAD A CLOSE CALL WITH MAX (PAPIS) THIS MORNING. "I still don't know what happened. We were still warming up on the second lap and Max hit me in the back, so I don't know. We still need to talk some more about that later because it could have hurt us both and there's no need for doing things like that on the second warm-up lap."

HOW OPTIMISTIC ARE YOU THAT YOU CAN GET YOUR SECOND WIN TOMORROW? "I'm always optimistic. The team always does a good job and I believe that I still have a bit of a handicap at this track having never raced here before, but I'm overcoming that the more I drive. We've got a long race tomorrow for me to get comfortable so I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow."

ALEX BARRON (#19 SPORTS TODAY Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 20th - "We went out there and weren't sure exactly where we were going to be because we didn't test here by ourselves, so it's a bit different when everybody else is out there. The car was real neutral, I think we have a real good car and I think we'll have a good race car come Sunday. We're just going to try to finish the race and be on the lead lap at the end. Coming from Australia the team has a lot of momentum and I look for a good result tomorrow. We definitely have power and a good car, so we'll see."

TARSO MARQUES (#34 Panasonic/Swift Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 25th - "It was pretty good but we still have a lot of understeer - way too much understeer. During qualifying I was flat out all the way around but it still wasn't enough. We have too much understeer and are losing too much speed in the corners. Our car wasn't very good at Michigan so we tried some different aerodynamic parts and it's better, but we're still not there. We're using the new parts but there's still too much understeer in the car."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi