PROVISIONAL POLE: Dario Franchitti set the fastest lap time of 59.434 prior to going off track and into the tires on the same lap as Fittipaldi which brought out a red flag and ended the session with minutes to go. Both drivers will serve an ...
PROVISIONAL POLE: Dario Franchitti set the fastest lap time of 59.434 prior to going off track and into the tires on the same lap as Fittipaldi which brought out a red flag and ended the session with minutes to go. Both drivers will serve an eight-minute penalty at the end of the final qualifying session tomorrow.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola
PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING POSITION: 3rd (59.634)
* NOTES: Missed the turn at the end of the front straight and drove into the protective tire wall near the end of the session as did Dario Franchitti. Both will serve an eight-minute penalty at the end of the final qualifying session tomorrow. Fittipaldi was on his second run on new tires in an attempt to move up in the starting grid. Ran as high as second last year when a late fuel stop caused him to drop to seventh. Moved into fourth place in the 1998 event before the spinning (rain) car of Greg Moore took him out of the race.
"I got a little too excited at the end of the straight and braked too deep. I locked up the front tires and almost made it but went into the tires instead. It's obviously disappointing to have an eight-minute penalty tomorrow because we have a good chance at starting up front here. The last eight minutes are obviously going to be when the track is the best. It's nice to come to a nice street course. You can see that they obviously spent the bucks here to make the course good. Houston did a wonderful job with the track. This is by far, the hardest form of motor racing I've ever been in, in my career. Here we have 15 drivers that can be there (win) in any race. This race is important to me not only because Texaco is the sponsor but also because I would like to win one before the season is over. We have been competitive this season in most of the races but the strong finishes have not come for one reason or another. I would like to put that behind us and start to put in some good finishes. It would be nice to start that roll now."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, # 6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth Lola
PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING POSITION: 10th (100.177)
* NOTES: Will be his 3rd start at Houston. Has scored one third-place finish here in 1999 and had problems on the grid in the inaugural race in 1998 and barely completed two laps.
"The red came out at an unfortunate time for everyone. Everyone was on their flyer laps but that type of situation is when the red is prone to come out because everyone is pushing for that last tenth (of a second). It's hard to say where the lap would have put us but we would have definitely been in a better position than 10th fast. Our consolation prize was the fact that we stayed in the fast group for final qualifying. Street courses are hard to pass on so we need to step it up in final qualifying to stay in the thick of the points chase. We have given away enough points this season and hope to stop that this weekend. It's amazing to me how competitive this series is. There is no room for any kind of error from this point on because there are a number of guys waiting to take advantage of the situation."