INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- His Team Motorola crew might be singing "Happy Birthday" at the Grand Prix Americas, but driver Michael Andretti would much prefer that they change their tune come Sunday afternoon. While the city of Miami celebrates the return...
INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- His Team Motorola crew might be singing "Happy Birthday" at the Grand Prix Americas, but driver Michael Andretti would much prefer that they change their tune come Sunday afternoon. While the city of Miami celebrates the return of open-wheel racing to the downtown streets this weekend, Andretti will celebrate his fortieth birthday on Saturday, and for CART's all-time victory leader, leading a rousing chorus of the "Star Spangled Banner" from the top step of the podium would be the best present of all.
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend," said Andretti. "It's a big one for me and I'd like to end it with the win. I've raced on the streets of Miami before and the fans are really enthusiastic. The last time I raced downtown was in 1995 and I started from the pole. I've had to qualify twice in CART on my birthday; the last time was in Nazareth in 1991. I qualified fifth and finished third in the race. I think qualifying on the pole on my fortieth birthday and finishing first the day after, would be a great way to end the weekend."
Andretti and Team Motorola arrive in Miami fresh off their best qualifying effort of the season. Three weeks ago in England, Andretti started the race second after being narrowly edged off the pole position by a mere two one-hundredths of a second.
"The team has been doing an outstanding job but unfortunately our race results haven't reflected that effort the last few weekends," said general manager Kim Green. "We were quick immediately in England and I think it's a testament to the effort everyone has been putting forth. I'm certainly optimistic that our results will begin to reflect our efforts in the coming weeks."
Andretti and Team Motorola are currently eighth in the championship with 85 points. Cristiano da Matta tops the standings with 191 points, while Bruno Junqueira is second with 133 points. Andretti's technical partner Dario Franchitti, who earned the win in England, is third with 126 points while Franchitti's teammate Paul Tracy is seventh with 86 points.
Michael Andretti is in his 19th Champ Car season and currently leads all active Champ Car drivers in number of wins with 42, number of poles - 32, number of starts - 305 and laps led - 6,564.
Practice for the Grand Prix Americas begins on Friday morning at 10:15 a.m. E.T. with provisional qualifying at 2:10 p.m. Practice will continue on Saturday morning at 9:50 a.m. with final qualifying set to begin at 1:15 p.m. On Sunday, the race will be shown live on CBS Sports beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.