MIAMI (March 9, 2000) â€“ Michael Andretti is the most successful driver in the history of Homestead-Miami Speedway, with two victories and a runnerup finish in the past three runnings of the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by...
MIAMI (March 9, 2000) – Michael Andretti is the most successful driver in the history of Homestead-Miami Speedway, with two victories and a runnerup finish in the past three runnings of the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota.
When the 37-year-old Nazareth, Pa. driver returns March 24-26 for fifth annual Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota, he feels his chances are better than ever entering the season-opening event on the CART FedEx Championship Series schedule.
Andretti ran the fastest lap of pre-event testing on Thursday, 25.61 seconds, 210.855 mph. That beat teammate Christian Fittipaldi’s testing best from Wednesday (206.069 mph), and Max Papis’ top speed from February Spring Training (209.907 mph).
"I think we’re in the best shape we’ve been in the past four years," Andretti admitted. "The car feels comfortable, and I can’t wait for the race weekend.
The new Ford’s great, the new Lola is good, and the entire Big Kmart- Texaco/Havoline team is excited about everything we’ve got going for us. We can’t wait for the Homestead race."
After running the fastest speed in January testing (205.5 mph), Andretti was third in Spring Training in early February with a lap of 208.033 mph, trailing only Team Rahal teammates Papis and Kenny Brack (208.651 mph).
"We’ve made a lot of progress since then, actually," Andretti said. "The car is even a lot better than it was in Spring Training. We’ve made a lot of progress with it, and today we ran the quickest of anyone so far this year in testing. We’re real happy with everything."
Newman/Haas Racing switched to Lola chassis this year, powered by Ford’s new Cosworth XF engine. The engine not only runs higher RPMs and generates more horsepower than the 1999 version, it also weighs 55 pounds lighter.
"We’ve also had a year running on the Firestone tires that everyone will be using this year," Andretti added. "I think we’re ready."
Andretti finished ninth in the Speedway’s inaugural CART event (1996), which he followed up by scoring back-to-back victories. He finished second in the 1999 event, won by the late Greg Moore.
Practice for the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota begins on Friday, March 24, with qualifying set for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The race takes the green flag at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Reserved grandstand seats for the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota are now on sale, beginning at $55, by calling (305) 230-RACE. For additional information, visit the official web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.