CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan Ford Saturday notes and quotes

Notes: Teammates Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi each held the pole during Saturday's qualifying session, but Paul Tracy will start first after lapping the two-mile course in a track record 30.645 seconds (234.949 mph), breaking the...


Teammates Michael Andretti and Christian Fittipaldi each held the pole during Saturday's qualifying session, but Paul Tracy will start first after lapping the two-mile course in a track record 30.645 seconds (234.949 mph), breaking the mark set by Jimmy Vasser (30.682 seconds; 234.949 mph) in 1996. Andretti, who qualified second-to-last, knocked Fittipaldi off the pole with a time of 30.687 seconds (234.627) before Tracy followed with his record-setting effort. Dario Franchitti will start tomorrow's race fourth (30.878 seconds; 233.176 mph), while Gil de Ferran will start fifth (30.904 seconds; 232.980 mph).

Players' drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier reversed a trend of not qualifying well with their efforts on Saturday. Tagliani, making his first appearance on a superspeedway in a Champ car, qualified eighth (30.990 seconds; 232.333 mph) on the grid, while teammate Carpentier will start ninth (31.036 seconds; 231.989 mph).

Rookie driver Takuya Kurosawa crashed during qualifying and will not start tomorrow's race. Kurosawa, who spun coming out of Turn Three and made heavy impact with the wall, was taken to the hospital for precautionary x-rays and will not race in Sunday's Michigan 500.


MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 2nd - "I was hoping for top five going into qualifying so I guess that I can't complain, but it sure would've been nice to have a pole. It's a little bit disappointing. I thought we had it there, but Paul (Tracy) put together a good lap. We're really happy with the cars; they've been there all weekend. They unloaded fast; they feel comfortable, so it should be good for 500 miles. I'm happy for the guys, and I just hope that we can run all day. If we do, I think we should be in good shape." IS 234 MPH TOO FAST? "In my opinion it is, but we'll have to see. Hopefully they'll figure out a way to slow them down a little bit."

DO YOU THINK THE SPEEDS WILL PRODUCE AN EXCITING RACE WITH A LOT OF LEAD CHANGES? "I think so. I'm not sure you'll see quite as many lead changes as you've seen here in the past, but I think you're still going to see a lot of them."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 3rd - "It was a good lap and a good effort from the whole team. The car basically couldn't run any quicker. We're happy to be where we are, but tomorrow's a long race and we'll see what happens. I'm happy with my car right now."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 8th - DO YOU THINK YOU CAN BE A FACTOR FOR 500 MILES FOR THE FIRST TIME HERE TOMORROW? "I think so. The team is really strong on ovals, and we seem to have a great racecar wherever we go and it's going to be key to have a good car on this track. We could have been a little bit quicker in qualifying, but it was hard to get a read on the qualifying setup in practice. We were a little too long in our gears and we didn't use all the revs, so we know we have a little bit in the car."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 9th - "I'm pretty happy and the car was pretty good. It didn't have a lot of push, it didn't have any looseness, just the first lap and then it was okay. It's pretty good."

HOW PHYSICALLY TOUGH IS THIS TRACK? "It's not too tough. I don't think it's as tough as a track like Mid-Ohio or Toronto, but it's still very difficult because you've got to keep your focus for 500 miles and that's a long way."

HOW DO YOU GET READY MENTALLY? "You just need to get a good night's sleep and be ready. The training that I had to do should have been done before and I think I've done it, so I think we should be good."

KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 10th - "That was all we had. I'm very happy with the lap we did, but it wasn't enough for the pole."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS TRACK? "Well, it's a wide track and it's open, so if you have a good car you have a good chance of overtaking. It's like a rubber band being between the cars; it's hard to drive away from somebody, so I'm looking forward to a good race tomorrow."

MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 11th - HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU WITH THAT QUALIFYING RUN? "Very much. It's okay, but I thought we could have done a little bit better."

LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING A WIN HERE AFTER THE HEARTBREAK OF A YEAR AGO? "I'm going to go out there tomorrow with a lot of will to succeed as usual, and you're going to see me fighting."

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT MAKES IT SO TOUGH? "Tomorrow is going to be a long day because there's going to be a lot of overtaking, a lot of passing and slip-streaming."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 12th - "We had a few problems during the weekend and that prevented us from trimming out the car and trying a few other things like that. But I'm pretty happy and the car is running pretty good."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO QUALIFY WELL HERE? "If you don't get the point for the pole, it really doesn't matter. I've started from the back and I've won the race. This is such a long race and the main thing is to be able to get a good car for the race. That is the main thing."

ROBERTO MORENO (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 16th - "In a place like this, it doesn't really matter where you start. I know the crew will have a good racecar for tomorrow, we proved that yesterday. We always have a very good strategy in the races, especially in long races like this, and I'll be relying on (crew chief) Jim McGhee and (owner) Pat Patrick to make the calls tomorrow and get me up front. I think we'll be okay, we have a good racecar. Unfortunately qualifying wasn't as fast as we would have liked, but it was fast enough for what we need."

WHAT'S YOUR PLAN FOR TOMORROW? "The plan is to have a good racecar for tomorrow, which I think we have. Here you qualify on pole to get the extra point or it doesn't really matter where you qualify, so it's a race that you need a good, consistent racecar, good pit strategies and you need to be there at the end."

HOW MUCH OF AN ADVANTAGE DOES YOUR QUICK PITSTOPS GIVE YOU? "The secret so far for us has been being there at the end of every race. We've been very good in our strategy, not so much in the pitstops, but in the (race) strategy. My guys have been tremendous in the pitstops, so I think we're going to be using a lot of that tomorrow. There's two things very important in a 500-mile race, having good pitstops and having a reliable car to get to the end."

TARSO MARQUEZ (#34 Panasonic Ford-Cosworth) - Qualified 24th - "We had to use the spare car because we had a problem with the primary car this morning, so this was the first time we had run this car (the backup) here. Something happened in the engine during my run because on my exit from Turn Four I lost all power."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Takuya Kurosawa