PORTLAND, Oregon (June 16, 2002)-- Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti started today's race in 12th position and by days end were able to double their championship points collected from last weekend by finishing in ninth position and earning...
PORTLAND, Oregon (June 16, 2002)-- Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti started today's race in 12th position and by days end were able to double their championship points collected from last weekend by finishing in ninth position and earning four championship points. "It was another hard day to earn a few points," said Andretti at the conclusion of the 110-lap event. "We had an awesome start but got pushed wide in the first turn which knocked us to the back of the field and we just kind of got stuck mid-pack for the rest of the day." Andretti made a fantastic move going into the first turn on the first lap of the race and had gained quite a few positions but unfortunately, there was an incident in the first turn with a number of cars involved and Andretti was pushed wide and dropped back to 14th position. "I think our race might have been quite different had we made it through the first corner without any drama," remarked Andretti. "Since track position is so critical here that first turn incident was really disappointing."
Andretti continued to fight hard throughout the event on the 1.969-mile road course at Portland International Raceway and his efforts moved Team Motorola from ninth to seventh in championship points. "We're gaining in car performance," said general manager Kim Green. "And we're continuing to finish races and collect points which is very important as we head into another stretch of seven races over eight weeks." Cristiano daMatta, who started from the pole, dominated the majority of the race and finished in first place while Bruno Junqueira finished second and Michael's technical partner Dario Franchitti rounded out the podium with a third place finish. Michael's other technical partner, Paul Tracy, finished the race 17th after early contact knocked him out of competition.
Team Motorola now has 34 championship points while Cristiano daMatta continues to lead the championship hunt with 74 points. Bruno Junqueira is in second place with 54 points by virtue of his victory in Motegi while Michel Jourdain is in third also with 54 points. Michael's technical partners Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy are currently in fourth (49 points) and ninth (32 points) respectively.
Team Motorola will now return to their shop in Indianapolis and begin preparations for the CART Grand Prix of Chicago that will be held June 30.
Michael Andretti -- #39 Honda-Lola-Bridgestone
"I had an awesome start and had gained quite a few positions but we ended up getting pushed wide in the first turn and that put me off in the dirt. Since track position is so critical here I think our race might have been a lot different had we made it through that first corner without any drama. As it ended up I was pushed pretty far to the back of the field after the first corner and you end up working quite hard without any real opportunity to gain positions. The car is getting better on each outing and that's really important. As we get a handle on the car we'll be able to improve our qualifying effort and thus improve our starting position, which is really key at so many of these tracks. But again, we were able to pick up a few championship points and we'll just keep working at it and hope that in Chicago we continue to improve."
Laps Led: 0 2Laps Completed: 110 of 110
Points Earned: 4 for 34 total, 7th in the CART FedEx Championship
Today was Michael's 296th start of his career.
In 2001, Michael started 16th and finished 8th in this race.
Michael leads all active Champ Car drivers with 296 race starts, 42 wins, 32 poles and 6,563 laps led.
Kim Green -- General Manager
"We're gaining on our car performance.Team Motorola has doubled their points today from what we earned in Laguna Seca last weekend, which is very positive. We still need to find some more speed. I think today's race was a bit of a fuel mileage race and we didn't fare as well on that as we thought we would. We did have a great start, unfortunately there was a bit of mix-up down in the first corner and we lost some of the positions we had gained. We just need to keep working away at it and we'll look forward to the oval in Chicago in two weeks."