CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Team Motorola Saturday qualifying report

PORTLAND, Oregon (June 15, 2002)-- Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti saw a marked improvement in their qualifying effort for tomorrow's G.I. Joe's 200 at the Portland International Raceway.  Andretti was able to improve his time by almost...

PORTLAND, Oregon (June 15, 2002)-- Team Motorola and driver Michael Andretti saw a marked improvement in their qualifying effort for tomorrow's G.I. Joe's 200 at the Portland International Raceway.  Andretti was able to improve his time by almost a second around the 1.969-mile road course and was certainly pleased with the effort.  "We made a big improvement with the car this afternoon," Andretti said.  "Tomorrow will be a long race so hopefully that will give us time to work our way to the front."

Andretti will start tomorrow's race from the 12th position for his 296th career Champ Car start.  Andretti started 16th and finished 8th in last year's event.  Over the course of his career Andretti has had three victories at Portland in 1990,1991 and 1992.  Ironically, one of Michael's most famous finishes in Portland was not a victory but a second place finish to his father Mario in 1986 and perhaps more ironic was the fact it happened on Father's Day.  "This actually was not the best memory for me," said Andretti with a smile.  "Because like any racer I'd much rather have finished first."

Cristiano DaMatta captured today's pole and also set the fastest combined qualifying time with a time of 58.679 seconds.  Kenny Brack took second place with a time of 58.963 seconds and Bruno Junqueira qualified third with a time of 59.026 seconds.  Michael Andretti's technical partners Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy finished 7th at 59.365 seconds and 9th at 59.454 seconds respectively in today's qualifying. Tomorrow's race begins at 12:30 p.m. PT and will be shown live on CBS.

FAST FACTS AND QUOTES
Sunday will be 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 295 race starts, 42 wins, 32 poles and 6,563 laps led.

Michael Andretti -- #39 Honda-Lola-Bridgestone
"We've made a big improvement with the car today.  Our pop-off valve actually blew on our quick lap so that cost us a tenth of a second, which might have moved us up by a few positions since the field is so close.  But we have improved our performance quite a bit and I'm happy that we're finally starting to get a better handle on the Lola chassis.  Portland is a difficult track to pass on but it's a long race, in fact they have lengthened the race so we'll have a lot of time to hopefully work our way to the front."

Kim Green -- General Manager
"We've been taking it one session at a time and we're slowly getting the car better and to Michael's liking and moving up the grid.  I don't think Michael feels he got all he could have out of the car and feels he could have gone a little bit quicker given the perfect lap so that is encouraging.  It's certainly a very close grid and in seven days we've come a long way in our grid position.  It's a long race tomorrow and we need to be sure we're there at the finish.  We haven't fully analyzed our strategy for the race tomorrow but the 30-lap pit stints are not going to be a breeze.  It's going to require good fuel mileage for those stints and that will certainly be a challenge.  We do have an advantage in that Michael is extremely physically fit and I think with a race of this length (110 laps) that's going to be a factor." <pre> Saturday Practice Saturday Qualifying Final Qualifying Position 13th Position 11th Position 12th Speed 118.521 mph Speed 119.165 mph Speed 119.165 mph Time 59.807 seconds Time 59.484 seconds Time 59.484 seconds

-tm-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Kenny Brack , Kim Green