TAKAGI MAKES HISTORY WITH THIRD-PLACE START - Tora Takagi (Pioneer Toyota) will start third - the highest starting position ever by a Japanese driver in CART competition - after rain rolled into Michigan International Speedway after only six ...
TAKAGI MAKES HISTORY WITH THIRD-PLACE START - Tora Takagi (Pioneer Toyota) will start third - the highest starting position ever by a Japanese driver in CART competition - after rain rolled into Michigan International Speedway after only six qualifiers had completed their runs for the pole for Sunday's Harrah's 500 Presented by Toyota, forcing tomorrow's field to be determined by Saturday morning's practice times, where Takagi placed third with a lap of more than 227 mph.
Takagi bettered his previous best starting position of eighth at Cleveland. The only rookie to earn a better starting position this year has been Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota), who won the pole at Nazareth and started second at Detroit.
THREE TOYOTAS TO START IN TOP-10 - Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota) and Mauricio Gugelmin (Nextel Toyota) will join Tora Takagi in starting tomorrow's 500-mile race in 9th and 10th-place, respectively.
RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY - Today's wash-out of qualifying was the third time in the last six events that rain has affected qualifying. Qualifying on the oval at Milwaukee was washed out in June, while Cleveland had rain fall on the second group in qualifying allowing only half the grid to get a clean, dry lap.
TORA TAKAGI, #5 Pioneer Toyota: "This is my first time on a superspeedway, and I had no idea what to expect on Friday. This track, for me, I'm almost flat in all corners. This is my first time here and I have no idea what to expect in the race. I've only seen it on video. I want to finish the race and hopefully get a good result."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota: " We were going for the pole today, but the rain came and we'll have to be happy with ninth place. It's not every weekend that you have a shot at the pole. I guess if we had a crystal ball and could have predicted the rain we would have been running in the draft in the practice session. You can win this race from anywhere, but it would have been nice to reward the team for their hard work with a good qualifying performance. Once qualifying was called, you had to switch focus to the race and not worry about could've, would've, should've. It all comes down to the race now. We think we have a competitive car and a good shot to win the race if we can manage to run all day and stay away from the 500-mile gremlins."
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota: "I know it doesn't mean a lot where you start this race, but I'm very disappointed. I had the chance to go for the pole. That doesn't mean I would have gotten it but I think there were five guys capable of getting the pole and I think I was one of them. I think Max and Kenny would have been strong and so were Christian and myself. We ran a lot better this morning than we did on Friday, but the car is better in qualifying trim than race trim so far so we need to work on that before the race."
JIMMY VASSER, #40 Visteon Toyota: "It's a shame and, of course, I am disappointed. "I thought we would qualify a little farther up then where are starting, but a 500-mile race is a very long race and so many things can happen - it is really not that big a deal."
Roberto Moreno, #20 Visteon Toyota: "It is a bit disappointing because I thought the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard was a good car for qualifying. We were just fine-tuning the car this morning, working on race set-ups and not really trying for speed. It doesn't really matter, though. It is a 500-mile race and unless you take the pole and get the point it doesn't matter where you start."
Toyota Drivers Michigan Qualifying 3. Tora Takagi 9. Christian Fittipaldi 10. Mauricio Gugelmin 12. Scott Dixon 13. Cristiano da Matta 15. Jimmy Vasser 16. Memo Gidley 17. Roberto Moreno 22. Bruno Junqueira
HARRAH'S 500 Presented by Toyota, ABC, 1:30 p.m. EDT/10:30 a.m. PDT