Alex Zanardi and the ...
Alex Zanardi and the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Honda-Reynard will start Sunday's Michigan 500 from the outside of the seventh row after rain washed out today's qualifying session and prompted CART officials to grid cars based on today's morning practice times. Zanardi's fast practice lap today was a 31.893-second (an average of 225.755 mph) effort around the 2-mile Michigan Speedway tri-oval.
Only seven drivers were able to complete their single-car qualifying runs before the rains came. According to CART rules, if all competitors are not able to qualify, then the chief steward has the option of gridding cars according to the current championship points standings, or by the most recent official practice session.
Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tony Kanaan and his #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard will start from the inside of the third row Sunday. Kanaan recorded a fast lap of 31.626 seconds (227.661 mph), the fifth-best lap of the day. It will be, by far, Kanaan's best starting position at this historic oval, at which CART is competing for the final time this weekend. Kanaan started 18th last year, 11th in 1999, when he scored his first Champ Car victory, and 20th in his Rookie of the Year season of 1998. Kenny Brack will start from the pole after recording a lap of 31.330 seconds (229.812 mph). Team Rahal teammate Max Papis will start alongside in the second spot after a lap of 31.483 seconds (228.695 mph). Tora Takagi will start third by virtue of his 31.591-second (227.913 mph) lap today.
Race time Sunday is 1:30 p.m. EDT with a live broadcast set for ABC-TV. The Sunday-morning warm-up show CART2DAY can be seen on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. EDT.
"My guys have been giving me grief all weekend because I'm wearing helmet #13. But I guess it brought me a little luck because I gained three spots on the grid (because Sunday's starting grid will be based on Saturday's morning practice times and not the current driver points standings, where Zanardi is 17th). It's a disappointing way, I think, to set the starting grid because we were making some progress toward making my car fast for qualifying. I was all strapped in and ready to go out next when it started raining. I think we all have our work cut out for us at this race. Five hundred miles is a long way, and there is always a lot of action. Your qualifying position doesn't really matter so much here as it does to have a car that can run well in traffic and that can go the distance. I hope we can get the race in tomorrow. Today's weather was a bit of a surprise, so I guess we can't count on a dry day tomorrow, either. Whatever happens, we'll make the best of it."