Michigan 500 Pole for Tracy

Paul Tracy set a new track record to take pole position for Sunday's Michigan 500. The Team Kool Green driver lapped at 234.949mph, a fraction faster the Michael Andretti , who has also been quick all weekend

Michigan 500 Pole for Tracy

"We had a great run." Said Tracy. "The team has worked hard over the winter in the wind tunnel, and Honda has done great work on the motor.

Tracy was using a special qualifying specification engine for his pole run, a tactic Toyota used earlier this season.

"It feels like it has more power, and I know it's louder, although from where I am, with my ear plugs it sounds no different."

Tracy's first lap put him second on the grid, his second taking the top spot from Andretti:
"The car got a little loose on me in Turn Three on my first lap," explained the cool Canadian, "but I made a sway bar adjustment, shifted the weight-jacker, let the car run high, and then it stuck for the second lap."

Qualifying is largely irrelevant for the 500-mile race, but the kudos - and the single championship point - was worth the effort,. "It is really, very satisfying. This is my first pole for Team Green. Normally our qualifying is really poor , and our races are good. So this showing, on top of third in Toronto last week is great momentum for the team.

"But it's a long race, and the idea is just to stay in the lead pack. But with the drafting the way it is, as long as you are in the lead lap, you can't help but lead at some point.

"It's so competitive now, that you can't even afford a bad pit-stop."

Andretti, winner at Toronto the previous weekend, was slightly disappointed to be beaten to pole. "Before the weekend I guess I was aiming for top five, so I can't complain too much. But I would've loved to have score my first oval pole in what seems like ages. But I'm very impressed with Paul's lap..."

Both Andretti and Newman-Haas team-mate Christian Fittipaldi have been happy with their Lola-Fords since Friday morning. Fittipaldi said of qualifying: "It was a good lap, the car couldn't go any quicker."

Fourth on the grid will be Tracy's Team Green team-mate Dario Franchitti, nearly five mph slower than Tracy. Franchitti did not have the benefit of Honda's qualifying engine. "The car was near to perfect, but it's a long race, so qualifying isn't as important as it usually is. We should be in great shape for the race.

Penske's Gil de Ferran and Ganassi's Jimmy Vasser fill fifth and sixth places, Vasser the top Toyota runner a fraction ahead of team mate, and reigning CART Champion Juan Montoya. "Jimmy and I trimmed out the car as much as we felt necessary," said Montoya. "And that was all we could get out of it."
A couple of the disappointed runners after qualifying were Cristiano da Matta and Helio Castro Neves. Da Matta had been third fastest in the morning session, but slipped to 14th in qualifying: "We were too heavy on the downforce," said the Brazilian. "We thought it would be better. I was flat all the way round, easy, so the handling was good, just too slow. In the race we should be OK.

Castroneves had an engine blow on his first run, but he managed a single lap in the spare car in the closing minutes of the session to grab 13th on the grid.

Current series leader Roberto Moreno will start in 16th . "We planned to get a good race car, but in my opinion this qualifying is poor. But the important things here are a constant race car, good strategy, and to be there at the finish."

The Michigan 500 starts at 1:30pm Eastern on Sunday

For the Starting Grid for the Michigan 500, click HERE.

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