T-7 and Counting Competition Debut Seven Days Away
What: Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix Round 1 of 21 of the CART FedEx Championship Series
Where: Fundidora Park, 2.1-Mile Permanent Road Course Monterrey, Mexico
When: Sunday, March 11, 2001 at 3:00 p.m. CST 4:00 p.m. EST live on ABC Television
In September of 2000 amid the flurry of press announcements and interviews, Team Motorola General Manager Kim Green had one pressing thought: "only six months until the Team Motorola car is rolled onto the grid for the season opener in Monterrey, Mexico."
After announcing the key pieces of the puzzle; Motorola sponsorship, Honda power, Reynard chassis, driver Michael Andretti and ownership by Barry Green the task at hand was to build the team. General Manager Kim Green immediately began assembling the key people. "We've always known at Team Green that the key to our success has been the people," said Green. "So in building Team Motorola my primary goal has been to get the right people in place and let them go to work." Green tapped long-time Team Green manager Tony Cotman to assume the role as team manager for the #39 entry along with Eddie Jones as chief engineer. Those appointments were quickly followed by the announcement of John Cummiskey as chief mechanic.
The team got to work right away. With testing limited to the off-season Team Motorola had plenty to keep them busy before rolling onto the track for their first test in early December. Team Manager Cotman summed up their off-season, "What off-season? When you are building a new team there are a lot of things that have to come together and there is very little time. We are lucky that we have very experienced people and a very experienced driver and everyone gelled quickly. We were very successful in our off-season testing and now we need to get on the race track."
For Andretti, this is the first time in eleven seasons that he will not be rolling out on the grid with the same team. In addition to the new team, Andretti is being powered by Honda for the first time of his career. "There have been a number of new things to get used to during the off-season but I have to admit Team Motorola has come together like we have been around for years," explained Andretti. "Change can be really good sometimes. For this season I'm in the best physical shape of my career and I'm excited about all the changes: I'm excited about the Honda power behind me; I'm excited about the way Team Motorola has taken shape and most importantly, I'm excited to race."
Andretti is beginning his 18th Champ Car season and goes into the 2001 CART FedEx Championship season as the leader of active Champ Car drivers in the number of wins at 40, number of poles at 32, number of starts with 270 and laps led with 6,409. Although there are many expectations for Andretti and his new teammates there is also an air of confidence surrounding them. Andretti summed up his expectations for the season opener in Monterrey. "We were very focused and successful in our testing this winter and now the key is to carry that same intensity into the race weekend. Kim Green and Tony Cotman have done a tremendous job organizing this team and I believe we're capable of winning the first time out. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of competition on the grid, but you can definitely throw Team Motorola in the hat as a contender."
Team Motorola begins competition on Friday, March 9th at 9:30 a.m. CST for the first official Champ Car practice session for 2001. The race weekend format for the 2001 season has been slightly altered from years past. CART has instituted a rule for no in-season testing so the Friday practice sessions are the first opportunity for many teams to run at the race venues. Based on that change, Friday will be a practice day only, with no times being scored as official. On Saturday Champ Car teams will run a morning practice session and then proceed with qualifications in the afternoon and the race day format will continue to include a morning warm-up and then racing.
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