Marconi Grand Prix Of Cleveland Presented By U.S. Bank "Quoteboard" CRISTIANO DA MATTA ( ...
Marconi Grand Prix Of Cleveland Presented By U.S. Bank "Quoteboard"
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm looking forward to racing in Cleveland. I enjoy the track a lot. It's not a street course, it's not a road course - it's something in between. It's fast and wide and there are many lines so you can pass cars. With all of these things combined, it's a very unique event for us. I think that if you ask any driver in the paddock, he will say it is one of his favorite places to race so when everybody says that, for sure there is something special about the place. Last year in qualifying we had rain in one group but not the other so of course it wasn't fair because the conditions were not the same for all of the drivers. Now we have just one group so everyone is in the same conditions so it is a lot easier and a lot more fair. I'm sure the situation in Cleveland played a big part in the rules change. The start is tough because you can drive 10-wide on the front straight and then only two cars can fit into the first corner so everyone is waiting for the other cars to back off. Everyone expects this though so we have had some trouble free starts. I hope it is the same this year. I'm hoping to qualify up front to avoid any problems."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm looking forward to getting back out on the track this weekend after what happened to us in Toronto. Cleveland is a good track that produces a lot of passing. It seems like forever since our last win in Motegi. I think that it's time to win again. We need to start scoring points again to stay in the championship race."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL/Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's kind of unusual to be able to land my airplane on the racetrack. Last year was great for us. I have a lot of good memories coming back. It is a great course because you can really pass here. Turn 1 is always an adventure; cars try to go in there ten wide. It's an exciting place because the fans get to see the whole track. It's a place Team KOOL Green really likes to go to race."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Every driver in CART loves to race at Cleveland. The track is wide and fast and it is one of the few places where we can really go race wheel-to-wheel. With this being my first race in Ohio for Team Rahal I know this will be a busy week but it will also be very exciting. I have seen the number of fans that come to the track with Rahal stuff over the last few years at Cleveland so I know we will have a lot of people supporting us. We have struggled over the last couple of weeks but we have still managed to score some points. I know the team is doing everything they can to give me a car that we can run up front with. We have had some problems in qualifying and that is really an area of focus for us right now. The field is so equal it is really hard to race for a podium if you are starting at the back. We had success early in the season in qualifying so we know we can start up front. Now we just have to do it."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Cleveland is going to be very simple. In qualifying, all 18 cars are going to wait until the very last second to go out because the chances of having any kind of red flag are very slim because of the layout. And we all know what is going to happen at the start of the race. Everyone is going to dash for that first corner, see if they can get a good start, hope to not get tangled and then race from there. Everyone is going to make it 18-wide into the first turn when only a couple will fit. It makes it exciting for the fans but a little tense for the drivers - especially those who don't get through the corner without damage or losing positions. Our car has been good on road and street courses but everyone is catching up with us. We haven't qualified as well as we would have liked in some of the races but we have been reasonably happy with four top-four finishes. We left some points on the table in Long Beach with a mechanical problem, the oval races - especially Milwaukee -- when our wheel came off and in Portland. If e could have finished in the top-five in a couple of those, we would be closer to the top of the points but we are coming with the intention of continuing our momentum from our third place finish (in Toronto)."
SCOTT DIXON (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We've had a lot of consistent finishes this year and that's very encouraging for this team. Team Target has given me good cars so far this year and we haven't finished worse than 7th. I'm confident that a win is not too far away for us. I always look forward to racing in Cleveland. It's a great track to race on. The wide straights and corners allow for a lot of passing. I can't wait to get up there this weekend."
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Team Target has had good results in Cleveland and so have I, so it should be a good weekend for us. It's a very exciting track, both for the fans and for the drivers. It has a lot of good places for overtaking, so it should be a great race. We've been really strong on the road and street courses this season and our result last week in Toronto proved that. We need to keep our momentum going to stay in the championship race. Cleveland is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since I'm a big fan of music, it makes Cleveland an even better place to visit."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Cleveland certainly isn't your typical temporary road course. One of the big things about racing at Burke Lakefront is being able to be more aggressive and take more chances than you would on a conventional road course. There are no retaining walls and the run-off areas are very spacious. But you don't want to get fooled into a false sense of security because the turns, especially No. 1, are tough. Once you get into the turn, you realize that there's only one race line, and you can find yourself in the grass very quickly. Even though there are a lot of passing areas on the road course in Cleveland, it's still very important to get a spot on the top half of the grid in qualifying. Over the years, this has been a race that has favored drivers who were in the top six or seven in qualifying. Since we don't have the opportunity to test on the Cleveland track, we'll be doing a lot of experimenting once we get out on the track on Friday and I'm confident the Team Player's crew will come up with something that will make us competitive throughout the race weekend."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Racing on the wide track at the Burke Lakefront airport runway is a lot of fun, but it can be frustrating sometimes, especially on that first turn at the start of the race. It's a turn that is wide when you first go into it, then it narrows quite a bit at the exit. When you have too many cars going into that turn at the same time, it can be chaotic, as I discovered last year when my car was hit and our race was over on the first lap. Over the years, we've raced in all kinds of weather conditions in Cleveland from extreme heat to heavy thunderstorms so you have to be prepared for everything, including track conditions that seem to change every minute. Team Player's is at the stage of the season where we really need to get on a roll and put together a string of strong finishes. Maybe the race in Cleveland will get us headed in the right direction. I want to win as badly as anyone and I get as upset as anyone when, for one reason or another, it just isn't happening."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I look forward to the wide-open running in Cleveland, there are plenty of passing opportunities and I've had great success in the city. I hope that we can get another win there and add points to our championship run for Team KOOL Green. From a fan's perspective, there's not a bad seat in the whole house. I think it's probably the only road course in the world where you can see the whole track from any seat in the grandstands."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I've always enjoyed racing in Cleveland. It's a good track for wide open racing and as a driver, you get a chance to let your hair down a bit. Let's hope we can take what we've been learning about the Lola to Cleveland and turn that knowledge into a victory or podium finish."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I have had some really good runs at Cleveland including two poles but I never have won that one. That place is different than anywhere we race. It's wide open and really sucks you in as a driver. You think you have plenty of room everywhere so everyone goes for the same spots. That's why you have some wild races and a lot of incidents. I'm sure that will happen again this year. I just want to be in front of any carnage. Cleveland's first turn is always wild. But like in any street circuit race, if you start up front, you have a better chance to make it through that first turn clean. That's my goal this year. I've got taken out before because some guys tried to force the issue in some tight quarters. I'm glad to get some points at Toronto. (Cristiano) da Matta seems to be long gone in the points. But from second to 15th is still pretty open. But we need to win some races to make a big move up right now. I still think we can make the move in the next month."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Cleveland is so different than any other track. I enjoy driving there. I think it is exciting for the fans and it's exciting for us to drive. The track is so wide that you can invent so many lines to try different things. It is very bumpy and the grip of the track is different to other ones because of the runways. The Lola is definitely reacting different than the Reynard, and we just hope that some of the things we have learned can help us on this track. We had a good car last year but had a mechanical problem in the race. It is a very enjoyable track and we hope to do well there."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "The Cleveland circuit is a special track. It's not like any circuit we run on. I really like the track and hopefully we can find a good setup there like we had in Toronto. This is our first year with the Lola chassis, and we have found a good setup for the street circuits and oval tracks. Now we have to find a good setup for the road courses. Cleveland is unique, but it is more similar to a road circuit than a street course. If we can find a good setup, I think we can do well. We have a good momentum [in the past two races, Nakano has finished fourth and fifth] and I'm looking forward to this weekend."
TOWNSEND BELL (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I am optimistic about the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team's chances this weekend at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. The team has had some success at Cleveland in the past and I have also done well on the Burke Lakefront Airport street circuit. The Cleveland circuit is one of the most exciting in the FedEx Championship Series. There is always a large crowd on hand and this is the only road/street course where the fans can see the whole track. It is also fun for the drivers because the circuit is wide, which allows for good passing areas. The Visteon/Patrick Racing engineering staff has a lot of good data from past races at Cleveland so we should have a good setup for qualifying. My goal this weekend is the same as it is every weekend. I want to race hard, finish the race and score some points."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Well, I'd love to say it's been a fun year, but I'd be lying. Actually, we've had some really good moments, but unfortunately they haven't come on Sundays. Probably the best time we've had all year was last weekend in Toronto when our good friend Alex (Zanardi) finally came back to see us. That put a smile on everybody's face, and it was the greatest thing in the world for the guys who worked with him last year to see him again. He got the Greg Moore Award. He climbed into the race car and had the biggest smile on his face that you can imagine. He waved the green flag and the checkered flag. That was so great. I love that guy! He thought the weekend went by way too fast, so I'm betting he'll be back soon. I really wish I could have brought [team owner] Morris [Nunn] his first win with Alex waving the checkered flag, but that was just a dream. It was disappointing what happened to us on Sunday, but some things you just can't control. All you can do is get over it and move on to the next one. Cleveland is a good track to get it all back together. It's wide open and very forgiving. Definitely, it's a driver's road course. It's very unusual because it's not your pure road course type of track. But it's great for the fans, and it's one of the most fun tracks to drive all year, especially when you have a good race car. I think we'll be in good shape. We just have to have things go our way, for a change, on Sunday."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's been a few years since I raced in Cleveland - the last time was in 1999 in Indy Lights. I started 17th and worked my way up to ninth at the finish but it was a tough race! For sure, I'm hoping to do better there this time! I have to say that I think the Cleveland Grand Prix is probably the most unique racing circuit in the world. The set up on the airport runways makes it a big challenge for the drivers. Because it is so flat, it's not always easy to find the racing line or your braking points. It's very wide but it's also very bumpy so it's physically pretty tough on the drivers too. For the fans it's fantastic. It must be so much fun to sit in the grandstands there - I think it's the only road course in the world where the spectators can see virtually the entire track from their seats! Plus with all of the great activities in downtown Cleveland, including the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame which I'm going to visit on Friday, I think it's one of the best all-around events on the circuit."