MOTHER NATURE HAMPERS PAPIS' POLE RUN Typically in qualifying, the later you go the faster you go, but that was not the case during qualifying for tomorrow's Marlboro 500. Strong afternoon winds that picked up as the session went on, hampered...
MOTHER NATURE HAMPERS PAPIS' POLE RUN
Typically in qualifying, the later you go the faster you go, but that was not the case during qualifying for tomorrow's Marlboro 500. Strong afternoon winds that picked up as the session went on, hampered some of the fastest drivers of the weekend, including Ford hot shoe, Max Papis.
Papis, who was the second to last driver to qualify, fought gusty winds and wasn't able to better Scott Pruett, who captured Toyota's first career pole, with a speed of 235.398 mph. Papis who managed a speed of 234.544 mph was confident that with winds similar to those Pruett had during his early run, the pole would have easily been his.
MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 2nd - "First of all I want to congratulate Scott (Pruett) on the pole. The wind was really, really gusty when we went out. We had a couple of wiggles in turn three and four. When I came out of turn four on my second lap it was almost like pulling the handbrake because of the wind. I am convinced we are going to race well tomorrow. We had a fantastic qualifying run and we are having a fantastic weekend. We are going to let Dario and Montoya battle for the championship back in the pack and go for the win. Sometimes going last in qualifying is not the best thing, but qualifying on the first row is fantastic. If I could not be on pole I can't think of anyone else I would want to be there. I think Scott has done a very good job. I know what the team has been going through developing the Toyota engine and it has been difficult for not only me when I was there but for Jeff (Krosnoff) too. I am very proud for you guys, I know what you have been going through. But, tomorrow I am going to kick your ass." DID THE WIND HAMPER YOUR EFFORTS DURING QUALIFYING? "The wind hurt us a little bit in qualifying. We got a few gusts of wind that caused me to go sideways and I think that is what cost us the pole." DO YOU THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR WEEKEND? "I always think every weekend is mine. If I didn't I would have stayed in Italy. It's really about believing in yourself. This year, Ford has been working hard on the engine. The engine has been fantastic, it's got more power, more driveability, and I am convinced if the conditions would have been right, the pole would have been 237 mph. Tomorrow is going to be long, but I know we have a competitive race car and I am looking forward to the race. What makes me happy is how much support we have, from Bobby (Rahal), the guys, Ford and that's what helps win races and championships."
BRYAN HERTA -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 5th - "I am a little disappointed that we didn't get a little more out of the car. The engine is pulling great. We have a great engine this weekend from Ford. We just didn't get the car balanced quite right for qualifying." MAX HAS BEEN SINCE THE CARS WERE UNLOADED, HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO LEARN ANYTHING FROM HIM? "Well, we just talked about where we are at with the setup. He ran quick this morning and his second place in qualifying shows that."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- K Mart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 6th - "The car was fine. We were flat out all the way around. The wind was blowing us around a little but you can't blame that, we just didn't have a car quick enough. The car feels really good for tomorrow and has been really comfortable all weekend. Qualifying is just one race, the real race is tomorrow." YOU TYPICALLY HAVE A VERY STRONG CAR COME RACE TIME. DO YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY GOING INTO TOMORROW? "Yes, I feel good. We are going to be real competitive." WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE TOMORROW IF THE WIND KEEP UP? "If the wind will go down it will make 500 miles more conformable. I tell you, you are holding your breath at time because of the wind."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big K Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 9th - "We could have used a little more speed and trim out that car a little more but I am pretty happy. The guys that ran in the beginning of the qualifying session were a little bit luckier. But, that's the way it goes and we will have to take it." ARE YOU FLAT OUT ALL THE WAY AROUND? "Yes, you just plant the foot in it and carry the speed."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 13th - HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO GET THE POLE FOR A 500-MILE RACE? "I don't think it is important at all. It is good to get the pole for the extra championship point but apart from that it's not important. Last year we qualified last and finished fourth. So, you can win from the back of the pack if you have a good race car. The most important thing is to sty out of trouble, get good pit stops so you can be there for the end." DID THE WIND AFFECT YOU TODAY? "It was a little bit windier than this morning but it was not too bad."
P.J. JONES -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 23rd - "My car was balanced real well. We just have not been able to find the setup this weekend. We have been a little behind all weekend. Hopefully we can get tuned for the race tomorrow. It doesn't really matter where we starts here, we can race hard tomorrow." REGARDING NEXT YEAR, WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS? "I think I am going to turn more towards stock car racing and go that way. I am working on a couple of deals over there."