Ford drivers Bryan Herta, Roberto Moreno and Max Papis stormed across the finish line to capture Ford's second podium sweep of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season. Herta's win, the second of his career and second consecutive win at Laguna...
Ford drivers Bryan Herta, Roberto Moreno and Max Papis stormed across the finish line to capture Ford's second podium sweep of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season. Herta's win, the second of his career and second consecutive win at Laguna Seca, marked the first time that a driver has led from wire to wire to claim the win since Paul Tracy led all the laps in the 1994 event.
Fellow Ford drivers Roberto Moreno and Max Papis also posted their best Champ Car career finishes by notching second and third respectively.
BRYAN HERTA -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Started 1st / Finished 1st - YOU HAD SUCH A SOLID DAY. WAS THIS ONE OF THE BEST CARS YOU HAVE EVER HAD HERE? "It really was. The only problem that I had was towards the end of the second pit when I started to slide around a bit and lose the rear end. But I came in and put a fresh set of Firestones on for the finish and it was good at the end. Roberto was pushing me at the end but I was able to answer what ever he threw at me. Roberto said he was going to follow me a little bit during practice and I guess I showed him too much."
AFTER TODAY'S WIN, DO YOU THINK YOUR STOCK IS GOING TO RISE? "That's up to other people. I am the same guy that was here three weeks ago."
CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THAT LAST RESTART WHEN YOU LOCKED UP THE BRAKES COMING ONTO THE FRONT STRETCH? "You mean the one where I almost threw it all away? The tires just got a little old. I know Michael, and he is just a bulldog, and I knew that if he had a shot on the first lap he was going to try it. So I was trying to get a good gap on him and just got a little too deep into the corner. When we came out of the corner the guys got a run on Mike, which took some of the pressure off of me. After that, I just said to myself, 'No mistakes,' I just stayed focused and kept on."
TOWARDS THE END OF THE RACE BOBBY CAME OVER THE RADIO AND TOLD YOU TO NOT WORRY ABOUT BEING FAIR. WHAT DID HE MEAN BY THAT? "What he meant was don't loose the lead."
THERE WERE MANY TIMES WE SAW CARS GO OFF COURSE TODAY BUT THEY DIDN'T SLOW DOWN MUCH LIKE GRAVEL SHOULD MAKE THEM. ARE THERE STILL SAFETY CONCERNS HERE THAT SHOULD BE ADDRESSED? "I think no matter how good we make any track that it can always be better. I think that there will always be things that we don't realize until something happens and it shows us an area that we need to improve. A track can never be too safe. I guess if you are going to ask any of us, sure it can always be safer, but I think that the tracks in the series have made great strides in safety."
MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Started 3rd / Finished 3rd - "Today was a very active day for me. In the beginning we tried to make a good start and when I went into turn three I kept understeering and understeering and got through the corner clean and kept going. It was a very tough race. Firestone came here and did a great job all weekend; they gave us very consistent tires. We didn't have any problem during the first pit stop. On the second pit stop we had a bit of a problem. I went to drop the clutch on the exit and the engine stalled. The guys did a great job getting me restarted. What saved me there was the gap we had on fourth place. We raced really strong all day and on the final restart, Bryan and Michael were fighting for position and it was a little tight there. Roberto (Moreno) did a great job there. It was a great weekend for all of us. It was also a great weekend for Ford. I saw Bruce Wood, our engine designer with Cosworth, after the race and it's the people like him, who work behind the scenes deserve the satisfaction. But it was also very sad at the same time because of what happened to Gonzalo (Rodreguiz). Many times I thought about him. There are many things that go through your mind besides racing. It's a fantastic day for me, it's my personal best, we have been knocking at the door so many times, but I think we have to remember that we have many values in life and that Gonzalo was trying to achieve them, but unfortunately he is not here anymore. But my passion, and our passion for racing is the best tribute to Gonzalo's will to succeed."
IT SEEMED LIKE THERE WAS A LOT OF FOLLOW THE LEADER TODAY, WAS IT DIFFICULT TO KEEP YOUR FOCUS? "It was a very tough race. It's not easy to not make mistakes when you are under pressure. The Miller car ran great all weekend. We have had some difficult times during the season so this paid this back a little bit."
ROBERTO MORENO -11- Big K Ford-Cosworth - Started 14th /Finished 2nd - CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THE LAST RESTART WHERE YOU PASSED MICHAEL AND MAX AND PUT YOU IN CONTENTION FOR THE WIN? "For some reason the guys in front of me came out of the corner slow so I got a good run on them. I didn't understand what was happening exactly. I saw two cars side by side and I went on the inside of Michael and Max, who went a little low, and managed to get by them and I got the best out of it. This was a great day for the team and my best CART result ever. I want to thank everybody that helped me out. All I can say is that my pit crew did a great job helping me get positions on the track. We could afford to make a shorter fuel stop there at then end that really put us in position there at the end. The next race Christian is supposed to come back so it feels really good to finish this one with a golden key. I am happy that I was able to come up with a podium finish today. I also want to mention the one, two, three finish for Ford today. That really says something about their program. They have put a lot of hard work into the program and it showed today."
DO YOU SOMETIMES HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET A FULL-TIME RIDE? "I don't think that way. I just take what life brings my way and make the most of each opportunity. I think I am very close to getting a full-time job and I think you will see me out there next year. If not, I will still be available for anyone who needs me. I am also organizing a ride to do the Indy 500 again, so we will see what comes. I am just a happy man when I am driving."
IT SEEMS THAT MOST OF THE TIME THE POSITIONS YOU MAKE UP COME AS A RESULT OF PIT STRATEGY. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT? "I touch my mechanics butts before we go out. They seem to like that. But really, we just practice pit stops during the warm-up and they have been doing a great job with them. I just make sure that my mechanics are happy. It's a team effort. I always try and stop on the spots and I think that, to give myself a little credit, the way I drive allows me to save a little fuel. So, out fuel stops are a little quicker because we don't have to put as much fuel in the car, so that helps a little bit. Stopping on the spots and not scaring the mechanics helps too. If the mechanics don't think you can hit the spots they get a bit scared of you. We always study the pit stops and I thing that helps."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- K Mart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - Started 5th / Finished 10th - CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE INCIDENT ON THE FINAL RESTART THAT CAUSED YOU TO SPIN? "Bryan just didn't stand on it at the start. I got in too tight and had to back off. I got inside Vasser and my car just pushed right into him. It was looking really good for a second place finish at the end of the race. The points would have really help us gain on Dario and Juan in the points today. This would have been a huge break for us in the standings."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Started 7th / Finished 5th - "The car was beautiful all day, it was excellent. We managed to have good restarts which was a concern of mine with my arm, but we had some very good ones today. We were also very fast going to down the hill into the last turn. That last yellow really killed us though. We lost a lot of track position. If it was not for that last yellow we could have got Ford a one, two, three, four finish."
HOW DID YOUR ARM HOLD UP OVER THE 83 LAPS? "It felt better after about 20 laps into the race. I think it started to loosen up a bit. But my are is pretty painful now." ON THE CONTACT WITH GREG MOORE "Well, I got him going into turn one under braking and he also was braking late and I was already committed to the corner. I knew that we were going to touch so I lifted my right arm and took it off the steering wheel."
JAN MAGNUSSEN -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth - Started 23rd / Finished 17th / Transmission - "We lost the gearbox late and we had to park the car."
YOU AND PRUETT GOT TOGETHER WHICH CAUSED YOU TO DAMAGE YOUR FRONT WING. HOW DID YOU GUYS COME TOGETHER? "Pruett was late breaking and I got a run on him and I broke the rear of the car loose and when I got in deep it broke the left side of my front wing off. That's racing. It's not really anybody's fault"
MEMO GIDLEY -71- Herdez/Viva Mexico Ford-Cosworth - Started 22nd / Finished 13th - "We had a hard time all weekend. We never got the balance of the car the way I needed. I learned a lot today by just driving today."
IF YOU WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THAT ONE OFF TRACK EXCURSION, WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE FINISHED? "It's tough to say. I may have finished up a couple more spots in the points. The last yellow really helped me a lot because it allowed me to close up the gap and run for positions."
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. -71- Herdez/Viva Mexico Ford-Cosworth - Started 19th / Finished 20th / Transmission - "We lost a gearbox today. There was not any indication that it was going. It's too bad because we were having a strong run today. We did pick up an oversteer at the end of the run but we were still pushing on and I think we could have brought the car home and finished well."