"What a perfect weekend this has been. We were able to score the maximum 22 points (20 points for the win, one point for the pole and one point for leading the most laps), and retake the lead in the Championship standings (de Ferran has 163...
"What a perfect weekend this has been. We were able to score the maximum 22 points (20 points for the win, one point for the pole and one point for leading the most laps), and retake the lead in the Championship standings (de Ferran has 163 points, ten points ahead of Kenny Brack in second). I really have to thank the Team for doing a wonderful job. The Marlboro car was fast when we unloaded it and we just fine-tuned it during each session.
The start of the race was a little difficult. Bruno (Junqueira) had about half a car length lead going into turn one, but I was able to get back at him under braking which is something I had practiced in the morning warm-up. The first stint was the easiest part of the race for me. I was concentrating on conserving fuel and saving the tires. I really wasn't pushing, but slowly increasing the pace. The second stint was the most fun -- it reminded me of my Formula 3 days where you go, go, go every lap. I knew Dario (Franchitti) was on fresh tires and I hadn't changed tires. Alex (Tagliani) was between us so I just concentrated on opening up the gap as much as I could. It would have been difficult to hold off Dario had Tagliani gone out earlier (Tagliani made contact with the wall on lap 94). The 'splash-and-go' stop (lap 79) worked perfectly and we were able to keep the lead and bring it home in first.
As we get to the end of the season, every race takes on extra importance and I was very aware of that coming into Houston. I knew if we had a good weekend, we could put ourselves in a better position for the final stretch. We cannot take anything for granted, however, or underestimate the competition. It was a great day for Marlboro Team Penske but we're already thinking about Laguna Seca."
Gil de Ferran
"I was very happy with how the Marlboro car was handling this afternoon. We were trying to save fuel and tires in the first half of the race and we decided to come into the pits early on our second stop. We came in before the leaders and got fuel only. It was a great strategy, but once we were back out, there was a yellow and that allowed everyone else to come in. Unfortunately, we couldn't have guessed there would be so many yellow flags today and our strategy didn't work out as we would have liked. However, I had a great car today, and I'm happy to have finished fifth. Those ten Championship points are very important, especially so close to the end of the season. We have three races left, so I'm confident that we're still strong contenders in the hunt for the Championship."