Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pre-Race Quoteboard PAUL TRACY ( ...
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pre-Race Quoteboard
PAUL TRACY (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "You would be hard-pressed to find a better race venue than Long Beach, which I have always considered to be a model for others to follow. There's a real buzz to race week in Long Beach, with all the activities and crowd involvement surrounding the event. As a driver, you can't help but get an emotional charge out of competing in such an environment. Plus, Long Beach has been a good track for me, because I got my first career win there in 1993 and won again three years ago, when I started 17th, kept my nose to the grindstone and managed to pull out one of the most satisfying victories of my career. I'm obviously pleased about winning the first two races of the season and getting off to the best start of my career. I've had some slow starts in the past and it's always difficult to make up the lost ground, so I realize the importance of being able o put some big points in the bank right at the start. But going into Long Beach, I'm not even thinking in terms of three straight. I just take each race as it comes and try to deal with each situation as it comes up. It's been such a fantastic team effort so far with Team Player's, and there is a great air of confidence that we can stay on a roll."
MICHEL JOURDAIN (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "For me, winning is the final step I have to take in my development as a Champ Car driver. I am proud of what I have accomplished but it has just been preparation for what lies ahead. Long Beach has always been a special place for me because it is where my Champ Car career began. I feel we are close to winning and if my first win comes at Long Beach it would be unbelievable. We put a lot of effort into improving our qualifying position this season and so far it has paid off. Last year, based on where we qualified, we ran for top-ten results. This year if we can qualify in the top-five and do what we did a year ago then we should be racing for podiums. That will pay off in more points in the championship."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "Last year I started in third place and ran the fastest lap of the race but I had some problems and crashed. I didn't score any points so I want to improve on the qualifying position as well as the finish. This year for it to be PacifiCare's home race and an event that they also sponsor it will be very special for us as well as an important race to put the car on the podium. I think Newman/Haas Racing and myself are delighted to have PacifiCare on our car this year. It's their first year in motor racing. They are putting in a big effort and really doing a lot of things that are pretty nice. I'm going a week early to Long Beach because PacifiCare headquarters are near there. That's going to be their home race. I qualified well here last year and Newman/Haas led the race with Cristiano and probably could have won it if they didn't get hit in the pits. Long Beach is for sure one of the most successful races in CART because it's such a tradition. It's a nice street race in a nice area that has been running for 20 years with a lot of fan support. For sure it will be even more special for us because it is PacifiCare's home race and you really want to do well for your sponsor there. I think the race will be even more exciting because no one will have traction control. Especially coming out of the last turn - the hairpin - in first gear because it will be very difficult to put the power down."
ROBERTO MORENO (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "Long Beach was the first racetrack that I ever competed on in the US so it has a special place in my heart. That was back in 1982 when I came over to do a Formula Atlantic race and I finished second in that event. Racing in Champ Cars, I've knocked on the door a few times, like in 2000 & 2001, but I've never been able to win it. This Herdez Competition team is giving me very good equipment and this track suits my driving style a little more than the first two this season... I feel like we have a legitimate chance of coming away this weekend as a winner!"
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "Those familiar with the Long Beach course know it is demanding as well as picturesque. Coming around the fountain after turn one is challenging, and I have to push hard to get by it, but after that, driving up the boulevard with a front view of the stands is incredible. Having the fans right in my face is shocking and makes me realize where I am. One of the best sections on this track is the hairpin. It's not the fastest area, with the most Gs but we have to slow down enough for people to get a great look at the cars sneak through the tight turns, and hear them gear down. Then coming through it, preparing to fly down the straight-away is a great feeling."
MARIO HABERFELD (#34 Mi-Jack Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) "We're looking forward to Long Beach's street circuit. Last time on a street circuit we had good results. So far we've done very well, and would have had a sixth place finish in Monterrey if we hadn't had mechanical problems. We hope to improve the car before and during our testing in Phoenix. I'm looking forward to working with Andy [Borme], our new engineer, and creating a good relationship with him. It is good we have the chance to all work together during the testing before the Long Beach race."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I have come close to a podium at Long Beach, and our goals going into this weekend are the same as they were in Mexico three weeks ago - to finish the race and to finish on the podium. They are achievable goals. We have been focusing all of our efforts on the engineering side and, while Paul Tracy definitely had the car to beat in Monterrey, we are not far off. I really feel the effort we have been putting in is going to yield the results. Long Beach is one of those races that has become a tradition. I have been competing here for over a decade and every year the event itself just seems to get better. This year has even more meaning since my sponsor, Tecate, is now involved with the race. [Tecate is the official imported beer sponsor of the event.] The fans are great and the atmosphere is tremendous. The race will be exciting and full of drama as usual when you are competing on a tight street circuit. Hopefully ours will be the car pulling into the Winner's Circle on Sunday."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "Long Beach has certainly been a tough track for me, because I'm still looking to earn my first points there, even though I've been racing in Long Beach for five years. Over the years, it's been a question of mechanical problems or just plain bad luck. Last year, for instance, we were out of the race early because the traction control device wasn't functioning properly. With no traction control this year, that's one less problem to worry about, and believe me, I'm going into this race totally forgetting the past. In fact, I look at Long Beach as the real start to my 2003 season. Even though we managed to pick up some points in the first two races, there were circumstances in each that prevented us from being where we want to be, which is on the podium. The virus and infection that affected my vision during the last race weekend in Mexico was one of those freak things. I'm fully recovered from that now, and that's why I regard Long Beach as a fresh start to the season. Team Player's has put a very competitive car on the track the first two races, and I have no doubt that will continue in Long Beach."
JIMMY VASSER (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) "We had a good run at Long Beach last year, and I have a lot of great reasons to enjoy Long Beach, I have a lot of good history there. This is sort of a home race for me, here and Laguna Seca and I always look forward to it. This is an important race for us this weekend, being a new team, the first few races have been a lot of extra work, we fought mechanical issues all weekend in Mexico, but we have still run toward the front in both races. Things are starting to jell now, everyone is in their groove, working well together and we should be running up front more consistently now. With the team just over 100 days old, the first few months and races have been a good test for all of us, we have a strong, experienced group and I think it shows, that is why we have been able to pull this off. I am definitely looking forward to Long Beach and all that comes with it, great fans, nice weather and the fun atmosphere, it will be a good weekend."
DARREN MANNING (#15 RAC Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) "It looks like quite an interesting circuit - a lot of tight sections - similar to tracks like Macau and Monaco where I cut my teeth and earned some good finishes. It should be a good race for us with the momentum we having coming off a seventh place finish in Monterrey."
TIAGO MONTEIRO (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) "I've heard a lot about Long Beach. It's one of the greatest races of the year, like Monaco in Formula 1. It's a good track, fun to drive. We've showed good form for the beginning of the season and I'm looking forward to keeping that form and having a good result in Long Beach. We are testing 2 days prior to the race and have some things to go through, which will be good. Our main goal is to get into the top 10 for qualifying and to finish the race without incident."
PATRICK LEMARIE (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I used to live in Long Beach, and I like it very much - I am very happy to go back and race there. As I have said before, we made a great deal of progress in Monterrey, so we are very excited and are expecting good things in Long Beach. The track layout has changed since I last raced there, which means I know a few of the corners but not the new part. If you have the right set-up, it is a lot of fun to learn a new track. I don't think we will have a problem!"
JOEL CAMATHIAS (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "When we are talking about Long Beach, it always reminds me of Monaco. Of course this makes me very honored to race here, and especially after the two positive testing-days at Homestead, I'm very confident."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I'm looking forward to the Long Beach race. I watched the last few races on TV. I think it compares a bit to Monaco. As I won in Monaco, had the pole, I would enjoy to do it again. We've started very well. We've had two poles. To be honest, I was really surprised to get these results. But during the races, we were leading in both of the first events, and we didn't succeed to get the final result. It's a bit of frustration. But, anyway, we were also competitive on both weekends. All I can expect is to finally win one soon."
ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I have always enjoyed the Long Beach Grand Prix. The circuit is very challenging and fun to drive. Plus, because of all the fans, the atmosphere is fantastic. This is an important race for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team. It is still earlier in the season, but this is a race that we have to score a lot of points so we don't fall too far behind the championship leaders. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has done a great job preparing the car the first two races of the season. Both the engineering staff and crew have done an outstanding job. We have been one of the fastest cars on the track in every session and I am sure we will be fast again in Long Beach. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has not achieved the results we would like, but I am confident that we can put everything together at Long beach and have a very good result."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) "Long Beach is the biggest race of the season for us and probably for CART as well. It is an unbelievable event, and I have dreamed of racing a Champ Car at the Long Beach Grand Prix as long as I can remember. As a child I used to watch Mario Andretti compete at this race, I knew someday I would be there too. I qualified on the provisional pole and set the fastest race lap there last year with the Atlantic car, so I have fond memories!
"Just like any street course, it is a tough track and you have to have a good car to maximize your lap. I think the most important corner is the final hairpin before the front straight. Your car must work well in that hairpin in order to make a pass as well as to set yourself up for the next lap, getting a good run down the front straight. You will see a lot happening in that hairpin. I love Southern California and the fans and enthusiasm that surrounds the Long Beach Grand Prix is incredible."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I really am looking forward to going to Long Beach. It's a track that I really like racing on and have very good memories of since I earned a pole position there in Indy Lights in 2001. We've made a lot of progress as a team since the beginning of the year and it makes me a lot more comfortable going into each event. There are a lot of differences between the first three tracks on the schedule this year. Long Beach has pretty good grip for a street circuit. But what makes it really special is the race atmosphere. It's really fun to go there - you know the fans are having a great time. There are also a huge number of Mexican-American fans at this race so it's good to go somewhere where you feel like it's your second home.
RODOLFO LAVIN (#5 Corona Competition Team Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) "I had several pretty good runs at Long Beach. I finished seventh in 2000 running in Indy Lights and also in 2001 running in Toyota Atlantics, so I'm very much looking forward to my first Champ Car event here. It's a beautiful track that's a lot of fun to drive with several tricky turns and hard breaking areas. Long Beach is one of the best events on the schedule because the atmosphere and the fans are so great. I always look forward to going there."