MILLER LITE 225 "QUOTEBOARD" MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift), on his record of five FedEx Championship Series victories at The Milwaukee Mile: "I'm not sure why I have won so many races at the Milwaukee Mile. I wish I ...
MILLER LITE 225 "QUOTEBOARD"
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Swift), on his record of five FedEx Championship Series victories at The Milwaukee Mile: "I'm not sure why I have won so many races at the Milwaukee Mile. I wish I knew. Personally, I love the track. It's one of my favorite ovals in the world. It's the way all ovals should be. People were starting to think that [team owner] Carl [Haas] was offering me a bonus if I won this race because he is the promoter. I want to win every race I compete in. The victories here were memorable because I knew how much it meant to Carl. It never hurts to keep your boss, Kmart and Texaco happy and make yourself happy along the way. Milwaukee and Toronto are the two tracks that we have had the most success on. Because of that we look forward to racing there each year but we also have more pressure to do good because of the success. It's better to have that sort of pressure than the kind you have if you have never done well on a course. We need to figure out how to make the car better for qualifying though. Good pit strategy put us in position to win from 11th place at Gateway. It would be a lot easier though if we could get a better qualifying position and start up front."
JUAN MONTOYA (Target Honda Reynard), on adapting to and enjoying racing on ovals: "Someone asked me if I'm getting sick of the ovals. No way. We're doing pretty good on them. Of course I'm looking forward to street courses, but I'm still learning a lot and I actually enjoy the ovals. I liked the Milwaukee track when we tested there. Races like we had in St. Louis are very rough on me. We did have success at the oval in Nazareth, so I think I'm ready for Milwaukee. I certainly plan on doing my best, and if not winning, earning some good points for the championship."
HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola), on his strong showing on ovals: "I know that we've got a good car on the ovals, and an excellent car in particular on the short ovals. So I feel very confident that we have a leg up on the competition in that respect. I know that I feel even more confident coming off of our great showing at Gateway and I think that the team also feels the same way. At Milwaukee it's key to be very careful in traffic. That's where the patience part of driving comes into play. My guys gave me great service in the pits on Saturday, getting me out ahead of Greg (Moore), and gaining positions. They need to keep that up this week as well. This is really going to be a true team effort between me and the guys and I know that both sides will perform well!"
JIMMY VASSER (Target Honda Reynard), on recapturing the success he enjoyed by driving to victory at Milwaukee last year: "When you're looking for a little momentum swing in the season, it helps to head to a track where you've had success in the past. I have some great memories from last year's Milwaukee race, and I'm aiming to make it two in a row. We had a good car in St. Louis, so I think a little Milwaukee magic might be just what we need to get back in the race for the PPG Cup. Like Nazareth, we're dealing with the new aerodynamic package, but it's the same for everyone, so we'll adapt to it and I expect a good race."
PJ JONES (Visteon Ford Reynard), on his success on short ovals: "I think my dirt-track experience definitely plays a part in it. I think that's a reason I have always been strong at places like Milwaukee. But, in the past I have not been in the position to really show it. Some of my most impressive runs have come in Milwaukee and I think I have a good feel for setting up the car there and I think that place suits my driving style. Obviously, it's going to be a lot different there this year because we are running the small wings so we may have to try and re-learn things again."
TONY KANAAN (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard), on the challenges of The Milwaukee Mile: "Last year, I started last at Milwaukee -- 26th. I finished 17th. Milwaukee is our most difficult race of the year. I really, really want to do well this weekend. It is very important to me. We had a reasonable test there and I think we will be more competitive. In 1997, I was seventh in the Indy Lights points standings going into the Milwaukee weekend. I started fifth, finished third and was never off the podium the next six races. And I won the championship. Maybe this weekend will be lucky again."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on preparing for Milwaukee: "I had one of my most enjoyable races last year at Milwaukee. Our goal is to score as many points as possible and to try to take over the championship lead [Juan Montoya leads Franchitti 69-65]. We had a very productive test at Milwaukee, so we're happy with the baseline setup that we have. We did some long runs and we're reasonably confident that we know what the Team KOOL Green car is going to do during the race. We've been very strong on ovals [3rd in Miami, 2nd in Brazil, 3rd in St. Louis], especially compared to this time last year. Passing is going to be difficult though, due to the new smaller wing configuration. The track has a great history; you can really sense it when you walk in the place. One of my countrymen, Jim Clark, won a race there in the sixties . The city is quite fun. It's enjoyable to go downtown and hang out on the waterfront."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart Ford Swift), on missing the 1997 and 1998 Milwaukee races: "There is no doubt that I was really disappointed to miss the race last year after not racing here in 1997 either. On one hand I was happy that nothing really bad happened to me when I crashed during practice on Friday, but, on the other hand, I was very disappointed not to race. I went into the corner and the back of the car got a little away from me. I just kept it wide-open thinking it would correct itself. This was a bigger hit than Australia. I didn't pass out in Australia like I did in Milwaukee. The car absorbed the majority of the impact as designed. It held up very well considering this was the hardest hit of my career. I'm really looking forward to racing [at Milwaukee] this year. Michael had a very good test here before our race in Nazareth so we are looking forward to continuing the Newman/Haas success here. The team has won five of the last eight races here and I would like to add my name to that list."
GREG MOORE (Player's Forsythe Racing Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), on his fond memories of Milwaukee: "Returning to Milwaukee always brings back some pleasant memories for me because that's where I got the first win of my CART career and became the youngest winner in CART history in the process. Two years before that, I won there in Indy Lights, so hopefully the trend of having good things happen to me in Milwaukee every second year will continue in 1999. I did some testing on The Milwaukee Mile a while ago and I think the team was able to acquire some useful information as we prepare for the race."
ROBBY GORDON (Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota Swift), on his "reduced schedule" at Milwaukee: "One weekend, one race - what a concept. We come to Milwaukee on an incredible high, even though it was frustrating what happened at Gateway and at Indy. Team Gordon is looking stronger and stronger each weekend, and we'll be as primed as ever to make a strong run at The Milwaukee Mile. It's a very unique place to race - a short, flat oval. Coming off the superspeedway at Indy, and the fast mile-and-a-quarter oval at Gateway, this one will be a whole different animal. Set-up is incredibly important at Milwaukee because your car can get away from you in a hurry. We learned that the hard way the last time we tested a Reynard there (in late April). We've gotten a good handle on our Swift package with strong runs at Rio and (in qualifying) at Gateway. I'm really looking forward to getting back out there."
PAUL TRACY, (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his success at Milwaukee: "The Milwaukee Mile is without a doubt one of my favorite race tracks. It's got a lot of history, and I always seem to run well there. I've led every race I've ever run there and won it back in '95. Milwaukee has always been one of the better tracks for passing, but with the smaller wings this year we'll have to wait and see. I haven't tested there with the new wings, so we're not really sure what the car will be like. We'll be learning session by session. The weather is always a variable at Milwaukee; it can be freezing cold or blazing hot. One thing is for certain, in addition to having a strong car and being fast all day, you've got to have great pit stops. Fortunately, the Team KOOL Green crew is among the best in the business."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), on being comfortable at The Milwaukee Mile: "I feel right at home on The Milwaukee Mile. Winning the pole and setting a track record in the qualifying session there last year adds to my good feeling about this track. The Player's crew has consistently given me a good car this season and our speeds have been up there with the best, so hopefully we can take advantage of that to grab the pole again and go from there."
AL UNSER JR. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola), on continuing with the Lola chassis at Milwaukee: "I've run at The Milwaukee Mile for 16 years and I look forward to returning every year. We're going to run the Lola again this weekend. We were happy with its performance in St. Louis, especially given the limited amount of time we had to work with it. The Milwaukee Mile is the site of my last podium finish [third last year] and I hope to make it the site of Marlboro Team Penske's first podium finish in 1999."
MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), on adjusting to the new, low-downforce aerodynamic package at The Milwaukee Mile: "Milwaukee is a race track that always produces exciting racing. However, it will be the first time we run the speedway wings on this circuit, and I hope we'll be able to maintain more than one line. With the low downforce wings, we rely more on mechanical grip, which means running a low line. As a result, you can't get around people as easily. I hope we'll be able to have side-by-side racing like we could in the past, but basically it's an unknown quantity."
ROBERTO MORENO (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), on the competitive nature of The Milwaukee Mile: "Milwaukee is a fantastic place to race when you have a well-set-up race car, and I'm certain that the Motorola PacWest team will give me a great car this weekend. In the past it was possible to go two or three wide in some places, and there was a lot of good passing. Considering how intense the racing was in St. Louis and how much passing took place, I expect Milwaukee to be equally competitive, even with the speedway wings. Side-by-side racing is still questionable right now - we'll see what happens once we start running on Friday. However, the circuit is quite flat and there are still places to pass."
SCOTT PRUETT (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), on the historic Milwaukee Mile: "Milwaukee is always a great event because of the tradition associated with it. It's one of the oldest race tracks in the country, and CART has a long history there. The fans are incredibly loyal, and they love auto racing. A win at Milwaukee would really be something special. Milwaukee is challenging because it's a short oval with relatively little banking, so in that sense it's a little untraditional. But there's always a lot of passing, which makes it an incredibly exciting and competitive race."
CRISTIANO da MATTA (MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), on the challenges of The Milwaukee Mile: "I like Milwaukee because it's a driver's oval. You have to rely on your ability to guide the car through the turns without getting too loose or getting passed on the exits. Qualifying at Milwaukee is important, but there are lots of passing opportunities on every lap that make up for it. We made some good passes in Nazareth to gain position, and we're hoping to be just as competitive in Milwaukee."