MILLER LITE 225 "QUOTEBOARD" MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard) On his success at The Milwaukee Mile: I've always had a pretty decent race in Milwaukee. It is kind of like Toronto for me, I don't know why I've done so well at Milwaukee...
MILLER LITE 225 "QUOTEBOARD"
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard)
On his success at The Milwaukee Mile:
I've always had a pretty decent race in Milwaukee. It is kind of like Toronto for me, I don't know why I've done so well at Milwaukee but it's a decent track and the races are always exciting. Last year, if we had gone ten more laps the outcome may have been different [Andretti finished second to Juan Montoya in 2000]. We've had some disappointments so far this season and it's really critical for us to get some points and a podium finish. I'm hoping that Milwaukee will be a turnaround for Team Motorola and that we get to the end of the race with good finish.
On competing at Milwaukee the week after the Indianapolis 500:
This feels like the old days. Indy was always followed by Milwaukee, so this is a familiar turn-around. Indy has been exciting this month but it has been really tiring, too. I don't think it will be an adjustment at all to go back to the Champ Car after being in the IRL car at Indy.
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard)
On moving forward following his victory in the Indianapolis 500:
"We had a great result at the Indianapolis 500 but now it's time to turn the page and focus on Milwaukee. I've had mixed results there the last three years. The Milwaukee Mile is the site of my first Champ Car podium finish [second in '98] and pole position ['99], but I went out of the race after only 30 laps in '99 [boost failure] and finished 16th in 2000. Marlboro Team Penske has a lot of momentum coming into this weekend's Miller Lite 225 and we need to convert that into a good result and add to our championship points total [Castroneves is second in the points standings with 47 points - two points behind Kenny Brack of Team Rahal]."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard)
On last year's "deceiving" finish at Milwaukee:
"Last year at Milwaukee we ran very well even though the final results didn't show it [de Ferran finished 12th after he had to make a splash-and-go pit stop while running third on lap 216 of 225]. After Marlboro Team Penske's performance in Japan, I feel very encouraged about this weekend and look forward to the Miller Lite 225."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard)
On the heated FedEx Championship Series championship battle heading into
"It's turning out to be a typical CART points battle again this year, and we need to go in to Milwaukee and hopefully get back some of what we lost at Motegi [where Tracy did not score]. You're going to have a DNF or two throughout the season, and you just have to put it aside and go on, and not let it affect your focus and concentration. The Mile has always been a great track for both me and Team KOOL Green. I've led almost every race I've ever run there and I won twice, so we know we can get the job done."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard)
On the successes of the early part of his FedEx Championship Series season:
"We've scored points in every race but Japan, so we're doing some things right. Honestly, Iain [Watt, chief engineer] and the boys have given me a good car for the races and the crew has been awesome on the stops, we just have not scored the big points we need to be further up in the championship. I've always run well at Milwaukee; my qualifying and race record there is probably the best of any oval we run. Team KOOL Green definitely has a handle on oval-track setups, and the cars they've given me at the last two races have been great - the best I've had."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Toyota-Lola)
On racing at "home":
"We [Champ Cars] have been going to Milwaukee for a lot of years -- I don't know -- 50, 60, 70 years, and to me it's like racing at Elkhart Lake because it is so close to the race shop. Winning in Milwaukee or Elkhart Lake is like winning the home race for the team. Doing well in Milwaukee is very important to us because we have many people from the team coming to this race and we just have to do the best we can. And if we win here it's really, really special because the team is just 30 or 40 miles down the road. The Milwaukee Mile is a nice little track and I hope we do well here for Carl (Haas, the team owner and race promoter) and the team.
"I think that the Milwaukee race is going to be like our race in Nazareth, but a little different because passing is a little bit more accessible here, whereas it is almost impossible in Nazareth. So, even if you do not do well in qualifying in Milwaukee, I think you can still have a great race if you have a good race car. Of course we don't want to rely on that, so we are going to work hard to improve our qualifying performance. After finishing fifth in Nazareth and fourth in Japan, we have the momentum going and plan to continue that momentum in Milwaukee."
CRISTIANO da MATTA (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola)
On the challenges of racing at The Milwaukee Mile:
"Milwaukee is a track that provides some passing opportunities, but of course, qualifying gets more and more important each and every year because the field is so competitive. It is not as important as it is in Nazareth because there is room for two cars abreast. I think it's a nice one-mile oval and a very nice track for racing. It's not the race track I had the most fun driving around by myself, but at race time it's a lot of fun because there are so many options for passing, you can run two lines. It's really different from any other one-mile oval, so I like the track. The race is the most fun part of it because it's tight and difficult and I think it's challenging and it makes it fun for us. I think Newman/Haas has always had a good set-up for The Milwaukee Mile over the years and I am looking forward to going there this year. We've been struggling a little on the ovals so far in qualifying, but the car is good in the race which is the most important time, but I think we should be OK there [at Milwaukee].
In the pre-season we thought we were going to be stronger than we have been on ovals up until this point, but the car is getting better each and every race. In Nazareth, we weren't that great in qualifying but were good in the race, but the pit strategy played out in a whole totally different way so we didn't finish in the top five. The car was good, though, and that's what matters. In Japan, we didn't even get a chance to see how the car was for the race since we didn't even complete the first lap before we were hit. We needed to keep the momentum up for the Championship but this kind of thing will happen. It is harder to accept when the situation is out of your control. We will just have to go to Milwaukee and give our best effort to get back on top of things."
TONY KANAAN (Hollywood Honda Reynard)
On building on the success he has enjoyed through the early part of the
FedEx Championship Series season:
"Definitely, it's great momentum that we have going right now. I'm really looking forward to going to Milwaukee. I was ready to get back in the race car the day after Japan! Milwaukee might be difficult for all of us Reynard teams, as it was at Nazareth. I'm concerned because I did not have the greatest race car in the world at Nazareth. I had a decent car, but up against the Lolas, it was not a great car. So right now, we're working on the setup. Reynard came up with some more new stuff for us to try at Nazareth. We can't say what it is, but hopefully, it will help us in the downforce department. I'm pretty happy about being on the podium at Motegi. It wasn't the spot where I ultimately wanted to be, but third place is a good start and we have to keep that in perspective. It's a sign of how things are going this season that after the fifth race, we have more points than all of last year. I'm excited. It's a lot of work to do."
ALEX ZANARDI (Pioneer Honda Reynard)
On his improved performance at FedEx Championship Series oval events:
"I think it was unfortunate what happened in Motegi, but certainly the level of our performance has been very encouraging for all of our crew, and certainly for myself. I believe that the fact that we did no winter testing on ovals was not a help to us the first few outings. But now we are definitely over that. In the races we've done, we have learned a lot of things. I'm really pumped going into Milwaukee [and] looking forward to a good result there. I desperately need one. I want to think positive. I want to believe we will get what we want."
MORRIS NUNN, Mo Nunn Racing owner
On the updated Reynards that will compete in the Miller Lite 225:
"This should be a very interesting weekend for all of the Reynard teams. There are some aerodynamic updates for the Reynard cars, so it'll get us a little bit closer to the Lolas, which I expect will be very good again, as they were at Nazareth. But, you never know. Downforce-wise, I think the Lolas are still ahead. But this track's a little bumpier, so suspension geometry will come into play a bit more. With the good qualifying we did last week [Tony Kanaan was fourth and Alex Zanardi eighth], we're actually moving further up the grid.
I expect we'll be competitive. If we get our pit stops right and our fuel strategy right, we should be okay. We got our first podium at Motegi. At first, when we were running up front, I was hopeful for our first win. Then when we didn't win, I had to remind myself to get excited about our first podium. Actually, it was a great moment. Tony [Kanaan] has great, great confidence right now. He feels he should win every weekend. And Alex [Zanardi] is more pleased with the way his weekend went. He seems to be back to how he used to be, thinking more positively. Other than our error that we didn't get his car full of fuel on the third stop, he had a great weekend, all things considered. He [had the] fastest lap of the race by quite a bit. I'm sure he's anxious to get back into the race car this weekend."
MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Nextel PacWest Toyota)
On his enjoyment of The Milwaukee Mile:
"I think the Milwaukee Mile is my favorite short-oval track we run on all season. The racing is always tight, the competition is high and there are always a lot of cars running at the end and fighting for position. This is another event where we always draw good crowds and it will be nice to get back to racing in the Midwest where the fans are hungry for exciting open-wheel racing. I always seem to qualify pretty well in Milwaukee, and have managed to finish in the points there two out of the last three years. We always have a good set-up for Milwaukee, and I'm excited to be able to turn some laps with Toyota power. It should be a good race for the fans, and as long as we can remain consistent, I'll be happy. It's the time in the season where we need to start collecting some championship points, and Milwaukee is just the place to do it."
SCOTT DIXON (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota)
On translating his Indy Lights success at The Milwaukee Mile into Champ
"I did great at Milwaukee last year in Indy Lights competition. I qualified on the pole and then went on to win the race, so I'm looking forward to getting back there and running another good race for PacWest. It's definitely an old track, but it's a short oval so there should be a lot of action. The corners are pretty wide, so we will see a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing. My Toyota Reynard has been dependable and I've been doing really well coming out of the corners on ovals. I'm eighth in the point standings, which will help me with qualifying - overall, I feel pretty confident going into this race."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard)
On putting the "growing pains" of a first-year team behind him:
"I feel pretty confident. We had a good qualifying session at Nazareth, and were running well in the race. A lot of the things we utilized there can help us in Milwaukee. The same goes for Shinji [Nakano, teammate]. He is getting better on the ovals, so we should expect him to improve every weekend in terms of oval performance. What we need to improve, and what hopefully will be fixed, are the [electrical] problems we have had in the last two races so we can start scoring our first points. The first two [races] were more understandable because we were a new team and all that but in the last two races, both Shinji and myself have been performing well and the team has improved tremendously. We are getting better every weekend, so it's frustrating because this problem was something that was not in the team's control. Hopefully, Milwaukee will be the start of getting some good points."
SHINJI NAKANO (Avex Alpine Honda Reynard)
On erasing his bad memories of The Milwaukee Mile:
"I have no good memories of Milwaukee. I had the testing accident and then I crashed in the warm-up, so I want to forget these memories. This year I am starting new, and it is a completely different situation. Milwaukee is not an easy track, and it is important to have a good car to have confidence there. I have had a very good car the past few races. I just need to be patient in the beginning on Friday, and work towards a good setup. If we work like normal, like we have been working, we should be all right. I had a good car and a good race at Nazareth, and that makes me feel good for Milwaukee."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard)
On turning things around at Milwaukee:
"When you're struggling bit, like Team Player's is right now, it's good to be racing on a track where you've had success in the past, as Team Player's has had on The Milwaukee Mile. I have some pleasant memories in Milwaukee, especially clocking the qualifying record when I won the pole in 1998, and then getting on the podium with the third-place finish last year.
"I know that they have big things planned for this year in Milwaukee, because it's going to be the 100th time that a Champ Car has raced on The Milwaukee Mile. There's a lot of history to that track and I'd like to add to it by winning there. I'm sure that if we can have a good race in Milwaukee, it will get us out of our slump and on our way to better things."
ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's Indeck Ford Reynard)
On racing at the historic Milwaukee Mile:
"It's always fun going to Milwaukee because you can actually see and feel the tradition of racing on that track. There's also some tradition for Team Player's on the Milwaukee Mile because Greg Moore had two podiums and a win when he raced there, my teammate Patrick [Carpentier] has won the pole and a podium, and I got a podium when I was racing in Atlantic. It's a fast short oval, but you've got to be alert at all times because it's quite narrow in places and passing is difficult. Having the week off after the race in Japan was helpful because it allowed Team Player's to regroup and just go through everything on the car, from A to Z. The car is still one of the fastest on the track, but we've had some problems with reliability that has prevented us from contending, and that's frustrating when you're as competitive as we are on Team Player's. I'm convinced, though, that our luck is about to change."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (Target Toyota Lola)
On his growing sense of comfort at FedEx Championship Series oval events:
"I am really starting to enjoy the ovals. That is easy to do when you finish fifth in your first Indy 500. Normally, I am not happy unless I win a race. But last Sunday, I was very happy with my fifth-place finish. I feel I am getting better and better with each race and it is now just a matter of time until I get my first win. I am excited to race on another oval this weekend. Especially at a track where the car that I am in now won last year."
NICOLAS MINASSIAN (Target Toyota Lola)
On competing in his first Indianapolis 500:
"I'm very happy to have the experience of competing in the Indy 500. It was an incredible feeling to be in front of all of those people. We had a solid run going until we had a gearbox problem that ended our day early. I think the experience of racing in the biggest race in the world will help me this week in Milwaukee. I was able to go through a three-wide start, several restarts and a few pit stops."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (Herdez Ford Lola)
Looking forward to competing at The Milwaukee Mile:
"I feel very good about our chances coming into The Milwaukee Mile. I think we have shown this year that we have very good set-ups for the ovals; both for qualifying and the race. I am very comfortable in the car and that puts me in a good position to fight for results. We've been getting better every race so for Milwaukee, I am focused on getting my best result of the year. The whole team has been working really hard and I'm confident we'll have a good result."
ORIOL SERVIA (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola)
On the importance of qualifying at The Milwaukee Mile:
"Milwaukee is always a special place because it's a track that's hard to overtake cars on, so more than ever your qualifying position will be important. I'm optimistic, as we seem to have a good setup because this is similar to Nazareth, and we had a good setup there. We learned a lot about the car at Motegi, so we should be in pretty good shape at The Milwaukee Mile."
TORA TAKAGI (Pioneer/DENSO Special Toyota Reynard)
On making his first competitive appearance at The Milwaukee Mile:
"It is another new challenge for me to go Milwaukee as it is another kind of mile oval with low bank. For me, it is not so difficult to learn ovals as there are only two turns and I have already run at ovals from Texas to Motegi. I am afraid that I will forget how to drive street and road courses that have more than two turns! Anyway, after Motegi, the team fixed the stuck throttle problem that prevented me from finishing Motegi, and we have new pieces to try for Milwaukee. I am just hoping to do better out there and try to score my best result on an oval before we go to the road course at Detroit. I can feel that the team is improving race by race and overcoming all sort of teething problems which is good."