Freightliner/G.I. Joe'S 200 Presented By Texaco "Quoteboard" HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on maintaining the momentum he gained with last week's repeat victory at Detroit: "Marlboro Team Penske brings a lot of momentum into the ...
Freightliner/G.I. Joe'S 200 Presented By Texaco "Quoteboard"
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on maintaining the momentum he gained with last week's repeat victory at Detroit: "Marlboro Team Penske brings a lot of momentum into the Portland race, which we need to turn into a strong result. We've done well on road and street courses so far this season, and we performed well in Portland last year, so we are optimistic going into the weekend. It is important to keep adding to our championship points total."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on adding to his previous success at Portland: "This is a track I really enjoy. I guess that's because I've had a lot of success there. I was fortunate enough to win in Portland the past two years and both of those wins gave me a lot of satisfaction. It's a very technical track and therefore very satisfying when you get it right. Fuel strategy is always an issue at Portland and I was able to win the last two races there by going flat-out rather than conserving fuel. That's the way I like to race - it's much better to go for it rather than playing it cool and over-strategizing the race. Marlboro Team Penske should be in a good position this weekend based on our road and street course record."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on the diversity of FedEx Championship Series racing: "I'm looking forward to being back in Portland and running on our first natural road course of the season. That is what I love about CART - the variety. Last weekend, we were on a temporary street course and next weekend could be an oval. We had a good race in Detroit and we're in good shape in points, so if we can get qualifying sorted out in Portland, it could be a very decent weekend."
KENNY BRACK (Shell Ford Lola), on the differences between the street course at Detroit and the road course at Portland: "We really struggled at Detroit. I think the Ford Cosworth people will have a better grip on it at Portland. To be honest, we weren't sure what car we would have in the race at Detroit. But the car was good. I think it was better than our ninth-place finish. We got caught out on an early pit stop and couldn't get around the slower cars. It's very hard to pass at Detroit. I think that is different at Portland. That track is similar to many tracks in Europe. There is a couple of passing zones. I really like the Portland area. It made me a little homesick because it looks like Sweden in many areas. We need a strong run at Portland for get our road racing effort back where we were earlier in the season."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his enjoyment of racing at Portland International Raceway: "The first thing I think of at Portland is, if you survive the Festival Curves on the first lap, you've got a shot at winning! I think Portland is a great track, with a lot of speed for a road course and a few tricky turns thrown in, so you get a little bit of everything. It's probably one of the most challenging tracks to get the right setup on the car for both speed and handling. If you get that right balance, it's a fun day. Fortunately for me, the Team KOOL Green crew does an awesome job getting the car ready, so I usually have a pretty good time."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his affection for road-course racing: "I'm looking forward to a bit of a change, running on [a] permanent road course after all the ovals and street circuits. I like them all, but you can really push the limits of both car and driver on a road course. Iain [Watt, chief engineer] and the Team KOOL Green crew have given me a terrific car all year, so I know I've got everything I need to do well in Portland. And it seems our luck has finally come around, with our second [place finish] last weekend in Detroit, so I'd say we're in good shape."
ALEX ZANARDI (Pioneer/WorldCom Honda Reynard), on how past success at Portland might help turn thing around this weekend: "Portland is really a beautiful place ... a fantastic city, and the area surrounding it is quite marvelous. The racetrack is not huge, and I can't say it's my favorite, but I have great memories and I've done very well there. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily speak for the present. The fact [is] that we've been struggling a bit, and again at the last race in Detroit, our performance is not what we were hoping it would be. This gives us concern. But the track at Portland certainly gives us characteristics that will better suit our car than the street courses we've raced on. Hopefully, we can aim for and get a good result, which is kind of needed right now. I hope I can have good fortune again, as I have in the past there, and find that some pretty girls are handing me roses at the end of the day on Sunday."
TONY KANAAN (Hollywood Honda Reynard), on returning to the cockpit after missing last weekend's race at Detroit due to a mild concussion: "I didn't race at Portland last year. I'm definitely looking forward to getting back there. It's always been one of my favorite places to race. Last weekend was a tough break for me in Detroit. Last year was a tough break for me at Detroit [where Kanaan sustained a fractured left forearm]. There is something between that track and me, because we're just not getting along well right now. It's a good thing we still got out of there in the top 10 in the championship. We're still in the fast [qualifying] group, and that's a big advantage for us. We struggled at Detroit, but there is nothing that carries over from that track to this one. I hope we can make our breakthrough at Portland. I'm not expecting miracles, but I'm feeling stronger than ever right now. The accident last weekend didn't affect me at all, except for the fact that June 16, 2001 doesn't exist in my head anymore. Portland is a great place to come back to from something like that. From a car standpoint, we had great tests on the road course at Homestead during the winter, so we'll hit the ground running as soon as we get to Portland."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Toyota Lola), on the physical challenges of racing at Portland International Raceway: "Portland is a place where I really like racing and we always run very well there. Apart from one season, all the other years I ran there I qualified in the top 10 or something like that and always ran pretty good in the race. I enjoy the track. It's very nice and it's very physical. In my opinion, it's one of the hardest tracks of the year to drive because usually the drivers are used to left-hand corners and there you have a very big, long right-hander and you're having to work the opposite side of your neck, as opposed to when your driving on the tracks where you're driving left most of the time. I would put Portland and Mid-Ohio as the two toughest tracks, physically, of the year. There is a big gap in between [the most recent road course race in] Mexico and Portland and a lot of things change, especially this year, [now that] we don't test, and so going into Portland is like going into unknown territory. I hope to be competitive in Portland, but as far as predictions are concerned, it's hard to tell. We have secret set-ups that we wouldn't sell for all the money in the world. That is, I think, why the team sets up the car very well there. The team has a tendency to come up with a good set-up for the car at certain places and a good example of that is how competitive we have been on the super speedways. We usually do very well at the super speedways and we never really have a big problem running at those places. In Portland, there's about two to three corners in that we might have a special little trick for and because of that we have a little edge on all the other cars."
CRISTIANO da MATTA (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola), on the differences between Fundidora Park in Monterrey, where he won the season opener, and Portland International Raceway: "Monterrey and Portland are very different and I don't think there are many similarities. Monterrey was very smooth and there was not a lot of grip, whereas Portland was a little bumpier in a few places, but it has a lot of grip. So the loads in the wheels and downforce on long straights will be very different, which will be interesting. Since the first race I have really developed - not just in one or two things, but many things have developed since then. The team at Long Beach of course don't have lot of testing so even though was at race weekends Long Beach first example together on street course and we learned a lot. There are a lot of things we have learned since our victory in Monterrey that [we will] carry over and try in Portland and I have confidence it's going to work. "
MAX PAPIS (Miller Lite Ford Lola), on erasing last year's bad racing memories of Portland: "I never saw the first lap last year at Portland. I made it to the first turn and that's it. I'm looking forward to having a much better race this year. I like the Portland track and the area around the track. It's so pretty up there. It reminds me of Europe, where I am from. For a European driver to win on an oval track [like Papis did last year in Miami], it's quite a feat, but I want to win on a road circuit very badly. I think we were off-base in our setup in Detroit qualifying. But in the race, we found out some things that can help us at Portland. We have learned a lot with my Miller Lite team. We have many new crew guys this year and we are just now learning about each other. We think we can return to be very competitive now."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on the challenges of racing at Portland: "The road course in Portland is one of the fastest in the CART series and the last three corners are basically three esses in a row. It's a real challenge but I like Portland a lot, and I've had some pretty good battles there. The racing environment is one of the best you'll find in the series, with people watching from the hillside and from the top[s] of their campers. I've managed to finish in the top 10 in Portland my last three races there, and I'm confident I'll be able to run even closer to the front this time. Although my race in Detroit last Sunday didn't produce a podium for Team Player's, we had one of the fastest cars throughout the weekend. We fought for every inch of space and we managed to pick up some points in the standings. That was our goal going into the race, and the next goal is to get enough points to work our way into the fast qualifying group. There's so much more you can do if you can get into that second group. With the fast car that Team Player's has, we should be in great shape once we move into the top half of the standings, which would put us in the quicker group."
MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Nextel PacWest Toyota), on his hopes of performing well at Portland: "Portland is a beautiful circuit to race on, and a track that I enjoy coming to each season. The Festival Curves are very similar to some European courses I've run, and they always make for some exciting action for the fans - especially at the start of the race. One of our sponsors, Freightliner, is based in Portland so it would be nice to get some good results for them since they are so dedicated to our sport and this particular race as title sponsor. Every year we go to the plant to sign autographs and meet some of the workers at the truck plant and headquarters and have a really good time. We also get a lot of people down from PacWest's Seattle corporate offices that usually only get to see one race per season in person, so this gives me a lot of incentive to do well. Last season was a tough one for me, and my crew, so this year we plan on redeeming ourselves by putting on a good show. We qualified mid-pack but then we failed our post-qualifying technical inspection and were relegated to the back of the field for race day. Starting last on the grid is not where you want to be - ever, so we fought an uphill battle from the get-go. I know that with Toyota power behind me, we have a chance every weekend to contend. My motivation level is very high and I'm coming off a couple of top-ten finishes in row. I have every intention of continuing that streak."
SCOTT DIXON (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota), on the challenges of competing at Portland International Raceway: "I really enjoy racing in Portland. The track is fun to drive because it is so wide open and you can go for it. Last year in the Dayton Indy Lights series, I completed the quickest lap of the race, but finished 11th after a contact incident. It's a very challenging track and you must be aggressive in the low-speed corners, but then change your technique to be very smooth when you go faster. The corners are all different and the long straightway is followed by such a tight corner - it should be a pretty exciting race for the fans of Portland."
ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on making his sophomore appearance at Portland International Raceway: "I raced on the Portland road course for the first time last year and I was able to learn a few things from that experience. The first corner on this circuit is quite tight and incidents have been known to happen that can make it or break it, as far as your race is concerned. That was the case last year, when there was contact by some cars in front of me and I was able to go on the inside and gain several positions. Team Player's got into a contending position and stayed there until a fuel meter problem occurred during a pit stop in the final 30 laps.
"We've been victims of circumstances in quite a few races since the start of the season. It's frustrating but I'm not demoralized in the least. In fact, I think that type of adversity makes me even more determined. I know that Team Player's had some great results in all of its off-season testing on road courses and we've put in laps that are right up there with the leaders in most of the races so far. We have a car that should perform well on a speedy track like Portland, so I'm optimistic this could be our weekend."
ORIOL SERVIA (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola), on a pleasant rookie experience at Portland: "Last year, qualifying and the race were pretty good for me. That was the best qualifying performance of my CART career until this season. It's not my preferred type of racetrack, but it's a nice place. I think the start is always a big issue because it's very easy to get into trouble. I got into an accident there in my first year of Indy Lights, and I just missed the accident at the start last year. I think we can have a good race if we get by the first turn."
TORA TAKAGI (Pioneer/DENSO Special Toyota Reynard), hoping to find the key to a good setup for his first FedEx Championship Series appearance at Portland: "It will be another new challenge for us considering the setup struggle we had with the car at our Mid-Ohio test and the Detroit race. However, I'm realizing now that qualifying and racing are totally different in CART racing. As long as you have good fuel consumption, you still can race against the top runners even if you have struggled in qualifying. I'll meet with the engineers and walk the track on Thursday, and since our team has won at Portland in the past, we should go into the weekend looking better than in recent weeks and hopefully have a better result on race day."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (Herdez Ford Lola), on his fond memories of Portland: "I really like the track at Portland a lot. I scored my first points in the CART series at PIR in 1997 so I have really good memories from there. And I am hoping that I can score points again this year! We have a good car, the Ford-Cosworth engine is strong, and we have good data for the set up. It was a big disappointment to go out of the Detroit race on just the fourth lap but I'm confident that we'll bounce back this weekend."