The 500 Presented by Toyota Sunday Quoteboard JIMMY VASSER ( ...
The 500 Presented by Toyota Sunday Quoteboard
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had a great car today and a lot of the credit goes to the Shell crew guys who busted their butts this week to put everything together after Australia. We had a big pile of junk from last week. Then they go and win the Craftsman Pit Stop Championship. It was a double win for the Shell Team Rahal guys. We opted for a little amount of downforce and less drag today. I found it easier for me to lead the race. My car felt much better in clean air. I could pull out a little lead that way. I think Honda cars were struggling a little bit on fuel mileage. They had to turn it down. So I figured I could try to pull out and get some distance between them like two or three seconds. Or put some guys down a lap. That was our strategy all day and it seemed to work out for us. It felt good to reach the winner's circle because it's been a few years for me. It's fun to win these 500-mile races. (Cristiano) Da Matta was fast and I think he had a bit in his hip pocket. He was playing with me a little bit. He rolled up next to me later in the race. I let him take the lead and then he backed off and I went to the front. But I thought he had something left for the end. (On the red flag) We've seen NASCAR do it this year and I think it's better for the fans to have a green flag finish. I was a little upset about the late yellow because I thought Cristiano's car was in a safe place and we were in the lead. But then the red flag helped us later. I was hoping to get a little gap on Mike (Andretti) on the restart but he was able to get around me. If the thing with Dario (and the red flag) hadn't happened, it was going to be very difficult for me to get around Mike. It was the same for me with Greg (Moore) in 1998. The guy leading on the last year is usually a sitting duck. I'm glad I was behind Mike this time."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "After the yellow (for da Matta's engine), I thought I had the race won. Then Dario's car lost a motor and I became a sitting duck. What's fair is fair. The yellow came out and cost Jimmy and the red flag came out and cost me. The red flag is in the rule book so it was the right decision. I'm sure Jimmy loved the red flag. Jimmy probably had the best car and deserved to win. I tried to catch him in turns three and four at the end but came up a little short. I radioed to the crew, 'I'm done.' First, the car was pretty good all day. Team Motorola did a good job in the pits and the Honda engine was strong. In traffic, the car was not as good. We made an adjustment and started coming on strong."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The team did a great job throughout the race, they gave me a great car and did a great job on the pit stops. At the end we just got a little bit loose and I don't know what happened. I don't know if something broke but I got a little loose and I just couldn't follow these guys anymore. But we got third place and that's great."
CHRISTIANO DA MATTA (#1 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): To end the race this way was a huge disappointment for myself and the Chevron team. We waited for this point in the race to come before we went for it and everything was going as planed until the car just lost power. Before my last stop I was leading and asked the team if I could let Jimmy pass me to save some fuel before my stop and then I cam alongside him right before the stop so I could try to draft by him in the last two laps if he got back in front of me. After my last stop, I was running almost three seconds ahead of him and was going to try to keep him behind me and then I lost power. I had no indication there was a problem. It just happened. I think I had a strong chance to get my second win at this track and third in a row for Newman/Haas to it is a big disappointment. It would have been good to win another 500-mile race for Toyota as well. If we could have made it 14 more laps we would have been in good shape. If we were not able to beat the record (for most wins in a season) anymore, it doesn't mean anything t me (to match it). The wing package was definitely better than what we had last year. You could go to the front and break away from the pack. I was better racing because of that."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "The car was good at the beginning of the race but as the race went on and the field began to spread out, I honestly couldn't keep up. The car was much better in traffic but when we ran alone we didn't have enough straight-line speed."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Oh, well. Another day in paradise. We were struggling just enough in traffic all day long that I just didn't have what it would have taken to get Jimmy (Vasser) and Michael (Andretti). I probably could have gotten Pat (Carpentier) if we would have had another lap or two at the end. In the end, I have to say I'm happy with fourth place. The car wasn't as good in traffic as I would have liked. It had a lot of understeer. We made some changes every pit stop but nothing seemed to help make it go away completely. The car was exactly the same in the end as it was in the beginning. Consistent. Sometimes that's a good thing, when you start out with a perfect car. But that's the way it is. That was all we had today and we leave here in one piece."
MICHEL JOURDAIN (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's very, very sad. We had everything today to win and I was saving everything and lifting as much as I could. I think that by coming in a few laps after everybody and with the couple of changes we could've made we were looking very, very good to win this thing. Jimmy and I had the best cars out there today and we were just saving everything for the end."
ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Of course I am happy to have finished fifth, but fifth is still fifth. If we had finished on the podium, or won the race, I would be more satisfied. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had a good start to this race and we also had good restarts. I like the stars and the restarts at this track. I have a good feel and rhythm here. But it is always easier to pick up a lot of places at the start of the race when you qualify last. When you start second or first there aren't a lot of cars to pass. Next time I am here I would prefer not to pass any cars at the start because I am starting on the pole. Every pit stop we challenged the Visteon/Patrick Racing car and each time we made a change the car got better. The improvement really showed up at the end of the race when we did the fastest lap of the race. We just got the car setup correctly a little too late in the weekend. The main problem we had the whole weekend was understeer. We had a big push. Finally, in the race, we were able to take it out. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team didn't make a single mistake during the race. Everybody on the team, the engineers, the mechanics, everybody did their job and did it well. We did a good today to come from last to fifth but to win in the series you have to do everything from the start of the weekend through the end of the race perfect. Plus, you need a little magic."
MAX PAPIS (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I was very happy for all the work the team has done this weekend. I came here after a long time out of the car and we kept fighting for the front all the time. I think we had a car for the top four or top three. It was just a matter of track position. It was very much a flat-out race. Sometimes it is not your day. I was really proud of the job that everyone has done. Unfortunately for me, the racing stops here for now. I hope that the way I drove and my attitude proved that I belong out there."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had the same problem since Friday. The car was really hard to handle. We just couldn't fix it and I had the same problem in the race. After about 100 laps into the race, the car suddenly went really loose. We stopped the race because the rear upright temperature was too hot. It started around 100 laps, about the same time that the car went really loose. Everyone worked really hard this weekend, and it's a shame that we couldn't fix the handling problem. It was a frustrating weekend for us."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "The car really wasn't good all day, the worst part was that we took a lot of wing out instead of just a small amount and I got pretty loose then. Had that not happened we might have been able to do something about a strategy. It's a strange end, after running 242 laps to have this happen, well it's not great for Team KOOL Green."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's too bad - the engine just blew up. Our plan was to stay out there and in the mix until the last 100 miles and then really go for it. That seemed to be working pretty well. The car was loose but the team made some wing changes during the pit stops and I was working the bars and weight jacker. The Herdez team gave me good stops and things were going to plan but the engine just gave up on us. "The next race is in Mexico City, my hometown, and I'm very much looking forward to it. It's probably the most important race of the season for me and our sponsors. So we are all looking forward to that."