As defending champions of the CART FedEx Championship Series, Marlboro Team Penske kicked off the CART Sneak Preview media event with the first press conference of the day. Following are some quotes on Marlboro Team Penske's plans for 2001. Tim...
As defending champions of the CART FedEx Championship Series, Marlboro Team Penske kicked off the CART Sneak Preview media event with the first press conference of the day. Following are some quotes on Marlboro Team Penske's plans for 2001.
Tim Cindric, Penske Racing president: "The start of the 2001 season for our Team will be nothing like the start of the 2000 season. Last year, we started the season with changes to almost everything except a core group of people. This year, the biggest thing we're changing going forward is the number on Gil's car (from #2 to #1 reflecting the National Championship).
"We actually began planning for 2001 in mid-year 2000. We weren't fortunate enough in 1999 to be able to plan for 2000 in the way that we have for this year - returning with the same drivers and being familiar with the Honda/Reynard/Firestone package. We also know that our team members -- engineers, crew chiefs and mechanics will all be intact from 2000 for the new season.
"Last year in August, CART announced the 2001 schedule with an opening in terms of the Indianapolis 500 race weekend and made a statement that they would sanction the teams that wished to accept the invitation to compete in the Indianapolis 500 event. At that point in time, obviously, we started testing to familiarize ourselves with the equipment, and also to familiarize these guys with that track in particular. Accordingly, Marlboro Team Penske plans to participate at the Indianapolis 500 event next year."
Gil de Ferran:
"The fact that I did win the Championship does not buy me any privileges going forward - 2001 is a new year and we're starting from scratch again. Reflecting on my Championship brings me a strong feeling of how much I really enjoy racing and that hasn't changed. I still enjoy what I do and we're going into the new season completely focused on repeating our Championship run. I'm just as motivated as I've ever been racing and I'm certainly happy to be driving for Marlboro Team Penske and very comfortable in my position - so I have no intention of ending my hard work just because we've won a Championship, I look forward to the new challenge of repeating as Champion and continuing this effort for many years to come."
"My first year at Marlboro Team Penske was a dream come true for me. I knew that I had to learn a lot with all these people, and that's what I did. I started learning step by step until finally I got my first victory in Detroit - and I think everyone saw how happy I was! Last year I was able to increase my confidence every time I went to the track. It's a much different situation this year because I know the Team already and they know me. There aren't as many changes and you know what people expect from you. We're already done some tests and we continue to learn and grow together. I mentioned this to my crew at the last test, I said `It's amazing, a year ago I was wondering how things would work out with the Team - if these guys would like me...will I be comfortable with them...I have to go fast to prove to them that I can do it.' But this year, it's different -- we've already learned a lot and we are now looking to find more improvements within ourselves. We're going to keep working hard - because that was the key to our success last year."
Gil de Ferran received the Mario Andretti Trophy as the leading vote-getter for the 2000 CART All-Star Team at a special event which kicked-off the FedEx Championship Series Sneak Preview week.
De Ferran, who gave Marlboro Team Penske its first Championship since 1994, earned 546 voting points to outdistance Juan Montoya, the 1999 Mario Andretti Award winner, who finished second with 328 points. The voting was conducted by CART drivers, a select group of media, fans and a pair of celebrity judges - Grammy Award-winning musician Lenny Kravitz and renowned actor/director Sylvester Stallone.
Other members of the 2000 All-Star Team include Paul Tracy (207 points), Adrian Fernandez (206 points) and Michael Andretti (120 points).
Prior to the All-Star announcement FedEx Series Champion Gil de Ferran presented his race helmet to John Resznick, lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, one of today's leading alternative rock bands who performed later in the evening.