CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week in Ford Racing pre-Michigan

This Week in Ford Racing July 17, 2001 CART FedEx Series As CART heads to the Michigan International Speedway [MIS] for this weekend's Michigan 500, Player's Forsythe driver Patrick Carpentier, Team Rahal driver Max Papis, and Cosworth Racing...

This Week in Ford Racing
July 17, 2001

CART FedEx Series

As CART heads to the Michigan International Speedway [MIS] for this weekend's Michigan 500, Player's Forsythe driver Patrick Carpentier, Team Rahal driver Max Papis, and Cosworth Racing Inc. Vice-President Ian Bisco each talk about their experiences and share some memories they have of the famed two-mile oval.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AS YOU HEAD BACK TO THE MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY [MIS] FOR THIS WEEKEND'S MICHIGAN 500?

PATRICK CARPENTIER - No. 32 Player's Forsythe Ford-Cosworth - "I've enjoyed racing on the oval at Michigan because it's the type of track that always produces an exciting race, and as a driver you get caught up in the whole environment of going fantastic speeds on this super speedway. From a professional standpoint, I'm not going there thinking that it's the last time I'll be racing in Michigan. I'm approaching it the way I do every race, and that is to focus on what I need to do to win the race."

MAX PAPIS - No. 7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - "For sure it's going to be a very special event because it's going to be the last time that CART will run at MIS. It's a 500-mile race and it's a very American race because it's a typical race that has always been to Europeans watching American motor racing. It's a long event. A couple of years ago we ran out of fuel close to the finish and last year we ran out of oil so this year I hope we get both of them together at the same time."

IAN BISCO - Vice-President, Cosworth Racing, Inc. - "In some ways it'll be sad to think that this will be our last race there, at least for a while. I think Michigan has been the scene of some very competitive races, and for sure Ford and Cosworth have both enjoyed a great deal of success there. The biggest thing that stands out for me about MIS is that the race is never over until your car has actually passed the checkered flag. More so than any other race, it seems like things change more during the closing laps than they do on any of the other tracks that we go to. Anything can happen in the last lap, two laps, three laps, or whatever, so just because you're leading towards the end doesn't mean you'll be leading at the finish."

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIQUE CHALLENGES THAT A TWO-MILE SUPERSPEEDWAY LIKE MICHIGAN PRESENT TO YOU AS ENGINE MANUFACTURERS?

IAN BISCO - Vice-President, Cosworth Racing, Inc. - "We have to maintain good performance and most of all, good reliability. The engine, particularly as the chassis or aerodynamic changes have been made, the engine's duty cycle seems to be getting higher and higher, which puts more load on the engine. We're expecting an even heavier duty cycle this year with the increased Handford Wing, so our engineers are challenged to come up with a way to run the engine has hard as we can to make it last until the end of the race."

IS IT MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER TO MAKE SURE THAT THE DRIVER TAKES CAR OF THE ENGINE TO HELP IT LAST THE WHOLE 500 MILES?

IAN BISCO - Vice-President, Cosworth Racing, Inc. - "I think all of our drivers will be made aware of the circumstances, but I think a lot of it is just common sense. There's no point in trying to win the race in the first half and most of the drivers are well-versed in long races and will understand that it is a long race and it's not the first lap that counts, it's the last one."

ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT CART WON'T BE RACING AT MIS FOR THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE?

PATRICK CARPENTIER - No. 32 Player's Forsythe Ford-Cosworth - "Yes and no. There have been some great battles waged on the Michigan speedway in the past, and it was fun to be a part of them. On the other hand, it's not as if we won't be racing on any more super ovals because we still have the 500-mile race at the California Speedway that caps off our season. It's the only true superspeedway on the CART schedule and it has definitely produced its share of thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing."

MAX PAPIS - No. 7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - "I'm just a driver and I leave politics out of my business, but Michigan is a great race track. It's a little bit further away from any big cities, but despite that it's always provided a fantastic show for those watching on TV and for the people in the stands, and I am still wondering why we aren't going to be racing there any longer."

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AT MIS IN 1999 WHEN YOU RAN OUT OF FUEL ON THE LAST LAP WHILE LEADING THE RACE.

MAX PAPIS - No. 7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - "What happened there in '99 is just motor racing, but it's behind me now and I have to continue to look forward. We have always run very well at Michigan and we've never brought the car home where we deserved it, so we're going to race strong and put our best effort forward to try and win there."

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU'VE HAD RELATIVELY GOOD SUCCESS RACING AT MICHIGAN IN THE PAST?

MAX PAPIS - No. 7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - [THREE TOP-10 FINISHES IN FOUR CAREER APPEARANCES] "I don't have any special feelings about Michigan or Fontana, but it just happens to be that I think I've done a good job learning the American way of racing. I have taught myself to use all of the experience that I garnered from my endurance and road racing days and applied them to a very long and difficult race, so perhaps that's why I've had some success there in the last few years. When you race on a superspeedway you never feel very comfortable, but when the green flag drops and you have a good car underneath you it's always a lot of fun."

PATRICK CARPENTIER - No. 32 Player's Forsythe Ford-Cosworth - [THREE TOP-10 FINISHES IN FOUR CAREER APPEARANCES] "It's a track that suits me and one that I feel comfortable on. Team Player's always seems to have a real good set-up for this track. It's a track where we've had success as a team. In a way, it's funny because off the track in Michigan, you have this laid-back atmosphere, but on the track it's like a war. Over the years, I've been able to come through the wars in pretty good shape.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MEMORIES THAT YOU HAVE FROM YOUR EXPERIENCES AT THE MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY?

PATRICK CARPENTIER - No. 32 Player's Forsythe Ford-Cosworth - "The Michigan race that stands out for me is the one we had there last year. Something just came out of everybody. I don't know whether it was a case of the adrenaline really starting to flow because of the fast racing, or whatever, but guys were going sideways at 250 miles an hour, sometimes three or four wide in the corners. And then, there were those 50 or more lead changes. It was a hell of an experience."

IAN BISCO - Vice-President, Cosworth Racing, Inc. - "Probably 1984 is the one that really sticks out in my mind because of all the crashes and things. That was the one where Chip [Ganassi] was in a crash, Pancho Carter, Danny Ongais, Al Unser, it seemed like that race went on forever, so I remember that one quite well. Obviously in terms of success, I remember the race where Al Unser, Jr., and Scott Pruett were running together. That was really good because we had worked with Patrick Racing, Pruett and Firestone on their tire program, and it was good to be a part of their first win there. However, I think the last couple of races have been quite tense for us. In 1999 when Max [Papis] was leading and ran out of fuel, that obviously was a huge disappointment, and we could've won last year with Michael [Andretti] who with Juan Montoya got caught trying to lap Tarso [Marques] at the finish line. Juan ended up winning the race and not Michael and that was disappointing as well, but every time we're so close and it comes down to that last lap these days."

IS THIS A PLACE WHERE YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE END OF THE RACE TO FINS OUT WHO WINS BECAUSE SO MUCH CAN HAPPEN IN THE LAST FIVE OR 10 LAPS?

IAN BISCO - Vice-President, Cosworth Racing, Inc. - "The cars are running at such high speeds these days that it's probably hard to predict exactly where everybody's is going to be at the end, particularly lapped traffic who often have some kind of impact on the outcome of a race. Fuel strategy comes into it as well -- how hard someone can run against you or how hard you can run against them according to when your last pit stop was and how much fuel you have left and when the yellows pan out, if there are any. I guess you could say that at Michigan you just never really know what's going to happen until the checkered flag comes out."

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Scott Pruett , Danny Ongais , Pancho Carter , Al Unser