JUAN MONTOYA (Target Honda Reynard), on the stunning success of his FedEx Championship Series rookie season: "This season has been much more than I, or anyone on the team, could have expected. But we now realize we have a chance to make history,...
JUAN MONTOYA (Target Honda Reynard), on the stunning success of his FedEx Championship Series rookie season: "This season has been much more than I, or anyone on the team, could have expected. But we now realize we have a chance to make history, so the team is committed to earning as many points as we can in each race to see if we can make that dream a reality. Vancouver is a challenge because it's another of the courses I've never seen before. I think because the track has been reconfigured since last year, the other rookies and I will have an advantage since we're not used to the old layout. I'm looking forward to flying through the streets of Vancouver and hopefully increasing our lead in the points."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on winning $440,000 for his victory from the pole at last year's Molson Indy Vancouver: "What a pay day! Vancouver was a magical race last year, both for myself and for the guys at Team KOOL Green. To win a race from the pole position is always rewarding, but when nobody had done it in so long, the feat took on extra significance. And I'm not simply talking about the money [Franchitti collected a $340,000 bonus pole award and another $100,000 for the victory becoming the first driver to win from pole since Alex Zanardi in Cleveland July 13, 1997]. That victory proved that winning the previous race at Road America - my first one ever in CART - was no fluke. Above all else, I think it signaled to everyone in CART that Team KOOL Green had arrived. We became the team to beat as the season ended. The difference this year is Paul [Tracy, Franchitti's Team KOOL Green teammate] and I are always in contention to win a race and now we're in a championship fight all the way to Fontana."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Kmart/Texaco Havoline Ford Swift), on last year's experience at Vancouver: "The 1998 Vancouver race was an interesting one for us. We almost stole one. We didn't have a good car but we had good pit strategy and it gave us good track position. We almost won the race. Had I known it would be a timed race I wouldn't have been conserving fuel and driving as slowly as I did and Franchitti wouldn't have passed us for the win. As it turned out I didn't have to conserve fuel and that was frustrating. I didn't realize that until it was too late. I think the track will be quite different this year. Last year, it was a tough course because it was a bit dangerous. The promoters have worked very hard to improve the layout and make more places for passing in order to make a better race for the drivers and the fans. The Vancouver race, and every one after it for that matter, is very important for the championship We have given enough races and points away. We just have to hope that Juan [Montoya] and Dario [Franchitti] don't finish some races. Based on the season so far, it doesn't look like that is a strong possibility. We'll just have to work hard and score as many points as possible to finish in the top-three. The finish in Chicago was particularly frustrating because we had worked so hard to go from the back and had a great car. The car was definitely capable of winning."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on rebounding from a non-scoring finish in Chicago, his first in nine events: "I'm a little frustrated to come away from Chicago with no points, but we've picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and we'll be ready to go strong at Vancouver. I may have been born and raised in Toronto, but the fans in Vancouver always make me feel right at home. I'm confident that we have a good shot at a podium finish and I'll get the chance to wave the Canadian flag like in Toronto. Team KOOL Green has been dominant on the street circuits for the past two seasons, so I know Dario and I can expect to be up front. Plus, don't forget that we've finished 1-2 at the last two street races in Toronto and Detroit. This time, I'd like to reverse roles with Dario and get the victory for myself. I definitely need to win some races to get back into the championship race with Juan [Montoya] and Dario. We'll need to qualify well to be in contention on Sunday because there aren't many opportunities to pass in Vancouver."
GREG MOORE (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ltd. Honda Reynard), on racing before his home fans: "It's always a good feeling to come home and race in an area that you grew up in. You obviously want to do well, both for yourself and for the team, and you'd like to be able to deliver a strong performance for the people who have supported you over the years. We only have two races in Canada and I think competing in Vancouver is exciting for the entire Player's team. Last year I had my best-ever Molson Indy Vancouver qualifying performance when I finished fourth, but I didn't have much luck in the race. I'm aiming to get in the top 4 again in qualifying. It's important to be at or near the front of the grid because passing on this track is real difficult."
AL UNSER JR. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola), on his pleasant memories of Vancouver: "Vancouver definitely brings back a lot of great memories. Every race there has been exciting to watch and even more exciting to drive. The fans up there have always been great to me and their enthusiasm is contagious. I look forward to returning there every year. Certain tracks can be nicer to you than others. We've always come up with a little more luck in the Vancouver race, and we're hoping to tap into some of that luck this weekend. Our goal is to bring the Marlboro Mercedes Lola home in first and give Roger [Penske, team owner] his 100th win."
JIMMY VASSER (Target Honda Reynard), on the FedEx Championship Series stretch run: "This is an exciting time of year. Our team knows what it's like to be in this position, with so much riding on each race. I've learned over these first 15 races that Juan [Montoya, Vasser's Target/Chip Ganassi Racing teammate] is as tough mentally as he is physically. He's in a good position and he knows I'm here if he's looking for advice. The whole team has a great attitude going into Vancouver. We were excited to be back on the podium in Chicago and we plan on returning a few times again before the end of the year. Juan and I have had a nice string of races and we want to keep it up at the Molson Indy."
HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola), on the key to his recent run of three consecutive top-seven finishes: "Being patient. That's what really helped me get the first three! I know that we'll have a good set-up on the car. Every weekend we learn something new in the Lola and we now have this great momentum going that I feel very confident that things will continue to progress well. The Hogan team has done a top-notch job, even through our dry spell in the middle of the season. Now we're finishing races and looking to a solid end of the season. [Vancouver] is a very tough track because the corners are very tiny and tight. It's also very bumpy in many places, like any street circuit, so we'll really need to pay attention in getting the car to work well over the bumps. Those bumps can also be very tough on the driver physically. They've added more run-off area this year, so that's good to see CART and the Molson people working together to make it safer for us and in turn a better show for the fans. The Canadian fans have always been very good to me and I look forward to heading North every season."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart Ford Swift), on continuing his recovery from a subdural hematoma sustained in an Aug. 2 testing accident at Gateway International Raceway: "I am constantly talking to the team and keeping up on the progress of the car so that I can hopefully race at Houston or the next race. I felt much better at the Chicago race than I did at the Mid-Ohio race. The headaches went away after the Mid-Ohio race and I started feeling like myself again. I started my fitness program again but have to start slow. I can't just pick up where I left off and run the same distance. It's just like anyone who hasn't worked out in a while. It takes time to get back to the same level. I will of course miss racing in Vancouver. It is one of my favorite places that we race and I think we would have been competitive on the street course."
ROBERTO MORENO (Big Kmart Ford Swift), on his role as the "Super Sub" of the FedEx Championship Series: "The nickname 'Super Sub' is just something that happened. It came from being available to drive for teams in a pinch while I was working on getting a full-time ride. Unfortunately something happened to a couple of drivers and I was available to fill in for them. It's good that both drivers [Mark Blundell and Christian Fittipaldi] were able to come back to racing.
"At the start, I didn't really like the name 'Super Sub.' Now I am okay with it. I am making the most of the situation and doing to best job I can for the teams I am driving for. As 'Super Sub,' I am making points in the championship and keeping up with the series. The Newman/Haas team has welcomed me back with open arms. It is a pleasure to work with such a professional team. I went back in the team and worked with basically the same people. I work well with Todd Bowland the engineer and all of the guys. That's very important. I love street races. The Vancouver track will be a new track for me this year because I didn't race in the event last year. For not having any testing and being familiar with the Big Kmart Ford-Swift, we have been able to qualify reasonably well and score some points. I'm looking to continue that in Vancouver."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Team, Ltd. Mercedes Reynard), on maintaining his confidence heading to Vancouver: "I'm really pleased that I'm heading into the Vancouver race on a positive note, both from a driving as well as a health standpoint. With the help of my Player's crew, I was able to match my best performance with the Player's team by finishing sixth in Chicago, and I came out of the race with no effects from the sore back and chest that caused me to miss the previous race. My best finish on a road course this year is seventh, so the immediate goal is to improve on that result. I know that they have made a few changes to the track in Vancouver and it has led in places to a longer straight, making it a bit easier to pass. I'm optimistic that we can deliver a strong performance for our home crowd."
TONY KANAAN (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard), on his enjoyment of racing at Vancouver: "We had strong runs at Vancouver the last three years in both Champ Cars and Indy Lights, and I think we were on our way to a podium finish last year. I love the street courses and Vancouver is a fantastic city, so I am really looking forward to this weekend."
ROBBY GORDON (Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota Eagle), on the challenges of racing at Vancouver: "Vancouver, much like Detroit, is a special place for me. I had the pole in Vancouver in 1994. It¹s a different track this year than it was back then, but it's still a street course and it's still demanding. They've added a high-speed section on the back of the course that makes the track a lot different from the other street courses. Toronto and Houston, for instance, are a series of short straights with one medium-length straight. Vancouver is similar to Long Beach. When you accelerate out of turn four, the track bends, but you run it flat out until it becomes a straight. At the end is turn six, a right-hander and a good passing area. It makes for a tough setup because you want the car to work well in the high-speed sections, but also be nimble enough for the other sections which are all short bursts and tight corners. We struggled with our Long Beach setup, but we have all the data to draw on, so I'm looking for this race to be much more competitive. We'll run the Eagle chassis as well, which handles closer to the Reynard we ran at Long Beach. Plus, Alex Barron and the Eagle led laps at Vancouver last year. I¹d like to do the same, only I¹d really like to lead the last one!"