CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix "Quoteboard" LUIS DIAZ ( ...
CART Toyota Atlantic Championship
Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix
LUIS DIAZ (#33 Telmex Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Dorricott Racing): (On upcoming season): "This year will be tough because I think it is going to be one of the most competitive years in Atlantic history. I want to make the jump to CART at the end of the year so I have a lot riding on my doing well. I think I am with a team that can bring great results and I'm working with great engineers in Alain Clarinval and Peter Jacobs. (On racing in Monterrey): "Monterrey means a lot for me a lot especially since I had the fastest car last year until the rain slowed everything. It was so frustrating so I hope to make things up and have a better race result."
EDUARDO FIGUEROA (#86 Gigante/Aviacsa/Millenio Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Scuardra Fortia): "We tested a lot over the winter. Last year was my first year in Atlantics and every weekend and every track was new. I am taking those experiences combined with the team's input to refine my driving style. It is going to be great to drive in Mexico again and to start the season there. My family and sponsors will be there. Grupo Gigante, I am sure, will be there to wave red banners and cheer for the Scuadra Fortia Atlantic car. The fans in Mexico love racing and it is a very exciting environment to be in; the whole city gets involved in the race."
RYAN DALZIEL (#28 Discovery Lake/Daily Record Newspaper Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Sierra Sierra Racing): "I'm really excited about this year's championship, and even more excited about racing for Sierra Sierra Enterprises. We have a great group of guys on the team, full of experience and fight. The car has been really quick in testing and I know that we will be championship contenders. This year's championship will be as strong as ever, with more than enough talented teams and drivers. I'm looking forward to Monterrey, especially after the strong second place finish I posted there last year. But on the whole, there isn't a track on this year's calendar that I don't love."
JOEY HAND (#27 BG Products/DSTP Motorports Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): "I think the biggest thing for us right now is the morale. Testing went very well, much like last year before the season started and we earned a pole and a podium in the first two races before the accident. The guys have really worked hard over the winter fixing the issues from last season, and the results from testing proved it. I think many people have discounted us because of what happened last season. By the time the Mexico event is over, people will know that we will be a factor in each race."
MICHAEL VALIANTE (#19 Lynx Racing Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): (On his strategy for the upcoming season): "The lesson we learned from what happened last year is that, if you're going for the championship, you have to go flat out from the first lap of the first race. We took a conservative approach at the start of last season because I was basically a rookie and we knew we could win some races, but we weren't really thinking in terms of going for the championship. By the time we saw we could win it, we were already so close to the end of the season that bad luck played a bigger part than it should have. So this year, it's already hammer down. We're after poles, podiums and victories, and to win the championship as early and as convincingly as possible. Not that it's going to be easy. There may be less cars in the field this year, but the talent pool is really deep and winning is going to take a great team, a fast driver and a really focused effort." (On the event in Monterrey): "We have some unfinished business with the Monterrey, Mexico race. It rained before the start of last year's race, so we put a full wet setup on the car, and if the race had started when I was supposed to, we'd have been in good shape. As it was, somehow CART's 'time certain' schedule slipped 45 minutes when it came to the Atlantic race, so by the time we started, the racing was over and the track was starting to dry and it was too late to go back on the setup. It was a mess out there with everybody going slipping and sliding and going off the road, but we kept it together and finished fourth. It's a very interesting, very technical track with really high curbs so you have to be smooth and careful, and I understand some changes have been made since last year, so we'll have to wait until we get there to see what's what. But we've done a lot of thinking and a bit of testing with this particular track in mind, and -- barring some mysterious circumstance -- I think we'll be fighting for the win."
JONATHAN MACRI (#84 NTN Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Polestar Atlantic LLC): "This year, being teamed-up with Polestar, I'm thrilled to be in this car with this team. Hopefully, we're coming out planning to win a lot of races and go for the championship. I think (team owner/manager) Jim Griffith, (team manager) Bruce (Potter), and the team can put a good car under me and it's just a matter of how quickly we can put everything together. I'm looking forward to racing in Monterrey. The facility there is really nice, and the fans are great. Hopefully, the track conditions will be better this year and we have more grip. It was really tough last year to get the car set up, because the conditions were always changing. I'm looking forward to racing in Monterrey and it's good to see the fans really enthusiastic about the racing."
ALEX FIGGE (#69 Pacific Coast Motorsports/Patrick Racing Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): "I'm really looking forward to the new Atlantic season. I think the racing will be great, with Pacific Coast Motorsports and myself showing well. The crew has worked really hard during the off-season. With the preparations we've done coming into the new season, I believe this is the best opportunity to succeed I've been given in my racing career. In pre-season testing we have exceeded all our expectations." "The race in Mexico is a great way to start the season. The Mexican fans love their racing and the atmosphere is fantastic. The fact that I like Mexican food and the girls look great doesn't hurt! I'm looking forward to getting on track."
ALEX GARCIA (#9 Dixien/Omnisource Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): "I am loooking forward to going back to Monterrey as we kick off the 2003 Atlantic Championship, we have made tremendous progress in the off season and expect to have a great year."
A.J. ALLMENDINGER (#3 RuSPORT Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): "I'm just really excited about the opportunity I have this season with RuSPORT to race in the Toyota Atlantic Championship. I'm very confident in the team and myself going into the first race in Monterrey. I'm exicted about what we can accomplish together. My realistic goal for this year is the championship and nothing less. The team is new, but it has a lot of experienced guys, like the engineers and (team president) Jeremy (Dale) from Barber Dodge. I've got a real good feel for the car. My goal is just to finish as high as possible in every race, and finish on the podium in every race if possible. I want to win as many races as I can, but if I can't win, I've got to finish as high as possible. Going into Monterrey, I haven't been there, but my engineer, Gerald Tyler, was there last year with Dorricott Racing and they won the race, so I'm very confident. I think myself and my teammate, Aaron Justus, can fight for the victory and just go from there. As I said, I think the championship is a realistic goal going into the season."
AARON JUSTUS (#3 RuSPORT Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): "We're with a new organization at RuSPORT. While it's new in its current form, it is assembled of very experienced people in the industry. We're expecting to experience success, not only on the race track, but also to grow as a team. I think that's the key. We can win races, but we're going to need to work to grow as a group. I think we're where we want to be now, but I think as the year goes on and we grow, we'll be even more competitive. Obviously, we're entering Monterrey, and both drivers (Justus and A.J. Allmendinger) are new to the track, and we're a new team, but our technical director, Gerald Tyler, won the race last year with Jon Fogarty and Dorricott Racing. We're going into it with a pretty open mind. I think we'll be competitive, but we'll have a little bit of a disadvantage because we've got to learn the track. But we'll be entering the weekend with cars that are stable and we'll be able to learn quickly."
DANICA PATRICK (#24 Argent Mortgage Company Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Team Rahal): (On entering the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship) "I am excited for this weekend. I am sure I will have a few butterflies when I get in the car on Friday but once I get on track I will be into the session and everything will be fine. Certainly anytime you start in a new series there are some unknown factors and it is difficult to know fully what to expect. I know what my expectations are and I know all the hours of preparation that have been put in and my team and I expect to be successful." (On the upcoming weekend in Monterrey) "We need to concentrate on making the most of our track time this week. It is important that we all communicate so we don't take any steps backward. I am fortunate that I have an experienced engineer in Walt Preston and an experienced race team and they have a basic set-up that will get us started for the weekend. It is my understanding is that it takes a while for the track to come in so you don't want to overreact during the first couple of sessions. I have been to Mexico on vacation but never for a race. I have heard the stories from the team and Michel (Jourdain) about the great fan support at the Mexican races. It should be a great atmosphere to start the Atlantic season."
MARC DeVELLIS (#67 Pro-Works Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Sierra Sierra Racing): "My expectations are simply very high. Only the members of Sierra Sierra know how much effort and preparation we have put into this program. We all share the same visions and expectations and are working as a team to obtain the ultimate goal of winning the championship. I am looking to perform at my highest level and all I can say is 2003 is going to be a big year!"
ROMAIN DUMAS (#88 Gigante/Aviacsa/Millenio Toyota/Swift/Yokohama - Scuardra Fortia): "This will be the first time for me to drive an Atlantic car. We did not have time to test or shake it down before the first practice in Mexico. This is a new team to me; it is important to get good results for Scuadra Fortia. To stay in shape for the 2003 season, I tested in Europe over the winter and also drove a prototype this last weekend at Sebring. This week there will be many first time experiences for me: first trip to Mexico, a new track, a new series and a new team. I am looking forward to it all. I've been watching the CART Atlantic series and have wanted to race there."
KYLE KRISILOFF (#13 U. S. Grand Prix Formula One/Cameron Motorsports Toyota/Swift/Yokohama): "After getting a full preseason of winter testing with the U. S. Grand Prix Formula One/Cameron Motorsports Team I feel we have learned a lot and are prepared for the start of the 2003 CART Toyota Atlantic Championship season next weekend in Monterrey, Mexico. I am looking forward to being very competitive in my first full season in Toyota Atlantics. Because I competed in six CART Toyota Atlantic Championship races last year I have a little more experience going into the 2003 season. The first six races will be new for me, so I still have a lot to learn at those events. However, by the second half of the season, when we compete on tracks where I have already raced, the experience I gained last year should really help me in both qualifying and the races."