CART Grand Prix Of Chicago "Quoteboard" CRISTIANO DA MATTA ( ...
CART Grand Prix Of Chicago "Quoteboard"
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Chicago Motor Speedway has been a track where I have had a couple of ups and downs. My first year there in 1999 with PPI, we had a good car but didn't have a good race. We had a good car all weekend long but we made a couple of errors with the car in the race and didn't do as good. Then in 2000 we came back and I won my first race in CART so I have very sweet memories from the place. For that reason, I will always have good memories from Chicago. Last year with Newman/Haas it was my first season with the team and it was their home race and I was the defending winner so we all had big, big expectations but nothing worked out our way. It was just one of those weekends where everything goes wrong and it was tough on everyone. We did a lot of testing in May to improve the situation and I think we have made big gains. Between [teammate] Christian [Fittipaldi] and myself, we ran over 1000 miles in May and we saw improvements in Milwaukee. I was running sixth when I had fuel pump problems and Christian finished fourth which is a good finish for championship points. The Chicago race will be tough but we think we will run much better than we did last year here. Our goal was to collect as many points as possible on the road courses, which seems to be our strong point, and we were able to do that except for the one point we left on the table on Friday in Laguna Seca. We have a 20 point lead heading into Chicago with 22 points maximum available but we need to keep scoring points and increase our lead. I'll try to make 2002 as good as 2000 in Chicago was."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "The Gigante team has built some momentum at the start of the season but we are yet to have a really big weekend. My crew and engineers have given me a very good race car each week and the guys have really done a great job in the pits. Although we have had some success this season I still don't think we are close to being as good as what we can be. The crew and I are still learning about each other and I think we will just get stronger as the season progresses. The more laps we run the better we will get. Team Rahal had a great deal of success on the ovals last season and one of their wins was at Chicago. The team had a strong oval test and we have a pretty good idea of what it will take to be successful at Chicago. A big key for the Gigante team is to qualify better. We have struggled the last few races in qualifying but have bounced back with a strong car in the race. If we can get the car in better position on the starting grid and still come to the race with a strong car then we will be chasing the podium and victories and not just looking to break into the top five."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL/Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think everyone at Team KOOL Green is looking forward to going back to an oval. We've had some good runs with the Lola on the ovals so far; hopefully this weekend will be no different and we'll be able to challenge for the win in Chicago. Now that the crew has several races under its belt with the new car, the learning curve isn't as steep at this point. With this event scheduled as a two-day race weekend, we're going to have to come out of the transporter with a fairly good car. The time is limited and we'll need to be ready once we arrive."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We have scored points in four out of six races so far this season but didn't get any points at the last race in Portland and we really thought we could have made up some ground there because we usually run well. It's no secret that short ovals have not been our strongest tracks to race on but we think we should run okay in Chicago because we have made improvements to our set-up in testing in May. After that, we ran better in Milwaukee and I was able to finish fourth there which gave us a good amount of championship points. The race last year was one of the most difficult in the history of the team. Everyone from the shop that doesn't usually travel with the team came to the race and we were all disappointed not to have run better. So far this season, we are much more consistent overall which has put us in a stronger position in the Championship. We still need to improve our short oval set-up and need to keep working on our road and street course performance and collect points every race in order to stay in the hunt."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Chicago is quite different from the other ovals that we race on during the course of the season. It's actually part road course and part oval, and you have to be aware of that when you're planning race strategy. I remember there was one point last year that Team Player's experimented with a road-course set-up, but we found that it didn't work that well, so we want back to an oval set-up. Even though I've had success in Chicago in two of the three years we've been racing there, including the second-place podium last year, I find it tough to race on that track. You have to be patient and wait for opportunities to occur, rather than force the issue. I'm happy that finishing fifth in the last two CART races has moved me several places in the drivers' standings. But I also realize that if we really want to contend for the championship, and that's certainly the goal of everyone on Team Player's, we need to take it to the next level. We can start by improving our second-place finish of last year in Chicago to a race win this time."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Chicago is a tough little track. It can be very difficult to pass and you really have to have the car working well at this track. We've run the Lola on the ovals at Japan and Milwaukee so we've got a bit of an understanding of where to start with our setup for the weekend so that is going to help. Motorola and Archipelago are both based in Chicago so this is a "home" race for Team Motorola and we would really like to do a great job this weekend."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Chicago hasn't been too good to me over the years. But with Team KOOL Green's new Lola and the success we've had on the ovals, with a win in Milwaukee and a strong showing in Motegi, hopefully we can come into Chicago with the right balance on the car and get the win here. We like racing in Chicago, we've had strong support from the fans and it's an important market to race in. One of Team KOOL Green's other sponsors, Klein Tools is based here so in a way it's a home race for us and we want to do well here. We're looking forward to getting back in the Winner's Circle like we did in Milwaukee."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Even though Chicago is an oval, it's important to qualify in the front half of the grid because it's not the easiest track for passing. Part of the reason is the way it's shaped, with long straights and tight, narrow corners. Another factor is that it's difficult to put down a lot of power for acceleration because you don't have as much downforce. As soon as you get behind a car, you lose a fair amount of downforce and you use up your tires a lot faster. Chicago is a very demanding track, but Team Player's has delivered a great car in the two years that I've raced there. I've managed to improve from ninth place two years ago to sixth last year. We're determined to have that pattern continue, so now we're aiming for the top five. Based on the second-place finish we had on the Japan oval earlier this year, and the fact we've had a fast car for virtually every race so far, I'm convinced we can achieve this goal."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "The Ford power was outstanding on the ovals and the Lola chassis seemed to work well in a variety of conditions. After just missing at Long Beach, I'd like to get back to the top of the podium. Motegi was a tough race because we had a very good car and a malfunction with the fuel connector caused the fuel to pour out on our first pit stop. Then the car caught on fire and that was it. So I'm really looking forward to returning to Chicago for the Grand Prix. Last year at Chicago was very frustrating last year. We have had a good car in the races before but certain things haven't gone our way. I know Team Rahal has won at Chicago and they'll bring a strong car to Chicago Motor Speedway. The Chicago track is different than most ovals. Sure, we turn left but the turns are tight and you have to drive it almost like a road course. It takes hard braking and shifting of the gears. It's different but I like it. You need to qualify well at that place. Passing isn't easy. I know about that Shell car on the ovals. I got sick of chasing it around all last year. When I got on an oval for the first time in the Shell car, I could see why Kenny [Brack] was so fast. It's a great oval track car."
TOWNSEND BELL (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I'd like to think that we've been on podium pace a couple times now, in Japan and at Portland this last weekend, and even at Laguna, we got taken out there in the start and went to the back of the pack. We were still pretty quick towards the end compared to everybody else. I'd really like to start thinking about winning races. Not to say that I haven't thinking about that all along. The closer you get there to the front, Ganassi, Newman/Haas, they both have really strong cars right now. Those guys are going to be tough to beat. But it's nice to know that we've been mixing it up with those guys as a one-car team. There's so many variables, so many things that play out during these races. Kenny Brack had his wheel fall off. You just can't plan on that, but you've got to be prepared to capitalize on it when it happens. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can and prepare to capitalize on those circumstances when they come up."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "There are all kinds of reasons I'm looking forward to the Chicago race. I was on the pole there last year, for one thing. It was one of our best tracks of the year. It came at a time when we were struggling. This year, it's a whole different story. We've been fast everywhere we've gone, except for maybe Portland, and we've had a rash of bad luck on race day. I feel like I'm driving better than I have in my whole career. Now, we just need to get some breaks. We've finished two races in a row, which is more than we could say the first four races of the season, plus the Indy 500. I'm not last in the points anymore, so I can bear to open the sports page again and not get all discouraged! We're coming to Chicago after a weekend off, which was a long time coming. We've been flat out since Japan and I hadn't been home for a month and a half. It was nice to take it easy for a little while and to get away from racing a little bit. We'll be fresh coming back to Chicago. I'm interested to see how our new Lola will do on the small oval. We did well at Milwaukee, all things considered. So we know what we're capable of doing. It's time to score some serious points from this point on."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm really looking forward to going to Chicago for the next round of the Championship. I have raced at the Chicago Motor Speedway before but not since 2000 so I'm looking forward to going back. I think our team has a really good handle on the set ups for the oval tracks so we're really hopeful of a good result at Chicago. Also for me personally, it's a lot of fun to go to Chicago. There are a lot of Mexicans living there and they really follow the races closely. I get really great support from those fans and it makes me feel really at home!"