CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ...
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "we started the race as a contender but that changed on my first stop. I made a mistake and lost it in the pits. A front and rear tire blew so it was hard for the guys to get me back to my pit quick and we lost 11 laps. From then on it was an uphill climb but we thought we could hang in there and get some points until we had a mechanical failure at the rear of the car."
- NOTE: Is currently 35 points back from first place in the point standings with 49 to leader Kenny Brack, 84. Was the REIGNING 500-MILE WINNER after driving to victory in the 2000 season-finale Marlboro 500 at The California Speedway. Hoped to score back-to-back 500-mile 500-mile victories here this weekend. Was his eighth start here. Led 13 in 2000 before going off course after Kenny Brack attempted a pass between Fittipaldi and the wall with 30 laps to go. Fittipaldi's best Michigan International Speedway start was third last season and his strongest finish was eighth in 1999.
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "I have no idea how we got back on the lead lap. The guys did a great job with strategy considering how much we had to deal with today. From the first pit stop until the end of the race we had to use the manual Quick Jack instead of the airjack because it broke on the first stop and cost us a lot of time. Ultimately, compared to the others, the Quick Jack wasn't so quick. When they would jack up the front or rear of the car, the other end would drop. Instead of going a lap down on our stops we would go two laps down. Overall I am happy because I finally finished a 500-mile race and it was a tough one. The guys did a great job with the strategy to overcome the problems. I got a bad start. It was the worst start of my life. The car was good though. At the end of the race, (Paul) Tracy and (Alex) Tagliani were protecting their teammates, which is normal. I just didn't have anyone to work with at that point. I was tight on fuel until the last yellow. Because I ran by myself most of the race, I didn't know where everyone else liked to run when we were going for it at the end of the race. I was the only one going low on the track as far as I could tell. I needed to get to the front before I did around the last five laps but on the last restart, I was behind four lapped cars so it took me a while to get up to the leaders. Considering everything that we dealt with today, fourth place is a victory."
- NOTE: Is currently 17 points out of first place in the CART standings with 67 points to leader Kenny Brack, 84. Was his third Champ car race at MIS and first with NHR. Da Matta finished 17th in his two previous starts at the Michigan International Speedway. In '00 he had was waived out of the pits during a stop but the fuel was still connected to his race car and he was forced to retire from the race. He retired from the '99 event due to electrical problems.