JUAN MONTOYA (Target Toyota Lola) on collecting his first victory of the season, and the first for a Toyota-powered driver in FedEx Championship Series history, last week at Milwaukee: "We've had some good success qualifying this year. In ...
JUAN MONTOYA (Target Toyota Lola) on collecting his first victory of the season, and the first for a Toyota-powered driver in FedEx Championship Series history, last week at Milwaukee: "We've had some good success qualifying this year. In Milwaukee, we finally made it pay off and we got Toyota its first win. With the great competition and the difficult tracks in this series, it's a big advantage to start toward the front. It was frustrating to not a get a win until our sixth race, but I know we'll be back on the podium soon. [On The Raceway at Belle Isle] That racetrack was one of the most fun to race on last year and I was very disappointed to not finish better [17th]. Since I'll be getting my second look at the track, and with the way the Toyota-Lola is running, I know we'll have a good race on Sunday."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his enjoyment of this busy stretch of the FedEx Championship Series season: "This is the part of the season that I like. We're either testing or racing - sometimes both - every week. We just had a test at Mid-Ohio and now we're headed to test at Michigan Speedway, then on to Detroit for the race on Belle Isle. All that testing just strengthens us as a team. We'll hit Belle Isle with our game-face on and ready to race. It'll be good to run a street course after all the oval racing we've done. Team KOOL Green has proven to be the team to beat on the streets, so we're going there believing we'll be challenging for the win. Bottom line is we've let the field catch up to us so we've got to start scoring big points again."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on defending his championship in the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit: "Detroit is a welcome site on the schedule! We have had a good car the last few races but, except for Japan [Franchitti finished 2nd], we just haven't gotten the kind of results we'd like. Having swept Detroit last year, with me winning and Paul [Tracy] finishing second, everyone at Team KOOL Green is heading there with the intention of being on the podium again. The circuit suits me just fine. Though there's only one really good place to pass [Turn Three], I like the combination of slow and fast corners and the way it really emphasizes driver skill. You have to be on top of it at all times, anticipating traffic and working your race strategy."
JIMMY VASSER (Target Toyota Lola), on chasing his first victory of the FedEx Championship Series season: "This team is not satisfied with our past few races and I get a sense that everyone is hungry for our first win of the season. The good thing is that no one is getting nervous or making excuses -- we're just excited to get back out there, race and gain some ground on Paul [Tracy, the championship leader]. It's been awhile since we've experienced a victory celebration, but with the Toyota running so strong, I know it's going to happen soon. I'd love to get a win for my guys in the pits. They've been working so hard this year -- they deserve a checkered flag. I had a nice run in Detroit a year ago, so I have a good feeling heading back there. I think it's about time to start another streak of podium finishes."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), on the importance of doing well in Detroit: "The Detroit race is a very important one to our team. It's Kmart and Ford's backyard so we want to do well there for them because they bring a lot of guests to the race. I think the Detroit race is important to CART as well because they are in the automobile capital of the world. The Detroit Grand Prix is a tough race. It's one where you want to qualify well. If you qualify well, and keep your track position, you should finish pretty well. But if you start in the back, you could have a long day. Although we have actually started in the back and came back and almost won the race. The Lola and Ford should do pretty well. We have made some improvements since we raced in Long Beach [the last FedEx Championship Series event contested on a street circuit]. We are just starting to make up for some of the points we left on the table earlier this season. It's important for us to do well in this race and the entire Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team is focused on that task. We are very excited about this race."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), on performing well at Belle Isle for his sponsor, Kmart, and his engine supplier, Ford : "It's a really important race for us because of Kmart and Ford. They have supported us over the years and we want to make them proud in their hometown. Wins are hard to come by because the series is so competitive so you take them where you can get them. There's no doubt about it, we want to do well in front of our sponsor and technical partner. The 1996 race was a great race for us in Detroit. I basically made a mistake and lost the race to Michael [Andretti], his Newman/Haas Racing teammate]. The car was perfect, and we had the car set up good and basically dominated the whole race. We also ran the fastest lap but on the last restart with about five laps to go, I went a little deep into Turn Three. I went wide and Michael went by, and he won the race and I finished second. That one was hard to take because we were so close but that's the way it goes. It's nice to finally put that behind me since the win in Road America [last year] but I still wish it would have turned out differently. Competitors never want to lose."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on the challenges of The Raceway on Belle Isle: "Detroit is a track that I find very challenging. It's a typical bumpy street circuit with a great mix of fast and slow corners, it's notoriously difficult for overtaking and its tough to get in a fast lap for qualifying. But I do enjoy racing there - I've finished on the podium three times at Belle Isle. Marlboro Team Penske had a good race in Long Beach [deFerran captured the pole and teammate Helio Castroneves finished second] and hopefully some of our set-ups and what we learned there will translate well to the Detroit circuit and we'll be able to bring home another podium finish."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), looking to build upon the momentum generated by a successful test at Mid-Ohio last week: "Marlboro Team Penske is coming off of a very successful test in Mid-Ohio, so we hope to carry that momentum into the Detroit race. It's a challenging circuit for the drivers and engineers in that it's bumpy and there are pavement changes from concrete to asphalt. The fast chicane in turns one and two is one of my favorite parts of the track. Qualifying up front will be key given how difficult it is to pass."
ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Ford Reynard), on his enjoyment of racing at Belle Isle: "Detroit is a street circuit where I very much like to compete. The new configuration is a little less challenging, but the track is safer and there are more places to pass. A good result in Detroit is important to the Visteon/Patrick Racing team. It will help us in the race for the championship, plus it would be a big thrill to get our sponsor, Visteon Automotive Systems, their first win at home in front of their employees and customers." ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), on his past successes at Detroit: "I am looking forward to going back to Detroit. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has been very strong at this race in the past. Unfortunately, we had the accident last year [resulting in a fractured radius bone in his right wrist], so it is important that we go back this year and get back to where we were in year's past. This is a key race for the championship. We need a good result here to keep our momentum going and set the tone for the next few races on the road and street circuits. Qualifying is the most important thing in Detroit. The track is challenging and with the new configuration there are some more places to pass, but it is still very difficult to get by other cars. That makes qualifying the key to the race."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on his successful start to the FedEx Championship Series season: "We've felt since the start of the season that we have the right package for the Player's team to be consistently in contention. We're always aiming to be in the top five and, fortunately, we've been able to do that in two of the three races we've run in so far. After missing three races because of the wrist injury, it's going to take that type of consistency to climb our way up the drivers' standings, and getting the podium in Milwaukee enabled us to move up several positions. "I didn't have any unusual amount of soreness in my wrist after the race in Milwaukee. I talked to some of the other drivers and they said their wrists were a bit sore, too, but that's something which is normal after going through a long race. With a series of street and road-course events coming up, it was good to have a couple of days of testing sessions on the Mid-Ohio road course a week before going to Detroit."
ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on making his first start in the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit: "This is going to be my first opportunity to race in Detroit, although I've heard a lot about how nice the Belle Isle track is and how the fans really get into racing there. I know the Player's team has run well in Detroit in the past, with Greg Moore winning the race in 1997 and taking the pole the next year. That gives us some inspiration going into my first race on this course. I'm going into the Detroit race hungry to pick up some points in the drivers' standings because we've had some misfortune in that regard recently. This is an extremely competitive series and you can stay close to the pack as long as you can get into the paying points on a regular basis. That's what we were doing at the start of the season and we're going to work hard to get back into that groove in Detroit."
LUIZ GARCIA JR. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard), on the importance of driving skill on FedEx Championship Series road courses: "We were having a good run in Milwaukee. I think we can accomplish the same thing at Detroit. It will be nice to turn left and right for awhile. At a track like Detroit, the drivers will be more of a factor than on an oval, because we'll be doing a lot of shifting and working the wheel. I have raced here twice before in Indy Lights. It's a tight track, but one you can really go fast on. Let me tell you, it will be nice to turn right for a change here and the next few races."