THE 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA SATURDAY QUOTEBOARD TONY KANAAN ( ...
THE 500 PRESENTED BY TOYOTA SATURDAY QUOTEBOARD
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "What can I say ... we were a mile-an-hour quicker than everybody else, and it's been that way pretty much all weekend, so far. It felt great to give Bruno (Junqueira) a little payback for what he did to me in Japan. I thought I had the pole won there, but he went after me and beat my time. Today, it was the other way around, and it sure feels good. Obviously, I have a very good car. I had a little help on my practice time this morning, but I also made some runs all alone and was able to get into the high 231s pretty consistently. So we qualified about where I thought we would, speed-wise. I got the 232 on my first qualifying lap and the team didn't call me in, so I just put it in seventh gear and had a very enjoyable cruise around the track on the second lap. It's great to be on the pole, but if there's one race where it's not an advantage to be on the pole, it's here. I might be leading in Turn 1, but I could fall back by Turn 2, and then be back in the lead by Turn 3. Who knows, it's always that kind of a day here."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It was unbelievable! I almost spun on my second lap. It was a little loose and that made me nervous, but I just hung on and held my breath. I really wanted the pole today, but that's OK. The car was perfect for qualifying. Luckily, my speed was good enough to be on the front row. Team Target gave me a great car in qualifying and I'm happy for Toyota to be near the front of the field. It's going to be an exciting race tomorrow."
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#1 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's good to be in here with these two guys [Kanaan and Junqueira]. It's like the same [top three] thing we had when we were in Australia last week. Of course it's a 500-mile race so it's important to have a consistent car. But third is not too bad at all. We should be very strong fort the race tomorrow. Nobody has to worry about the fuel economy issue anymore, which is great. You want to be in the front of the pack late, but not leading."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I thought we would be a little bit quicker. I was hoping to get a lap about 231 mph. The Motorola car was real good. It was balanced and handling very well. Starting position really doesn't matter here at Fontana unless you're on the pole. It's a little disappointing because we want to be first. We'll start on the second row and hopefully have a comfortable car to run 500 miles tomorrow."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We're experimenting with how much downforce we wanted to run. We made the KOOL car very nervous in traffic. I'm pretty happy with qualifying though. I'm pretty happy with the speed, I didn't think I could go out there and do a lap at 230 (mph) by myself. In this race we want to be light on downforce so we can't be passed that easily. We still have to find out in the warm up where we want to start the race at. This is our first race on a superspeedway with the Lola and we're trying to figure a few things out. I'm hopeful for tomorrow."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "The car felt good. We couldn't trim out the car (aerodynamically) anymore. It was just matter of holding my (right) foot and seeing what you get. Maybe the wind will blow to help your run. I thought the Hondas would be in the 231s or better. I thought the Reynards would be faster since they seem to be a little more slippery with the bodywork. We aren't completely happy with the run because we aren't up front. But that is all we had today. I think we'll have a good car for Sunday. The car felt good because of the new rubber. When you more laps with least fuel, you'll see the car slide around more and times will drop. Our Shell guys did a great job in the Craftsman Pit Stop Championship. That wasn't just for this weekend. They have been working all year on the stops and we had the best record in the pits all season too. That was Team Rahal's second year to win that award and you can tell they take it serious. On Sunday, we'll still the turbulence that we have had before. I'll still only be concerned about the pack of three, four or five cars that I'll be racing at the time. There's going to be a lot of passing Sunday. We will ride around for about 400 miles and then going racing flat out."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Team Player's did a great job setting the car up for qualifying but we didn't have the power to win the pole. I ran my three laps flat out. I'm very confident for the race and that's the important thing here. We ran all kinds of race simulations over the last two days and the car was absolutely great. All we have to do is make the right adjustments during the race to match the track conditions and we have a good shot at winning this thing."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The car still had too much downforce, but even if Team Player's had trimmed it some more, we didn't have the power to win the pole. It would have been nice to have a special engine for the qualifying, but I'd rather have a great engine for the race. It's such a long race here that it really doesn't matter where you start. For sure it would have been nice to get that extra point, but with Tony (Kanaan) winning the pole, it doesn't affect the points race for second place."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had too much drag in the car. We knew we were being conservative, we didn't think we were being quite that conservative though! I was flat on the second lap. Allen McDonald (race engineer) didn't want to take too many chances, he didn't want to change the set up too drastically. I don't really think it matters where you qualify here, although it's always nice to put up the big numbers. I think we have a very good car, we made some good changes and hopefully Team KOOL Green will go out there and have a good race tomorrow."
MAX PAPIS (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think we did a very good job. We took the best out of the car. That was it. That was what we had. We were pretty comfortable, with maybe a tiny bit of understeer in the car. I am very pleased with what we have done up to now even though I didn't have enough time to work on everything I wanted. Hopefully, this time all we need is a little bit of luck even if we didn't get to experiment with everything. For tomorrow, I think we are in good shape. The car is not exactly as I want it to be compared to how I know the car should feel. Hopefully we will find it tonight. We just have to think about all the things we have done and make the best compromise."
MICHEL JOURDAIN (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I know it's going to a very long race and I think we have a good car in traffic. We didn't trim out the car as much as Jimmy. We were a little conservative on the setup for qualifying. We want to be in the middle things at the end and we will play our strategy for that. The competition is so close as you can see in qualifying. The race will be the same. The Gigante team has been working on its strategy since we left Australia and they are still making changes for the race. We definitely want to be there at the end of 500 miles. If we are in position at the end, we'll have a chance to win."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We were flat during qualifying but I think I made a wrong decision to use sixth gear instead of fifth. I think if I had stayed in fifth gear, I could have gone a little bit faster -- maybe not as fast as Max, but a little bit faster. I made a mistake, but the car was okay for qualifying. We were flat all the way around with no problem, but we just weren't fast enough. I don't know why and we need to find something for tomorrow. I never got the feeling 'this is it' and I want to find it for tomorrow morning. Otherwise, it is going to be very difficult to run a long race like this. I am confident we will find something."
SCOTT DIXON (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Like the other guys, my car was a little loose in qualifying but it wasn't too bad. We tried to loosen it up in qualifying to get all that we could out of the car. We're pretty far back in the field, but the race car is really comfortable. We worked quite a bit on race setup and I think that the car is going to be pretty good tomorrow."
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It was all we had. I was flat all the way around. Qualifying here is really not that important, but it is important to have a good race car. And that is what we are going to work on in the next 24 hours. I went a little slower on my second lap as the car was just a little loose. It's going to be a long race tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We just weren't as fast this afternoon in qualifying as we had hoped. We decided to take a shot at requalifying because we really felt we could do better based on this morning's practice. It would have been nice to start further up the grid but, especially on a superspeedway like this, it's all about what happens in the race."
ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has worked very hard and the car felt fine, we just didn't have the speed today. It was obvious even in the morning practice that we were not where we wanted to be. It is always nice to start up front, but if you have to pick a race to start from the back of the field a 500-miler is the one to do it. The good news is that it is a 500-mile race so qualifying doesn't really mean that much. Also the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has shown in the past that they have a good strategy for these races, plus the car felt very good in traffic yesterday. I am sure that even though we are starting last, at some point during the race the Visteon/Patrick Racing car will be leading and that we can have a good result."