CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Chicago race notes

Michael Andretti posted his third consecutive podium finish by coming home second in the Target Grand Prix. Andretti (120 points), who started the race from 15th position, also recorded his fifth consecutive top four finish. Cristiano da Matta ...

Michael Andretti posted his third consecutive podium finish by coming home second in the Target Grand Prix. Andretti (120 points), who started the race from 15th position, also recorded his fifth consecutive top four finish. Cristiano da Matta captured his first career CART victory while Gil de Ferran came home third. Rookie Kenny Brack finished fourth, Patrick Racing teammates Adrian Fernandez and Roberto Moreno finished fifth and sixth, respectively, and rookie Alex Tagliani came home ninth.

Andretti (120 points) increased his lead to 22 points in the race for the driver's championship over Roberto Moreno (98 points). Rounding out the top five in the driver's standings are de Ferran (89 points), da Matta (82 points) and Paul Tracy (80 points). Fernandez is sixth with 79 points, Brack is seventh with 78 points and Patrick Carpentier is 10th with 65 points.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 2nd
"We wanted to collect points, and we did, although it looked very, very bleak going into the race. I wasn't real happy with the car this morning, and (crew chief) Peter Gibbons made of a couple more changes on the car, and I've gotta say that it was pretty good when the green flag fell. We were just there trying to hang on, stay with the guys because you couldn't pass with these wings, so we're just trying to hang in there. Basically we were ready to do whatever the opposite of the leaders did because we were so far back. As it ended up with that first yellow, we were able to take advantage of it. We pitted, they didn't and it put us off sequence. Then the way the yellows fell for us it just was perfect, and the next thing you know we're (in) second place. We were second place in a car that was capable of winning the race, so that was the exciting part. We did get there because of track position, though when we got there we had a car good enough to stay there, and that's what I was excited about. We just hung in there, ran with Juan during that whole middle section of the race. We were both trying to save fuel, you could tell, and we both ran pretty quick times so it was good. Then he got a little bit out of shape in traffic and I was able to pass him, and then he passed me back when we got in traffic. Then we had our last pit stop and we had a little problem. Tim on the right front had a problem with the lug nut, and I'll tell you, my hat's off to Timmy the way he recovered. Any other person we would've been five, six, seven spots back, but he recovered and we only lost probably one or two seconds and that was the difference for us. He saved us a podium for sure, so my hat's off to Timmy and my hat's also off to Craig who called a our race and got us into position to do what we did. It was just a total team effort. The whole team did a perfect job and the Ford engine was great as well."

TALK US THROUGH THOSE LAPS WHEN YOU BEGAN TO REEL CRISTIANO (DA MATTA) AND THEN HE STARTED TO PULL BACK OUT FROM YOU.
"Well on that restart I was a fraction of an inch from losing it. I tried to get a jump to get by (Michel) Jourdain and I got sideways and Cristiano was able to open up a full straightaway just in one lap, and that was the gap that stayed there the rest of the way. And then he (da Matta) started to get held up in traffic and then I reeled him in, and obviously you reel in to a certain point with these wings and then can't get any closer and that's basically the way it was. It stayed pretty much status quo there in the end and that was it. I knew as soon as we got within a second or so I would lose all of my air and that's exactly what happened, so then we just ended up staying there. It was predictable from where I was sitting, and that's what happened. But then I was thinking that maybe a mistake would be made, but when I saw Cristiano get by (Mauricio) Gugelmin I thought I better just bring it home now because there's not enough time and that's what I did."

COULD YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BATTLE WITH JUAN (MONTOYA). IT'S GETTING TO BE A WEEKLY THING.
"Well Juan is a tough racer and he was doing a heck of a job. He got it a little bit out of shape one time and I was able to take advantage of it. And then I had to get off the throttle a little bit and he took advantage of that, and that's what it's about. He's a hard racer, man, he doesn't back off. I don't back off and we have good racing, but we took care of each other."

YOU HAVE A 22-POINT LEAD IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. HOW DO YOU KEEP UP THAT MOMENTUM?
"You've just got to stay focused, I think that's the main thing. We can't get caught up in it because now you guys are going to be talking about it for two weeks, and then it's just saying to the guys, 'let's just keep our minds on our jobs. Let's all of us do our jobs. If we do our jobs we should be okay in the end.' So far everyone is doing what they're supposed to do and we're hoping it will continue."

KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 4th
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU STALLED IN THE PITS?
"I left it (the car) in neutral a little bit longer than normally because I wasn't sure whether the clutch was going to work or not; it felt lighter than normal. I put it into gear and it was okay, so I put the pedal to the floor and dropped the clutch. The revs came up and even hit the limiter, but I think it didn't clear out all the fuel, so when I dropped the clutch it just stalled."

HOW WAS THE CAR?
The car felt very good. I don't think we were as fast as (Cristiano) da Matta in the end; we couldn't run with him. But all the way through the race we had a very balanced car all the way through. You know, we dropped to last and came all the way through, so that was good."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 5th -
It was a tough day as I predicted. At the start of the race I just passed Mike (Andretti) and Michel Jourdain, Jr., but after that it was very difficult. One restart I had a problem. I tried to go around somebody on the outside and again like Milwaukee I went into the marbles and that was really a problem because I lost a few positions and tried to clean my tires and it's a shame that the (racing) line closes up so quickly. That really limits your ability to make any passes, so at the end I was pretty happy with the result because we were back but we were playing our strategy, and it was well played by the team. They gave me a great car, and after the problems we had yesterday they deserved this fifth place (finish). We just have to keep doing the same thing."

ROBERTO MORENO (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 6th -
"We got a little advantage on the yellow, but I think it was a great result for the team anyhow. Coming from the back, making up so many positions and we had a good strategy from (crew chief) Jim McGhee again; it was perfect. We had a lot of vibration at the end when I caught my teammate Adrian (Fernandez). It was too bad but we just had to finish like that, so I kept pushing hard and trying to hand on to it. It was extremely hard but it was a very important points position for us since we didn't finish the last two races. So we'll take sixth place; we're very happy and we'll go to the next race to chase a win."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 9th - @"Everything was going good for a while. I was in seventh position when the car started to understeer. When I came into the pits the crew took six turns out of the front wing, but even then the car was just neutral. The car was difficult to drive, and actually I did more with the car than it did for me. With the type of car I had at the end, I am very happy with my ninth-place finish."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 14th -
YOU WERE RUNNING STRONG ALL DAY. WHAT HAPPENED?
"Today I had a good car. It's probably the best car we've had in a long time. I wanted to race for myself and push and show that I could push the car to its limit, and we did that today. But at the end I got too far inside into the paint, I hit the brakes and the rear end swapped around. Sometimes it happens, and it happened today. It's too bad, we could've gotten a lot of points for the championship."

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES FOR VICTORY.
"I'm very happy. I'm not happy because of the crash, but I'm very happy because we passed a lot of fast cars. I'm pretty sure we would've been on the podium because we were faster than Cristiano da Matta, and I'm pretty sure I would've passed him before the end of the race."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING TO MID-OHIO IN TWO WEEKS?
"I'm not sure we can win the championship, but I'm going to try and get victories and get on the podium and just push hard for the rest of the season."

GUALTER SALLES (#19 Sports Today Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 22nd -
WHAT HAPPENED UP THERE IN TURN ONE?
"It's just a very stupid situation. We're on lap 18 of the race, I was 18th, he (Memo Gidley) was like 19th and a guy like him should know better. He had cold tires, and you don't break very deep on restarts with cold tires. The guy just hit me from behind and spun me off and destroyed my race early. I know it wasn't on purpose, but a guy like him should know better than that."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Memo Gidley , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Kenny Brack , Peter Gibbons , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain