CHAMPCAR/CART: Gateway Motorola 300 pre-race quotes

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), on his enjoyment of Gateway International Raceway: "I really like the race track. It seems to fit my style and I am just hoping to do the same this year as I have done past couple of years...

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), on his enjoyment of Gateway International Raceway: "I really like the race track. It seems to fit my style and I am just hoping to do the same this year as I have done past couple of years [Andretti is the defending Motorola 300 champion and finished second in 1998]. The pressure this year isn't going to be from me being the defending champion, but more from the pressure of the points championship. Every point will be important, even more so now that we have given up the lead. Every lap counts now, whether it is in practice, qualifying or the race. We need to learn from every lap."

GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on arriving at Gateway International Raceway with the FedEx Championship Series points lead: "It's nice to go to St. Louis leading the championship [de Ferran leads with 132 points], but it doesn't change our approach to race weekend. As always, we are staying focused to ensure that we execute on the track and come away with a points-paying finish. I've had mixed results at Gateway [25th in '99, sixth in '98 and third in '97] but we had a good test there last month and Marlboro Team Penske has done everything possible to prepare for this race. This series is so competitive, though, that it's hard to predict what will happen."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on his unfinished business at Gateway International Raceway: "I'm really looking forward to returning to Gateway because I almost won my first race there last year [Castroneves finished second] and had a great time racing Michael [Andretti] at the end. I've finished in the points both times I've raced there and hope to make it three-for-three this year. Marlboro Team Penske brings a lot of momentum into the weekend after our one-two finish at Laguna Seca which we now need to turn into on-track results in St. Louis."

PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), looking forward to a return to racing on ovals: "Even though Team KOOL Green has had a good run on the recent stretch of road- and street-course events, it's going to be fun to get back on an oval again. Gateway is a good track to race on, but, like any oval, you've got to have the car set-up right. We learned a lot at the test there last month and we had a great car there last year, so I'm optimistic. I won the first CART race at Gateway and I hope to win the last. We're in a position in the standings where we still control our own destiny in relation to winning the championship. It's great to be in contention with four races to go, but we're really not thinking too much about it. Our focus is on improving the car each time we go out. If we can do that, and have some racing luck, we should stay in the hunt right till the end. When you consider that there's less than 30 points separating the top seven drivers, you realize just how competitive this year's series is and the least little mistake can wind up costing you the championship. You have to keep driving aggressively, but you really have to concentrate and be smart."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), on his continuing pursuit of the FedEx Championship Series championship: "The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has done a tremendous job this season. We had a difficult race last weekend at Laguna Seca, but still managed to score a point and stay in the hunt for the championship. There are four races left in the season and I am looking forward to fighting for the championship starting this weekend at Gateway. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has had some very good cars at Gateway International Raceway, but we have been a victim of mechanical problems the last two years. We don't always have great qualifying cars at St. Louis, but in the races we have been very quick. The last two years I was running in the top five before we experienced problems that knocked us out of the race."

ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Ford Reynard), "The Visteon/Patrick Racing team has lost a couple of battles, but we are still fighting the war. We have not, and will not give up. There are still four races left in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season and even though I have not raced on two of the tracks [Houston and Fontana] the experience of the Visteon/Patrick Racing team should be a big help. Last year, my second race of the season was at Gateway and I had a very good performance. We started 19th, but got through the field with good race strategy. Then I led the race for 42 laps before finishing fourth. It was one of my best performances ever on an oval and was particularly gratifying because it came in my second start of the year. I like the Gateway International Raceway oval. It is a bit different because you downshift twice. First when you enter Turn One and then again entering Turn Three. That is a bit unusual for an oval."

JUAN MONTOYA (Target Toyota Lola), on his improved prospects following a strong sixth-place finish at Laguna Seca: "It was good to get back in the points in Monterey and finish that bad streak, so things are looking better for Team Target. We had fun on [Gateway] last year, but we can do even better. I want to get my second pole position there, and then just race and see what happens. Chip [Ganassi, team owner] has done a good job of keeping our team focused and believing that we still have a shot to contend for the title, and we only know one way to race -- and that's fast. I'm going out to win these final four races. If we end up falling short of a fifth [consecutive] title, no one will be ashamed because we've never given up this season. We're having too much fun to give up now."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), "We've been quite competitive on the ovals this year, scoring a couple of podiums (Japan and Michigan), so I think we'll be in good shape at Gateway this weekend. Paul (Tracy) had a good test there last month and the Team KOOL Green engineers always seem to come up with good set-ups on this type of track. Being on the podium in the last two races has made me even more motivated to get my first win of the season. The Team KOOL Green car has run consistently strong recently and we just have to keep battling the way we have in the last few races and I'm convinced we can finish the season with a flourish. Even though there's only four races left, anything can happen. If you're able to win a race or two and be among the leaders in the others, you never know how far you can climb in the standings."

JIMMY VASSER (Target Toyota Lola), on his recent success in FedEx Championship Series competition: "Our team has a nice little streak going here with a few [three straight] top-ten finishes, so we've been happy with the car and the results and we'll continue to fight for every point we can get. I've seen some crazy things happen over the years in the series, and I keep reminding my teammates that this thing isn't over yet. I'm confident I can give these guys at least one more victory, so that's one of my goals. The race at Gateway is still fairly new, so no one has had a chance to create much history there, but I've had a few decent races in St. Louis, and I know we can do it again."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), endorsing the HANS (Head and Neck Support) Device mandated by CART for use by all its drivers at all oval events next season: "I think the HANS device is the safest thing out there right now. It doesn't take an expert to know you should wear it. After you watch the little video presentation you can understand why I am sticking to it. As far as I am concerned, it is a good safety device. As for whether it helped in my Chicago crash is hard to say but I have confidence in it. Maybe if it weren't for the HANS, I wouldn't be here now. A lot of people have hit the wall at one time or another this year but they unbuckled themselves and got out. I didn't but that's not to say I wasn't the lucky one. It is important to continue to make racing as safe as possible. The drivers are not out here to hurt themselves. We are out here to practice racing as safe as possible. I am glad to have helped in a safety development that is now mandatory on ovals next year. I am not waiting until next year to wear it. I don't plan to drive on an oval again without it. Having said that, I plan to focus on winning a race before the season is over and put everything else out of my mind. I think a lot of the race is going to be fuel strategy. Fuel will be major in the race, and a lot of it will be when the yellows come out. Fuel strategy hasn't worked for us in a few races this year so we plan to turn that around." Motorola 300 "Quoteboard" 3-3-3-3

PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on his past success at Gateway International Raceway: "I have fond memories of Madison and the Gateway oval because I got my first CART podium at that track when we first started racing there in 1997. I've always felt comfortable on that oval and I go into the race expecting to do well. Lots of things can happen during the course of the race, but the Team Player's car has the speed and package to run with anyone on this 1.2-mile oval. Last weekend [at Laguna Seca Raceway] started out quite rough with the car flipping over the wall in qualifying, but we were able to make a strong comeback on race day. The fact we were able to do that has put me in a good frame of mind going into the event at Gateway and I'm confident that we can have a race like we did in Milwaukee earlier this season, when we made it to the podium." ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), looking forward to a return to ovals: "One of my goals before the end of the season is to improve my performance on ovals, so I'm glad that we're back to an oval event, after quite a long stretch of races on road and street courses. I was able to finish third at Madison last year, when I was in the Atlantic series, and I've had some solid performances on ovals as a CART rookie this year, so those are positive things to take into the upcoming race weekend. I know also that the Team Player's crew has done a tremendous job with set-ups on ovals, including the event in Rio, Brazil, earlier in the season, when we won the pole."

LUIZ GARCIA JR. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard), hoping for a points-paying result at Gateway: "Gateway will present a challenge for us, but I think we'll do fine. It's the last short oval of the year, so I want to do well there. It would be nice to finish in the points at the last CART race in St. Louis."

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Series IndyCar
Teams Team Penske