Motorola 300 Gateway Pre-Race Quotes Madison, IL - ALEX ZANARDI (Target Reynard Honda), on last year's inaugural race at Gateway International Raceway: "The first race here was incredible. I gained the lead three times. Unfortunately, I wasn't...
Motorola 300 Gateway Pre-Race Quotes
Madison, IL - ALEX ZANARDI (Target Reynard Honda), on last year's inaugural race at Gateway International Raceway: "The first race here was incredible. I gained the lead three times. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to keep it on the circle once the race restarted. The three times I gained the lead were due to faster pit stops."
JIMMY VASSER (Target Reynard Honda), on the uniqueness of St. Louis: "All ovals have their own little characteristics and St. Louis is no different. Now, with the downforce changes that we have encountered in the rules, it throws a new twist into the race. There will be a lot less downforce this year, so I think we'll be downshifting going into Turn 1."
GREG MOORE (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes), on the quality of competition at St. Louis: "I'm excited about going to Madison for the Motorola 300. I really like the track because it allows for close racing. Turns 1 and 2 are much slower than [Turns] 3 and 4, and there's always a lot of passing. We had a great car last year, but we were forced to pit late because of a flat tire. We haven't tested at Gateway this year, but the Blue Crew has done a great job of setting up the car, so I'm pretty confident going into the race and coming out with the points lead."
GIL de FERRAN (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda), on learning from his rivals: "I tend to look at other drivers' performances to see if I can extract something that will benefit me. I typically watch [CART] races on TV [replay]. I watch other types of races. I watch Formula One, Winston Cup and other races and try to pick out interesting things. These might help to educate yourself or polish your own abilities I've always done that and found it helpful. I think it doesn't matter how good you are, you always have a little bit to learn from other people. I'm always striving to become better."
AL UNSER JR. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), on the development of his car: "I have the best team in the business. We're continuing to develop and learn about the '98 Marlboro Penske Mercedes with the goal of winning the [PPG Cup] championship. We've made gains in the first five races, and we're really looking forward to the rest of the season ... If you want to see and talk to the best of the best - Moore, Zanardi, Fernandez, Vasser, Herta, de Ferran, Andretti, Tracy, Ribeiro, Rahal - come to the Motorola 300 in St. Louis on Memorial Day weekend. It'll be a great show for the fans. See you at the races."
ANDRE RIBEIRO (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), on a fresh start at St. Louis: "We are going to St. Louis with good hopes. The St. Louis track is similar to Miami and Japan and we've shown that the Marlboro car performs well on this type of configuration. We had a good test there in April, so we should have a strong performance this weekend. To go here [St. Louis] at this point of the season will be good for the whole team because hopefully, it will be a new beginning."
MARK BLUNDELL (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), on driving the Motorola-sponsored car at a Motorola-sponsored event: "We plan on turning the support for Motorola in its home race into a positive performance on the track. It's fantastic to see Motorola's level of commitment to the FedEx Championship Series, and its presence at St. Louis will add an extra bit of sparkle to the whole race for us." ... On the FedEx Championship Series season to date: "We're at the level of winning races, because we've shown that, and I think we have the potential to go to the next level. We've been competitive in spurts this year, but we have to get to the point that we were at toward the end of 1997, when we were running in the top five every race on the circuit. Gateway would be an ideal place to regain that form."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Reynard Honda), on defending his Motorola 300 championship: "It's anybody's race, that's for sure. We're running the smaller speedway-type wings this year, so nobody is certain how their car will run in traffic and race conditions. Fortunately, Team KOOL Green has a good basic setup and I'm confident that we'll have a good car come race day." ... On the challenges of the Gateway oval: "You tend to like any track you win at, but I think Gateway is one of the best short ovals I've ever raced on. It's smooth and wide, which makes for lots of passing and wide-open racing." ... On his victory at Gateway last year: "There was no way he [Patrick Carpentier, whom Tracy passed with two laps remaining for the victory] was going to get away from me. I was picking cars off one-by-one as I got faster throughout the race. Patrick was trying to conserve fuel and I was able to get a good run on him along the front straightaway. The fans must have ate it up!"
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Reynard Honda), on continuing his momentum at Gateway: "We're starting to build a little momentum at Team KOOL Green, what with finishing second at Long Beach and winning the pole in Brazil. We seem to gain a little each time we go out in the car and it is only a matter of time before we grab that first win. And it would be only fitting for met to do it here at Gateway, since this is where I led my first Champ Car race. I have unfinished business that I need to take care of at Gateway. Last season, we were leading the race and pulling away, all while running a very conservative pace. Then, the gearbox exploded with 27 laps to go - Bang! It was all over. I'll be trying to finish the job this time around."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes), on last year's runner-up effort at St. Louis: "Gateway was a good race for me last year. I started fifth on the grid and was running strong all day. Towards the end of the race, I was leading for 25 laps. I thought for sure we were going to win, but then we had to go lead a little bit to conserve fuel. It was still nice to get second place on the podium. This year, I want to be on the top step of that podium."
JJ LEHTO (Hogan Motor Leasing Inc. Reynard Mercedes), on building on his success at Rio de Janeiro: "I'm excited about the race in St. Louis for many reasons. First of all, we're coming off our best finish yet [10th at Rio], and I think that momentum will help pump up the team for the race in Hogan's [Racing] hometown. Secondly, we had a good test at Gateway right before Nazareth, so for me, I have a certain measure of confidence going in that maybe I didn't have at the tracks where we haven't tested this season. Since this is my first year on ovals, every bit of test time I can get helps. Rio was a very important race for us in terms of engineering the car. We were able to get a very good set-up on the car for the race and it showed in our result. I can only think that the improvements will continue. Our entire package is continuing to get better and better. Firestone, Mercedes-Benz and Reynard have not halted their development programs and have consistently given the teams a superb product to race with."
... On the support of St. Louis for the Motorola 300: "The city of St. Louis has really been great in getting behind the event and making it a major sporting event in the area. We have things planned almost every day during race week. So, I'm very excited for the entire experience. I think it should be great fun all the way around!"
RICHIE HEARN (Budweiser/Ralphs Swift Ford), on competing at St. Louis: "I think St. Louis is going to be one of the toughest races this season. By changing our aerodynamics package with the super speedway wing, it's going to greatly reduce our downforce, but it'll allow for more passing and a better show for the fans. I think you'll see a lot of passing going into Turn 1. Mostly because we will be braking and downshifting there. So, it is an opportunity if you come off Turns 3 and 4 pretty quickly, and if you can run right with somebody coming off the corner, you can get the draft and pull out and then outbrake them into Turn 1 there. You will possibly see some passing going into Turn 3 as well, because as the track widens up, you will be able to have two grooves through [Turns] 3 and 4."
BOBBY RAHAL (Miller Lite Reynard Ford), on the Gateway International Raceway oval: "It's fast and it's fun. It's similar to Phoenix in that you're flat [on the throttle] through [Turns] 3 and 4. As fast as it is, passing is tough. And though the corners, are tight, there's room to race. I give [Gateway chairman] Chris Pook and his staff a lot of credit for getting the track ready to race last year. It's a terrific setting. I enjoyed driving there and I think they're going to be very successful." On the fuel fire in his cockpit during last year's Motorola 300: "Almost as soon as I smelled something burning, the flames were in the cockpit. I was able to get the car safely off the track and jump out.. It was a scary few moments. Fire is the driver's biggest fear. I've had a few before, but you could smell the body work burning first. This time, the smell and the flames came together. I was pretty fortunate." (Rahal sustained minor first-degree burns and minimal second-degree burns on his upper right arm in the incident. He was treated on site at the CART Mobile Medical Facility and was back in the car the following weekend at Milwaukee."
MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), on the uniqueness of Gateway: "First of all, the track has a very unique layout, with one end a tighter radius than the other. It's important to have a car that works well at both ends of the track. The other thing that is very individual about this race is the 300-mile distance. Normally, on the short ovals, we run 200 miles, so the St. Louis event will require a lot of strategy about pit stops on the part of the teams. Since that is one of our strong points, we should be in good shape." On the after-effects of his accident at Nazareth (April 27): "Actually, my back felt better at the end of the race in Rio than it had all week. The doctors said I was one of the fittest drivers, and that really helped a lot. The race in St. Louis is very physical, with incredible G-forces, so everyone will be put to the test."
SCOTT PRUETT (Visteon Reynard Ford), on turning the season around: "This season has been really tough. The Visteon guys are doing a great job preparing the cars. We just have to keep our heads high until we can turn this around. There's a lot more racing left in the season, so we have time to get back in the championship hunt."
ARND MEIER (BAAN Business Software/Total Tel Lola Ford), on the controversial conclusion to the Rio 400: "I really don't see any big reason to talk about it because I didn't block him [runner-up Alex Zanardi] and I didn't slow him down. It's disappointing that he thinks I cost him the race when Greg [Moore, the race winner] made an excellent pass on him. I didn't have anywhere to go when I got between them. I very well couldn't put them into the wall, but that's all in the past." ... On the upcoming Motorola 300: "I have no problems with ovals. I'm happy to get the chance to take the car out in St. Louis. After last season's disappointment of not racing here [Meier crashed during the race-day warm-up], I'm really looking forward to this race."
Source: CART Online