Max Papis benefited from bold pit strategy to drive his Miller Lite Ford to a career best second in Australia. Bobby Rahal, who called the race for the first time this season after previous team manager Tim Cindric left the team...
Max Papis benefited from bold pit strategy to drive his Miller Lite Ford to a career best second in Australia. Bobby Rahal, who called the race for the first time this season after previous team manager Tim Cindric left the team earlier in the week, chose an aggressive strategy calling for Papis to stay out after the rest of the field pitted on lap 35. That decision by Rahal, proved to be the right call.
Adrian Fernandez found the podium for the first time since returning from a wrist injury suffered in Detroit earlier this season to post a third place finish.
MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 11th / Finished 2nd - "We came out very strong and when everyone came in for the pits and we stayed out I trusted Bobby that it was the right call. They are my eyes and they take care of me and as it turned out it was the perfect strategy. We had a very, very fast car and the Ford engine was very strong. We have the right package and we were the fastest car on the track. I think this is a very good result for us, we came over here and had a good result. I want to thank the organizers, too. They put on a great show. They really make you feel like you are part of something very important and very special."
HOW DID IT FEEL TO DRIVE A FUEL STRATEGY RACE? "I think that this being the first time for Bobby calling the race that he did a great job. We were pushing very hard and it felt good to lead the race. It was very nice to be able to drive 100-percent and not have to worry about the fuel strategy like we do in so many races these days. I was flat out all the way to the end of the race. Dario got a really good run on Magnussen at the end of the race and I kept pushing harder and harder and I was wondering what I needed to do, but then I saw that he was coming in. Dario drove a very good race today. I think that what is important for me is that today is my personal best and now I am fifth in the championship. It is a great end of the season for me. I want to dedicate this second place to Gonzalo (Rodreguiz). He was a very special person and he has to be very happy to see what we are doing."
BOBBY RAHAL - Owner, Team Rahal - "This is a great result for our team considering everything. This was my first race calling the strategy for Max and it paid off. Sure, we took a gamble with the pit strategy for Max, but it is so hard to pass here that you have to roll the dice. Bryan also had a fast car. I don't know what happened to him with the penalty. But, this is our third straight top five with both drivers. It's a good way to wrap up the season."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 7th / Finished 3rd - "First of all, I want to thank the organizers of the race, they did a great job. All you have to do is look at the amount of fans we had here. As for the race, the car was working really well for us and it felt really strong. I was getting really good fuel mileage and managed to go an extra lap before I had to make my first stop. There was a little bit of confusion with the first yellow with Bryan Herta and Montoya and finally I guess the decision was made that Bryan had to pass back. The fuel strategy came into play but we were fortunate to have a strong car. At the end my tires held on really well and I managed to keep them which helped me. My engine ran really well all day. In the closing laps of the race I thought my oil pressure was dropping. I started to hear things and alarms and I got really worried but it held up."
YOU AND JUAN HAD A GOOD BATTLE GOING FOR A WHILE, THEN HE REALLY BEGAN TO PRESSURE YOU. . . "He was pushing hard and I was doing my best to hold him off. Juan was there but he was quicker than me in a few spots and I was quicker than him in others. Then I went to look into the mirrors and he was not there, so I guess he made a mistake."
BRYAN HERTA -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 2nd / Finished 4th - WHAT HAPPENED ON THE START OF THE RACE THAT CAUSED YOU TO FALL BACK? "When I got on it, the rear wheels broke loose. It was a bit slippery at the beginning of the race. I tried to keep pace with Dario, but he got a cleaner jump than I did."
RACE CONTROL CLAIMED THAT YOU PASSED FERNANDEZ UNDER THE YELLOW GOING INTO ONE OF THE CHICANES. DID YOU SEE ANY FLAGS? "I didn't see any flags. What I can't understand is why Montoya was able to stay ahead of Fernandez and I wasn't because we both went through together. That situation was a bit frustrating for me. I don't quite understand it." s MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- K Mart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 5th / Finished 5th - "I was just dying out there in the closing laps. Especially in the last corner. The Ford power kept us in fifth today. Kanaan was able to get a run on me but he didn't have the power to get by."
YOU AND KANAAN HAD QUITE A BATTLE IN THE CLOSING LAPS OF THE RACE . . . "Yeah we did. He was good to race with. Her drove a really clean race. I knew that I could trust him."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big K Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 13th / Finished 25th / Turbo - WHAT HAPPENED? DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATION THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG? "No. It happened all of the sudden. I think it was the turbo. When it happened I got on the brakes to pull off but I had no rear brakes because the fire burned through the line. I had no idea that anything was wrong, I looked in my mirrors and saw a huge fire and a lot of smoke. It's very disappointing to be out after only two laps. The car was not perfect but with some good pit strategy we could have salvaged some points. I guess I am going to have to wait 365 days until next year for another shot to win here."
MEMO GIDLEY -71- Herdez Viva Mexico Ford - Qualified 21st / Finished 14th / Turbo - "We lost a line on the turbo on lap 30 and throughout the race it just kept getting slower and slower. Then I went into the chicane and there was no rear brake. I guess there was a fire and it burned through the brake line. Then I brought the car in and when I hit the pits the engine shut off."
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. -19- Herdez Viva Mexico Ford - Qualified 20th / Finished 12th - "We had a problem with the rear wing, it was really loose. When we were under braking the car was really loose because we lost all of the downforce on the car."