Winner - Cristiano da Matta (Newman/Hass) 2nd - Michael Anndretti (Team Green/Motorola) 3rd - Alex Tagliani (Team Players) Q: Michael, fifth top five finish in five starts, you had a good run. Take us through your day and what the highlights...
Winner - Cristiano da Matta (Newman/Hass)
2nd - Michael Anndretti (Team Green/Motorola)
3rd - Alex Tagliani (Team Players)
Q: Michael, fifth top five finish in five starts, you had a good run. Take us through your day and what the highlights were for you.
Andretti: It was a pretty good day, It was a quiet day. We got pretty lucky on that first yellow. We just pitted right before it came in, some guys got caught with the pit being closed, so that helped us a bit. And then the second stop, we did a good stop there, we made up some ground on some guys and I was able to pass Roberto and able to pass Tag as well. So it was good. We were able to attack and chase Cristiano down in the end, but then the guys came on the radio and told me that I had to save fuel to get to the end of the race. That was pretty much it with about ten laps to go. Which was a little disappointing, because we had a car that could catch him. It's just they way it goes. I'm still happy the way Team Motorola, they did a great job with the pit stops and great calls. so it was good. the honda engine was good, and the firestone tyres were awesome. It was a good day for us. It feels good to do it for Barry and Kim (GREEN) in their home country and that, so I was pretty happy about that. I also want to congratulate Gil for a great year, he did a good job this year to win the championship the way he did.
Q: It seemed like the last pit stop there was enough timme to go full rich, too rich early on the last stint?
Andretti: Yeh, I was running rich early, I don't know they may have short filled it. I tried to gain time in the pits, which helped me because I was chasing Roberto, but in the end I was able to because I was trying to save fuel. I think it was a good strategy anyway, cause if I wouldn't be able to get past Roberto, it might have held me up, it may not have. I thinkit was a good strategy.
Q: Tag, you got a great road street course car for several races. Some tough luck, You qualified well, and got up here on the podium.
Tagliani: Yeh, the Players team is really strong. We qualified top five for many races on the road courses. In Vancouver, that race was ours and just had bad luck. Here, we had a strong run this afternoon. Just had a great fight with Michael at the beginning of the race and also when I picked up some marbles, we did some really clean running so that was good. Towards the end of the race, I got stuck behind Gil and Paul, quite a bit and I was running 1.35.8 lap time, myself I was in the 34.3 second so I was losing a lot of time, so Neil was on the radio saying you need to get by Gil. It's very hard to pass, so I tried really hard and I didn't want to do anything bad to his championship so I passed him clean in the back straightaway and I was catching Michael. Just a good run. The Players team is strong and if we go into next season the way we are now we are pretty strong contenders.
Q: Cristiano, I heard you had a little bet with Tony, so this is going to cost you a bike? You won a hundred grand so I am sure you can afford it today?
Cristiano: Again, I had this bet at the beginning of the year, because I was sure he was going to win a couple of races. I am actually pretty mad that the guy hasn't been able to win any races. he's been third, he's been on the pole, but he hasn't been able to win, so I have to give him the second bicycle of the season and I still didn't get any. But, its a pretty good deal for me, I have to give him twenty bicycles, its my pleasure, prefer to give him a bicycle and get the win than get a bike from him and him win the race.
Q: Cristiano, your win a hundred thousand, you don't win unless you get a hundred thousand plus?
Cristiano: Yeh, I think my performance is related to the amount of people that is watching. I think I'm the kind of guy that likes to show of a little bit. It's great, co-incidence or not its great to be in this position. Of course, the more people at the race track the more you enjoy winning the race, the more people enjoy watching you. Get more of a following, It's great, I'm still looking for my big win in the United States this year, because I only had my win in Chicago last year and this year the only races outside the US, so mean back to Fontana, I am going to get my last chance.
Q: A million Dollars too.
Cristiano: Yeh, plus the prize money is quite attractive, lets put it like this. I think the team really needed that win. Hopefully, we are going to carry this momentum of this win here, to Fontana. We are just about to get into the pitstop competition. I don't whether we are going to get it or not. Probably yes, because I don't think Servia finished the race, he was one of the contenders, so I don't know, I think we will get a shot on the pitstop competition.
Q: Cristiano, before Moreno had his transmission problem did you have some kind of fuel strategy going there to catch up with him.
Cristiano: I couldn't quite follow the pace, in the first stint. I was following back about 3 seconds, 2 and a half seconds, I had the target mileage, I could have gone a little richer, but I don't think that was going to be the way to go. I stopped on the same lap as Moreno, he was able to go faster and get the same mileage as me. We still had to work on that a little bit. In the second stint I was actually getting very good mileage as I was behind Gil. I couldn't get even close to him. I couldn't get to a point where I could try something on him on the track, so I just had to save as much fuel as I could. But at the same time, Paul who was behind me, could get much closer either. So I was in a position to make good mileage. I think that was one of the big things that brought us the race wins and I was able to pass Moreno two laps before i got into the pits. Gil stopped two laps earlier than I did. so everything ended up working the right way.
Q: Whats it like coming to Australia compared to the other countries you've been.
da Matta: Win a race is win a race where ever it is. It's just a great feeling, but, Australia is a special place, we got here so much earlier, we got to make friends here, got to know a lot of people so its becomes almost like racing at home, even though its so far away. It's like a twenty four-hour trip back to Brazil where I am from. It almost feels like home, because you have your friends, you go to these guys houses, you get to know a lot of people, you go to dinner and you spend a lot of time here. I've been here since last Friday. It's been ten days since I have been here. It's really good, you start enjoying the place to get to know everything, when you come to the track, you see so many people enjoy our kind of racing, openwheeler racing, our races are obviously very close, very competitive, a lot more passing than there used to watching. It's good to see that they enjoy it so much so that it is a special place. it's good.
Q: Tag, first part of the season wasn't that good for your team, but the second half really come around.
Tagliani: It's really difficult in CART, because you need to be consistent. if you score points every race, you look good in the points. We had zero points after six races so that was really bad, after that we had seven races in a row in the points, starting from second place in Toronto. After that, when you need to catch up, every DNF is hurting you a lot. Vancouver, we were leading the race, with 15 laps to go we broke a gearbox. Germany same thing. Houston, same thing, we were running second. That's a lot of points that we lost there. It's really tough to catch up. The team is really running strongly, we qualify top 5 for the last eight events. Our worst qualifying was 8th in Laguna. Really pleased with the competivity of our cars. The team has changed quite a bit, so I really think that if we can start the season next year on the rollercoaster, we're going to be pretty good contenders.
Q: Michael, this is the first it me in eleven years we've had no red flags, a clean race, what difference did that make to you on the track?
Andretti: I think everybody drove really well today. For whatever reason. It's funny how it goes, maybe it wasn't a full moon this weekend. Everybody really behaved out there. When that happens we have good racing and we don't have all those yellow flags to mess the racing up. It was a nice clean race today.
Q: What makes it so difficult to repeat here. Eleven years and eleven different winners??
Andretti: Good question, Theres no reason, theres nothing to explain. Just the way its worked out for whatever reason. I mean, why have I won seven times in Toronto. It's just the way its happened.
Q: Two yellow flags, was there a really strong warning in the drivers meeting.
Cristiano: I had some great fights with Mike, and also with Paul and Gil, on a track where the road is really round and you can bottom when you try to pass, there was a lot of marbles out there as well. I think it was a really clean race. At the end of a season like this everyone wants to score points, drive as clean as possible, it definitely shows that with our cars we can put up a good show when we run clean together.
Q: Back to back champions don't happen to often. Can you put Gil into perspective.
Andretti: Gil's a great driver. Well deserving of the two championships that he's had. I think you have to give a little bit of credit as well to Team Penske. They've really stepped up their game as well in the last couple of years. They've done a tremendous job as well. Gil's been very deserving, He does the series proud as a champion as well.
Q: Tag, Patrick was talking about brake problems this morning, did you suffer any brake problems at all?
Tagliani: Definitely, its a tough track on brakes. I feel that we had a lot of pad in our back, the pedal was going really down half way during the race, but, I was pumping the pedal quite a bit to get, to be really good on brakes. changed the brake bias a couple of times. I locked rear, I locked front. I think also, it is just a question of the way your car is set up, and our car is really really strong. You don't need to brake really deep to go fast. Just be conservative and be nice on the brake. We still do pretty good lap times. I didn't have a really major problem.