Nervous moments early turned into jubilation at Miami-Homestead Speedway the Ford-Cosworth XF engine and Max Papis captured their first career Champ Car victory. The early o-ring problems with the oil pumps that sidelined Ford front runners ...
Nervous moments early turned into jubilation at Miami-Homestead Speedway the Ford-Cosworth XF engine and Max Papis captured their first career Champ Car victory.
The early o-ring problems with the oil pumps that sidelined Ford front runners Andretti, Fernandez and Brack with oil pressure problems didn't phase Papis who drove on to victory in his Miller Lite Ford. Papis, whose last win came at an IMSA event at Watkins Glen in 1996, became the first driver since Jimmy Vasser in 1996 to win his first race in the season-opening event. Papis held off fellow Team Ford Racing driver Roberto Morneo over final 10 laps to take the win by 0.620 seconds.
BOBBY RAHAL, Team Owner, Team Rahal -- "It's a lot harder to win this way I tell ya. I hate it. You just sit here. I am pleased for Ford and their new engine winning the first time out. I feel bad for Kenny though, he was flying. I am just so happy for Max."
MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 13th / Finished 1st - "First of all, I am really glad to be here and with two guys I respect a lot in Roberto and Paul. They both have been teaching me many things I applied today to beat them. So, I thank them. Today we proved that we can make it happen. This feeling has been growing since the beginning of last year. We have been changing our mentality. We fought all day and always believed we could make it. As soon as Paul ran into traffic I was right there to take the opportunity. This was a very tough race and it was very competitive it's a great feeling to win my first race here - at the same place my good friend Greg (Moore) won his first race."
AFTER THE OTHER FORD ENGINES HAD PROBLEMS WERE YOU CONCERNED?
"I didn't know. I am very glad for what Ford did this year. The XF engine is a great engine. In the first race, we came out and won it, and you can't ask for anything more than that. Everyone at Ford has been putting in a tremendous effort. They have been working so hard in the winter time and there is much more to come."
WHAT DOES THIS WIN MEAN TO YOU SINCE IT IS SO CLOSE TO YOUR HOME IN MIAMI?
"It just feels great. Especially after coming out of a difficult qualifying session and almost hitting the wall. . . I didn't really want that. I got a lot of congratulations for that, but I really didn't want them that way. Beside that, this is a really special race for me. I have a lot of friends here and it's a very special win."
WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF RACING WITH THE NEW WING PACKAGE?
"It is really difficult to find the right setup. This is still pretty new to us. We don't know exactly how to use it. This answer will come in a few races."
DOES THIS WIN HELP YOU PROVE ANYTHING TO YOURSELF?
"Not really. Today just proves our ability and the ability of our guys. This win comes from my career way back, not from today. It is just confirmation of what I believe in my heart. Many people didn't believe it - too bad for them. To tell you the truth, with three laps to go I had a little glitch in my brain telling me to stay concentrated and go for it, because Roberto was right there. As soon as I backed off a little he was there. Today, I feel that this is a great achievement for me and all the people who have believed in me. When I came here in the beginning it was after a very frustrating time in Formula One. The Cal Wells got me a ride at a difficult time with Jeff (Krosnoff). I always had him in my heart and in my mind everyday. After Cal, I found another special person with Bobby (Rahal). These guys have played a big part in my career. I also have to thank my family. They gave me the right values to believe in and they came through out there on the track. We built up to this win."
YOU HAD SAID IN THE PAST THAT BEFORE YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A TITLE CONTENDER YOU HAVE TO WIN A RACE. WELL, YOU DID THAT, SO ARE YOU ONE NOW?
"I don't think about things like that. I just go at it race by race. I think it is really stupid to think about things like that now. I know we have the potential. Our belief in ourselves to be race winners every weekend is coming. I can see it in the eyes of my guys. Some weekends I am going to take home P 8 or P 10. I hope there are going to be many more races like this though."
KENNY BRACK -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 5th / Finished 18th / OIL PRESSURE - "The car was running strong. I saw a couple of guys slowing in front of me earlier and then we started to loose oil. I was trying to hold back a little and save everything. But the car just started smoking. We came here to run up front and I think we proved we can do that. I am disappointed but I am confident that we will get back to racing at Nazareth."
ROBERTO MORENO -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 7th / Finished 2nd - "It's good to retire supersub for once and I am glad to be here. I have to congratulate Max (Papis) and Paul (Tracy); it was a great race up front. We all suffered some turbulence up front but we all played very good driving today. I would like to thank very much Pat Patrick for this opportunity and I will definitely do my best this year because this result helps me become a title contender. To finally achieve a full time ride after being around for so long after just hanging around and knowing you could go race is a sensation I can't explain. I am definitely going to celebrate this one with my family."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE MOVE YOU MADE ON PAUL TO GET BY?
"Well, I was just following Max, all the way through. It kind of reminded me of Laguna Seca (last year) except I passed him there. If I was by myself we could go a little faster. Paul was in the wrong place and we took advantage of it."
WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE LOW DOWNFORCE WING?
"Well, I like driving a car like these rather than the ones we drove last year. It is more difficult to set up the car but once you learn it's a better feeling out there on the race track for me."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 3rd / Finished 21st / OIL PRESSURE PROBLEMS - "Something in the back of the engine broke. I don't know if it was an engine or what. But it started smoking and smoking and I was hoping it wasn't me but then I started feeling little things and noise. I was hoping it was nothing, but that was the same thing that happed to me last year and I crashed when I spun in my own oil. The car was running excellent. I feel really sad right now - sad for me, my team and for Ford. They have worked so hard."
WE HAVE SEEN WHAT LOOKS TO BE A LOT OF ENGINE PROBLEMS, WHY?
"I don't know. I can't say it was the engine because we don't know yet but this it a hard one to take. We'll have to get them at the next one.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 6th / Finished 22nd / OIL PRESSURE PROBLEMS - "We lost oil pressure. I really don't know why. It's a bummer because we were running really well. I didn't know we were having a problem but they did in the pits because they kept seeing the oil pressure going down. I have done thousands of miles of testing without any problems. I know they will get it fixed for Nazareth."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 9th / Finished 7th - "The car was the same as it was in the morning warm-up. I had a push going into the corner and an oversteer coming out. I wasn't able to put the power down. We changed the car before the race but it didn't help."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PROBLEM IN THE PITS DURING YOUR FIRST STOP?
"I downshifted and thought the car was in neutral but the car was coming in a little too quick and it hadn't caught the gear so I downshifted again and was able to stop after locking up the wheels. It was stuck in second gear. I'm glad no one was hurt."
PATRICK CARPENTIER -32- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 12th / Finished 5th - "I am very pleased. The team gave me a great car. It was unfortunate that we had the flat tire before the race started because I had to start the race at the back of the field. But we were very strong. It's a lot of fun to race with the Ford. You have a lot of power and you can pass. When you stand on the XF you can get some passes. I was sideways quite a bit passing guys on the outside, it was fun. I gave it everything I had."
ALEX TAGLIANI -33- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 4th / Finished 9th - ON THE PENALTY FOR PASSING THE PACE CAR . . "I pulled back right away. I asked on the radio when I can pass the pace car and they told me I could inside the pit lane. As soon as I crossed the cones I got on it and the Pace Car was beside me at the time. I would like to see it on tape and if I deserved the penalty so be it. But I made sure I was in pit lane before I went. I am a little bit disappointed for the guys. We had a good car that was capable of winning the race."