Bryan Herta picked up where he left off after taking the checkered flag at last year's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway. This time though, Herta brought company with him to the front of the grid this year in the form of...
Bryan Herta picked up where he left off after taking the checkered flag at last year's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway. This time though, Herta brought company with him to the front of the grid this year in the form of teammate Max Papis who posted his best qualifying run of his Champ Car career at Laguna Seca. Papis is looking to bump the Honda of Tony Kanaan out of second place during tomorrow's second round qualifying and make it a Team Rahal front row for Sunday's race.
BRYAN HERTA -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - "There is really more pressure in a place like this because everyone expects you to do well here. I don't feel any different when it comes to driving here. I don't say that I am going to try hard this week because I am supposed to be fast here. It's just my driving style really clicks in a couple of places and this happens to be one of them, although, I have been fast in all the different types of track I have been on." WE SAW A LOT OF GUYS GOING OFF COURSE THROUGHOUT THE DAY. WHY IS THAT? "Well the track is a little slippery today and I think that they put a fresh coat of paint on the curbs. When we tested here in the winter you could go out there a little more and they had a little more grip." YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS IN MANY TYPES OF RACECARS HERE. WHY IS THAT? "My first race here was in, at that time Barber Saab cars, and I won that race. I think I won both races I raced here in Barber Saab and I was second in my first Indy Lights race here. This track just suits my style." WAS THERE ANYTHING YOU LEARNED DURING YOUR BARBER SAAB DAYS THAT HELP YOU GO FAST HERE? "No, not really. Even if I did I wouldn't tell anybody." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS FOR YOU TO DO WELL HERE THIS WEEKEND? "Well it's no more or less important than last weekend, or next weekend, other than the fact that this is where we are right now. It's important to do well every weekend and particularly because we have not had a good season. Other than Montoya, and Franchitti who has won two, there are a lot of guys that have only won one race. So, if you can notch up a win or two at the end of the season, although the points total won't be there, there is still a chance to make this season worthwhile." MONTOYA DIDN'T HAVE MUCH LUCK IN FIRST-ROUND QUALIFYING TODAY; DO YOU THINK THIS IS A PLACE WHERE HE COULD STRUGGLE? "I would be a jackass if I counted him out. That guy is going to be quick - no doubt about it."
MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - "The car is okay. It could be a little better but I think the tries have changed a lot since we tested here a while ago. I think things are coming together pretty good, we are not where we want to be but I don't think we are too far off." HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO LEARN FROM YOUR TEAMMATE BRYAN'S SETUP? "For sure we both take information from each other on all the tracks we got to. We both pick up some things from each other. So, we saw a couple of things on Bryan's car that we thought could help us out. But we are a team - we are open and share everything. My job is to just go faster than Bryan."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - "This was a tough session to really put together a good time because there were so many yellows. It was hard to get a rhythm. On my first set of tires I wanted to try and see where my limits are so when I put on my new tires I kind of had an idea of how much I could push. On my second set of tires, during my first fast lap, I was blocked and it was my second fast lap that I put down my quick time. I was glad to put down that lap and see that I can do it. That's what it takes, just one lap. I am really happy for the guys. Coming back can be very difficult. I am glad to see that I have not forgotten how to drive." YOU WERE BREATHING VERY HEAVY WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR. HOW IS YOUR PHYSICAL CONDITION? "I was breathing really heavy. One time I thought I was going to loose it. The steering wheel was very heavy coming down the hill. But, in the race it is not going to quite like that. But, in qualifying it is going to be tough. In a way, I guess it was good that I didn't do that many laps because it is really hard going through corners nine and ten." HOW IS THE ARM? "As long as I keep cooling off my arm I should be fine. Every time I get in the car the arm feels better. I think it is just a matter of getting use to it again."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- K Mart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - "We are a lot better than we were this morning. We are still not there, but definitely a lot better. Between the sessions we made a little change here and a change there and it really helped." Peter (Gibbons) did a great job." WE SAW QUITE A NUMBER OF DRIVERS OFF-COURSE THROUGHOUT THE MORNING SESSION AND QUALIFYING. WHAT IS CAUSING THAT? "Well this track is pretty wide-open in the places everybody goes off and guys know that you can really hang it out without fear of damaging the car too much." I UNDERSTAND THAT AFTER RECENT VISIT TO THE DOCTOR THAT HE REVISED THE DUE DATE OF YOUR THIRD CHILD TO THIS SUNDAY. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP YOU CONCENTRATIONS WITH THAT ON YOUR MIND? "She promised that she would wait until she gets home late Sunday night. I hope she keeps that promise." WHAT WILL YOU DO IF SHE GOES INTO LABOR? "If it was another sport like golf, or one that you are an individual more than a team, I might be able to leave if she goes into labor. But, I have obligations to Kmart, Texaco and the team. They are all relying on me. She and the baby are my number one priority but she understands that I can't miss the race. I just hope and pray that it doesn't happen before Sunday night."
ROBERTO MORENO -11- Big K Ford-Cosworth - "We made big gains over the morning session. The problem we have is that when we did test here it was not on Firestone tires, so we don't have a lot of experience with the car/tire combination here and it does make quite a bit of difference. I am confident that we will be better tomorrow and that we are going in the right direction."
MEMO GIDLEY -71- Herdez/Viva Mexico Ford-Cosworth - "Well we are trying some stuff in the car but we have not been able to hit the setup yet. It's not going to take much, the field is pretty tight, we just need to pick up a little. If you can pick up a little, you can gain a lot of time." IS THERE A SPECIFIC PLACE ON THIS TRACK THAT YOU CAN GAIN MORE TIME THAN OTHERS? "I think the high speed stuff is where I can pick up the most time. I think trying to get the car a bit more stable it important but I think there is time to be gained everywhere."
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. -71- Herdez/Viva Mexico Ford-Cosworth - "We made some changes to try and fix a big understeer on race car early. It was very hard to drive. We have an idea of the direction we need to go and hopefully we can make the improvements for tomorrow."