MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), remembering last year's Shell 300: "Last year, we almost had a second-place finish and we've been competitive in the last few years. I hope we can be in the same position we were in last...
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), remembering last year's Shell 300: "Last year, we almost had a second-place finish and we've been competitive in the last few years. I hope we can be in the same position we were in last year and avoid a problem. Last year, I had to jump on my brakes when Herta's tires lit up, and I had sticker tires, and when I did that I got all out of shape and a bunch of cars passed me. It was a shame because we definitely had at least a second-place car, maybe even a win. Finishing every race is going to be important for the Championship. If we can do that, we will be in good shape. If not, it will be more difficult for us."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his pursuit of the FedEx Championship Series championship: "Our strategy for the balance of the season is simple: We're going to take the bull by the horns and continue to get after it. You won't see Team KOOL Green out there cruising around just trying to collect points. Every point of every race is important at this stage. Fortunately, I've won at four of the remaining five tracks on this year's schedule and I really like racing at all of them. We'll just keep our heads down and stay focused on making the car as good as we can. If we can continue to qualify well and avoid mistakes during the race, we should keep ourselves in position to take the championship home at the end of the season."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his continuing search for that elusive first win of the season: "Though we still haven't scored that first win this season, I think we've certainly proved we've got the pace to win and it's just a matter of putting it all together on race day. Easier said than done, I guess. But winning back-to-back poles - and Paul winning back-to-back races - certainly shows that Team KOOL Green has a handle on things. This part of the season really proves the mettle of the team and driver. And I think myself and the team have proven our ability to score some big points down the home stretch."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on building upon the team's successful test at Laguna Seca late last month: "Marlboro Team Penske had a very good test at Laguna Seca a couple of weeks ago which we hope translates to a strong showing for the team this weekend. We put points on the board in Vancouver [de Ferran finished fifth, scoring ten points] and we need to do the same at the five remaining races. Only 11 points separate the top-five drivers [de Ferran is currently fourth with 116 points] in the championship standings so we need to continue to execute."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), anticipating success at Laguna Seca: "We should have a very good weekend at Laguna Seca based on our test there a couple of weeks ago. We were able to work on the set-up and hopefully the Marlboro car will be fast right off of the truck. We need to stay focused and take it one day at a time, however, because the CART FedEx Series is so competitive that anything can happen. I hope to make my unofficial track-record time [67.602 seconds, established at the Open Test] the official track-record time!"
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), on the importance of proper car preparation at Laguna Seca Raceway: "I think that Laguna is one of those places where you just have to have a good balance in the car and a good set up. I also think the test definitely helped. The set up this year is better for road courses but you have to keep improving because everyone else is as well. I think that taking the time to learn about the car and getting a good set up is the key to having success. From the test, we were able to determine the areas we need to work on. I like the track. It is comparable to the tracks I raced on in Europe."
TONY KANAAN (Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Toyota Reynard), on his enjoyment of Laguna Seca Raceway: "This is always one of my favorite places to race all year. It's just a beautiful racetrack, and I've had some great success here. Last year, I qualified on the front row here, and the year before that, my rookie season, I finished third. I was also on the pole here in both my years in Indy Lights, and I won in 1996 and finished second in 1997. So, naturally, I'm looking forward to coming back. We tested here a couple of weeks ago, and we finished strong [fourth overall in the two-day CART Open Test] in my Hollywood/Mercedes. It's a real driver's track. A momentum track. So I'm looking for this to be our breakout race. We've been in kind of a slump, and we haven't had the greatest luck in the world, either. I'm hoping we put it all together here this weekend.
CRISTIANO da MATTA (Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard), on the unpredictability of racing at Laguna Seca: "Laguna Seca is the type of track, that you never can tell what will happen. We tested here a few weeks ago, and we were fairly satisfied with our performance the first day, until I had a pretty big accident, which destroyed the car, so we were unable to utilize the second day. My accident was at the end of the day, and fortunately, we were able to find some important developments which should help us come race time. I really like Laguna, it is a tough track but it is also very enjoyable. We must manage our fuel very well, and bring home as many points as possible."
ORIOL SERVIA (Telefonica Toyota Reynard), on his anticipation of his first FedEx Championship Series appearance at Laguna Seca: "I am looking forward to Laguna Seca because we had a very good test there recently. We were in the top ten throughout the test, and we really made some significant developments. I think it will be a very competitive race, and we must qualify well. We did not finish in the top ten in Vancouver which was disappointing, so we need to come away from Laguna with a strong finish."