CART GRAND PRIX OF MID-OHIO "QUOTEBOARD" CRISTIANO DA MATTA ( ...
CART GRAND PRIX OF MID-OHIO "QUOTEBOARD"
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think Mid Ohio is the perfect example of why I like road courses better. It's just more challenging for the drivers. It's more difficult to produce the lap times. Everything is more difficult...it's more complicated. I think you have seen in the past, more drivers that weren't so good win races on the ovals and maybe super speedways, but if the driver wins a race in Elkhart Lake or Mid Ohio you can know for sure he's good. We've had so much speed and so much success at these types of tracks this year. So I believe that the car will be running good. We had a good test at Mid-Ohio too so everything indicates that we are going to have a good race. You know, when the race weekend comes it's always different, but you know I expect to have a good weekend and be in the top five every session, and I think it should be good."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL/Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I love coming to Mid-Ohio. It is a tough track to race at but it suits my style of driving and I've always qualified well there. I haven't been able to get the finish I want so far at this track, but I feel that this year I've probably got one of the best chances I've ever had to get to victory lane. At Mid-Ohio you're constantly changing direction, the track is up and down and it is a tough place. The win in Vancouver really boosted everyone's spirits. Team KOOL Green is looking to have a great run in Mid-Ohio to get this stretch of four races in a row going on a strong note."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "The road courses are where I learned how to drive race cars. Mid-Ohio reminds me a lot of the tracks that I used to race on when I was young. It's a great track with a combination of fast and slow corners." (On his week off): "I was able to go back to Brazil for a couple of days. It was really nice to see my family and friends, especially during the race season."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Mid-Ohio is a beautiful track and certainly one of the most challenging tracks we race on in CART. Mid-Ohio is a special race for Team Rahal because it is the home track for the team. Most of the shop based guys, people who only make it to one race a year, come to the race and this is their chance to see their hard work pay off first hand. The track itself is one of my favorites. It is a big time fast track and there is a lot for a team and driver to come to grips with. I know it will be a very busy week for the team with a lot of media attention and sponsor functions, but I also know that Team Rahal has had a great deal of success at this track."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The race in Mid-Ohio is usually the one closest to my birthday (August 13), so I guess it's appropriate that this year I'll be marking a career milestone at Mid-Ohio with my 100th race in the CART series. It's hard to believe that it's been 100 races already but I still enjoy every race as much as I did when I started my career as a professional racecar driver. I appreciate the opportunity that Team Player's has given me. We've had some highs and lows during these first 100 races but overall, we've developed as a team and we've made considerable progress over the years. I can't think of a better race track for my 100th career event in the CART series. Mid-Ohio has always been one of favorite racing venues because it's a road course that gives you a little bit of everything and the fans who come to watch are so passionate about the sport. I remember the first time I raced at Mid-Ohio as a CART driver (in 1997), I started and finished well back of the field. I also remember how hot it was on the track and I recall getting very dehydrated. I've learned over the years not to let that happen again. It was great to get on the podium in Mid-Ohio last year because it's an indication that we've come a long ways since our first race there."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "A track like Mid-Ohio is always a challenge because it throws so many things at you. There are fast turns, slow turns and elevation changes that all come into play when we're trying to find the right balance in the car. We are coming off a good weekend in Vancouver where Team KOOL Green was quick in every session and hopefully we can be up front again. I'm very happy with the way the guys on the #26 KOOL car pulled together for us at Vancouver and I know that we're all feeling pretty good going into Mid-Ohio. We're hoping to repeat the performance and I know I'm going there this weekend to win the race."
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It was nice to have a week off of our hectic schedule, but I'm itching to get back in the car. We've had a lot of success on the road courses so far this year, so I'm really looking forward to it. We had a nice little point-scoring streak going until we had that first lap problem last week. I know that the team will have a good car for me this weekend. I'm ready to get our first victory of the season."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm looking forward to racing at Mid-Ohio because our car has been good on road courses. For a few years it was one of the toughest tracks for our team but we have been able to get a good set-up for the Lola that allows us to put the power down and maximize the horsepower from the Toyota engine. In order to be competitive you have to understand the all of the things that allow the Toyota engine, Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires to work together. Then you have to put together a trouble free race that includes everything from the having flawless pit stops, no mistakes by the driver and getting everything to the finish line in one piece. Earlier in the season we had second place (in the standings) in sight as well as the potential to close the gap to Shorty (da Matta) but had some DNF's (did not finish) that put us behind but we know the potential is there if we can have a flawless race. There are nine more races and nine more chances to put the Lilly car in Winner's Circle this season. There is still a long way to go in the Championship."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I guess it's an honor to have 300 race starts, but a big part of me just feels old when I hear that statistic. It makes me realize that I've been around racing for a long time! What strikes me the most is how much things have changed since I made my first start in Vegas in 1983 to now, making my 300th start. Man, are things different."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Physically, Mid-Ohio is probably the toughest race of the year. The track has a lot of twists and turns. In fact, when you're out there racing it almost seems like you're constantly turning. And every time I've raced there, the heat in the cockpit is intense. You have to make sure that you stay alert, although this road course has so many ups and downs to it that you don't have a chance to get bored. I like the layout a lot because it's a good balance between fast and slow corners and it puts your driving ability to the test. I look at the Mid-Ohio race as the start of the second half of the season and the goal is to improve on the first-half performance. We've been able to pick up points in each of the last six races but we've let some podium opportunities slip away and lost some precious points in the standings as a result. Team Player's still has one of the fastest cars out there in every race. It's a matter of continuing to work hard and with a bit of luck here and there, I'm sure we'll have races where everything comes together."
SCOTT DIXON (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's been a great transition here at Team Target. The guys have accepted me with open arms and we have done pretty well on the track so far. We qualified 4th in Vancouver two weeks ago and I feel that we would have challenged for the victory there, if not for the problem that we had. The guys have given me a good car week in and week out and we have had a bunch of top-10 finishes to show for it. But it's getting to that point in the season where I really want to win some races. Points are nice, but I'm hungry to get a win. Hopefully, we can get one this weekend."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It has almost become humorous (about the first lap mishaps). It all started back in Mexico in the season opener when I got taken out on the first lap. We came back at Long Beach and got the pole and nearly won the race. So I didn't think about any kind of bad luck. But we had a fire at Japan, a gearbox (problem) at Indy and Portland and then the first lap incidents at Chicago, Cleveland and Vancouver. It's like living in a bad nightmare. I think Kenny (Brack, the former Shell driver now with Ganassi) and I have been involved in three of the first lap crashes. We seem to get caught up in the mix on the first lap. Now at Mid-Ohio, we just want a solid and strong run to the finish. We need the points badly. We had our final Ford test of the year last week at Portland. I was very happy with the developments that the Cosworth guys came up with at Portland. I think we have learned more things going to Mid-Ohio. Mid-Ohio is a big race for Team Rahal and the team's fans. I'd like to get back on form with a strong showing. Since this test, I think we have good shot."
MAX PAPIS (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Mid-Ohio is a very physical track. It is a track that demands a lot out of the driver and the car. It has been a long time since I have been in a car (June 9) so it is going to take a little time to adapt to this new situation. Mid-Ohio has a great fan base, and I am looking forward to going there and bringing home for Fernandez Racing a very strong result and having a happy Sunday afternoon. I am pleased to join the team but I am not an albatross waiting for someone to get hurt. I am going to do my best for the team under these circumstances, and I'm just waiting for Adrian to come back and continue his job."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio. I like the track and I have confidence that we can have a good race there. The team has been working really hard on our road course setup, particularly after the problems we had in Cleveland where we struggled all weekend. Mid-Ohio is a very tough track physically. There is the heat and the humidity, and there is really no place on the track where you can rest. It is very challenging. Obviously we are disappointed that Adrian will not be at Mid-Ohio, but he needs to focus on getting back to 100 percent. Hopefully, Max and I can bring home a good result for him and the team this weekend."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I almost hated to take the weekend off after we finally got our first podium of the season at Vancouver. After a result like that, you just want to get back into the race car and try to do even better. Actually, it was nice to take a short break. It was such an emotional weekend up in Vancouver in our good old friend Greg's (Moore) hometown. And sharing the podium with two of his best friends (Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy) was magic. I think we made some gains with our new Lola chassis during the weekend at Vancouver and it definitely is a step in the right direction as we go to the road courses at Mid-Ohio and Elkhart Lake. It's been such a struggle since we started racing the Pioneer/WorldCom Lola at Milwaukee that it was like a light bulb went off in somebody's brain at Vancouver and suddenly we seemed to start to get a handle on the car. I love Mid-Ohio. It used to be my home track when I raced with the Tasman team, so I know it about as well as any track we race on. It's going to be very competitive. Some teams tested there, so they might have an advantage when we start the weekend. We'll just have to build upon what we learned at Vancouver and hope for the best."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Mid Ohio is a beautiful track. It presents a very good challenge for the drivers, it has a lot of blind corners. I will enjoy racing my first Champ Car race there because it is also a track that has a lot of history behind it. We tested there back in May and since that test we've developed the car a lot more, so I hope we'll be fast from the beginning of the weekend. My goal for the weekend is a top ten result."