CART Media Conference Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Post-Race Interview Sunday, April 14, 2002 An interview with: Michael Andretti Jimmy Vasser Max Papis Part 2 of 2 - Questions from the Media Merrill Cain: We'll take a few...
CART Media Conference
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Sunday, April 14, 2002
An interview with: Michael Andretti Jimmy Vasser Max Papis
Part 2 of 2 - Questions from the Media
Merrill Cain: We'll take a few questions.
Q: When you went in for that pit stop, did you expect you'd be able to come out in front?
Michael Andretti: I sort of thought so. Before I came in, I was cranking off some of my quickest laps of the race. I was running a lot of laps in the nines (1:09-range). I knew these guys were on cold tires. I felt like I was -- I had to be making up time on them there.
Then when I saw that our pit stop was good and clean, I felt like we should beat them out - and we did. I guess Jimmy said he backed off a little bit.
I still think we probably would have beat him out anyway, just because I was cranking out those quick times there. I know they had to be running, when I was running nine, they were probably running in the 11s for a couple laps where I think I was able to get a few seconds.
You never know. But I felt like we should have beat them out.
Q: Starting 15th, at what point of the race did you think (inaudible)?
Michael Andretti: About halfway through when we went off sequence with everybody else. About midway, I felt that, you know, if things fall a certain way, you know, we should be in good shape.
I felt like about midway my car really started to feel good. I started to turn in some good lap times. I thought, "All right, if I can just get the track position, I think I can keep it." We were lucky enough to do that. So that's what happened.
Max Papis: I feel that we started the first day, as I said, with no practice at all. Our first day was always very difficult. On the second day, on Saturday, I ended up in the Top 10, I felt I had a very good car in the practice. With the second qualifying, unfortunately we had a gearbox problem that put me back. But I felt that we had a pretty good car.
You know, I came out and I always had a great, great belief that I always push hard, I tried to put a lot of pressure on Michael, and Michael was slightly quicker than me, was cranking very fast lap. I was cranking at the same time my best laps of the race. So I felt that would have brought something back to me.
Again, you know, this is just a very good success for us. It means a lot. Team Sigma is a very, very, very small operation. Being able to be sandwiched between Jimmy Vasser and my ex-teammate Kenny Brack, I think it's a great achievement for us today.
I have a little story to say. Can I? Coming in this morning, I called Alex (Zanardi). He told me he just bought a new decoder to watch us on Sunday. He said the TV channel shows us, after a little bit of time, shows kind of pretty girls a little bit naked. It was pretty late in Italy. They kept on with the translation, didn't switch the little girls naked, so they could see a little the battle with me coming up. I should give him a ring to say we were not naked.
Merrill Cain: Let's go over the Top 5 point standings after the second round of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Cristiano da Matta still leads in points with 27. Michael has moved up to 2nd in the point standings with 22 points, followed by Michel Jourdain, Jr., also with 22 points, Dario Franchitti in 4th with 20, followed by Max, who is in 5th with 18 points.
Michael Andretti: I didn't know he was catching me the second lap. I pulled out I think three seconds on him. The way they were telling me, he was a half second lap.
I don't know, I just knew I had to drive as hard as I could. I was driving as hard as I could. I guess Jimmy maybe could only get so close to me because of the air, whatever.
But I really didn't change pace too much because I was running high nines at that point. I think I did a 9.5 my quickest there that last stretch. That's as hard as I could drive. I was driving as hard as I could drive.
You know, it just all worked out. The car stayed consistent. Bridgestone tires were really good. I mean, the thing just never gave up. Just kept getting better and better, which was good.
Q: Talk about the luck meters.
Michael Andretti: What goes around comes around, you know. A lot of people were telling me that anyway during the week, "Keep going, it can turn around, it can turn around." You've got to believe that.
I've got to say, like I said, in qualifying, my car felt really good. We made some changes to it. It was the best it felt all weekend. Unfortunately, we didn't get the lap in that we needed to get up on the grid.
I think we knew we had something if we could just get the car in track position, we could do okay. Finally luck went our way. Thank the guy upstairs. Just worked out for us. I'll take it.
Jimmy Vasser: You think (laughter)? I haven't seen the meter.
I don't know. You know, I suppose it's in the moderate, right in the middle. I don't really want a bunch of luck, I just don't want any bad luck.
If we can continue, like I said, to put ourselves in a good position, things will happen for us in a positive sense. Second place is a fantastic result for the team. Obviously, we want to win the race. But, you know, luck meters, certainly higher than Cristiano's.
Q: (Inaudible) how much adjustment did you have to make to the car?
Michael Andretti: Nothing. I thought it was okay. I think maybe in the beginning, it was a little slippery. About midway through the race, the track got actually pretty good grip.
No, we don't adjust. We didn't adjust for it, because you don't know what the weather's going to do.
Q: You guys are the senior members of the CART FedEx Championship Series. What do you have to say for the young guns out there?
Max Papis: Only if you want to get your butt kicked, come over (laughter).
Q: Do you want to comment?
Jimmy Vasser: No.
Max Papis: You know, not really emotionally, but I'm very proud of when we did, you know. The only possibility to train was physically training, so that's what I did for the month that I was waiting from Mexico to now.
As I said again, very, very good achievement. Of course, third place is very good. I'm proud about it. There are still two more to climb. If I have to say I'm super happy, no, because I would be a loser if I would be happy finishing third. But at the same time I'm really proud of what we did. I think it was a great, great achievement, especially because I think it's a prize, God really wanted to give me a prize today for all the hard work I put together. I never gave up.
In the wintertime, everybody said, "Max is a wanker, a loser, he's out." I always felt, you know, I still have many races to win. I still have a lot of bullet in my gun to shoot. I just need to wait for the right moment. I'm putting all the things in line to make that happen.
Unfortunately, you can't always have the best package. You can't always have everything at the best. But I think with God will, things come. Today I think it's a proof for me.
Max Papis: Maybe exactly watching the little girl's naked. I hope not.
Q: (Inaudible) did you speak to Eddie Jones?
Michael Andretti: That was when he drove his Shannon here. We tried the Shannon setup, because we tried everything else. It seemed to work in qualifying. But, yeah, I didn't actually get a chance to talk to Eddie after the race. I can't wait to see him. He did a great job. In fact, he did really a job making the changes that he did for qualifying. I wasn't quite sure. He said he thinks it was going to work. We did it. He was right, so.... Hats off to him.
Q: Last race you didn't get past the first lap. This is an important turnaround for you.
Jimmy Vasser: Yeah. I mean, you can't attack the championship half a lap at a time. You've got to get points. We certainly didn't need to come out of here having zero points again. It was important for us to get at least a podium finish, to get back in the points fight.
You know, it's uplifting for our team, as well. We know that we can do it. We have a good package, good fast race car. You've got to have that momentum. We're pushing the ball up the hill now, so...
Michael Andretti: Start wondering at the end of the race, "Oh, God, what's going to happen here?" I've had a lot of great races in, led a lot of races, had a car definitely capable of winning, but always had some freakish things go wrong.
You know, it goes through your mind, for sure. "Oh, God, I hope this thing holds together." Everything did. You know, it was finally meant to be, to win one finally after all these years.
Jimmy Vasser: 16 years, huh? Long time.
Michael Andretti: You know, I mean, we haven't made a hundred percent decision yet what we're going to do after Motegi. I'm looking for having the Lola in Motegi. I think it's a good car on the ovals, for sure. We had a really good test down in Homestead. It seemed to be fast right away. I'm looking forward to that. We really I think have to sit down and really think about what we're going to do after Motegi on. Luckily we have a month there to decide what we're going to do before the next race.
Q: Was the last lap agonizing for you?
Michael Andretti: No. I really tried to stay focused, I'm not going to make a mistake. Didn't really even try to think about it being the last lap. I just wanted to continue to do what I was doing before that, I'd wait till the end, then celebrate and think about it.
That's what I did. I just -- I was not going to let my concentration break. I didn't even think about that.
Merrill Cain: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations. See you in Japan in a couple weeks.
Interview by CART's Merrill Cain: Part I