CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Pre-race quoteboard


CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#1 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I am looking forward to the race in Mexico City. The place is going to be packed which isn't a surprise considering what we are used to in Monterrey (Mexico). The layout is very nice from what I have seen. I actually have an old computer game that is pretty similar except for the last turn, which has been changed. Even though I haven't been to the track, I can already be familiar with it because of the computer game. I have heard that the changes that the promoter made to the surface and other areas are so nice. We have had a good car for the road courses and we hope that Mexico City will be more of the same. It's going to be a pretty special race for me because it will be my last with Newman/Haas Racing, at least for a while. I don't want to think about that until after the race is over though. Instead we are concentrating on ending the season the way we started it - with a win in Mexico! I want to go out with a win and at least try to match the record. Other than that, it's an important race like any other."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "There's a lot on the line for us this weekend in Mexico. It's really important to clinch second place in the championship for Team Target. We need to have a good finish down there. It's been a really good season for the team. We wanted to win the championship, but with the year Cristiano had it was going to be difficult. But second place is a very good finish with all of the competition in this series. I can't say enough about how well my team has done this year. I'm very proud of them. I want to reward them this weekend with a victory."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I really wanted to be in a position to control my own destiny in the battle for second place. Fortunately, getting the third-place podium at the last race in Fontana put me within three points of second, so a race win in Mexico City would overcome that gap. The half-million dollar bonus for finishing second would be fantastic, mainly because it would be such a tribute the entire crew at Team Player's. They've all worked so hard to give me such a competitive car for every race. That's an extra incentive to do everything I can to help the team get this second-place finish. It's nice to have some momentum going into this last race of the season, with the two podiums in a row. We've had the second-place finish and the third, so what we need now is a win in Mexico City to complete the trifecta. Running at a new venue, it's going to be interesting to see how quickly we'll be able to adjust to the new track at the Mexico City Autodrome. From everything that I have heard about the track, it's a fabulous racing venue. The ride is smooth and apparently it's not that slick because it doesn't have much dust and dirt gathered on it. It should be a great setting for the season finale."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm still hoping that things work out in such a way that I can finish second in the standings. It won't be easy, and luck will have to play a factor if I'm going to be able to do it. But strange things can happen in racing and I've got to believe that everything is still possible. Team KOOL Green has done all they can to help me. It all comes down to this race for me. I have a good feeling about it going in. Mexican fans are extremely enthusiastic, the atmosphere is going to be awesome and I'm hoping that we can get onto the track with a fast car right off the truck and stay at the top of the charts all weekend long."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think we will run well in Mexico City. The car was very competitive on road courses and especially at Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio which are traditional road courses like the one in Mexico City. Apart from the elevation changes, which you don't have in Mexico City, the track is a little like Mid-Ohio. It doesn't have a lot of chicanes like in Montreal or Australia. (On his last race with Newman/Haas Racing:) I don't want to think about it until after the race. I'm just going to Mexico City as if it is just another race. It would be great to end on a high note with a win or podium finish but we'll take it one session at a time. Will I miss open wheel racing? Yes, of course because I have done it my whole life. I'm starting a new phase in my life. When I came here from Europe, are there things I missed about where I came from? Yes, but you adapt and find a new group of things that are even better. I have made a lot of friends at Newman/Haas Racing and have had a lot of good times in CART and there is still one more race that we can win together."

JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Mexico City I think is going to be a fantastic event with what we're hearing about the enthusiasm and the crowd numbers for the race. For my teammate, (Michel) Jourdain, I really hope he can win that race. Probably more than myself to win it, I think it would be a fantastic thing for him, Mexico and CART. Before you get in the car, you look up in the (grand) stands, you see a half empty crowd, nothing worse than that. We play to the energy, too. When there's a lot of people there, the energy's high, that's a great feeling for the drivers. I think I can speak for everybody, we look forward to that situation at Mexico City."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "This weekend is going to be one of mixed emotions. I will be driving with a heavy heart knowing that this is my last race in CART, but I'm also excited about the future especially becoming a team owner. This is a very important race for Team Motorola. It's an event where we'll have a lot of guests and we're hoping to do especially well and put on a good show for them. I've seen the track layout in Mexico City and it looks great. With the big crowds expected, it should be an exciting weekend. One of the challenges will be the elevation. Although we didn't have many problems in Denver, Mexico City is even higher and we'll face some of the same challenges. Hopefully we'll be able to apply what we learned there to here."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "When we opened the season with the race in Monterrey, we saw just how enthusiastic the Mexican fans are, and I have no doubt there will be a similar festive atmosphere during race weekend in Mexico City. From what I can see, the layout of the track is absolutely great, with plenty of wide space for passing and lots of room for crews to work in the pits. It's an ultra-modern facility and it should bring out the best in every driver in the series. There's no better way to end the season than with a win, and I expect the competition out on the track will be intense. A win in Mexico City would certainly be a big help toward possibly making it into the top 5 in the drivers' standings. From a Team Player's standpoint, that would mean having both of its drivers finish in the top 5 this season. And from a personal standpoint, it would mean considerable progress from the 11th-place that I had last year. There's still a lot on the line in this final race and it's going to be fun to put on a show for the fans in a brand-new venue."

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "To race in the city I was born, that I've lived all my life, it's great. All my family lives here, all my friends, everything. To race in this track, which pretty much I was born here watching my dad race, all my uncles, then I started racing here myself. I raced in Mexico for seven years. Some years probably I raced 10, 15 times on this track. It's a very special feeling. Especially now to come and see the unbelievable job they have done on the track, it's unbelievable. It's the best track we're going to race in the whole year by far. The people, the whole city, moves around this event. To have a city of 20 million people moving around an event, it's amazing. I'm just so proud to be a Mexican because of the track and the event. It's just great. In all these years, if I'm going to win this one, I would change all the races and many championships to win this race. The way the track is going to be, the way all the people are going to be here, it's going to be unbelievable. This is going to be probably the biggest sporting event in the history of Mexico, the amount of people we're going to have here. The biggest soccer stadium holds like 120,000 people. There's going to be a lot more people here on Sunday. To be able to be part of that event and to have all these people coming to see mostly Adrian, Mario and myself, if I win this race, it's something that would change my life forever. It would be like an American winning the Indianapolis 500. It would be exactly the same thing or maybe even bigger because in the States you have other racing, you have basketball, baseball, all these sports that are so, so big. If a player wins the Super Bowl, it's a team of 50 or 60, I don't know how many people. The same with basketball and all that. But here, even though it's a whole team, at the end I'm the one in the car. To win this would be the biggest thing that could ever happen to me in my life."

PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Mexico has so many race fans that it's going to be great to go back there and put on a good show for them. I'm looking forward to trying out this new track; it should be very interesting. This is KOOL's last race and I'd like to win this race for everyone. I've been with Team Green for the past five years and although we've had some hard times, we've also overcome a lot of challenges and had some great wins and good times along the way. All in all it's been a very good experience for me and I wish everyone well in the future."

KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We've qualified 7th or better in the last 6 races, we just haven't had the finishing results that we were looking for. I hope that we can finish this season with a strong run in Mexico. I'm looking forward to taking my first few laps on that track. It sounds like a really nice layout from all of the reports I've heard. We've had fast cars on the road courses this year, and I know that my team is as thirsty as I am for tasting some champagne in victory circle."

TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "This is going to be a very interesting weekend, there's no doubt about it. We're going to yet another new racetrack for us. We've had many of those already this season, and this one is very special because there is a lot of racing history there and the fans, I hear, are going to be some of the best we've ever seen. It's also our last race of the season, which is always special. But there will be a little more emotion than usual because it will be the last CART race for a lot of us. I'm moving on starting this season and I'm really going to miss being with some of my best friends in the world week after week. Some of my friends are coming with me. But some are staying behind. The good thing is, racing changes from year to year, but good friendships last forever, so we have that going for us. I'm excited about driving on the Mexico City track in a big way. Some of the best drivers in history used to race here. I hope it will be a good show."

SCOTT DIXON (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "This race is going to be fun. Seeing all of the fans gets your adrenaline pumping. It's always good to experience a new track in a city that we haven't been to before. And we've qualified really well at the three new tracks that we've gone to this year. We started 7th in Montreal, 4th in Denver and 2nd in Miami. The Target team does a great job of preparing the cars for the new tracks, and hopefully we can finish the season on a positive note with a win this weekend."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Obviously I am very excited about this race, and I am optimistic that I will be able to drive. This is the track where I took my first laps in a race car, and where I competed for many years. To be able to race here again in my hometown, after so many years of racing outside Mexico City, will be very special, especially after the work they have done on the track. After so many years of trying to get an event here, finally we have one. It is going to be huge. It goes without saying that this race means a lot to me - my family is here, my friends, everyone - and also my sponsors. Obviously I would like to be in better shape than I am right now. If I do drive in the end, which I feel very positive, I will give my best even though I am not in the best shape with these two accidents within the last few months. I have a lot of faith. Hopefully, we can get a good result in what has been a difficult year and that would make me very happy. If we could come away with a victory or a podium, that would be very special for us."

SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "It is going to be an important race for us with Adrian competing in his home country and in his hometown. It is going to be a busy weekend for Fernandez Racing. I have heard the track is beautiful and I am looking forward to driving there. Race-wise, I have been having tough luck lately but, hopefully, we will have a good weekend here. The team has been working really hard. The results that I want haven't come yet, but I still believe in myself and I still believe in the team and I think we can make something happen here in Mexico City."

ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I am very excited to be racing in Mexico City. The promoters have done a fantastic job with this race track. It has a nice combination of fast and slow turns and there appears to be some good passing areas. I think the circuit will be good for the Reynard chassis because the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has shown in the past that our car works very well on circuits that have fast corners. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team did a good job in Fontana. We started the weekend off a little slow, but we kept working hard and by the end of the race we had the fastest car on the track. Everybody on the team did their job and did it well, but to win in this series you have to do everything from the start of the weekend through the end of the race perfect. Plus, you need a little magic. I am confident that with everything we have learned over the last nine races and the track we are going to, the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team is in a good position to win this race or at least finish on the podium. That would be a great way to end this season."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "This is by far the most important race of my career. Obviously, I'm very excited about racing at a world renowned track like Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. I've raced there before in F3, F3000, and prototypes so this is my really my home track. They've made some changes to it but they're minor from the standpoint of the track layout. But the standard of the track overall has been raised so much - it is truly a world-class facility. I'm proud, as a Mexican, to say that I think it's the best track on the CART circuit. But I'm betting that after next Sunday, most of the other drivers will agree with me. It's a big responsibility for us to race in front of all of our sponsors, Herdez, del Valle, Corona, Televisa, Quaker State... but most of all, the Mexican fans. As always, we'll give 110 percent effort toward giving them all a good result."


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