CHAMPCAR/CART: Michael Andretti press conference, Part I

CART Media Teleconference Presented by WorldCom Tuesday, April 16, 2002 An Interview with Michael Andretti Part 1 of 2 - Andretti on winning at Long Beach Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today on this week's...

CART Media Teleconference Presented by WorldCom
Tuesday, April 16, 2002

An Interview with Michael Andretti
Part 1 of 2 - Andretti on winning at Long Beach

Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with CART public relations. We're privileged to be joined today by two champions from this past weekend's action at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

In just a few minutes we'll hear from Michael Valiante of Lynx Racing who captured the Toyota Atlantic race at Long Beach on Sunday. First we'll talk with another Michael, all time leader in career victories and driver of the No. 39 Motorola Honda/Reynard Bridgestone, Michael Andretti .

Michael, thanks for joining us today.

Michael Andretti: My pleasure.

Merrill Cain: On Sunday Michael took the checkered flags on the streets of Long Beach to claim his 42nd career victory in CART, holding off Jimmy Vasser and Max Papis. With the win Michael extended his CART record for most seasons with at least one victory and now stands at 15 and he continues to move up the all-time Champ Car win list. He currently sits third, trailing only his father Mario, who has 52 wins, and A.J. Foyt who has 67 career victories.

Michael also set another CART record on Sunday, after winning at Long Beach 16 years ago in 1986 for his first Champ car win. He established a new mark for the longest time between venues.

We also do need to point out that as was announced by CART on Monday, Team Motorola was fined $20,000 as the No. 39 car failed to pass a post race inspection because it did not meet the minimum underbody height requirement. Despite that fact, we do appreciate Michael taking time to talk with us today.

Let's get to questions.

Q:   On the weekend, all the open-wheel races in the world were won by
people named Michael.  I wondered, anything has to do with the name?

Michael Andretti: Did you win anything?

Q: I just watched you guys. Are you aware of some of the younger drivers that are coming up? I'm thinking of people like Michael Valiante and some of these other series. At a race weekend, do you get much of an opportunity to see them? Is there anyone out there that's impressed you that's maybe a year or two away from getting into the CART series?

Michael Andretti: To be honest with you, I'm so busy on the weekend, I don't really get a chance to watch.

But as the year goes on, you do begin to hear names, like midyear you start hearing the same name over and over, then that's when you have to start watching. Obviously that's the kid, whatever, that's really coming up.

Right now I really haven't been watching. Midyear, like I said, I'll probably be more up on it.

Q: You've always had great success on the street circuits in particular. Any reason for that? You won a lot of races in Canada which have been on street circuits, then 15 years between wins at Long Beach. Do those kind of courses suit your driving style more? You do well on ovals, as well. Do you particularly excel at street courses?

Michael Andretti: I wouldn't say so. I like them. I like them a lot, but I don't think I'd do any better on them than any other type of course.

I think it's probably maybe because we race more on the street circuits than any others. Maybe it has to do with numbers of races that I've run on those types of circuits. Chances of winning more on those is greater.

Q: You made out with your 42nd career victory. Your dad had 52. A.J. Foyt had 67. Are you perhaps at this stage in your career, are those records within sight? How long do you expect -- or your fitness regimen, maybe you would agree, you're maybe in better shape now than you were ten years ago. Do you see an end in sight or can you see yourself racing like your dad did into his 50s?

Michael Andretti: No way. No way. Competition won't allow you anyway. It's just so tough nowadays.

I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I think we have to first wait and see what happens with open wheel racing in the States and all that.

I don't know yet. I feel really good. I feel like I'm still on top of my game. As you said, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. We'll see.

I can definitely tell you, though, I will not race till I'm 54 years old.

Q: What kind of infrastructure does (Team Motorola General Manager) Kim (Green) and the team have when you're faced with the situation like you were at Long Beach where there's jubilation, celebration with a victory, then all of a sudden there's a fine because the car is too low? Does the whole team get down or is there a structure that says, "We win as a team, we lose as a team, get fined as a team"? How do you make it not affect the entire outfit?

Michael Andretti: It won't affect the entire outfit. I think there's circumstances. There are reasons why we were fined, things like that. It was because it was a car that only had 12 laps of running on it before we even ran the race. It was a brand-new car. Things settle on new cars and stuff like that. It really didn't affect the handling at all of the car. The car didn't feel any different or anything like that.

It was just one of those technical things. It won't affect the morale of this team. This team is real professional. These guys understand, they know. I have all the confidence in the world in them. They've been under a lot of pressure with all the things that are happening on the team with going to Lola, the Indy thing with the Dallara, getting those ready.

These guys are awesome. I just have all the faith in the world they're going to continue to do a good job. I wouldn't even say what happened was a mistake. I think it was just circumstances.

Q: There's a lot of balls in the air with the Indy 500 coming up. You talked about the Reynard situation, the Lolas. Can you tell me the difference to you in how it feels under your butt, the difference between the chassis?

Michael Andretti: I can't really because last time I drove on the oval at Homestead, it was with a different rear wing with the Reynard last year. You're not comparing apples to apples. I can't really tell you one to the other.

When I get to a road course, I'll probably be able to compare with the exact same wing package and give you more of an answer. I haven't gotten to that point yet.

Q: Your fastest lap was Lap 77, about 13 from the finish. Do you remember that lap?

Michael Andretti: Yeah. We were pushing hard.

Q: Can you take us through it a little bit, how it felt different than any other lap, what was happening?

Michael Andretti: I just -- I knew I had to make hay there. I was pushing as hard as I could. I remember that one was a pretty quick one. I ran a few others down around that time, as well. But I knew at that point I just had to push as hard as I could.

I think that was after they told me I could go, I didn't have to save fuel anymore. That's when I really started to push. They wanted me to save a little fuel while Jimmy was being held up behind Papis, they were saying to just cruise, watch the fuel, try to get some put away in case you need it later.

Then as soon as Jimmy passed him, started to catch me, they said to go. That's when I went. That's when I started to crank off my quick laps.

-cart-

Andretti, part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Michael Valiante , A.J. Foyt