Notes: Defending CART FedEx Championship Series' champion, Juan Montoya edged Michael Andretti at the finish line to claim the Michigan 500 on Sunday. In a race that featured 52 lead changes by 11 different drivers, Montoya's margin of victory...
Defending CART FedEx Championship Series' champion, Juan Montoya edged Michael Andretti at the finish line to claim the Michigan 500 on Sunday. In a race that featured 52 lead changes by 11 different drivers, Montoya's margin of victory over Andretti was -0.04 seconds. Despite finishing second, Andretti assumed the overall lead in the driver's championship over Roberto Moreno, who failed to finish his second consecutive race (mechanical). Andretti last led the point's championship this late in the season in 1991 when he claimed the series' crown. The second-place finish was also Andretti's first podium at Michigan since winning in 1989.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 2nd - THAT WAS SOME INCREDIBLE RACING DURING THE LAST FEW LAPS. "We knew basically that we were going to be in this sort of position. It was a little bit of stupid racing out there for awhile because we had to try and make it on one more pit stop and everybody was just backing off. Nobody wanted to lead because if you led then you were burning more fuel and towing everybody else, and it was a bit of a joke out there .. we were all just backing off. You'd have thought we were shooting a movie or something the way it was going. But it was all basically setting it up for the end, the shootout. And when that yellow (flag) came out it was really perfect for a shootout because we weren't going to have to conserve fuel. You know, it came down to the last 10 laps, so I knew it was going to be very important to try to get away from the rest of the group. It came down to Juan (Montoya) and myself working together, and I think we both knew that we both needed to break away, so we really worked together where we were leap-frogging away from the rest of the pack. We knew then that it was going to be between the two of us, so with about two laps to go I saw that they (the pack) weren't going to be able to catch us and I really just concentrated on just setting it up for the last turn. I was able to get him to do exactly what I wanted. I allowed him to go by into Turn One and I knew I wanted to get a draft going into Turn Three on him and get a run. I came off of Turn Four really strong, in fact I pulled him a little bit because we were behind Tarso (Marques) as well. I thought Tarso was actually going to help me because normally his line has been down low, but for some reason he decided to stay high. I got a little tow from him initially and then all of a sudden he went really up by the wall. So then I started fighting for that tow, and then Juan was stuck right there and neither one of us was backing off. I was just trying to get as close to that tow as I could hoping that Tarso would just move over. All he had to do was move half a car width and I would've won the race, but he stayed up real high trying to stay out of our way, but by doing that he allowed Juan to get a tow and that was the difference. You know like I said, just a half a car width down and he would've towed me. But it was good, clean racing. Juan was really good to race with out there. There were some guys out there not good to race with out there, but Juan in the end was a true professional and we both took care of each other. Both did a few little sly jobs on each other, but it was good clean fun. Unfortunately he just beat me."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 4th - NOT A BAD AFTERNOON. "Not too bad, I'm pretty happy. The guys did a good job, just a few little mistakes here in the pits. (I) stopped a little too early. Cristiano (da Matta) was in front of me on the side and I couldn't see the pits, and then I went back out. One set of tires we had a bit of a problem with when I lost quite a few positions, but besides that it was very good. We were just waiting, waiting and trying to give it a shot at the end , but it didn't work as well as we would've liked it."
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR RESULT? "I'm pretty happy. We're fourth, we got some more points and we finished today; a lot of guys did not. I'm happy and the team did a good job. I wish we could've been on the podium, but it was not our day. I was not going to put it into the wall to get either a podium (finish) or nothing. I just decided to get the points. I was still working hard, but I couldn't get by them."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 6th - "The car was very good from the beginning and I was just taking it easy from the beginning. I came out of the pits, and for ovals now we change to a throttle that is very smooth, very soft because in the past I used to get cramps in my foot from trying to keep the throttle flat out all the time. It doesn't give you too much feel, so when I came out of the pits I had more throttle than I really needed, and I spun on cold tires which was a bummer. But I just kept my cool and my car was very good. We managed to pass everybody, stay out and catch that lucky yellow (flag), and right there we recovered our two laps. And that was very good for us because that put us in contention. And then from there on some sets of tires, some others were not that good, (the car) sometimes loose, sometimes pushed. I think we could have won the race if we didn't go to yellow at the end because I was pulling away from them and everyone was saving fuel, and I knew we had them because Helio Castroneves had to pit. So that last yellow really cost us the race, and I knew it was going to be hard to hold them because even though the car was fast, it wasn't fast enough for the front guys. I didn't have enough straight speed with our aero balance package, and it was just very hard. It was a good result for the guys considering all the problems."
MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 9th - "We were right in a good position with 20 laps to go. I was racing Dario (Franchitti) and we were closing on Juan (Montoya) and Michael (Andretti). The team did a great job on our strategy. We stayed up with the leaders. They didn't want me to lead because our fuel mileage was better when I followed people in the draft. But I think the engine got a little soft towards the end and I couldn't get pass several guys to move to the front. I found out later that we were leaking oil on the last pit stop. The engine was strong early. It was great. We just didn't get to the end. Hey, it's another great race that I didn't get on the podium here. But I'm confident we will be a contender in the races in the second half of the season. Just like last year."
TARSO MARQUEZ (#34 Panasonic Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 21st - "The car was well, but on the last pit stop we changed the tire pressure and I had a big understeer so I was running a lot slower than I was before. But as for the rest, everything worked really well. I think we couldn't have gone much faster than this. We didn't run much faster than this all weekend, so I think the car was better balanced compared to the conditions that we had, and the engine felt great throughout the race."
YOU CERTAINLY ENDED YOUR WEEKEND ON A POSITIVE NOTE. "I think so, because especially right in the beginning, in the draft it's normally very difficult to run because the car is very loose and for the first half of the race I could pass some cars and try to make some good runs. But after that it was getting more difficult and I was just thinking about finishing the race. We didn't have much luck though, as we lost two positions on the last caution because we pitted just before the yellow (flag) came out. I'm very pleased that we finished the race."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 16th - "It was a driver mistake; I take full responsibility for it. But I was surprised by a bump on the track and I just lost the rear of the car. I don't know why. I'm very sorry for the team because my car was great, and we had the car to win today. It was just as soon as we took the lead I was lifting in some of the corners and upshifting just to wait for everybody, but it seems nobody wanted to pass me."
DID YOU TAKE A DIFFERENT LINE ININ HITTING THAT BUMP? "Maybe a little bit, like a middle line just to save my tires. I was not squeezing the line up to the apron, but it was very difficult because the car was great and it was good behind traffic. As soon as I got into the lead I was flat out all the way around and I had to wait because I didn't want to use too much fuel. Suddenly I got surprised because the car reacted very strangely over that bump and I lost it."
KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 22nd - "I think we had a good car, and I think we had what it took to be there at the end. I don't think that anyone had anything over us."
WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR INCIDENT? "Well, Christian put me in the wall. I don't know why he did that. I mean he must have known I was there because we went side by side into the corner. I really don't know (what happened). All I know is that he drifted up on me and I was on the outside and 'boom," that was it."
HOW DO YOU BOUNCE BACK NEXT WEEK IN CHICAGO? "Well, we're doing everything we can. Obviously I couldn't do anything about that (incident). If someone drives straight into you, what can you do about it? You've got to go on to the next one (race). The crew, I feel sorry for them for this race, but we're a good team and we'll bounce back and be good."
ROBERTO MORENO (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 23rd - "We had a mechanical problem in the gearbox, I don't know what it is yet. Handling was also not very good today. We tried to fix that, but the gearbox broke and that was the end of our day. I think that this will be a bit of bad luck out of the way, it's a competitive championship and you've got ups and downs. We've had a couple of races where we were down, and we'll try to catch up later on."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER FAILING TO FINISH IN TWO RACES FOLLOWING YOUR WIN IN CLEVELAND? "We'll be competitive in the next race, that's for sure. The team is good, we've got a great engine so I have no reason to believe that we won't be competitive again."