CHAMPCAR/CART: Michigan Pre Race Quotes

Michigan Pre Race Quotes. Brooklyn, MI (July 22, 1998) -- ALEX ZANARDI (Target Reynard Honda), defending U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota champion, on the importance of car preparation at Michigan Speedway: "The U.S. 500 is a race where the car...

Michigan Pre Race Quotes.

Brooklyn, MI (July 22, 1998) --

ALEX ZANARDI (Target Reynard Honda), defending U.S. 500 Presented by Toyota champion, on the importance of car preparation at Michigan Speedway: "The U.S. 500 is a race where the car is definitely very important. That can be a little frustrating for the driver, because you cannot make up for a lack of performance from the car. What gets rewarded at the end of the race is not just your talent and ability to drive the car fast, but also your ability to concentrate throughout the day and to develop and improve your car throughout the race in order to have exactly what you want on the last set of laps."

JIMMY VASSER (Target Reynard Honda), on his knowledge of Michigan Speedway: "I've spent a lot of time testing at Michigan, so I feel I know the track as well as any on the circuit. I feel very familiar and comfortable there, so if we can get the car running well, I think we'll have as good a shot at winning as anybody."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Swift Ford), on the challenges of a 500-mile event: "The race at Michigan is so challenging because it's very fast and so long. Five hundred miles seems like an eternity sometimes because of the stress it puts on the driver and the race car. Of my 37 wins, only two of them have been in 500-mile races and both were at Michigan Speedway. Finishing a 500-mile race is special, but winning is even more special. I know how difficult it is to do that and when I was able to win, it felt very good. I really think that we have a good shot at winning this race. We have been looking forward to the U.S. 500 for awhile."

On the speeds at Michigan Speedway: "The speed at Michigan is tremendous and you can definitely feel it. You can really feel the G-forces. The scary thing is that something could go wrong. The series has really kept that in mind and worked hard to make it safer and bring the speeds down. The Handford Device is a big step in the right direction. I have worked with Mark Handford for years at Newman/Haas and he is one of the - if not the - best aerodynamicists around."

BOBBY RAHAL (Miller Lite Reynard Ford), on his "love-hate" relationship with Michigan Speedway: "It's one of those places I always thank God when I walk out of. The place is a speedrome if ever there was one. It's one of those places you don't really look forward to going to, because it's so fast and the risk factor is so high. And yet, when you get there and get going, the next thing you know, you're caught up in it and you want to be the fastest."

On his exit from last year's race at Michigan while running second, due to contact at the race's midway point: "I was passing [Dennis Vitolo] high and he moved just enough. That was all she wrote. I knew it was going to be big. I hit a ton. It's a real testament to these cars that I was able to get out, walk away and be playing golf the next day. The car was definitely strong - strong enough to win. It was a lot of fun while it lasted."

BRYAN HERTA (Shell Reynard Ford), on his testing of the Handford Device at California Speedway: "The new wing was very effective in slowing the car down. We were about 11 miles per hour slower on average with the Handford wing than with the standard speedway package. I was able to run nearly flat on both ends of the track, but not entirely. I ran some laps in traffic with Al [Unser Jr.] and each of us taking turns leading and following. The car remained pretty stable in traffic, but it was sliding a fair amount in the corners. I expect it will be tougher to pass now than it's typically been on those tracks."

GIL de FERRAN (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda), on the introduction of the Handford Device: "Any reduction of speed is welcome, however small. It does make a big difference in the event of an accident at these speeds. It's not that the drivers can't handle the speed. That's not the issue here at all. We all saw what happened last year at Fontana [where Mauricio Gugelmin set a world-record qualifying speed of 240.942 mph] and it is good, common sense to see what can be achieved both for safety and to make racing better for the fans. I think it [the Handford Device] will make an impact on the average speed, trap speed and corner speed of the car."

DERRICK WALKER, Walker Racing team owner, on his expectations for the Handford Device: "If we're lucky enough to get 10 miles per hour off the lap speed, we'd be looking good, but in reality, it might be somewhere like the four-to-eight mile per hour range. I think you've got to weigh that up against how much quicker we would have been going had we not gone to this wing. This is a cooperative effort by the engineers representing the various chassis manufacturers. There is a real, responsibly serious effort in trying to restrain the speeds, but we want to do it sensibly. This is a positive sign of what we're trying to do in CART." (Note: Walker is a member of the CART rules committee and played a leading role in its decision to adopt the Handford Device)

MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), on testing with the new Handford Device: "It feels very strange when you first drive it. It's very 'draggy,' like you've got a parachute on the back of the car. It's doesn't take long to go flat-out, but you don't feel the stability you did in the past. But you gain confidence quickly. We ran quite a few laps [109, or 218 miles] in testing. We experimented with wickers and learned quite a bit. I wasn't going for a quick time, and I know where I can find the three or four miles per hour we need. Basically, it will take more track time to see where we can get more out of it. Some of the challenge of trimming the car out to go fast is gone. If you trim the car out, you don't get the advantage you did. It just makes the car slide. It takes the finesse and challenge away from going quicker. But it's going to bring a closer race. It should minimize the advantage anyone has."

MARK BLUNDELL (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), on the challenges of racing 500 miles: "Superspeedway racing requires many different disciplines and a lot of luck. In a 500-mile race. so many things can go wrong. That's more than twice as long as most of our races, and the engine and chassis are pushed to the limit. It's tough on the drivers as well. You don't have a second to relax, and that makes it difficult mentally as well as physically. PacWest has certainly had a good handle on the superspeedway setup in the past, and I believe we can maintain that level of performance despite the new aerodynamic regulations. It's a level playing field for everyone, but I have a lot of confidence that the team will help me get the most out of the car."

AL UNSER JR. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), on close racing at Michigan Speedway: "Michigan and California are the fastest race tracks in the country. There are four, five or even six lines a driver can use and that means we can run three abreast around the race track. There's a big difference between running along in qualifying or testing and racing at Michigan. In qualifying, you're out there by yourself, but once the race starts, the draft comes into it. That's one of the biggest things you have to guess going into the race. And with the new Handford wing, we're going to have to see how we handle in the dirty air. The U.S. 500 is one of our longest races, so you have to protect your engine more than anything. You have to be easy on the car in order to get to the end."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Swift Ford), on speeds at Michigan: "At smaller ovals, the average speed is around 195 miles per hour and at Michigan, the average is closer to 230 miles per hour. So there's a big difference. You really feel the biggest difference the first time you go out on the track. With each lap, you get more comfortable with the speed and it isn't as noticeable as before. At the same time, it isn't good to get too comfortable with the speed. You have to always be conscious of your surroundings. The Handford Device is going to make a difference in the speeds. We might just be a little under the speeds that we did last year. but for sure, we won't be five or 10 miles faster than we were last year. The fact that we have worked so closely with Mark Handford (aerodynamicist for Swift Engineering and former Newman/Haas employee) on the Swift project makes me more positive about the change. I haven't tested with the device, but Michael [Andretti] and I have talked about it at great length."

ANDRE RIBEIRO (Marlboro Penske Mercedes), on options at Michigan: "Michigan Speedway is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit and one reason is the variety of racing lanes available to the driver. The big question this year will be the Handford wing. We've tested quite a bit and it certainly will reduce speeds. But we will have to see how it runs in traffic. This is a much bigger change than other previous efforts to slow the cars. But testing and racing are two different things and the effects of the Handford wing in traffic are still unknown."

RICHIE HEARN (Budweiser/Ralphs Swift Ford), on his test at Michigan Speedway: "We tested well there [prior to the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Star Bank]. The Swift might have another advantage over the other chassis with the new rear wing package. The Swift creates so much downforce on its own. We were able to run around 224 miles per hour and perhaps a little faster. Greg [Moore] and Mark [Blundell] were at the test as well and we tried running in traffic. The Budweiser/Ralphs car ran really well. I think it's going to be a good race for us."

TONY KANAAN (LCI Reynard Honda), on his unique approach to racing at Michigan Speedway: "I am approaching the Michigan race like a video game. You know those racing games where you can pick the team, driver and equipment package? I am going to be [team owner] Steve Horne's 'player' and just follow his instructions."

Source: CART Online

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mauricio Gugelmin , Steve Horne