Notes: Christian Fittipaldi returned from his one race hiatus to claim third in the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Fittipaldi's third place finish was the second time the Newman-Haas driver has made an appearance on the...
Christian Fittipaldi returned from his one race hiatus to claim third in the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Fittipaldi's third place finish was the second time the Newman-Haas driver has made an appearance on the podium this season (third at Portland). Team Penske swept the first two positions as Helio Castroneves earned his second victory of the season (Detroit) while teammate Gil de Ferran finished second.
Ford-powered cars claim seven of the top ten positions. In addition to Fittipaldi's third place showing, six other cars powered by Ford-Cosworth scored top ten finishes, including Team Rahal teammates Max Papis (4th) and Kenny Brack (5th), Adrian Fernandez (6th), Patrick Carpentier (7th), Michael Andretti (8th) and Alex Tagliani (9th).
Andretti maintains his lead in the championship points race. Despite finishing eighth, Michael Andretti maintained his lead in the hunt for the CART FedEx Driver's Championship. Andretti leads with 125 points through 13 races, while Gil de Ferran is second (106), Roberto Moreno is third (100), rookie Kenny Brack is fourth (88) and Adrian Fernandez is fifth (87).
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 8th - HOW WAS YOUR DAY? "It was disappointing. During the race I lost all of my boost, I don't know what happened. Luckily when those yellows came out the boost came back for some reason, so at least I could fight on the restarts because I thought I was going to be dead. So the boost came back, but they don't know what happened. So I lost all of that track position mid-race, otherwise I think I would've been fighting right up there with (Max) Papis and those guys, so it was really disappointing."
YOU"VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD THAT YOU SCORED SOME POINTS. "Yeah, but we could've scored some more, though. It helped Gil (de Ferran) a little bit, but I guess we've got to take what we can get."
YOU"VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD THAT DESPITE A MECHANICAL PROBLEM YOU WERE ABLE TO SCORE SOME POINTS. "Yeah, I guess. Actually when I lost power I thought the engine was gone, but then they told me it just lost boost, just like Nazareth, the same problem we had at Nazareth, so then I just had to fight really hard. I was driving like I was qualifying. I held off (Cristiano) da Matta and then the yellow came out and then I got my boost back so we could at least save our position."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 6th - It was a tough race, very fast. The car was a little loose, but it was good at the end when I managed to pass (Patrick) Carpentier. I passed (Jimmy) Vasser at the start of the race and that was it really. There were some passes in the pits and whoever went off (the track). The car was good at the end and very consistent. This championship is very strong. If I can maintain my place there, I mean you can see form the other drivers (that) it's not that easy to maintain yourself up there. If I can do that every weekend, it's good. Of course it would be nice to get another win, but I think the Penskes were untouchable this weekend. They were way too fast - there was nothing we could do."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 7th - HOW WAS YOUR DAY? "We lost the boost. The car was really fast - the engine had really good power and I think we could've passed some guys at the end there, but sometimes it happens. We lost a little bit of the boost, (had) little bit of a problem outside the engine somewhere, and didn't have the power we needed at the end. But power was still good. We were still keeping up with those guys even though we had like 50 horsepower less than we should've had. I'm very happy. The engine, the car, everything lasted to the end and we got some points today. All weekend we had been producing very good power on the back straight, but when something like that happens, you've just got to get the points and that's what we did this weekend."
YOU'VE GOT TO BE PRETTY HAPPY WITH A WEEKEND THAT SAW YOU PRACTICE STRONG, QUALIFY STRONG AND FINISH THE RACE STRONG. "Exactly, the whole weekend. We kept improving all weekend and we're happy. It's not first, second or third place, but it's some points, we got them and we're happy with that. We know we've got the package - the Ford is very fast, the Reynard chassis is good and Firestone tires are great, so we've got the package and we've just got to work with it and put it at the front."
ROBERTO MORENO (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 11th - A DISAPPOINTING WEEKEND FOR YOU? "Very much so. I think the crew did a good job to get us much better than the first day, fix up all (the problems) we had on the second day. We had gearbox problems on the second day which we fixed and was okay during the race. We are just a little concerned with the fuel consumption this time because it wasn't as good as we expected. It (the engine) didn't have the acceleration the same way so we are suspecting that we are probably using too much fuel in the bottom, which bogging the engine down and (preventing) acceleration out of the slow corners which made us run out of fuel. But luckily I ran out in a place where I could coast into the pits."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON ROAD AMERICA NEXT WEEKEND. "I think we had great test at Elkhart Lake. It's a circuit I led and almost won in my second race ever in CART. I was very competitive there in '85 when I raced there for the first time, and I'm happy we tested there, we did so well, and we're going back there next weekend."
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT? "(In) the championship we need to go race by race. It's the name of the game in a competitive championship like this (one), it's up and down. We need to bring home as many points as we can and if we can do well at the end of the season it will come to us." CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 3rd - Obviously we had a very good weekend. The car was good - my car was good the whole weekend. We really didn't really change a lot from Friday to Saturday, I guess we just lacked a little bit. Talking to Gil after the race, I qualified yesterday right after him, and its not that they were better on traction, but they were better going in (to the turn). They were a little bit quicker every single corner and I wanted to push a little bit more but I knew that if I pushed I would slide all over the place. (My) hat's off to them, they really had their act together and that means we'll just have to do our homework a little bit harder and go on to the next race."
HOW DO YOU FEEL? "I'm okay right now (but) I'll probably be a little bit sore tomorrow after everything cools down. I think it was really hard on Friday morning. Brian (Herta) was on standby over here - he had a seat made this week, and for the first time in my life I had to park my car while testing and I honestly couldn't manage to do more than 10 laps. I was aching a lot and I took care of my back and it got a lot better. During the weekend it only got better with everything else, so I'm probably going to ache a little bit. As far as the track is concerned, I'm happy to race here and I'm happy to go the physical places. I think that the harder it gets the more interesting it gets, so I'm happy to come over here to a place like Portland and other tracks where it's very bumpy."
"Well it's obviously frustrating, especially when I think it's pretty visible for everyone that their (Penske) machine was superior today. The only thing I can say, as I said before is my hat's off to Penske - they did a great job. I guess we have to get our act together and go strong on the next race or the next couple of races. But there's still a lot of racing to go. Obviously I'm not in a position to fight for the championship, but I think we can still finish in the top six or top seven and that would be very good for me. As I said to you as soon as I got out of the car, I'm happy that I won the race for third. I enjoyed my time today."
MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 4th - "If felt very good to finally finish a race after the last few races. We couldn't race with the Penske cars but I felt I could have finished third. I got caught in traffic at the end or I might have had a good chance to catch Christian (Fittipaldi). Our car was very good today on the longer runs. We were able to run consistent laps and our second pit stop was very quick. At least we were able to score points in the top five. This was good for our team after the recent races."
TARSO MARQUES (#34 Panasonic Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 18th - "We had very, very consistent lap times, we saved a lot of fuel and we hit the yellow just perfect. When I did my last pit stop and I was going out of the pits we just lost all of the gears. I don't know what happened, maybe the clutch (failed), I don't know. Everything was feeling pretty good in the car and we just lost everything."
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES OF MAYBE SCORING SOME POINTS HERE TODAY? "The car was feeling good and the engine was good. We could save a lot of fuel during the race, much more than most of the other cars I think, and it helped a lot. We gained a lot of places during the pit stops and we could pass some guys during the race, so it was good. It's a shame that we couldn't finish because I think we could have finished in the top ten."