CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio Pre-Race Quotes

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on leading the FedEx Championship Series points race for the first time in his three-year career: "It is nice. It's the first time for myself or Team KOOL Green to be leading the FedEx Championship point...

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on leading the FedEx Championship Series points race for the first time in his three-year career: "It is nice. It's the first time for myself or Team KOOL Green to be leading the FedEx Championship point standings. Leading the points, finishing one-two [at Detroit last week] and having Paul move up to fourth in points, is a really a good thing for the team. It keeps everyone motivated and focused as we get back into another tough stretch of back-to-back races. But we all know, the only time it really matters to be leading the points is after Fontana. And that's what we plan to do." [On this week's Miller Lite 200] "I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio as it's a track where I have some unfinished business. I really like driving the circuit because Team KOOL Green has a great setup for it and we got the pole there last year. But then I got taken out on the first lap last season, so I feel similar to the way I did when I went to Toronto last month [Where he had been on pole the previous two years, but had not completed the race]. We took care of business in Toronto [with a victory]. Now it's time to do the same at Mid-Ohio." JUAN MONTOYA (Target Honda Reynard), on his bid to recapture the FedEx Championship Series points lead after losing it last week at Detroit: "The Detroit race was disappointing, and we learned from it, but it won't affect how I race in the upcoming weeks. I'm driving to win each weekend. Mid-Ohio is a good course and I think we can score some good points for the championship there. We can't control what other drivers do, so we have to put ourselves in a good position and earn as many points as we can."

PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his enjoyment of racing at Mid-Ohio: "We're getting to the part of the season that I like and I always seem to do well at Mid-Ohio. It's a great track, but unfortunately, one of the few road courses where I haven't won a pole or a race. And yet, I've qualified on the front row three times and finished second three times. I just need to close the deal. Things are really going well right now at Team KOOL Green, we're fast, consistent and not making mistakes, so this could certainly be the weekend." [On his series-leading streak of seven points-paying finishes] "There hasn't been one specific thing that you can say that has made us so consistent, it's been a total effort by everyone at Team KOOL Green. We've just been concentrating on learning something every time we take to the track, whether it's a test session or race weekend. We just keep moving forward. We're not looking back or getting complacent. We're fourth in the championship with seven races to go. There's no letting up until after Fontana." GREG MOORE (Player's Forsythe Racing Mercedes Reynard), on continuing to build momentum following a podium finish at Detroit: "Finishing on the podium with a third place in Detroit was a big lift for the Player's team and we managed to pick up some valuable points in the standings. I am looking forward to Mid-Ohio to try and build on that momentum. It's a track that I enjoy because it's technical and it really tests the driver's skills. The different turns and the uneven terrain require a lot of concentration." TONY KANAAN (McDonald's Championship Racing Team Honda Reynard), on the challenges of racing at Mid-Ohio: "I am excited about Mid-Ohio. We had a couple of very good tests there, and I believe we have a competitive car. The Mid-Ohio track is a fun track but very tough. This is a track where you really have to drive. It comes down to you as much as the car. People show their skills there for sure. It is one of the most difficult physically, and one of my favorites. This is also an important weekend for the team because it is our hometown race, and for Honda as well because of the Marysville plant. The team has never won this race, and it would be great to bring it home for them. I tasted it once and it feels good. Now I would like to do it a little bit more often!"

JIMMY VASSER (Target Honda Reynard), on the team's improvement in recent weeks: "The past few weeks the team and the car have really been clicking. The entire team knows we always have the ability to win and Mid-Ohio is a place where we intend to make it happen. I've had decent success there in the past and have always liked the course. It's another one of those courses where it's tough to pass, so one goal is to improve our starting spot. With seven races left, we have to start becoming regular visitors to the podium."

AL UNSER JR. (Marlboro Mercedes Lola), on competing at Mid-Ohio: "Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite permanent road courses. It's a lot of fun to drive and the fans really support us. We've had pretty good luck there in the past, and I hope some of that luck is with us this year. The keys will be capturing a good starting position and not making any mistakes during the race."

HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (Hogan Motor Leasing, Inc. Mercedes Lola), on the peculiarities of Mid-Ohio: "I like the elevation changes at Mid-Ohio. The circuit reminds me a lot of a go-kart track. It's big and small at the same time. You have to drive hard all the time. It's no place to take a rest! Some tracks, like Milwaukee and Portland, are easy for me. I can just cruise, but not at Mid-Ohio. You really need to be on top of things and drive hard all the way around, or else you won't get the most out of the track and the car. It usually is pretty hot when we're there, and that can be a factor. Drivers really need to start preparing early, getting well hydrated, keeping up their physical training program, etc. The toughest physical aspect of the race for me has always been the stint right after the first pit stop. When you go back out on fresh tires you have so much grip in the car that the steering tends to become very heavy. The heat helps you with car control, creating so much grip, but really can wear you out quickly trying to maneuver turns and elevation changes."

MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes), on the similarities between Mid-Ohio and European road racing circuits: "I think of Mid-Ohio as one of the 'real' circuits that we race on. It's quite similar to European tracks, and I like the place a lot. In addition to being very technical, it's also physically demanding. It's a great feeling to get the maximum out of a car there."

MARK BLUNDELL (Motorola PacWest Mercedes), on his enjoyment of Mid-Ohio: "Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite American tracks. It's a very technical course, with a lot of elevation changes and a nice variety of high and low-speed turns. It's tough to find a perfect balance, and you need to have a smooth and flowing driving style. We had an excellent car here last year [Blundell was second in provisional qualifying] but unfortunately, we got caught up in the first-lap incident."

ROBBY GORDON (Johns Manville/Panasonic/Menards Toyota Swift), on putting the disappointment of the two Michigan races behind him: "That was a thoroughly forgettable pair of weekends up there [in Michigan]. I've always enjoyed driving at Mid-Ohio. It's a place where you can really let it all hang out; a true road course with a good balance of fast and slow sections - a momentum track - and one where we did pretty well in testing a couple of weeks ago. We hope we can build on that starting the first practice session on Friday."


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Series IndyCar