CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio quoteboard

Miller Lite 200 "Quoteboard" MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on rebounding from recent misfortunes in this weekend's Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio: "We've had a tough couple of weeks. And I think what I've said since the start of ...

Miller Lite 200 "Quoteboard"

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on rebounding from recent misfortunes in this weekend's Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio: "We've had a tough couple of weeks. And I think what I've said since the start of the season will hold true that you can't finish half the time and expect to win the championship. Mid-Ohio is a physically demanding track to drive. There is really no time to rest, even on the straightaway, because it has a kink and you are still turning. It's a tough track. You pull a lot of G's [gravitational forces] through the corners because they're fairly quick and it's a pretty bumpy track. So, combine those factors and then throw heat in the mix and it's a tough day for the drivers."

KENNY BRACK (Shell Ford Lola), on the physical challenges of racing at Mid-Ohio: "The Mid-Ohio course is the most physical on the CART circuit. It has all types of corners and elevation. It has off-camber turns that pull you around in the cockpit. A driver is pretty much used up after going 200 miles at Mid-Ohio. This track is the one that a driver works out for in his training exercises. It's just tough on the body as well as the mind. Last year, we got to test several times at Mid-Ohio. Now [with no in-season testing], there is no edge for any team. It should be wide open this weekend. We have had a lot of success on the ovals. But we haven't been that bad on the roads. We were on the pole at Mexico, second at Long Beach, third at Toronto and we had a fast car at Cleveland. We've had some mechanical problems at several of those races. I think we'll have good car for Mid-Ohio. We still need some good finishes on the roads right now."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), hoping for a repeat of last year's success at Mid-Ohio: "I'm looking forward to returning to Mid-Ohio after my win and [Marlboro Team Penske's] 1-2 finish [teammate Gil de Ferran was second] last year. I like the circuit because it's very technical. It's also a very physically demanding race because of the elevation changes, high and low-speed corners and the hot, humid weather. To prepare for the race I do endurance training, however, once I'm on the track I forget about being tired, because I'm completely focused on the race. We're entering the event second in the championship - 22 points behind the leader, Kenny Brack. Since the Marlboro car performs well on road courses, hopefully we can close the gap."

GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on Marlboro Team Penske's road-course success: "Marlboro Team Penske had a very good showing at Mid-Ohio last year with Helio [Castroneves] and I finishing 1-2. We've been running well on road and street courses this season, which is a good sign for us at Mid-Ohio. This is one of the most physically demanding races on the CART circuit and temperatures can be very high, which makes it even tougher. The track is unique in the sense that there are a lot of elevation changes. Some of these changes are mid-turn which makes it even more challenging to find a good set-up."

PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on the "variety" of Mid-Ohio: "A track like Mid-Ohio is always a challenge because it throws so many things at you. There are fast turns, slow turns and elevation changes that all come into play when we're trying to find the right balance in the car. You have to make sacrifices in some of the slower turns because you need to be able to carry as much speed as possible through the fast corners. We earned points in the last three races and Team KOOL Green's focus for the rest of the year is to get as many points as possible in the remaining events to challenge for the championship."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on his affection for Mid-Ohio: "I love coming to Mid-Ohio. It is a tough track to race at, but it suits my style of driving and I've always qualified well there. I haven't been able to get the finish I want, but I'm sure it is just a matter of time before I visit the Winner's Circle. At Mid-Ohio, you're constantly changing direction, the track is up and down and it is a tough place. We need to get our luck to change a little bit and earn as many points as we can to keep the pressure on Kenny [Brack, points leader] as Team KOOL Green makes a run for the title."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Toyota Lola), recalling last year's podium result of third at Mid-Ohio: "We went to Mid-Ohio basically with a completely different set-up in the car last year and it worked very well for me. We qualified better [fifth] than we had in a long time there and we ran very strong the whole race and only got beat by the white and red cars [of Marlboro Team Penske], which were really in a class all their own last year. I was happy to finish third and hopefully we can repeat the same thing this year and finish even higher. We struggled [at the last race] in Chicago on the short oval and are looking forward to returning to a road course where we have the car working well. [On the physical demands at Mid-Ohio] I think it's very hard physically at Mid-Ohio. It's one of the most physically demanding tracks and we look forward to it because it's a challenge for us in the car and I think I'm up to the challenge."

CRISTIANO da MATTA (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola), on Newman/Haas Racing's turnaround at Mid-Ohio: "Mid-Ohio is a track that everyone on the team jokes about because they didn't perform well there in the past until last year when Christian [Fittipaldi] finished on the podium. Everybody now has great confidence in our set-up going back there this year, and we have run strong on road courses already this year so hopefully, we have a winning race car. Last year, they went from a 10th-place car to a podium-finish car, just behind the two Penskes. Hopefully this year, with all of the experiments we've tried over the winter, we're going to have a much better set-up than what they had last year. It looks like they've got things turned around and we're going to be strong there, too. [About the physical challenges of Mid-Ohio] In all the places I have been to, I haven't been worried at all about my physical condition. The things I'm training for are a lot harder than just trying to drive the car - not that driving the car isn't hard, because it is very hard. I'm preparing myself for a bicycle race that is going to be lot more difficult where I [will] need a lot more stamina. I'm swimming, running, and cycling to train and stay in shape. I might be doing a triathlon at the end of the season, too. I feel that I am going to be ready for everything that comes. I think it helps me a lot because I enjoy it. I don't do it just because I know I have to go drive a race car. I do it to have some fun. I go out and enjoy the weather, enjoy the exercise, and that's the way I think it should be."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on the benefits of his recent run of back-to-back podium finishes, a career first: "One of the advantages of being on the podium in the last two races is that I've been able to make a lot of progress in the drivers' standings, and now I've got enough points to be in the faster qualifying group for Mid-Ohio. The timing couldn't be better because we're going back to road courses now and ideally, you want to be able to qualify close to the front because passing is difficult during the race. Mid-Ohio has always been one of my favorite tracks. It's physically demanding, with lots of up-and-down driving. It's also narrow, and that's where gaining a good spot in qualifying is so important. People have asked me whether I was sorry that there was a one-week break in the CART schedule, because Team Player's has been on such a hot streak, with three straight podium finishes. I don't feel that the one-week respite is going to slow our momentum. Having a week off to rest is going to do all of us some good because we had been racing for six of the last seven weeks under some intense conditions. Now, we have our batteries recharged and we're aiming for four in a row, which would be the longest streak for Team Player's. That's a record I would like to be part of."

ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on the importance of consistency: "This is such a competitive series that you really need to be consistent if you want to keep rising in the drivers' standings. Team Player's is starting to show some of that consistency, with three straight podiums and five straight races in the points. We felt from the start of the season that we could put together a good streak. We struggled in the early part because of circumstances that were really beyond anyone's control. But Team Player's didn't panic. Everyone just worked that much harder, and those efforts are paying off right now. I'm looking forward to running on the road courses again, especially since I'll have the chance to be in the faster qualifying group as a result of my qualifying performance in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. I want to make the most of this opportunity because a good qualifying run on a track like Mid-Ohio can often put you in a strong position to win the race. Last year, we qualified 16th and worked our way to 9th, even though there were only two cautions in the race, so who knows how well we might be able to do with a spot near the front of the grid?"

MAX PAPIS (Miller Lite Ford Lola), on translating his success at Portland, site of his second career FedEx Championship Series victory, into success at Mid-Ohio: "We found a certain chassis setting that works well on the permanent road circuits after Portland. I think we can use that at Mid-Ohio. But that place is hard on both the drivers and the cars. The Mid-Ohio race is the reason we train our bodies so hard in the winter months. It's the toughest physical circuit we drive all year. By the end of the race, the driver is completely drained. It's also tough mentally, because a driver is very tired and he may start to make mistakes. That's when a well-trained driver can take advantage. I think I can be better than other drivers there. It's fun to talk to the fans and sign autographs at Mid-Ohio. They are very friendly and excited about the racing. Bobby [Rahal, team owner] and Team Rahal are big favorites at Mid-Ohio and my sponsor, Miller Lite, is the sponsor of the race. So it's a very big weekend for our team and me. Obviously, we'd love to do well this weekend."

ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Toyota Reynard), on the importance of proper setup on road or street courses: "We have had good race cars at all the road/street circuits this year. That has allowed Mr. [Pat] Patrick {team owner] and [General Manager] Jim McGee to do what they do best, which is work the fuel and race strategy to our advantage. When the car is good, the driver can save fuel while still remaining competitive. Then your work the strategy, get good pit stops and you have good results. That is what the Visteon/Patrick Racing team has done this year. Last year at Mid-Ohio I learned a valuable lesson. Basically, the corners at Mid-Ohio require you to left-foot brake. When you left-foot brake, you can keep the power down and brake at the same time. By doing that, the back end of the car remains low and you have more stability going through the corner. That allows you to get on the power better on the exit. I started to left-foot brake at Mid-Ohio last year during practice. In the race, I was right- and left-foot braking, but this year I will brake with my left foot exclusively. I like the atmosphere and the race track at Mid-Ohio. I am looking forward to going back there and having a good result."

JIMMY VASSER (Visteon Toyota Reynard), on using the Miller Lite 200 as a springboard back into the championship chase: "The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team has just run into a streak of bad luck. We have had very competitive cars at every race, but for one reason or another, we keep coming up against situations that have prevented us finishing the way we know we should. The good news is that there are still nine races left in the season, so we still have a chance to get back into the title hunt. As a team, we have to focus on the details, keep fighting and start winning races if we are going to fight for the championship. Traditionally, I always look forward to going to Mid-Ohio. It is a very challenging track, but one that is fun for the driver. I have done well there in the past. I have never won, but I finished second there in 1996 and have always been in contention. Mid-Ohio is a track where qualifying up front is a big help. The #40 Visteon/Patrick Racing team needs to qualify well and have a good result this weekend."

TONY KANAAN (Hollywood Honda Reynard), on bouncing back from the disappointment of Chicago, where he earned his second career FedEx Championship Series pole position, but finished eighth: "We left Chicago a little frustrated. I guess there was no secret about that. We've been knocking on the door so many times this season that when the race doesn't turn out all that great, it gets harder and harder to take every time. But our day will come. You can count on that. I love coming to Mid-Ohio. It's a beautiful race track and a great family atmosphere. The people here really love their racing. This used to be my home track when I was with Tasman and Forsythe. And it still is, because our Honda manufacturing family is just down the road at their factories in Anna and Marysville. I missed the trip last year, but I'll be visiting with the folks at Anna on Thursday to sign autographs and take pictures. They really make you feel part of the Honda family and I can't wait to go back there again."

ALEX ZANARDI (Pioneer Honda Reynard), hoping to repeat previous success at Mid-Ohio, where he is a two-time winner (1996, '97): "It will be very nice to get back onto a permanent road circuit. Especially the one at Mid-Ohio. I love that track, and my record there sort of accounts for that. It's been a long time since we ran in a true road-course configuration. But I still believe we should have a good car because we did well in our offseason testing in that set-up.

"One thing I really hope for this weekend is to get a little bit of good luck coming our way. I think we have been unlucky a few too many times this season. But, in reality, the good teams always have to make the good luck happen because you can never count on it when you need it. More important than that, we have to continue improving as a team. We've been running up front over the last several races and we have to stay there and finish the job on race day. Hard work always pays off and we have definitely been working hard."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard), on his memories of Mid-Ohio: "Mid-Ohio is a race that I have always enjoyed. I had one of my best wins there in 1998 when we [finished] one and two for Patrick Racing. I had a big challenge from my teammate at the time, Scott Pruett. It was a close race and very physical. For me, it was a very gratifying win. I have always done well at Mid-Ohio and it is a track that I truly enjoy. I love the fans there - a lot of families. It's a very fan-oriented track. It is always fun to go there. Mid-Ohio was my home track when I was driving for Tasman Motorsports, which was based in Hilliard. It still feels like a 'home track' to me."

MEMO GIDLEY (Target Toyota Lola), on becoming a "contender" for FedEx Championship Series victories: "These last two months have been incredible. To be competing for victories in three of our five starts is great. This is what I've waited and hoped for over the last few years. I'm thankful to have this chance to show how competitive I can be, given the right situation. I thought that we had a chance to win in Chicago. We were running in second place right behind Kenny [Brack] and on that last restart, a bunch of cars got stacked up in front of me and I had to get out of the throttle to avoid an accident. We lost a few positions and ended up fifth, which is very good, but I was hoping for another podium finish. Our team is full of confidence right now, and I think we're poised for our first victory. I've won here at Mid-Ohio in the past in Formula Fords and it's one of my favorite tracks on the circuit."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (Target Toyota Lola), on the similarities between Mid-Ohio and European road racing circuits: "This track is very similar to the tracks in Europe that I've raced on in the past. It has some high-speed corners and several elevation changes. When I tested here, I was able to get a feel for the braking points and how the car reacts with different fuel loads. The last track I was able to test on [before racing there] was Nazareth, and I won the pole there and finished seventh. I'm hoping my previous testing at Mid-Ohio will give us even better results. I'm looking forward to racing there this weekend."

SHINJI NAKANO (Avex/Alpine Honda Reynard), on the peculiar characteristics of Mid-Ohio: "Mid-Ohio is an interesting circuit. You have to have a good car to be quick there and, with the undulations and blind corners, you need to have a lot of confidence going around the track. We just have to work like normal to get a good car. It is very easy to have understeer at this track. Passing is a challenge so qualifying is important. Physically, it is a very tough track. There is no time to rest. Day by day, the track conditions are going to get better, and the track will have a lot of grip by Sunday, so the steering gets heavier and heavier. Also the temperatures can be quite high. It's a nice track with a lot of challenges."

MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Nextel PacWest Toyota), on recapturing his previous success at Mid-Ohio: "Mid-Ohio is always a circuit that I look forward to every year, mainly because it is such a demanding track. I haven't done too well there lately, but I have driven to three top-ten finishes on the Ohio road course in the past, with my best being a fourth place result in '98. Hopefully, this year we can re-visit some of my earlier results and grab my first podium of the season. Track position is very important there, which means that qualifying well will be crucial. We need to start up front, and then use our race strategy to remain there. I know my Nextel crew will give me great pit stops, and Toyota will give me an engine that will run all day. The rest will be up to me, but I'm up for the test. My body is well rested after six races in seven weeks, and I'm ready to turn things up a notch for the latter part of the season."

SCOTT DIXON (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota), looking forward to a return to road-course competition: "Even though I had some success on the short ovals this year, I'm anxious to get back to road-course racing next weekend. I remember not qualifying so well there last year in [Indy] Lights [eighth], but I was able to move through the field during the race and I ended up finishing second. The track suits my driving style, and I really need to get a good result to gather as many points as possible. So far, I've had a pretty decent season, but running Champ Cars at Mid-Ohio will obviously prove more challenging for me than last year. We had a pretty good test there earlier in the year, so I know we have a reliable set-up already. It will be an exciting race, and hopefully we can put on a good show and come home with a victory."

ORIOL SERVIA (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola), on erasing last year's disappointing memories of competing at Mid-Ohio: "I remember last year really well and it wasn't that spectacular for me. I started towards the back [17th place] and finished 10th. This year, I think we have a better package with the Lola Ford-Cosworth and I do believe we can have a great race. Qualifying is very important here as this is not an easy place to overtake other drivers."

BRYAN HERTA (Forsythe/Indeck Ford Reynard), on his familiarity with the Mid-Ohio road course: "I am looking forward to going back to Mid-Ohio. I have had some good results there. I feel like I know the track like the back of my hand because I have run so many laps there, and I love racing there. I have always had great support from the fans there because I lived in Columbus, so it is a lot fun for me. This is the home race for the team, and we all have a lot of enthusiasm going into this weekend, so I think it should be a good one for us."

TORA TAKAGI (Pioneer/DENSO Toyota Reynard), on continuing his progress at Mid-Ohio: "After two productive oval races, now I will go back to my road-course roots. There is both good news and bad news for Mid-Ohio, though. The good news is that I tested at the track before the Detroit race and have some ideas about it. The bad news is that the test was not very productive as we could not get as much speed as we would have liked. At any rate, the team keeps getting more competitive race by race, and we hope to continue this good rhythm."

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Kenny Brack , Scott Pruett
Teams Team Penske