2002 CART FedEx Championship Series. Milwaukee Mile MILLER LITE 250 "QUOTEBOARD" DARIO FRANCHITTI ( ...
2002 CART FedEx Championship Series.
MILLER LITE 250 "QUOTEBOARD"
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's nice to be leading the championship at this stage of the season but it would really be special if I could earn my first oval win at The Milwaukee Mile for Team KOOL Green. The Lola was great in the tests at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago and I'm certain that I'll adapt well to it on the Milwaukee oval and under race conditions. It certainly worked well for Paul at Motegi. The month of May has been very busy for Team KOOL Green, what with preparing for Indy and continuing our testing program for the CART championship. It will be good to get back to a fairly normal schedule again."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm very happy with the way the season has been going. I think we have done a good chance of fighting for the front in the first races of the year, and I think we'll continue to do that for the rest of the year. But it's not easy because the series becomes more competitive every year and this year is no different. Everybody is very, very competitive and everybody has the ability to win races or at least win a spot on the podium. For sure it's not easy, but I feel that Team Rahal is one of the strongest teams in the paddock. Now we're heading to Milwaukee, which is a track that I haven't done well at in the past, but hopefully things will turn for the better this weekend. Team Rahal won there last year with Kenny Brack, we had a very good test there a couple of weeks ago, so I feel very confident that we can have a very, very good race and hopefully score some more points."
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We have a good baseline set-up for Milwaukee. It's a track that the team has had a good set-up for and been successful on in the past. We weren't as competitive on the oval in Japan as we had been on the road and street courses so in May we tested at the Milwaukee Mile and learned a lot. Everything indicates that we should be more competitive in Milwaukee this weekend. Last year was a huge disappointment for me and the team. I started third but something happened between Kenny Brack and Helio [Castroneves] at the start of the race and Helio lost control of his car and collected me. It was the second race in a row that we were taken out of the race in only the first turn of the first lap so we were really disappointed that we missed two opportunities to collect points toward the Championship and maintain our lead. The race is a home event for the team so we will have a lot of people pulling for us. Carl [Haas] is the promoter of the race so it would make him pretty happy if his team won."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "We've had quite a few weeks between races but I don't expect to have a problem getting back into the racing mode. Once I've run a few laps of the practice session that's all it takes to get the juices flowing again. The time between races doesn't seem as long when you're coming off a productive performance like Team Player's had in Japan, with the second and fourth place finishes. We have our sights set even higher because we believe we have the capabilities of putting two drivers on the podium every time we're out there. That's certainly the goal, and the race in Japan only added to our confidence that it can be done. I didn't test with [teammate]Patrick [Carpentier] in Milwaukee but I went to see him a few days after the testing session and brushed up on how Team Player's is going to prepare for Milwaukee in terms of set-ups and strategy, for example. Milwaukee is really one of those pure one-mile ovals. It doesn't have steep banking and the corners are wide, so I expect we'll see a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing. The key is having a car that is handling well, especially in the corners, and making sure you stay close enough for a shootout at the end."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Milwaukee is one of my favorite ovals. It's a true oval with Turns 1 and 2 being the same as Turns 3 and 4. I think the racing at the Milwaukee Mile is really good. It's a track you can pass on and it's a track where I've had some good luck. Next to Toronto, it's where I've won most of my races so I always look forward to Milwaukee. We'll be running the Lola again this weekend and I think we will be in good shape. We're going in with a basic set-up and I think we've fine tuned some of the reliability problems we had in Motegi so everyone on Team Motorola is looking forward to a good weekend."
MAX PAPIS (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think I've done a lot of testing on an oval lately so I'm not lacking in that! Hopefully we can have a great qualifying effort and a better race. I think I'll be pretty comfortable with the race and we can get back on track to score some points for the championship."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "It's nice to still have my name in the record book for the fastest qualifying lap (185.5 miles per hour in 1998) but I'd like to have my name in the book for a race win on that historic track. The way things went for Team Player's on the Japan oval (2nd and 4th place), it's a big confidence booster that maybe the win in Milwaukee will come this year. This is a track that produces a lot of changes throughout the weekend because usually drivers who have strong performances in the early part of the weekend don't always have similar results in the race. Based on the testing that Team Player's had on the Milwaukee Mile just recently, we're going into Milwaukee looking for more downforce because it's the type of track where it can be tough to get good grip. We worked on that aspect in testing but there's still plenty of work to do. As far as racing in Milwaukee, I've had some good times, with the third-place podium two years ago, and some disappointments, like not being able to finish the race the year I won the pole. But it has always been a unique experience running laps at a race track that has so much tradition as Milwaukee."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Our oval testing was very impressive. The Ford power was outstanding on the ovals and the Lola chassis seemed to work well in a variety of conditions. After just missing at Long Beach, I'd like to get back to the top of the podium. Motegi was a tough race because we had a very good car and a malfunction with the fuel connector caused the fuel to pour out on our first pit stop. Then the car caught on fire and that was it. So I'm really looking forward to returning to Milwaukee for the Miller Lite 250. I ran the Indy 500 for Miller Lite and it would be very nice to get in victory again for Shell and Miller. That (Takagi incident) was very frustrating last year. We had a great car in the race and I was able to run with Kenny (Brack) and Michael (Andretti). But the next thing I know I'm backed into the wall and out of the race. But overall I've had some very good races at Milwaukee. Being a collector of vintage cars and hot rods, I like to come to places that have a great history and that is the case at the Milwaukee Mile. Many of the best drivers ever have raced at Milwaukee."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "After running 700 miles on the oval in Homestead, we are in a much better position for the Milwaukee Mile race than we were [on the oval] in Japan. We pulled out volumes of information for that test and came away with a much better oval setup than we had before the race in Japan. My test, combined with the test Cristiano [da Matta] did in Milwaukee has made us better-prepared for the race this weekend. I like racing at the Milwaukee Mile. Everything happens so fast since it's a short oval. To do well there you need a little luck. Last year we were in fourth place but I was hit while trying to pass a lapped car. Neither of our [team] cars finished and it was a huge disappointment for the team. Our race shop is less than one hour down the road and the shop-based guys as well as the families of the team members come to the event so it is important for all of us to do well. The heart of the season is about to begin and we need to start this stretch off right and leave Milwaukee with the maximum amount of points toward the Championship."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I always look forward to running at The Milwaukee Mile. This track has a lot of history and I have run pretty well here. I've won a couple of times (1995 and '99) and I've led a bunch of laps too ( 347 laps at The Mile since 1993). We will have a Lola chassis again and I really liked what Team KOOL Green was able to do with it in Japan. We were quick right out of the box and we should be just as good here. It's been an exciting month of May and we've got a lot to be proud of. I'm planning on giving every bit I can at this race and with a little bit of luck we'll be celebrating in victory circle where we belong."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had a very good, efficient test at Milwaukee earlier this month. We were fast and everything was working well so we are looking to duplicate what we did there this weekend. We have different aerodynamics than last year, and we are hoping that this will help provide more opportunities for passing. This used to be a track where it was always easier to pass than on other circuits, but it has been very difficult to pass the last few years with the wings we were running. Hopefully, with this new wing package, we will be able to bring back to Milwaukee the old side-by-side fighting and give the fans a great show."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I have no good memories from Milwaukee the past two years, and I'm hoping that will change this weekend. When we tested there a few weeks ago, I was struggling in the morning. By the end of the day, the car was getting better and better and now my confidence level is much higher than before. We went to Motegi and we were struggling as a team for the first oval track race of the season. Our test at Milwaukee was very good and now I think we have confidence as a team. The weather forecast looks pretty good for this weekend, and I am looking forward to making a good race."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Here we go! After the long layoff since Motegi, I'm really excited to get to Milwaukee and really get the CART season started! I like the Milwaukee Mile track a lot and I like the city of Milwaukee too. I've had good results here the past two years in Indy Lights (2nd in 2001 and 3rd in '00). When you add that to the test results we had at The Mile a couple of weeks ago, I'm really excited. The test we did was very helpful - we learned a lot of things about the car that should help us with set ups for the race weekend. I think every time you have a good test, it's good for the confidence not only of the driver but also the team. So we are feeling good. We are feeling ready and we are focused on getting into the rhythm of the season and getting results."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/Worldcom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Wow, what a month-and-a-half it's been. First, we had an unbelievable heartbreaker in Japan when I really thought I had the car to win the race and ended up with my third DNF of the season, instead. I left Japan thinking somebody really owes us one. And I thought we would get our payback at Indy. It looked pretty good all month at the Speedway, especially on race day. But then my good friend Bruno [Junqueira] left me a little present in Turn Three, and that gave us another heartbreaking result. I'm only joking, Bruno! It wasn't your fault! The yellow didn't come out until it was too late to do anything about it. But that's racing, I guess. You know, nothing ever comes easily. We even decided to make life more difficult for ourselves in May by building new Lolas in time for Milwaukee. The guys were pretty busy taking care of business at the speedway, and they worked overtime building my new Champ Cars. We got one of them finished and we'll be ready to give it a try at Milwaukee. That's going to be tough, switching from Reynard to Lola in the middle of the season. But we're confident we're doing the right thing. Paul Tracy ran a Lola for the first time at Motegi and he qualified on the front row and had one of the three fastest cars in the field, along with me and Bruno. And Bruno and his Lola won the race. So that says all you have to know about Lolas right now, I guess. Friday-morning practice will be interesting, that's for sure. [Owner] Morris [Nunn] has a good feeling about this, so I'm going to trust the master!"
TOWNSEND BELL (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team tested at Milwaukee the first week in May and both the team and I were able to learn quite a bit. I have a lot of data and notes from my [Indy] Lights' races at Milwaukee, so I am not as far behind as at some of the other tracks in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The racing line at Milwaukee is different in a Champ Car than a Lights car. In a Lights car you have more downforce, so you take a different line going into the corners. Fortunately, I was able to run a lot of miles during the test earlier this month and get comfortable driving a Champ Car on this circuit. The car felt good during the test. I think we have a good initial setup and I am confident heading into this race. The long layoff between races has been frustrating, but fortunately, we had an opportunity to test and learn some things about the car for the upcoming races. I am excited about getting back in the car and racing competitively again. With the heart of the season coming up I am looking forward to getting into a rhyme, putting up some good results and getting back into the championship race."