CHAMPCAR/CART: Mont?rr?y: Ford Racing race notes

Michel Jourdain, Jr., Leads Four Ford-Powered Top-10 Finishers In The Tecate Telmex Grand Prix Notes: JOURDAIN SCORES CAREER-BEST ROAD COURSE RESULT - Team Rahal driver Michel Jourdain, Jr., finished fourth in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix to ...

Michel Jourdain, Jr., Leads Four Ford-Powered Top-10 Finishers In The Tecate Telmex Grand Prix

Team Rahal driver Michel Jourdain, Jr., finished fourth in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix to score his best-ever result on a road or street circuit (6th - Vancouver, 2001). Cristiano da Matta successfully defended his race championship to score his third consecutive CART victory, while Dario Franchitti finished second and Christian Fittipaldi third. Alex Tagliani finished fifth and teammate Patrick Carpentier drove from his 17th starting position to finish seventh, while Max Papis, who was making his 100th career Champ Car start, made up nine positions with his ninth-place result.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 4th

"This is a dream come true. For months I had no deal to drive this season and I have to thank my family, my father and my friends for the support they gave me during that hard time. I also have to thank Gigante and Office Depot for believing in me, and Team Rahal gave me a great car and we were very, very fast all weekend long. This is a great, great result. It's a great first weekend for my sponsors and a very good weekend for my first race of the year. Hopefully we'll keep this up so we can compete for a good place in the championship."

YOU'RE RUNNING AT THE FRONT WITH THE BIG BOYS NOW. DID YOU HAVE ANY CLOSE CALLS THIS AFTERNOON? "Not really. We were starting to lose the brakes so I had to back off a little bit to take care of them, but everything worked out for us today."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 5th

"Our cars, compared to the Lolas, were a little bit slower to warm up the tires, and after seven laps my car started to hold really well. Tony Cicale and my team told me that the back markers were running really quick lap times so I had to pass. I passed Dario [Franchitti] going into the hairpin, [Adrian] Fernandez the same thing. I tried to pass him at the end of the straightaway and I went in the grass, but I passed him after that in the hairpin and my car ran strongly under braking when I ran away. When we came in for our first pitstop the airjack was not working and we lost a lot of time and momentum at that point. We tried to catch up, but it's so difficult because everybody runs such quick lap times, even in the back. I was pushing really hard and doing the best I could, but our pitstops were a little bit slower than everybody else. Under the circumstances I think the team did a good job to finish fifth. If we can be in the top five all season long we'll look very good in the championship and that's our goal."

WHAT WAS YOUR PIT STRATEGY? "I think everybody was really nervous at the beginning of the race because there were a lot of things to learn. This was a test for every team, but Long Beach is going to be different. I think it's going to be a good season for us. We've started well and were running in the top three of the race. I know these mechanical things can happen but we're happy we finished the race."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 7th

"At the beginning of the race we said we would mostly communicate via radio because we didn't want everybody else to know the strategy that we were on. So I didn't even look for the pit board; I don't even know if it was there. My crew chief tried calling me and the radio was on the wrong channel - it was on the mechanic's channel - telling me to pit. Obviously I didn't hear him and I didn't pit, so we passed 27 laps and CART gave us a black flag, which is a shame. I think we could've easily been on the podium today, but we came back out and ran some decent laps. I tried to pass one guy but Alex [Tagliani] was in front of him. I thought I might hit him so I locked up all four wheels, went backwards and stalled the car. We still finished seventh, but it could've been much better."

ARE YOU PLEASED THAT YOU SCORED POINTS AFTER THE WAY THE WEEKEND STARTED OUT? "Yeah, I mean we got some points. Last year we only got points in five or six races in the middle of the season and finished 10th. I figured that the guy who finishes fifth all season will win the championship by far, so we just need to get the points to be there in the past."

MAX PAPIS (#22 Rockwell First Point Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 9th

"It was a very good race and we were on target with what we wanted, a top four or five finish. We still finished in the top 10 so it was pretty acceptable. We lost three spots on the last pit stop because we had a problem changing the right rear tire. But overall we were right there on target considering how late the Sigma program started and how far behind we were on Friday. We did a good job today and I think it's an encouraging beginning for our season."

WHAT PIT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO MOVE FORWARD? "We put ourselves in the front by passing some people in the beginning and later on just using the opposite strategy of the leaders. That paid off because in the middle of the race I was running in the top three or four, and I think we even led a few laps. This is just the beginning, so hopefully we'll be able to build up this for the next race in Long Beach."

TODAY WAS YOUR 100TH CAREER START IN CHAMP CARS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? "I'm very proud that I led one or two laps in my 100th start and it was a special moment for me. But I have a few other goals. Michael Andretti has over 40 career wins. I don't know if I'll be around to achieve that, but it would be nice."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 17th

"This is very, very painful. We were doing great in our debut race and we were very competitive throughout the weekend. We were third fastest in the morning warm-up and I think we had the tools to have done great today. Unfortunately something let go in the back of the car and I'm just sorry for the team and for all the fans. When I got out of the car the crowd cheered me so much it made me feel much, much better, so at least that's something good. We'll fight for in the upcoming races and my lifelong dream of racing in CART has come true."

JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 19th

"I got a couple of spots on the start, getting past [Bruno] Junqueira and [Townsend] Bell. Then going into the hairpin in [Turn] Five [Townsend] Bell ... I mean, I've got a lot respect for him and he's a good driver and I guess he had rookie jitters. He came flying up the inside where there's light grip anyway, on cold tires and I was going to turn in. I saw him coming through and I couldn't believe he was going to go for it like that on the first lap. He hit right into the side of [Kenny] Brack turning into the corner. If Brack hadn't had been there, he would've gone flying off the track he was coming in so hot. I tried to go around the outside of the melee and I thought I was clear, but they must've rolled back into me. Just a big, big rookie mistake on Townsend's part, but he's good and he'll get over it. It's just unfortunate for guys like me and Brack who are running for the championship to get knocked out so early. I guess he is to, but it was a stupid, stupid thing to do on the first lap of the race."

-ford racing-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain