Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300 "Quoteboard" MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. ( ...
Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300 "Quoteboard"
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's great to be leading the Championship, all that. I have been telling everybody, I think now it doesn't count anything to really win the Championship right now, it is now leading the -- a race you can lead all the laps but the last one; that's the only one that matters and to win the championship the only one you have to be leading the points at the end of the season that is important thing. It's (Laguna) one of those tracks that's very hard on the cars because of the fast corners, you know, you are turning all the time, on the driver it's pretty tough too. I don't know how the weather is going to be but I guess this time of year maybe warmer than what we normally have, so that's even tougher on the cars and the drivers.
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) "I can't say that I'm disappointed to be getting back onto a road course. With such a close race going on for the championship right now, this race is very important. A victory would put Team KOOL Green right back on top of the standings and that's where we want to be. There's no question that Laguna Seca is a tough course to race on and you've got to have everything come together at the right time in order to win here. I know that everyone has been working hard to give me the best race car they can and I'm confident that we can come away with the results we want this weekend."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's great to be heading into Laguna in third place in the standings. Team KOOL Green has been a powerful force to be reckoned with lately and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do as we switch back to road racing. Finding the right set up for this course is challenging, but I know that we're up for it. We're all extremely motivated: We've proven that we have what it takes to be successful this season and I know that my whole crew is ready to deal with whatever comes our way. I always race to win, but a third victory here would be great (Paul won in 1993 & 1994). We've had a demanding few weeks and we're now in a stretch of back-to-back races. It takes great teamwork to be successful during this crunch time and nobody's better than our team."
MAX PAPIS (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It will be great coming back to Laguna Seca. You know I'm still the king there and I'm coming in with some great momentum being third in the championship. Of course we still have very little, but with what little we have we can still do an excellent job like we did at Long Beach and Milwaukee. We have achieved a lot so far and I'm proud of all my guys at Sigma Autosport. It can't always be Christmas, but hopefully when we go to Laguna Seca we can put on another great show. Make no mistake, we want to get that first win for Sigma Autosport and for the season, but we would be happy for a point or two to keep ourselves in the hunt for the championship. I'm really looking forward to defending my race title."
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had a very good -- probably too good -- Sneak Preview at Laguna Seca so we are pretty optimistic about the Bridgestone Grand Prix this weekend. In fact, for all of the road courses we are pretty optimistic because we were pretty strong in the off-season as well as after winning the "other" Monterrey (Mexico) race. Of course we have very high expectations for the Bridgestone Grand Prix because we were a half-second quicker than anyone at Laguna Seca so we have lots of reasons to be optimistic. Of course everyone has made improvements since then and have probably closed the gap but hopefully we will still be at the head of the pack for race weekend."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Laguna can be a very tough course to pass on. It's very important on this track to maximize any passing opportunities and really have a car that is working good in order to move up the field. The thing that is so wonderful about CART competition is the variety of our races. Laguna is always a great event and I feel confident that we'll have a good race car on the road course, just like we have had a good race car on the ovals."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) "I am excited to go to Laguna, especially after the results in Milwaukee. Hopefully we can maintain those results this weekend. I like this track. In the past, it has been difficult to pass so it is very, very important to qualify well, and finish the job on Sunday with a strong run and good pit stops like we had this past weekend. We are working towards the championship and I feel very positive. During our Road America test, even though there were no other teams there, I felt we had a good car. Road America is a little bit different than Laguna Seca, but hopefully what we learned will benefit us in Laguna."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): ""I am really looking forward to the Bridgestone Grand Prix. The entire team has been looking forward to the race after we ran well at Sneak Preview and again in Mexico and Long Beach. We had a lot of new car teething problems on my car at Sneak Preview so we only ran half of the time but we were encouraged after setting the fifth fastest time and with Cristiano being fastest in every session. I think some teams have probably closed the gap on us that we had at Sneak Preview but it would be great if they haven't. Road courses seem to be the best kind of track for our team this year so I'm hoping to have an opportunity to put Lilly back on the podium as well as score some good points toward the Championship."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's going to be good to get back out to Laguna. We had a very good spring training here in February when we were third-fastest overall. Our engineers and mechanics learned a lot from that test and I'll think we'll be prepared for this weekend. I really like the track out there. It has several very difficult corners, especially the corkscrew. What a fun corner that is. It's almost like being on a roller-coaster with that elevation drop. I'm excited to get out there and see how we can do. I think that if we can qualify near the front, we'll have a good chance to win the race."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "There aren't a whole lot of passing areas at Laguna. The end of the straightaway is about the only good one. You've got to deal with so many fast corners and straights that it's sometimes hard to get the cars properly set up for the slow corners and blind apex of the Corkscrew Curve. Grip is also quite often a problem because the track can dusty and dirty. Laguna Seca is one track where I'm glad we no longer are split into two groups for qualifying because in the past, if you were in the first group to go out, you would usually be well down the grid in qualifying."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Our Shell car was the best car at Long Beach and some different strategy by Michael and his team got them into victory lane. Our car has been very good in testing since Long Beach. So I believe we can be a top contender at Laguna. It's a great circuit and I have won many races at that track over the years. The Shell car has been in the winner's circle there several times with Bryan Herta. Now I'd like to win the Shell 300 in the Shell car too. After just missing at Long Beach, I'd like to get back to the top of the podium. The Laguna race was very frustrating last year. We had a great car in the race and I was able to run with the Penske cars but several drivers including Max (Papis, winner), Memo (Gidley, second) and (Scott) Dixon (fourth) ran a fuel economy race. The new CART rules aren't supposed to have a lot of fuel runs this year. So it should be a shootout at Laguna Seca. I like to come to places that have a great history and that is the case at Laguna."
SCOTT DIXON (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone: "Last year I qualified 3rd and finished 4th and I think that this team has the capability to do even better this year. I'm so impressed at how the car felt last week right from the start. It was so close to being race ready. We only to make a few small changes to get the car to feel comfortable. We were running in second place for a while there at the start of the race and if hadn't slid through the pit box, who knows how well we could have finished. But a sixth place finish is still pretty good for our first race as a team. I'm very excited about this weekend's race."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): ""Laguna Seca is probably my favorite track because of the setting and the layout. And I say that even though I had an upside-down perspective of the track two years ago when the car did a backward pole-vaulting of the wall after going off the track in the qualifying session. It was pretty wild and it sure did make the highlight reels for quite a while! I guess I like Laguna Seca because its track that has basically been cut out of the mountain. I find its terrain and twisty curves to be a big challenge, and I enjoy racing in this type of environment. This is the first time this season that we've had back-to-back races, so it will be great to get into the flow of things. We're moving into the heaviest part of the CART schedule and it's going to be extremely important to collect every point we can to stay in contention in the drivers' standings."
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "We were so close to winning last week, but we ran into some of those bad luck gremlins again. We led for 59 laps and we turned the fastest lap of the race. But that yellow came out right after we had pitted. Oh well, I'm sure the good breaks will fall our way sometime soon. We've had pretty fast cars all year but our results haven't shown it just yet. It's going to be exciting to get back out to Laguna. It's a great track in a great area. Like Bruno said, you have to qualify near the front out there because it's very difficult to pass on that track. It's about time for our Target team to come home with a podium finish...or better yet a victory."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I like this track very much, and it is a very beautiful part of the world. The weather should be nice this time of year. We tested at Laguna Seca during Sneak Preview before the start of the season. We were still struggling at that point to find a setup for a quick time. Since then we have improved the car a lot. We tested at Road America last month, and I have a good feeling for the road courses as well. Milwaukee was a good weekend for us except for the [mechanical] problem I had during the race. Adrian did a nice job and finished second, and the motivation in the team is high. The wind is blowing in our direction a little bit more, fortunately, and I hope it will blow in my direction this weekend."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Laguna Seca is a track that I really like to race - in fact, I started my racing career there back in 1992 on this track in the Formula Mazda Series! I think I did something like 18 races there that season and of course I've been back there the past few years in Indy Lights too. Even though they've changed the track configuration a little bit over the past few years, I probably have more experience in a race car at this track than anywhere else in the world! For me, I think the most challenging corner on the whole circuit is Turn 6 because it's a blind corner and you are coming into it really fast. You really have to rely on your instincts to get through there! I'm looking forward to getting out to Monterey - we stayed on a few days after CART's Sneak Preview back in February and did some additional testing which was pretty successful for us."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'll have to say I never imagined we'd be in the position after the first four races of the seasons. This is the third year for Mo Nunn Racing, and my third year with the team, and we all thought three is going to be a charm. Well, four DNFs and just one point in the standings is definitely not charming. But, as everyone has seen, we definitely have been strong everywhere we have gone. Every weekend, so far, I thought I my Pioneer/WorldCom car had what it needed to win the race. My guys have done a great job since the first day we went testing in the offseason. Everybody at Mo Nunn Racing has worked so very hard. Everything happens for a reason, and the biggest lesson I think we are learning here is patience. Somehow, we have all managed to keep our cool through all this, keep our heads down, and work through it. Yes, we did make life a little more difficult on ourselves by changing to the Lola chassis in the middle of May. But I think we were able to show people at Milwaukee last weekend that it was the right thing to do, and that we had a handle on the situation. Except for the little problem that turned out to be a big problem on race day. We will get better every single session, every single lap, with our new Lola. Overall, the bottom line is, we have to start finishing races. We have to start another streak ... a good streak ... and start finishing, and start scoring points. Lots of points. Like we all know this team is capable of doing. This is a championship-caliber team. As I've said before, hopefully this start to the season will be a distant memory someday soon."