CRISTIANO DA MATTA ( ...
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I am actually pretty confident about racing in Montreal. Because the next two races are on new tracks for us since we haven't raced in Montreal or the layout in Denver and usually Newman/Haas has, historically speaking, has a very good preparation and a very good method to prepare themselves for going to places they have never been. Every time we go to new tracks, it's a bit of a question mark but I'm very confident we will be fine. It was good to get a win in Road America after not scoring many points in the three previous races. The point spread was getting pretty tight and we just need to keep scoring points here and there. There are seven more races and this
Championship is far from over. We have been more consistent that the results show. What CART can offer to the fans in Montreal is real close competition. Going to races in person is very interesting especially for me. I remember when I was a race fan when I was young and went to the track to watch Formula One, for example because CART wasn't racing in Brazil yet. I would go to the track and see the cars from the grandstand. You couldn't even see the cars up close. That's one of the cool things about CART, you can get in the paddock and have a look at the cars from really close. Of course the drivers are really busy but, if you're really lucky, you can see the drivers here and there. Those things make you get into the sport a little more. It will be a pretty interesting situation that is used to seeing everything from a distance. Another point compared to F 1 cars, CART Champ cars are a lot more similar. There are five teams that have a chance to win the race."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "From the time that I got into the CART series, six years ago, I've often thought how great it would be to have a race in Montreal, the way it was when I was competing in the Atlantic series. That day has finally arrived, and it's such a fantastic feeling to be a part of some history, with the first-ever Molson Indy Montreal. I know that it's going to be a very emotional race week, and I'm looking forward to participating in activities with the fans. But it's going to be all business once I'm in the car, and I'm going to treat it as if I was racing on any track in the series. I'm not going to put any additional pressure on myself. If you start doing something like that, it usually works against you. Even though Alex (Tagliani) and I have both won races on the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve track when we were in the Atlantic series, I don't feel that Team Player's necessarily has a home-track advantage. It's basically a new venue for every team and every driver in the CART series and that first practice session Friday morning is going to be extremely important in finding proper set-ups, checking out potential passing opportunities and seeing how the tires and suspension react to the Montreal track, which has a hard surface. The faster that you're able to adapt to the circuit, the better your chances for a good qualifying position, and on a course that you're not entirely familiar with, it's a lot better being near the front on the starting grid."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 KOOL/Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "The Montreal circuit should be a challenging one but I'm sure Team KOOL Green is up to it. It will be interesting to see how our Champ Cars run on the Formula 1 circuit. I think it will definitely be an exciting weekend. Every time we race in Canada we have great crowds and the fans are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about racing and that makes for a great atmosphere. We really need to have a good weekend in Montreal and try to make some headway in the points. TKG has typically done well at new venues, so maybe this will be the race to turn our luck around."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Montreal (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) is a track where a lot depends on how well your car is braking and how much power you can put down because there is a long straightaway followed by chicanes. The track surface was really smooth when I drove in the Formula One races there in 1993 and 1994. I think it will be the best permanent road course we will race at all season. The good thing about CART racing in this area for the first time is that there is already an existing fan base built in the area. I'm always happy to race in Canada and especially in a big city like Montreal. It is a perfect place the CART FedEx Championship. The first thing I remember about racing in Montreal actually happened off-track. The mechanics always had a boat race on Thursdays of race week in the canal behind the pits. I think the canal was also used for an Olympic rowing race. The team built boats out of leftover car parts and things they found in pit lane. Each team picked one guy and they had to row from one side of the canal to the other. There were red boats made from parts from Ferrari, and so on. A bunch of boats sank because they were all put together half-way. My second time to race there was my better race at the track. We ran as high as third place but finished sixth. We were disqualified because we were a half-kilo too light. It wasn't a big enough difference to give us any type of advantage but the rule was very specific and we screwed up. I'm looking forward to racing there for the first time in many years."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Whenever you can return home for a race on a track that's only a few miles from the place you grew up, it's something very special. From the time that the CART series announced that it was adding another Canadian race with Molson Indy Montreal, the interest and the excitement have been building, and now the big moment is here. Even in the paddocks, the teams and drivers have been talking about the Montreal race and how they're looking forward to showing the fans just how good our series is. It's great that Team Player's is arriving in Montreal on a roll, with race wins or podiums in three of its last four races. We've been able to make some steady progress up the drivers' standings, and I definitely would like to see that trend continue in front of our home fans. I expect that the Montreal fans are going to see a tremendous racing. One of the keys might be how well the tires adhere to the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, which has a tendency to get quite slick. To me, this circuit is more like running on a street course, rather than a road course. But it's a street-type course with quite a few good passing areas, so that should make for an exciting and entertaining race."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Although I had an opportunity to race in Montreal in Formula One, Formula Ford and Formula Atlantic I don't think my experience from those cars and from that long ago will offer me much of an advantage this weekend."
PAUL TRACY (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm really excited to race again in Montreal. Every time we come up to Canada the atmosphere is incredible. I had some good luck up there too. I started on the front row at both Toronto and Vancouver and I hoping to keep that string alive in Montreal. I really want to win there because I have already won the other two Canadian races and I want to have a win at every track we race at in my home country. The last time I raced in Montreal was a long time ago. It was 1987 and I was running in a support race during the Canadian Grand Prix. It was a bittersweet weekend because I ran really well and even won the race, but I was disqualified after the checkered flag for rough driving. I guess its funny how some things never change."
JIMMY VASSER (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I have won in Montreal (Toyota Atlantic in 1991) before and that is a great track and a fantastic city. I'm sure the Montreal fans will be anxious to watch our cars on the same track as the Formula One machines. Some of those sections should be very fast for our cars. That track should be good for the power of the Ford Cosworth engine. We didn't have a very good weekend at Road America. But finishing fifth is a good way to turn things around. I think we have found some things during the race that should help us going to Montreal. We have changed a lot of things in the chassis to adjust for some of the traction control of the engine. It felt better in the race. There are still seven races left in the year and we are only 28 points out of fourth. So we can still make some gains in the points despite having a tough year."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I've been looking forward to this race since I first saw it on the schedule. It will be my first time racing on the circuit, which will be really exciting because I've been there to see Formula One races and always wanted to try it for myself. Even though it's a first-time CART event, you can bet that it's going to be an exciting weekend if it's anything like the other races we do in Canada at Toronto and Vancouver. The Canadians really love to come out and see us and make the race a happening. It's always fun, no matter what happens on the racetrack. We got a big shot in the arm with our result on Sunday. It wasn't a win, but it sure felt like one because we started dead last. Things were going so bad on Friday and Saturday, and even in the warm-up on Sunday morning. Suddenly, everything kicked into gear for the race and it was like magic. We stayed in sequence, for the most part, and made up 14 places on the racetrack. That really tells you I had a good car. Hopefully, we can go without all the heartache on Friday and Saturday this weekend and get to the podium. The top spot would sure be nice. It's coming."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Montreal is a fantastic circuit. I was there once a few years ago for a Formula One race. It will be a dream to drive on that track. I think the crowd will be incredible and the atmosphere will be similar to what we experience at Toronto and Vancouver - just tremendous. We are really looking forward to this weekend. I am getting stronger day by day [Fernández is recovering from injuries received in a race accident in Vancouver] and the team has been making big gains. It should be a great weekend and a great event."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I am really looking forward to this weekend. Montreal is going to be a great race - a lot of people, a great circuit and a beautiful city. I like the track and had good results there in Formula One [Nakano finished sixth and seventh at the Canadian Grand Prix in 1997 and 1998]. I think the race will be exciting. It is an interesting circuit. It reminds me of Australia with the long straight, chicanes and hairpins. The setup of the car is going to be a challenge. You need to use the curbs. It is a very fast track and you will be in the wall if you make a mistake."
ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "It is obvious that the Visteon Patrick Racing Team has made progress over the last three races. We have not achieved everything we want, but the entire team is working hard to get to the next level. It is not just me. I am just a part of the team. Everyone, the engineers, mechanics, Jim McGee and, certainly, Mr. Patrick is pushing to find that that last piece that will bring us some wins. Montreal is a beautiful city and I am looking forward to racing there. It should be a good track for the Visteon/Patrick Racing car. Our car works well on fast corners, as we showed at Road America, and I think Montreal has fast corners, so we should be in good shape."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm really looking forward to racing this week at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. I haven't ever visited this track or raced on it but I know it's going to be great. I always really enjoy the Canadian events; the fans there really know their racing and the events draw huge crowds. It'll be interesting racing on the same track as the F1 series but I think people shouldn't try to compare the two. They are very different series with different rules, different cars - a completely different ball game really. My personal opinion is that the fans will see a much better "show" this weekend than they are used to. In Formula 1, you can pretty much predict who the top five finishers will be every race. But in Champ Cars, it's anyone's guess. The entire field is so competitive that everyone has a chance at the podium every weekend."