CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Ford Racing post race notes

<pre> Michael Andretti extended Ford-Cosworth's dominance at the house Honda built by holding off Dario Franchitti over the closing stages of the race to claim his 39th career Champ Car win (14 oval, 25 road course) and extend his streak of...

<pre> Michael Andretti extended Ford-Cosworth's dominance at the house Honda built by holding off Dario Franchitti over the closing stages of the race to claim his 39th career Champ Car win (14 oval, 25 road course) and extend his streak of years with at least one win to 13. Newman/Haas Racing has claimed seven of the last 16 wins by Ford-powered teams.

Roberto Moreno's drove a solid race and benefited from very quick pit stops by his Visteon crew to take third and claim his second podium of the season. Manufacturer's Championship 1. Ford-Cosworth 74 2. Honda 68 3. Toyota 56 4. Mercedes 15

PPG Cup Points 1. Paul Tracy 56 2. Jimmy Vasser 42 3. Roberto Moreno 42 4. Max Papis 25 5. Cristiano da Matta 25

MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 8th / Finished 1st

"First of all, I just want to thank the whole Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team. They did a great job. The Ford engine was awesome. It had great power the whole time. The race went really smooth for us. We had a good start and I was able to get up to third right away. Then, the Ganassi cars started to go pretty good. They were pretty tough. I don't know if we would have had anything for them today. For once, luck went our way and I'll take it for sure. I knew the restart was going to be a problem because of all the oil dry down in (turns) three and four. I just kept the car above the oil dry so I would have a good clean line and just try to stand on the throttle when I knew I could stand on it and hopefully steal a little of Dario's air, and it worked perfect. It was just one of those days when everything went great. I also want to say that the Firestone tires worked great. They held up perfect all day and they even seemed to get stronger during the day."

YOU HAD PROBLEMS YESTERDAY WITH YOUR PRIMARY CAR AND WITHOUT THE RAIN, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN FORCED TO START IN THE BACKUP CAR. IF THE RACE HAD RUN YESTERDAY AND YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN FORCED TO RUN IN THE BACKUP CAR, DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE WON?

"It may have been a blessing in disguise. But saying that, our spare car should have been fine. Normally when I get in the spare car I can't feel the difference."

YOU WERE ONE OF THE PRESEASON FAVORITES FOR THE TITLE BUT YOU HAVE NOT HAD GOOD RESULTS TO DATE. IS IT A RELIEF TO GET A GOOD RESULT UNDER YOUR BELT?

"No question about it. Finally we got a brake that went our way. I think we could have been up there a few times this year already but we have just had a lot of bad luck. The season is far from over. We have a long way to go. We have sixteen races left, which use to be a season for us, so there are many points out there to get. It just feels really good to break the ice and get back up here. I also want to thank the Japanese fans for coming back out. The conditions were difficult for everybody and the ones who hung in there I just want to say thanks."

WERE THERE ANY CLOSE CALLS OUT THERE FOR YOU?

"Yes, with Tagliani I think. I got into the marbles a bit and it was a bit slippery out there and I almost bought it."

YOUR PIT CREW SEEMED TO BE A LITTLE MORE CONSERVATIVE WITH YOUR PIT STOPS TODAY GIVEN THE PROBLEMS YOU HAVE HAD IN THE PAST, DID YOU NOTICE IT?

"I don't know. When you are sitting there you don't really notice it. All I do is watch Tim and when he says go, I go. The only time I knew is when Roberto had a few good ones. That kind of ticked me off a little bit because I had to work to get by him again. But given everything that we have gone through recently, they obviously did the right thing. Look where we are sitting."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 6th / Finished 11th -

"We had a bit of a miscommunication on our third stop which hurt us. We pitted under green than the yellow came out which really hurt us. We didn't get in a full fuel load during our stop so we had to stop early next time. We had a top three car today."

KENNY BRACK -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 2nd / Finished 5th

"Today's finish was our best so far this year so we can't complain too much. The car ran like clockwork today. The engine ran good, the car ran good, but I broke the button for the weight-jacker after the first stop, which wasn't good. After that, we had a difficult time adjusting the car during he fuel run. If we wanted a good car in the beginning we were pushing at the end and if we wanted to have a good car at the end of the run we had to start with a loose car in the beginning. That's why I lost a few positions in the middle. If you don't have the weight-jacker you can't adjust the car during the fuel run."

MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 12th / Finished 8th

"The team did a good job. In the pits we did and excellent job. The car was just not there at all today. The car had a big understeer today. When I was running by myself we were all right but I definitely feel that this weekend we were not as good as we were last year. We couldn't overtake anybody."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 15th / Finished 10th

"The balance of the car wasn't where we wanted it to be. The whole weekend just wasn't a smooth one. Just too many problems from day one. We just couldn't get into a rhythm. We didn't have enough track time. During the race we had developed so much push I just couldn't hold it. The weekend just started wrong and finished wrong. We didn't have enough track time, we had some engine problems, and it was just one thing after another. On my second set of tires I developed such a harsh vibration I could barley see on the race track."

YOU WERE GETTING REALLY GOOD FUEL MILEAGE, COULD THAT HAVE COME INTO PLAY AT ALL?

"If the car would have been better, maybe. It's a mystery there what happened to us. We were really graining the front tires and at that point the car wasn't working well enough to try to win on strategy."

ROBERTO MORENO -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 4th / Finished 3rd

"We had been quick throughout the weekend. The team came here quick straight out of the box and it stayed quick. The only hiccup we had was with our last set of tires, which were not as good as the others on restarts. Coming to the podium today was a great effort. I want to thank my crew so much because they did such a great job. I think I learned a lot today on restarts today. I think we will catch up next time."

MEMO GIDLEY -32- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 16th / Finished 18th

"The car was good you know.  I managed to post the fourth fastest race lap.
The car was good.  The thing that hurt us in the beginning is my lack of
experience on the ovals, which I am getting now.  The car was as fast as
anyone else out there.  It was good."  

WHEN DID YOU START TO DEVELOP ENGINE PROBLEMS? "Well I called in because I felt something go. It started running a little rough and then it just went."

ALEX TAGLIANI -33- Player's Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 10th / Finished 15th

"Nothing was working for us today.  We were just able to hang in there with
the guys up front.  We were coming off the corners sideways and then we
couldn't pass people down the straight aways.  We didn't have very good sets
of tires and we had a fueling problem.  It just made for a very long day."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Cristiano da Matta