Bridgestone Potenza 500 "Quoteboard" CRISTIANO DA MATTA ( ...
Bridgestone Potenza 500 "Quoteboard"
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) "Some people don't like it a lot, but personally I enjoy going to Japan a lot. I really like the culture and the people. I really like the way they do things. It is just so different for me, being a Brazilian. Looking at the way the Japanese people do things, the way they appreciate your sport is just so different. I enjoy it a lot. I love to spend time in Tokyo the days before I go to the racetrack. I like the racetrack. I like the hotel - especially the karaoke at the hotel. I like to sing too. It's just a very pleasant experience, for sure, a great opportunity."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "Long Beach was awesome but if we are able to also get a win in Motegi, that would be huge for us and for Honda. With Motegi being the home track for Honda, you feel a little extra incentive to bring home their first victory and believe me, Team Motorola would love to do that for Honda. I like Motegi, it's a really good track. The track has two completely different corners so it's very challenging to get the set-up working just right, you really have to have a compromise in set-up to get through both ends of the track. It's a track that allows passing and it's really fun to drive. I don't think things are going to change a lot with the Lola because we haven't really done any testing with the Reynard on the oval this season. We did test the Lola on the Homestead oval, and although the Homestead track is completely different than Motegi, I think we were able to feel the basics of the set-up and basic reactions of the car, so that should help."
MAX PAPIS (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "After our performance at Long Beach, I am really looking forward to returning to Japan and running hard for all the great fans over there. We are hoping to continue our run of success and we hope to improve on our finish from Long Beach. We would really like to stay in the top five during the race and leave Japan in the top five in points. That's the goal and maybe we can get another podium. I think this is a great event for everyone and there's a great background of racing in Japan. I have raced here several times and have always enjoyed it."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think the team has a good baseline set-up for this track. Last year we had a good car and finished fourth despite being at a power disadvantage due to the valve issue. It should be a good, close race this year but hopefully not to close if the Lilly car is at the front of the pack. Toyota is going to do everything they can to win the race this year. For most of the weekend in Long Beach, we looked like we could bring Toyota a win in a race they sponsor but we came up short. Hopefully we can make it up to them in Japan. The team has built some good momentum up to this point in the season and we plan to carry it over in Japan. The race is also the biggest one for Bridgestone of the season so we plan to put on a good show for everyone. Not only is Newman/Haas Racing on a roll right now, I think CART is too. Everyone is doing a better job of marketing the series. Chris [Pook] is being aggressive and it is building momentum for CART. The fans like the new changes, especially with qualifying and in the race and that can only help our momentum. The first two races were a big success for the series and Japan should be as well."
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's going to be great to get to Japan. It's always special to return to a track that you have won on. This will be even better since it's the place that I got my first win. I like the ovals and Team Target has a good oval setup. You never know what will happen, but I feel really confident that I can win this race again. We are starting to gain some momentum with our performance last week in Long Beach. That was really our first race as a team since we only completed a few turns down in Mexico. Things went pretty well for us during the race in Long Beach. We had some great pit stops and the car was good throughout the race."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Twin Ring Motegi is an interesting track for our first oval race of the season. It's a big test for drivers and the car's equipment package because the track is almost a cross between a super speedway and a short oval. Some of the turns are quite tight but the back straight is extremely fast. The testing that Team Player's did at Homestead a few weeks ago somewhat simulated the Motegi Twin Ring and the results of that session were very positive. We've had a fast, reliable car in off-season testing and in our first two races, so there's every reason to believe we can do well on the Motegi oval. "Plus, there's the fact a Ford-engine car has won the last four races in Japan. From a personal standpoint, this is my third visit to Japan and I hope the third time is the charm because I haven't been satisfied with my first two races there (15th, 22nd). We started the road-course part of the season in good fashion with a fifth-place finish in Mexico. It's important to have a big start on the ovals, as well."
TORA TAKAGI (#5 Pioneer/Denso Special Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone): "After our strong finish at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, I am really looking forward to racing at home in Japan in front of my home crowd. I think that Toyota is again going to be the engine to beat, and I am happy to have one behind me. My crew has also been really, really fast in the pits, and as quickly as we go on this oval, their performance during the pit stops will again be critical to our success and to a good finish. Last year we had a small mechanical problem that kept us from being competitive, so I feel like I have some unfinished business to take care of. The oval testing we have done so far this season has gone really well and the car has been showing some fantastic reliability this year, so it's good to feel fast and confident of a solid finish. The new rules will also make the racing really exciting. I can't wait to do well back at home."
SCOTT DIXON (#7 PWR Championship Racing Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Racing at Motegi as a rookie last year was a great experience. The fans enjoy motor racing and it really adds to your motivation. It's a tough race and even though I had a good car there last year, I didn't qualifying so well (20th) and had to work hard for every position. I finished the race in ninth position thanks to good fuel conservation and a great pit strategy. The Toyota has been very strong and consistent on ovals, so I'm confident we'll produce some good results. I was disappointed with the outcome of the Long Beach race, but I'm certainly not discouraged. The team has been working very hard along with Toyota and Lola - we just have to keep at it in hopes to make up some ground and bring home points."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "One of my goals heading into each race is to try to improve on the performance I had the previous year at that particular track. Twin Ring Motegi is certainly one of the tracks where I'm looking for some major improvements because in three previous races there I'm still looking for my first finish. I have a lot of confidence that things are going to go better this time. When Team Player's did some testing for the Motegi race on the Homestead, Florida oval last month, it had the fastest time, and that's a good sign. Despite the fact we haven't had too much success at Motegi in the past, I enjoy racing in Japan. The CART FedEx Championship Series is very popular there and the drivers are really able to connect with the fans. Plus, I'm a bit of a history buff, so I enjoy learning about the country when I'm over there. I'm also a big fan of sushi, so I make sure I get my fill of it in the Japanese restaurants. But there's no doubt that the sushi would taste even better with a race win to celebrate. I'm determined to do as much as I can to make that happen."
ORIOL SERVIA (#17 PWR Championship Racing Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Motegi is a place I like because the track and the facilities are very nice. Turn One is very fast while the other ones are quite technical and difficult, which make for a good combination. I always enjoy going to Japan, but the last two years at Motegi have not been very good for me. Two years ago I had an incident at the start and didn't complete a lap. Last year we had a couple unfortunate issues - we ran out of fuel on my second pit stop and I had to coast into the pits. After fueling the car I was able to get back out on track, but then lost radio contact, which complicated things even more. Toyota-power has proven to be solid on ovals and we've been working very hard on our oval set-up, so I think we're going to be strong there."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's an important race for us, and it would be great to win it for Honda. Hopefully, with what we have learned in the last two races, we will be able to accomplish that. We have been working hard, and working hard with [teammate] Shinji [Nakano] to help him get a good result at his home circuit. A lot of things happened in Long Beach that didn't really show the true potential of the team. We are getting closer to where we should be. Hopefully we can have a smooth weekend in Japan and prove what we are capable of. "We tested at Homestead and have a little taste of what to expect. The Motegi facility is first-class. I have always enjoyed going to this race and have a lot of great memories."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "Japan was good and bad for me last year. I qualified fifth and we had a good car during the weekend. But, unfortunately I wasn't able to finish more than one lap. I spun on the first lap and that ended our day. It was a long way to go for just one lap. But I learned a lot in my first year and I think that this year will be a lot better for us. I had a lot of good results last year on the ovals. I won my first pole last year in Nazareth and had five top-10 finishes on ovals last year. I think that we have a good chance to win this weekend in Japan."
SHINJI NAKANO (#52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm really looking forward to the race. It's Japan, my home country, a Honda circuit and the last year for Honda, so this race means a lot. I will try to just concentrate on what I have to do. Of course, there is a lot of pressure, but I will try to not feel too much pressure, be like normal and just concentrate. My goal is to win the race, for myself, for Honda and for Japan. I believe we can do it. It is going to be interesting for all the drivers. Nobody really knows who is quick and who is not on the ovals at this point. And, with the new regulations for this year, all the race strategy will be completely different. Nobody knows what can happen in the race. Basically I think a quick car is going to win the race. Not like last year, when you had to save fuel. It will be a very exciting race. We went to Homestead before Long Beach, and that was our first oval testing in the Lola. It wasn't really a successful test for us. We really couldn't find a good setup for the car at Homestead. We found a pretty good setup at Long Beach and, while there is obviously a difference between a street circuit and an oval track, we found something for this new car and I think we can use this advantage in the car on the oval track as well."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#16 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm very excited to go to Japan for the first time. One of the most things exciting things to me about being a driver in the FedEx Championship Series is the travel. I haven't had the opportunity to visit Japan before so I'm looking forward to taking a day or two to sightsee in Tokyo and get to know a little bit about the culture. I'm also very much looking forward to my first oval race in Champ Cars at Twin Ring Motegi. I know I still have a lot to learn and the ovals are a great challenge. I can't wait!"
TOWNSEND BELL (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): "I am very excited about my first race in Japan. In addition to being a very important race for me personally, it is also important because Toyota, which has never won this race, is the engine supplier for the Visteon/Patrick Racing team and Bridgestone is the tire supplier for the series. It would be great for me, my sponsor Visteon, Toyota and Bridgestone if I could have a good result at the Bridgestone Potenza 500. I am looking forward to racing on an oval again. I ran two races on ovals for the team last year, in Germany and England, and we had good results, especially when you consider the fact that we had to start from the back of the field because there was no qualifying. We have a good basic setup for the medium sized ovals so I am looking for some positive results at the Bridgestone Potenza 500. I was disappointed after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach because we had shown with our qualifying effort that we were fast. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team was in a position to get some points and we came away with nothing. I am anxious to get back on the track and try and put some points on the board."
TONY KANAAN (#10 Pioneer/WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Motegi looks very promising for us. It was our best race last year. We got our first podium finish for Mo Nunn Racing. Now, it's time to go one better. I come there with a new set of sponsors - Pioneer and WorldCom. And just like at Long Beach, I'm going to be busy doing stuff for Pioneer and Honda in the days leading up to the race. It's very exciting. I have friends in Japan that I get to see this time every year. I'm going to get to meet the executives and employees of Pioneer in Japan. And we always have a nice time with the people from Honda over there. Hopefully, after all of that is done, we will be able to go out and finish the race, because you need to do that before you can post any kind of a good result. "We've had two DNFs in a row, which is very, very disappointing. But, thank goodness, we have a lot of racing left this season and there's no better way to get back into the points race than with a win."