CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland pre-race quotes

Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline ALEX ZANARDI (Target Reynard Honda), on being prepared at Portland: "Historically, this has been a difficult race because there's been a little bit of rain over the three days, especially...

Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco/Havoline

ALEX ZANARDI (Target Reynard Honda), on being prepared at Portland: "Historically, this has been a difficult race because there's been a little bit of rain over the three days, especially on race day, so we need to come well prepared. It's important to come to town, put the wheels down and be ready to race since you may not get as much time on the track as you'd want."

GIL de FERRAN (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda), on last year's Budweiser/G.I. Joe's Presented by Texaco/Havoline, in which he was edged by Mark Blundell in the closest finish (0.027 seconds) in Championship Car history: "Last year, we had to face all sorts of different conditions during the race. It went from totally wet to drizzly, to a greasy track and finally a dry track at the end of the race. It was tough because some people chose to go on slicks on a greasy track at the end of the race and we chose to stay on wet tires and we almost won the race. For the drivers, it was definitely a very difficult race. You had to explore skills you didn't know you had. With three laps to go [and de Ferran in the lead] Derrick [Walker, team owner] came on the radio and said that Mark [Blundell] was just behind Christian [Fittipaldi, then running second], and I thought 'Hopefully, Christian will delay him a bit.' The last lap was difficult. I had a lot of wheel spin and I tried to stop the car and get good traction out of the corners. I couldn't do anything else except stick Blundell into the wall, which I would not have done. It became a drag race to the finish line and I just had a little bit of wheel spin coming out of the last turn. The car went a little bit wide, and that was it."

JIMMY VASSER (Target Reynard Honda), on continuing previous success at Portland: "Portland was, for a few months, my first CART win [In 1995, Vasser finished second to Al Unser Jr. at Portland, then was declared the winner when Unser Jr. was disqualified following a post-race technical inspection. Three months later, the disqualification was overturned and Unser Jr. was reinstated as the race winner]. But then it was reversed, so I'm still looking for my first official win there. We've had some success on the road courses in the past. I hope we can keep that tradition going, but it won't come easy. If we keep our heads down and focus on what we need to do to be successful, we should be able to gather valuable points for the championship." On sharing Father's Day with his father, Jim Sr., and other members of his family: "It will be very nice to share the day with my dad on Father's Day. It's always special to see him, as well as the other members of my family. We're a very close family, so anytime we can get together is great."

PAUL TRACY, (KOOL Reynard Honda), on adjusting to a new team and becoming competitive in the FedEx Championship Series: "We're starting to gel as a team and I think I'm getting closer to that first win for Team KOOL Green. But this series is so competitive, to win you have to do everything right - qualify up front, have fast pit stops and run a smart race - plus get the breaks in traffic with yellows [flags]. Portland is one of the few tracks I haven't won on, so this race would be a good time for it to all come together."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Reynard Honda), on his impressive FedEx Championship Series road-course performance this season: "I'm really looking forward to racing at Portland. We've been strong on the two road courses we've run this season [second at Long Beach, fourth at Detroit], and we had a great test there in April. I can tell you that Team KOOL Green is going to Portland expecting to win. Anything else will be short of our goal."

SCOTT PRUETT (Visteon Reynard Ford), on his affinity for Portland International Raceway: "The Visteon crew tested up in Portland after Long Beach and everything went well. Portland International Raceway is one of my favorite stops in the FedEx Championship Series. I always look forward to going there. I also would like to tip my hat to Mike Nealy [president of Global Events Group, race promoter] and his people. They have improved the track every year and once again this year they have made several changes that have improved the track as far as safety for the drivers is concerned and from the standpoint of fan entertainment."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt Reynard Ford), on continuing this season's success at Portland: "Portland is a track I like very much. I haven't really been able to get the right set-up there in the past and that is very important. However, I am confident we can do well there because of what we have done so far this season. I have a lot of confidence in my engineer, John Ward, and the whole Tecate/Quaker State/Labatt crew. Also, remember Scott [Pruett] took the pole there last year. I think we can keep the momentum that we have going for us."

HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (Alumax Aluminum Reynard Mercedes), on the differences between Portland International Raceway and previous road-course events run on temporary street circuits at Long Beach and Detroit: "This track will be a lot different than Long Beach and Detroit. Because it is a permanent road course, it will be a lot smoother than the street circuits. You will have a more consistent type of pavement at Portland, as opposed to the street circuits which have different and sometimes uneven surfaces, a lot of bumps and manhole covers. I feel confident about going to Portland because it's a track I've raced on before although this will be the first time I've been there with a Champ Car. Last year in Indy Lights, I won the pole and then finished second in the race. I am feeling more comfortable with each race in CART and I am looking forward to the race in Portland."

RICHIE HEARN (Budweiser/Ralphs Swift Ford), on competing at Portland: "It's a flat, wide-open track in a beautiful location. The long front straightaway is good for passing and that promotes a good race for the fans."

Source: CART Online

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Mark Blundell