Motorola 220 FedEx Championship Series Round 14 MOTOROLA 220 "QUOTEBOARD" MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on feeling some additional pressure at this weekend's Motorola 220: "There will be a little more pressure this weekend but ...
FedEx Championship Series Round 14
MOTOROLA 220 "QUOTEBOARD"
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on feeling some additional pressure at this weekend's Motorola 220: "There will be a little more pressure this weekend but that's good. Hopefully, we can go to Road America and do a good job and make Motorola proud of Team Motorola racing. It is certainly frustrating to not finish races. But you have to stay focused and go out at the Motorola 220 and expect to win and expect to earn points and expect to stay in the championship fight."
KENNY BRACK (Shell Ford Lola), on his enjoyment of competing at Road America: "Road America is a classic road circuit. It is so much fun to drive. It has all types of corners, elevation and fast straights [straightaways]. It has off-camber turns that pull you around in the cockpit. But you can get a breath or two on the straights. It's different than the physical demands at Mid-Ohio. The four-mile course is similar to European circuits. That brings me back to my roots, classic road circuits. It's great. I had a handful with the car at Mid-Ohio. We have to make the car better for Elkhart Lake. We should have a fast car on the straights since the Ford engine gives us a lot of horsepower. Everything else that happened has to be left behind us. We have to focus on racing at the next race and trying to win it. Everything else is in the past."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on avoiding the setbacks of last year at Road America: "I didn't have a very good start at Elkhart Lake last season [Castroneves made contact with Michael Andretti in Turn Two, causing him to go off course], but we were able to literally get back on track and bring it home ninth. Hopefully, this year I can make it through the first lap, finish higher and earn more than the four points I got for ninth. It's a long trip around the circuit, so if you take a chance in one corner and it works you can gain a lot of time, but if it doesn't work you can lose the whole lap. Marlboro Team Penske put forth a great effort last weekend in Mid-Ohio [Castroneves and teammate Gil de Ferran finished 1-2, respectively], and we need to keep that momentum in Elkhart Lake. I was able to close the championship points gap [With 103 points, Castroneves is one behind leader Kenny Brack], so we need to keep adding to our point total each race."
GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on rejoining the list of FedEx Championship Series championship contenders following back-to-back podium finishes: "Elkhart Lake is just a fantastic racetrack - I believe it's the best in America. It's got a great mix of all types of corners, very fast and very challenging. To get a lap right at Elkhart is very satisfying because it's so demanding and fast. The slightest mistake can cost you a lot of time. I compare it to the old Interlagos in Brazil or Spa in Belgium as one of the world's greatest road courses. It's also in a beautiful location in Wisconsin and the fans there are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. There's no question that Elkhart is one of the highlights of my season. This is the time of the season where you start to narrow down the Championship contenders, so it's vitally important to keep scoring points so that you remain in the hunt. Last year, we were very competitive here and qualified well [second], however, we had a mechanical failure that ended our day on the first lap. We're in a better position in the points than we were at this time last year so we're looking pretty good."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on Player's Forsythe Racing's recent run of FedEx Championship Series success: "One of the most impressive things about Team Player's four straight Podium [finishes] is that they have come on every sort of track - street course, superspeedway, one-mile oval and permanent road course. That's a credit to the Team Player's crew and its ability to adapt and get the car ready to be extremely competitive for every race. Something like that gives you plenty of confidence going into a long and demanding race such as Road America. I know that, personally, it's going to be a big test because I've struggled in qualifying and in the race whenever I've competed at Road America. But the way things have been working out for us lately, I just want to get out there and try to keep our streak of success going.
"Racing at Road America is somewhat like running a marathon. It's the longest track in the series. You've got to pace yourself, conserve fuel, stay out of trouble and hope the car's mechanics hold up over such a demanding course. If you look at last year, there were about 15 cars that didn't finish the race and in all but one or two cases, the retirements were because of mechanical problems, especially gearboxes. It's also important not to get too aggressive because, as I discovered last year, you can go off track quite easily when you're going too fast in the corners. It helps if you can qualify in the top 10 because then you don't have to be as aggressive trying to catch up to the pack."
PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on the importance of consistency at Road America: "It's going to take a good, consistent car to do well at Road America. The ideal situation is to qualify up front and have a fast car, and we can win the race. We did it last year from the back, but it's definitely not what you like to do. It was just one of those days where the KOOL car was perfect and I drove flat-out. Hopefully, we can replicate that this weekend. We've been gathering some points lately and making up some ground in the championship, and that's what our goal continues to be, just keep focusing on the big picture."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on the Road America environment: "I enjoy the driving side of Elkhart a lot. As well, I think it's a great place, a fantastic atmosphere. The fans are pretty cool and it's a nice part of the country. I enjoy being there very much. It was great to be on the pole last year and although my race didn't go quite as planned, Team KOOL Green had a great weekend with Paul taking the win. This year, I'd gladly give the pole to my teammate if I can come away with the win."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Toyota Lola), on changing luck in FedEx Championship Series road course competition: "Well, it's definitely a different part of the championship right now. We're back on the road courses and up till now we've only had one good experience on the road courses and that was at Portland. So we are, I wouldn't say happy, because at the same time we have a couple of good oval set-ups, but we also have some oval set-ups that in some places aren't very good. We have some oval tracks that we're very strong on, but it's nice to come into a different time of the championship and get back to the road and street courses. I think you really have to be prepared to advance in any part of the season and that's definitely what we're trying to do. There's still half of the season ahead of us and there's still a lot of championship right ahead of us. There is still a lot of racing yet to come. [On Road America as a favorite course] Road America is a lot like Spa [in Belgium, where he competed in Formula 1 and Formula 3000]. It reminds me of Spa a lot and I really enjoy that place. Four miles is a very long lap, especially in qualifying. It's unbelievably difficult for you to put a whole quick lap together because there are so many turns and so many braking areas that you always have a tendency to overdrive one corner or lose a couple of tenths of a second somewhere. When it comes down to qualifying, I think it's the most important thing that we face at Elkhart Lake. Racing there, in my opinion, is a lot calmer than qualifying. Elkhart Lake has always been very good to me. I have always run well there and last year I was running second and had to stop because of a fire [caused by an exhaust failure]. It's very good to go back to Road America. The team is just down the road from Elkhart Lake. We have a lot of people come to the race and I remember in '99 when I won the race and Michael [Andretti] finished second, it was one of those dream weekends for the team. We had qualified the cars in the top four and we finished the race first and second. A lot of sponsors were there, a lot of friends were there and it couldn't have been better."
CRISTIANO da MATTA (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola), on Road America's similarity to tracks on which he competed as a youth: "Of all the tracks in CART, Road America is probably the most similar we can get to the tracks we have in South America and in Europe. The only difference is that it's a little more narrow than tracks we have in Brazil and the Grand Prix tracks. It's a nice track and it's very long. It's probably one of the nicest tracks we go to on the circuit. I always prefer going to road courses, so I always feel very good going to Road America. It's a place that's immensely fun driving around because we have every kind of turn. The track is so long -- there are more than four miles. I just enjoy it. It doesn't feel like a challenge, it just feels like pleasure.
"It's possible to pass at Road America. It's never easy in this series, but it's very possible to pass. Probably, apart from Michigan and Fontana, of all the tracks we race on, Road America is probably the best for a road course situation. We have three very long straights, three very good passing opportunities, and it's usually a very good race. I've never finished that race before, so I'm really looking forward to going there this year because I always feel like I do a good job driving around that place. Never having been able to get to the finish line has been a little bit of a frustration for me. [On Newman/Haas Racing's success at Road America] "Well, in theory that would give us some advantage because for sure, if they have done well there in the past, they have something in their set-up that really suits that kind of race track. But the series has been so different than the years before so it's hard to predict how good we will be until we get on track. I always like to be optimistic to start the race weekend, but I like to wait until the first session to see what I have in my hands and estimate what my real chances are."
ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on his affection for Road America: "Road America is my favorite track. I like everything about it... the natural terrain, the perfect layout, the great ambience of the place and the fans who make it such a wonderful racing environment. If you include my days in the Atlantic series, this will be the sixth time I'll be racing on the Road America circuit and I remember all of them, although the one that is the freshest in my mind is last year and my first Road America appearance as a CART driver. Coming within nine-hundredths of a second of winning the pole and then leading the race three times for 23 of the 55 laps was quite an experience. As we saw last year, a lot can happen during these four-mile laps around Road America. It's rough from a mechanical standpoint, and like a lot of others, that's what finally ended our hopes for a race victory. But Team Player's has consistently prepared a terrific car for the Road America track and I'm sure that will continue this year. Having to qualify in the first group, before a lot of rubber is laid down on the track, is going to add to the challenge, but I was in that position for qualifying last year and I almost won the pole, so anything's possible."
TONY KANAAN (Hollywood Honda Reynard), on his recent run of FedEx Championship Series success: "We're climbing back into the top 10 [in the championship] after some strong weekends. This is the time of year when championships are won. So, it feels good that we're consistently putting a competitive race car on the track. Since Portland, which was a disaster of a weekend for us, we have proved our mental toughness by not hanging our heads and going to work even harder. It 's been paying off. We worked our way back into the fast [qualifying] group with our fifth place at Mid-Ohio. We had a pretty decent weekend at Elkhart Lake last year. Hopefully, we'll stay headed in the positive direction that we have been heading in and keep putting up good results. I'm proud of the guys. They make me feel like I can't wait to get back into the race car for each session on the track."
ALEX ZANARDI (Pioneer/WorldCom Honda Reynard), "Well, as for last weekend, I think I drove a good race, so from that standpoint, I left Mid-Ohio feeling pretty good about things. But it was very disappointing how it ended. I looked at the [alleged passing under yellow as the race was going green on Lap 76 at Mid-Ohio] incident over and over in the CART trailer at the end of the race. It wasn't obvious from the TV angle. But the CART officials said they got three different (corner worker) calls on the radio that it happened, so we have to live by that. They said they never get three different calls on the radio, so there had to be something there. You have to respect what the sanctioning body decides because, otherwise, it would be a jungle out there. I was sure I didn't pass Christian [Fittipaldi, under yellow], and after I saw the black flag, I let Christian go by hoping that the black flag would go away. When I saw that it wasn't going away, I had one more lap to go to the end, so I just kept going and hoped that we could somehow fix the problem after the race. But they didn't give me my points back [CART officials stopped scoring Zanardi's car when he did not respond to the black flag], so we go on to Elkhart Lake. Road America is one track that I like a whole lot. We continue to be able to get a good car on race day, like we did at Mid-Ohio. And Road America is a track where there are plenty of places to pass. [It's] A lot better, in that respect, than Mid-Ohio. There are things you learn, setup-wise, at Mid-Ohio that always carry over to Road America. So I hope we can take that a step further at Road America so race day will be enjoyable."
SCOTT DIXON (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota).on making his first competitive appearance at Road America: "I've never really competed at Road America, so I'm looking forward to running there this weekend. We did test there a while back, but I didn't get a lot of seat time to really be able to evaluate things the way I had hoped, but it still gave me a chance to get to know the circuit a little bit and it's a lot of fun to drive. My year so far has been pretty much what I anticipated it would be. I've had some success, but my crew and I are ready to return to the podium. I'm still in a good position to battle for the championship and I think the fuel mileage that I've been able to get this year with Toyota will definitely help me this weekend. I need a few good results in a row on road courses before we hit the ovals again in Europe. But I think Sunday's race will come down to whoever can get good fuel mileage and take car of their cars."
MAX PAPIS (Miller Lite Ford Lola), on Road America's similarity to European circuits: "The Road America track is so much like the circuits in Europe and I think the drivers enjoy this circuit more than any other on the FedEx Series. It isn't as physical a circuit as Mid-Ohio but it is fast and fun to drive. And it's wide enough to pass. There are so many turns - fast, slow and medium - and your car has to be good for all of those type of corners. We had a great car in qualifying at Portland [winning the pole in dry weather] and we can use that natural terrain setup for Road America. The straightaways are long there, and I think our Ford power will be an advantage. The fans at Road America are very friendly and excited about our racing. Bobby [Rahal] was always a favorite at Elkhart Lake and had a big following. Last year, the folks at Miller Brewing presented me with a Harley Davidson for my win at Miami. Now, I would like to present them with a win at Road America."
MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Nextel PacWest Toyota), on his enjoyment of racing at Road America: "Road America is definitely my favorite track to race on all year. It's a four-mile track and the elevation changes, along with the entire layout of the facility, make it a really fun place to compete. There are definitely several places to pass, which makes things interesting on race day. I can say that this track is especially tough on engines and gearboxes, so it will be a battle of attrition for everyone. I think that if we can take care of our car, we can be there at the end to fight for a victory. I won my second career pole at Elkhart Lake in 1997 but ended up finishing the race in second place, so to win there would be very special for my Nextel crew and me. Elkhart has always been a race that's pretty tight on fuel, so with the great fuel mileage we have been getting with our Toyota engines I'm really looking forward to this weekend."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (Herdez Ford Lola), on the challenges of racing at Road America: "Elkhart Lake is probably my favorite track in the whole CART FedEx Championship Series. It has a great mix of fast and slow corners, it has places where you go really, really fast, it has good braking areas and some technically challenging pieces. All in all, it is a lot of fun to drive from my standpoint and I look forward to going there every year."
ORIOL SERVIA (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola), on improving at Road America "Elkhart Lake is always a challenge, but it's a very nice track to race at. We are coming in here with some nice momentum with our ninth place at Mid-Ohio and even leading the race for awhile. I think we can maintain this and score even higher."
TORA TAKAGI (Pioneer/DENSO Special Toyota Reynard), on his optimism heading into the weekend: "Our team had a good test at Elkhart Lake early in July. We tried a lot of things at the test that should help us when we go back this weekend. We were quick from the first time on the track here during the testing and I am looking forward to going back. The track is a lot of fun to drive as well. We should do well here."
BRYAN HERTA (Forsythe/Indeck Ford Reynard), on scoring championship points this weekend: "Our Number One priority at the moment is to try and finish the race and score some points. That seems to have been difficult for us this season. We had our fifth DNF [Did Not Finish] of the season last weekend and it was incredibly disappointing. Road America is one if my favorite tracks and our package should be competitive, so we will give it our best."