TEAM KOOL GREEN AT THE FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500 WHAT: Firestone Firehawk 500 Round 2 of 20 in the FedEx Championship Series WHEN: April 8 -- April 10 (Saturday race) WHERE: Twin Ring Motegi, Japan PAUL TRACY, ...
TEAM KOOL GREEN AT THE FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500
WHAT: Firestone Firehawk 500
Round 2 of 20 in the FedEx Championship Series WHEN: April 8 -- April 10 (Saturday race) WHERE: Twin Ring Motegi, Japan
PAUL TRACY, #26 Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard/Firestone: (Started 16th / Finished 5th at Motegi in 1998)
"I'm looking forward to Motegi for a lot of reasons. Number one, it'll be my first race of the year so I'm anxious to get going and to get my '99 season with Team KOOL Green off to a good start. I'm confident I can do that, because we had a strong race at Motegi last year and we were competitive on the speedways throughout the season. Plus, I'm sure Honda and Firestone will pull-out all the stops.
"Although this is only our second race at Twin Ring Motegi, I have lots of fond memories of the track. The first time I drove for Team KOOL Green was at the CART open test at Motegi in the fall of '97 and I remember thinking at the time just how fortunate I was that fate had put me at Team KOOL Green with Dario.
"I also remember the day the Honda people organized a trip down to the North Short Course where Alex Zanardi and I got to drive the Honda Side-by-Side formula cars. Naturally, Alex and I went at it pretty good but the best part was that Mr. Kawamoto, the head of Honda, was right there cheering us on, taking pictures with a camera and having the time of his life.
"The track itself was finished then, of course, but a lot of the really neat things like the hotel and the museum were still under construction and it was just amazing to come back here last year and see the whole place completed. It really is the finest racing facility I've ever seen."
DARIO FRANCHITTI , #27 Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard/Firestone: (Started 6th / Finished 8th at Motegi in 1998; 3rd in PPG Cup point standings with 14 points)
"Ever since my experience racing touring cars at Suzuka (winner in '96), I' ve looked forward to racing in front of the Japanese fans who are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I'm looking forward to improving last year' s race result and, now with a full season's worth of experience with Team KOOL Green, I feel I can do that. And it would be especially nice to bring Honda and Firestone a good finish at their home race.
"The Motegi track is one of the most interesting ovals we race on, with two very different corners. One you run flat-out and the other is tight enough that it requires braking and even a downshift; it makes for a unique challenge when it comes to car set-up.
"Then there's the facility. Fantastic. I mean, you go up into the mountains and there it is, like something out of a James Bond movie! It leads the way in racing facilities -- from the hotel to the road course, to the garages, to the Honda museum, to the dirt oval and drivers training facilities -- it's the complete package."
BARRY GREEN, Team KOOL Green owner:
"There's every reason for Team KOOL Green to be looking forward to Motegi. Dario has tremendous confidence on the ovals now and I'm sure he's very close to claiming that first oval-track win. And Paul is always fast and a threat to win on any oval any day, but he especially likes Motegi. He ran well here last year, and I know he's anxious to put some points on the board and get in the hunt for the championship."