This Week in Ford Racing July 6, 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series Kmart/Texaco Havoline Ford-Cosworth driver Michael Andretti looks to defend his 1998 position this weekend as the CART series heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake,...
This Week in Ford Racing July 6, 1999
CART FedEx Championship Series
Kmart/Texaco Havoline Ford-Cosworth driver Michael Andretti looks to defend his 1998 position this weekend as the CART series heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Andretti, who is in his 17th season in the FedEx Championship Series and holds the CART career victory record with 38 wins, looks to tie Al Unser, Sr. for third place on the all-time Champ Car victory with a win this weekend. Also, should Andretti lead nine laps during the weekend, it will mark the 6,000th lap that Andretti will have led a lap in Champ Car competition. Consequently, Andretti's 5,991 laps led is more than 2,700 more than second place Rick Mears who has led 3,286.
6 MICHAEL ANDRETTI, K-Mart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Cosworth -- WHEN YOU HEAR SOMEONE CITE THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS THAT YOU HAVE HAD THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND? DO YOU EVEN GET USE TO HEARING THAT STUFF? "Just that I wish I would have had more. I'ma bit greedy you know. I am pretty proud of what I have been able to do. I have really achieved the goal I wanted to and that was to win a lot of races. To be able to be leading that category means a lot to me right now."
WHEN YOU WON AT GATEWAY HOW BIG OF A RELIEF WAS THAT FOR YOU? YOUR SEASON HAS NOT BEEN THAT BAD BUT AGAIN YOU HAVE HAD NEAR MISSES? "It felt really good. We all needed that really bad and the way we won it was fun too. We had a good battle with Helio (Castro-Neves) and to win in that fashion makes it feel even better. Hopefully we can notch a few more before the end of the year."
WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG DRIVER, ONE OF THE YOUNG GUNS OF THE SERIES, WAS IT EASIER BEATING THE VETERANS FOR YOU? OR, NOW THAT YOU ARE CONSIDERED A VETERAN, IS IT EASIER BEATING THE YOUNG GUNS OF TODAY? "That's a good question. It's tough out there. The talent out there is so strong right now. What makes it even more so is that the teams are all so close together now. There is really no way to get an advantage out there anymore. It makes it harder to beat those guys. For me it's a little harder now than it use to be."
HAS THE CLOSENESS OF THE SERIES CHANGED THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE PADDOCK AT ALL? IS IT A BIT MORE CUTTHROAT THAN IT WAS OR ARE THERE STILL MAJOR DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SAY A FORMULA ONE WEEKEND? "I still think it is quite different from F1 from the way it's structured. It is more competition orientated and everyone has a lot of respect out there for each other. I wouldn't call it cutthroat, I think guys are still out there doing good fair racing and there is good competition and in F1 you don't really know. You really have to watch out because the knives are flying over there. It is quite different in that way."
YOU ARE ABOUT THE ONLY PERSON RUNNING SWIFTS OUT THERE. IS IT JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE MORE EXPERIENCE WITH THEM? WHY IS IT YOU ARE SO MUCH BETTER WITH THOSE CHASSIS THAN ANY ONE ELSE HAS BEEN ABLE TO BECOME? "I think that our team just has more experience with them. There are not a lot of Swifts out there but the ones that are out there have gotten good results. You look at P.J. (Jones) who finished second at Nazareth. That was his best finish ever. The car is very competitive and there have been times when the other Swifts have run well so to be down on the car I think is not fair."
YOU AND CHRISTIAN (FITTIPALDI) HAVE BEEN VERY CONSISTENT THIS YEAR. DO YOU THINK THE TWO OF YOU ARE GOING TO BE BATTLING IT OUT FOR THE WIN THIS WEEKEND? "He is going to be really difficult to beat there. He is definitely going to be one of the guys to beat. We had a really good test there and I am looking forward to this weekend."
WHO ELSE DO YOU HAVE TO BEAT? ANYONE IN PARTICULAR? "Well obviously Montoya is going to be strong. Franchitti is going to be tough and then you have the Player's team. There are just so many out there that you have to beat."
YOU HAVE BEEN HAVING A GOOD SEASON THUS FAR BUT JUAN MONTOYA IS HAVING AN EVEN BETTER SEASON. WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS GOING TO TAKE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "It's going to take just finishing races. We gave away a few races if you look back. Milwaukee hurt us a lot because I believe we would have picked up a lot of ground there. So, we just can't have that happen anymore. We just have to hope that he still has a few of the bad brakes that we got in the beginning of the season. In this game things can turn around very quickly. We just need to keep the pressure on him."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THE RACE COURSE AT ROAD AMERICA? "I love Elkhart Lake. It's one of my favorite racetracks. It has everything from long straights into slow corners so you can pass. It's got up hills and downhills. It just has everything you want in a race track. I just really enjoy it."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN LEARN AT ROAD AMERICA THIS WEEKEND THAT YOU CAN TAKE WITH YOU THE FOLLOWING WEEK WHEN THE SERIES HEADS TORONTO? "Probably not a whole lot because they are two different types of tracks. CART has four different types of tracks that we race on. We have the street circuits, natural road course and high and low speed ovals and those four are quite different from one in other. There is not a whole lot that we can use. There is probably going to be more stuff that we can use from what we learned at Long Beach and things like that which will help us out in Toronto."
SINCE YOU GUYS ARE COMING TO TORONTO NEXT WEEK WHAT IS IT ABOUT TORONTO THAT YOU LIKE OR DISLIKE? "I really like the race track in Toronto. I was kind of partial to the old layout. I really like that last turn that use to be there but they had to get rid of is because they had to put some buildings in there or something. I was a little disappointed in that but it is a track that I really like. It's probably one of the best to drive and one of the best street circuits to drive."