CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week In Ford Racing, June 22, 1999

This Week in Ford Racing June 22, 1999 FedEx Championship GARCIA LOOKS FOR SECOND CLEVELAND WIN Luiz Garcia, Jr., driver of the ...

This Week in Ford Racing June 22, 1999

FedEx Championship


Luiz Garcia, Jr., driver of the #71 Tang Ford-Cosworth for Payton-Coyne Racing is hoping that last year's Indy Lights win in Cleveland wasn't his last. Garcia is finding the Champ Cars a challenge in his rookie year, but realizes, that preparation, or in racing terms, testing, is the key to success.

Garcia talks about the rationale behind Payton-Coyne's early season decision to skip St. Louis and Milwaukee to focus on testing, what he likes about racing in Cleveland and how he would judge a successful rookie season.

LUIZ GARCIA, JR -71- TANG FORD-COSWORTH -- YOU WON THE POLE AND WENT ON TO WIN THE INDY LIGHTS RACE LAST YEAR IN CLEVELAND. HOW MUCH OF A CONFIDENCE BOOST IS IT GOING TO BE FOR YOU GOING TO A TRACK THAT YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS ON BEFORE? "I really like Cleveland and the layout of the track. People were coming up to me last week and reminding my that next week is Cleveland kind of like I know something about that track that nobody else does and that I am going to have instant success there. I like Cleveland and it suits my driving style. Everything just went right for me last year and I hope it happens again. I know I can drive fast there and be competitive."

CLEVELAND IS GOING TO BE YOUR THIRD RACE BACK AFTER THE DECISION WAS MADE TO FOCUS ON TESTING AND REJOIN THE 1999 FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCHEDULE IN PORTLAND. ORIGINALLY YOU HAD PLANNED TO RUN THE ENTIRE SEASON BUT AFTER LONG BEACH YOU AND THE TEAM REEVALUATED WHERE YOU WERE FROM A PERFORMANCE STANDPOINT AND DECIDED TO FORGO THE RACES IN ST. LOUIS AND MILWAUKEE AND CONCENTRATE ON TESTING. WHO'S DECISION WAS THAT? "It was actually more of my decision. I looked at our calendar and our test schedule and realized that we were only going to get some good test miles at the end of May and the beginning of June. I talked to the team and in order to do the testing we wanted to we needed some additional money. So we talked with the sponsors and the team and made the decision to focus on testing but the original decision was mine."

DO YOU PREFER ROAD RACING OR OVAL RACING? "I like road racing the most. But in Champ Cars I am actually finding it easier to adapt to the oval tracks than to the road courses. At the road courses it takes a lot more from the driver. It's not as much the setup of the car as it is on an oval. For a rookie, like myself, not having the testing can hurt a lot. So that's why I decided to step back from the short ovals and concentrate on testing on the road courses. I have had more success on the road courses in the past."

WHAT CAN YOU TRANSFER, FROM A DRIVING PERSPECTIVE, FROM YOUR INDY LIGHTS SUCCESS TO YOUR CHAMP CAR CAREER? "When I come to a place where I have raced before in the Lights car I am a step up because I already know the lines."

DO THE RACING LINES CHANGE MUCH BETWEEN AN INDY LIGHTS CAR AND A CHAMP CAR? "They may change a little bit here and there. You may use the power a bit differently and use a little more road but most of it is the same so that helps."

WE ARE COMING UP ON THE HALFWAY POINT OF THE SEASON. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU, AS A CART ROOKIE, NEED TO DEVELOP THE MOST TO IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE? "I think I need more track time in order to find the limits of the car and find my own limits in the car. I have done very little testing. I would have liked to have done at least ten days of testing before the first race but that was not able to happen. I just need to keep driving and getting better. Right now I am driving a '98 Reynard that has had a lot of crashes on it. I don't know if the car is at it's best or not but I know that I don't have to worry about the engine or the tires. My engineer is a rookie as well so he is learning too."

WHAT WOULD MAKE THIS 1999 SEASON A SUCCESSFUL ONE IN YOUR EYES? "From this point on I would like to be able to go to the races and score points and finish consistently in tenth and eleventh. I want to be able to run for points at the end of the race and not because the other cars are out but because we are competitive. A successful season would be to win the championship, but realistically, given what we have in our hands, we have to look at how we judge success a bit differently. If we can start races fifteenth or so then I feel that we can finish in the points. That would be a good achievement for not only me but the team."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Luiz Garcia