CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Ford Sunday notes & quotes

Michael Andretti claimed his first win in Toronto since 1995, and the sixth of his career (fourth in a Ford). Andretti, who also captured his 40th career victory by breaking a tie with Al Unser (39), also scored his second victory of the season...

Michael Andretti claimed his first win in Toronto since 1995, and the sixth of his career (fourth in a Ford). Andretti, who also captured his 40th career victory by breaking a tie with Al Unser (39), also scored his second victory of the season (Japan), the 26th of his career on a road/street course and his first since 1996 (Vancouver). Adrian Fernandez scored his second podium of the season (victory at Rio) with a second place finish, while Paul Tracy came home third. Christiano da Matta (fourth) and Alex Tagliani (fifth) rounded out the top five.

With the victory, Andretti (88 points) now trails Roberto Moreno (90 points) by two points in the CART FedEx Championship Series' Driver's Championship. Moreno scored no points after finishing 13th with gearbox problems.

Ford-Cosworth has now powered each of the last two winners in the CART FedEx Championship Series, has scored four of the last six podium finishes and has the most victories on the season with five (Honda - 4; Toyota - 1). The victory was also Ford's first back-to-back victory on a road/street circuit since 1996 when Andretti won at Road America and Vancouver (Roberto Moreno won in Cleveland two weeks ago).

Alex Tagliani earned the "Budweiser Hard Charger Award" by virtue of his fifth place finish after starting the race in 19th position. The award is presented to the driver in each race who makes the greatest improvement in track position from the beginning to the end of the race. He is the second consecutive Players' driver to win the award after teammate Patrick Carpentier earned the honor at Cleveland two weeks ago. Ironically, Carpentier also started 19th and finished the fifth in the race.

Quotes:

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 1st - "I just want to say 'thank you' to the whole team. They won us this race today. We did it in the pits. I just tried to have patience on the track and wait for the pit stops because I knew those guys would get it for me, and they did. This just helps a lot for the championship. All we've got to do is just keep finishing (races) and continue to do the job we've been doing the last few races and we should be okay."

"This was just a perfect day and perfect timing to make up some ground on Roberto (Moreno) because he had some problems. And that's how you win championships, by taking advantage of other guy's problems. If we can continue to do that the rest of the year we'll be in good shape. I think that Michigan and Fontana to me are the two key races for the championship because they are so difficult to finish. I believe that if we can finish those races, we'll be in good shape. Whoever does (finish those races) is going to be in good shape for the championship."

"As for today, it was perfect. The whole team did a perfect job. The car was really good. It started out where I was all over Helio (Castroneves) for the first fuel stint, and his tires were really going off and he was holding us up a lot. I was just trying to fill up his mirrors as much as I could and try to push him into a mistake. He made a few little ones, but not anything good enough for me to pass him. So then I figured I'd leave it up to the crew to get me ahead of him, and that's what they did. We came into the pit stop together and I just beat him out, so that was one down. Then we had Mr. Da Matta to take care of and it was almost the same scenario. Halfway through the fuel stint his rear tires started to go and I was pushing him really hard trying to fill his mirrors as much as I could and try to push him into a mistake. He made a few of them, but not anything good enough for me to get by, so I figured I'm going to have to wait for pit stops again. Luckily he went in before us, so I felt really good that we should be able to do it (beat him out of the pits) and we did. The only problem then was these guys going farther on their fuel loads were able to come out of the pits in front of me and it was a little touchy going into Turn Three a couple times with Adrian (Fernandez). I had a run on him but he was in front of me and I knew I had to take advantage of his cold tires, otherwise it was going to be really difficult, and that's what we did. I knew I could trust Adrian, he's great to race with, and we went in there side-by-side and I came out in front. And then that was it. The rest of the race was trying not to make a mistake and finish the race. The Ford engine ran perfect all day, and I'm just so happy to get my 40th here in Toronto because it's been so good to me in the past."

CARL HAAS (Co-Owner; #6 Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth) - "We've had a lot of good times in Toronto, and Michael did a great, great, great job. The whole crew did. It was a tough race, very close. You didn't see that much passing, but I guarantee you it was a very difficult race for everybody, and everybody was very quick. I really congratulate Michael, our crew and our sponsors. And I want to say one thing else. That Ford motor was just terrific. It never missed a beat"

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#40 Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 2nd - TAKE US THROUGH YOUR DAY. "For us it was a good race. On the start of the race we gained two positions with (Juan) Montoya and (Dario) Franchitti getting together. After that I made a great restart past Gil (de Ferran), and then I saw Paul (Tracy) and I said 'here he comes again.' The same thing as in Cleveland where I knew he was coming from behind and he runs very strong on cold tires so I had to make sure I didn't make any mistakes. At that stage, we were catching the leaders, and they were quite a bit ahead of us. At that time I think I was doing the fastest laps, and I caught Michael (Andretti) or the next group. And then I had a big moment with Oriol Servia. We went into the end of the straight and I didn't have a place to go. I think I was behind Michael and he was trying to pass (Christiano) da Matta and Oriol came on the inside and I wasn't going to give up so easy. I tried to stay on the outside. Thank God he left me some room. Then I braked as late as I could on the next corner and I think he braked a little later than I did and he didn't make the corner. After that the pace was very strong. There were really no yellows after that, so I was basically trying to make the best mileage and not lose the front runners. We got great mileage. That's where we made a lot of our positions. At the end I managed to get ahead of Michael (Andretti). I came out ahead into the first corner and the back straight, but I had cold tires and he was one lap ahead of me on temperature and it was a matter of going for everything or losing everything. I didn't want to kill everything since the first half of the season has been a struggle for us and we just need to finish strong. We fought as much as we could, and at the end it was just a great performance for Patrick Racing."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 5th - "It seems that our car is better during the race with a full amount of fuel, but considering that we were starting pretty far (back), the team did a very good job during the race. It's pretty tough to pass on this course, so we were very happy with the result. I was just hoping for a finish and we did it. We learned a lot this weekend, and hopefully the car will be better and better in qualifying so it won't be as hard to pass during the race."

DO YOU LIKE THE STREET COURSES? "Yeah. It's a tough challenge to be very fast. You need to be on the edge of the track to pass that is not grass or curbing but concrete, so it's very difficult. But I think the team is strong this year, but we just need to sort our car out during qualifying and we'll be contenders the second half of the season."

IS THIS THE MOST POSITIONS YOU"VE EVER MOVED UP IN A RACE (19th to 5th)? "Yeah. I went from 18th to 5th in Cleveland, but I didn't finish. But I also did in Portland and I didn't finish there either. Our problem was not finishing the race. Now we're finishing. It's good for the points, but we still need to work harder on our car. We learned a lot this weekend trying some new stuff and hopefully for the next road course we'll be very strong."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 7th - "The car was very bad and very loose and I had brake problems. I could still brake as deep as anybody, but I was locking up the rear brakes all the time and that killed my rear tires. After that I was just trying to survive and get some points."

COMING FROM AS FAR BACK AS YOU DID, ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE RESULT? "Yeah, it's okay. A lot of cars went off and I made a few passes, but I was hoping to have a little bit better machine. The only thing we had going for us today was getting some points and waiting for the other guys to make some mistakes and try to keep battling for the championship. I don't consider this a good day. I think it was okay."

MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 8th - "Starting in14th is very hard to get through the pack if the car isn't just right. We had a pretty good car today and we had some good pit stops. I'll tell you that my physical conditioning really paid off. This is not an easy track to drive. We had a lot of wheel-to-wheel competition out there. I was racing pretty hard with a lot of guys and everyone was very clean. I know we've had some tough starts and bumping lately, but today was very good."

KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 10th - "We had a better car that our result shows. Unfortunately, I just outbraked myself in Turn Three (on lap 89) when I was battling (Alex) Tagliani and (Gil) de Ferran. That cost me some places today. I thought I could make a run at them at the end of the straightaway and I just went in too deep. I couldn't turn in or I would have hit Alex, so I went straight down the runoff area. This isn't the finish we wanted here but we did get some points."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 17th - WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PIT LANE? "Mike and Gil were side by side and suddenly Gil just stood on the brakes, like big time, and pulled to the right. I was very close to him and I lost the front nose."

DID YOU KNOW THAT HIS PIT WAS HALFWAY DOWN (PIT LANE)? "Well I knew that it was further down, but I honestly wasn't expecting him to stand on the brakes the way he did. If you're going on the (speed) limiter and then hit the breaks and there's someone running a few inches behind you, it's tough. It has been very hard for me, but we have to continue."

TARSO MARQUEZ (#34 Panasonic Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 21st - WHAT HAPPENED IN YOUR INCIDENT WITH NORBERTO FONTANA? "I passed his (Fontana's) car on the inside and then I hit the side of his car and he spun. Then, unfortunately, I lost the clutch because the stewards took too long to push the car back because I kept the engine running."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Al Unser