CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Molson Indy pre race quotes

ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Ford Reynard), on his unexpected lead in the FedEx Championship Series championship: "When I joined the Visteon/Patrick Racing team I thought it would take some time for the team and I to adjust to each other. I expected...

ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Ford Reynard), on his unexpected lead in the FedEx Championship Series championship: "When I joined the Visteon/Patrick Racing team I thought it would take some time for the team and I to adjust to each other. I expected to be within the first six places in the championship at this point, but not leading by 22 points. I think that we have been able to perform at such a high level because of the strong relationship between the Visteon/Patrick Racing team and myself. A lot of the success is because of the strong leadership of [team owner] Mr. [Pat] Patrick and [general manager] Jim McGee, the fact that we have an extremely good engineering staff with Ed Nathman and John Ward, and the hard work of the mechanics. Having captured my first victory in CART [July 2 at Cleveland], and in fact my first win in 12 years, I achieved one of the goals I set out for myself this year. My goal now is the championship. It is still very early in the season, just short of the halfway mark, so we need to continue to perform at the level we have during the first half of the season. But, the Visteon/Patrick Racing team knows it can compete at a championship level. The Toronto street circuit is a track that I like. Last year I did well there,finishing fourth. I enjoy driving all the street circuits, but I particularly like Toronto. I think the team has a very good set-up for these kinds of tracks and my driving style is well suited for the street circuits."

PAUL TRACY (KOOL Honda Reynard), on racing at "home": "No matter how many times I've been racing in Toronto, I still get that special feeling knowing that I'm back home seeing a lot of familiar faces and meeting with Canadian racing fans. One of the highlights, of course, was winning there in 1993. And then last year was almost like a dream year for Team KOOL Green in Toronto, with Dario [Franchitti] and I pulling off a one-two finish. Accomplishing a one-two finish two years in a row is obviously a big challenge, but Team KOOL Green is up for it. We not only want to defend our championship in Toronto but we want to get back to the kind of success we were having in the series earlier this season. Despite the problems we've run into lately, we still have a very positive attitude that things are going to turn around soon. Toronto would be the ideal place to start. The Team KOOL Green crew has consistently been able to deliver a competitive car on that street course and that adds to our confidence going into this year's race."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (KOOL Honda Reynard), on defending his championship at the Molson Indy: "Toronto has to be right up there as one of my favorite tracks on the CART circuit, not only because I've been really fast there but I really like the layout, the city, the fans and the whole festive atmosphere that's part of the race weekend in Toronto. Plus, there are pretty big Italian and Scottish communities there and they've always given me a lot of support. After winning the pole in Toronto my first two times there and then running into some bad luck that prevented me from finishing both of the races, it was nice to have everything fall into place last year, with a second in qualifying and then winning the race. That was my first win of the season and we were able to really feed off that because we had three podiums, including a win, in the four races after Toronto. The Toronto race was a big turning point in the season and, hopefully, the same thing will happen this year."

BARRY GREEN, Team KOOL Green owner, assessing the team's performance at the season's halfway point: "As we hit the midway point of the season, we obviously would have liked to put up some better results than we have through the first nine races. But you can't dwell on the past. You have to look at each race as a learning process and go from there. Things can turn around in a hurry, as we saw last year when we had the one-two finish in Toronto and had five podiums in the next three races. The fact that there have been eight different winners in the nine races so far means that no one is really pulling away in the standings and there's such a long way to go, you can really make some progress with a string of good races. We're confident our time is going to come."

JUAN MONTOYA (Target Toyota Lola), on remaining competitive through the remainder of the FedEx Championship Series season: "With the addition of the Indy 500, this team has had to work very hard the first half of the season. I'm proud of Team Target for doing such a great job of figuring out a brand new car and giving me a great machine to compete with on raceday. I would love to have a few more wins and a few less DNFs this year, but I look back at these first nine races and know that the team and I have learned a lot and will be very competitive in each remaining race. Toronto is a great city and a great race. I was very disappointed with my result there last year, and I know we will have a great race there Sunday. It's frustrating to look at the point standings and to know that just a few problems have prevented us from a few more podium finishes. Starting with Toronto, one of my goals is to score points in each race -- and I plan to score a lot in Toronto."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline Ford Lola), on the challenges of racing at Toronto: "I think our package is getting more competitive. I think we've learned a lot. It's not perfect yet, but it is getting there. The Toronto track is a really good layout. It's a great street course. It is just a really good racing course for our team and hopefully we can bring home number six [career win at Toronto] this weekend. My confidence is good in Toronto and it feels good heading into this race second in the standings. The only problem is that I haven't won on the new course, just on the old course. I would love to win on the new course, and that's what we are going to try to do this weekend. It is great for the Big Kmart/Texaco/Havoline team to be second in the championship but we will approach this race just like everyone else. Roberto [Moreno] is the guy to beat right now since he is leading the standings. We just need to keep scoring points and bringing home consistently good finishes. We have been running strong on the street and road courses and we need to make up as many points as we can every race."

GIL de FERRAN (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on turning qualifying success into race-day success at the Molson Indy: "While I qualified on the pole last year and have consistently run fast in Toronto, I've never finished the race in a good position. I hope to change that this year and bring the Marlboro car home in the points."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (Marlboro Honda Reynard), on continuing his successful run on FedEx Championship Series street circuits: "I'm looking forward to racing in Toronto this weekend. Marlboro Team Penske has been running pretty well on street courses - I finished second in Long Beach and won my first CART race on Belle Isle [Detroit]. One of the biggest challenges will be setting up the car to work well over the surface changes from concrete to asphalt. We'll be able to work on the set-up Friday and Saturday, and hopefully come Sunday we'll be in a good position on the grid and in the points at the end of the race."

KENNY BRACK (Shell Ford Reynard), on building upon his career-best runner-up effort at Cleveland: "I was really proud of the effort the Shell team put together at Cleveland. It was a strange weekend for us. We went from third on Friday to 15th on Saturday to a podium finish on Sunday. All through the weekend the crew kept positive and worked toward making the car as good as possible. Even when we were having problems on Saturday, there was an attitude that we would get things turned around and be on pace. The biggest obstacle for me was figuring out what I needed from the car for a road race. I have felt like I found my rhythm for driving the road courses at Long Beach [his first street race]. Adapting to the race strategies, the pit stops and the demands on the car were the real challenge for me. Fortunately with Team Rahal I have a great crew and my engineer Don Halliday has been vital in helping me with the learning curve. I have never raced in Canada or been to Toronto so I am looking forward to the experience. Everything I keep hearing about the Canadian fans is how knowledgeable they are and how there is a carnival atmosphere that surrounds the race."

JIMMY VASSER (Target Toyota Lola), on regaining the momentum with which he began the FedEx Championship Series season: "It would be nice to finish off the first half of the season with a podium finish. We struggled a bit after the first few races, but we put together a nice run in Cleveland [finishing eighth], so I think we have our confidence back.

"I haven't experienced a great deal of success in Toronto, but you have to start somewhere, and I have a feeling we'll put it all together this weekend. It takes a few races for everyone to get used to their cars and their teammates, and some teams figure out those things sooner than others. After the mid-point, however, all teams are pretty much on the same page and that's when the battle for points really begins. I like our chances heading down the stretch, but a good performance in Toronto would be a good way to conclude the first half of the year."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Big Kmart/Route 66 Ford Lola), on his car's improvement on street courses: "I think our car is more competitive on an oval as opposed to a street or road course right now but we are improving. We were in difficult shape in Long Beach, better in Detroit, and a lot better in Portland. We started out fast in Cleveland but didn't keep improving as the track got better and struggled in qualifying. We ran well in the race, though, and I think we learned some things that will help in Toronto but we're still as competitive as we want to be. We ran well in the past three races and could have had three podium finishes rather than just one, but events out of our control changed that and put us behind in the standings compared to where we could have been. The Big Kmart/Route 66 team has our work cut out for us this weekend. The Toronto course is very interesting, especially when you are coming back to the pits. There's a nice flow of right and left corners. The car has to have a good speed for the middle of the corner, and has to have a nice flow, and it's not very important if you brake really well or put the power down. You actually have to go through the turns at a nice flow and in my opinion, that's where you pick up all the time on that track. [On last year's third place finish] The car was very competitive last year and there was not a lot of things we could have done differently. It was a good weekend. We finished third and got beaten fair and square by Dario [Franchitti]."

MAX PAPIS (Miller Lite Ford Reynard), on turning recent misfortunes around: "We have been unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time on several occasions this year. Last year, it seemed we always just missed the mishap on the track, where this year, we find ourselves in the middle of them. Just when we have taken a step forward like Detroit [2nd place], we have been beset by another setback [DNFs at Portland and Cleveland]. The great thing about the Miller Lite team is that even though we have had our difficulties, the crew is upbeat and we are doing the little things that we need to do to be successful. If we can get a run of good luck, we can be a contender over the second half. We were able to put together a strong second half last season and I feel we can do that again in 2000."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing Ford Reynard), looking for a change of luck heading into the second half of the FedEx Championship Series season: "This has been a very frustrating season. The Tecate/Quaker State/Patrick Racing team has run into a streak of bad luck that has hurt us during the first half of the season. Fortunately, despite the bad luck we are still right in the middle of the championship race and still have 11 races left in the season. We haven't lost the desire, or the belief that we can compete for the championship. We just have to pay attention to detail, kept working hard and things will starting going our way. The race in Toronto last year was one of the best of my career. We didn't qualify well because we had a mechanical problem, but in the race we came on strong, passing 17 cars and finishing sixth. I have done well in the past in Toronto and I know we can do well again. I like the track and the city. It is one of the best races we have in the series."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on the excitement of the Molson Indy: "Team Player's always looks forward to the race in Toronto because it means we get the chance to connect with our home fans. There are a lot of activities in Toronto in the days leading up to the race weekend, and you really get caught up in the exciting atmosphere surrounding the event. We only have the two Canadian stops on the schedule, so we definitely want to make the most of these opportunities by putting in a strong performance for the Canadian motor-racing fans.

"I'm happy that we're going into Toronto on a roll, fresh off another top-five finish. We've been able to gain nine positions in the standings in the last four races, and we're aiming to maintain that momentum to get into the top five. With the work Team Player's has been doing lately to improve the suspension set-up and car handling, I'm confident we're going to be able to achieve that."

ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard), on his memories of Toronto: "Going to Toronto brings back some pleasant memories for me because I remember what a thrill it was to win the Atlantic series race there in 1998, a year after finishing second. Now I'm about to have another thrill, competing in my first CART race in front of the home fans. They've given me a lot of support since I started in the CART series, and I'm going to go all out to repay them by producing a good result at the Molson Indy. Getting a good qualifying position has been a bit of a problem in recent races, but I'm optimistic things will start to improve with the Molson Indy. Team Player's spent some time in the last week on the Shaker [seven-post vehicle dynamics simulator] and with the data they have been able to come up with, we should start seeing some significant progress in Toronto. If we can move higher on the starting grid, everything should fall into place because we've had pretty good success moving up the field during the race."

BRYAN HERTA (Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes Reynard), on his enjoyment of Toronto: "Toronto's an absolutely terrific event. Certainly, I think as far as the fans go there, they have some of the most knowledgeable fans of Champ Car racing that we see all year. And, I really enjoy the street courses. I got to do Long Beach this year [for Walker Racing], and that went pretty well [fifth-place finish]. Hopefully, we can recreate that at Toronto. It's a unique racetrack - like any racetrack, it has its own personality, and its own character. In the end, the job is the same - to try and tune the car, to maximize the car and driver combination. I'm very much looking forward to our third race together [with Mo Nunn Racing]. From Portland to Cleveland, we made a lot of progress as a combination. Hopefully, what we learned at Cleveland will help us be even more competitive at Toronto."

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (Herdez Mercedes Lola), looking forward to continuing his street-course success at Toronto: "I like very much Toronto and I was performing well there last year before I retired. The last street course on which I drove was Detroit and we got there our best result in the season. We got a good set up there and we learned a lot. I think we can do it better in Toronto. I think we will have a good qualifying and if we start from a good position, we can get some points."

LUIZ GARCIA JR. (Hollywood/Embratel/Tang/Banco Sofisa Mercedes Reynard), on the challenges of the Toronto street circuit: "Toronto is a race track that I like a lot. It's a difficult circuit, especially in qualifying when the track changes from concrete to asphalt. We'll have a competitive car for Toronto. My primary car from Cleveland that was wrecked in the accident I had during practice should be repaired and I'll finally have a 2000 Reynard as a back-up car. This will be the first time all season I've had a 2000 car for a back-up and I'm really excited about that."

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske