Christian Fittipaldi is fastest Chevrolet Tuesday, January 14. CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, NO. 33 APR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Fastest in afternoon test session - 49.040, 183.561mph. ARE YOU FEELING PRETTY COMFORTABLE IN THE CAR? "Yes, definitely.
Christian Fittipaldi is fastest Chevrolet Tuesday, January 14.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, NO. 33 APR CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Fastest in afternoon test session - 49.040, 183.561mph.
ARE YOU FEELING PRETTY COMFORTABLE IN THE CAR? "Yes, definitely. Actually, believe it or not, although people say it's pretty easy for you to go flat around this place and indeed it is - especially when you're running by yourself. But I had zero experience around this place and the more I run, the more I'm learning. So I'm learning a little bit about the bumps. I'm learning how close to the wall you can run - especially on your first lap. I'm learning how to bring the car up to speed as quick as possible. We can't forget that I'm competing against people who have done this for an average of 10 - 15 years. In a way, I'm 10 to 15 years behind them and I have to try and play catch-up the best way possible."
ON GIVING FEEDBACK TO THE TEAM: "As far as the problems in the car, that is pretty straight-forward. The more I run these cars, the more I understand them. What was very difficult for me last year was running these cars one day and running my type of cars for two months and then coming back over here and running these cars. It was hard - especially when you needed to get up to speed as quick as possible and you're competing against guys that are very competitive."
ON THE PRECISION DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CART AND NASCAR RACE CARS: "Every motor racing vehicle out there has a soft spot to them. No matter what you're driving, there's always an optimum that you want to run that machine in and that is what we try to do with these cars. They're big and they're heavy. You can't really compare them to a single-seater, you just try to optimize exactly what you have."
ON THE EASE OF WORKING WITH ENGINEERS IN NASCAR: "I haven't heard anyone say anything about that, but that makes my transition a lot simpler or a lot more normal in a way to what I'm used to. In that aspect, it's a bonus to me. On the other hand, I'm running against people who have been doing this for a long time. Up to a certain point, nothing beats experience. I wish that one day, when I'm 45 or 50 years old I had my body of a 20 year old kid and the experience of a 50 year old guy."
ON THE CAR HE WAS DRIVING TODAY: "This is definitely not the one I was driving here last week (in the test session). We came in last week and we knew the car didn't have a lot of speed. Actually I went out to eat with Andy (Petree) before the testing started on Monday evening and he told me not to get frustrated if we didn't go fast and that this was the first car they built for this year, which was built in October.
"And he said we were here for me to learn about the track and for them to do some other tests. When we come back for the race, you'll see that everything is going to fall into place. I guess I just trusted Andy because I'm in no-man's-land. This is all completely new to me. I guess I just have to sit in the car and strap myself in and drive the car."
IS THIS THE CAR YOU'LL BE USING IN SPEEDWEEKS? "It's definitely one of them. I have to admit, on the other hand, that there was maybe a little bit of a small draft when I did my quickest lap because someone came out in front of me and he was about a half a straightaway ahead. But that really doesn't matter for me because even if it wasn't for that, we have a solid top-four car. So when I did my quickest lap, maybe I had a little bit of help. But the most important is that you're consistent out there and that you do it outing after outing. I think it's going to be really good for the race."
DO THE BRAZILIAN MEDIA PAY ATTENTION TO YOU AND NASCAR? "They know that last week we were testing and this week we were testing. But at the same time, everything is completely new to the Brazilian motor racing culture. Everyone down in Brazil is used to Formula I - especially when you go back to when my uncle was racing in the early '70's. In a way, it translated to Indy when Emerson and all the other drivers came over here. And now, basically, maybe we could be starting something new in NASCAR. But it's going to be a learning curve because the people don't understand 100 percent yet how NASCAR racing is. NASCAR racing is very particular compared to all the other racing in the world."
HOW DOES NASCAR COMPARE TO OTHER FORMS OF RACING: "What amazes me is how close it is. On any given weekend you see a half a second between them. That's really close for 43 cars. Second, is that the races are very long. It almost seems like all the stars have to align themselves for you to win a race. You have to stay out of trouble and you have to be quick. No matter where you start in the race, there's always that attitude that maybe you can win it today. In other types of motor racing - because of the car difference and because of the nature of the race and the tracks - if you don't start in the first three or four rows, forget it. You're only going to do the race and you're going to hope that you can collect a couple of points. It's different over here because on race day it's absolutely wide open and anyone can win it. Some guys have a bigger chance to win but anyone can go to bed on Saturday night and dream about winning on Sunday."