US 500 1996 PPG Indy Car World Series

Race No. 6

U.S. 500 - Michigan International Speedway
Brooklyn, MI
May 26, 1996

Raceday Quotes from drivers and managers at Michigan:
Index of Quotes available

Ekblom Pict #15 Valvoline DuraBlend Special
Reynard Ford
photo Mike Levitt


[started in Gordon's backup Reynard]: "It was an honor to be able to run his [Gordon's] car. I thought that I wouldn't fit in the car, but I fit really well. I was very comfortable in there. When the engine lasted, it was a good engine. I felt that. Before the engine went, [the car] felt perfect. It felt really good."

Vasser Pict #12 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda


[about the start crash]"I don't know what happened at the start. I got hit from behind and the car turned violently to the right. To put a backup car out there and win is a real tribute to the Target Chip Ganassi team. It was not as good as the first car, and we tried to make it better during the race. Every pit stop, we worked on it. By the end, we had it running pretty good. It's a real credit to the team. We did less than 100 miles in the backup car [in practice for the Inaugural U.S. 500]. We spent about 80% of the time in the other car. We took it out yesterday [Saturday] for limited laps and it was good. After the incident today, I told the crew, let's get the backup car, and by the time I got to the pits, it was already there."

Tracy Pict #3 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes


"We had a long day. When the race started, our setup wasn't right, and the Marlboro car was handling poorly, which set us back we really struggled through the first half of the race. We finally got it sorted out an the car working okay, but unfortunately, it was too late to capitalize on, since we were already two laps down. I've got to thank my whole crew, they worked real hard today an we toughed it out and got some points, and it's the points that really count"

Andretti Pict #6 Kmart/Texaco/Havoline
Lola Ford Cosworth XD


"I don't know how I missed the accident at the start. There were tires everywhere. A tire went right over me. It was like driving in a video game and dodging things. Actually I was lucky today. I was lucky to get through the thing at the start without damage. Then I was lucky that when my car broke, I was through turn four. If I had been in the middle of the turn, I would have lost it big time. It's unfortunate because the car was really good. We got some good momentum at the start of the race and were up to third at one point. I'm looking forward to getting back in the car at Milwaukee. It's encouraging that the car was so good because we would like to make it five [wins] out of the last six for Newman/Haas." NOTE: The team discovered that the right rear wheel bearing broke."

Unser Pict #2 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes


"We were really loose all day. It took up to two-thirds of the race before I was able to hustle my Marlboro car. Considering the way the car handled, we're happy overall with our day. My crew did one heck of a job and we got some more points."

Pruett Pict #20 Firestone
Lola Ford
Patrick Racing


"Obviously, I am extremely disappointed. The car was really strong. The Patrick guys did an outstanding job preparing a great race car. The Firestone tires were working perfectly. I wasn't even pushing the car, and I was moving up through the field. Then the engine just let go. There was no warning. It just blew."

C. Fittipaldi Pict #11 Kmart/Budweiser
Lola Ford
Newman/Haas Racing


"I thought they [team] told me to pit on my first stop. The pits were closed so I had to rejoin the field. I ran over Michael's hose when I was leaving the pits on my first stop and had to come back in for a penalty and went a lap down. The last 20 laps we had an engine misfire. We tried to stay out as long as possible to get a few points. It makes for a really long day to race this many miles and only earn one point. It just goes to show you how tough 500-mile races are. You really have to work hard to earn the win. Luck helps also. We were running with Moreno and he ended up finishing third. I'm looking forward to going back to Milwaukee. I really like racing on one-mile ovals."

de Ferran Pict #8 Pennzoil Special
Reynard Honda
Hall Racing


[while congratulating the crew for rebuilding his right rear suspension following the pre-race incident]: "You guys did a superb job. The car never really went on a setup pad, but it was really good the first half of the race. Under pressure, the job you did was perfect.

[Regarding his finish]: "It's a shame. After the restart, I was happy and I thought, 'This is going to be good.'"

Herta Pict #28 Shell
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
Team Rahal


[about the start crash]"I don’t know what hit me. After looking at the replay, it looks like Jimmy [Vasser] and Adrian [Fernandez] might have gotten together. It almost makes you think something broke with the angle he hit me. Luckily, everyone’s O.K. I think our backup car will be fine.

[after the race]"It was a long day for us. After getting knocked out before the start, I didn't think I'd get a chance to race today. But my Shell crew did a great job fixing the spare car in record time. And I was able to run in the top five late in the race. Our strategy was to be in position to challenge at the end and we were right there. It's unfortunate to lose an engine so late"

Johnstone Pict #49 Motorola
Reynard Honda
Brix Comptech Racing


"The dashboard readout showed 4.7 gallons when we ran out of fuel. We don't yet know why there was a discrepancy. We did learn that our fuel alarm works. It came on and the engine shut down right after, kind of like having your house catch fire and then the smoke detector goes off. After that, we made up one lap and were ready to mix it up at the end. One more yellow and we'd have been right in it [before gearbox problems ended Johnstone's day on Lap 236].

"There seems to be some kind of perverse proportional relationship between the faster you run on the track, the slower the time goes when you are coasting. We were able to make up one lap and were getting ready to mix it up at the end. One more yellow and we would have been right in it, but than the gearbox let go"

Zanardi Pict #4 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda


[about the start crash]"It is simple what I saw. Adrian moved down to Jimmy, and Herta followed Fernandez, and they moved down. Jimmy must have gone about five inches and Fernandez had nowhere to go and neither did Herta.

[about the blown engine]"This is terrible. There are no words to describe how I feel. I suppose I'll receive one point for the most laps led, but it's a poor consolation for our effort. The car was perfect, simply beautiful. It's a shame. The car was flying. I guess this is the worst part of racing. We all did a good job. We should have achieved the win. This bad luck keeps following me. I don't know what I have to do to make it leave me."

Ribeiro Pict #31 LCI International
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group


"Our backup car was very good, but we had a problem with the fuel pickup. It broke about mid-race, and then we couldn't get the last 10 gallons [of fuel] out. It was all very frustrating, but then again very good, considering our backup car had never turned a lap here and we had no telemetry in the race. The Tasman guys did a great job getting the car out and running for me, it handled as well as the primary car"

Fernandez Pict #32 Tecate Beer/Quaker State
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group


[about the start crash]"I was concentrating on Jimmy Vasser, and I was just holding my line for the start. I had just changed into third gear and I was ready to start accelerating when Jimmy started accelerating. He was very close to me, and Bryan [Herta] was very close to me. I was just holding my line. I could see Jimmy moving to the right just a little bit but it was enough because there wasn't much room and we touched. Right from the start there wasn't much room and being in the middle, I had no place to go."

Gordon Pict #5 Valvoline/Cummins/Craftsman Special
Reynard Ford


"As soon as we got in the draft, we had the speed for anybody. Our car was looking really, really good. We were running good, competitive fast laps. It's just a bummer that we lost the engine. We had a misfire that we were trying to fix. Maybe there was a relationship between the misfire and the engine going. We don't know right now."

Krosnoff Pict #25 Arciero-Wells Racing
Reynard Toyota


[about the start crash]"Up in front of me, people were going everywhere. It was just a chain reaction. Robby [Gordon] slowed down and I had nowhere to go, so I hit him.

"We were just running our own race, just looking to finish and see where we would be at the end. Everything was running well and the team did a great job in the pits. Unfortunately, going down the backstraight the engine just let go, with no warning at all. It's where we are right now with developing the engine. We made a small step forward today by completing more race laps than ever before."

Rahal Pict #18 Miller Racing
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
Team Rahal


"I was running with light downforce on the car as we were trying to stay with the Hondas. The car began to have too much understeer. It just pushed. I was trying top stay ahead of the leader [Zanardi] and slid into the gray area on the track. The car just skated into the wall."

Gugelmin Pict #17 Hollywood
Reynard Ford
photo Mike Levitt


"I lacked a little horsepower. I'm happy with second place. The crew did a super job getting the car ready."

Hiro Pict #19 Panasonic/DUSKIN
Lola Ford Cosworth


"After the first yellow, I dialed the fuel mix back to 90 percent. From that point on, the motor was not right. We made many stops to correct the problem but to no avail. The boost was also low, maybe 38 inches through the middle portion of the race. It was a difficult struggle, but we kept going to the end."

Fangio Pict #36 Eagle Mk-V Toyota


"It was good to stay on the race track as long as we did to work on the Toyota engine and Eagle chassis. We didn't have a chance to run very much during qualifying weekend and in practice this week, so it was good to get out there in the race and try a few things."

Moreno Pict #34 The Data Control
Lola Ford Cosworth


"I had a great car and a great team. I'm very, very happy with the team. This is the first time I was glad to start at the back of the grid, I missed all the accidents at the front. Some debris hit my car, but nothing happened to it. It has been 10 years since I've run on an oval. I'm pleased with what happened today."

Ganassi Pict #12 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda
Team Owner


[regarding IndyCar's new yellow flag rules]: "I thought it made for some great racing. With the equipment we had, I should be against these rules, but I'm all for them. They made for some great racing."