Laguna Seca 1996 PPG Indy Car World Series

Race No. 16

Toyota Grand Prix of Monterey
Laguna Seca Raceway — Salinas, California
September 6-8, 1996

Saturday Quotes from drivers and managers at Laguna Seca Raceway Raceway:
Index of Quotes available

Vasser Pict #12 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda


[qualified fifth]: "We ran an 8.3 [68.3], then I got on the rumble strips at the exit to Turn 6 and spun. We wound up getting an 8-minute penalty [for causing a red flag I the session] and only had about 15 minutes to go when we went back out. I made a final run with new set of tires but never got a clean run because of traffic. I thought an 8.2 [68.298 qualifying time] would be better than fifth, but it's a tight grid. I'm pretty happy with the car because we can run consistent laps. We'll just go out tomorrow and try and run a clean race."

Moore Pict #99 Forsythe
Reynard Mercedes-Benz


[qualified sixth]: "There is no doubt I was pushing, but maybe a little bit too much on the last lap. At the exit of Turn 4, the back end went into the dirt and I spun. Unfortunately, I hit the wall and broke the nose of the car. I also bit my tongue. I'm still pleased with my sixth place on the grid. That's my best qualifying result for a long time. It looks good for tomorrow."

Magnussen Pict #3 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes


[qualified 16th]: "The car still has problems with balance. We either have too much grip or none at all. The Penske chassis just doesn't seem to balance well for qualifying, here or at any of the tracks I've driven. Yet, it works well in the race itself. I just hope not to get hit again this weekend. I've been a battering ram at every one of the three races I've run so far this year and it would be nice to bring back an unscathed racer at the checkered flag. Carl Hogan and the Hogan Penske crew work hard to give me the best possible car on race day. They deserve a good finish in the final race of the year."

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


[qualified 11th]: "I'm really disappointed with our starting position. The other guys improved so we can't blame the hotter conditions. We're just missing on our set-up. I'd rather be 10 spots up. I thought we would be a lot closer than we are. This isn't the ideal situation for what we need to do to win the championship but I'll just have to rely on my experience and hope we have good luck again. This is a tough track to pass on. This [11th] is what we have and we'll work with it. You can't be too patient starting 11th. We're not cruising to collect points. I have to go for it and win the race. I have to finish in at least third place if Vasser drops out."

"The car is still a handful. It's not right yet but we don't give up. The engineers are working around the clock to make the car good for the race. I couldn't get a clear lap to save my life. I spent four laps backing off to set up for a clear lap and people kept coming out of the pits."

Unser Pict #2 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes


[qualified 13th]: "We were just fighting the racetrack today. The surface was much slicker than yesterday. We don't have the Marlboro car working as well as we'd like, but it's not too far off. We're trying the best we can and we know tomorrow we have to give it all we've got. We haven't forgotten that the race pays 20 points, and we're definitely going to try to get those points, because we know that's what we have to do. [Jimmy] Vasser is going to be tough to shake and [Michael] Andretti will be right there, too. This race will be a fight to the finish."

Blundell Pict #21 PacWest
Reynard Ford Cosworth


[qualified fourth]: "I'm really, really happy to have qualified on the front row. It's a bit of a disappointment that we didn't retain our position on the front row. We just struggled a little bit with a gearbox selection problem, which hampered us a bit in terms of getting a good lap together, but overall, I'm quite happy that PacWest are on the second row of the grid. I think it is great for the team. It's good to go into the last race in that position."

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


[qualified eighth]: "The car was never totally perfect. The front was good but the back wasn't. Then it reversed. Today there was a narrower window to get a good lap and we just couldn't do it. We have been struggling a little this weekend but Newman/Haas is one of the best in the business and I have total confidence that we will sort it out for the race."

"Right now, our main concern is stopping the rear from stepping out. We've got to find a way to get more grip also. I was behind Zanardi and tried to brake where he did. I was all over the place."

Papis Pict #25 MCI
Arciero Wells
Reynard Toyota


[qualified 17th]: [Regarding incident with #10 DAVY JONES]: "I don't know what happened. I was just slowing down to go into the pits and I was hit in the back. I saw him go upside-down, I hope he's O.K."

"I think that this was a very good session for us. It was a slower session compared to yesterday because of hotter temperatures, so it was difficult to get the time out. We went very, very close to our time from yesterday [within two-tenths] and we were third quickest in our group. This is a great improvement for us, 17th place is fantastic. It is the best qualifying for Max Papis and Toyota, so it means we are heading in the right direction."

de Ferran Pict #8 Pennzoil Special
Reynard Honda
Hall Racing


[qualified 14th]: "It's been a tough weekend so far for us. We keep landing on either side of the right balance, either too loose or too much push. We might've improved on the last set of tires, but kept hitting traffic. It would've only been a couple of tenths [of a second], though."

Herta Pict #28 Shell
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
Team Rahal


[qualified second]: "I'm disappointed, but Alex did a great job and my hats if off to him. We all really wanted this, but you don't win a pole because you want it, you win it because you earned it, and Alex earned this pole."

Johnstone Pict #49 Motorola
Reynard Honda
Brix Comptech Racing


[qualified 12th]: "Today was really disappointing. I thought we could have done better. We had a pretty good setup this morning. But our car didn't work very well on our first set of tires, so be backtracked a bit on the settings and went back out, but then I couldn't seem to put a good lap together."

Zanardi Pict #4 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda


[qualified first]: "Obviously, it was a very good lap [for the pole]. I didn't start it well because a car in front of me kicked up a little dust and I ran wide a little bit to get around it. I was a little demoralized at the time, but I tried hard anyway. By the end, though, it turned out to be a perfect lap and I even beat Bryan's [Herta] time. I'm absolutely delighted. This is definitely my best pole of the year."

Ribeiro Pict #31 LCI International
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group


[qualified seventh]: "We definitely improved the car for today. Unfortunately, this afternoon, we had a few problems with the gearbox and the fuel system, so we lost some time in the pits trying to fix everything. We were able to do similar times to yesterday, but unfortunately, we couldn't improve. The car seems to be very consistent for the race, so I think we will have a good car for tomorrow."

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


[qualified 20th]: "The car was good this morning and we had a good balance but we couldn't balance the car in the afternoon. I couldn't do anything. It was pushing and loose. We just never got a balance for the car to improve in qualifying."

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


[qualified 15th]: [On the Turn 4 spin which cut his qualifying session short] "When I turned the steering wheel, the front turned and the back didn't. The back passed the front by mid-corner. I hit the wall instead of the tires. I missed the tires by about 50 feet or more. If I had hit the tires, it probably would not have done as much damage. But, there's not that much [damage] on the car."

[On competing in his final Indy Car race tomorrow before heading to the NASCAR Winston Cup series] "I'm just going to do the best job I can possibly do. I'd like to go out of here with a strong result. We're going to sit down tonight and look over the car real well and hopefully, come up with a good setup for tomorrow."

Johansson Pict #16 Bettenhaused Racing
Alumax Aluminium
Reynard Mercedes-Benz


[qualified 19th]: "The track was obviously a little slower because of the heat, but I feel I could have improved my time if I hadn't gotten blocked. It always seems that when you think you're going to get your good lap, someone gets in your way. After running so well yesterday in practice and having a good test last week, we're disappointed to be so far back on the grid. But I guess we're used to starting where we're at."

[Stefan Johansson announced today that as of 1997, he will no longer be driving for the Bettenhausen Motorsports Team.]: "I have thought about this for a long time, and although I've enjoyed five great years with the team, I have come to the decision that it is time to move on. I feel [that] together we succeeded in bringing the team to a much higher level than when we first joined forces, and I wish Tony [team owner Tony Bettenhausen] and the entire team the best success they can achieve in the future. I also want to thank Alumax, who was our main sponsor for the past five years, and is truly one of the finest companies I've had the pleasure to work with in twenty years of professional racing."

[As of this announcement, Johansson has made no definite plans with any other racing teams, but is exploring different possibilities.]

Davy Jones Pict #10 Delco Electronics
High Tech Team Galles
Lola Mercedes


[qualified 21st]: [Regarding the incident with #25 MAX PAPIS] "This is beginning to be a bad habit [referring to a similar incident three weeks ago at Elkhart Lake, Wisc.] You know, it's just so important to get a clean lap in during qualifying. We try to space ourselves out so that we can get full use of our tires, and then something like this happens. I was on a good lap and when I came up on Papis, he was running very slow and off the normal line. I assumed he saw me, so I continued on my normal line, and all of a sudden he moved over on me and sent me into the runoff. The car is badly damaged, so we'll have to race the backup car tomorrow."

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


[qualified ninth]: "It was pretty tough to improve on Friday's times with the heat and the rubber built up on the track. Actually, my car didn't feel too bad, but I wasn't able to pick up time today. As has been the case in the past, we were on the low end of a tenth of a second. If I could have picked up just one tenth, I would have moved up to the sixth spot. As a team owner, I'm proud of Bryan [Herta] and the team. Anytime we can start on the front row, it's a good performance. With the strong showings recently for our team, we're looking forward to the 1997 season, too."

Gugelmin Pict #17 Hollywood
Reynard Ford


[qualified third]: "We've had a really competitive weekend so far, and I'm hoping that tomorrow we can run really well. I didn't have any one particularly clean lap, where I could say, This feels good,' but nevertheless, I am happy that we are in the position that we are, and it is a great compliment for the team. We've been working hard on this. We know our package is not perhaps ideal, but we have already made some changes for next year, and I feel good about that. I just hope we can finish well tomorrow."

PJ Pict #98 Eagle Mk-V Toyota
photo Mike Levitt


[qualified 29th]: "The track was a little bit more slippery than it was yesterday. We just don't have the downforce  both of us. We have a good balance, but we're just not fast and we can't carry any speed. We seem to be a little more behind because we weren't at the test here a few weeks ago, but we will keep working on it. It will be nice when the checkered flag falls tomorrow."

Fangio Pict #36 Eagle Mk-V Toyota


[qualified 28th]: "We knew before we came to Laguna Seca that we would have several compromises and that we would have to wait for the new car [an Eagle MK VI] to race the way we really wanted to. With this year's car, qualifying is not great for us, but we usually get closer in the race. The car is driveable. It's not as fast as we'd like, but it's better than yesterday. What counts is that we have the time to work on it, and we did have that time today and I'm pleased about that."

Boesel Pict #1 Brahma Sports Team
Ford Cosworth


[qualified 22nd]: "In this morning's practice session we had an engine problem so I had to get into the backup car. The car's setup was off and then we had a brake problem. In qualifying this afternoon, we were back to the main car. We improved our time a little bit from yesterday but we got set back on the grid. I never had a good lap, a clear lap on the second set of tires and the track is a little bit slippery. With the problems we've had in the practice sessions, it's been very difficult to try to develop the car."


Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports Manager
"Alex [Zanardi] thrilled us once again with a pole on the last lap along with [Jimmy] Vasser, [Greg] Moore, [Andre] Ribeiro and [Scott] Pruett, giving Firestone five cars in the top 10. We expect the sunny and hot conditions predicted for tomorrow to show the consistency of our Firehawk tires especially late in the race."


Goodyear Director of
Racing Tire Sales and Marketing
"Based on data we've seen, wear rates should be fine for tomorrow's race. With temperatures expected in the 90s, the tires should perform well. The feedback from our drivers indicates that the tires will be very consistent and the heat on race day should have no adverse affect."

"These Eagle option tires, which were based on open testing here at Laguna Seca on August 26, were produced and delivered in 10 days. Our accelerated development program is paying dividends as we enter the season finale coming off back-to-back wins."