Race No. 1

Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami
Presented By Toyota
Homestead Motorsports Complex — Homestead, Florida
February 28 — March 2, 1997

Saturday Quotes from drivers and managers at Homestead:
Index of Quotes available


Vasser Pict#1 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda
"We just had a terrible day. I'm happy for my teammate; Alex did just a great job. But it's disappointing to be this quick all through testing and Spring Training and then have the problems we had today. We had some problems with the primary car this morning, and went to the backup late in the session. During my qualifying run, the car was just loose all the way around."

Tracy Pict#3 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes
"The track conditions changed and it was really windy out there. This is a difficult track to keep your balance and we just missed on the set-up. We had a lot of understeer. It's very frustrating for us because you never know what to expect on this track. But we've been focusing on our race set-up all weekend and we feel we'll be all right there tomorrow."

Andretti Pict#6 Kmart/Texaco/Havoline
Swift Ford Cosworth XD
"I had a good lap going but I got caught by a big gust of wind. I had to get off the throttle a lot. We can still win from where we are. A lot of things have gone wrong this weekend. We can't blame the Swift for those things."

Unser Pict#2 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes
"I could have gone a little quicker but as my tires came in, my car got a little bit loose in turn four and I didn't want to push it. We changed the car quite a bit [from yesterday] for qualifying which got us in the 28 second area. I didn't feel the wind at all. The Marlboro car is a good race car and that's what we're here to do is win this race. The car has great balance and hopefully it will stay with us tomorrow."

Blundell Pict#18 PacWest Motorola
Reynard Mercedes
"Obviously I am very happy because we made an incredible improvement in time and the car felt a lot better, but I am still a little bit apprehensive. I still feel that we are running on the loose side, which is a bit concerning for me, but if we can start at the front, hopefully overnight we can work on the car and give ourselves a better base line for the race."

C. Fittipaldi Pict#11 Kmart/Budweiser
Swift Ford
Newman/Haas Racing
"I had a huge understeer. It cost me three to four tenths of a second. The race tomorrow is going to be a nightmare. I think everyone will be loose. The guy with the most understeer is going to be the guy that wins it in my opinion because he's going to protect his tires."

Papis Pict#25 MCI
Arciero Wells
Reynard Toyota
"I tried to put together all the the things I have learned in the few days I have tested here. I pushed very hard and the guys on the MCI Racing team did a good job. When Richard [Buck, the Team manager] told me it was the last lap I knew I had to go 110%. I kept my foot down going into turn one and the car came very, very close to the wall, but it was all right. On turn four I wanted to keep my foot down and it kept coming up by itself, but I just kept thinking down, down, down. I think it didn't stay as down as I wanted it to, but it was o.k."

Herta Pict#8 Shell
Reynard Ford
Team Rahal
"After Bobby's qualifying run, he told me that the wind was a problem and was causing the car to push badly. So, we made a couple of quick changes before my run. Unfortunately, it helped in turn four but not in turn two. I really had to get out of the throttle in turn two on both qualifying laps. The wind conditions were very tricky. I think that could be a problem during the race — both the wind and the air from the other cars."

Note: On Saturday, Shell Oil Products announced that it has signed on with Team Rahal as a primary sponsor for an additional three years through the year 2000.

Johnstone Pict#27 Team Kool Green
Reynard Honda
"The car was loose. We had a push this morning and way over-compensated. It caught me by surprise twice in qualifying, the first time this car has ever done that. It was just one of those things. But then again, this time last year, I was unconscious, so this is a big improvement!"

Zanardi Pict#4 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda
"My crew was fantastic today, they did an amazing job. The car was very good this morning, but not quite perfect. At the start of my run, the popoff valve light came on and I ran my first lap with one hand on the wheel and the other on the [popoff] adjuster knob. Then on the second lap I was able to concentrate fully on my line and, well, we had a great result."

Ribeiro Pict#31 LCI International
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"We made up some ground today, but the car is still unbalanced. I had a big oversteer moment on my first timed lap, and a big understeer on my second lap."

Fernandez Pict#32 Tecate Beer/Quaker State
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"We'd changed some things after this morning's practice, so I didn't really know what to expect during my run. I tried to push it a little bit more, but got sideways in turn four on my first lap and had to lift. Then I had to lift again in turn two on my second lap. But we did the best we could with what we had today."

de Ferran Pict#5 Valvoline/Cummins/Craftsman Special
Reynard Ford
"The engine misfired for a moment going into turn one. I don't know if that had anything to do with the accident or not. The car took off right from the turn and headed up to the wall. It became a case of damage limitation not avoidance.

"Normally in this type of accident you have a severe headache and ringing ears afterward. In this case, I feel totally fine. All credit goes to CART for the latest safety requirements they've put in these cars. The changes are expensive to the teams but well worth it. The car was pushing hard in the morning sessions, and Bill [Pappas] made some great calls in terms of adjustments for qualifying. The car felt great from the moment I left the pits for the qualifying run.

I am not concerned about running the back-up car tomorrow. We have not run it here this weekend, but we've run it recently in testing. I feel confident going into this race tomorrow. I think that doing well in this race depends a lot on pit stops and tire wear. Goodyear has made great strides since Spring Training."

Carpentier Pict#16 Bettenhaused Racing
Alumax Aluminium
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
"About five minutes before I made my run, Tom Brown [the chief engineer and managing director of Bettenhausen Motorsports] looked at the weather conditions and decided to change a couple of things on the car before I went out. The car was stuck. I could have gone flat out, but I did have a little push and got out of the throttle a couple of times, but it [ the push] was not a problem. More importantly, I think we will have a real good car for the race. We've really been spending a lot of time during the practice session on race setups. As for qualifying ninth, I'm very happy to be in the top 10. It would have been nice to be in the top five or six, but ninth us OK."

Rahal Pict#7 Miller Lite
Reynard Ford
Team Rahal
"I'm disappointed because I had a really strong run going on my first lap. I hit the [engine] rev limiter going into turn three and that's the first time all weekend. So, I know I was carrying a lot of speed. I think I was on a 28.1 lap. But I hit some wind in turn four and had to back out of the throttle completely. My entire run was somewhat wind related. I felt the car dancing around. In practice, that wasn't a problem. So it had to be the wind. Overall, the race will be different. I hope everyone is a little cautious at the start. With the wind and the traffic, the air around the cars is trouble. As long as I've been racing — and that's a long time, I've never won a race on the first lap. I hope the guys remember that on Sunday."

Gugelmin Pict#17 Hollywood
Reynard Ford
"I have no complaints. The car had a very good balance, and that lap was as quick as the car would go today. So we're pretty happy with it. Obviously, up front is where you want to be starting, particularly here at Homestead where a number of factors make passing difficult. It's interesting to see so many combinations fighting at the front. That's good for the sport, but it makes life very hard for the drivers."

Hiro Pict#24 Panasonic/DUSKIN
Arciero/Wells Racing, Reynard Toyota
"The changes we made after practice felt good on the warm up laps. However, during the green laps, I felt the rear sliding out. In every corner I had to pause before getting on the power. It's not what we were shooting for but it might help us tomorrow."

PJ Pict#98 Castrol/Jockey
AAR Racing
Reynard Toyota
"I'm kind of disappointed because we thought we would match what we ran this morning. We're going to have to look at the data and see what happened. It wasn't a bad lap by any means; I think we had about three or four factors that slowed us up a little bit. We have a pretty good race car and I'm happy with that. I just thought we would be a little quicker for qualifying."

Fangio Pict#36 Castrol/Jockey
AAR Racing
Reynard Toyota
"I couldn't really put a good lap together. We had a push and I had to get to the brakes going around turn one. I think we were also affected by the wind. I'm pleased anyway because we didn't have a chance to run at all this morning. I only ran three laps and I wasn't able to do the fine tuning."

Valvoline/Cummins/Craftsman Special
Walker Racing Team Owner
"The damage to the race car [Gil de Ferran's] was such that we could have repaired it. We chose to start the back-up car tomorrow so that we can spend more time today preparing for the race."