homestead Visit Our Sponsor

Race No. 1

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

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


Moore Pict#99 Forsythe
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
"Our main goal was to bring the car home. The race was more like a parade because passing was very difficult even when coming up and trying to pass a backmarker. We enjoyed excellent pit stops. For two members of our Player's crew, it was an all new experience and they proved to be on top of the situation with performance and timing."

Andretti Pict#6 Kmart/Texaco/Havoline
Swift Ford Cosworth XD
"I knew I had it pretty much in control after the last restart, I just tried to keep a nice, even pace. The car was perfect, the engine was perfect. It was definitely one of those perfect days. To be honest with you, I felt pretty good even with de Ferran in the lead. I think we had the best car out there. It was a perfect race car to drive."

Unser Pict#2 Marlboro
Penske Mercedes
"We got off to a great start [moved up from 10th to 5th on lap 1] and we were settling in to a real comfortable pace. I lost a couple of positions by lap 10, but it was only due to traffic. We started working our way up and all of a sudden the engine quit. I'm not sure what caused the problem and we probably won't know until we get the car back to the shop. It hurts a lot. Marlboro Team Penske has done so much testing here and to go out of the race this early is tough, but this is only the first race of the season and we have a long way to go. We'll have to put this behind us and get ready for Australia."

Pruett Pict#20 Brahma Sports Team
Reynard Ford
"The car ran great all day. It was exactly where we wanted it, nice and balanced. I was playing the race exactly the way I wanted. Not taking any risks early. Then we had the confusion at the end. I don't know what happened. I want to talk to the CART officials and find out exactly why they put us a lap down. It is very disappointing because we had more to give and we are disappointed for our new sponsor Brahma. They deserved a better result today.

"The Firestone tires were great and the Ford engine had plenty of power. We were charging and I was ready to take on the leaders following the last stop and then the whole situation with the yellow flag took place. It was a good day not a great day.

"We knew it would be a tough race. The car was excellent, the Reynard chassis was very strong. At the end we should have been in a position to chase the leaders except for the situation that put us a lap down."

Blundell Pict#18 PacWest Motorola
Reynard Mercedes
"We just struggled with the balance of the car, as we did all weekend apart from our qualifying effort. Throughout the whole race we didn't dial it in, which was frustrating and disappointing for the team after both cars were up front on the grid. The positive thing is that we got to the end, and got some data and some information to work with. We've got several weeks until Australia and it can't come soon enough."

Hearn Pict#21 Ralphs/Food 4 Less
Della Penna Racing
Lola Ford
"I think the car was fast. I'm really happy with the way it performed. It didn't change much from beginning to end, or whether or not we were on full tanks or low. I was able to run with anybody. I don't think I even got passed except for the restarts. Everything was running well. If we had qualified better, then we really could have done something given how the car performed. The tires at the end cost me some, I think the stagger was off. Our last pit stop came one lap too early, and it cost us a lap. We could have finished about 7th or 8th otherwise. That's just the way it goes."

Pupo Pict#34 Data Control
Lola Ford
"With very little time to run on Friday, and not much running on Saturday because of the crash, the car just wasn't right. The team did a good job to get something in place to make a run at it, but the car just got too loose. We had to completely redo it during the race. We think there was something wrong in the suspension. It was just too dangerous to stay out there, so we decided to park it and be safe."

C. Fittipaldi Pict#11 Kmart/Budweiser
Swift Ford
Newman/Haas Racing
"I was spraying oil on the track and they made me come in. I had an oil leak like Michael did. Unfortunately, mine came during the race. It's a shame because the car was very good. I had a bad start but was up to 10th place and hoping for a top-three finish. Oh well, on to Australia. The car is very good, so I think our chances will be good there as well."

Papis Pict#25 MCI
Arciero Wells
Reynard Toyota
"It was a good learning experience for me on the oval. We ran into some problems during the middle of the race but we are on a learning curve. We had the car a little bit loose and this didn't help a lot. Then to let Michael Andretti by in Turn Four in the beginning of the race I went very, very close to the wall in the pebbles and it took a lot of time to clean off the tires again. When I pit the team made some changes to the set-up and the car was running very good when I was by myself. I only had problems when I was running with other people. We reached our goal and made it to the end of the race. From now on we just learn and improve."

Salles Pict#77
Reynard Ford
Davis/Craig Racing
"It feels great to finish the race. The team did a great job. We had three problems that cost us, I think, about five positions. I think we could have finished tenth. We had a flat tire before the first pit stop, which cost us three or four positions. Then my boost, something must have been leaking. I wasn't running at 40 inches. The most I could get for about half the race was 38 inches. And then on my last pit stop, I had a problem on the speed limiter. I went too quick into the pits, so I got black flagged and lost about a lap and a half. The guys here respect each other pretty nice. You pass and get passed. That's how racing has to be."

Herta Pict#8 Shell
Reynard Ford
Team Rahal
"Our car handled pretty well after the first pit stop. But we got down a lap before that stop and there was no chance to get it back. We just kind of held on in the early part waiting for a yellow flag so we could pit. But the yellow never came out. It makes for a long day when you get behind early. We had a really bad oversteer early on as did a lot of guys. But the car got better and better with each stop. I think we learned some things today about our car and the Goodyear tires. And that will help us down the line. If we can score points on bad days, we should do very well on the good days."

Johnstone Pict#27 Team Kool Green
Reynard Honda
"We had a great car, a second or third place car, maybe even a winning car. We hit the first pit stop wrong and we had a yellow, but we said, all right, we can recover. But then we hit the second pit stop and then the second yellow came out. It was so frustrating. I stayed with the leaders without a problem."

Zanardi Pict#4 Target
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda
"Some days you have luck and some days you do not. It was not a bad day altogether. We had a very good start and the first pit stop went very well. Unfortunately, on the second pit stop [lap 108, 25-second stop] there was a problem with the air gun [right rear wheel]. Then, the yellow came out and this hurt all of us who had just come into the pits. That was not lucky."

[About losing both mirrors during the race:] "I was going to stop because it could have been quite dangerous. I told Chip to tell me if someone came behind me because I would let them go by me. Chip kept telling me it was clear behind me, so I finished the race."

[Why did they come off?:] "Bad glue, I guess."

Ribeiro Pict#31 LCI International
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"It was definitely not easy. During the middle of the race, the car was quite stable. At the end it was pushing again. I just tried to survive."

Fernandez Pict#32 Tecate Beer/Quaker State
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"We did the best we could out there. I saw the back of Andre's car for most of the race. We were basically the same in terms of handling."

de Ferran Pict#5 Valvoline/Cummins/Craftsman Special
Reynard Ford
"The car was perfect today. I was out there running at my own pace, not worried too much about Zanardi in front of me or Michael [Andretti] coming up close behind me, I was doing what was best for the car and myself with the pace.

[On the accident with Dennis Vitolo:] "I was beside him and all of a sudden he turned and he kept turning. I had nowhere to go. I can't tell you how disappointed I am. The team did a great job getting the back-up car ready. The set-up was perfect and the car was running great. I have been happy with the car since we got here on Friday. It would have been so nice to begin my first race with Walker with a win. We were capable of winning, and I can't tell you how disappointed I am."

Carpentier Pict#16 Bettenhaused Racing
Alumax Aluminium
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
"I made a mistake on our second pit stop and that cost us a lap. But my team gave me a good car all day long and I'm very pleased with the result."

Rahal Pict#7 Miller Lite
Reynard Ford
Team Rahal
"It was not a good day at the office. We didn't adjust to the track and the car was very loose at the start. I thought it might come around but we couldn't get the right setup. It's disappointing because we were quick in the first couple of practices. But, unfortunately, it fell off in the race. Obviously, the Ford engine and the Goodyear tires are capable of winning because of Michael's. We have the package to win. Now we have to put those elements to good use."

Gugelmin Pict#17 Hollywood
Reynard Ford
"The car went loose very early on. We pressed on to the first pit stop, and were able to make adjustments to the car and we were really flying in the second stint. We worked our way up to fourth again, but there was another yellow and I got into some traffic and lost touch with the leaders. After that, the car was pretty neutral and we ran at the same speed as the leaders, but at this place it's like a train - you can't pass.

"The yellow came out again just after our second stop and we lost a lap, but I was right at the edge of my fuel window and really had no choice. I think we put 33 gallons in, so what can you do? We could have done maybe another lap. You can get lucky or unlucky in a situation like that and today we were unlucky. But for most of the race, we ran as fast as anybody on the track and we'll have plenty more chances to run at the front this year."

Hiro Pict#24 Panasonic/DUSKIN
Arciero/Wells Racing, Reynard Toyota
"I lost power after the restart and gradually lost oil pressure with every lap, until there was no pressure at all."

PJ Pict#98 Castrol/Jockey
AAR Racing
Reynard Toyota
"Going into Turn Three we had an oil system fail and it was something we just couldn't fix. The car was handling really well before we went into the pits, I'm only sorry we couldn't finish the race. Once we get the new motor we should be closer to the front than we are now."

Fangio Pict#36 Castrol/Jockey
AAR Racing
Reynard Toyota
"We had problems at the beginning of the race, but it was important to stay out and get the practice. I will say that at the end, the car was really running good. We couldn't really do too much more because you have to be careful of the leaders and give them room. If you count the lack of time we had on the track this weekend, I'm happy that we finished and that the car was so close."

Boesel Pict#40 Brahma Sports Team
Ford Cosworth
"The car was running very consistent. It was a little loose at the beginning of the race but we made an adjustment on the first stop and it was well balanced the rest of the race. The Firestone tires were good. I got caught in traffic a couple of times and lost a few places but I was always able to fight back and regain the position. Then the water pipe broke and put us out of the race. I just wish I had been able to run strong to the end of the race."

Vitolo Pict#64 Smith-Kline
Project Indy
Lola Ford Cosworth
"Max Papis passed me on the back straight and slowed down the pace rapidly going into turn three almost bringing me to a complete stop. To avoid him, I had to break really hard and almost spun when I was hit from the left rear by Gil. I believe he came up so fast, he had nowhere to go."