Race No. 5

Rio 400
Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway — Rio de Janiero, Brazil
May 9-11, 1997

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


Andretti PictKmart/Texaco/Havoline
Swift Ford Cosworth XD
"The car felt dead from the get-go. We haven't really had any major problems with the Ford/Cosworth engine until this point. That's racing though. You have to have a few bad days in order to learn. We were down on power in the morning warm-up today and thought it was the pop-off valve because we couldn't find anything else wrong. I guess that was the first sign that our day was going to be short. The Goodyear tires were working good in the heat. There were some pretty crazy things happening in the race."

Pupo PictKmart/Budweiser
Swift Ford
Newman/Haas Racing
"What ultimately got us was an engine misfire. Apart from a couple of guys trying to take me out, it was a misfire that ended our day. Tracy hit the back of my wheel and made me spin. It's a shame but I guess it doesn't matter now. Later, Mo spun and made me spin. He got my front right wheel and backed me into the tire wall. I came in and the guys changed the back wing. We didn't want to give up since the weekend was so promising. When we started having the engine problem, we were a few laps down and it would have taken a while to fix. We decided to park it."

Salles PictPennzoil Special
Reynard Ford
Davis/Craig Racing
"The engine was feeling tight from the beginning and it went on the backstraight. I shut it off and tried to bring it back to the pits but coming out of Turn 4 the oil and water spilled onto the tires and it spun me. Too bad, we were running good. We only needed one more stop to get to the end of the race. It should have been a top six finish."

Fernandez PictTecate Beer/Quaker State
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"I'm not really sure what happened at the start. It was a chain reaction and we were just a victim. I was hit in the rear and then the side. The car was badly damaged and we were unable to continue."

Rahal PictMiller Lite
Reynard Ford
Team Rahal
"I knew it would be close with our fuel. My crew was working hard to calculate the number of laps of yellow [caution] that we needed. I just needed one more lap of yellow. I pitted on Lap 84 and Tracy pitted on Lap 85. That was the difference. We just seem to have bad luck. I'm sad but not as bad as you may think. I'm very happy with the car and the progress of our team. We dominated this race so that offsets the disappointment a bit. I was cruising and short-shifting [the transmission] to save fuel. I know no one had anything for me today. Paul tried to apply some pressure at the end. But I was faster than him on the straights and he knew it. We can't get down about this race. We can win and we know it."

Gugelmin PictHollywood
Reynard Ford
"I'm fine. I just don't know what happened. I braked at my usual point still going in a straight line and it just swapped ends on me all of a sudden. We'll have to take a close look at the car to see what happened. I hit the wall a ton. I went in full speed and the tire wall did its job perfectly."

PJ PictCastrol/Jockey
AAR Racing
Reynard Toyota
"We had a good race going today. We were saved a few times by the yellows. I'm not sure what happened, we just lost power going down the straightaway. There wasn't anything I could do, so I just pulled it off into the grass. I guess when it's not your day, it's not your day."

Vasser PictTarget
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda
"I was so loose I was just barely holding on. I was so loose over there [the last turn] they were all getting by me. We should've had a top three finish today. But something worked loose in the back and I had a huge oil leak throughout the last stint. There was oil all over the right sidepod and right rear tire. The car got real loose and everyone was getting a run at me coming out of Turn 4."

Moore PictForsythe
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
""It was a good race for the player's team. There was a lot of very close running. It was very fun to drive today. At the end of the race the car was getting loose and we knew that Bobby [Rahal] was going to run out of fuel. I was hoping that the same thing would happen to Paul [Tracy]."

Tracy PictMarlboro
Penske Mercedes
"The entire Marlboro team did a fantastic job today-my hat's off to everyone and to the guys at Mercedes and Ilmor. The engine was first class and the teamwork was first class. The guys did a great job in the pits and got me out in front and once I was in front I was able to pull away because the car was so good. Bobby [Rahal] was quicker on the straightaway but I was quicker in the corners. Towards the end I was just trying to keep the heat on him because I knew he was low on fuel too, but I was trying to conserve our fuel. The engineers did a great job on the fuel management.

"It feels great to win again and even better to be leading the PPG Cup Points. The team has done a lot of work during the off season and the whole package-engine, tires, and chassis-has improved. I'm able to drive more consistently without having to push the car. I guess when things are going right good things happen."

Unser PictMarlboro
Penske Mercedes
"I'm disappointed we didn't finish higher than seventh-place, but obviously that last yellow helped all the guys in front of us. We had a good race car today. I really have to give a lot of credit to Goodyear and also Mercedes. They've made Marlboro Team Penske super competitive and Goodyear has given us some really fast tires. It's good to see this Team winning races. Paul [Tracy] did a fantastic job and his crew had really great pit stops. We'll be rubbing an awful lot on Paul [Tracy] at the next race [St. Louis] to get some of his luck."

Blundell PictPacWest Motorola
Reynard Mercedes
""We had a good race. Unfortunately it seemed like every single incident happened right in front of us, but luckily we were able to avoid it all. We also had our own spin in Turn 4. I'd done that once before last year and I learned how to get out of it this time. Luckily we didn't lose any spots."

Papis PictMCI
Arciero Wells
Reynard Toyota
"It was a tough race for us because this is a power circuit and we did not have enough. We really struggled when the leaders were coming up because we chose a low wing configuration, maybe a little too low. We were right on the edge with the back-end of the car. That caused us some problems early in the race and unfortunately we lost a lap. The guys made some changes during the pit stops and the car changed a lot and we ran much, much stronger in the second half of the race. My guys did a very, very good job on all the pit stops. At the end I was catching PJ [Jones] and at the same time I was driving to save fuel. It was tough but I just remembered my days with the sports cars and I just did the same job I did in the past. It has been a good race because we took the car to the end. I hope that this will give Toyota some data to progress.

[about the incident at the start of the race] I saw big smoke and four or five cars turning right and left. Then a side pod from a car just passed over my head. It was a tough moment but Mark [Mark Johnson, Spotter] gave a good call and I was ready for the problem."

Johnstone PictTeam Kool Green
Reynard Honda
"What a war. At the start, everyone started to accelerate, then Salles hit the brakes in front of me. I hit Salles; someone hit me and turned me sideways. I spun across the track. It was fortunate that we had worked out a fuel strategy before the race because we lost the telemetry early and the only time our radios worked was during the cautions."

Zanardi PictTarget
Chip Ganassi Racing
Reynard Honda
"This was more or less the kind of position I was hoping to get last night. I believe I could have finished in second place today. Greg Moore was in trouble with gas [fuel]. If I could have stayed close with him, I think I could have passed Moore at the end. Unfortunately for me, de Ferran ran out of fuel right in the middle of the corner. I almost hit him. I had to brake very hard and Pruett had good momentum and passed me on the outside. That was very bad luck."

Ribeiro PictLCI International
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"It was a great effort by the entire Tasman team to repair the car after the crash at the start. If we had a normal start, of course, we would have finished higher."

de Ferran PictValvoline/Cummins/Craftsman Special
Reynard Ford
"Of course it's very disappointing but we were in the same boat as all the other guys in the front. It was a calculated risk by everybody. But my team did a fantastic job in the pits once again today, we made up positions with every stop, I think, and they also did a great job setting the car up for the race."