CART: Team KOOL Green at the Rio 200 in Brazil

7 May 1999

PAUL TRACY, #26 Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard/Firestone:
(Started 9th / Finished 25th at Rio in 1999 ; 10th in the PPG Cup standings with 16 points)

"We're into my favorite part of the season -- my last two wins were at the next two tracks (Brazil, Gateway) -- and the chemistry at Team KOOL Green is the best I've ever seen. We're always moving forward, making the car better and faster. Of course, so are all the other good teams. That's part of what drives us. But I'm cautiously optimistic that our podium-finish at Nazareth won't be the last. Being up there only made me more hungry and determined to win -- and the sooner the better.

"I felt that we had a real shot at winning last years race until my incident with Gil De Ferran. It was disappointing because we had qualified relatively well with the Team KOOL Green car and I was running second at the time. Despite what happened, I really enjoy the track. Winning there in 1997 probably helps. Now, Im really looking forward to getting back to the bigger wings. The track is conducive for racing and Im eager to draft and pass again. We're looking good for Brazil. We've learned a lot about the car recently, both at the Nazareth race and at testing in St Louis."

FAST FACTS ON TRACY:

  • The Rio 200 marks his 117th career start in the FedEx Championship (fourth start at Rio)
  • Won at Rio in 1997, leading only three laps in the race (13 career victories & 12 poles)
  • Finished 3rd most recently at Nazareth, earning his first podium finish since Gateway in 1997 (Gateway was also his last victory)

DARIO FRANCHITTI , #27 Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard/Firestone:
(Started 1st / Finished 19th at Rio in 1999 ; 5th in the PPG Cup standings with 35 points)

"Everyone at Team KOOL Green is really focused at the moment, and though we've had a couple of good finishes this year (3rd at Miami & 2nd at Long Beach), we need to get back to the top of the podium. We were on the pole in Brazil last year, and I think without the problems, we could have won. So, were going down there to try and win the race, thats what we want to do -- no messing around -- we want the most points we can get.

Its a good track to race on because you can pass. It was designed very well, but its simple because basically theres only two corners (Turns 1 and 4) to worry about. The setup can be difficult to get right and because of the uniqueness of the track, cars can run very close. Finding an advantage is going to be incredibly difficult. However, were going down there with confidence and I think the Honda engine is suited to the track and Firestone will come up with a good tire.

"The Brazilian fans are very enthusiastic. Theyve got a big history in motor racing, a very successful history. Look at the world champions Brazil has produced from Emerson (Fittipaldi) to Nelson Piquet and obviously Aryton Senna, whos regarded as the greatest driver the world has ever seen. And now, theyve got some strong up-and-coming Brazilian drivers like Tony Kanaan, Cristiano da Matta and Helio Castro-Neves."

FAST FACTS ON FRANCHITTI:

  • The Rio 200 marks his 40th career start in the FedEx Championship (third start at Rio)
  • Won the pole at Rio in 1998, setting a track record with a lap of 172.039 mph / 39.005 seconds (3 career victories & 6 poles)
  • Finished 8th most recently at Nazareth (3rd at Miami & 2nd at Long Beach)

Editors Note: For hundreds of hot racing photos and racing art, be sure to visit The Racing ImageGalleries and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.

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