CART Michigan press conference

The Michigan 500 was exciting throughout, but the race for the win in the closing stages between Michael Andretti and Juan Montoya had the crowd on its feet. Unnofficially there were 162 lead changes of lead throughout the 250 lap race, and while Montoya won by just 0.040s, it's Andretti that takes over the CART FedEx Championship lead. Here's what the top three finishers had to say in the post race press conference

CART Michigan press conference

I had a great start, and went from seventh to first on the first lap. We started swapping places me and Michael and it was very good, very clean. And right at the end he was getting pretty close. When I got to the traffic with two laps to go I said that's either going to help or not help. It was very good because Michael pushed me high, and Marques went high, and I was like, "Hey! Here we go!"

I think the team made a fantastic call to bring me in for extra fuel. It meant we could run full rich and pass cars very easy. I got back up behind Michael pretty fast and I thought "great, he's going to have to conserve fuel." But he didn't and I was... well, a bit disappointed by that!

So I started pushing him really hard to see how far he could go, but we were too equal, he was right there all the time. I was flat and I think he was flat as well, we were just passing each other all the time, and we just had to see who would cross the line first. It was like first, second, first, second, every quarter of a mile! It was real fun and pretty exciting.

We came out of the last corner onto the final straight and the backmarker moved up, and it was pretty close, and I was closing up on the back of his car. If I had to I was just going to go "vroom" and run into the back of him and push him a little bit!!

It's great racing, and there is so much overtaking. You can pass people very easily, they can pass you very easily. And you can't actually break away from the pack. That is something that makes the racing close until the last lap. I think it would be a shame if we don't come back here.

This is good for my Championship hopes. We've had some real bad luck, and just four finishes in 10 raced or something. If we can start finishing consistently, then I'm sure we can be up there in the fight at the end of the year.

It's a lot of fun racing like this. You spend most of the race trying to save fuel, and use half throttle, and draft, draft, draft. But you don't want to fall back into the pack because you start to lose a lot of time with turbulence and everything, so you want to be always in the top three. There was one point where I got in the lead for two laps, and then they called from the pits that I've got to save fuel! So I back off, and everyone else did too!

Yeah! Everyone backed off because nobody wanted to lead! It was probably a 206mph lap instead of 226mph

Servia was a big help, he just went, and everybody was suddenly like, OK, and just tucked in behind and drafted him!

For the fans here it's unbelievable, there's no better race. I'm glad we were able to make you guys happy, but for us it was tough out there. You are just holding your breath. I can't tell you how much you are. I can't explain how much you spend mentally because there's a lot going on. But I guess that's why they pay us to race these things, and we put on a good show. I don't know why people aren't out here, why the stands are a bit empty. They're missing a great show.

It was real exciting driving with Juan there, he did a great job, and my whole K-Mart Texaco Ford team did a great job too. It just came to a shoot out at the end, and we were close. It's always great racing with Juan, he's a clean racer, and a hard racer! We came off that last turn, and you probably couldn't even have slipped a piece of paper between the wheels. It was good, hard racing and we almost pulled it off.

There was a little bit of stupid racing for a while in the middle there saving fuel, because we had to try and make it on one more pit-stop. Everybody was just backing off, and nobody wanted to lead, because if you led you were burning more fuel and towing everybody around.

It was a bit of a joke, we were all backing off - you'd have thought we were shooting a movie or something! It was all about setting it up for the end and a shoot out, and when the yellow came at the end it was perfect for a shoot out because we wouldn't have to conserve fuel.

It came down to the last 10 laps, and I knew it was going to be quite important to get away from the rest of the group. It came down to Juan and myself working together, and I think we both knew that we needed to break away. We really worked together where we were leapfrogging away from the rest of the pack, so we knew then it was going to be between the two of us.

With about two laps to go I saw that they weren't going to be able to catch us, then I just concentrated on setting it up for the last lap. I was able to get him to do exactly what I wanted which was to take the lead into Turn 1. What I wanted to do was get in the draft down the back straight, and go into Turn 3 on him and get a run, and I did.

I came off of Turn 4, really strong. In fact I pulled on him a little bit. I thought Tarso was going to actually help me, because his line was normally down low, but this time, for some reason he decided to stay high. I got a little tow from him initially, then all of a sudden he went right up high by the wall, so then I moved over, slightly fighting for that tow, and Juan was stuck right there, and neither one of us was backing off. I was just trying to get as close to the tow as I could, and hoping that Tarso would move over a little.

All I needed was a half a car's width, and I would have won the race, but he stayed real high, trying to stay out of our way, but by doing that he allowed Juan to get a tow and that was the difference. It was good clean racing.

Juan was good to race with. There were some guys who were not good to race with there, but Juan in the end was a true professional and we both took care of each other. We both did a few sly jobs on each other too! It was good clean fun, unfortunately he just beat me!

It's fun doing it with guys you know you can trust. It's no fun when there's a guy out there who has no respect for it. Juan did and because of that it makes it a fun day.

It's good to be leading the points, and with us being competitive now, we just have to keep getting good finishes for the rest of the season. But I'm sure there's five or six guys out there saying the same thing!

The car was pretty evil at the start. We qualified very well, but the car wasn't much good in traffic so we had to work with the car each stop, making the car progressively better.

Towards the end it was actually pretty good. The fact that there were less and less cars in front of me seemed to help us too! Unfortunately we didn't have enough for these guys, I couldn't catch them, although Max and I were having a pretty good race. I'm not quite sure what happened with Max. He was right with me into Turn 1, and I looked in the mirror and he was gone.

It was a good race, it was exciting the whole time. The only bit which was a bit 'Mickey Mouse' was the whole saving fuel business. That was like an Indy Lights race or something! Apart from that it was great. Like Michael said, there were one or two guys had some interesting lines out there, and weren't giving each other room and the rest of these guys it was great racing, a lot of fun. But Christian [Fittipaldi] was pretty aggressive all day.

Yes very aggressive.

He chopped me out of Turn 2. He was halfway alongside me, and turned hard right to try and get in the tow. I had a couple of incidents with Christian today. He wasn't really playing the game, to be honest. Everybody else seemed to manage it and he was on a mission. And we're talking here about a moment halfway through a 500 mile race. I'm not sure what happened when he went off. I heard he's OK which is good. He just needs to calm down a little bit.

Christian just pushed Kenny [Brack] into the wall, and there you go It wasn't very nice from where I saw it. I thought "That's going to be close, it's going to be very close". I don't know if he didn't see him or something. He got really close to the wall, and Kenny was right against the wall, and he had nowhere to go. Normally, when you are going side-by-side with someone, you are always expecting that the guy inside is going to give you room.

One thing that does happen when there's someone on the outside really close to you and slightly in front of you, the car does tend to push, so you have to be careful not to push up into him.

I had the same with Paul Tracy a couple of times as well. Sometimes you push and think you have plenty of room, then you look in the mirror and the guy is right up against the wall. With Paul once I had a very close call.

After the way we started the race, I'm very happy to be on the podium. I thought we were going to be a couple of laps down.

It's great racing here, why the stands aren't full I don't know. You see some other racing here which isn't half as interesting, but then and the stands are full. Explain it to me please, somebody! These are fun races, but they are only fun if your car works. If you're car's bad, you're thinking 'If the car's going to be like this for three-and-a-half hours then I'd rather be somewhere else.' You just have to keep workling with the car, and not give up.

I had a really good view of the finish! It was very close. Michael was pretty close to Juan, Juan was pretty close to the wall. Marques was pretty close in front of them I didn't think anything was going to happen though. I was behind them when they crashed in Japan last year, and I was kind of hoping for a bit of déjà vu today. But those guys were the fastest out there, and they both deserve to be where they were.

This podium finish is a big help, although I think right now anything would help my championship with the number of points we've scored. This is my second podium of the year, but no wins. I don't think I've led a lap yet! It's nice to start scoring some points and being on the podium, and we just need to keep doing the same to get back into it. As we showed last year, it's never over until the last lap of the last race. Hopefully I'll have as close a championship battle as we did last year, but I'll be one point ahead this time

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