Al Unser Jr.
Roberto Guerrero set the standard for the race by spinning into the infield on the warm-up lap. It was super, super cold. Really, it was about survival and paying attention to your tires on the start and restarts and getting as much heat into them as possible before really getting after it.
Because of the cold temperatures throughout the day, I kept trimming the car out more and more. The one thing we fought with the Galmer was its drag. The night before the race, I'd gone to bed praying for a hot day so the downforce in the Galmer would be to my advantage. But then I woke up the next morning and it was freezing cold, I was thinking, “Oh man, this is the worst thing that could happen.” So I spent the race trimming the car out as much as I possibly could You needed to be real careful until you got some heat in the tires. Once you did, it was fine so that each pit stop I took more rear wing out, because the downforce that was gluing us to the racetrack was giving me drag.
Scott and I were going back and forth like that for the last 50 laps of the race, and no one had seen it because of course it wasn't for the lead. Michael [Andretti] had checked out for the day. Scott and I were so close in pace to each other that truly the determining factor was traffic. When he was in front of me and we came up on lapped cars, I'd get a run on him, and once I was past, he'd stay right on my tail until I ran into traffic, and he'd repass.
Then, in the closing stages I got past him, just three or four laps before Michael broke down with 11 to go. At that point, I can tell you, I was going to do everything I could to not allow Scott back past! The yellow to retrieve Michael's car left us with a seven-lap shootout. The only thing on my mind was, “Please, no traffic!” Not only had it been giving the car behind a chance to pass in this race, I was remembering how it had also been what cost me the win in '89.
Anyway, on my final pit stop, I'd actually gone a little bit too far with trimming the car out. As we started running those final seven green laps, my car was getting looser and looser, and the final one, I was just basically hanging on to everything I had. Finally, in Turn 3, the rear end slid up next to the wall and then as soon as I turned into Turn 4, the back end jumped out again and I had to get out of the gas just for a split moment. That enabled Scott to get that run on me. Had the race been one lap longer, I'd definitely have finished second.
So, trimming that car out gave me a handful in those last laps, but hey, it was worth it. My first 500 win, and the feeling afterward was everything I'd dreamed it would be.
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