Select quotes from GP of St. Petersburg media luncheon HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “It's a place that I enjoy very much. Since unification there are more cars on the racetrack, which can create a different strategy during a race like St. Pete, depending on yellows and other things like that. We need to keep doing our homework. As a team with a successful history at this track, we don't want to change too much because we want to keep winning.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It’s great to be back. It’s important for me to do very well in this race because it is my home race. I want to do well just because of the home crowd support, and the last couple of years have been somewhat of a weak race for me. I think I finished seventh or eighth here the last couple of years (actually 9th and 16th) after a crash in practice right before qualifying last year and a bad qualifying the year before that. For me, it’s important to do well. And to kick start your championship campaign, it’s very important also to get as many points in the bag and really work on going all out for Indianapolis.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): “We went to Sebring (this week), but it started to pour, so we only got about 16 laps in. It’s going to be tough for us, but again this is just another race car. We keep telling ourselves that. In only 16 laps, our times were only about a second off the quickest of the (IndyCar Series) test, so I think we should be OK. I certainly don’t expect to run first this weekend, but I think a top-five is a reasonable finish for us.”
(About starting his first IndyCar Series race) “I’m looking forward to being part of this. It feels like it’s been a long time coming. I know it’s only been a couple of weeks, but we’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be quite the challenge this weekend, but we should be there. I think qualifying is a good new format. If we can continue on through qualifying and get through the first couple of sessions, there’s quite a bit of track time, so hopefully we can do that and get a little more familiar with these cars.”
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.): “It’s a very special place for me. I’m hoping to keep my record here. We had a very successful test at Sebring last week. We were able to improve the car quite a lot and were quickest. There’s a lot of things we learned at Sebring that we can translate to this track. It’s also a very special place for Andretti Green. The whole team feels really, really good about this weekend. We’re just expecting big things from this weekend. We definitely need to push on it, because we need to make up some of the points we lost in Homestead.
(About depth of the Firestone Indy Lights field) “It’s definitely a deeper field this year. I would say there are probably six or seven guys in the field with a chance of winning races. The performance, at least for our team, is there. We just have to put all the pieces together and do a good job in qualifying, try to start up front and keep your nose clean.”
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