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Latest IRL News and Commentary

Homestead Friday Quotes

February 28, 2002

AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "What can I say? I'm just impressed with the whole Kelley team. The Dallara is great to drive and the car overall feels really good. Tom Knapp (engineer) and John Worth (crew chief) are doing a great job. I'm sorry that we didn't get a chance to test, but with a team like Kelley Racing it's not that important. The Corteco car was great today, and I just got right in and drove off."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's great to be back in Miami. I love racing on this track. It's a lot like Indianapolis with the long straights and fairly flat corners. So we're trying to figure out what the car likes. We're learning some things that might also help us come May. Today we've been working on our race setup, and the car is good but who knows what the weather will be come race day. I'm still getting over the flu bug but I feel better everyday." (About the Chevrolet engine): "The new Chevy motors are very strong and very responsive. I'm really looking forward to racing the Bowtie come Saturday. We're ready to race and hopefully put the Pennzoil Panther car in victory lane again. We're sure going to try our best."

JOHN DE VRIES (No. 37 Pit Bull Energy Drink/Rhino Cleaning Products Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're doing great. We didn't have much time earlier this morning. Now we've picked up two miles an hour so the car's getting good. It'll be better for tomorrow."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"We worked on our qualifying runs this morning, with two different setups on each of the Infiniti-powered Red Bull Cheever Racing cars. We'll decide which way to go tomorrow based on our debriefings today. This afternoon we did full tanks, using setups that were a continuation of what we had when we tested here. It was much warmer then, so it's going to be very tricky. The hardest job for the engineers this weekend is to stay on top of the temperature because it dramatically changes the setup of the car. If you get that wrong then you'll be in trouble on race day."

TYCE CARLSON (No. 18 Immke Auto Group Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): ""I think we accomplished what we wanted to today. I am comfortable and we worked on a good race balance. I think we achieved that. I think we know what we can do on long runs and that's where the race is won."

JON HERB (No. 16 International Star Registry G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Actually, I feel a lot better now even though I had the brief excursion. I'm shaking out the cobwebs. I haven't been here since last year. We only got a few laps in the race but we got some good practice. We've worked on the car we've got, and I think we dropped about a half-second since this morning's practice. We're definitely gaining on it. We're just learning. It's a new group, a new team, new engineer, new crew. So we're working on making those gains, and obviously the first gains we're trying to make as big as possible. Now we're trying to fine-tune a little bit. We got that easy half-second, now we've got to make the smaller changes and make the car safely quicker so we don't have the problems like we did out there."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light Life Fitness Tae-Bo Delta Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's gone really well. We're back racing again. It's just so nice to be into the 2002 season. I'm really looking forward to the year. It's very frustrating because you're always trying to get the most out of your car. We've had a very successful practice. I always want more as a driver, but the Coors Light car is running good. We're pretty much just learning, and that's what it's about is to try new things. Every year the cars have changed a little bit. With the 2002 package, every time we're in a car we're learning something."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This afternoon we had three to four different race setups that we wanted to try. Unfortunately, we had a little engine problem that limited our track time. However, we were still able to learn some of what we wanted to learn, so we feel we have a good baseline for our race setup tomorrow. Tonight, we'll do an engine change and get ready to focus on our qualifying setup in the morning. The guys here with the CURB Records racing team have done a tremendous job to get us prepared. Everyone's excited to get to the green flag."

ANTHONY LAZZARO (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's more or less a building process. You've got to crawl before you can walk. We've been running full-tank (sessions) all day, because all we're doing is working on race setup. There's not a lot of track time and me being a rookie and inexperienced I need as much race running and race conditions as I can get. Tomorrow is qualifying day, and we'll put everything in qualifying specs and go out to try to run fast. Today, we're just trying to run race-pace. In that last session we made some pretty good gains and actually did a 40-lap run. We're real happy with the time." (About running in both the Indy Racing League event and the Rolex race): "The IRL is my main focus and that's the main focus this weekend. Bill Rand has offered me the sports car ride for the season. The Indy car deal is fun, but it's also very serious. I'm not saying the sports car deal is not serious, but to me going all over and doing the sports car deal is like relaxation. It's just so much fun. I really enjoy myself. I love the team. I have a good group of guys over there as well. For me it's just like getting a chance to go relax and have fun."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This morning we went out on more of a qualifying setup and ran about eight laps with that, 202.7 (mph), I believe. There is a little more in it. There's time still to pull the rabbit out of the hat, if you will. The engine is running really, really strong. The new Chevrolets, I think they have a good all-around program going. Obviously the Team Menard engines are real strong, and the chassis is running real well. It's just trying to get everything finalized with the shocks and some stuff like that. The momentum from today's efforts, I think, will take us over to tomorrow, and we should have a good qualifying effort. We're learning a lot about the track, what the car needs for the track with the weather. Come Saturday, I think we'll be good to go."

GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It went well. I'm still just gaining experience, especially on a flat track like this. We got the new update kit on the car for the first time. It's still a learning experience. We'll keep plugging away little by little. We're picking it up little by little."(Are you excited about Saturday's race?): "Absolutely. Unfortunately, we ran out of practice today. I wanted some more laps. It wasn't in the cards, so we'll just have to wait until tomorrow, and we'll keep plugging then."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Today we spent time on both qualifying and race setups. We learned a lot in both areas. We just need to stay in form, maintaining our pace tomorrow as well. The crew of the Red Bull Cheever Racing team is working very hard, and everything is coming together. We also spent some time working on coming in and out of the pits. The yellow flags and pit stops will be something new for me in this race. We did some work in the pits today, and I managed to do them with no mistakes."

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Chip Ganassi G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It feels great to get back in the car for a race weekend. The car was great. Last week when we tested really helped out. We came out in our race trim in the morning session, and the car was extremely fast with that much downforce. This afternoon we made some changes, but we were not able to get a read on the balance of the car because of the traffic out there. We know where we're at, and I'm really excited about the race car setup. We should be a contender to win on Saturday. The guys have done a great job preparing the car in such a short amount of time. I've been really impressed with this team so far."

DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This track is new to me, and we didn't test here so I'm just feeling it out. The car feels better each time out. I'm trying different lines, and A.J.'s making a few suggestions so I'm sure tomorrow will be a better day for us."

ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 Foyt Racing/Banco Chile Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We made some improvements in the chassis, but we are still having some problems with the electronics. It's been a big mystery to us today so we are going to change the engine and see if that makes a difference tomorrow."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We want to make sure the Marlboro car handles well for the race, so we ran in race trim and focused on race setup today. This afternoon we also did a full tank long run. Overall, the day was OK. We're not a 10 out of 10 yet, but we're about there."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm pretty happy with how things went today. The Delphi car felt great right out of the box this morning. We mainly worked on race setup and having a strong car for Saturday. Tomorrow we'll worry about going fast. Our goal today was trying to get the best consistency out of the car for race day."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"It was a pretty smooth day overall. No real dramas. We spent a lot of time this morning getting in some long runs and spent more of the afternoon fine-tuning the balance on the Hollywood car. I think we're going to have a very good car for the race. Tomorrow morning, we'll start trimming out the car for qualifying and see where we end up. I think we have a car capable of the top six. There are some very fast guys out there so far who are going to be tough to catch in qualifying. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's great to be back in the Cahill car. We're doing well considering I haven't been in the car since the season finale. We have a good starting point on the car, and I'm feeling more comfortable every session. We do have a big push out of (Turn) 2, but we're working on it. We want to do really well here for our new sponsor, Scottrade."

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's great to see how many different entries they have. If you go down the entry list there are 10 different cars that can win the race. Coming here and starting the IRL season at Homestead will make it an interesting race. This track is very demanding on the car, and the setup is critical. You always expect and want to be higher on the sheet, but we are making progress every time we go out, and that is our goal. The main thing we are monitoring is our progress."

BILLY ROE (No. 81 Sign-A-Rama/Zali Racing/American Dream Mortgage G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think the palm trees down the back straightaway are so cool. That's a nice touch. Actually, we got to do about 10 laps here. I've been to Milwaukee, and it seems like a big Milwaukee only a lot bigger and a lot smoother and a lot faster and a lot nicer. We haven't really gotten a hold of the place yet, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think we'll be just fine here, and we've got one more session tomorrow. We can pick up some speed."

HIDEKI NODA (No. 20 Convergent Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're struggling to find the right setup for the car. We're still learning and finding out the right line. Because there's not much banking on this racetrack, it's very hard to find the right setup. We need to work on it and find out tomorrow."

RICK TREADWAY (No. 55 Treadway/Hubbard Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The track felt really good out there today. With the cooler temperatures, I think we went a little bit faster than our team anticipated. We had a little bit of a push between Turns 1 and 2, and we just worked on that all day. We concentrated on full tanks and race setup."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We divided the day, obviously, into two sections. It was the first time we'd run a two-car team together for a while. It actually benefited our team because what I did in the morning got passed on to him (Scheckter). It's a funny day because the temperatures are not what we've been testing with so you have to readjust the car. I think it's going to be a real struggle for the engineers to keep up with the changing temperatures." (About hiring a second driver): "Whenever you pick a driver they always make it look like it was really deep thinking or really deep philosophy. I don't really believe there is a science. There are no guarantees you're going to pick the right one. You're always looking for speed. You're looking for the right mix for the driver. Above all, if you're looking for a young one, you want to look for somebody that's determined, somebody that will do whatever is necessary to be successful, and Tomas is very determined. His dad was as hard-headed as a marble block. He was incredible in Formula One, and Tomas will do all that is necessary to do well. I think it's a good mix. As you can see, I'm the only one with white hair sitting at this table. He's been fastest in most of the sessions that we've been to. I'm getting used to getting my ass kicked." (About the bar being raised in the Indy Racing League): "I think it's just a normal progression. The philosophy has been accepted. There are very strong, sound business principles behind what we're doing."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We did the same, we split the sessions. The first one we started pretty much in qualifying setup. We were fast in practice. We were happy about it. In the second one, the second session we decided to go with full-tank runs, with long-distance runs. I'm very happy. I don't think my car is the fastest, but definitely my car is very consistent, and here on the ovals you have to have a very consistent car." (How long was the session you ran this afternoon?): "Basically the full session. We started at the beginning and finished at the end. We ran a full-tank session. Definitely today was a unique situation. We have a lot of downforce, and that's a lot of fun. It's a lot of momentum going on here. You don't have a long straightaway here like Indy. You have to think a lot when you approach a turn about making a pass." (About joining the Indy Racing League): "I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to it. Like he (Cheever) said, I'm part of the IRL family."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Today went as planned. We ran a qualifying run and a race run, and I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve." (Were the slower speeds in the afternoon more a reflection of philosophy rather than the weather?): "I think it was philosophy. Just for myself we went out with a qualifying setup in the morning and a race setup in the afternoon. Two months ago was the first time on an oval. It's one thing to go quick and another to race hard. I think we have a good car for qualifying and a good car for the race. I'm still learning what to do in the race, getting in and out of the pits. I'm still going up on my learning curve." (About Eddie Cheever Jr.'s Indianapolis 500 champion ring): "I was just looking at his ring, and I want one of those."

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