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Latest IRL News and Commentary

Indy 500 Thursday Practice Quotes

May 16, 2002

PAUL TRACY (No. 26 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was (the movie) 'Groundhog Day' all over again. We only got one run in. We're going to change the engine overnight. We didn't get much running in, only four laps, I think."

ERIC HAVERSON (Chief Mechanic, No. 26 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It was really windy out there, so we had more downforce on it than we would for qualifying because we obviously don't want to wreck another one. Our times were acceptable. Our times were about what we thought."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was coming into the pits a little too fast, and the brakes locked up on me. I was going too fast, so I tried to get back out on the track, and the car just came around. The car is not bad at all. The Team Target crew will probably have the car fixed this afternoon, and it will be ready to go. Luckily, the car was not damaged that badly, and we'll be fine for next two weeks. We did some race simulation laps this morning, and the car is pretty good in race trim. I can't wait to get back in the car."

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Things are going good so far. We're just working on our race setup. We're just waiting for qualifying day on Sunday." (Do you think you're in good shape for qualifying?): "You know, I do. We've just been working on our race setup a lot. We've got a little balance to change on the car for qualifying, but I feel pretty confident that we can get that. I think we'll be fine come qualifying."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We're just trying to do some evaluation for race stuff, getting Sarah more confident with the car. I'm just trying to log some miles to see where some tire wear goes with the Firestone rubber. We know they're good and consistent, but the track surface is just that much more abrasive, so we've got to see where that takes us when we run on full tanks. I don't have all those answers I want right now, partially due to the weather coming and going. I drove a brand-new car yesterday to get the bugs worked out of that thing."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We just worked on race setup, and I'm a little bummed out it started raining, but we're getting closer every day. We're pretty happy because the car's working right now. The Pennzoil Panther guys are working hard, and we're just trying to keep moving forward. We were going to go out and do a couple more long runs, and we were changing some stuff on the car. We were trying to get done before it started raining, but it didn't work out that way. Everybody deals with the same thing. As far going out there and running the race car and being able to do that, there's a lot of guys out there right now trying to qualify who can't run those speeds so, I guess, in my opinion, if it rained from here until next Sunday, I wouldn't care too much. We try to stay out of the mayhem by running early and getting done before Happy Hour with everything we want to do for the day."

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We went out to confirm that the car was still good, and it felt as good as it did yesterday. We had a problem with the motor, but we had a lot of miles on it, so it was about time for it to give up. I'm happy with the balance because it stayed the same. Now it's just a waiting game."

RAUL BOESEL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were ready to go out and then had a few showers, so we are just waiting to see. I didn't run after I qualified. Robby was running his backup car, and that's what I was going to run today. I wish next year I'd be in a position to be here on the Opening Day and carry on. I cannot even believe it myself. It's really a great opportunity. John Menard and the Johns Manville team, everyone is behind us. Everybody is very happy with what we've achieved in such a short period of time." (Will you race the rest of the season?): "Yes, I will. That was the intention. If I did Indy, I could do the rest. I am looking forward to great things happening. I hope this is the beginning of a long-term relationship for as long as I want to drive." (Are you still getting driving tips from your daughter?): "Yes, she always calls every day and says 'What's going on?' Gabby, she's my number-one fan."

GREG RAY (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We made some small changes. The speed wasn't much faster, but the improvement in feel and confidence was huge. The car was fantastic in Turn 1, and the conditions out there weren't that good. We've been a little more conservative than usual in our approach. With the small changes we made this morning, the car came right, so a little more of that, and we'll be good for qualifying."

DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 14T Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car felt better today. The weather was not favorable. In fact, the wind was bad, so for the conditions, we were pretty good. We're still working on the car because we need to get the front end tied down a little more. I'm still having trouble in Turn 4, but we'll work on it and get it up to speed."

ARIE LUYENDYK (No. 55T Meijer G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The backup car was used yesterday and today to get a race setup. We weren't working on qualifying at all. That was our goal because we felt that we needed a lot of time on the track, but with the windy conditions that hasn't been easy. The backup car in race conditions is just really poor. From what I feel, I think we're four to five miles an hour off from a good race pace with that car right now. We can't get it to go fast. That just adds to our frustration of what we had going on last weekend. As far as the primary car, I'm confident that we don't need a lot of laps. We don't need to go out now and practice to get a qualifying setup because we pretty much believe we have the setup. We just need to take advantage of it Sunday, and in that one qualifying attempt we have left, hopefully we won't have a little technical glitch that we had last Saturday that would ruin the run. So that's what I'm hoping for, but anything can happen. You have to have a MAX PAPIS (No. 52T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We ran consistently this morning, making progress with the Red Bull Cheever Racing car. I think we are very close to a good race setup. We are working on improving the security of the car in the rear and on turn in. Overall, we were able to develop the car today. We will see the results of our work in the next couple of days."

JIMMY VASSER (No. 19 Miller Lite/Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/ Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We made several changes with the car today, and I'm pleased with the things that we tested. With the weather the way it is, we didn't know how much information we could gather today, but it was very productive. I hope we can get in a few more laps in the next few days. We won't run a lot since you can run through your tires and engines pretty quickly. Plus, it looks like the conditions are going to change a lot over the weekend. With cooler weather, I'm not sure you will learn a lot for the race. It's predicted to be in the mid to high 70s next week, but only in the 50s this weekend. So what would we learn by pounding around the track this weekend? Not too much."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We were working on tuning the engine and gathering data for our fuel strategy. We think we have settled into what the race pace is going to be. All we are doing is accumulating data so that at the end of the day the engineers can sit down and sift through it. We hear it is going to rain tomorrow, so we are trying to get through our work list today."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I was glad to get in some good, consistent runs today in the Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti. This is important for us to be able to evaluate the car and get ready for the race.."

POST-PRACTICE QUOTES

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had limited mileage in the engine, so we did one long run this morning. We ran the Marlboro Team Penske car in race trim with a heavy fuel load. We are continuing to make good progress, and our plan for tomorrow is to run both the primary car and the T-car."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm much happier with the Marlboro Team Penske car after today's practice. Even though the track conditions were not ideal, we were able to run 76 laps and made good progress with our race setup. We still need more time on the track, so hopefully the weather will cooperate, and we'll get some more work done tomorrow."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): "Today was another untypical day at the track. The weather was a little iffy, so Robbie and I took turns running our cars one at a time. It has been a tough route trying to chase the weather with the aero balance of the car. The team to chase and log the weather the best will win this race. However, the better part of the day consisted of an Aventis gathering at the Racing For Kids hospitality tent. These folks were the first representatives close to the Allegra brand to come out to the track. Another visit was with the ATA folks while doing Pace Car rides this morning and a suite visit this afternoon."

JOHNNY HERBERT (No. 32 WESTERN UNION/Duesenberg Brothers Racing Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "Just nothing new to report. We changed engines this morning thinking that might solve some of our problem, but it didn't seem to make much difference. Otherwise, we continue to make chassis adjustments, but we've not hit on the right combination to free the car up, so we're still losing far too much speed through the turns. There's still time though, and the Western Union Speed Team isn't giving up yet."

BARRY GREEN (Owner, Team Green): (About Dario Franchitti not practicing today): "It was a planned break, Dario has been running non-stop. He ran at Mid-Ohio. The conditions today are not what they'll be on qualifying. This place is tough physically and mentally, so this was a planned break."

PAUL TRACY (No. 26 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think we had a better practice today. We didn't show a lot of speed, but we were running with a lot of downforce on the Team Green 7-Eleven car. At the end of the day, we were the fastest car on the track. Now I don't know if that means anything in terms of qualifying on Sunday, but it is a positive. The wind is really blowing hard so we're being fairly conservative on our setup and trying not to make any mistakes. We'll trim the car out for qualifying, and hopefully find more speed. I would like to go faster, and I think we can as long as we don't lose the balance in the car."

KENNY BRACK (No. 22 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We didn't make that many laps today on the Target car. When we wanted to go out, it rained. The car was pretty good when we went out this afternoon, but we still have a lot of work to do to make it ready for the race. I'm happy with the progress that we have made so far this week. I'm getting more and more excited for the race with each day that goes by."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We did some race simulation laps this morning, and the car is pretty good in race trim. We turned the second fastest lap of the day, and I think we're pretty close to being ready for the '500.'"

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The CURB Records team really used today as a race preparation day. We ran the car with a full load of fuel for a full fuel stop length, checking the consistency of the car, which was very good.. I was really happy with the consistency. I wouldn't mind seeing a little more speed out of the car, but I think it's going to be more important that it's consistent than that it has outright speed. We're still keeping our eye on our precarious bubble situation. But, again today not a lot of cars were running speeds fast enough to contend with our speed. We have a couple other race setups that we'd like to try, so if we get more track time, we'll try those. Otherwise, we'll focus on preparing the backup car in qualifying trim, just in case we need it on Sunday. We'll continue to keep our eye on that."

TONY KANAAN (No. 17 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's been a really good day for us. We've been trying race setups all day and did a couple of long runs. It's all going to be about the conditions. This track is going to change a lot from today to next week. Let's see what we can do. When the car is good, it is very easy to be comfortable, and that is what I am right now. I think we have a very good car, so that is making my life a lot easier right now. I will tell you I am 60 percent. The other 40 I will get probably by the end of next week. That is the reason we came here (to win). There is no other thinking. Yes, we do know we have the possibility. It is a 500-mile race. It is a long race. We will try to be on the lead lap with the last 50 laps. We do know we have the car to win this race."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I had the best setup yet for a race car. I wanted Tomas and Max to try it out. That's why they drove my car in practice today. I was interested in their input."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About driving Eddie's car) "I would really like to get the flowers on the dash, the dice and the furry steering wheel for my car. Seriously, Eddie has a lot of miles here and is good at setting the car up for the race. I trust his opinion. In the other races this year, we had very similar setups. I like a little bit more oversteer, but overall I was happy with his car."

SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infniti/Firestone): "We changed the race setup this morning. We changed a couple of things. Last week we had a tough time. The first day we had a big fire. After that we put in a new engine. Yesterday we did 227.1 (mph). That was exactly the same car as last week."

MAX PAPIS (No. 52T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Eddie's setup is a strong base to work from. I was pleased to have the chance to jump in his car. It's a good, solid car. I would just like to make a few small adjustments for my style of driving. It was definitely very, very windy out there. But I think come race time, when there's 33 cars out there, it's not going to be atmospherically as windy as this, but it's going to feel the same. It will be really, really difficult. So I think it was important to be out there, and especially using all the track time you can because you never know if it's going to rain the next couple of days. I'm pretty pleased with what we have achieved. We have improved the car quite a lot, and I've been able to run both (No.) 51T and 52T cars so I feel comfortable about both."

RAUL BOESEL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We ran on full tanks to start to feel what the car's reaction was on long runs. We probably need to make a few changes to the car to gain more speed on a day with these conditions. Today was not a very good day for practice, it was a little windy, but it was a good base. I felt the winds the most in Turn 2 where the car was slightly unstable, just little gust winds going one way that made it a little bit unpredictable, but not terrible. The tire wear is another thing. We did a longer run of 15-20 laps, and I could feel the car start to slide a little bit. Consistent balance was there, but I was starting to use more and more road and lose some grip."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Overall, everything's really good with the car. If the weather would cooperate, we'd like to do a few more full-fuel loads to confirm what we already see. We haven't turned a lot of lap in the past couple of days, thanks to electrical gremlins yesterday and the rain today, but we know our race car."

GEORGE MACK (No. 30 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I didn't have much time, but it (the day) went OK after we smashed the car yesterday. I feel comfortable in the car, we are just getting up to speed slowly. It felt a lot better today than it did yesterday. There is a lot of drag in the car. This motor has about 400 miles on it. We'll run it a little bit more tomorrow and take it out. We'll put in what they call 'Thumper.' You can feel it (wind). It moves you around a little bit. I broke the perfect gears that we needed for the car when I crashed yesterday. So the gears that I have in the car today are a little taller. With the wind, it just won't pull it."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing/Scottrade Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was a very productive day for the Cahill Racing team and the Scottrade.com No. 10. We made a big change last night in the garage area, and the car was very comfortable right off the bat this morning. We found some speed; now we need to find some more. At the end of the day we made another big change, but that didn't work as well as we hoped, so we're going back to the morning's setup for tomorrow. Fortunately the rain held off enough today that we were able to get a lot done. I feel much better today because we got some speed out of the car."

DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 14T Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's been different out there for me because my first day yesterday was with the grooved surface. It's a difference for the veterans. I think the rookies have it a little bit easier because they didn't experience what it was before. We weren't shooting for any speeds yesterday, just to get familiar with the track again, and get a confidence level back in the car, and see what we could do. Today we went out there and picked up a mile per hour. We're not really rushing this thing too quick. We're worried about the weather, naturally, but I think we'll be OK for the weekend. It's the biggest race in the world, and A.J. was man enough to come and ask me, and I feel I was man enough to accept. It's over and done. We need to get down to business, and get these cars in the show." (Will you start to feel some pressure as we get closer to Sunday?): "I was feeling pressure yesterday. I really thought I could jump up to speed a little bit r as drafting partners, Arie will be back there, and he'll be coming to the front. It just depends on how their cars are handling. My car last year, we started 27th, and we moved up pretty well through the field, but it wasn't instant. It took me 150 laps to get to seventh, so pit stops, cars falling out, I think a lot of it's going to come into play."

 

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