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Latest IRL News and Commentary

Friday quotes from Indy

May 17, 2002

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We were working on our race setup, trying to figure out what we need for race day. We don’t know what the weather will be on race day. It could be cold like this. It could be hot. We’re just trying to run in as many conditions as we can. The wind was stronger yesterday, and it moved the cars around more. Today it’s cool. It’s just thrown something different at us every day this month. We’d always like to be faster, but we’re pretty happy with the way things are going right now. We’re working hard, and we think we have a great race car.”

SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “We used the qualifying setup this morning. The car was pretty good. I’m very comfortable right now. We are in a good position for qualifying, and we need to keep going this way. Yesterday it was very windy, but not so much today. The car will be fine.”

JOHN DE VRIES (No. 37 Pit Bull Energy Drink/Rhino Cleaning Products Dallara/ Chevrolet/ Firestone): “We’re figuring it out little by little. We’re just pulling things out and trying to get some more speed, but we’re going the right direction. It’s a little windy. We’re just trying to work some bugs out.”

JIMMY KITE (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): “I haven’t been in an IRL car in a year. I know these guys. I know they put a pretty safe race car out there. I had the confidence to go out and get up to speed pretty quickly. I didn’t expect to get up to speed that quickly, but the car just feels really good to me. The way they’ve redone this track, compared to the last four years of running this track, it just has so much grip in it. It’s the easiest time we’ve been here. That’s why the speeds are so high this year. Even for me, it feels pretty easy to drive this year. They gave me a call yesterday evening and asked me if I’d be interested in wheeling the car for the rest of the weekend and put it in the ‘500,’ and I obviously jumped on it. I knew that they had the engine, the equipment and the people to do it. It’s just getting a couple of days out there to knock the rust off of me and get up to speed. 225 (mph) right out of the box, I’m pretty happy with it.

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah’s/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “The car is a lot better. It was not only one thing we found. We found a lot of small things. We found some more speed on the straightaways. We just keep working at it. We tried to adjust the car for the conditions that we had today, so when it comes to Sunday, whatever weather we have, we’re prepared. I think if we run mid to high 227’s (mph), we’ll be all right in qualifying. I think we were pretty solid on that speed. Even if we can go faster than that, we’re not going to risk it and do something stupid. We’ll just try to run the speed that gets us in the race and then go forward.”

DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 14T Harrah’s/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “Yesterday I ran a (2)25 and a half (mph), and that felt good. We still had just a little bit of an understeer in one of the corners. That’s taken two miles an hour off of me right there. I’ve been shaking down the 11T car. It has a little bit better engine than the one that I’ve got. The 14T’s just got a few miles on her. I think we’ll go out there and try to bump up there as quick as we can. The conditions, though, you’ve got to be careful. You have to take another lap to get the tires up to temperature. Just be a little cautious out there. I did 10 laps, but eight of them were warming the tires up. I was probably just a little too cautious, but I’d rather be safe than sorry on this.”

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “It’s going OK. It’s a bit cold and windy today, but I feel 90 percent ready for the race. We’re just working on the race setup. That’s all we’re doing.” (About the conditions): “It’s all right. It’s a bit more difficult. The wind bothers me more than the temperature.”

RICHIE HEARN (No. 20 Grill 2 Go Sam Schmidt Motorsports Indy Car Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): ‘The car’s all right. I ran some good runs in traffic. I could still be maybe a little bit faster on my own. I want to run a couple more times tomorrow. I just want to gather some data. It’s not that bad out there, really. It takes maybe an extra lap to get the tires up to temperature, but I thought it was a lot tougher yesterday or the day before because the wind was blowing. It was moving the car around a lot. Today it didn’t seem that bad.”

LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “Right now we’re trying to prepare for the race, running the race setup. We’re going to try the backup car to try some different things, but right now the weather is pretty cold, so we don’t want to focus too much on the results of that. Most of the time we’re trying to have a good car when we follow a different number of cars. The problem is that nobody is running, so it’s pretty difficult to do that. Yesterday we really tried to find a group of cars and tried to offset the car pretty good behind three or four cars. That’s our goal now: to try to have a good car in testing.” (About Rich Simon joining the team as chief mechanic): “It’s never easy to come to a team during a season, especially just three weeks before Indy. We’re getting closer and closer. We’re trying to learn (about) each other. Rich is doing a very good job. He’s really trying to be part of the team. He’s really becoming part of the team.

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We shook down our primary Marlboro Team Penske car this morning just to be sure everything was running properly, and then we put it away until we get our race engines and run it for one final time on Carburetion Day. Our plan for the afternoon was to continue to work on our race setup in the backup car, but unfortunately the rain came, and we didn't get in as much running as we planned. Despite the weather conditions, we're still on schedule with our race preparation."

MAX PAPIS (No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “It was very interesting to see Tomas running. Since I have been here I have run every day, so it was very good to watch him. It was cold today, so I don’t think it was very representative for race pace. We will see tomorrow how we stand. Now I will go to the gym.”

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We are trying to do some full-tank runs and trying some different downforce. Today is going to be a waste for everybody because the track is far from good. It’s windy, it’s cold, and we just decided to quit. We’ve scrubbed some tires for the race, and that was the only good thing about today.”

BUZZ CALKINS (Owner, No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “Shigeaki (Hattori) feels pretty comfortable with the car. I think we still have quite a bit of downforce on it, so I think there is still some more room to trim it out. Hopefully, we will be able to get up to where we need to be speed-wise. I think our main priority is to get both the cars to where they are at a decent speed, so we have some different options going into Sunday if something happens to one of the cars.”

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “With these conditions, it’s hard to get much done. Obviously, everybody’s chasing the cold temperatures and the dampness today. Our focus is still on watching everybody else and just waiting.”

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing/Scottrade Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We went out and had a gearbox problem. We fixed the gearbox, and it rained. We didn’t get to run any hot laps in the No. 10 car today. Hopefully, we’ll get to run more tomorrow.”

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We got out today in the backup car to see what we could learn about tire wear during some fast laps. We tried a few different things and feel like we made some progress. We're trying to learn as much as we can with the limited green-flag time we have. With the weather as it is, we do what we can and then call it a day."

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We got a few laps out there today, and things went pretty well. We had a fuel pressure problem early in the day, but the Team Target guys were able to get that fixed. Each day that goes by, I get more and more excited about the race. Then again, it’s hard not to get excited about racing in the Indianapolis 500. This is the Super Bowl of racing, and with all of the great teams here, it is going one of the most competitive races ever. I’m with a top-notch team and have good equipment to work with. I think that we have a great shot at winning this year.”

RAUL BOESEL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I guess it was a good day. Still not as much running as we'd like due to the weather. It's very windy out there, too windy. When we did run, we made improvements, though. The car is much better than it was yesterday. With the cold weather, the track was quick, and our car was much more predictable with the setups we used. Tomorrow we will use our primary car with what we learned today and hopefully find another mile an hour or two. I wanted to run more in traffic with this car today, but unfortunately, there weren't many cars on the track because of the windy and cold conditions."

KENNY BRACK (No. 22 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): “We had some stuff we wanted to try before the final practice. We thought the track was dry, but obviously it wasn’t.”

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “We’re working on race setups since we’ve obviously qualified for the race. We’re just trying to find a setup that fits on the car. When we went out this morning, we found one that seemed pretty good, but the track seems to be wearing the tires out quite a bit, and we tried something new. We’re just waiting for the rain to go. We’ve done one useful run, but we found a problem. When we go back out, we’ll see if we’ve improved it. The track changes all the time, and you have to watch out for that because you have to change the car. One day can be like this, and the next, the wind can be blowing from the opposite direction. We just have to keep our eyes on the weather so when the race comes, we have the right setup on the car. You have to make the most of what time you get. Since qualifying, I haven’t run as much as my teammates, so any time is valuable. We need to see these conditions. You can’t predict what the track will do.

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (About coming back after his crash on May 10): “Actually, the few things that I’ve had happen in my career, I’ve been able to mentally overcome that fairly quickly. The biggest thing was physically. My back was pretty tight. It was hard really to just be loose in the car. When you have an incident like that, it basically shocks your body, and your body needs enough time to recover from it. In order to be out here, because there’s a lot of forward drifting going on, you need to be very relaxed in the car, and that took about half a day to happen. We got up to speed fairly quickly, but at the same time it wasn’t really comfortable.” (About the SAFER Barrier): “I’ve hit concrete before and the angle that I went in, in Turn 1, I just can’t imagine if that was concrete. The (SAFER) walls, that’s the reason why I’m here right now and able to compete to try to qualify for the Indy 500.

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