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Latest IRL News and Commentary

Saturday quotes from Indy

May 18, 2002

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Allegra/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Today we worked mainly on yellow-lap runs and pit stop practice and a couple of long runs to gauge race day fuel mileage with the Infiniti engine and had good results. We've accumulated a lot of data in different weather conditions that should help us be prepared for just about anything on Race Day. We don't plan on running on Sunday. I think we might have a well-deserved day off."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Our race car is ready to go. Today's really the last time to make any adjustments, and I think we're extremely pleased with where we are. That wind will really mess with your mind out there. You just have to keep telling yourself it's the wind and not the car underneath you. There are some places on the track where you can really feel it. If the wind is like this on Race Day, we'll deal with it, but nobody needs to be a hero out there today."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I won't really feel good until that gun goes off at 6 p.m. tomorrow, but here with the CURB Records team, we feel like we've done everything we can to ensure our position in this year's Indy 500. We've been working on different spring and shock settings, different combinations to try and find more speed, but also in an effort to have a good race car over a long run. We've made big gains in our tire wear and in the consistency of our race car. We feel that when the green flag drops, we're going to be prepared to be very competitive in this field. Obviously, we have to get there first, so tomorrow will be a stressful, hectic day. I'm going to be hoping that we see some of these teams start taking speeds that are slower than us so that we get off the bubble and to take a little bit of that pressure off. You know, the unexpected is what you fear here, and you never know what can happen, but right now all we can do is wait. In 24 hours, we'll have our answers."

PAUL TRACY (No. 26 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "For the conditions today, I think we are OK. There are nine spots left in the field, and I think we are comfortably within the top-nine guys trying to get in, but we'll have to wait and see tomorrow. It was very windy today, and it was hard to get the gearing right on the Team Green 7-Eleven car. We had a big tailwind down the frontstraight, but that meant there is a big headwind down the backstraight. I know Michael (Andretti) is hoping the weather will keep the speeds down tomorrow, but I don't think it is a big factor for us. We just need to get in the race comfortably. Our last practice run today simulated a qualifying run, and we were able to turn our fastest lap of the day. I would much rather start inside the top 20 than in the 30s."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was nice to have a couple of days off and come back with a fresh perspective. The Team Green 7-Eleven car feels good, but the wind is really affecting us as it's very gusty out there. I think we've had the speed all along to be in the race, but we just had some problems last weekend and maybe some bad luck. I don't think we are any quicker or any slower than we were then, and hopefully, we won't have any problems tomorrow, and we'll get in the race. It has certainly been hard work the last couple of weeks. We've been trying to find speed here at Indy and at the same time continue preparing for our Champ Car program. We tested at Mid-Ohio this week and are headed back there on Monday, so it's been a tough month."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're happy with our results this week. Today we focused on final preparations, including doing our last long run. The Marlboro Team Penske car is reasonably fast and quite consistent, which in my mind is the most important thing. We also practiced for the pit stop competition, which went pretty well, so I think we're ready for next week. Tonight I'm heading home to Florida for a couple of days to relax with my family."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Today was our last full day of practice. We made good progress, and I believe we're ready for race weekend. We did a long run, and we ran with other cars to make sure the Marlboro Team Penske car was well-balanced in traffic, which will be important come Race Day. We also did pit stop practice to prepare for the race as well as the pit stop competition. Now I'm looking forward to relaxing at home for the next couple of days."

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We simulated some qualifying runs today in the wind. The speed wasn't what we were looking for, but today's wind conditions would not allow that. We have a good, solid base going into tomorrow. We'll do one or two runs to verify everything because if the wind is not this strong, it will change the balance of the car. We are in a tiny window right now where we have to adjust the car and tweak it a little bit here and there. We are good to go."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We didn't really do much running today. The car is feeling really good. We made a big gain yesterday, and it was kind of something we'd been working on all month. In a lot of ways, all year. I felt like we had a fabulous day yesterday, and the car was feeling really good to me. Right now, it's feeling like a brilliant race car. We're planning on running tomorrow. In fact, we ran a little less today because we're planning on doing more tomorrow. We're awful close to having our final race setup."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's the last day of running for the Red Bull Cheever Racing team. Tomas tried some different things on his setup, which he might carry over to the race. Max found a few things with the aerodynamics. I have already done eight full-tank runs, and I am quite confident. We just practiced a few other things today. Now we just have to prepare the cars for the race. We wanted to have Max and Tomas to run together today so they had a better idea of how things were with traffic. I have had an opportunity to run in traffic at Indy, they have not, so we orchestrated that experience for them today. They both ran well. One car was faster at the beginning of the run with one setup, and the other car was faster at the end of the run with another setup. It was more good information that we can sit down and analyze. I would say that our bread is in the oven now. The ingredients are all gathered, and the dough is mixed; we just have to wait and see how it comes out."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This last day has been our best day so far. We got some decent race runs in. I ran behind Max to see how the car would react in bad air, and my car was unbelievable. That's going to be an important thing, especially in the race. We're going to analyze the data tonight and make sure the car is perfect for the race."

MAX PAPIS (No. 52T Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Today we focused a lot on race day. Unfortunately, I couldn't find too much traffic out there, so I ran around with Tomas. I felt we have a very strong car, and we have a great knowledge on what we need to do for the race. It was very cold, so I am not so sure how representative today will be of the race. I was very happy when I was able to run Eddie's setup a couple of days ago. It put us on the right track much faster than if I had to do the setup all by myself. It was very important in our preparation this week. Eddie has more laps around this track than any of us, so his input is very important. But come race day, I still want to beat him."

GEORGE MACK (No. 30 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We definitely ran better this afternoon than we have in the past few days. We're staying afloat, and we made some big strides today. While we blew an engine on our final run out there, none of us on the 310 Racing crew can really complain because that Chevrolet gave us many, many strong miles. We also had a motor change scheduled for tonight. We were just hoping it would come after we gathered more data on our final lap. The change just came sooner than later. We'll put a new motor in it, and that one should have some more ponies in it for tomorrow's big run. It sure would be nice if that wind would die down or at least stop shifting directions so frequently. It's definitely causing some lift, especially going into Turn 1. I might as well be on rollerskates out there, that's what it feels like. We know what changes to make to the car so the lift isn't as dramatic. I just hope we don't have to mess with such changes because we'll find the wind is not a factor. It's difficult to overcome, just being a little short on track time those two days that we lost earlier last week. You miss one practice session or two days of practice like I did, it's really rough."

JOHNNY HERBERT (No. 32 WESTERN UNION/Duesenberg Brothers Racing Dallara/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's still not really where we should be. We're struggling like there's no tomorrow. It's not very quick at the moment." (About attempting to qualify in Indianapolis and race in California tomorrow): "That's going to be a difficult one. It's not a nice decision to be in for one, because Dave Maraj at Champion has been good to me over the years, and obviously, it's a tough decision because it's very tight to get the last 33rd place. It's going to be a tough next couple of hours as we determine what we are going to do. If everything was all right, there would be no problem, but everything is so up in the air right now. I'd like to race in both. At the moment this is a one off, and I'm racing with Dave the rest of the year. I didn't come here to be the last has-been at the back of the grid, so it's been frustrating, but we've been in this position for a week. It just hasn't improved. If everything had gone to plan, I would have gotten in on day one. Hindsight says if I had done the run, I'd already be in, but hindsight is a very easy thing to go on. The whole point of doing it was to go quicker, but (2)26 and a half (mph) wasn't where I thought the car should be. Realistically, we haven't improved at all."

JON HERB (No. 16 G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were trying to make some changes to catch up on the qualifying thing, and we were working back from very stable race-type setup. Our engineer isn't very familiar with this type of car. He's got a good understanding, and we're working real well together, but we got the car a little out of balance, and that doesn't work here with the walls. It's unfortunate. We've been there before, but we're having a lot of problems here this year. When I got in the corner, it showed push to me, but it went straight up the hill after I got past the midpoint of the corner, and that's about it." (Can you get the car repaired?): "That's up to those guys in there. It doesn't look promising. If they can't figure anything out, then we're done."

RAUL BOESEL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We learned quite a few things in the backup car this morning, then I was able to get into my blue car in the afternoon. That was nice. It felt like home again. We have a pretty good balance now and some good consistency. We just need to make a little adjustment for Turn 1, but today again was so windy coming across that corner that we don't want to misjudge and do too much to compensate for the cold weather and wind. Other than that, we are still evaluating tire wear and working our setup to best accommodate the way the tires are being used up."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Team Green 7-Eleven Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think we showed last week that surprises do happen here. We were pretty confident this time last week that we had a car that we could qualify; we actually thought pretty close to the top 10, and we had a problem. We think it was an engine problem because the engine did eventually go bang at the end of the day. So we think it started to go sick just before qualifying. Before that we were running easily 228s (mph) on our own and went out to try to qualify, and the best we could do was 226 (mph). So, barring any surprises tomorrow, I think we're not in bad shape." (About taking time off earlier this week): "I think we really wouldn't have gained anything. We were pretty happy with the car last week. We felt we had the speed to get in the race quite comfortably, and we felt we had a good race car but unfortunately what happened, happened." (About impressions of the Speedway): "The track itself is a very impressive facility. The first thing you notice is, obviously, there is a great deal of history, starting with the museum over there. When they brought out the old turbine car today I was like, 'There is a proper race car. Look at that.' That's the kind of things that makes this track special. You look at the way the place is kept, that sort of thing. It's just immaculate. That makes it really nice to be here. Everybody is really friendly. To be here for such a long length of time, it takes a bit of getting used to, but at the end of the day it's all about, for me, what goes on at the track. That's been an adjustment, adjusting to the way the IRL car works, and the team adjusting to the little intricacies, what the weather does to the car, what it's like when an engine is going sick. We don't know these sort of things, so we're learning. It's been an experience, shall we say." (About changing weather conditions and what to focus on): "I think you have to deal with any situation. When you get up in the morning and the wind is going that way and it's cold, you have to deal with that. The next day you come in and the wind is going this way and it's kind of hot and humid, you have to deal with that. We're just building up our database of information. Michael (Andretti) the other day, one of the first day's we were here, he looked outside, saw the wind direction and said something like, 'Loose in (Turn) 1, understeer in (Turn) 3.' I was like, 'Oh, OK. I'll make a note of that.' So experience definitely can help here, I would say."

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Feeling pretty good. We just put the car on the track to see how it ran in the conditions today. We didn't play a lot with the car because the conditions changed, and they will change tomorrow. We're waiting for tomorrow. I'm very confident with myself and the car and the team. The only problem tomorrow will be if something goes wrong, like if we lose a motor or a tire. That's the kind of problem that you worry about when you're on the (third) day of qualifying. But in speed and handling of the car, that is certainly not a problem."

DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 14T Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This was supposed to be one of our good qualifying motors, but we got out here late and only got a couple runs on it. We'll work on it in the morning, see if we can't find something. My setup and Airton's (Dare) setup are almost identical, and he's running 227 (mph). I'm apparently pinching the car somewhere I shouldn't be. I'll work on it."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing/Scottrade Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Today was a good day. Earlier we though we could get away with less grip in the turns, but we learned we need that grip to maintain our speed. I think there are 650 miles on this engine now. We may put a new engine in tonight, but I don't know that for sure. If we do, hopefully that will give us some more speed tomorrow, too. We gained a lot in the turns today, although it's still pretty hairy in Turn 1. I sure hope the wind dies down tomorrow. We're just behind the 8-ball because of the accident, but today we found something that works. Now we just have to develop it tomorrow morning and try our best to qualify."

SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Today there was too strong of a wind. We tried the qualifying setup this morning. In Turn 1, there was big push and a push in Turn 3. I hope tomorrow there is less wind and no rain. I think we have a shot. I feel very good. We'll try tomorrow."

ORIOL SERVIA (No. 15 Walker Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We wanted to try the other car and see the difference in setups. We have a very good relationship with (Conquest Racing owner) Eric Bachelart, and he let us drive the (34T) car. Obviously, it was a lot quicker, so we'll have to see the differences between the cars. We did this run to check how the car was, and now we'll sit down and see if we can make this car as quick as the other one."

JIMMY VASSER (No. 19 Miller Lite/Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It was another productive day for the Miller Lite crew. We scrubbed in several sets of tires and even ran our race car for an engine check. The backup car was good on full tanks, even with the stiff wind. I put in over 70 laps in race trim, and I think everyone on our team is pleased with the progress we have made this week. We will come back on Carb Day and run with temperatures closer to Race Day. Today was about 20 degrees colder than predicted next week, and the wind was very strong from the north. I'll be surprised if the wind is like that on Race Day."

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