IRL: Awards Ceremony quotes

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INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Nov. 13, 2000 - Notable quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and personalities from the annual Awards Ceremony on Nov. 11 at the Murat Centre in Indianapolis: BUDDY LAZIER (Northern Light Cup ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Nov. 13, 2000 - Notable quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and personalities from the annual Awards Ceremony on Nov. 11 at the Murat Centre in Indianapolis:

BUDDY LAZIER (Northern Light Cup champion)
"I want to thank Brian Barnhart, Phil Casey, all the IRL officials. They really take good care of us. It's so exciting to be a part of the Indy Racing League. (I want to thank) all the track operators for putting on first-class events. I really want to thank Al Speyer and Firestone. I was back on Firestones this year. The tires were absolutely awesome. (I've) got to thank Dallara. I want to thank Riley & Scott for working with us for a few races, but we really enjoyed our Dallara the second half of the season. I want to thank my wife (Kara) and son, Flinn, for when you have a bad day it's really nice to turn around and see them smiling at you. Honey, you need to be on stage. I want to thank Oldsmobile. I tip my hat to Oldsmobile. Our motors have been super. I really want to thank Speedway Motors for giving us super motors this year. The team is an awesome team that has backed me up all year. Ron Hemelgarn deserves a lot of credit for putting us together and keeping us together. They've been together for so long. It's a huge team, and that's what you need. Thank you guys so much. I keep coming back to wanting to thank the Hulman-George family. They've given so many people an opportunity. I struggled for so many years in various racing series that didn't have an even playing field. It's so hard to get beat year after year to fully appreciate what this is all about and what's going on here. This is the first time in history that we've had open-wheel racing that's been this close, and it sure is exciting to be a part of it."

RON HEMELGARN (Team owner, Hemelgarn Racing, driver Buddy Lazier) (During pre-ceremony television interview)
"Well, obviously, winning the championship, it's another a goal that we achieved. I'm so happy for the crew, for Buddy, and for all the hard work and the years we put together to build this team. And to have the victory now, it's just a dream come true. Tomorrow starts another day. The championship will be behind us, and we'll have to prove ourselves again next year. But today is a great day. I've got my sponsors here; I've got my crew here and the driver here. The people who really put this all together, they're all here and they're celebrating this. And that's the joy I'm getting out of this. That $1 million check sure helps out. But truly just to see how happy everybody is, everybody getting their just reward for working as hard as they have, and the years that went into it. I mean, it's been a long, long time coming. Lee Kunzman, 17 years we've been together, to see him get his just reward really makes me feel good. I'm really more happy for the people on my team than I am for myself. I mean, I' m very excited about it, but they finally get the recognition they so well deserve. We're not what you would call that high profile of a team. We just mind our own business, but to see these guys get their just recognition, because I still feel they're the best team in the business." (About repeating as Northern Light Cup champion in 2001): "It's really a goal. It's a goal that we have. Actually, we'd like to win the Speedway (Indianapolis 500) and the championship in one year. And that's a big, big goal. But you know when I had a goal to win the Indy 500, that was a big goal and we did that, and to win the championship and we did that. It's feasible. It's possible, and everybody's up to the challenge. The team's up for it, Buddy's up for it so everybody says, 'Let's go for it, let's do the double, the Indy 500 and the championship.' My big dilemma right now is, am I going to run car Number 91 or car Number 1? I've got it on my Web site right now letting the fans vote on it. It's like the political election; it's back and forth. It's 50 percent says go with 91, 50 percent with 1. And I'm trying to make a decision on what I want to do. You know, we ran that number (91) for 14 straight solid years. And it's for Buddy, it's all he's really driven, car 91. So there's a lot involved here that's laying on it, so I'm not sure what we're going to do yet. I'm hoping the fans would do it for me, but they're just bouncing back and forth. Yeah, we're going to have a recount." (From the stage): "To win this award is great. I attended a meeting this morning that has me really excited. What you've seen (in first five years of the league), you haven't seen nothing yet, because it is going to grow and grow and grow. I've just been along for the ride. I just go out and raise some money, and they spend it. We have worked together for many, many years, and he (Buddy) has delivered this trophy . . . and the million."

BARRY DOSS (Opened the ceremony before the start of the televised segment)
"We may not have a president of the country, but we darn sure have a racing champion tonight."

BOB LAZIER (Father of champion Buddy Lazier and 20th place series finisher Jaques)
"Someone said to me, 'You've got first and 20th. What could be better than that?' I said, ' and 2.'"

TONY GEORGE (President and CEO, Indy Racing League)
"Our journey (the past five years) has been and continues to be a successful one."

LEO MEHL (Former Executive Director, Indy Racing League, who received the Special Recognition Award)
"I watch every race with a computer. The progress made is great."

BRIAN BARNHART (Vice President of Operations, Indy Racing League)
"As you can see, it has been an outstanding year and a defining year."

CHUCK WHETSEL (Manager of Timing and Scoring, Indy Racing League, after receiving the Achievement Award)
"Wow! Computer geek makes good."

AL UNSER (Announcing the winner of the IRL Crew Most Popular Driver Award)
"I don't know how to say it - Al Unser Jr."

AL UNSER JR. (Accepting IRL Crew Most Popular Driver Award)
"This is a heck of a surprise. I learned a long time ago racing sprints if it wasn't for the fans I wouldn't have a job. I hope to be around for a long time."

GREG RAY (After receiving the MBNA Pole Master Award)
"Qualifying seems to be an event where everybody looks at the driver, but it is a team award."

AIRTON DARE (Winner, RaceSearch.com Rookie of the Year Award)
"It's great for me. (Coming to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series with TeamXtreme) was the best decision I made in my career. I want to stay here as long as I can. I think next year will be really great."

BILLY BOAT (Tenth in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I want to thank (owner) Dale (Pelfrey). We didn't have a lot of resources but did a great job."

AL UNSER JR. (Ninth in Northern Light Cup standings)
"In 1999, I was watching (the Indy Racing Northern Light Series race) in Texas, there were three or four in the lead and I wanted to be part of that. This year I was one of 10 drivers in the lead, and that was a little too exciting!"

ROBBIE BUHL (Eighth in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I'm really looking forward to next year. We'll be one of two teams with the Infiniti engine. I want to be in the mode to win the championship next year."

SCOTT SHARP (Seventh in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I've never been so excited about the next year. I can't wait for next year to start. You're going to see a lot out of Kelley Racing next year."

DONNIE BEECHLER (Sixth in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I'll be back (with Cahill Racing), I think. I'm going to run the Chili Bowl in January, do a little midget racing. I don't look for us to do much testing."

MARK DISMORE (Fifth in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I'm looking forward to next year. Next year is going to be good for Kelley Racing. We've got some exciting things coming."

ELISEO SALAZAR (Fourth in Northern Light Cup standings)
"The Indy 500, starting on the front row for the second time, has to be the highlight. And driving for the biggest name (A.J. Foyt) in motorsports. I have to pinch myself to believe it."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (Third in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I picked on that (prior comment by Oldsmobile official) that the engine did not miss a beat. It did miss a beat at Pikes Peak (where Cheever won with an Infiniti). I assure you you'll miss some more beats next year and maybe give you a heart attack!"

SCOTT GOODYEAR (Second in Northern Light Cup standings)
"I'm not sure what' s happening. I've heard that rumor (that he will join Team Cheever for 2001). It seems like a great opportunity. You might see the whole Goodyear clan on tour again next year. Eddie's a tough competitor, a great competitor, and we'll see what's going on. I'm looking forward to what the future holds."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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