IRL: Chicagoland: Pre-race quotes

JOLIET, Ill., Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Delphi Indy 300 on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway. The event starts Sept. 5 with practice, followed by MBNA Pole Qualifying on Sept. 6 ...

JOLIET, Ill., Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Delphi Indy 300 on Sunday, Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway. The event starts Sept. 5 with practice, followed by MBNA Pole Qualifying on Sept. 6 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):

KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 1998 IndyCarTM Series champion, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner):

"We have been successful at Chicago Motor Speedway, but the Chicagoland Speedway is much different. In fact, it is almost as opposite as you can get on an oval. The old Chicago track was tight, and you shifted down the gears and used the brakes hard. It was like road racing. At Chicagoland, you are flat on the throttle all of the time. The only time you use the brakes is coming into the pits. So it is flat out from the drop of the green flag. I think the team and myself were very frustrated after the three straight DNFs. The fifth-place finish at Nazareth helps a little, but we want to win, and I hope it comes at Chicagoland."

ED CARPENTER (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"I am very excited about the opportunity to run at Chicagoland Speedway. It will be my first IndyCar Series race, and I hope it is the first of many. I have worked hard at becoming an IndyCar Series driver, and the next step is just around the corner. We've had the opportunity to test at Chicago, and it went pretty well. We learned a lot from it and are confident going into the weekend."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner):

"I'm looking forward to returning to Chicagoland Speedway. It should be a great show for the fans. The track is very smooth and we run flat out. Plus, there are two racing lines so we can pass. Both Gil (de Ferran) and I tested there last week, so we have good baseline data going into the weekend. Marlboro Team Penske is coming off of three strong races, and we need to keep up the momentum. This series is very competitive, so we need stay focused and get the job done."

GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner):

"I've only raced at Chicagoland Speedway once (2002) and, unfortunately, I don't have the best memories of it as I was involved in a crash. In fact, I don't really have any memories of the race, so I'm literally starting from a clean sheet of paper. Marlboro Team Penske had the opportunity to test there last week, which is an important part of our race preparation. Hopefully, we'll be as competitive as we were at Kansas Speedway, which is also a 1.5-mile track. With only three races remaining this season, we need to execute each weekend."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It's come down to these last three races. We're 42 points out, and we've got a shot at the title. It's going to be very exciting for all of us. We tested the last two days in Chicago and learned a lot about the track. It was my first time up there, and it's a great facility. We'll probably have to win a few of these last races to have a shot at the championship, but I think we've shown that we're capable of doing that. Team Target has proven that they can win championships, and I believe that we can get it done when the season's over."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone):

"This race in Chicago is holding us in a bit of suspense. We hit the wall in Nazareth, and after a bit of back soreness and some work on the car, we hope to have the opportunity to finally showcase the Gen IV on a deserving track. We also would like to re-establish ourselves as a contender here after a blown engine last year. The Chicago market also holds some great opportunities for us, as one of our main sponsors, Raybestos, resides here. It's always great to spend time with the people whose resources and support make it possible for us to race."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"Chicagoland should be good for us because we're coming out of a good race at Nazareth. Last year at Joliet, I sat on the pole in the Pro Series, so I like this track. It has more banking than most of the tracks we run on, and that gives you more than one groove to run, which is more fun for the driver. We just have to get the Conseco car as freed up as possible without it getting too loose. I think for qualifying the key will be who can hold it on the bottom all the way around, but that won't be as important in the race because you can run more than one groove."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):

"It's hard to put into words how great it feels to be back in the Hollywood car. I think I didn't know how much I was really missing being in the car until we tested at Chicagoland last week. I was hurt, and every ounce of my energy was spent working hard to get back into driving shape. All that hard work kind of took my mind off of what it was like to race. But then, when they belted me into the car for the test, it was like magic, and it was almost like I was never gone. We're not fighting for the championship or anything like that, so our first goal this weekend and for the final two races of the season will be to finish the race. That's our goal as a driver and as a team. After that, I will do my best to finish as high as I can. I'm confident that we're going to have a good car to finish well at all three tracks to close the season. First things first, I want to see if I can help turn around this streak of bad luck the team has been having the past few races. All three races we have left are on similar kinds of tracks, and we had a good test at Chicago. It'll be a little difficult this first race back, I'm sure, because I haven't raced for a while. We did pretty well there last year. We qualified 10th, and we were right there at the end. I thought for sure we were going to have a podium finish. It was one of the wildest finishes of the season and somehow we got shuffled back to sixth at the very end."

RITCHIE HEARN (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"Chicago's a great track. We had a successful test there last week, and you can really feel the power of the new Chevy. Team Menard's a really good team. Hopefully, I can find some good luck for them and myself this weekend."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"This is a tough series, and anytime you don't have experience on a racetrack it makes it even tougher. The Archipelago/Motorola crew has been excellent the last couple of weeks, and we are really working hard to get another win. I'm glad the Chicago event is a three-day weekend. That will help me because I haven't been there yet, other than one day of testing, and the more track time I can get the better."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion, 2002 Chicagoland winner):

"I love going back to a track where I've won before. Chicagoland Speedway has been very good to us. We've always had very stable race cars at Chicagoland, and the fans are always great. Because of the layout of the track, fans can see the racetrack all the way around, which makes it all the more exciting for them."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, IndyCar Series points leader):

"I feel good about heading into the weekend. Obviously, it was a tough break for us with what happened in Nazareth. But, we need to look forward and move forward, so that's what we're looking to do. Hopefully, we can pull a little closer to the people that we're fighting for the championship and turn our situation around in the next three races."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 IndyCar Series champion):

"Chicago has been a very good track for me, personally. Last year, we finished on the podium in third. We felt like at the end of the race we maybe could have won that event. I also won at Chicago last season in the IROC series, so Chicago is definitely a good track for me. It is the one track that we've tested at this season and tried different setup changes on the car. Unfortunately, we didn't turn a lot of laps. We could only run 100 miles, keeping it to 60 laps in that test session. But, at least we had some time on the track. I think that will really help us a lot when we go back to race. It would be nice to have a strong finish. We haven't had a podium all season, and we feel that Chicago is as good a place as any to start to turn things around."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):

"Scott and I tested in Chicago last week, and it went very well. Chicagoland is a lot like Texas, and we led something like 145 out of the first 149 laps there. We've been so close to winning so many times this year. I think that we're due for one this weekend. Team Target has given both Scott and I very fast cars week in and week out, things just haven't fallen our way. This team is hungry for a win and so am I."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion):

"Chicago last year was an incredible finish. We had that caution with 15 or 20 laps to go, and it was craziness for the rest of the race. There was a lot of dicing for position, three wide, and it's always like that at Chicago. Chicago is a great track. I love that place. Luckily, we got to test there, because it's such an important event for us since it's Delphi sponsored."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"I'm looking forward to racing at Chicagoland for a lot of reasons. First, we had a great two days of testing there last week. It was the first time we really got to focus all of our energy on working with the Dallara chassis on a high-speed oval since we started racing it at the beginning of August. We collected lots of information that will be very important for the last three races of the season. We were struggling a little bit to find the speed at first, but by the second day we were able to run a very competitive 24.8-second lap. We definitely found some good setups with my Pioneer engineers. We did lots of full-tank runs, too, so we should be in good shape for race day at Chicagoland. I also call this race my home-away-from-home race. Of course, Twin Ring Motegi is my true 'home' race. But I spent the summer here in Chicago for the second year in a row, and I just love it here. My wife and I have an apartment near Ohio Street, and the downtown is so great. It's very convenient to fly and drive to many tracks over the summer."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner):

"At Chicago you will be running two abreast all day long, and it really is a good race track for that. It's going to be your typical wheel-to-wheel race to the checkered flag IndyCar Series show. The whole thing at Chicago is to be a part of the lead pack after your final stop, and if you can do that then you have shot at winning the whole thing."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I really enjoy Chicagoland Speedway. I've been around here before and that really is a nice feeling. In my rookie year, I've been to a lot of tracks where I just had to head straight into the race weekend. Having experienced a race there, having experienced the track and testing there, is all going to help me significantly because the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew had a very productive test there."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"This will be my first race at Chicagoland, but since we tested here already, I am confident going into the race. We had a very successful test, and we were able to try some things we always wanted to try. We know what works and what doesn't, and we know the direction we need to go on the race setup. I am getting better on the 1.5-mile and superspeedway tracks, and I am really looking forward to the last three events starting with Chicagoland."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing