Post Qualifying Quotes - Sunday, May 18 GREG RAY ( ...
Post Qualifying Quotes - Sunday, May 18 GREG RAY (#97 Tobacco Free Kids): (On qualifying attempt during which car ran out of fuel) "It wasn't tough psychologically. We ran out of gas. I turned the motor off so we wouldn't blow the pump. I knew we had another week and I didn't get worried until yesterday, when we blew the engine. Some of the guys were so down after we ran out of fuel, I went into the garage and gave them a pep talk. Don't let this get you down. We'll get the experience and the money and then it will come our way. (On attempt today) "I wanted to complain. The car wasn't fast enough but I kept my mouth shut and got the car safely in the show. The car is really good. We had it set up for hot conditions. We had too much downforce, but I wasn't going to complain. We've had our ups and downs. As long as you learn from the ups and downs we've had some growing pains, but we didn't have any speed problems. It's a good car right now. I love this place. I love the track and the people. Once you're in the car the visor comes down, and you're just one of the thirty-three drivers. I want to experience victory circle. (Extra fuel today?) "We were definitely running the car with a little extra methanol. We definitely had a conservative car. It was all the car had. Last night we put the race engine in, which we didn't want to do until Thursday. (On being at Indy) "I looked real hard into myself and Scott Brayton had a philosophy. Whether things are going good or bad, he always had a smile on his face. I watched a lot of videos of years past. Scott just seemed happy to be here. Last night lying in bed, I felt those same feelings to be here. If you have problems, you just enjoy being here. You have to have fun. I asked myself how would Scott Brayton handle this. He always seemed so calm. He was the epitome of the race. He was so full of life. He was just tickled pink to be in the race car. He drove the race car for all of the right reasons. I didn't know him personally. I, too, particularly enjoy this place. If you do it for the right reasons, it will all work out and the circle will come around. We enjoy winning. There's no way to explain my feelings. What I get out of life is very passionate, personal, and it's selfish. Scotty Brayton loved racing, and I think I love it in the same way. " (Regarding his watch) "My watch was stolen out of my car in Dallas at the gym. It's ten years old. One day my son Winston asked me what time it was and I told him, You know Daddy got his watch stolen.' And he said, How's come you haven't gotten a new one?' I told him I hadn't found one to replace it. It was very special to me. My son thought for a few minutes and then left and came back 5 minutes later with his watch. He said, Daddy, this watch is special to me. You can wear it for good luck.' I don't drive with a watch because it's binding but I had to wear this one for good luck. It took three days to qualify, but the third time was a charm. (What does the watch say?) "It's time to win the Indianapolis 500."
JOHNNY UNSER (#9 Lifetime TV-Cinergy): (about time in car): "I haven't had much time in the car. Last Thursday, yesterday morning for a few laps. We lost the engine yesterday morning and I haven't had much time in the car since. We had a little bit of a problem in practice this morning handling and electrical so we didn't get a chance to test the setup. Qualifying was a bit of a gamble, but it was a gamble we had to take. I drove the car as hard as I could. No running the car a lot is tough but on the other hand the Hemelgarn team's experience got me comfortable in the car. It was difficult to set up the car because we haven't had 2 days the same (weather). (about qualifying run): "There was a voltage problem. The engine cut out, but only on the back straightaway, I don't know why. I was just hoping it would come back on right away and it did. I knew we had some electrical problems but I wasn't sure what. That (voltage problem) was combined with the fact I picked up a bit of a push. (about 1996 vs. 1997): "Last year was my first year here. For a rookie there so much pressure. Then we had bad luck. The gearbox broke at the beginning of the race. The pressure here is incredible. You can never take it for granted. Qualifying is so difficult. (about advice from Uncle Al): "I talked to Uncle Al and he gave me a good direction to go. He said, 'Be calm.' He told me to think about what the car is doing and that is what I did, and adjusted the bars accordingly." (any advice from Bobby): "Stay out of the snow."
PAUL DURANT (#1 Conseco AJ Foyt Racing): (about qualifying after climbing in the car for the first time today:) "It really is exciting, considering that a little over an hour and a half ago, I thought I was going home...The last couple of hours seemed like a whirlwind...I think I had only about 12 laps on the car...Racing has the highest highs and the lowest lows, and in a matter of two hours, I've had both of them...I've been after A.J. for a number of years to give me a ride. I feel very fortunate that A.J. gave me the opportunity...I had trouble relaxing in the car, really, but I've raced against Davey (Hamilton, who shook down the car earlier in the day) for 15 years now, so when he told me the car was good, but it had a little push, I knew that would actually be the case." (about when did you know that you were getting in the car): "About a half-hour before I got in it. I've been talking to A.J. a lot this month. I had some indication late last night, early this morning. Nothing was firmed up until this morning." (about the run): "We never know what's going to happen with the weather, so we decided to go and put it in the show...The car was good. I was pinching the car a lot more than I needed to try to get some space, and I scrubbed off more speed than I wanted. I would have liked to have gone faster, as A.J. would have, but we just didn't know what the weather was going to do, and we didn't want to keep trying things and then miss the chance to get it in. There's a lot more in the car, but we ran very conservatively. We just wanted to get it safely in." (about the possibility of Scott Sharp being cleared to drive for race day): "If Scott would actually be able to drive, that would be the best for the team. He has done so much for this team -- it's his ride. A.J. gave me the opportunity to show that I could put it in the show...Unfortunately for Scott, his mishap was my fortune. The ride is his. In many respects, I hope he has the opportunity to race on race day. It would be the best thing, really, for the team." (about race strategy): "As the boss said, 'Just put it in the show and make sure it's rolling at the end.'"
A.J. FOYT, JR. (Owner, #1 Conseco AJ Foyt Racing): "It's been a long, hard month. If I could just keep 'em (the crew) in the garage instead of out partying all night, we would've been okay. No, the crew has really worked their tails off. We've been up and down the ladder like a yo-yo this month, so it's good to get him in...I just told Paul to get real comfortable in the car and don't take no chances. When we're done here, we'll run him 40 or 50 more laps." (about what would happen if Scott Sharp is released to drive for race day): "If something would happen that Scott would be able to get back in the car, Paul is the type of race car driver and the type of gentleman that would understand. That's why we have him in the car. He knows and I know that Scotty would do the same thing for him...He wouldn't be one of those crybaby drivers if that happened, and that's why he's in the car...Knowing him (Durant) as I do, we had no understanding about it (when we made the agreement for him to try to qualify). I know he's a gentleman. He knows that the ride was his now, to get it in the show." (about when he decided to put Durant in the car): "We've been talking ever since Scotty got hurt. It's good to have three race drivers that get along and don't try to cut each others' throats. You've seen before when I've had two drivers and, man, they cut each others' throats, so it's nice to have guys who try to help each other." (about your plan for race day): "To run first, second and third." (about the rumor that more spots would be added to the race day field): "I never heard anything like that. We wouldn't have worked like hell to make the show yesterday. I wish I'd have known that. I wouldn't have leaned on the guys as much. I don't know, I don't own the place."
RON HEMELGARN (Johnny Unser's car owner): (about special dispensation for the Infiniti engine): "I don't think we can do that. We could get into a real can of worms if we do that. I think we've got to have a formula and stick to that formula. Obviously the Infiniti engine...I've run it all year long...we've had a lot of cooperation with Infiniti. The engine's 40 pounds heavier. They've made great gains since we started with the program and we have a lot more gains to go. With Johnny and with Lyn, we decided to go with the Infiniti engine. With Buddy, we went with the Oldsmobile. Buddy really has a chance of winning this race again and being the defending champion, we went with the extra horsepower. I cleared that with Infiniti, made sure they understood. I think Infiniti's on the move. I think they're going to gain. But I think if we ever start making exceptions to the rule as far as the engines, how do you ever stop? Here's the rules, do the best you can with them." (about strategy of Unser qualifying): "I took the speed because that was Johnny's speed. We had the strategy going in here to go out there. I knew the car was capable of going 214, we've seen it go 214. Johnny went out Thursday and ran 208.5 with 30 mile-an-hour winds and I knew that was very capable. He went out and his first lap was 210. Unfortunately, his third lap, the engine shut off on him on the back straightaway and that slowed us down three miles an hour. Then he brought it back up. I'm sure we'd have been over 210 with our qualifying run had that not happened. But again, I know that 209 miles an hour, it's faster than many cars in the show. That's what I'm going here for. There's no way you'd see me take a 203 going into this race, no matter what, if you have an exemption or non-exemption. This place still, you want to go as fast as you possibly can. You want to be in the race with a good race car. That's been our strategy all along. I haven't used exemptions...haven't even thought about it. That's not a buffer. Hopefully, it'll all work out." (about IRL announcement): "First of all, as far as expense, if somebody wants to be here, expense is not an issue. The reason I say that is you can't forget about 1994, when Penske came here and built an engine for this track and spent millions and millions and millions of dollars to win this race just for the special Mercedes engine. I've been around here for 20 years and we've bought special cars to run just the Speedway and the Speedway only. Yes, for some teams to buy a whole new operation would be hard but for some of the big-buck teams, if they want to be here, they can be here. As far as the 25 rule, I'm glad it's gone. I believe personally that we should go out there and the fastest time qualifies. We tried something there, it got the IRL started. I respect it 100 percent. I'm always game for anything new. If it's never been done, let's try it and if it's not right, then do away with it. But I don't think you can criticize something until you try it. As far as people coming here, this race has always been open. For a few years, this is the only race I ran. I put three cars in the show and this is the only race I ran. I put some big-name teams out of this race because I put three cars in this field. So, if you want to be here, you find a way to be here, if you want to be. If you do not want to be, that's okay, too. Nobody holds a gun to your head to be here. I, myself, my preference has always been the Indianapolis Speedway. If we run go-karts, I'm going to be here. If we run stock cars, I'm on a stock car at this race. To me, this is the greatest place there is at any racing venue. I'm always going to be here. If somebody doesn't want to, that's fine. I think it's neat this year especially. We've got the World of Outlaws represented here, we've got the midget series represented, we've got the Atlantic series represented and the dirt cars represented and the Indy Lights represented and NASCAR represented here. Really, when you think about what we have, we have a wonderful group of drivers from all the series and champions from all the series. I guess that's what Indianapolis is supposed to be, where you can bring different series champions and winners from different series all into one arena and let'em compete and that's what we have here. Every series is represented at this race track...Formula One, you name it. When you think about it, how many other races do that. This is the only one I know of. (about Lazier's qualified car): "Buddy Lazier is driving the #91 car and the tub number would be #92, the USAC number. Johnny's USAC number is 91 and the car number he'll run in the race is #9. And Lyn is car number 90 and tub number 90. Whatever that means, because it doesn't mean anything to me. We went out there and did 100 percent effort. We're at 209 miles an hour plus and that's fast enough to make this race. Whatever happens, happens and I'm not going to worry about any of that." (about CART coming after Buddy Lazier): "I'll tell you what, I was very flattered about it. I think it shows that all this stuff we've heard about for a year about no-name drivers and whatever is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors. We've got wonderful drivers here. We've got great drivers. And they know that and that's why they did try to get Arie and Buddy and so on to drive (their) race car. A lot of times people say things they really don't mean. This past year, I think it's been very harmful to open-wheel racing, not so much of the formula we have at IRL and the formula CART has. It's the insults that are thrown out constantly through the media of all this fighting and feuding. What we have to do is start thinking about our series. We have a wonderful series, open-wheel racing, period. To see Carl Haas want Buddy or Arie to drive the race car says they're watching this series very, very closely. So, I wasn't mad because I also know the situation with Buddy and I and how close we work together and how closely he works with our crew. He's flattered by it also that he was being considered. He's now being recognized as a world-class driver. That sort of goes back to what's always been told to me is the Indianapolis Speedway makes names and it makes drivers and I think it proved again that it does. For myself, winning this race...it sure took me from just an ordinary team to the top of the heap. Now I can't hardly go to the bathroom without having to sign 15 autographs when I have to walk 100 feet. Anything you do from this point forward, you're recognized as champion. Buddy's recognized as a champion. I'm very respectful Buddy made his decision on what he wanted to do. It'd be crazy to run a race the day before the Indy 500 and risk the chance of getting hurt. I would never step in anybody's way as far as stopping their career. I'm also smart enough to know you can have 100 contracts, if somebody doesn't want to be in your race car, you can't force them. They can sit in it, but they're not going to win races for you. I'm not mad at Carl. I know A.J. got mad. CART definitely pays attention to what goes on in IRL."
CLAUDE BOURBONNAIS (#72 Blueprint Racing): "The wind picked up and we had a half-hour window. I haven't been racing in a year so I'm a little rusty. I got some sleep last night but the crew didn't. They put the car back together. (about comeback from yesterday's accident): "It was a question mark for sure. The crew assured me the car would be the same. Sometimes when you put the car back together it's not the same but it was. I was a bit nervous after my first lap when I saw it was a 208."
ALESSANDRO ZAMPEDRI (#34T Mi-Jack Scandia): (about mood after being bumped and qualifying backup car): "This has been a really tough month. It was a rough first week here. We did the best we could the first weekend but it seems A.J. never runs out of cars. Yesterday and today the team worked to put the backup car together. I was very confident with the car and knew if I had to take it out we could make it. Even with the rain on my last qualifying run it came in. (has this past year been a long one): "The last two weeks have been the longest in my life, not the last year. When I was rehabbing I knew I was the only one who could do what needed to be done. . . . There are more positive things than negative things. It's very emotional hard for me to say. (about rain during attempt): "I saw the drops on my visor on the second lap and Dick Simon started talking to me to keep me from getting distracted by the rain on my visor. He said things like, 'Doing fine. Everything's great. Keep going. Keep going.' The rain disturbed me quite a bit and the fuel pickup problem on the last lap. On lap 4 I moved over to pick up fuel. Otherwise it would have been another 213 or 214 lap." (If yellow came out during attempt): "It would've been better if no officials were around when I got out of the car." (about experience in car): "We did 26 laps yesterday and 10 today. When you work with Dick Simon and this team you get the job done pretty quick. Everybody around the crew has been calm. We ran 213 and 214 yesterday so we knew the car could make it."