Day 1 -- Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 IRL IndyCar Series quotes AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Corteco car is running great. We had a little different setup on the car this morning than what Scott (Sharp) had, and it...
Day 1 -- Friday, Feb. 28, 2003
IRL IndyCar Series quotes
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Corteco car is running great. We had a little different setup on the car this morning than what Scott (Sharp) had, and it worked out that his setup was better, so we went that direction for this afternoon. The car did feel better, but I ran about the same speed because the ambient temperature was much higher, and the track was in different conditions. All in all, I feel good about where the Corteco team is right now, but we do need to do a little more work to the car in the morning for qualifying, but the team is doing a great job."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's a lot hotter than when we tested here, so we've still got some changes to work through. The wind skirts definitely move the car around, but you just have to drive it. The car is good, and we're making progress."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're working on it. We're trying to get a little bit closer. We've got a pretty good race car. Everybody's out there doing different things, so you don't know what it's going to be like until Sunday. We've got to wait until race time and then see what everyone has. I like every track that I go to, but this track has been pretty good for myself and Panther Racing. We're just going to take it the same way we have the last two years; we're going to go out there and do the best that we can do and try to keep all four wheels on the car and see if we can come out with a win. We're really focused on the race, and we haven't had the car in qualifying trim yet this week, so we don't know what to expect out of ourselves."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. FOYT Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "My spotter told me that he (Helio Castroneves) was on my bumper going into Turn 3, and I wasn't expecting him to dive under me there like that, at least not in practice. I moved up to give him room, or we would have both crashed. It got in the marbles, and there was no bringing it back down; it rode the wall. I think we can get it fixed for tomorrow."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 5 EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We shook a brand-new car down this morning. It was OK. We changed a couple of things for this afternoon's practice, but they didn't work. So we're going back to the setup we came with. Basically, we need more time in the car."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards /Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Today definitely ended on a positive note. We have a real good race car here at Team Menard. We have a car that I feel can run all day long in the 28.1 to 28.5 (second) range, which I think will be a pretty good pace for the race. It was good compared to this morning when everything went wrong. We have a good understanding of where we need to be. I'd love to find a little more speed, a little more mechanical grip. If the changes we are looking at for tomorrow work, we'll be right there."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We worked on full-tank runs today. We are trying to make sure the Red Bull car is real consistent and that we don't hurt the tires for the race. We will work on qualifying tomorrow. We are real pleased with what we can run on a full tank right now. We keep striving to make it a little better."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We worked on race trim throughout the afternoon, and I'd say we're as happy as we can be for right now. Conditions today are different than they were when we tested here a couple of weeks ago, but overall the Marlboro Team Penske car is handling well. Tomorrow morning, we'll switch gears and work on our qualifying setup."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We were fourth quick this morning, and then we ran full-tank runs all afternoon. The Target car was solid all day. It's very important to have a fast race car here in Homestead. Actually, it's the most important thing. I think that we can get a decent starting spot tomorrow, but we should have a strong car in the race. We threw a lot of changes at it this morning to see what would work and what wouldn't. We learned a lot today."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We had some fuel pressure problems in the morning session, and we weren't able to get any laps in. But this afternoon we got it all sorted out, and the car was pretty good. We're in the ballpark now, and I think that we'll be OK tomorrow. The important thing is to score some points in this race and have a good finish."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We still have one more day to work on the car. I'm not completely happy with the way it is right now, but the conditions are pretty different than those we had in the test. It's really the same for everyone out there. It's very windy and that made it a bit of a tough day. When you look at the results, second in the afternoon session, that's pretty good. But Team 7-Eleven is here to win, and I guess we're just happier when we're first overall.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think we made some good gains for the race in this last session. Unfortunately, when I went to do my run on new tires, I got caught in traffic. But I think I would have been right up there and possibly the quickest. We made several changes during the session that made the car better. And hopefully we'll add more to that tomorrow. I'm pleased overall with the way Team 7-Eleven is ending the day."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We really started off in the wrong direction with the setup of the car. We were not expecting this track condition, hot and slippery. The car wasn't good at all. We just couldn't find the right direction. We sat down and worked on a lot of things over lunch. In the afternoon, the track was very slick, and we worked on our race settings. It was nice to be P1 in the afternoon, but we still have work to do for qualifying and the race. I feel better that we now have a direction to go for on Saturday. It was pretty frustrating this morning."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We expected to do better today, but we are not totally surprised that we haven't done very much better today. We tested here last week, but the track is totally different than it was when we were here last week. It is much hotter and much more humid, and the conditions are nothing like they were when we were here. We also got new pieces for the race car to try and help us with downforce. But many of those pieces didn't arrive until we got here to the track. So we never had a chance to test them. Today, you might say, was our test day for the new pieces we got for the car. In that sense, I guess the results shouldn't be too surprising. I think we will be able to have success improving the car by tomorrow."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "To be honest, we're struggling here at this track. For some reason, we're having a difficult time generating the kind of downforce you need to get around here quickly. But we're definitely not giving up the fight. We will work very, very hard tonight and try to improve the car for tomorrow. I'm not sure we can expect to be at the front of the grid after qualifying, so we're definitely focusing most of our energy on making sure we have a good race car for Sunday."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We've really been putting the car through its paces in race trim all day, and we're still learning at the moment. We aren't completely happy with the car. My Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola team will work on it some more tomorrow morning and see what we can do. I would rather have to change the setup on the car than change my driving style. Right now my two teammates (Andretti and Kanaan) are feeling similar things in the car. We have three different driving styles, so we're going to put the pressure on the engineers. The new Dallara/Honda/Firestone is different than the car I raced at Indy last year. The engine is a lot lower, and they moved some of the weight around, so it is closer to what I'm used to."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We are real pleased with the Delphi crew. The guys worked really hard today. We made a number of changes. We have all tested a couple of times here. We are comfortable with our setups. It is just a matter of fine-tuning the cars to today's conditions, which are obviously hot, humid and slippery. We are pretty pleased. When we wanted to go fast, we were able to do that. When we wanted to do race runs we seemed to be hanging in there and be pretty strong with those, as well. Obviously, speeds are down all the way around from the speeds at the test, probably because of the temperature. Between the humid air and the high temperatures it made the track pretty slow and pretty slick. We are pleased making the move (to Toyota) we made. As far as the chassis, Dallara went pretty aggressive to take the car further. They always want more downforce, less drag. You can visibly see the Dallara, and know it is much different than last year." (About the heat): "The beauty of an IndyCarTM Series car is that you have a 200 mph breeze, but when you are in the pits it is very, very hot."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We are obviously happy with the way our sessions went today. We got some work done, and I think our car balance for a long stint is pretty good. We proved that our last test here at Homestead wasn't a fluke, and we do have a good car and a good outright speed. It's just a matter of fine-tuning the car for the race. It's a lot warmer and more humid than when we were here for the open test, and that is certainly affecting the car balance. We have to work some to maximize the car in every condition. Overall, it was a good day for us. Every time I get in the car is a learning experience for me but my engineer (John Dick) is great to work with, and the team is working hard. We are definitely looking toward the race." (About his success during testing): "The hardest part will be the race. There will be a lot more factors than what I'm used to. The easiest thing for me is to go out there and put a big lap time in, but in the race I'm going to face a lot of new things, and I need to be prepared for that."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I do believe a lot of guys are trying race setups, so that contributes to slower times (from testing)." (About wind): "It is a huge change. In fact, A.J. (IV) was inside, and he was trying to go high to let me go under. He just went a little off the line and there was no turning back. It was very tough conditions for everyone. There was only one line out there. I do believe if the wind dies down a little bit, it will help everyone, but I don't think it will be much different in the race. So whoever sets up well in this condition is going to be in good shape." (About Chevrolet): "From the test, they are not up there with Toyota and Honda, but you can never underestimate those guys. I worked with them, and they gave me two Indy 500s, so I know how tough the series is right now. I'm sure they are going to come back strong. If they didn't have time for this race, for the next one they will find out something."
SCOTT MAYER (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Boy, that track was tough. Turns 3 and 4, it's so greasy and slippery; we kept on pushing up and up. I guess that's racing, so it was fun but definitely tough. I tested last week, and I was here in December 2001 but never in this heat. It's like a different track today compared to the past. Last week I was 195, this morning 192, and this afternoon 190, but everyone's speed came down today, so that's racing. I think tomorrow we'll learn some more through engineering, hopefully get a decent qualifying run."