HOMESTEAD, Fla., Friday, Feb. 23, 2001 - Quotes from Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the first day of open testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway: ROBBIE BUHL ( ...
HOMESTEAD, Fla., Friday, Feb. 23, 2001 - Quotes from Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the first day of open testing at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
ROBBIE BUHL (#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Team Purex G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've been down here before, but I've never raced here. I've been down here probably five or six years ago with some Indy Lights guys and spent a little bit of time on the track. It's a great facility and the one thing about this track is it's fast, it's flat and it's wide. So it's going to be challenging. You're going to have to be on top of everything you do out there, but it will produce some good racing that's for sure. All the teams and drivers are going to have to be aware of everything that happens here. Everything is exaggerated just with it being so flat, so fast when it comes to dirty air from other cars, which way the wind is blowing. It will be exciting."
BUZZ CALKINS (# 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "This car is new from the ground up. We crashed here last time, but you get to a point where you have to look past that. The trick here is, with no banking and tight corners, to get the car set up. It's difficult. This is one of the more challenging places we've been to. I think a lot of teams will be able to go fast for a lap, but to get it to go fast an entire race is going to be a challenge."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Racing Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This track is very tricky. We're here so I can learn the circuit. Race strategy is going to be just as important here as it is in Indianapolis, and you can't say that about every track."
AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR NONE/Switchboard.com G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It's really nice. I've been here before with the Indy Lights and I have always loved this racetrack. With the Indy Racing cars and a bit more horsepower, it's a lot more fun. Most of the places we go the track is really rough. There's a lot of bumps around, and this place is fantastic. It doesn't have any bumps around the track. It is really smooth, and it's just the way that the drivers would like."
SARAH FISHER (#15 Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It's very flat, but it's smooth. It's hard to get around (the track). You have to have a certain setup on the race car to get around the track."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (#21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We've been here twice already with the Indy Lights. It's pretty close to the way we drive the Indy Lights. The IRL cars are faster for sure. I mean you are pretty much flat out in new tires and that is the same thing in the (Indy) Lights. I can go back and learn a little bit from the (Indy) Lights to (apply) to this track. I think what I really like about these cars is first the power. It's a lot greater than the (Indy) Lights. The car on the oval looks a lot better to drive. Those cars are made to drive on the oval. The (Indy) Lights are a little bit twitchy. The back of the car is always moving around. You are always on the edge. To crash is a lot easier. To get a good lap from the Indy Lights you have to be willing to drive on edge. In these cars you have to as well, only the feeling the car gives you is a lot better. The line will be the same. So far I'm enjoying it a lot. I really like these cars. It's a different type of track than the IRL is use to. They use to go to 1.5-mile (ovals) that are really banked, so you can go flat out more easily. I think this is going to be more of a challenge for drivers because you are not going to be going flat out all the time. For sure in the race you're going to be lifting in the corners, so it's going to be more challenging."
JON HERB (#18 Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Working with PDM was great. They gave me a great car all day long. I've been out of Indy cars for a year. So, I needed to get back into practice with these types of cars, because I've been driving stock cars. They were really good about getting that done for me." (About the track): "It's a wonderful track. It's a great facility. It is a variation from a lot of the tracks that you run in this series like Atlanta and Texas. They're 1.5-mile ovals but with a lot of banking. This track presents a challenge with corner grip and straightaway speed. Although I have a particular affinity for banked tracks, I seem to prefer flat tracks. They suit my driving style."
SAM HORNISH JR. (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It makes us feel great that we had the fastest time of the day." (About breaking 200 mph): "It's pretty cool. I was getting ready to go out, and I asked the guys 'Do you think we can go 200?' 'Well we know you can.' So I had to do it then. It gives me more of a thrill to make them happy." (About posting fastest speed of the day after being bumped off the top spot at Phoenix): "When we quit testing at Phoenix, we were six tenths faster (than second). We were going to make sure we were out (on track) the last 10 to 15 minutes to take advantage of what we didn't take advantage of in Phoenix." (About the track): "I like it. It's going to be a really good racetrack. I think it'll be a really good race for the fans."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, defending Northern Light Cup champion): "I think it's very, very fast. It's very tricky because it's so flat. It's unlike a lot of other racetracks in that it's flat and very fast, very wide. You need to really stay on top of your car and on top of your driving because you're constantly in a four-wheel drift. Having said that, I think it's going to be a great place for us to race. I think it's going to be a very exciting race, one that anybody in the (starting) field could win."
GREG RAY (#2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (About getting a tow back to the pits): "We had a motor blow up. There was no audible warning. No water change, no fuel system change. There was no trend of any kind. Normally it'll give you a half-second warning, a change in tone, and that didn't happen. Something had a completely clean break." (What did you wipe from your seat?): "Anytime you have a motor blow up what happens is the oil goes forward. Even though the tub is fairly well sealed, the oil goes through where the wires come through the tub. The driver's seat is my business chair, and I'm protective of it." (About the testing progress today): "I have very high expectations for all of us. Everybody has a great attitude, and it's all coming together. This test, we have so much better articulation. You can see the team gel so much better even since Phoenix (at the Test In The West). Things are starting to work a lot more like clockwork. I'm not completely happy with the race car. This year is going to be so bloody competitive. We're all throwing darts and all hitting the center ring, but we're all just trying to see how close to the exact center point we can get." (About the track): "This track reminds me a lot of a track I ran at before I came to the Indy Racing League, Nazareth. It's a compromise. You're constantly on a teeter-totter. It's the constant compromise between the corners."
ELISEO SALAZAR (#14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I like the 1.5-mile tracks, especially this one without the banking. It's not as fast as we normally run, but still very challenging from a set-up and driving point of view because it's wide open. We switched to Dallara chassis this season, but after 20 laps here, we were running in the top five. We're still learning, but we're happy so far."
STAN WATTLES (#92 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I drove here back in the inaugural race which was the SCCA National Regionals through the road course, what five years ago, six years ago, and never got a chance to run the full oval. I've run the Atlantics here when they ran on the old oval before they changed it. Now, finally getting to run the track as a true oval is a blast. It's a lot of fun. It's pretty tricky when it comes to weather. The wind plays a factor with these cars on this track, but it's a great facility and it's a lot of fun."