Indianapolis 500-Mile Race MBNA Pole Qualifying/Marsh Mother'S Day Qualifying Sunday, May 11, 2003 TONY RENNA (No. 32 Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I think we're pretty satisfied with that. Really and truly, at the end...
Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
MBNA Pole Qualifying/Marsh Mother'S Day Qualifying
Sunday, May 11, 2003
TONY RENNA (No. 32 Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I think we're pretty satisfied with that. Really and truly, at the end of the day, that's pretty much where we figured we'd be. We had put in some bigger laps earlier in the week. We ran a 229 (mph) on the first lap, and we could do that pretty much with every run this week when we were in qualifying trim. We focused our efforts all this week on race setup so we put a day and a half into qualifying trim. To be where we're at (is) pretty good. We're solidly in the show. Qualifying wasn't too big of a concern for us. We knew weren't going to go for pole. Obviously, we were a little concerned about the wind this morning -- it was really, really gusty. I think a lot of guys were looking at one another saying, 'What the hell's going on out there?' But the car was great, we had no issues with the wind, and it performed well." (About his expectations for the race as a rookie): "I think, ultimately, we're here for the same reasons as everyone else, to win the race. Certainly, as a rookie I feel I have a lot to learn. My goal is to go out there and complete every lap of the race, stay on the lead laps, be flawless in the pits. I haven't been in the car as much as other guys, but this is nothing new to me, getting in at the last minute. I just want to focus on going out there and getting my first '500' under my belt, certainly with hopes that there are many more to come, and if things go our way, maybe we can be a dark horse in this deal. Kelley Racing has a history here at the Speedway as being very successful and very quick."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "During the whole week leading up to today 224 was the target we had set for ourselves. We would have struggled with a 223. Sure, it's disheartening to see the other guys do 229's, but we have the car as trimmed out as much as we can and that's it. We did what we wanted to do in the window that we had. Now it's time to focus on getting the car set up for the race. Qualifying for this race is like no other experience in motorsports that I've ever had. I usually hold a little back for qualifying, but this week I didn't do any of that, I gave it everything I had. I can sleep tonight with a 224 average. I don't know, maybe I'll be getting my backup car out next weekend. We'll see."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "First of all, I'd like to express my delight at being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's a pleasure to drive around -- when the car's right. Fortunately, my Andretti Green Racing team have given me a fantastic car leading into this qualifying day. And certainly, with the help of Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Robby Gordon, it's been strong. Very happy to be on the front row. Obviously, it's to my nature to want to be on pole, and I'm kind of used to being on the top of the charts, so it sucks to see you (the media) in third. Nonetheless, I've enjoyed myself immensely, and my Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew has done an excellent job. It's just been a pleasure to drive the car because it's always been good no matter what the conditions, what wind speed, what temperature. It's been very, very competitive and a joy to drive."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think it's pretty good. It's the same times we've been running pretty much all week long. We've been trying to make improvements, but we can pretty much trim the car out only so much to go so fast, and right now we've got everything off the car we can get off. The car was good, though: It was easy flat for us -- no problem all the way around." (About the weather conditions today): "This morning was worse because of the gusts, but when I went out the conditions were the same -- it was pretty constant. There was a little bit of a gust through (Turns) 1 and 2 on my second qualifying lap, but it didn't upset the car or anything. Our car was stuck; it was pretty well flat all the way." (You don't have the power in qualifying, but will that be neutralized in a race setting?): "I think it will definitely help in race setting, because once you get in the draft. It will be a big help when we get out there and the wind's swirling and get in the draft. We can put some bigger gears in. Obviously, Sam (Hornish Jr.), myself and even Jaques (Lazier) -- we've all had some big gears in, and we've run some big numbers, but those weren't by ourselves. Because we'll be starting a little further back, we'll put in some big gears. We'll make sure we have the drafting capabilities to keep up with the leaders. We'll just have to see what happens. It should be tricky on how we work our strategy -- I think we'll start working on it next week. Because of the way we qualified I think we're solidly in, so we won't concern ourselves with qualifying setups." (Did your boss give you any advice on how to prepare mentally for today after the washout yesterday?): "Not really. Eddie always has something to say. For that he has good advice, but he just said go with my normal deal."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The wind will play a factor big-time today because it's gusting. Looking at the weather forecast, it's supposed to get worse. I think it's getting a little better, but it's a gamble. I had a pretty bad third lap where two gust winds caught my car in Turn 1 and Turn 3, as well, and moved it up about 2 feet on the track, so I would say it was pretty gusty, at least when I went out." (About trying to time when to go out to go for the pole): "We felt that we have a car that's a top-six, top-eight car. With a little bit of luck, you can get on pole but probably not. And when you're third in line, you just have to wait to see what the conditions do." (About Race Day strategies): "It depends a lot on what happens Race Day. I think that you can win this race from any row, it's just that starting up front somewhere is going to be easier in the beginning of the race. I won here in '99 from I think eighth starting position. So, starting position is good if you can get the pole because it's a little race in itself. But if you can't do that, it doesn't really matter, because if you can get through the first few laps, it doesn't matter. (Which end of track gave you most trouble?): "Turn 1 and Turn 3 were worst for me. Turn 2 is always bad, too, when the wind is like that, but Turn 1 is where I moved the car up and Turn 3 it wouldn't turn in, so those two corners were worst."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was definitely nerve-racking. I usually don't get nervous when I'm driving. It was about the same going into the car and going out of the pits, but as soon as I saw the green, I was like: 'Uh-oh. I have to keep my brakes off for four laps.' The car was good. I think we were a little bit conservative with it because it was very windy, and the track felt different this morning. So we made the car a little stable, and that's why we were probably losing a bit of speed compared to the faster guys. Again, I think we worked really hard on our platform of our car, the mechanical side of it, during the week, and I think it showed by the times being really consistent. We still have two more weeks to think about Race Day. We just have to see how the weather plays with us and make sure the car is good all the time. Once we know where we're going to start on Sunday in two weeks time, I guess our aim is to finish the race. If we could finish up front, that's great, but our ultimate thing is to finish." (About getting advice about the conditions): "Actually I've been getting a lot of help from Tom Anderson as well as John Dick, my engineer, and also John Martin, who's spotting for me this month. I do get a lot of advice from them, as well as my ex-spotter Alex Barron. He gives me a lot of advice every time I go out. That certainly has been a great help." (What advice did they give?): "Basically, the first couple of laps, be careful. Make sure how the car feels, how the track is going to be, and how the wind is going to affect the car. It's really hard to tell how it's going to be, depending on the wind direction. At the same time, the wind is not consistent. One lap it's very strong; the other lap it's OK. So, they could give you a lot of advice, but I think it comes down to the driver going out there and feeling the car and the conditions. Today was difficult because it was not consistent every lap. For my qualifying run, I think the first two laps felt great , and the third and fourth laps, I said, 'OK, I could get really close to the wall.' Going through Turn 3, the car started to move around a bit. So, I was like, 'OK, I think I still have to stay on top of it.' Condition here is the most difficult thing just because the driver has to have enough experience on how the track is going to react and also (how) the car is going to react."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Really, what we were after today, during the month I hadn't put any (2)29s out there, and we started trimming out the car Wednesday and Thursday, and really, it wasn't liking it at all. You're just too much on edge. We tried to work with it, and it just wasn't there. So we got out there Friday, tried to put it back which we did, and (2)26s, (2)27s, is what we were really chasing after, (2)28 maybe for a top speed. Then the rain came yesterday. It was hot, and with the conditions, I wasn't really happy with the way the car was working because again we tried to trim it out. Then went out there this morning, and the way that the wind is blowing and all that kind of stuff, I wasn't really happy with the car again this morning. So we put in a little bit of downforce in it from yesterday. A speed that we were talking about that we wouldn't take, anything in the (2)24s is what I did not want to take. So we figured anything (2)25.0 (mph) up we'd be looking pretty good, and we ended up in the (2)26s, so it was good." (About Renna's performance): "Tony's been really, really good, actually. He takes it very methodically. He takes his steps one step at a time. He's not overly aggressive out there. He's just taking it day by day and learning as much as he can about his car. He's gradually built up the speed chart and went out there and put four real good laps together. Tony's doing a super job." (About wind): "This morning it was huge. We had the thing pretty trimmed out. What's going on actually is the gusts. The gusts are what's catching you out. If it was a consistent wind, then you can deal with that as long as it's the same every lap. But the way that it's gusting out there, you can go through Turn 2, really is the worst corner, you can go through there one lap and lose the front end right from entry and all the way through the corner, then you come back around and go through it again and you're dead loose. It's just the way the gusts are affecting the corners out there. Mainly Turn 2 and Turn 3, (Turn) 2 being the worst one. You've seen so far we had A.J. (Foyt IV) spin and now my teammate over in Turn 2. You just don't know what it's going to do. When you're all trimmed out, your conditions are worse. We decided I didn't have a shot at the front row or the second row, basically, so the best thing to do is to put this thing in. As long as you're in it, you can win it. So that's what we decided to do."
ROBBY GORDON (No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "If we lose the pole, the team can put the blame on me because I was definitely too conservative on my warm-up lap coming to Lap 1, and I didn't have enough speed coming to the line. If we get beat, I'll chalk that one up to being too conservative, but that's kind of how we're going to race this race. We've always been around at the end of them unless we've had motor problems or caught on fire or run out of fuel. At all those races, we've been in the top five at all those times. So, we normally race really good here. I've always been a better racer at Indianapolis than a qualifier. And if we happen to get the pole this year, I'm really excited and really happy, but we've got a long afternoon to go. We're not going to count our chickens before they hatch, that's for sure, but we'll kind of get them lined up at least." (Did qualifying today require more bravery today than other times, given the wind?): "Yeah, it did, but if you knew what we really had for rear wing yesterday and what we went out with today, you'd say, 'Huh, guys are pretty conservative down there.' And we did that because we're not in a position to write off a race car. They're going off to a test. I think Bryan Herta is going to test this week, so my car was gone already. I already asked them to pull the back half off this one and put it on the other one so that in case they beat us we could go out there and, you know, hold my breath for four more of them, but they said the car was in the trailer. I didn't even know that, but that's good." (Is it in your nature to be conservative, since you've always been a pretty wide-open guy?): "My wide open is just a little more wide open than everybody else, so when I come back conservative, that's like everybody else's wide open." (About the start of the race): "Most of the accidents happen normally around Row 4, 5, 6. As the pole sitter, you don't sit in the ideal position for Turn 1. You're basically in the corner way low. If we si t on the pole, we'll have to get a good jump on them so I can move to the high side before we get to (Turn) 1. That's my prerogative. I can dictate the pace of the race. I learned this from Rick Mears: You can't go out into the first turn and throw the whole race away. You gotta be around at the end." (About logistics of doing both races): "We're also probably going to bring up to 200 fans along with us, so we've got not only our logistics, we've got logistics worked out for 200 other people through police escorts and busses, and we charter commercial airliners so they can do both races with us. I think we've got it down to a science. Last year, we took 65 of them (and) myself, (Winston Cup team owner) Richard Childress and my doctor. The only reason I bring a doctor is for an IV, and last year I brought a doctor and didn't even use it. This year I will use it just because last year I got stomach cramps. I think I got stomach cramps because driving an Indy car is different from driving a stock car. You get shoved in the corner, kind of through the seat banked into the corner, where here it's all lateral Gs, and I think I used up some muscles in my stomach from the G forces sideways, and I'm not used to using those muscles. If I were racing Indy cars full time, I'd probably use them, but I don't think it's something you can work out and do. From your waist to your shoulders, you kind of get pushed out in the middle and I got some cramps in my stomach, so hopefully taking an IV will help that. Plus I'm using some other chemical products so I don't sweat too much and don't dehydrate."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We knew that we pretty much didn't have a shot for the pole today. All and all, we knew that we had a pretty good race car, and we should've been faster than what we ran. We ran 227.5 this morning. The car was very good. We were trimmed out as much as we could be. The mechanical setup of the car is very good. The Pennzoil Panther crew has done more engine changes, more suspension changes, more wing changes, all this stuff this past week, than they've done I think in the past two years. They've really put in some long hours and a lot of work. They work twice as hard as I do, and I'm the one that gets most of the credit, but sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad." (Reflect on running from where ever you start?): "I say we line them up right now because in these weather conditions it's probably about the best chance I've got. You want cold, you want windy. So, sorry, race fans, but this is what I want it to be like two Sundays from now. Honestly, the thing about it is that you have to have a very consistent race car to win this race. You don't have to have the fastest car because you can be the fastest car all day long, and you have a bad pit stop and you go back to 10th, you can't pass anybody, (and) you're day is done. So what we're looking to do for Race Day is have a very consistent car, get behind somebody that's fast and can pass, stay there all day long and try to trick them at the end. But that's easier said than done, so it's a big patience thing. That's what it's really going to come down to. That's what this is. It's not a drag race where it's how fast you can go. It's patience. It's being calm and finding out where your car works good at, where it doesn't work good and how to capitalize on your strengths and try to eliminate your weaknesses. That's what we're going to work on this next week and Carb Day. I sure wouldn't be here if I didn't think we had a chance. It might be a long shot, but we're still working at it." (Has this been the most grueling month with the constant changes, and wondering if the car is going to stay under you each time they make a change?): "We've spent a lot of time out on the track, but not really compared to some of the other cars. We try to be very methodical about how we make our changes and that we continue to head in the right direction. To be honest, the engine changes and the suspension changes ate up a lot of our practice time, so that gives me a lot of time to go sit in the coach and reflect on what's happened in the last couple laps, try to figure out how to make my line a little bit better, and really think about how to run this race. I've seen guys come from 33rd and run for the lead. Nobody's ever won it (from 33rd), but hopefully I don't have to start 33rd, either." (Has the engine situation taken a toll on the team?): "I guess one of my teammates sums up it best. We were at preseason testing down at Miami. We were off the pace, and a lot of the guys hung their heads down, and one of the guys said, 'You know, we've been throwing punches for the past two years constantly, and nobody has ever been able to hit back, and now we've taken a couple, and you guys want to give up already.' The big thing is that we've got to be able to take them as well as give them out, too. It'll be a good character-builder this year. We're not out of the championship yet. You don't have to win a race, (and) you don't have to lead a single lap to win a championship."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was awful. The first lap, I almost hit the wall in Turn 2. A gust of wind just caught me. I thought I was going to hit the wall. I made changes in the cockpit, and I just missed it. From then on, I knew it just wasn't going to happen. The rest of the three laps were really eventful. The car was just all over the place. I kept making adjustments in the cockpit, and then whatever the car did in that turn the lap before, it would do something different in the next. It was just really bad. We missed it. I'm real proud of the other guys. They did an awesome job." (About the group dynamics of the four Andretti Green Racing drivers -- Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Robby Gordon): "Poor Dan (Wheldon). Gotta keep the rookie down, you know. He takes it well and because of that he just fits right in with all of us. Tony's been really brutal on him. Today he went into the garage. His suit was hanging up, and he couldn't reach it so he was jumping to try to get it down. He's got to have everything nice and tight. He's very anal that way. We dumped his stuff all over the locker, and he just freaked out." (About Robby Gordon's run): "When the first lap time flashed up on the board, I thought, 'No way.' And then he put up the second one and I thought, 'All right, now you're going to need a very strong 230 (mph) to do it, and he just kept getting better and better, so it was really weird. It's a shame he missed that first lap, because I think he would be a solid pole." (Compare the wind gusts and today's run to your previous years here.): "It's unbelievable. I've been here a few years now, and this was the most eventful four laps I've ever had around this place. It's days like this that make me glad I'm retiring." (Are you keeping too busy to let the idea of this being the last race hit your mind yet?): "People keep asking me, 'What's it feel like to know this is your last qualifying run?' I'm just as nervous as I've ever been. You know, there's j ust something about this place and qualifying. It seems like all week long, everything is fine, fine, fine, and then it comes to qualifying, and Mother Nature does something weird that makes you wonder what the car is going to be like going out, and you get all excited and nervous, and this year's no different. So that's all my focus has been on. It wasn't even on that it was my last time out."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, asked about his run): "It was a very fast time." (Due to the power failure at IMS that occurred during your qualifying attempt, was there any discussion to see if you could re-qualify?): "That is up to Morris (Nunn) now. He is having discussions with track officials." (Would you stay on 229 mph or would you like the chance to go out there again and run for the pole?): "Yes. 229 is a good speed, but the team expected more out of the car, and we feel that it could have gone faster if the power failure had not occurred."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About the run): "Yeah, well, Penske's still out there. They're going to be tough to beat. And especially, I know those two guys really well, and they're not going to hold anything back. It was a great run. I need to thank my three teammates, or should I say, five, six? I mean I had Mario (Andretti), Dario (Franchitti), Robby (Gordon), Dan (Wheldon), Mike (Andretti) and Bryan (Herta). So, six guys working together. We all talk about the team effort, how well we work together, and sometimes people take that for granted, and we keep proving every weekend that that works. This morning I wasn't happy with my car. Robby goes out there and sticks it on the pole, comes back and says, 'Hey, you should try my setup.' I said, 'Ah, I think I should.' So we put it on, and then we wait a little bit. He told me a little bit about the run, so I kind of judged the changes I need for my driving style, and I put the car back there and run a couple laps before I made my attempt. And I did a 231.1 (mph) right away. I came in and said, 'Guys, let's go qualify before I lose this momentum because I don't know if I can do it again.' So, obviously we did. I was worried about making the show three weeks ago, and now we're in the show and in a good position. I can't forget to thank the people that helped me out: Terry Trammell, all the IRL doctors, the people at Fast Times here in Indianapolis. They have a go-kart track, and they gave me a go-kart to run for a full week. It's a lot of people that helped me out to be back here." (How does the brace on your wrist affect your driving?): "This morning when the car was bad, I had a lot of pain in my leg and my wrist. I told Mike, 'I don't think I can run today (laughing).' In the car, actually, it doesn't bug me at all. In the car, with the brace, I have no problem at all. When I take the brace off at night, it does give me a bit of pain. So, I feel very secure when I have this on, so it's going to be up to Trammell to see if I can ta ke this off for the race or not, but I have full mobility. I think the speed can tell that too, so why take it off? I'm a great believer that if everything is working, keep it on, so I'll probably keep the brace on." (After you got injured, did you think you could win the pole?): "When I first got hurt, people told me that it would be Bump Day (before I could return), and obviously we speed that up. As soon as I got back in the car, I had something in my mind that said, 'OK, I have to take it easy the first couple laps because I don't know how my arm is going to react. But first time I'll be back, I'm going to have to go fast because that's my nature.' I can't take it easy. As soon as I told them my arm was OK, which was Lap 3, I took the whole track flat all around and did 226. Obviously, the car allowed me to do that, and my teammates had worked two weeks previous." (About throwing birthday cake in Helio's face on live TV Saturday): "It was fun. I know I'm going to get it back." (If the original plan had worked, Mario Andretti would have qualified this car, and you would have started in back. How big of a turnaround could that be on Race Day?): "It's huge. Nobody wants to start in the back of the pack. I think if Mario had drove this car he would have put it on the pole and then I'd be out of a job by the time we get to the '500' because he'd want to be racing. It's a big factor. (Being up front) you don't have turbulence from cars, you don't have traffic." (How bad was the wind?): "The wind wasn't really an issue. I mean, it was an issue, but it was all day. It was really bad coming out of Turn 2 and going into Turn 3, so it would push going out of (Turn) 2, and it would be really neutral to oversteer going into (Turn) 3. (We had) one setup for two corners and another setup for the other two, and that's how I got basically a very consistent run."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The first lap did hurt us at a 222.4-something, and then from there on out the next three laps were in the 226s, so it wasn't enough to get us up where we thought we were going to be. But all things said and done and given the circumstances last year, I'm ecstatic to be here." (Explain what it's like when you enter a turn and your car decides that it wants to try to "leave" your control): "In nice terms or in bad terms? In nice terms, it's very unnerving. It makes you a little hesitant going into the second turn. Especially when you know the way the winds are blowing. For some reason, though, the winds didn't seem to affect us, and as soon as I went into Turn 2 and I really felt the car stick well, it instantaneously brought the calmness back, and I knew from that point on the car was going to work well. We had a real strong car since we came here. We had a little problem on Tuesday, but from that point on everything has gone exactly as planned. I'm extremely proud of my guys. It wasn't just tough on me last year. It was also tough on the team. They went through some real down times. It was tough going into the Indy 500 last year to be fourth in points and just have everything look great and then unfortunately to miss it, so I feel a little bad for the guys right now.' (John Menard has always been a front-runner and always wants his cars on the pole. What's he like to work with this year?): "It's always a pleasure for me to work with John. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. It's been different for everybody because the mindset of Team Menard has always been to win the pole. We knew going into the month of May that we did not have the package to win the pole. There has been a lot more time and a lot more effort focusing on the race. I'm actually kind of excited about that opportunity. John Menard and Team Menard have won several poles at the Indy 500, but they have never won the race. So, I'm kind of hoping that we can do a 180 on that one and not win the pole but win the race."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "A little disappointing, how things went those last couple of days. There's no reason. It's not an excuse or anything. We've been struggling a little bit to find speed and still don't know why. Qualifying the car felt good. I think also the guys are doing a great job trying to find (it), but I think there's something there that's not quite good, at least for qualifying. We've not been very strong for the whole week. I'm happy with how the car goes when we made long runs on full tanks, so I think we're really going to have a good car for the race." (About having quiet week, not being in the limelight. Do you like it that way, to focus?): "Last year we were pretty strong almost every week, and I think that's the way it has to be. A quiet week is not bad, as well. Sometimes it's good." (Did you notice wind in Turn 2 during your run?): "Turn 2 for me was kind of really neutral in the entry and the mid-corner and then kind of pushing a little bit in the exit. It's definitely not an excuse for me. In my case, I think we're just struggling to find speed. I think the wind does upset everybody. Some people, it doesn't really like, and some people, it doesn't really care. But definitely you can feel it. Your head is going like this in the straights. It's not very good conditions, but that's the way it is."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, about his run): "It wasn't too bad, really. The team is happy. We had four solid laps. We had a little too much downforce. It's one of those things where you guess a little wrong. Hopefully the speed will keep us fairly high on the grid, and we will have a good solid race. Everyone wants to start near the front. That's what we wanted to do: have a good solid run to keep us near the front and keep us out of trouble at the start. I think that a lot of people can psyche themselves out. I think of it going in as a normal run and not thinking about it so much. It just takes a little longer and is a little harder to be consistent. The hardest part is the first couple laps and the car going where you don't want it to (go). After all that, it's pretty easy." (Impressions of the Speedway): "It's just so different. What I've been used to for so long now is maybe three or four days and qualify, get the race over and it's done. With this, it goes on a lot longer. The weather is definitely a factor, which creates a lot of problems for a lot of people. It's a unique experience, and it's been great so far. I can only see it getting better."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was pretty much the best that we could produce. When you're only a tenth of a mile-an-hour off each lap, within .1 and .2 the whole time, it shows that we did as much as we could with this package. We're as fast as that car was going to go. There wasn't anything else we could do to trim it out. Oh, well, we'll go on and be happy about the efforts that we put in this week and try to have a really, really good race car." (How hard is it to run consistent laps like that in these windy conditions?): "I guess it depends on the driver. For me, it wasn't that difficult because I was running flat as it was, and when you run wide open, you only got to point directions then." (Did you pick up a new sponsor?): "AOL Broadband is definitely the newest corporation to come on board. They're just here for the month of May. Then once the month of May is over, hopefully we'll have them interested enough to do something for the rest of the season." (About the frustrations of not being able to get faster this month): "The frustrations from this week are kind of high. We were disappointed. Robbie (Buhl) and I were pole contenders last year. We had really fast race cars, and we were up front. So this week was certainly a struggle mentally and emotionally for us, but we were able to keep things light. We never complained too much about our package or what we were getting into because we're in it as a team. Robbie is there for me. I'm there for Robbie. We've formed partnerships with all of the companies that are involved in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and we're sticking it out. We believe in each other." (What were the differences in the track conditions between the first and second times you were out there?): "Really nothing. I think it was a little bit colder this afternoon. For our setups, for our cars, it doesn't matter quite as much. Our cars were so on the limit, so perfect that you just have to hang on, period, whether it's cold or hot or whatever it i s. You just have to hang on. They're not race cars right now. Certainly they are qualifiers because we needed to do that to keep our package somewhat competitive. So we're going to go back this week and hopefully without keeping Bump Day in mind, being last on the charts, we're going to try and come up with some really good, consistent race cars, too."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I think the run was OK. We took a conservative approach. We didn't think, after Tony's run, that we had a realistic approach at pole, so there's no use in taking any chances in qualifying. Just make sure the car is safely in the race, and go racing. On the warm-up lap, it got pretty loose on me in (Turn) 1. And after that, you have to think, 'Well, is it worth it to run on the edge for qualifying, especially when you have such a good race car?' It's easy to get caught up in qualifying, but this is the Indy 500, and it's about 500 miles." (More confidence after last year?): "Hopefully now I'm a little bit more intelligent, a little bit calmer, and I can make more intelligent decisions sometimes." (Focus for this week?): "To make sure that the car is good in the race. Hopefully we've a little bit of a head start. I've worked on long fuel runs already, and the car seems to be very good. We're very much on pace."
SIMON MARSHALL (Chief Designer, Panoz G Force): "The conditions were certainly very difficult today, and made it very tough for our teams. We didn't replicate some of the speed we showed during the week, but the important job now is to concentrate on race conditions for the rest of the month. Helio (Castroneves) won from position 11 last year, so that shows how important it is to have a good car on Race Day. With yesterday being rained out, it was important for the teams to ensure they put a time on the bag and get in the show. With 20-30 mph winds, it was sometimes tricky if the wind kicked up just as your were about to go out."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (Team Owner, Red Bull Cheever Racing): "Buddy (Rice) and Kelly (Loewen, Red Bull Team Cheever chief engineer) have done an excellent job for their first Indianapolis 500. They are very methodical. They have focused on getting their work done every day. His best lap, by himself, Buddy did in qualifying under very difficult circumstances. I am very happy with the entire Red Bull crew. Now we are all concentrating on getting the Chevy package as far up the grid as we can. It will take a lot of work from the teams and GM. The will is there. As angry as I might be that we don't have the best engine, I know for a fact that all the executives at Chevy are 100 times more angry than I am. We are all very motivated."
SHINJI NAKANO (No. 54 Beard Papa's Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Actually, today was my first time here at Indy. I started running day before yesterday, but I had trouble at times. And yesterday washed out. I got only 10 laps on the track. So today is my first day here. I feel we need to pick up the speed very quickly in a short time, but I think we did a very good job to put everything together to make a good car. And now I just need to drive the car. We know we don't have to really change the car for the race. This is not really right for the qualifying setup. I had a little bit more downforce than what everybody else has and spring setup and everything. My car had pretty good understeer, which scrubbed a lot in the corner. I knew that, but I just had to qualify here. It's important, it's the '500.'" (About Greg Beck putting together projects like this at the last minute and putting a solid car on the track): "They did a really good job. They had to put everything together in such a short time. I wasn't ready. I was a little bit worried in day one and day two, but after that, they worked so hard to put everything together, I just want to thank the team, and I'm really happy." (Did you have trouble battling the wind during the qualification attempt?): "This morning, I had a really big problem with the wind. I never run this track before, so I don't know the normal track conditions."
GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "This morning we couldn't find the balance of the car. We didn't have a backup car, and we couldn't afford to make a mistake so we decided to pull out of line and practice the car. We made a few changes and got comfortable. We went out for our first attempt, and I felt like I had an electrical issue in the car so I waved that off. I felt it could have been a pretty good run. Then we went back out, reconfirmed it and no issues, so we went out for our second attempt, and I was really disappointed. I just couldn't find the speed, couldn't find the consistency. I don't know if the wind just popped up more so than normal, but it was pretty edgy. We had just come back from doing that 229.3 (mph), and 229.5 and 229.7 and couldn't find it on the racetrack. That last lap even I dropped the car pretty big in Turn 2, had the throttle out of it, and killed our lap average. We couldn't wave off. It's our only car so we couldn't afford to go to our third attempt because we don't have a backup car to put in after that. As a team owner, I'm still very pleased that we're fighting through everything with the situation that we're in. As a driver today, I was a little disappointed. I thought maybe we could crank out a 230-mph lap that would put us in the top three rows. It is what it is, and we'll keep working hard to build the team and keep going forward."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Victory Brand/Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (About the Chevrolet engine): "The folks are working very hard. All the Chevy guys are working together now. There's a lot of engine combinations that we haven't tried. There's no question things are going to improve through the summer. In the future, we probably could very well have the dominant package. There's some cyclical affect to engine development. Right now, we're at the bottom, but it rotates to the top. This is a serious company, throwing down serious resources. They're going to be able to turn this picture around." (Are you implying the Chevy guys will work together on Race Day?): "No, I'm implying that the bench racing between now and then of working together, so that instead of being like one- and two-car teams, it will be like a 10-car team. So, I think that's going to occur from the meetings we've had, and I think that's a really smart idea to pool all information." (How do you feel about reliability?): "I do feel it's pretty reliable. The power we have is consistent. The engine doesn't drop off at the end of 500 miles when it gets mileaged out. Sure, it's reliable. Somebody said, 'Wouldn't you rather finish decent and not run up front, or would you like to run up front and not finish?' At the end of the day, the reliability is what it's going to take to win. That's an ingredient, but there are five other ingredients we've got to get in there, too. So, there's certainly one of those ingredients in place, so that's good."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): (About his spin in his first qualification attempt): "You know, you go back to the garage, and it sets you all behind in your mind and everything else. You try to figure out what happened, and you've got to go back out there and start all over. You get yourself back up to speed and get your confidence back up. A second run was definitely not what we were wanting and not the speed that we wanted, but we have to take it." (Was it the same car this afternoon?): "Yes." (Did A.J. Foyt want you to do it in fifth gear rather than sixth?): "Yeah, I think it was just some miscommunication. I ran fifth gear, and I was on the rev limiter pretty good, so I thought I'd go to sixth. But that's the last time I made a call on my own. Now I ask him first." (Was there a big gust of wind that caused you to spin?): "There was a lot of things that happened. I don't feel the car was perfect for the windy conditions that we were having to deal with today. Definitely the wind was a factor, and very possible that it could have hit me and turned me around." (How impressed were you that you managed not to hit anything during your spin?): "There was a lot of luck involved with that, especially a spin. I looked on the computer and I was going 168 mph backward, so it was pretty much a wild ride and I was surprised I didn't hit anything." (Was your grandfather impressed with that?): "Well, I don't think so, but I think it was a big relief for him that I didn't hit anything also." (If A.J. tends to gets a little bit too demonstrative with you in your rookie year here, are you tempted to remind him that he didn't finish the '58 race, the first time he came here?): "I might not want to mention that. He was the greatest here at this racetrack, and I think a lot of us know it, and definitely he knows it, so I'm not going to say anything about it." (Are you starting to get a little bit of the sense of the depth and the breadth of the Foyt name as it's associated with thi s place -- historically speaking?): "I know what this place has done for my grandfather, and it really made his name, like he says, and this place done a lot, not only for him but for my whole family and just to come here and try to carry on the name and carry on the tradition is just a great opportunity for me that Conseco and that my grandfather has given me. To have confidence in me to go out here and such a tough racetrack like this and qualify for the race. I just feel very fortunate to be a part of it." (Can you talk about having an "experienced advice giver?"): "Yeah, it's definitely been a big help with big Al and Johnny Rutherford and Rick Mears all going around the garage area giving every piece of information that we need if we have a question about the racetrack. I have my grandfather, so any kind of question I've got he pretty much has the answer, and so it's been really lucky to have those type guys still around the league and helping out." (Do you think your speed will be enough to get you in the race and have you got another car?): "Yes, we do have another car, and I hope the speed is good enough to keep me in the race. It's going to be close, so we'll just have to see." (Are you enjoying this or is it just way too much attention too much pressure from within and without to be able to enjoy this experience?): "I'm definitely enjoying it. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't enjoy it. This is what I love to do, and this is what I've been doing since I was just a little kid. It's moving up, the more pressure you get, especially at a big racetrack like this. It's been a heck of an experience, being 18 and having to go through all of this and just going out there and trying to do the best that I can. This is what I love to do, and I'll be doing it the rest of my life. I know my grandfather wouldn't have me here if he didn't think I was ready and wouldn't do any good." (Was there more conversation than just the fifth-sixth gear with your grandfather? Did he say anything else?): "Not really, I haven't had a chance to really talk to him yet. We had to take all of those pictures, so we'll see what he has to say in the garage."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): (About chassis): "It was my decision to choose one and Helio's (Castroneves) decision to choose the other. Both decisions were really kind of a team decision. For Helio, it was a slightly clearer decision for him because he was going very well in his Dallara and feeling very comfortable. For me, it was slightly more difficult because I was very comfortable in both cars. I was very fast in both cars. I could get up to speed in no time. I was fast both in race trim and in qualifying trim. So basically, we said, 'Look. We need to make a decision.' At that point, I was slightly faster in the G Force, and we felt there was more benefit in sticking with one car than trying to choose which car was absolutely perfect for every single condition, and we still feel that way. We feel that there's not that much difference between the cars. We feel that it's not what's going to make the difference between winning and losing the race, believe it or not." (About getting back in the car for the first time since Phoenix): "I really feel good and comfortable with the car. I have to say I was slightly concerned coming into the month of May because I was unable to exercise as regularly as I did prior to the accident. In terms of physical fitness, I'm certainly not in as good shape as I was prior to the accident. I was concerned with that, but I drove the whole week and my back didn't lock up or my neck. I'm in no more pain than usual, let's put it this way. The good thing is I'll have a couple of days break now to be able to recuperate, and then again after next week, we have a few more days for me to exercise and recuperate." (As emotional as Helio gets at this place do you feel like getting him a Kleenex sponsorship at times?): "I think I can understand why he's so happy today because today was one of those days that just, when you stayed on the track, you were happy. It was that difficult out there with the wind and all that. I can understand how he feels because he came from a hard beginning of the day and managed to work everything around and put his fastest laps of the month out there. I can understand his joy."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): (Do you think it might be good luck to not start from the pole?) "Maybe it's going to finally turn for me and we got it all out of the way before Race Day even came. I don't know. I love this place. I love it even in days like today, parts of it. It's been a challenging day for all the drivers, probably one of the hardest days of actually driving on this track that I've ever gone through. If this were a practice day, we all would have been in the garage all day. In a lot of ways, it was really a rollercoaster of a day for the Delphi guys. We rolled out this morning and felt like we were really peaking at the right time. We busted off a high 230 (mph lap) on our own, felt we finally had the speed we wanted, and went to go out for our first run. Afterwards, we went back and looked at the data, and I warmed up the exact same way I warmed up two hours earlier. I was within two miles an hour of my entry speed into Turn 2 as I was two hours earlier, and for some reason, the back just snapped. We had someone in Turn 2 that was watching from over there, and he said a huge gust came when I came out of Turn 1, so at this stage, it's the only thing we can really attribute that to. It was obviously hugely disheartening. It was a car we had chosen that we really liked. It was a car that we had obviously run well in. I was unhappy where we ended up today. The whole Kelley team jumped in. Three different groups of guys all jumped on the backup car. Toyota rolled over another qualifier. We were hoping conditions would get better. They didn't. But to be able to bounce back like that and be in the top three rows -- I don't think we could have gotten Helio (Castroneves), and I don't think we probably would have gotten Tony (Kanaan), but I think we probably might have had the speed for third."