ELISEO SALAZAR: (About his new baby Eliseo Salazar VI): "I have to keep the tradition. I like the name. It's not that common in Chile, it's not that common in Spanish. Being the fifth, I hope we can carry it to the tenth." (About...
(About his new baby Eliseo Salazar VI): "I have to keep the tradition. I like the name. It's not that common in Chile, it's not that common in Spanish. Being the fifth, I hope we can carry it to the tenth."
(About today's practice): "You know, I always say, racing is a bit like the checkered flag, you have black and white. We had the blackest moment, you know, last week, we had four days in a row with incidents and crashes. So, I hope this will turn around things. The birth of Eliseo the sixth happened Tuesday morning at 3:53 and that was a turnaround for us. And now, we are taking out a brand-new car. We had the backup car at 223 and a half when we had the engine problem on Sunday. So, we have that, but, you know, A.J. is just a big racer, and he wants to do the best he can. So, he bought a new car, and we're shaking that down, and we have the other car that's also up to 223, even quicker if we want. So, it's not a question about having the speed, it's just a question of do you get spooked, and if something's going to happen, it's going to happen like last week. But as we said, hopefully, that has turned around and will be different."
(About the birth of his child): "We spent a hectic 48 hours there preparing to go to the hospital, and then it was a big baby 10 pounds, 6 ounces. So it couldn't come naturally, you know, we had to do a C-section in the middle of the night. Obviously during those hours you're not thinking of anything else, but now that they are both fine and healthy, Kari and Eliseo, we have to concentrate on this. We came back last night, and we had to. This is our life. It is her life, too. We live for this. It's an important part of our life, too. We need to qualify on Sunday and make the race and keep collecting points toward our big goal -- that is to win the championship. As you said before, we are second in the championship, and we need to get as many points here as possible. We've always done well. Out of five participations, we have a third, a fourth and a sixth place and a couple of front rows. This is quite unusual and disappointing, but that is what motor racing is all about and especially at Indy. You can never expect everything to be normal. It happens. Things like this happen, and we just expect to correct them on Sunday. The weather is very hot and muggy. I don't think it was a day conducive to really find the setup for speed. So we're just shaking down a brand-new car and getting some minor problems, we had a fuel pickup problem and stuff like that, you know, getting ready for the weekend. If The Weather Channel is right, it should be much cooler, and then we should be back to the mid 20s laps that we can do."
(About Beechler in a third car): "We're going to try to put this brand-new car in the field, and then we have this 14 car, which is actually the car that has put us second in the championship so far and is the car that I tried to qualify on Sunday that blew in the last corner. That car was up to mid-223. We're going to wait and hopefully put this brand-new car early on Sunday then concentrate on getting Donnie in the field, too. So that is not a problem."
(About how engine failure while attempting to qualify ranks among frustrations in his career): "It was one of those deals that I say all the time that if some Hollywood screenwriter writes that, we would all say it is too much fantasy. How can it happen, you know, on the last corner of the last lap after everything that has happened the previous two, three days? So I just couldn't believe it. I was astounded. I just couldn't believe it. I knew the engine was getting tight going into
(Turn) 3, and they said one more corner and we could coast. We had like a 223 average. Even a 218 lap would have given us a very good average, good enough to qualify. So I just couldn't believe it when it happened. I tried to steer toward the wall not to pinch the car, and thankfully it worked. At the time you don't have much time to think. Afterward, it was unreal. It was like I was looking from above, and I just couldn't believe what was going on."
(About Race Day speeds): "I think 218 or 217 will be more realistic. I feel it is about 6 mile an hour difference
(from qualifying to race). So if Scott Sharp did 226, that was quite out of the ordinary, really. I would expect the quickest lap of the race being (2)19.5 maybe a (2)20. If it is like today, I don't see it being quicker than 218."
(About A.J.'s last-minute qualifying experience): "I think he is at his best when he is down. He's really trying every single thing as I said before, buying a new car and getting the best engine. When a guy like him is in a difficult situation, that is when they thrive. Definitely, he is thriving. He is full of confidence. We are not even taking it into consideration that we won't qualify."
(About bruised right eye): "First, fortunately, the eye is OK. I had it checked in Miami, and I could see 20/20. Starting from the back is not our plan. People say always, 'It is a long race, you have time.' I agree with that, but the IRL is so competitive, so evenly matched, it is hard to pass cars. We've been in the top five every race so far. And when you get to about March or sometime, it is not that easy to pass. We will try to do it patiently. Hopefully we will be top 10 by the middle of the race. Coming back last night, my flight was Miami/Charlotte, and I came with Robby Gordon, and we were talking. In '95, he started from the pits. He still made it to fifth place in the end. It all depends how the race goes that day. It's not as easy as in the past to get to the front."
(About winning 500 vs. winning the championship): "I don't know the answer. I put it like that one day to A.J., and he wisely said we are looking to get in, and then we are going to talk strategy. Even though you don't want to think about it, obviously you do at some point of the day. I've been leaning toward let's try to get in a top-five finish and keep collecting points toward the championship, but then you say this race is not just another race, so should we try to win it anyhow? I'd like to answer that on the 23rd."
(About when to attempt to qualify on Sunday): "I want to be there at 6 o'clock in the morning. We are going to try immediately. That was the only, I wouldn't say mistake, but hindsight is real easy, but on Sunday we had 223 and a half at 2 o'clock, but we waited until 5. We didn't really have time to change then. Maybe we shouldn't have gone straight to qualify. We would have blown the engine and had time to replace it. We want to be ready at 12."