KANSAS CITY, Kan., Friday, June 29, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 8 at Kansas Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order): BILLY...
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Friday, June 29, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 8 at Kansas Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order):
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The CURB Records/Beck Motorsports team is really anxious to start our swing of Midwest races. I was the first one to actually drive an Indy car around Kansas Speedway. At the end of last year, I did some testing out there to check the track's smoothness before they put the final coat of asphalt on it. The first thing I noticed is that the layout is similar to the tracks in Kentucky and Las Vegas. The difference, though, is that it's a bit narrower than those tracks, so I expect we'll be running closer to the wall. They put a lot of work into the racetrack to ensure the final product is glass-smooth, and I think they've achieved that goal. It should make for some great racing since the drivers won't have to be worried about the track surface creating any obstacles. Another great thing about the facility and that area is the fan support. I did an autograph session out there a couple years ago with A.J. Foyt, and we literally had lines of people for eight hours for two days. The Kansas-area fan support is really unbelievable, and it should make for a great event when the drivers and the teams can see that kind of turnout. Being the fifth race in seven weeks will really put the teams to the test in terms of preparation. I think as the season unfolds, we're starting to see that the teams are better prepared, and they understand you have to be there at the end of every one of the 13 races to have consistently better results. You have to be in it for the long haul and pace yourself as a team in order to earn a high finish in the points championship, and that's what we're looking to do."
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Kansas is a great facility, one of the best in the country. I am actually quite surprised it has taken this long to get a track built there. That is the middle of such a racing hotbed. The track seems a lot like Kentucky but maybe a little narrower, so it will be challenging. We typically run very well on mile-and-a-half tracks, so I am really looking forward to going there with the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat car. It should prove to be a great event."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner) (About development of the Infiniti Indy 35A engine): "All we're really working on right now with the Infiniti Indy 35A is reliability. That's our main focus. Since we're pretty close to being up at the front when it comes to horsepower, we're looking at reliability and fuel consumption. We seem to finally have gotten a handle on the 1.5-mile circuits with the Infiniti 35A. It has performed very well in that configuration. I think Kansas, Chicago, Texas and maybe Nashville are circuits that will suit our package with the Infiniti." (About Kansas Speedway): "I have not tested at Kansas City. We went down for a test, and it rained for two days. But from what I've heard, the track has a lot of grip, the speeds are very high, and I wouldn't be surprised if we are doing 215s or 216s during the race, which is pretty phenomenal. I know Kansas is fast, flat, and you can go around there without taking your foot off the throttle." (About championship chase): "What Cheever Indy Racing has to concentrate on now is winning races. When we start winning races and stupid things stop happening, we'll be OK. If we don't get caught up in accidents like we did at Texas, and we don't lose injectors like we did at Pikes Peak, we should be all right. At Pikes Peak, we reached the number of miles that we would have liked to have put on the 35A before we started the season. In reality, as far as testing goes, our season actually began in Colorado. We still think that we are in the hunt to finish in the top three in the championship, and we'll do everything we possibly can to make that happen."
AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year): "Well, the schedule has been very busy for everyone for the past few weeks, but the 1-800-BAR NONE team is consistently giving me a great car to work with. Right now, we are just trying to focus on maintaining a good position in the points standings. I am OK being No. 10 (in the standings) going in to the middle of the season. Right now, we focus on steady progression, race after race. The Kansas City race will be fun. It's a new track, the stands will be filled, and we will have more room to move and to pass each other. I look forward to getting back to some high-speed action on a longer track."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 55 EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to racing at the new racing venue at Kansas City. It's tough to discuss race strategy, since only a few teams have tested at Kansas, and of course none of us has raced there. A lot of our advance work for race strategy is guesswork. The track is a lot like Kentucky and almost identical to Chicago, where I think pit strategy and having the right technique on the track will play a big part in who comes out first. I don't think you'll ever have two cars running side by side for any long length of time, but I'm certain there will be a ton of passing and bunching up of cars into packs all around the track."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, Northern Light Series points leader): "We went out to Kansas after the Pikes Peak race. We didn't get a whole lot of time out there because it rained the most of the time we were there. We ran for about three hours on the second day and got an awful lot of laps in." (What tracks does Kansas compare to?): "It's almost like Kentucky, and we put on a pretty good show there last year. It was pretty exciting, and we'll have a good race there." (What are your impressions of the facility?): "It's a pretty nice place. They did a great job building the track. They looked around and saw what they liked at other tracks and put everything together and built a super racetrack." (About the new market): "Going there means a lot to us. It means we're growing, and we're gaining fans every time we go out. That's what's keeping our series going, and we can try to gain a few more each time we go out there."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We went there and tire tested, but we ended up with a flat tire so we didn't get to run as much as we wanted to. We know it's going to be a very fast and a very challenging racetrack." (What's the track compare to?): "Every track is different. It's kind of a mix between Las Vegas and Texas." (About the series visiting another new market): "It's going to be great. All the new markets we visit are great. I like every place we go, and it's going to be fun."
GREG RAY (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We tested one day at Kansas. It's a mile-and-a-half track somewhere between a Texas and a Las Vegas. It's a very smooth track, but it's also very demanding. We really didn't get to do much testing, but we kind of have a handle on it, and we're all looking forward to going back to that race after the Fourth of July." (This race ends a long stretch of races for the series): "We take one weekend off, and that's great for the teams, the drivers and the fans when we race every weekend." (On the new market): "All these new racetracks and all these new venues are great for our series."
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We haven't been there yet, unfortunately. I've been told that it's similar to Las Vegas, and I've always run good there. I've won a race there and led a lot of laps there. I like the mile-and-a-half tracks with low banking."
JEFF WARD (No. 35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I think the racing in Kansas City will be very similar to our previous races at Las Vegas and Kentucky. I ran well at those tracks in the past, so this should be a good weekend for the team. Because we haven't been there to test, we'll be relying on our notes and experience at similar tracks in preparing for the race. We always do our homework before we visit a new track, and we're expecting a lot of grip. We have good notes, and we're hoping for some good luck, also. It's important for a driver to have a good first run at a track. Every driver has their favorite track, where they've had a lot of success, and it helps going into a race with that extra confidence."