KANSAS CITY, Kan., Monday, July 1, 2002 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on Sunday, July 7 at Kansas Speedway. Practice starts July 5, with practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying on July 6, with the...
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Monday, July 1, 2002 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on Sunday, July 7 at Kansas Speedway. Practice starts July 5, with practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying on July 6, with the race July 7 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): "The track is a tremendous and a professional-looking facility with a very smooth surface. It's a wide track. I think the racing will be good because there are a lot of spots to overtake." (About recent testing at Kansas): "We had a good test and were running on pace with the other teams that were there. We were able to test a few things that thought might work for the race - and did. We look forward to coming back for the race." (Any new developments for the team?): "Our engines are now being built and prepared by Speedway Engine Development."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "Kansas is another track we visited for the first time last year. It's a beautiful mile-and-a-half of high-banked racing real estate. Our racing here is as exciting as anything. It's always a hot one in KC, and we're counting on our loyal Aventis supporters, from the local Allegra manufacturing facility, to turn up the heat for both of the Dreyer and Reinbold cars."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner, Indy Racing League points leader): "I had the opportunity to run at Kansas Speedway for the first time (recently) at the Marlboro Team Penske test. It's a beautiful facility - the track is very smooth, and it's wide enough for side-by-side racing. It's not easy to go flat, but you can do it. The test was important because it gave us the chance to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming race. While the test was very helpful, the race should be much different because there will be more cars on the track, and weather conditions may change. I'm looking forward to the event, and hopefully we'll be there at the end."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, defending event champion): "We will have the challenge of holding on to our title that we earned last year. Kansas is a phenomenal track, one of the many in the ISC family. It's a joy to race there because it is not only the heart of the Midwest, but also the heart of open-wheel racing country."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "Kansas is a lot like Texas because you run flat out all the way around. Drafting plays a big role there, and I think the race will be very close. Having a good-handling car is important, but having a strong engine is more important. It makes it a lot easier to win."
MARK DISMORE (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Last year, Eric (Bretzman) and I worked really well together at the Kansas race. Probably had a top-three car, maybe even the best car, but we had a pit mishap that put us down a lap. We had a volunteer in the pit splashing the fuel buckeye that accidentally sprayed down my left rear tire - chased the car for two pit stalls watering it down, to be honest. Anyway, I ended up turning the car around when I got on the power leaving the pits because obviously I didn't have a rain tire back there. This year, though, going back with Eric and now Team Menard, which I consider one of the best teams out in the paddock, I do have high hopes. Historically this team has had a great superspeedway program, and I consider Kansas along with the other tracks 1.5 miles and above in that category. It's doable for us to really be the team to beat."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Kansas Speedway is a top-notch facility that is very modern and well maintained. The track is really smooth and has a unique configuration. Marlboro Team Penske's test (recently) was the first time we've run at Kansas. Each track has its own nuances, so it's important to learn every detail at the venues that are new to us. Not only are we working on making the car handle well and feel comfortable to drive, it is also an important time for me to learn about the track. I think we have good baseline data, and I was able to run flat the whole way around. It will take a bit of luck to win there, but hopefully we'll have a good setup for the race and a strong result."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Smart Blades/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's great to be going to Kansas, and even though it will be only our second weekend together as a new team, we are ready to race. Kansas is a track that is much like Chicago, and my teammate Robbie (Buhl) tested very well there (recently), so we already have some good feedback to start the weekend with. It will be our first weekend with our new primary sponsor SmartBlades on the car, and I'm looking forward to putting on a good show for them, as well. I'm also very interested to see the debut of the new Infiniti Pro Series cars and will be watching them when our IRL cars aren't on track."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "I've been waiting for my chance to get back to Kansas ever since last year's race. It was one of my best tracks last year. We qualified sixth and finished fourth and even led a couple of laps. We had some good moments there, that's for sure. It's kind of like that golf round where you hit that one or two shots that makes you want to come back and do it again. It's a wide-open track but a little bit tricky. We tested there with my new team after Pikes Peak, and I was two-tenths quicker than I was there last year. So I was very confident after that test session. We got a lot of work done. I won't say I can smell that first victory coming, but I kind of felt a little bit that way when we left Kansas. I hope it comes true, but we'll just have to do our best and see what happens. It should be a good race no matter what happens."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing League champion): "It is an important event for my team and I, especially since our primary sponsor is Coors Light, and it is the Official Beer of the Kansas Speedway. And secondly, Kansas is geographically the second-closest track to my home in Vail, Colo. It is exciting to have a sold-out venue for the second consecutive year and awesome to see that the crowd appreciates great racing." (Last year's event and the impact of the heat): "The weather plays a factor in our race setup since it is so hot. Last year, we had problems with the gearbox and didn't have the run we had wanted, but we still finished well. My team and I are looking forward to big things happening at Kansas."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 54 Norwalk/Parsons Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I am very excited to get back on a big track. Historically, I have posted my best finishes at 1.5-mile tracks. I am especially excited to hit the pavement with a car prepared by Greg Beck and motors prepared by Butch Meyer at Menards. I think we are coming with a package that can be very competitive. Kansas was the first race that I led last year, also my first race back after my accident, and we posted a top-10 finish. I like the place and can't wait to get there."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): "It's another new track for me, but I am not worried because the Red Bull Cheever crew has given me a great car at every race this year. I suspect that we will go well at Kansas, since the team won that race last year. I have been watching my race tapes and talking with the engineers to get prepared."
RICK TREADWAY (No. 55 Sprint Indy Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm really looking forward to being back in the car, especially in Kansas City and racing for Sprint in their hometown. I really want to make them proud, and I am extremely honored to be able to represent Sprint in Kansas City. I am so excited to race in front of a sellout crowd. I think it's great for the league, and I'm glad that the league is gaining more fans each race. We are looking for mainly consistency in our on-track and pit performances. The team always gives me a great car, so I plan to race hard and stay out of trouble. We need to have a good race since we just haven't gotten a break all year and as we continue to search for sponsors for the rest of this season and next year."