IRL: Michigan: Pre-race quotes, schedule

WHAT: Michigan Indy 400, 10th race in 16-race 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series season WHERE: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich., 2-mile asphalt oval WHEN: Broadcast: 3 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 1; Green flag: 3:25 (EDT), Sunday, Aug.

WHAT:
Michigan Indy 400, 10th race in 16-race 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series season

WHERE:
Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich., 2-mile asphalt oval

WHEN:
Broadcast: 3 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 1; Green flag: 3:25 (EDT), Sunday, Aug. 1

DISTANCE:
200 laps/400 miles

POSTED AWARDS:
More than $1 million

CARS:
Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis; Chevy Indy V8, Honda H14R Indy V-8 and Toyota Indy V8 engines; Firestone tires

TV:
Race: ABC (live), 3 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 1

RADIO:
Race: IMS Radio Network, 2:30 p.m. (EDT), Aug. 1

SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)

FRIDAY, JULY 30
9 a.m. -- IndyCar Series practice (two groups/45 minutes each)
1:30 p.m. -- IndyCar Series practice (two groups/45 minutes each)

SATURDAY, JULY 31
9 a.m. -- IndyCar Series practice (two groups/30 minutes each)
11 a.m. -- IndyCar Series MBNA Pole Qualifying
4:30 p.m. -- IndyCar Series warmup (all cars/30 minutes)

SUNDAY, AUG. 1
3 p.m. -- Michigan Indy 400 (200 laps/400 miles)

PRE-RACE QUOTES: (Drivers listed alphabetically)

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I have some great memories from last season there. The win created a lot of publicity, and I think it has had a big influence on where I'm at in the 2004 season. We had a great test there, and it will be good to go back there with a lot of confidence."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was in Michigan once before, back in 2000 while I was racing in Indy Lights. It's a nice track. It reminds me a lot of Fontana. We had a good Chevrolet test up there a few weeks ago, and I'm interested to see where we match up with the other teams, especially in qualifying trim. We're looking to bring home another good finish for the Panther guys."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I am really looking forward to getting back up to Michigan. We tested up there, and I felt very comfortable on the track. It is going to be a big race for Chevy, since Detroit is so close. I'm looking forward to a good run on race day."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Going from last weekend's race in Milwaukee to this weekend's race at Michigan will be a big change. Milwaukee is a 1-mile oval, with very little banking compared to Michigan, which is a 2-mile superspeedway. It should be quite a good show for the fans because we will be running flat out, and there will be multiple grooves, which should allow for plenty of passing and possibly three-wide racing. The key will be to stay in the lead pack and work the draft. We lost a little ground in the championship points chase in Milwaukee, so I hope Marlboro Team Penske leaves Michigan with a strong finish."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Michigan hasn't been a place where I have had much luck, but we're looking to change that. It's the kind of race where it doesn't really matter where you start, and anything can happen. The key will be to stay in the draft and with the leaders. I'm really happy to know that I'll be able to get behind the wheel this coming weekend in Michigan since both the ankle and the thumb are feeling much better. I'll be fitted for a brace for my thumb in the next few days, simply to make it more comfortable to drive, but I'm sure it'll be fine by race day. This past weekend was very disappointing for all of us at Target Chip Ganassi Racing. However, while it has been a rough season to date, it is a credit to this Target team to see how hard the crew has been working to get the cars ready to race. Not just this past weekend, but every single time out there. I just want to get back to racing as soon as possible and get back on top where we should be."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "I haven't raced at Michigan for a couple of years, and I am looking forward to this weekend. We should be strong there. I have had some good results on superspeedway circuits in the past, and this is a track that we know. We are still struggling a bit with our setup for the short ovals, but I feel we should be strong out of the box here."

A.J. FOYT (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to going back to Michigan. We were running pretty well there last year until we had gearbox trouble. The horsepower disadvantage we have now will hurt us in qualifying and a little bit in the race but I think the drafting that we can do there will help offset that. I'm expecting to do well in the Conseco car."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to Michigan. In the past, any race I've been involved with there has been tremendous. It's a fun place to go racing. It will be a learning weekend, for sure. There will be a couple of things we have to learn on Friday. Hopefully, by the time qualifying and the race come about, we've got it all right. Thank God it's not a two-day race weekend."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I have some good memories from Michigan. Two years ago, we all kept swapping the lead in the last 15 laps. You definitely need to have power to be up there, but Chevy is working very hard, and I believe we're going to be strong. I've had some good races there in the past with the (IndyCar Series), and even with Indy Lights, when I won there in 2000. Hopefully, I'm going to be coming out with some even better memories on Sunday."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm not a huge fan of superspeedway racing, but I like to win races, and Michigan is my next opportunity to do that in the XM Satellite Radio car, so I'm looking forward to this weekend. Fuel economy and a good handling car tend to be the keys to running well at Michigan, so that's where we'll focus our attention. For me, I was born and lived the first part of my life in Michigan and still have a lot of family there, so it's always nice to get back up there and see all of them."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Michigan is one of those tracks where horsepower is very important. Toyota's been working hard this season to find that extra bit of speed, so hopefully we'll have a little more power this weekend. The Michigan race always comes down to the last two laps, so we'll have to stay in the draft, watch our fuel and make sure we make it to the end of the race. I always look forward to racing at Michigan because I have a lot of family and friends that come out to the track. Every year, my mom and mother-in-law sell tickets to the race, and it's great to have so many people on-hand to cheer me on."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Michigan (International) Speedway is where I won my first 'big league' race in 1999, so it is a special place for me. I'm sure the race will be fast and exciting. Team 7-Eleven just needs to remain focused on our goals, which are to win as many races as possible and extend our lead in the points race."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I've reviewed video of past races at Michigan, and it looks like a track with many race line possibilities. The Target team has consistently given me a great car that I can go practically anywhere with. I think the high-line may be the way to go at this particular track. I think there will be plenty of passing and close racing, much like we saw at Texas. I believe Toyota may have a little more for us this weekend. That should certainly help us run up front. We're looking for a good result to get back on track."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I have never been to the Michigan track, but I will work hard for a good result there. Honda has a very good, strong engine, and I know that (race engineer) John Dick will give me a good car. In the last race at Milwaukee, we started out very bad when I crashed my car and gave the team a lot of work. We started last but finished in the top 10, which was a good result, and I have a lot of confidence and motivation for this weekend. I knew that Milwaukee would be a tough weekend for us after we tested there, but I feel a lot more confidence about coming to race at Michigan."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Going from Milwaukee to Michigan is a real contrast. A flat track to a high-banked, high-speed oval is quite a difference. But I like Michigan because it is fast and wide, and you can really race there. It's a long race, so you need to pace yourself there. I know that (teammate) Buddy (Rice) and I are anxious to go there. After our speedway setups at Indy and Kansas, we believe we have two of the cars to beat at Michigan. It was great fun winning the pole last weekend for Centrix and Rahal Letterman Racing. I'd like to do it again, and the race, too, if that is possible. Our team is working very well together, and we are continually learning about our car. Of course, I'm very thankful that I'll have a Honda engine at Michigan too. That is the motor to have there."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "Obviously, Michigan is a special place for me, since I made my IRL debut there in 2002 and almost won the race. It was a great start for me in the series. You'll see some spectacular racing this week with three and four abreast. I'm very glad I have the Honda power for there. It will be a real shootout. I know (teammate) Vitor (Meira) and I are very confident going to Michigan with our Rahal Letterman team. I'm pumped up too since Sunday's run at Milwaukee. That was a big boost for our team since we have struggled with the short-oval setup in the past. But Michigan is as far away from the Milwaukee setup as possible. We'll bring the Indy setup and some of our new components for this weekend. We were good at Indy and Kansas so I expect us to be right up front again at Michigan."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "When I think of Michigan, I think of legendary Indy(-style) races. I grew up sitting on the couch watching some wild races at Michigan International Speedway. It's an awesome track for the IRL IndyCar Series. It's very smooth and really wide, at least three grooves. The last few years have produced some great finishes. Last year, the Delphi team had a flat tire and came from a lap down to finish fourth, so that was a good race for us. It's fun to race there and the style of racing is a 180 degree switch from Milwaukee, so that will be exciting and different as well."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We obviously had a very disappointing result in Milwaukee. As we head to Michigan, we can't go anywhere else but up. I enjoy MIS and feel that the track suits my driving style quite well. I've enjoyed some strong qualifying runs there in the past and look forward to the opportunity for the Pioneer Mo Nunn team to rebound this weekend."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Michigan is a great track to race on. There will be close racing there, and with Access Motorsports and the Panoz G Force and Honda package we have, we will have the strongest package there. I'm looking forward to it. Michigan is still a fairly tricky track. The way the banking works, there are slight bumps in track. When you are running two-wide, the bottom line may not be quicker. You can run quicker around the top. That means there will be a lot of overtaking. The guy who whose car is best in the last 50 laps will be the guy who is able to win it. It will be very similar to Texas, but with less banking, so the car has to be working a bit better."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Michigan is always a tough race from the standpoint that you run very close together for a long period of time. But, I certainly think the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car will handle very well around the superspeedway. And obviously, with Honda power, we're going to run up in the front. It's just a case of making sure we have a good race balance, are good in traffic and pick a good strategy, which I have no doubt that (team manager) Tony Cotman will do."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing