RICHMOND, Va., Friday, June 22, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 30 at Richmond International Raceway (drivers listed in alphabetical ...
RICHMOND, Va., Friday, June 22, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the SunTrust Indy Challenge on June 30 at Richmond International Raceway (drivers listed in alphabetical order):
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "This CURB Records/Beck Motorsports team is really looking forward to going to Richmond because we think my style and experience is going to be an advantage on this kind of a track. My years on tight short tracks similar to Richmond International Raceway should quickly come into play in general, but specifically due to the shape of the track and the very tight corners. I've run so many laps under these conditions during my career that it's almost instinctive for me as opposed to most other drivers having much more of a learning curve. Another benefit for us is our performance so far this season on the shorter IRL tracks at Phoenix and Pikes Peak. We've had two top-fives on those 1-mile circuits, and we had the fastest race lap at both of those events. Overall, these elements work to our favor as does the momentum this team is carrying going into the Richmond race. We've had a higher finish in each race since Atlanta, with a ninth at Indy, a fifth at Texas and a fourth at Pikes Peak, so the combination of my experience and team's performance should overcome our lack of testing and give us a great chance to win or at least finish very high on Race Day."
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The racing is going to be close and hectic. I would imagine that the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara will not be out of traffic for the entire evening. It should be fun if everyone watches what they are doing." (About results from testing in March at RIR): "I think we got a baseline setup for Richmond from our test. The track will have changed a lot because of the Winston Cup race that was here earlier, and it should be a lot warmer. But, the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat #12 has a good baseline to start from." (Comparing RIR to any other track on which he's raced): "I think the closest comparison is Dover. Dover is another track that is probably too short for our cars, but it is doable if everyone behaves like they are supposed to. It is different from Dover in the fact that you are not flat out all the way around the track." (About physical demands of a short track): "It is most likely going to be the most physically grueling track that we race. There is simply not enough straightaway at the speeds we are going to get any rest. I am not sure anyone knows exactly what to expect. The drivers that are going to do the best are the ones that are in the best physical shape and the ones who are able to stay out of trouble."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We had a one day test at Richmond, and it's totally different to any oval that we've run on. I always thought that 1-mile ovals were very busy, but Richmond is going to be even busier. I have always enjoyed watching NASCAR races, and one of the races that I'd never miss was Richmond. There's always a lot happening. For the life of me, I don't know how they can do so many laps there in those big NASCARs. I think that 250 laps for us is going to make for a very grueling race." (About racing in the Richmond market): "It's great to be in that market. I have a lot of friends in the Washington area, so it should be a good event for us."
DAVID CRIPPS (Team manager/engineer, #12 Buzz Calkins): "RIR's main challenge is its size. It is such a small track for us. The corners are very tight, yet fast, creating a single groove. The track also has a sealer on its surface that will degrade through the race weekend, thus creating a moving target for the setup."
AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year): "We have a lot of momentum coming off of the race in Pikes Peak. I am happy to be back in the top 10 in the points standings, especially at this time in the season. We are focusing on steady improvement from one race to the next. The season's schedule is becoming very tight as we move into the summer, and that will have a big affect on all of the teams, but I know the 1-800-BAR NONE crew will continue to do a great job of giving me a balanced car with plenty of power."
MARK DISMORE (No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "This is the first time that an Indy Racing car has ever participated on what's truly a short track. It's going to be really interesting to see what happens and definitely challenging for the teams. It's going to be real exciting. I think it's also going to be easy to get a lap down. If you make a green-flag pit stop, you could probably lose three or four laps. This race will require some strategy that we've never had to think about as far as how quick things can happen. It is really uncharted territory for Indy cars." (About the stretch of five races in seven weeks from late May to early July): "It's going to be real tough on the crew because we either have a race or a test every week for the next nine weeks. We're not like NASCAR where you have two or three crews that can rotate events or tests. We have one crew and one set of truck drivers, and they're all going to get real tired. They're probably going to have to work a lot of 18-hour days just to keep up with the schedule. We'll be OK, though, because I've got a great set of guys working on my car. Hopefully we can get some wins and that'll give the guys some adrenalin to keep them going."
SARAH FISHER (No. 15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I certainly think that Richmond is going to be a driver's track. Both corners and straights are different. It's a bullring, and I'm definitely looking forward to it. We were there earlier this spring for the IRL Open Test, and I loved the track. It reminds me of a midget track, and I devour those kinds of tracks. It will be a physical race, for sure. But focus is going to be just as important. Especially with the line you have to take in Turn 1 -- it will be difficult to pass there, as well. This is a big race market for our sponsor Kroger, and they have done an awesome job marketing our association, and it is growing both of our partnerships. I'll be going to lunch at Richmond with a winner of a fan sweepstakes contest that Kroger is having, and I'm looking forward to that, as well."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion): "Richmond is an exciting addition to the Northern Light Series schedule, and it has a great racing community. I think NASCAR fans are going to enjoy the show the Indy cars bring to the track." (About racing on a ¾-mile track): "I am not sure what to think about racing on a ¾-mile track. We turned 16-second laps at more than 160 mph during our test in April but without all the traffic. With the competition at Richmond being so tight, qualifying will be extremely important. Patience will be a factor during the race since drivers will be in traffic all night long. The race will definitely be extremely demanding both physically and mentally on all drivers."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion, winningest driver in Indy Racing League history): "I think there's still a lot of unknowns about Richmond for everybody. A few teams have tested there, and some teams may actually have done some long race-type runs. With all the cars out there on Race Day, I think it's going to be one very tight race with a long train of cars following each other around. I think you'll also see the tightest qualifying field in IRL history with only a couple of tenths of a second separating so many cars. You're really going to have to be patient and wait for opportunities to open up. The track itself is pretty rough, and there's a little shiny groove around it, which is the stock-car groove. We run over that a couple of times through the corner, which makes it pretty slick for us. There's also a fair amount of bumps coming off Turn 2. We're all in the same boat, though, so we'll just have to see who can dial around all those things the best." (About the stretch of five races in seven weeks from late May to early July): "From a driver's perspective, it's pretty easy. We all love driving and could drive almost every day if we could get in the car. But from a team's perspective, I think you're going to see the strength of the teams come out in these types of stretches. I think our Delphi guys are some of the strongest and well-planned group for this. I think we'll all see a real advantage through some of these tougher times."
JEFF WARD (No. 35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "With it being such a short track, we'll only be going about 160 miles an hour compared to 220 at Indy, so we won't be going super fast. There's going to be a lot of traffic at Richmond, which means there will be a lot of passing. That will be the most challenging aspect of the race. But with the slower speeds and more traffic, that will make for great racing. I think it will be a great show for the fans and the IRL." (Team goals at Richmond): "We're looking to have a good, clean weekend without any problems. Bad things happen to every team, we've just had our bad luck three times in a row. Hopefully, that's all we have to deal with for the rest of the season. We're not too far out of second place. Of course, we go to every race to win and to compete, and this team has shown over and over that we can run at the front. We just need to stop the little problems and finish at the front."