MADISON, Ill., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Emerson Indy 250 on Sunday, Aug. 10 at Gateway International Raceway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place Aug. 9.
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 1998 IndyCara Series champion, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"To be honest, we haven't had the best car on the shorter ovals, but the test at Gateway last week was pretty good, and I feel confident going into the race. The Gateway track is very challenging for a driver. The corners are much different, and you have to compromise the car's setup to handle both ends of the track. You want to be flat out in Turns 3 and 4, and you have to shift down two gears into Turn 1. I think the race will be fun with the IndyCar Series cars. We have enough downforce to race some side-by-side racing. It should be fun for me. We obviously have struggled a little bit with some of the tracks we've been new to this year, but we have been to Gateway before, and we understand the corners pretty well. We have had some misfortune lately, and we need to get back on the right track. We have three straight weeks that could help us a lot in the points race. Luckily, we have raced at Gateway and Nazareth before, and we tested at Kentucky. So I think we'll be pretty prepared for this three race stretch."
ALEX BARRON (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"What a week and a half it's been. We won a very dramatic race at Michigan, which was one of the highlights of my racing life. And then we went to Gateway for what overall was a very productive test session, except for the fact that I crashed my car at the end of the day. Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse. I felt really bad for all the guys, because they worked so hard to make us competitive at both Nashville and Michigan, and things were going so well at the test. This is a very unique track. You have to be on top of your game for every lap. I finished third last year after starting all the way back in 14th. It's a track where you can make up some ground if your car is hooked up. I think we'll have a good starting point after all that we learned at the test."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"I really like the track at Gateway. It's a short track that's fun and a little more challenging, because you're always shifting and using the brakes. It would be nice to have the Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 here, but we'll have it in Kentucky, soon enough. The city's not far from the track, and St. Louis is also the home of the Purex manufacturing facilities, which we'll be visiting during the week."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"Gateway is a tough track. The corners are very different. We can go flat out in Turns 3 and 4, but we slow down substantially and sometimes downshift in Turns 1 and 2. Plus, while there are two long straightaways, it isn't always easy to pass. Getting a good setup and balanced car is always a challenge. Marlboro Team Penske tested there last week, so we have some good data going into the weekend. As the Championship winds down, it is becoming increasingly important that we execute and earn as many points as possible. I finished second there last year, so hopefully I can improve that by one position this Sunday."
GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2002 Gateway winner, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"I'm looking forward to going back to St. Louis this weekend. Last season we had a very good run there, and I'm hoping to have similar results this year. We've been doing very well on this type of racetrack this season, so I'd be disappointed if we weren't in contention for the win on Sunday. We're coming into St. Louis with all new equipment this year, which makes it even more important to remain focused and work hard all weekend. Marlboro Team Penske had a successful test at Gateway International Raceway last week, and we were able to come away with a good baseline setup, so we're comfortable with the car. I think we'll be ready on race day."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, IndyCar Series points leader):
"We tested in St. Louis last week, and I thought that it went very well. The team has done such a great job. It has been a lot easier to find the kind of performance we've been searching for this year. We've made up a lot of ground in the points championship race, and we're now in the lead. We have a lot of races left, but we're in a position now that we've been hoping for. Gateway should be a good track for us. It's a handling track with two different corners. One thing that we've been after this year is consistency, and I think that with our last six races, we've found that. We have six straight top-six finishes, and that's what it takes to win championships."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"The team is ready, and I'm ready for a great race in St. Louis. We have our sights set, of course, on Kentucky, for the new Chevy engine to come. But racing is racing, and we're out there for a win every week, just like everyone else. We've turned some tight corners lately to get to where we are with our team and setup, so we should be ready for the turns at Gateway International Raceway."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"Gateway is a challenging track, so I'm glad we got a chance to test there. The corners are pretty different. Turns 1 and 2 are a lot tighter than 3 and 4, so the setup is a compromise. But, we'll compromise more on Turns 1 and 2, because you can carry a lot more speed through 3 and 4. It's fun because you shift every lap to keep the revs up, which makes it a little different from the other ovals we race on. I'm looking for a solid finish in the Conseco car. We ran well during our test, so on race weekend I look for us to be competitive, run all day, and try to get a top-10 finish."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"St. Louis was a fun test, having to brake in the corners and downshift. It is a challenge we don't see every week in the Indy Racing League, and it is going to be tough to get the car right for the race. We had a good test there in the Archipelago/Motorola car and my teammates also tested there, so we should be in pretty good shape. We need to get a good finish. We haven't gotten the results we wanted in the last couple of races, and we need to turn that around."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion):
"I like racing at Gateway International Raceway. It's a driver's track and places a premium on handling and car control. It's more of a finesse track. In the two previous years that we've run there, we've finished third and fifth and had two cars that were very fast. Andy Brown, Seth Fleming and the rest of our engineering crew always give me a great race car. I hope we can keep that tradition going and get another top-five finish. We can use the points. The race at Michigan was a turning point for the Pennzoil Panther team. It was big. My guys have worked so hard all year and just refuse to give up. To run up front, lead the most laps, almost win, it builds your self-confidence. It was good for all of us. We're really looking forward to running at Gateway."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We're looking forward to getting back to the racetrack, for sure. We were obviously disappointed with the way things turned out at Michigan, but those things happen, and now you've got to look at what is left. We had a pretty good test at St. Louis. Obviously, the race weekends are a lot different, but if you have a good test, at least you know you've got a good place to start from. Nothing has changed for us since Michigan. We were looking to win the race up there, and we're still looking to win at St. Louis. The championship is so competitive, a win is what the whole Team 7-Eleven needs."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"The test at Gateway went really well. We were able to finish everything we had planned, and we learned enough information about the Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 to use for the upcoming race. We also worked on our setup, and made small changes since everything is a little bit different now with the new engine. The Red Bull Cheever Racing Team is going to continue to work on the details, and we're confident that we're going to be competitive and able to run in the front of the pack."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"It feels great coming off of our best finish this year in Michigan. We had a car that could have won the race, but we just weren't in the right place at the right time. We've had cars all year that could have won races, but luck hasn't been on our side. I'm so impressed with Team Target and the job that they have done this year. The guys are so focused and driven towards winning, that's the only thing on their minds. It carries over to everyone in the organization, including myself. We're going to get some wins this year."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion):
"Gateway International Raceway is a very unique track. The entire key to running well at Gateway boils down to Turns 1 and 2. Most of the time, our cars run close to wide open through Turns 3 and 4, so it's basically a drag race from the exit of Turn 2 back to the entrance of Turn 1. I enjoy Gateway because you have to be pretty aggressive with the car in Turn 1. The driver can play a larger role than at some of our other tracks, and it really makes it a challenging and exciting race to drive. I'm looking forward to this weekend, and I'm hoping the Delphi team will keep its momentum and we'll have a successful race."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"I go to Gateway with a very good feeling because it was nice to have a test there before the race weekend. It's always nice to test before going to a track, but it is especially important when it's only a two-day race weekend, like at Gateway. Plus, it's a track that I never ran before. I had a good, trouble-free test with my Pioneer team at Gateway on July 30. I tried the Dallara chassis for the first time. Even though I could not find great speed, we experienced success in that we were able to correct a lot of information about my setups. My engineers were able to find out some missing pieces in the settings after the test, and now we have a good idea for the baseline for the start of practice. Therefore, most probably, I will race with the Dallara. I have to confess that I had a hesitation to decide which chassis (Panoz G Force or Dallara) to race after the test, but I believe there is potential to match the speed with some of the top guys after studying the data with my engineers. It will be a big challenge for all of us to perform well with the Dallara, and I believe we will be able to battle with other top guys out there by race day."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2001 Gateway winner):
"I'm really looking forward to getting back to Gateway International Raceway this coming weekend. Gateway is very unique in the aspect that it is the most physically demanding track that the IndyCar Series races on during our season. The reason that Gateway is so demanding is because of its configuration and the drivers having to downshift. It makes for a very challenging race. When I won the race in 2001, the car was working really well, and the strategy and fuel economy both went our way, which are all key factors in being successful at Gateway. I feel with the competition the way it has been in the IndyCar Series, it will be the most competitive field we've ever seen at Gateway. Qualifying is going to be important because it's difficult to pass. We've done well in the past here, and I'm sure we can do well again. The Corteco crew has been working so well together, so I'm looking forward to a really good weekend."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I'm really looking forward to racing in St. Louis. This race is going to be a lot different than the last couple we have had. It won't be like a superspeedway at all. Qualifying is going to be very important, and race strategy is also going to play a big part. Passing is going to be difficult during the race, so you will have to start near the front and use a good pit strategy to keep the track position. We should be competitive. We had a good test there, and we worked on a lot of things."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We had a pretty good test a few weeks ago at Gateway International Raceway. It is a different track than where we have been recently, with a long straight and tight corners in Turns 1 and 2. It also requires braking and downshifting, which we have not done since Motegi. It is a fun track. We were able to get the car to handle well during the test, and I am confident that we will be fast right out of the box. My confidence builds after each race, and it is a matter of making fewer mistakes as a driver and as a team to improve our finishing position. We are working really hard on that. A top-five finish is not too far from us."