Originally-From: Indy Racing League <indyracingleague@Brickyard.com> PHOENIX, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Test in the West preseason testing session...
Originally-From: Indy Racing League <indyracingleague@Brickyard.com>
PHOENIX, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Test in the West preseason testing session Feb. 9-10 at Phoenix International Raceway:
DIDIER ANDRE (Galles Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am doing my rookie test on Wednesday (Feb. 7) at Phoenix, and I am very excited to get into an Indy Racing car for the first time. I am living in Albuquerque now so I have been able to spend a great deal of time with my crew, and I am very excited to work with them. The Galles team is a professional organization, and it feels good to run my rookie season in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series with Galles."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (#21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm really excited to go to Phoenix and run the car in the short oval package. We had a good test in Homestead in the speedway configuration, and I hope we can run just as good in Phoenix. We'll private test on Tuesday and Wednesday before running the open test on Friday. My goal is to just get comfortable in the car the first day. We'll go for speed on day two and then just get used to running in traffic for the open test. We should have three good days, and I hope to learn a lot in preparation for the season opener in Phoenix."
STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Mexmil/Tokheim/Jack Elrod Co./Nada Guides G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am very excited about the first test of the year. Dick Simon Racing has prepared the test so well, and the team is very motivated to show its potential there. We are going to the Test in the West with two cars: our 2000 G Force with a 2001 update kit and a 2001 Dallara. We are going to test both cars and try to compare performance if we have enough time. In 2001, Dick Simon Racing will use the Oldsmobile Aurora (engine) prepared by Roush Industries." (About this season): "I am really looking forward to this season. We have a great schedule this year with 13 races. We start at the normal time for me in March, which is what I have been used to. And then we race through to September, which is perfect. I think it's going to be a very good season for our Indy Racing Northern Light Series. For Dick Simon Racing, we are all together again for our third year, which will be good for everyone on the team. We all know each other really well and work well as a team, which gives us a real advantage." (Do you like racing at Phoenix?): "Yes, I love this track. I like 1-mile ovals because I think they are more challenging. During the race, you have to use your brakes, which makes the race more challenging and a bit like road racing. Phoenix is a very nice 1-mile track and probably my best and favorite. I was one of the two fastest drivers last year at the Test in the West, and my goal is to do the same this year."
RON HEMELGARN (Owner, Hemelgarn Racing, #91 Buddy Lazier, #92 Stan Wattles): "We will primarily focus on race setups. With a new aerodynamic package on the 2001 Dallara, it is imperative that we understand how the driver and car respond to change. Last year, we received the Riley & Scott chassis late, and it delayed our program. We are returning this year with a 2001 Dallara and can properly test in the offseason to understand the changes to the car." (Excitement about upcoming season): "This is the start of my 24th year in Indy Racing. As defending champions and Phoenix race winner, we are focusing on repeat performances. We always enjoy racing at Phoenix because of its long Indy Racing tradition."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Delta Faucet/Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, defending Northern Light Cup champion, 2000 Phoenix race winner) (Concentrating on speed or race setups?): "We're working on a little bit of both. We know our qualifying performances need to improve. But at the same time, we don't want to give away our strength, our race setup. We're just setting the foundation in terms of setups. At Phoenix last year, we were running the Riley & Scott. We haven't had this (Dallara) car on this racetrack. We still haven't competed on a 1-mile oval with this race car. We had it a Pikes Peak (last June), but we broke the motor on the first lap. So we are a bit behind. But my guys are up to the challenge."
CASEY MEARS (Galles Racing SportsLine G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "My main focus for the test this week is really to get some good seat time in. I just want to get as many laps in as I can before the first race so I can get a good feel for the car and all that it can do. I have spent the last week with my team getting fitted for my seat, so I have been able to get to know my crew and my engineers Alan Mertens and Jamie Galles. I agree with Al (Unser Jr.), that I just can't wait to get in the car and start running."
AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles Racing Starz Super Pak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am really excited to get back into the car again. I have been snowmobiling all winter so I have had a good offseason, but it was long enough. We have a great package this year, and it feels good to have a full season driving the Indy Racing cars under my belt. The team has made some changes with Didier (Andre) and Casey (Mears) coming on board, and we feel that we are going to be in an even better position to win more races this year. I just can't wait to get on the track and get going again."
STAN WATTLES (#92 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The big goal for me is to get some more seat time. I haven't really been in a car since Indy last year except for a couple days last month in Miami. I would like to spend some time running in traffic during the Test in the West. Hopefully we'll have a pretty good handle on the setup by then." (About how the Test in the West affects preparation for the season): "The Test in the West allows the teams and drivers to view the competition for the first time since last season. We get a bird's-eye view of what to expect at the season opener next month." (Goals for the season): "Obviously I would like to win the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing championship, but the key to doing this will be to finish in the top five consistently and rack up as many points as possible."