FORT WORTH, Texas, Monday, June 4, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Casino Magic 500 on June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order): ...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Monday, June 4, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Casino Magic 500 on June 9 at Texas Motor Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order):
DIDIER ANDRE (No. 32 Galles Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am very excited to race at Texas Motor Speedway. It is a new track for me to drive at. However, the Atlanta track that we raced at in April is very similar to Texas, and so I think I will be able to get a feel for the track very quickly."
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, won this event in 1998): "I think it's going to be good to get back on the regular schedule because Indianapolis can be a long month sometimes. Coming to Texas is going to be good. I've run well in the past on this mile-and-a-half, so we're excited to be coming off of a good month of May and rolling into the rest of the year with this event. During May, your whole focus is just on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - you're really not looking past that one race. Starting with Texas, we're really looking at the nine races left in the season and looking at the big picture, which is the Indy Racing League championship. We still have a good shot at a top finish in the points, so we're going to be focused on durability and preparation to ensure that we have consistent finishes. Texas Motor Speedway is a track that's always going to provide great side-by-side racing. I'm excited to come in to this race with the CURB Records/Beck Motorsports team because our car preparation has been great. We haven't had any mechanical failures to speak of, Speedway Engines has done a great job with our engines, and I've had enough miles around TMS that we should be able to be quick right off the trailer and seriously contend for the win."
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We have consistently run well in Texas and feel that it is one of the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat team's strongest tracks. I think we have figured out things through testing and the races down there that may give us a little advantage." (About refocusing on the Northern Light Series following the Indianapolis 500): "Fortunately or unfortunately, the Indy 500 is done, and we need to focus on the championship. We are going to focus on one race at a time, starting with Texas, and try to do the best we can possibly do and see where Bradley Motorsports ends up." (About his top-five position in standings): "We are in a good position in the points battle. It is not only important for us to finish races here on out but also to improve our finishing positions and hopefully get a win or two in, as well. If we can do this, we should be right in the hunt for the championship at the end of the season." (About race strategy): "I think we have figured out a good strategy for the mile-and-a-half tracks that may be unique to our team. If we can stick to that strategy, we should have another good race at Texas."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Racing Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We had good speed at Atlanta in April, which is a similar circuit to Texas. We had a horrific month of May - everything that could go wrong, did go wrong - so we need to pick up the pieces and continue from where we left off in Atlanta. We did well at Texas last year. We lost second place in the Indy Racing championship and the lead in the race with about two laps to go in the season finale, so we'll try to pick up from there. Our learning curve with the new Infiniti 35A is very steep, but at Indy Robbie Buhl had a car that was actually running down the Ilmor engines. Hopefully by the time we get to Pikes Peak, we will have had some finishes. We are very disappointed that we have only had one finish out of four races. We have to work on that."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm really looking forward to the next few races. We had a tough month of May but a pretty good finish in the race. I know I have a really good race car, but we have to work on our qualifying a little more. Texas should be another really good race. I haven't been there. But I understand it is just like Atlanta, and I think we could have finished in the top three in Atlanta. With the high-banked track at Texas, we can race two-wide, which makes it really exciting for the fans. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble because we all saw what happened in Atlanta, and I was inches away from being in that crash."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I seem to have a streak of DNF's lately that we need to turn around. If we'd finish, we would finish well. Miami, we were running seventh and eighth. Atlanta, well we got caught up in the mayhem. At Indy, we were the only IRL car on the lead lap with 18 to go, and the engine gave way. So we are looking forward to turning things around in Texas. I know that our box scores don't reflect the ability of this team, and I think we have demonstrated our ability to be competitive. Texas is always a fun place to race, and I'm looking forward to being in the mix of the side-by-side racing to come."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion): "With the schedule becoming more intense, it is important to remain focused. However, I feel quite confident in my crew and their ability to give me great race setups. We're counting on solid performances to help carry our momentum toward another championship. It will be critical especially with all the new venues added to this season." (About returning to Texas): "It was amazing how tight the field was last June, and I am looking forward to more wheel-to-wheel racing. When the drivers are racing in a pack, it leaves absolutely no room for even the slight error."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, runner-up last year at this event in the closest finish in Indy Racing League history): "I am very excited to be returning here after my big showdown last year with Scott Sharp. I have always felt strong at Texas and am certainly comfortable running wheel to wheel with some of the other IRL drivers. When Cahill Racing puts the car under me, we should be strong contenders. Our series is so competitive that we will have to be lucky, as well. Texas Motor Speedway is one of my favorite places to go; it is a first-class operation."
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, drives for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, based in Houston): "Texas is one of my favorite tracks because I always enjoy the 1.5-mile ovals. I especially enjoy night racing, so I will have the best of both in Texas. I am looking forward to having Donnie Beechler as my teammate in Texas. Last year he proved to be a very strong competitor, and I think he will be an asset to our team. Texas is the beginning of a crucial stretch of races for us, four races in five weekends. This is where the teams will be tested because of the demands of the schedule."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner): "I am really looking forward to racing at Texas Motor Speedway. It is a very smooth track to run on, and I think that it will be a great race. Once again, we are running on a track where close racing is the standard. I think the fans are going to see a great show, and it is always a pleasure to race at any of Bruton Smith's first-class facilities. The Indy Racing Northern Light Series has always put on a good show in Texas, and I have no doubt that this week will be any different."
JEFF WARD (No. 35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The team's major focus is on the championship, and we're in a great position to go for it. Things are beginning to even out after those first two races. The other goal is to get our first win. I think we have a great shot in Dallas. This team knows how to put fast cars together, and after Indy, we're ready to get back on the track to show people what we can do." (About racing on consecutive weekends): "The team really feels the strain having to get two cars ready by Dallas. We need two different setups, because Texas and Colorado are so different. At this point in the season, it's really important to stay out of trouble on the track, because there's so little time between races to fix major problems. As a driver, I look forward to the quick turnaround. It's difficult to adjust to the car when you're out of the car for a month. Sometimes, it takes a day and a half to get back in tune with the car. Right now, I feel like I just climbed out of the car from Indy, so I'll be right up to speed in Dallas and Colorado." (About working with rock legends Aerosmith at Indianapolis): "The whole team was excited meeting and working with the band. I attended a charity event with them after Indy, which went really well. The band hosted an auction and sold my suit and helmet. My driving suit went for $6,000, but (lead singer) Steven Tyler kept outbidding everyone for it. I think he worked out a deal with the second-highest bidder. I really like the guys, and I'm looking forward to working with them in the future."