FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, Sept. 27, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers about the Chevy 500 on Oct. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order): BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, Sept. 27, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers about the Chevy 500 on Oct. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order):
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, won in June 1998 at Texas Motor Speedway): "The Texas event is certainly going to be exciting for the CURB Records/Beck Motorsports team from two standpoints - both on track and off track. Texas Motor Speedway is a place I've always run well at, including my win and pole there in 1998, and we ran well there last June - starting 10th and finishing fifth. So we're really looking forward to going back and having another good run. I expect a typical Texas race with close competition, a lot of tight racing, lots of drafting and having a tough time finding much open racing room. As far as off track, this last race of the season will quite possibly play a key factor in where we end up in the championship. We're in fourth place now, but only 20 behind third place and only 19 ahead of fifth. If anybody has a big stumble, it should really benefit the others, so everything is going to be critical - especially preparation. That's been the main key to our success this season, and the crew has done a phenomenal job under some difficult circumstances. We've felt all along that we have what it takes to win one of these races, and we feel just as strongly about that going in to Texas. Achieving that goal in the last race would be the perfect end to the season, especially with how it would boost us in the points and position us going into next year."
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion): "This has always been a good track for Bradley Motorsports, so we hope that we can end the year on a good note and end up solidly in the top 10 in points." (About why Texas Motor Speedway is so conducive to wheel-to-wheel competition): "The extra banking holds the car better, allowing for it to go through the corners more comfortably at higher speeds. Also, the extra downforce that is required at the mile-and-a-half tracks makes the cars more comfortable and gives us the ability to run multiple lines." (About the momentum generated from the Delphi Indy 300): "I think we figured out some handling issues with the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara at Chicago. These changes should carry over to Texas and hopefully allow us to be very competitive for the season closer." (About team's changes before this season and how they have worked in 2001): "It is kind of frustrating because we made a lot of positive changes during the offseason that have allowed us to finish more races this year because of better reliability. However, we haven't been as competitive as we were last year due to handling issues. If we can get both of these things working at the same time, we should be in good shape." (About changes for this offseason): "The key for us to be more competitive next year is to get the handling of the car better and more consistent. We have made headway over the last couple races, so hopefully we can continue this through the offseason."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "Since Texas is the last race of the year, and the championship is over, I think a lot of teams now are just trying to get the most that they can out of the season. Obviously, we want to finish the year with a win. Texas has historically been one of the most aggressive races when it comes to drafting, and we are becoming very efficient at it. The race in Chicago was incredibly fun to drive, and everyone is playing by the correct rules of conduct." (About Greg Ray joining A.J. Foyt Racing at this event): "It's great to see Greg back in a car. The topic of the week is obviously Greg running for Foyt with an Infiniti engine. It says a lot for our program and all the hard work we have done. I remember how A.J. was mocking me when we switched to Infiniti engines three years ago, so I'm particularly happy to welcome him to the Infiniti bunch. The 35A has proved to be the dominant engine at all the large tracks - Indy and the 1.5-mile ovals - that we've raced on this year. The requests for the Infiniti engine in the last two months have been overwhelming."
AIRTON DARE (No. 88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year, drives for TeamXtreme, based in Rockwall, Texas): "I am happy to get back in the seat, especially at one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. I always like running at TMS, and now they have repaved the surface. I know the competition will still be as tough as ever so we have to really give it our all. The track temperatures may be at their lowest since Phoenix. That will change a lot of variables on the setup. It will be a new challenge for the team. But I know we can step up and make a good showing to end the season on. We have made some big steps forward this season and look forward to ending it on a good note."
MARK DISMORE (No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, won this event in 1999): "We're going to give it all we have in Texas. We always do, but this season has been so frustrating that I'd love to finish it on a high note. We've earned two poles at this track, and my only IRL win came in Texas back in '99. The Delphi/Bryant team has worked so hard this season and given me some great race cars. I just wish we had more to show for it. I'd love to win this race for them this weekend and show everybody, and myself, that this old man still has what it takes to race Indy cars."
SARAH FISHER (No. 15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "After the catastrophe in New York, I was glad to have our race postponed. It would have been extremely hard to get into the mode to win races at the time. I knew a few people in New York, and they are all OK. However, the families of many are in pain from the loss of loved ones. My sympathies go out to those who have been hurt by this tragedy. For the love of my country, I hope to bring the Texas race home as my first victory. It's a return to the first track I ever ran on and hopefully the first I'll ever win."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year): "I'm really looking forward to Texas. We finished second there in June and had our best finish. We have been really good the past two races but haven't been able to finish the race. It's too bad because the car has been really good, and the team has been doing a great job for me in the pits. I think twice last race we went to the lead in the pits. Texas will be some exciting racing for everybody. We can go two-wide around the whole track. You're wide open the whole way. I think the fans are going to see a great race."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 55 EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Texas is where I began my Indy Racing career, so returning to TMS is something I always look forward to with anticipation. The 1.5-mile oval at Texas is like no other and clearly one of the best, if not the best track, the Northern Light Series races at. In June, we had a great race car that was fast and worked extremely well in traffic. And I'm certain that for the Chevy 500 we'll bring a competitive edge to the field. The EPSON engineers have been working diligently to make sure that we have another great car at Texas next week that grips well on all turns and has good balance front to back."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2001 Northern Light Cup champion): (About clinching Northern Light Cup in first season with Panther Racing): "I sure wouldn't have thought it would be this way this season. I figured it would take a little more time to mesh with the team to get the results we have. Panther Racing, they give me absolutely the most reliable cars out there. At times when we didn't have the best car out there, we worked together as a team. They did an awesome job as far as pit stops and car preparation, and we went out there and finished toward the top, anyhow." (About desire to finish season with victory, as Hornish is winless since second race of season): "I'm pretty disappointed about it (not winning). We've done everything that we could do, and there are days when you're meant to win, and days when you aren't. I'd like to be back in victory circle. I know the guys on the team are capable of putting me in good cars. It's a tough series out there, very competitive, and it really shows. Last year the guy who won two races (Buddy Lazier) won the championship. This year, he won four races, and I won two. It was a more consistent year, and that's what it's going to take in upcoming years."
ANTHONY LAZZARO (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (About returning to Schmidt team after a one-race hiatus): "Richie did a great job in Chicago, and I believe the team is back in the momentum-building process that they had earlier this season. I am really looking forward to Texas. I am comfortable on ovals through my experience in Formula 2000, Atlantics and NASCAR's Busch cars ... although this will be my first outing in a Dallara and the first outing with the speedway trim. And on a personal note, it will be my first time going over the 200-mph mark. Finally! I know I will have a terrific powerplant in Comptech, and if my learning curve continues from St. Louis, I believe I'll reach a comfort level that will allow us to be competitive this weekend. Our thoughts will certainly be with Davey (Hamilton) as we return to Texas ... and I just want to do a good job for Sam and the team." (About American tragedy): "I was happy at the decision to postpone the event. It was not the time to focus on racing, but now things are better. You don't ever get over what's happened, but the time will help the healing process, and I am now looking forward to getting back to racing." (About rumors of racing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next year): "I haven't signed anything. Obviously, I am talking to Sam about the IRL, and I have had discussions with regards to Winston Cup, as well as American LeMans. Out of all the series that I have done this year (NASCAR Winston Cup, SCCA Trans Am, IRL), what I want is to be in a series full time, with a properly focused deal that is in pursuit of winning races and championships. The deal in Winston Cup will not happen unless it has proper sponsorship, so I am still not counting out anything. I would be happy to be in the IRL or Winston Cup."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Obviously, this place has been pretty wild for me. I have had my best race, where I finished second to Scott Sharp in 2000, and my worst race, where I broke my leg. Regardless, I am still very excited to come back to one of our strongest markets. I think the Cahill race team has really come together, and we have run very well on the last several 1.5-mile tracks until we have had mechanical problems. Because we are obviously not in the points race, we would like to just get a good finish, since we will have a long time to think about it in the offseason."
CHRIS MENNINGA (#92 Hemelgarn/Metro Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The tragic terror attacks have been devastating to the country and the world, but in this time of need everyone across the country has come together and is showing great amounts of patriotism. While our thoughts are with those involved in the tragedy, we also must remember those who are going to be preserving our freedom. We will proceed with our jobs and put on a great race for all of those in Texas and in the U.S., but everyone will be thinking about and hoping for the same thing, an end to terrorism with peace prevailing."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion, winner of spring races in 1999 and 2000 at Texas ): "Without a doubt, Texas has been very good to the Delphi team. The track provides for exciting racing from start to finish with all of the side-by-side racing. No one thought that we could top last year's race in June, but we came back this summer with even more excitement, and I'm sure this race will be no exception. Especially with the repaving they just completed, the track will probably be so smooth that the speeds are going to be even faster than before. The Delphi team is hoping to do the Texas two-step by winning both races this season."
RICK TREADWAY (No. 5 Treadway-Hubbard Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm really excited about my third IRL race. We weren't planning on running this race, but we were able to put it together. I did my rookie test at Texas, and I really like the track. It's a flat-out track. I've got a bunch of laps there, so hopefully that will pay off for the race. Our goal was to just finish the first two races, and we were running a more conservative setup than my teammate, Felipe (Giaffone). I still need more race seat time to get the hang of the restarts and pit stops and things like that, so I'm really happy to get the chance to run Texas. I have to thank the entire Treadway-Hubbard team for their support and for working so hard to give me a great car. Hopefully, we'll have another good car in Texas. I really can't wait."
AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am really looking forward to getting to Texas and racing again. We had a tough race there back in June, so I am eager to go back and do well. I am also very excited to test out the new track surface and see how it is. As for not racing for the past month, my team is always ready to go racing. I just can't wait to race next weekend."