IRL: Texas II: Saturday notebook

Chevy 500 Day 2 Notebook Hornish leads final Chevy 500 practice FORT WORTH, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 -- Sam Hornish Jr. led the final IndyCar Series practice session with a lap of 23.3563 seconds, 224.265 mph in the No. 4 Pennzoil...

Chevy 500 Day 2 Notebook

Hornish leads final Chevy 500 practice

FORT WORTH, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2003 -- Sam Hornish Jr. led the final IndyCar Series practice session with a lap of 23.3563 seconds, 224.265 mph in the No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, was second fastest at 23.5170, 222.732. Tomas Scheckter was third fastest in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone at 23.5675, 222.255 mph.

During the practice session, Alex Barron and Robbie Buhl made slight contact. Neither car was damaged.

FINAL PRACTICE QUOTES:

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"Everything was good. The car is handling well, both by myself and in traffic, with a reasonable amount of speed. We are looking good here for the race. I think we have as good a chance as anybody."

GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"The track feels good. It's going to be a very competitive race, there's no question about that. We feel like we have a good car. We kind of got hung up in traffic and kind of caught the back of the draft, but we have a good handling car, and it's time to go race."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"I think we have a pretty good race car, and it showed in the second session. We can run pretty much wherever we want to on the track, and the car is pretty fast."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It's been a good day for us. We tried a lot of different shock and spring combinations and setup changes to see how the car would react. I think that we've got a pretty good car for the race tomorrow, and that's about all you can hope for at this stage. Team Target has been doing an awesome job of preparing the car for me, and we'll just go out there tomorrow and get after it. We have to run our own race and plan on winning it. There are four other guys out there who we're competing with for the championship, and it's going to be a great battle."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I feel good for tomorrow. I'm confident. We just need to have clean pit stops and see what is going to happen. You can't predict it. This championship is going to be decided on the last lap, so we'll see what is going to happen. I'm glad the race is the only thing left in front of us. There are a lot of distractions and other things we have to deal with, and that is part of what we do, but I'm glad that we only have the race to think about now."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"I'm very happy with today's practice sessions, and I think we've got a good race setup. The Marlboro Team Penske car is consistent and works well in traffic. We are approaching tomorrow like we would any other race. We need to stay focused and execute. There are a lot of other competitors trying to win this race, whether or not they are in the Championship chase, so it is going to be a real chess match and a very exciting season finale."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"We stopped a bit early in the final practice today because we didn't want to mileage out the engine. We wanted to leave a nice cushion of extra miles for tomorrow's race. I don't think the Corteco car is perfect right now, but it is the best it's going to get for the race. There's not anything else we can do to make it better, so we're going to roll the dice and hope we have a good race car on Sunday."

ALEX BARRON (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"I was overtaking (Robbie) Buhl on the high side going into Turn 3 when he moved up and made contact with me. It's really frustrating. I came back into the pits, and we decided not to finish out the final practice. I guess we're as ready as we can be for the race tomorrow, considering not being able to finish out the practice session."

QUOTES FROM TODAY'S ROOKIE PRESS CONFERENCE:

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"Obviously, I have to compete with (Dan Wheldon), and he's a good driver. The starting grid I don't think really matters in this series. You certainly have to work for it during the race. I'm really confident with my car. We were quick this morning, and we were not too bad this afternoon as well, so going into the race, I think we have everything in shape. It's just a matter of how it goes tomorrow. Coming into this season, Rookie of the Year was my main goal to win, and I've been leading it throughout the season, so I'm hoping to hold that. On top of that, I'm only 10 points behind Tora (Takagi) to be in the top 10, so that's my second goal for the last race. It will probably be difficult, but I'll try my best for that, as well."

DAN WHELDON (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I think what will be, will be. I think I've been given very strong cars. I hope that carries on. We had a disappointing qualifying performance. We've definitely stepped up the game the last few races, and we were expecting to contend for the pole on this one, but that didn't pan out. I think we're going to have a good race. It's going to be a tough race. If it's anything like the warm up, it's going to be exciting. If it's meant to be, it's going to happen."

QUOTES FROM TODAY'S PANTHER RACING ANNOUNCEMENT:

TOMAS SCHECKTER:

"I can't wait. The Pennzoil No. 4 car is always out front. They have a great structure and know how to win races. Hopefully, I can do that with them, as well. I did have the option to negotiate for next year with Chip (Gansssi). But John (Barnes) came along and I really looked into it hard. Me and my manager, we thought the best decision for my career was to be in the No. 4 car next year. We sat down and looked at the whole situation. We looked at what John was offering us, and I think the best thing for my career, and I want to win in my career, is to be here next year."

JOHN BARNES:

"I knew as soon as we heard Sam's (Hornish) decision. We were in our office, and Sam came in and told what he was going to do, and I knew right then who I wanted to hire. A lot has been said about us not winning at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway, and I think the guy who can do that is sitting right here. I think you'll definitely see a two-car team with Panther next year."

Chevrolet has extended both its status as the Official Vehicle of Texas ChevroletMotor Speedway and its sponsorship of two autumn events at ChevroletTMS: the Silverado 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and Chevroletthe Chevy 500 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season finale. ChevroletChevrolet and Texas Motor Speedway officials announced the Chevroletmulti-year agreement today in a press conference at the Texas Chevrolettrack. 's roots run deep in Texas. The GM Assembly Plant in ChevroletArlington, which builds pickups and SUVs, will celebrate its Chevrolet50th anniversary in January 2004. GM employs more than 5,500 ChevroletTexas residents, representing a payroll of more than $500 Chevroletmillion. GM's 480 Texas dealers also employ approximately Chevrolet25,000 people, with an aggregate payroll of $1.1 billion. GM Chevroletannually purchases $2.4 billion in goods and services from 582 Chevroletsuppliers in Texas.

JIM CAMPBELL (Chevrolet Racing Marketing Director):

"Chevrolet is proud to continue as title sponsor for these exciting events at Texas Motor Speedway. Texas is a key market for Chevy, and we have a strong partnership with this great facility that every race fan can appreciate. Texas Motor Speedway consistently produces some of the most competitive wheel-to-wheel racing in motorsports. Continuing Chevrolet's support for the Silverado 350 and the Chevy 500 further solidifies our relationship with fans, the track and the NASCAR and IRL organizations. Chevrolet's involvement in these events goes far beyond putting the Chevy Bowtie on the marquee. Chevrolet vehicles and engines compete on the track, the GM Racing engineering staff works hard to put Chevy products in the winner's circle, and the South Central Region does an outstanding job of involving Chevy dealers and customers in the excitement of a big event."

EDDIE GOSSAGE (Texas Motor Speedway general manager):

"I said in 2001 that Chevrolet's return to the IRL was the biggest step in ensuring the growth of the series, and I stand by that today. The truth is, their participation is vital to both the IRL and NASCAR. The proof is evident by Chevy continuing to sponsor the both the IRL IndyCar Series Chevy 500 and the Silverado 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races here at Texas Motor Speedway. We are proud of our association with Chevrolet and hope that it will continue for many, many years to come."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robbie Buhl , Helio Castroneves , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing