FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, May 30, 2002 -- Quotes from selected drivers about the Boomtown 500 on Saturday, June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place June 6, with practice continuing June 7 (quotes listed in ...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Thursday, May 30, 2002 -- Quotes from selected drivers about the Boomtown 500 on Saturday, June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place June 6, with practice continuing June 7 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): "After what we did last couple races, we are going to try to win the race. The team has continued building the momentum from Nazareth and now at Indianapolis. Things are really clicking with the team. This will be my first time on the track at Texas. I haven't tested or raced there before, but I'm looking forward to it." (About racing at night): "I raced under the lights before (in U.S. F2000 in 1996 at Indianapolis Raceway Park). IRL racing under the lights at Texas displays a tremendous amount of excitement for drivers and also for the fans watching. It doesn't change the way we drive, but we will practice at night, adjusting to depth and speeds, which will seem different." (About close finishes at Texas Motor Speedway): "Texas seems to always have an exciting finish with two or three cars coming at the line side by side. We would like to be one of those cars and be in the excitement." (About crucial summer stretch of races starting at Texas): "I think we will approach just like all of the others. Stay focused and race."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We're anxious to return to Texas not only because we've run well there, but also to try and improve upon our finish from last October. I figure it's our turn to be on the front end of a tight 1-2-3 finish. We know it's going to be very competitive, and as a driver, I really enjoy the feel and the challenges of the track. We've got a great group of supporters in Texas, and I look forward to again being a part of some of the fiercest racing in the IRL. Although we're back to a one-car team at Texas, we're still pushing to find support to get Sarah (Fisher) back in our second car. She's been a great fit with our team, and we'd very much like to make her a permanent part of Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. It's a little frustrating that we're not there quite yet since she's got such a strong fan base and is such a genuinely great person. But the reality of this sport requires financial backing, so we'll keep knocking on doors until we find enough of what we're looking for."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We are very disappointed with our results at the Indy 500. The Nissan Infiniti engines and the Red Bull cars were very strong at Indy. We had a package worthy of winning the race, and all we have to show for it is a fifth-place finish. We have a point to prove in Texas."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The upcoming Boomtown 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be yet another type of race for us with a whole new set of challenges. The event will be similar to the race at California Speedway, in that it will be a flat-out, slipstream, horsepower race. We tested there early in the season, so we were able to collect some initial data. We'll just have to see how Marlboro Team Penske measures up when we get there."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "I think Texas is always going to be an exciting place to race. It's wide-open, close racing from beginning to end. That makes it really interesting for the drivers, but especially it is great for the fans. You really have to stay on your toes, and you have to have a lot of respect for each other out there. I think we had a really good car out there for the June race. I finished second in the June race, which was my best finish at the point in my IRL career. We had some good pit stops at the end, and we had the car dialed in to where I was able to run flat out to the finish. Right now, I'm really happy with my new team and all of the guys. I woke up the first two mornings after Indy thinking that I should have won the race, so I was still a little disappointed. Mainly, because I know I had such a good car for the '500,' and when you have a car that's that good, you feel like it's going to be hard to have another car like that again in that big of a race. But in the big picture of things, the good thing is that we were able to have maybe the best car on the racetrack, and we had a really good car at Nazareth the race before that, and we could have won that race, too. So I'm having the best momentum that I've had in my IRL career so far, and the team is definitely getting stronger and stronger every race. Even though we haven't won a race, yet, if we keep doing the job, it's going to come. Overall, we're looking good in the championship, and if we keep finishing well and avoid the big mistakes, we're confident in our car and each other, and we know our time is going to come."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I enjoy the Texas track very much. I made my first IRL race there two years ago and have always run well there. The power of the Infiniti engine will be a big help there. So, I'm really looking forward to next weekend."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing League champion): "It has been difficult season so far, but I am looking to turn our season around, and I can't think of any better place than Texas. The track is very special to me since we capped off our 2000 season with a championship. With two-thirds of the season remaining, Texas is a great venue to start a mid-summer charge to get back into points standings contention. As a driver, I am looking forward to a fun and successful race with fast, wheel-to-wheel competition."
GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The 310 Racing team is coming to Texas with a lot of momentum. We successfully completed our first Indianapolis 500 and that gives us great confidence leading into the Boomtown 500. It will be interesting at Texas Motor Speedway, for while my crew is very familiar with this track, I have neither tested nor raced at TMS. We will be focusing on two major objectives. We want to have our strongest car yet this year while at TMS and bring home the No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone with a solid finish -- better yet, a win. I know we can win, and I've heard through many grapevines that Texas is a great place to visit Victory Lane. We're also focusing hard on the Rookie of the Year award. We've got only one rookie ahead of us, and if the 310 crew can continue to give me strong cars that allow me to hunt down strong finishes, I believe we'll capture the award come September."
GREG RAY (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1999 Indy Racing League champion, resident of Plano, Texas): "Indy was very disappointing. I'm very happy to be running with A.J. Foyt. I would say my motivation is in overdrive at the moment. We struggled the whole month of May."(About successful career record at Texas): "Since 1997, I've been one of the top two or three cars at every single race, in the advent that something mechanical or accidents haven't happened. We really should have won the (June) race there last year. There's no doubt I have a high comfort zone at that racetrack. It promotes high-speed, aggressive racing, and that's right up my alley." (About redemption at Texas after last-place finish at Indy): "I think if we're able to have a good run at Texas that will be great for the team and our corporate partners and maybe a little boost for myself. It hurts not to be fast all month long. It hurts to be the first car out. Having a good run at Texas wouldn't make the sting go away, but it would help you forget about it easier. I know as a race car driver and as a businessman, things at the front are competitive and tough. I'm a fighter. I'm prepared to make sacrifices to be a team player. The true test of champions and winners and humans that have tenacity are how to deal with adversity and overcome the things that haven't gone right for you." (About driving full time for A.J. Foyt Racing): "He definitely does run his team differently than other teams. I really haven't had any conflict whatsoever. A.J. is going to do things his way, and he has a lot of experience on and off the track. While our outwardly personas may be different, how we talk about the race car and our approach to racing is very similar. For me, he's a joy to work with. I have a lot of respect for him. The team, I enjoy being around these guys. They're very enthusiastic. They have a great work ethic. They don't take the accolades or the criticism personal. They just keep on working. They're just a real joy to be around. It's a lot of fun."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): "I am excited to get to Texas. I haven't driven there yet, but the team told me that it is a lot more banked and a lot tighter. I think it will be a massive race because there are a lot of good drivers out there. The fans in Texas will see a lot of good racing. (Team owner-driver) Eddie (Cheever Jr.) had an unbelievable race there last year. I have all the tapes from last season that I am studying. I plan on being around for the last 20 laps and leading the last lap. I am tired of running up front and then not being around at the end."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 co-Indy Racing League champion, two-time defending champion of this event): "I love racing in Texas, and obviously it's been very good to the Delphi team. Winning this race for two years in a row was definitely a thrill for the whole team. There's always some great side-by-side racing that's not only exciting for the fans to see but is pretty exciting and competitive for the drivers, as well. There's such a high level of intensity throughout the entire race with all of the side-by-side racing and everyone jockeying for position. Just when you think the race couldn't get any better, the IRL goes back and has one better than before."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1992, 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner): "I really enjoy racing at Texas. There's a lot of fast, side-by-side racing every time we go there, and it's just a lot of fun. This is my first season with Kelley Racing, and right before Indy, they hired a new engineer for me, Mike Colliver. Mike and I, and the whole Corteco/Bryant team, have really jelled over the past few weeks. Unfortunately we didn't have the finish at Indy that we had hoped for, but I definitely think we're in position to win our first race together very soon."