1999 MALL.COM 500: PRE-RACE QUOTES FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 12, 1999 - Quotes from selected Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers, team owners and officials about the Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Dallas Morning News ...
1999 MALL.COM 500: PRE-RACE QUOTES
FORT WORTH, Texas, Oct. 12, 1999 - Quotes from selected Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers, team owners and officials about the Mall.com 500 on Oct. 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Dallas Morning News qualifying for the PPG Pole is Oct. 16.
KENNY BRACK (#14 A.J. Foyt Power Team Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, second in Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings): "As always, anything can happen. But we are going to Texas to score another championship. We have already proven ourselves, and we don't feel any extra pressure, whereas Team Menard and Greg Ray still have their stuff to prove. Greg's a great driver, but I am certain there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders. May the best driver win."
BUZZ CALKINS (#12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat G Force/Aurora/Firestone): "We had a good run underway in Texas this June, which was negated by a variety of problems. These have been corrected, and we should run even stronger Sunday. We have really been encouraged by our recent top-five finishes. Things are really looking up for us, and momentum is certainly building. If things go our way, there is no reason why I can't have a podium finish or victory. Our other goal this weekend is to move into the top 10 in the Indy Racing League points."
TYCE CARLSON (#20 Hubbard Photographics-Immke Auto Group Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): "We are pumped about coming back to TMS. At the Vegas race, we were moving through the top five when we cut a tire that put us two laps down. We ran the four fastest laps in the race. It could have been our day without the cut tire. So now we go to Texas, where we were fast last time there. If we can stay out of everyone else's problems, we are going to the podium." (About offseason plans): "We are going to be very busy in the offseason. We have two new 2000 Dallaras that we are expecting delivery on shortly. We have a new shop on the west side of Indianapolis that we are moving into when we return from Texas. We are planing on testing quite a bit. We also have several sponsor appearances, and remember Orlando in only 90 or so days away."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever-Infiniti Dallara/Infiniti/Goodyear, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "Texas is the second most successful venue we go to every season, and it is quickly becoming our most exciting show after Indy. Because of the rich oval-racing history and the Texan drivers and companies that come from here -- Foyt, Rutherford and Pennzoil -- Texans have really embraced our style of racing and our events. I hope we will always do them proud." (About the race): "We had a good race here in June, and we lost an opportunity to win because of electrical problems. Coming off our strong performance in Las Vegas, I believe that we'll have a real last shot at raising our standings in the overall points. We won the first race of the season with an Oldsmobile; it has always been our goal to bring Infiniti its first win. It would be fitting to have the season finale be that one. We'll be very disappointed if we don't reach that goal." (About this season): "We started off the season with a big bang. All our ducks were in a row. We had worked very long over the winter developing the right package for the Oldsmobile engine, and as a result, we won the race at Disney straight out of the box. We made the decision to change to the Infiniti engine with the same intention and have been progressing quickly toward that same goal of winning. I believe we have shown in a limited amount of time, and in the last few races, that the Infiniti engine can be very competitive. We still have issues of reliability that we still need to solve, but we've learned a bunch this year about the engine and what is required to be competitive. I would look for a very showing with the new 3.5-liter program next year." (About next season): "To take advantage of everything we've learned over the past four years of Team Cheever, we'll be making a variety of changes in the next few months to enhance the team and our strategy for 2000. Racing has everything to do with surrounding yourself with the latest technology and the most motivated individuals. That has always been the premise Team Cheever has built its success on."
MARK DISMORE (#28 MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "If the car stays consistent, the MCI WorldCom team has an awesome shot at winning the race. I like the Texas Motor Speedway. I know we have a fast setup and fast car, and I'm looking forward to this weekend. If we could win this race, it would be a great boost heading into the offseason and preparing for next year."
SCOTT GOODYEAR (#4 Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, winner of Longhorn 500 presented by MCI WorldCom in June at Texas Motor Speedway): "We are going to finish the '99 season with a win." (About the track): "After the last test at Texas Motor Speedway, I am really looking forward to getting back there to race. We had a great race car in June, and we've improved it since then." (About the championship chase): "Even though the championship is a longer reach for the Pack, we're not out of contention yet. No one on the Panther Pack team will give up until the checkered flag falls." (About his injury suffered at the Vegas.com 500 last month): "The injury to my leg from the Vegas race will be a non-issue since it was my left leg. We've made some minor provisions in the cockpit to accommodate for the injury."
STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Dick Simon Racing-Mexmil-Tokheim-Viking Air Tools G Force/Aurora/Firestone): "I am very excited about my team's chances in Texas at our second race there this year. This is a very good track for my G Force chassis, and we know that the narrow-track suspension we have been developing on my car this year likes this Texas track. The Indy Racing League championship for this year will be decided at this, the last event, with six different teams with a chance to take the title. This will make the race even more exciting for the fans. (Team owner) Dick (Simon) will use the same suspension settings on my car that he used for our fourth-place finish in June when we roll on the track on Friday. I am very optimistic about our chances. If we don't have any problems during the race, I know we will be fast enough to run at the front of the pack. It would be great to finish with a top-three position to close out our first season for the team."
SCOTT HARRINGTON (#66 The CertainTeed Building Products Special, second in Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year point standings): "We should have won a race by now this season. This is our last shot to win a race in 1999, so we're going to give it our all. I think the CertainTeed team has as good a shot as any team out there to win. The key to winning is to be there at the end and then to have a car that is running well enough to be up to the task." (About goals): "We want to finish; we want to win; and we want to bring home that Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award." (About offseason plans): "We continue to work very closely with CertainTeed, and we're developing a pattern of working within that company and with CertainTeed's customer base so that the end result is an extremely effective motorsports program for our primary sponsor. We represent CertainTeed both on and off the track. I will be doing five appearances in Texas the week leading up to the race for CertainTeed. One is a company picnic at a CertainTeed plant; one is a visit to Cook Children's Medical Center; one is an appearance at a track promotion at Bass Pro Shop, and two are appearances at roofing supply outlets in the area. Last week I did two appearances in Pennsylvania for CertainTeed. This program will continue to go strong in the offseason as well as during the racing season itself." (About June race at Texas): "We were quick in practice at Texas last time, and then we had a problem with a wheel breaking and we hit the wall in Turn 2. We want things to go better this trip!" (About possibly winning Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award): "It would mean a whole lot to win it, both financially and morally. We've had a pretty unlucky season this year, so to manage to win the Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award would be great. You only have one chance to be the Rookie of the Year. You can win multiple championships during your Indy-car career, but you can only be Rookie of the Year once. It's definitely something we'd like to take home both for Harrington Motorsports and for CertainTeed. Basically we just have to finish ahead of Robby (McGehee) to do it." (About Texas Motor Speedway): "Texas Motor Speedway is a great racetrack. It's my favorite of all the mile and a halves. It's smooth and fast, and it's an enjoyable place to run. Texans certainly know how to do things right!"
JOHN HOLLANSWORTH JR. (#42 CompuCom-Lycos-TeamXtreme Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, resident of Dallas): "Finishing races, finishing in the top 10, and winning races all require a team effort with very few, if any, mistakes made on or off track. TeamXtreme has experienced its share of tough luck on the track this year, and we plan to get a jump on the 2000 Indy Racing League season by demonstrating our ability to put in an up-front finish at Texas."
NICLAS JONSSON (#27 Blueprint Racing-Z Max-Firestone G Force/Aurora/Firestone): "I'm really looking forward to this race, because Las Vegas left a good taste in my mouth the first time in a race, I'm ready for Texas. It will also be my first time on a high-speed, banked oval. A lot of people say it's a different (racing) technique, but I'm confident that we will be OK there. I'll work up to speed and take it slow at first." (About the new Z Max engine): "I think the Z Max engine ran well in Vegas, and it should run well in Texas. I think we have to qualify a lot better than we did in Vegas. That and have a good setup on the car, and I think we will do well. I was sure I had a top-five car in Las Vegas, and I think with a little luck we can do that in Texas." (About Indy Racing debut last month at Las Vegas): "I felt pretty good in Las Vegas because the car was just wonderful. I told myself, 'If the car keeps going well, I'll have a pretty good finish.' I think I may have turned a few heads in my first race. I'm very happy with the way things happened. I know we didn't finish, but we did run as high as second and we stayed in the top 10 for most of the race. I think we can do that for Texas."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "The Texas Motor Speedway Mall.com 500 - what a great place to finish the season. With the championship on the line and many points battles within the championship, this is sure to be an intense race. Six teams and drivers have a mathematical possibility to win the 1999 Indy Racing League championship. The Texas race facility is outstanding, both for fans and competitors. The racetrack is wide, fast and high-banked. There is sure to be a lot of wheel-to-wheel, sometimes three- and four-abreast, racing. The Indy Racing League field is often separated by a couple of hundredths of a second. With this level of competition, any one of the starters has a chance to win. In a racing field this closely matched, track position is the critical ingredient for success. The speed and efficiency in a team and driver's pit stops can really help gain track position in the race. The Indy Racing League has created such a parity of competitiveness among its participants that to win or finish in a podium, a driver must and his team cannot make even the smallest of mistakes. I am fortunate to have a great team capable of gaining track position through fast pit stops. The Delta Faucet-Coors Light-#91 Hemelgarn Racing team and driver look forward to racing hard and having a good race at Texas. We've been really competitive all season and could have won some races, but something always happens and takes us out of the running. It's as though we have been cursed. I am looking to end this curse at Texas and bring home a trophy."
ROBBY McGEHEE (#55 Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 1999 Bank One Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year points leader): "We really didn't expect to run for the Rookie of the Year points. But the way the Indy Racing League has worked out and the fact we've been finishing races has made it possible. We were expecting this to be a learning year, getting us ready for next year. Getting Rookie of the Year at Indy was huge for us. Getting Rookie of the Year for the season would be even better." (About difference between F2000 and Indy Racing cars): "Obviously it's a big jump from F2000 to the IRL cars. Something we knew we could do with a few adjustments. It took probably two test days to get used to it. The added horsepower, you don't really feel it because you' re going so fast it all gets translated to downforce. Where you really feel it is powering your way around the corners. But, when you get down to it, a race car is a race car, and it takes skill to get around a racetrack quickly." (About pressure): "I don't think there's any added pressure than the early part of the season. We've got a great relationship with Energizer. It's not only based on our performance on the track, but the business deals we put together as a result of this racing program. Most pressure is coming from myself. While we didn't show well at TMS the last time, we had a good run there, and I'm looking forward to coming back and doing one better. It is a new team, but I ran with (team owner) Dave Conti and Steve Fried as my crew chief in F2000. The only new stuff is all the visibility in the Indy Racing League ... the pit stops, some new things as a driver to experience. Probably the pit stops are what are really new to me. We're getting better at them. Earlier in the season we had some problems. But working with the same guys for the second year in a row has accelerated the learning process." (About June race at TMS): "Last time at TMS, we were there, but we broke a wheel bearing and initially had qualifying problems. We dropped to dead last in the race, but by Lap 50 we were in second place. What a great facility to race at, to be able to go three-wide and feel totally comfortable. Other than Indy, it's my favorite track. I hope the car holds together. We can go back and show what we've got." (About possibly winning Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year Award): "To win Rookie of the year, we've got to be there at the end. Sometimes I think I'm a little too cautious, but we' ve been there at the end, and we'll have to do it again, one more time."
GREG RAY (#2 Glidden-Menards Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, Pep Boys Indy Racing League points leader, resident of Plano, Texas): "The whole season is coming down to the last race. We've had high expectations and goals for the season. We've accomplished a lot of them but not all. We're just going to try and stay focused. There were a lot of opportunities early in the year that we could've earned more points and had the championship wrapped up by now, but we didn't. So now we just have to focus on the situation at hand." (About six drivers eligible for the championship): "At the end of the day, think about how many little boys and girls or adults dream about being the batter in the batter's box that has to hit a grand slam to win. Or there's 15 seconds left on the shot clock, and they have to go down and shoot a three (point shot) and make it to win. Think about how many kids or adults that fantasize about being the go-to guy. We've got a 13-point lead, but mathematically there are six drivers that can win the championship. It's a situation everyone dreams of being in and winning. That's a pretty exciting thing for the drivers and definitely for the fans. I think that's why we're all involved in sports, because of this type of excitement." (About preparing for season finale): "We've worked very hard as a team on race and qualifying setup, and I've been working very hard to prepare myself physically. Our team has a very good chemistry. There isn't really anyone who is looking over someone else's shoulder. We all have our responsibilities, and we take care of those responsibilities. The team is about a lot of professionals who all come together on race day to win. It's a lot of trust." (About racing in front of a hometown crowd): "This is the 'suck it up and make it happen' weekend. You've got to make it happen at all cost. Whatever it takes, you've got to show up and deliver that or more. The team that does that is going to win the championship. You can't worry about what the other guys are doing because ultimately you'll be your own worst enemy."
SAM SCHMIDT (#99 Sprint PCS G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, third in Pep Boys Indy Racing League point standings): "The way we look at it is we've got nothing to lose. We're going into Texas with the same attitude that we did for Vegas. We need to get the pole and win the race. We don't really have control over what happens to Greg (Ray) or Kenny (Brack). The Treadway Racing motto this week is, 'Nothing to lose.' It's kind of Greg's championship to lose. He knows where he has to finish and what he has to do. And if he doesn't, that will provide Kenny and us the opportunity to win the championship. In the big picture, it doesn't really matter if we finish second or fifth in the championship, because no one will remember that next year anyway. We just want to win."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "I'm really pumped up about this race. The Delphi car was extremely fast in testing, and we still have an outside shot at the championship. We'd need a lot of luck to win the championship, but our focus is just to win the race and let the luck come to us."