MENARDS INFINITI PRO SERIES PRE-RACE QUOTES
California 100, Sept. 20, California Speedway
FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2003 -- Quotes from selected Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the California 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series event Saturday, Sept. 20 at California Speedway:
ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): (At Chicagoland, you finished second in the closest finish in Pro Series history. Do you expect the same close racing at California?):
"I think we have a chance of breaking that record again. Hopefully, I'll just come out on the other end of it. It's going to be the same type of racing that we had at Chicago. There's going to be a lot of side-by-side racing and battling for the lead the whole time. Hopefully, I can put myself in position to come across the checkers first this time."
About challenges of racing in both the IndyCar Series and the Infiniti Pro Series on the same weekend:
"The hardest part is having to split your time between two teams and make both teams feel like they are getting all your attention. Obviously, when you're in and out of cars, especially during the practice sessions, I don't really have as much time to debrief. You have to really schedule out the time and figure out when we're going to talk about what car. You kind of have to flip a switch in your brain. You just have to realize where you're at and what you're doing."
PAUL DANA (No. 33 Ethanol Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"It should be fun to go back to a superspeedway. The Michigan race was wild, and I'm sure Fontana will be the same. We're making progress as a team at Brian Stewart Racing. We showed competitive pace at Chicago, which was nice because it had been a while since we've run at the front. We didn't get a result, but at least we're moving in a positive direction. With just two races left in the championship, there's not much we can do about the points situation. We'll just try to bring home some strong results to build momentum into off season testing and next year."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"I think we should have a good race at Fontana. We finally figured out how to really free the car up for Chicago, and I think we'll be able to do the same in California. This season has been a lot tougher to run up front than last year, but I'm having a lot more fun running the series. My goal for the last two races is to run up front, try to win and finish decent in the point standings."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"I'm excited going into California after such a positive weekend in Chicago. My new team members did a great job, and I am feeling really good about how my car is going to perform in California. I have never driven at California Speedway, but I will use my Michigan (International Speedway) experience because the two tracks are very similar. With three top-five finishes in a row, we have some momentum going into the last couple of races."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"I was at (California Speedway) at the Test in the West but did not test. At that time, I signed with Genoa Racing. I'm anxious for this race. It's very similar to Michigan. I had a good race at Michigan, finishing third. I had a good chance to win that race. I was close but didn't have enough. At California, everyone will be close together, and the draft will make a lot of difference. I just want to be in a good spot for the last lap."
GARY PETERSON (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"Everyone at AFS Racing is very excited for this weekend's race at California Speedway. The event provides us the best opportunity to entertain the employees and clients of our primary sponsor, Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. Because this is a high-profile race for us, the crew has been working flat out. We are hoping that the hard work and long hours put in will allow the No. 25 and No. 27 car the chance to score top results. It has been a long season for AFS Racing. Recently, we made some changes with the team. We brought on Mark Weida as our team engineer. Mark has many years of experience with the IRL, most recently working this year with Sarah Fisher."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone):
"Chicago was a little disappointing, even though we finished third after starting second-to- last. Depending on how many cars are at California and Texas, the points championship may be over. Even when Mark (Taylor) didn't start at Kentucky, he still got 17 points, so it may be impossible to catch him. The Western Union Speed Team needs to secure second place in the championship, though. Ed (Carpenter) made up a few points on us at Chicago, and his car has been especially fast on the big tracks. There are several guys trying to catch us in the standings, so we aren't going to have many friends on the track in California. We need to qualify well so I can get in a position where I can control the race somewhat."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"We tested at California in the Test in the West at the beginning of the year. The Fulmar Panther car felt great, and although the conditions will be different, we have improved the car even more through the year. As always, I know Woody (Brent Harvey), my engineer, will give me a great car, so we will be looking to secure the championship this weekend. It will be another tight race, coming down to positioning yourself on the last lap, and hopefully, we will be able to come through with the win again."