IPS: Indianapolis: Top two qualifiers press conference

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, pole): About confidence heading into Freedom 100: "Yeah, obviously we were very quick in the Open Test, as well. We've been working hard ever since I joined Brian Stewart Racing. Now we're...

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, pole):

About confidence heading into Freedom 100:

"Yeah, obviously we were very quick in the Open Test, as well. We've been working hard ever since I joined Brian Stewart Racing. Now we're really working together and kind of peaking toward as good as we can get, and everything went well today for us. We were quick in both practices, and we were confident going into qualifying. The other teams seem to be able to pull out a little something extra every time we went to qualify so we weren't 100 percent sure, but today we had enough."

About the competition:

"When it comes to qualifying, our biggest threat is the Sam Schmidt team. They've had every pole on ovals all last year and then a few races into '04. Historically they have very fast cars, and we've been working very hard to try to catch them in qualifying, and now we've finally done that. It's a great achievement for the team more so than me because qualifying is often about the limitation of the car and setup."

What does Indianapolis mean to you compared to American-born drivers:

"I think that it's an advantage for me. I don't think we carry much emotion into here. Obviously, it is the biggest race of the year, with the biggest purse, therefore the most important race. It's not the Indy 500, though. It's the Freedom 100, and it's certainly important for the entire year, but I don't think the race carries the stigma that the Indy 500 does. I think that will be better for us in the race and allow us to think clearer. It won't be messing us up, and maybe for the American drivers it will."

About hitting the rev limiter:

"This year they've taken a lot of the soft limiter away. so it goes from revving to the limiter quite easily, so you just have to gear accordingly. You have to watch the wind shifts and pick your wind shifts precisely. Once you get into those top speeds around the 190's. we are very limited on the gears because the splits are so high. A lot of times you just have to run the car on the limiter."

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JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified second:

"It's been OK since we've been here. Not great, to be honest. We know there's time in the car, and the guys are working hard and I have 100-percent faith they will get it right for the race."

How have you adapted to the oval?:

"Very comfortable. For sure, when I first drove here, you couldn't really appreciate the speed. But I love it; it's a great place. I'm looking forward to a race. It's definitely going to be different from places like Miami where we raced at the start of the year. I've not been intimidated and don't plan on being. We'll see what happens."

On the legendary nature of the IMS:

"As soon as I got here, there's a real buzz around this place, which is real different from anywhere else I've been. So I can appreciate why everyone loves this race so much and why everyone wants so hard to win this race and to be here. In Europe, most people are more focused on the Formula One thing, and that's why I came here. I didn't want to do that. I'm happy where I am, and I love this race and I'm planning on being here, hopefully next year in an IndyCar."

How has Dan Wheldon been an inspiration?:

"Since I started karting at the age of 7, I knew Dan back then, so it's quite interesting that I may be against him some day. We've all raced together but we both went our own separate ways. It's been nice to get back in contact with these guys. The first inspiration for British guys would be Nigel Mansell, for sure. Then definitely when Dan came over here. I like to think of myself as a better Brit, and he likes it when we joke around about it. But he's 100 percent behind me and hopes I can get out there and win for England, as I hope he does. It's good for him if he can go out there and do well. Hopefully that will reflect well on me."

How are you going to stop Wade Cunningham this year?:

"I'll just go with the flow. I'm looking forward to a good race. Everyone is telling me it's a long race. Whether me and Wade break away from ever yone else and have our own race or what, I'll find out tomorrow. I'm trying my best to win, and I hope everyone else is, as well."

Are you happy with the car?:

"No. No, I'm sure the guys are going to work hard as they always do, and I hope they're going to give me something a little bit better so I can win. Or at least the same, and then it's down to me to win."

-ips

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Nigel Mansell , Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Wade Cunningham