IRL Infiniti Pro Series Open Test Quotesheet:
April 18, 2003
ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "It was really good. We had a couple of hiccups, but we learned a lot. We tried a lot of different things. We feel like we have a really good starting point for when we come back for the race. I'm sure everyone is going to pick it up a little bit come race time, because this is our biggest race of the year. Everyone is going to be pulling out all of the stops, so we're going to try and see what we can find when we go home. We'll look at all of our data and come back with a better car." (About running for Foyt at Indy): "We struggled the first two races, but just coming here with him brings my confidence back up. He's just got a knack for this place. Sometimes this place is easy, but it changes a lot, too. I think he's better at reading this racetrack and keeping up with it than anyone else. I think it's a big advantage for me."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Everybody on the Western Union Speed Team did a great job. We unloaded with a pretty good car and just made small changes all day long, trying to chip away and finding speed." (About the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "It was just unbelievable being out there at first. I've seen it for so many reasons and seen the in-car camera views, and now I'm out there and I'm like, 'This is exactly the same.' It's going to be great. It was good that we all had this open test so everybody could get set for the race. Hopefully, we'll put on a great show for the fans."
BRANDON ERWIN (No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "It was great. It's definitely not too difficult to get around here now after running an IndyCar (Series car) here. The car felt great." (About competing in the Freedom 100): "I can't wait. It's going to be awesome to run a race here. It's great running around here in traffic. I think the cars are going to be very racy. We should put on a very good show. You'll see a lot of drafting back-and-forth. I think we'll stay in a pack with the draft."
MARCO CIOCI (No. 6 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I think that I did a good job. For me, it's a great opportunity. I have a lot of emotion, because I want to win this race a lot. I'm living here, alone, in Indianapolis. I'm thinking only about this race. I know other drivers are fighting for the championship. I'm fighting for myself, and I want to win this race, not finish second. For me, it's important for my future, for the history, because it's a very important race. Thanks to Sam Schmidt and Scott Cronk, who have given me this big, big opportunity." (Have you been to the Speedway before?): "I went one week ago and bought three tickets to go around with the bus. That's my big experience. I think it's fantastic. So big, so fast."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "It's awesome. I've been wanting to run at this place for a long time. I've been coming here for as long as I can remember. Since I was five or six, we used to come for qualifying and the race. It's kind of exhilarating to know that I get to finally run here. These cars have always been really good cars, really comfortable to run. The race will definitely be interesting. It's going to be challenging. My teammate (Cory Witherill) and I have been working together. Cory's been helping me a lot. He's been here before, so I just let him get out in front of me and I follow him around."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Fulmar/Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was just nice to have a good test day. The important thing was getting used to this track. It's completely different than anything else that we're going to be running on. It was a good experience, no problems with the car and a good, quick day. It was great. It would be nice to run the IndyCar (Series car) around here, that's for sure. It's a special place to be, and it's great to get out there. With the amount of towing, it's going to be a good race, that's for sure. It'll be the first place where everyone is going to be running flat out. You might see four abreast going into one of the corners. It'll be good, and I'm looking forward to it."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's my first time here. I'm very happy. This is a very nice speedway. It's a wonderful place. Nice corners. Pretty fun for the drivers." (About Brazilian drivers' success at the Indianapolis 500): "Helio (Castroneves) won two times here at the Speedway. Maybe in a few years, I will be there, but I don't know."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was a great experience. It's an honor to be on the track. I think (the Freedom 100) will be a great event for the Infiniti Pro Series because everyone seems pretty close, time-wise. I was very surprised at all the corners being different. You have to mentally prepare yourself for each corner, because they are different. It's more challenging than I thought it would be. I have newfound respect for the IndyCar Series drivers, because I can only imagine what it would be like going 30 or 40 miles quicker." (Do you have a new respect for your father, two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk?): "Definitely. I went around and I thought, 'This isn't as easy as I thought it would be.' It just seems a lot wider and a lot larger on TV. In actuality, it is a lot narrower. I definitely have a new respect."
CRAIG DOLLANSKY (No. 33 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's great to be here. It's an awesome place. I think it's every race car driver's dream to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It doesn't get any bigger or better than that. It's quite overwhelming when you get here. It's big, it's massive, and it's just great to be part of the tradition here. With this being the first race prior to the Indy 500, I'm happy to be a part of it." (About his first time in an Infiniti Pro Series car): It's my first time here, but I'm really enjoying it and really getting comfortable in the race car. Our biggest thing is that we're coming here to get some laps and try to get up to speed and get comfortable with it. With the four different corners, I spent most of the laps out there just trying to get acclimated with the corners and trying to find the fastest way through them. I think we were gaining on that quite a bit towards the end. I was feeling real good and real comfortable. I'm looking forward to when we get back here in May."
JONATHAN URLIN (No. 33 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Yesterday, I went out with Rick Mears in a van and looked right down the straightaway. It was kind of breathtaking. You almost have to squint to see all the way down the straightaway. I'm definitely a big fan of this place. I'm so impressed. I love it here. I can't wait to run here. At the start of the day, we had to run with lots of downforce and with lots of grip. Near the end of the day, we got to free up the car, and it turned the track from a five-groove track to a two-groove track. Now that we have a stable car, the next thing is to play around in the draft here. It makes such a big difference. I only did about two laps in the draft, so that's what we'll be working on when we come back in May."
RONNIE JOHNCOX (No. 8 REV 1 Racing Special Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We feel real good about it. We went out and re-established that the car was put back together properly from our crash in Phoenix, which was the first priority. Then, I had a chance to go run some laps at speed. The car was real comfortable. Everything is coming together real nice." (Compare the Infiniti Pro Series car and IndyCar Series car at IMS): "Driving the car feels a little bit the same. It's been three years since I've been here, so you kind of forget a little bit of the sensation of speed, but it feels a little bit slower, certainly. As far as drivability goes, it drives very similarly. Running these cars here is going to give a guy the type of experience he's going to need to run one of the other cars here. That's the good thing about it. I think the cars are obviously very different, but they're similar enough in the characteristics of the way they handle and just the feel of the racetrack that when a guy makes a step from this series to the next, he's going to be ready for it."
PAUL DANA (No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was wicked to get experience around here. It's way cool coming out of (Turn) 4 and looking at the Pagoda and the grandstands. The cars are pretty stable around here. It's just a question of freeing up the car. You just need laps to throw stuff at the car to try to kill grip. It's a good chance for everybody to gain experience around here. Everybody kept it off the fence, and we all got experience with the draft, too, which will be real key in the race. All in all, I'm happy."
GARY PETERSON (No. 27 AFS Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The track's beautiful. It's fun to drive around the place. It takes a lot of concentration, and you've got to be smooth. It's just great. I'm just having a great time. The car's working good. It's pretty exciting. I've been racing a long time. For me, it's always been my dream to come to Indy. It's going to be a good show."
MATT BEARDSLEY (No. 12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic Land Title Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "The first couple of laps were great. I couldn't believe it was true. I've been wanting to run here since I was a little kid, ever since I can remember. It's an awesome place. Having the four different corners is cool. I like that. Every time I pull out of pit lane, I can't believe I'm doing it. Then you get down the back straightaway, and you kind of settle in to what you're doing. It's great running around this place."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's great. It's great to get back out there. It's been a couple of years since I've run around the track. Right from the beginning, I was comfortable in the first five laps. I just want to get a good setup and a good feel for this race. It would be great to go out there and win the first one here in the Pro Series. You have to treat this track with more respect than any other track. There are so many different tricks about it. It's one of the more difficult ovals to race on. Come the month of May, I'm sure it will be a lot different, because there are going to be a whole bunch of other distractions out there, like the grandstands filled with people. It's pretty exciting. The Hemelgarn team is doing an awesome job here, so we'll get it dialed in."
TOM WOOD (No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "The track is everything everybody said it would be. It's big, it's going to be fast once we've got the cars trimmed out, and it's going to be great to race on. It's probably more than I expected. It's a neat track. This is the Super Bowl track, I guess you could say. " (What's the biggest challenge of this track?): "Probably getting used to the size of it and going down into Turn 1. Optically, it's a little different than the other corners."
RICK MEARS (Driver Coach and Consultant, IRL Infiniti Pro Series): (About advice given to drivers): "Mainly take your time, have patience. This place takes a little getting used to. That's what it's all about; go out there, get some miles under your belt. I point them in the right direction, what sort of pattern, what sort of line to run around here. Mainly, I have them take their time and learn all they can. It's going well. It's a good group of guys. They do a good job. I'm having a lot of fun working with them and watching their excitement doing things for the first time. It kind of brings back a lot of memories for me. I had a lot of help from a lot of different guys, so I just try to help them out. They're doing a great job. They really are. It's a good series. The guys are learning a lot. That's what it's all about."