Ameristar Casino Indy 200, July 7, Kansas Speedway KANSAS CITY, Kan., Tuesday, July 2, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series event on Sunday, July 7 at Kansas Speedway...
Ameristar Casino Indy 200, July 7, Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Tuesday, July 2, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series event on Sunday, July 7 at Kansas Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ED CARPENTER (No. 2 Menards/Jack K. Elrod Co./Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "After the test in Chicago, I feel pretty confident about our car and team. I'm excited to get back in the car. Ever since I left Chicago, I've been feeling real good. I went into Richmond with high hopes, and we had a good finish there, so hopefully we can just continue that through this weekend at Winchester and Kansas." (About his weekend schedule): "I'm going to be driving the Indy Racing two-seater at Kansas on Thursday and then possibly running the morning practice session on Friday, flying to Indiana and racing the sprint car at Winchester, and then flying back either late Friday night or early Saturday morning for the practice session Saturday and qualifying." (How difficult will it be to race twice in one weekend?): "I don't really think it's going to be that rough. I'm not worried about the physical aspect of it. Hopefully everything goes smoothly in Winchester. If I run well there, it's just going to be more momentum built up that I think will carry me into Kansas City." (About his Sinden Racing Service team): "All season we've been racing the pavement sprint car and the pavement Silver Crown car together. We'll have the same team, with a couple of different guys working on the Pro Series car, but no one new. Everyone's been in the shop, so I've known them for about a year now. We have a really good chemistry. Hopefully that will be an advantage we have because we've been racing together as a team in other series."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I am excited for the debut of the Infiniti Pro Series and my first opportunity to run at Kansas Speedway. It is a green track for me since I've only run the smaller track in a Silver Crown car. Both the Hemelgarn/Johnson team and I have pretty high expectations for the inaugural Kansas race, but we can't set them too high because we just never know what will happen. We should be fast based on our test session, but it is totally different running 100 miles. We haven't run that many consecutive miles, so the big question is whether the package can hold up. This is really a test run for everyone, so there are going to be a few bumps and bruises along the way until everything is sorted out." (About the heat): "The heat shouldn't be a problem for me since I run thousands of laps in the heat of the summer. Actually, when I'm in the race car, I am so focused that I don't pay much attention to the heat." (On race day double duties): "I am planning on racing at Angell Park Speedway (in Sun Prairie, Wis.) Sunday night if everything goes according to the plan. I have raced so many double events that it doesn't affect my focus. There are many weeks during the summer when we get so busy that we are jumping from track to track."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "My goals are to qualify good and try to win the race. It would have been better if we had tested, but with Jack Starne and my grandpa setting up the car, I think we can find the balance pretty quick to where I'm comfortable in the car. Once I'm comfortable, my confidence will be up, and I'll just go from there. I drove the Indy car at Phoenix earlier this year and didn't have any problems, so I'm already confident that I can drive these smaller cars. I won't have a problem maintaining concentration because you're going too fast to not pay attention to what you're doing." (About the Infiniti Pro Series): "I think the Infiniti Pro Series is going to mean a lot to the growth of the Indy Racing League. The drivers in the Pro Series are driving there with the intention of driving Indy cars one day, and it should attract a lot of young drivers. I also think the team owners in the IRL will start looking at the drivers in this series as potential drivers for their teams, and it may encourage the expansion of one-car teams into two-car teams. For me, it came along at just the right time."
MATT HALLIDAY (No. 38 Bowes Seal Fast/Hoosier Wholesale Automotive Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We raced three-quarters of the season last year with Indy Lights. It was my first experience racing over here (America). We had a two-year plan. It was to race in the junior series and win the Indy Lights championship and then to move up. The Pro Series started up, and it was a natural choice for me. I tested at the official test. The cars are pretty similar to Indy Lights. It may be a bit easier to drive because the cars are nicer and newer. I raced at Kansas Speedway last year in Indy Lights. It really comes down more to the team and setup on the car than what the driver can do. At a track like that, you need a very good team."
RONNIE JOHNCOX (No. 8 Rev 1 Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We really wanted to race Indy-style racing cars. This series is more affordable to control our own destiny and to have a race team to build for the future and end up in the IRL. We've owned our own race cars before. We've done both, owned and driven for other people. To control our destiny and control preparation and quality of the equipment, owning your own car has tremendous value, if it can be affordable." (About the team name): "It boils down to two meanings. One of the partners, Rick Ehrgott, has a business called Rev 1 Power Staffing. Secondly, we are in the manufacturing business, and we talk about revisions of parts and prints all the time. So this is the first revision of our racing team." (About Kansas Speedway): "My experience in the IRL cars tells me that you will pretty much run wide open and steer. Who can free the car up the best and have the best tire management will end up in front. I could be wrong because I've never driven one of these cars, but I have to believe it will pretty much be flat out."
MIKE KOSS (No. 37 Bowes Seal Fast Automotive Products Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I think it's going to be a really good race. I'm sure it's going to be a close race. I hope I'm still in it at the finish. You've got to finish to win. I've got a lot of confidence in my crew. If it can be done, we can do it." (About legendary mechanic George Bignotti helping his team): "George has been a good friend of mine. He's my idol. It took me about 10 years to get to know him. He's a very secretive-type guy, and he's finally (shared) some of his secrets with me. I really think he wants to help me go fast. My goals for the season are to finish every race. I just want to get some seat time behind the wheel, and if we finish, I think we will do well."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm excited and a bit anxious because I've been waiting so long for Kansas City to come around. I'm looking forward to it." (About the Infiniti Pro Series car): "It's the first car I've driven that's actually carbon fiber. All the other ones I've driven were tube chassis. The Pro Series car is bigger, a lot safer, has more speed and more downforce." (About recent testing at Gateway and Chicagoland): "I learned a little bit, but we learned a lot about the car. It has a lot of downforce. We need to find a way to alleviate some of it." (About being a second-generation driver): "Growing up at the racetracks and being on the road with (my father) and being around him so much, it was just second nature. I really enjoyed doing it. It was so fun, and I had such a passion for it when I was little. I got discouraged when I didn't do well, and I just always was looking forward to the next time I could go out. I've always loved doing it, and I don't think that will change any time soon."
G.J. MENNEN (No. 99 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've raced at Texas, so I have raced on a mile-and-a-half track, but never at Kansas and never in an open-wheel car, always in a stock car. I'm expecting it to be flat out all the way around, which it is not in a stock car. It will be a successful weekend if we can learn as much as possible and accumulate as many points as possible, i.e., win. It will be an information-gathering process. It is just more information for our data banks. There is a lot of anticipation about what could happen. It all comes down to preparation. The guys have been working their tails off. We just have to roll with the punches." (About competing in the Infiniti Pro Series): "It is about opportunity. I had a better opportunity to get in quality equipment in the Pro Series than in a NASCAR environment. Plus the Infiniti Pro Series is the feeder series to the Indy 500 and IRL."
JASON PRIESTLEY (No. 7 HomeMed Pharmacy Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The Kelley Racing HomeMed team has worked extremely hard to get prepared for our first race at Kansas Speedway. We had three very successful tests at Michigan, St. Louis and Chicago, which gave me a tremendous opportunity to work closely with my team. It was amazing how quickly we were able to communicate and translate that dialogue to making adjustments on the car. Having Tony Renna as my driving coach and spotter has sped up the learning curve. His talent and expertise in the car have given me insights it would have taken much longer to develop without his guidance. The Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series will be my greatest challenge in racing thus far in my career. I have driven open-wheel cars prior to this, but not on an oval nor at the speeds we will be attaining at Kansas Speedway as well as other tracks on the schedule. I am excited to have the opportunity and am committed to this program 100 percent. When we get to the track, my focus is on the team, the car and the job I need to do. With the equipment and support I have, I want to make sure we deliver the results. I can't thank Tom Kelley, Jim Freudenberg and everyone at Kelley Racing, as well as Ron Hunter and all of the great people at HomeMed, enough for this opportunity."
ROLANDO QUINTANILLA (No. 11 Roquin Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "For me, the Infiniti Pro Series is the stepping-stone to the IRL, which is where I'd like to be. It's what the future holds." (About being an owner-driver): "There's not really any extra pressure. It's the same pressure I would put on any team I was driving for. When I'm driving, I leave the ownership issues to the guys. I try not to hinder them and just try hard to help them and motivate them." (About Kansas Speedway): "Kansas is a really neat track. I like the venue. It really lends itself to the fans quite a bit. With the garage setup, the fans can get really close to the drivers, and I really enjoy that. I was impressed by the number of people who showed up even though it was so hot last year. For us, we ran well at Kansas (in Indy Lights), so we know we can be fast there. I'm looking forward to it."
MARTY ROTH (No. 3 Castek/Marty Roth/Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): (About the Infiniti Pro Series car): "It's a beautiful machine. I felt great in the car. The car shined during the testing. Everybody obviously has done their homework in the offseason." (About the series debut): "It's kind of an unorthodox season, and we've been waiting a long time for this. We're really excited. The Open Test in Chicagoland went really well. I'm looking forward to a very strong finish at Kansas. I can't wait to get out there. I can't wait to get the season underway." (About the team): "Brian Stewart's team, these guys have been together for quite some time now. They have become quite a cohesive unit. We've got a lot of synergy on the team, and that's what it takes to win races. We think we'll come out pretty strong in Kansas." (About Kansas Speedway): "I've never seen it. I understand it's similar to Chicagoland (Speedway). What a fabulous facility. I hear Kansas is on par, if not better. I'm real excited to go to Kansas. Just the overall ambiance of these new superspeedways that are built today is just fantastic. It's great for the fans, and it's a lot of fun for the drivers being at a first-rate, state-of-the-art facility."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there to see how well we do. I've been waiting for this day pretty much all year. After testing, I think we have a car and the team capable of winning the inaugural Kansas event or at least being on the podium. It would be a great way to kick off the Infiniti Pro Series season." (About the extreme heat experienced last year in Kansas): "The heat is a big concern because as a driver you dehydrate so much faster. I have a regimented workout program and have really increased the intensity during the last couple weeks to endure the heat. Last year, I ran in the Indy Lights program at Kansas and got out of the car feeling like I could run another 100 miles."