IPS: Michigan: Pre-race quotes

BROOKLYN, Mich., Wednesday, July 24, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Michigan Indy 400 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, July 28 at Michigan International Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical ...

BROOKLYN, Mich., Wednesday, July 24, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Michigan Indy 400 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, July 28 at Michigan International Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):

MATT BEARDSLEY (No. 12 Alpine Bank Old-Republic Land Title Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About his Infiniti Pro Series debut at Nashville Superspeedway): "The team suffered from the newness of everything. We were happy with qualifying sixth, but a push that we had all weekend got very bad (during the race). All the team and I need is a good testing session, which won't happen before Michigan. Our priority for the first couple of events is to go as fast as possible but not beyond that fine line of the unknown. When I passed my IRL rookie test at Texas Motor Speedway, I quickly adapted to the speeds and power of the much quicker Galles Racing IRL car. I feel very at home on an oval."

ED CARPENTER (No. 2 Menards/Jack K. Elrod Co./Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think Michigan is going to be the closest race we'll have because of the type of track we're running on. We should all be wide open, and I imagine we'll all be in a big pack. Setup again is going to be crucial, leading probably won't be easy, but you'll have to be able to make the car work low to get underneath people without scrubbing too much speed. I'm curious to see how much faster we'll run than we did at Kansas because we should be able to go flat all the way around in a pack. At Kansas you could go flat, but in a pack we had to lift a little bit. It'll probably be a lot like an IROC race with all of us drafting and passing constantly, and I imagine you don't want to be leading heading into the last lap. Probably the best spot will be second or third, where you can get a run on the leader in the draft to the finish line. For us, we have two top-fives so far, and we want to improve on that. This race will be tough because I think anyone can win it if they're patient enough. We all need to respect each other out there and drive safely if it is going to be a big pack. Nashville was great in that respect, and if we run like that in Michigan, it'll be a pretty exciting race."

AARON FIKE (No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It is my first time on a 2-mile track, therefore I'm looking forward to running at Michigan. I've been told that it is smooth and drivers can run three-wide, so it should be interesting. On this particular track, I am going to rely heavily on my team to set up the car, and I'll just drive it around." (On podium finish at Nashville): "The third-place finish was motivating for me and the team. It definitely helped us in points. It was nice to roll the car in the truck, especially after my Kansas accident."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've never been to Michigan, but I have run its sister track, Texas World Speedway (in College Station), which my grandfather told me is a copy of Michigan. I ran at Texas in my Formula Continental car, and even though we ran the road course, we used Turns 3 and 4 of the oval, so I am familiar with running on the banks. I also heard it was like Kansas Speedway where you just run wide open with as little drag as possible. I'm looking forward to going there."

RONNIE JOHNCOX (No. 8 Rev. 1 Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, native of Jackson, Mich.): "No doubt, we are going to be flat out around this track. In fact, people that have had difficulty going flat out at the other tracks are going to be able to do it more easily here, and they can't be lulled into thinking they aren't going that fast. This will probably be the fastest these guys have ever gone in a race car. The speed of this racetrack is very deceiving, and subtle moves could have big results." (About being involved in Jackson Race Week): "It's pretty special for me. I'm pretty proud of the effort that everyone involved with Race Week, Brett Shelton and the entire staff at Michigan International Speedway, are making. They have turned it into more than a race -- it's a community event. If the IRL can continue to extend its hand to the community, the event will be successful for years to come. I got involved in Race Week before I knew that I would be racing there because I wanted to see Indy-car racing be successful in Jackson like it used to be. I felt I could make a difference. As it turns out, I'll be competing, so it's a win-win for me." (About being a native of Jackson, Mich.): "It's going to be a fun weekend. I have so many people calling me, there's no way I'll be able to get enough passes. I will probably have between 500 and 1,000 people I know, from customers to suppliers to friends and family, in the grandstands. I think the only thing better than winning this weekend would be winning the Indy 500."

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Luyendyk Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We had a really good result at Nashville, so I'm excited. As far as the handling of the car, it was flawless, so I hope to take that along to Michigan. Definitely I'll work with (teammate) G.J. (Mennen). We need to get both of our cars up to par and hopefully work together up at the front of the pack. I'm definitely looking forward to working with guys and staying in the front next race." (About his father racing in the Indy Racing event): "It's exciting. The only downside is that he won't be my spotter. I might be his spotter, though."

G.J. MENNEN (No. 99 Greased Lightning Automotive Cleaning Products Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've raced at Daytona and Talladega, so I think Michigan will be really exciting. I think we'll have a good car. It's going to be an interesting show, not only for the fans but also for the drivers. The track is so big, you feel like you are going slow, but you are really going over 180 mph. When the speeds are that high, it ups the ante. You've really got to pay attention and drive a heads-up race. There is no trophy for leading any lap but the last one. You can probably go from last to first on the second half of the last lap. It's just going to take patience."

GARY PETERSON (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've been looking forward to running the 2-mile oval in Michigan since committing to the series. In my Formula Atlantic series career over the past 10 years, I've raced on many 1-mile and 1.5- mile ovals, but this will be my first 2-mile oval. The car was substantially damaged while qualifying in Nashville, so in order to make the Michigan race we've purchased a second Dallara chassis. Between the primary and secondary car, Wilbur Bunce and the crew at our Indianapolis shop are working hard to ensure that we will have a car ready to perform to our expectations. I am currently scheduled for re-evaluation by the IRL medical staff on Thursday (July 25). I feel confident that I will be released for participation in the Michigan race." (About his accident during qualifying at Nashville): "The car did exactly what it was designed to do. It absorbed the impact, thus leaving me with no injuries that would prevent me from performing at my best. In fact, I returned to beautiful weather in Huntington Beach (Calif.) on Sunday, and I've been swimming laps in the pool with no discomfort at all. We were quick in the final practice session at Nashville with the race setup. Had it not been for that wall that jumped out and grabbed me, we would have done very well. I think we're poised for a podium finish in Michigan."

JASON PRIESTLEY (No. 7 HomeMed Pharmacy Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "With two races under my belt in the HomeMed car and having tested at Michigan, I looking forward to the event this weekend. Every lap is that much more experience I gain in the car. I am pretty psyched we have finished both races and had no damage to the car. Michigan will obviously be a completely different track than we have run on so far. It is crucial that during our practice sessions I concentrate on giving my crew good feedback about the car so we know what is going to be the best setup for the race. The track is long with big sweeping turns. We will be running very tall gears with as little drag as possible to get maximum speed all the way around the track. The Pro Series is such a great series, and it is way cool to see how much better we are all running, the closer racing and passing each race."

CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, series points leader): "Michigan is a pretty big track. I'm hoping that it will be a really good race for us, as well, and we'll come out with another win and podium (finish). We haven't tested there, but I've run there many times before in the Indy Lights series, and I'm definitely familiar with the place. It's going to be an advantage, but it's going to be a race just like Kansas. It's going to be flat all the way around. Within probably three laps, everyone will be flat around the track. It's just a matter of trimming out the car and who can get the car set up for the draft, just little handling things like that for race conditions."

-irl/ips-

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers A.J. Foyt