Test in the West, Feb. 3-8, California Speedway/Phoenix International Raceway INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Test in the West preseason Open Test, Feb. 3-8...
Test in the West, Feb. 3-8, California Speedway/Phoenix International Raceway
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Test in the West preseason Open Test, Feb. 3-8 at California Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ED CARPENTER (No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises/Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (What are your thoughts heading into this season?): "I think the competition's going to be a lot tougher. I think the guys that are coming back for a second year have a little bit of an advantage over some of the new guys that are coming in. I think the Panther team is going to be real competitive. They're the top IRL team that won the past two championships, so I think we're going to have to worry about them. For myself, I have to stay focused, get going with my new team (A.J. Foyt Enterprises), get to know all of them and establish a good relationship with them. We ran really good last year; we just didn't get any wins." (About the Infiniti Pro Series): "Considering it was its first year last year, I think the series did a good job and went really well. I expect it'll improve this year and be even stronger and more competitive. I learned a lot last year, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot this year. I'm hoping to get acclimated to A.J. Foyt Enterprises and just knock the rust off. I'm not worried about really going fast, I just want to get used to working with the guys and I think the speed with come. We're not planning on running California, but I've races a lot at Phoenix in midgets and Silver Crown cars. I've never driven anything at California, but we raced last year at Michigan, so I assume it's going to be fairly similar."
PAUL DANA (No. 24 Kenn Hardley Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "From my standpoint as a rookie, Fontana is going to be basic stuff, shake the car down, basic reliability, make sure I'm comfortable. Make sure everyone on the team knows how to work together. Phoenix will be a more productive test because it's obviously a handling track, and we're going to have to drive there. It will be interesting. It will be tough because I am stepping up into these cars."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 Hemelgarn 91/Johnson Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About the Test in the West): "The California test will be my first experience on the superspeedway. It looks similar to Michigan and most of the other big tracks, so it shouldn't be difficult for me to adapt and find the right setup. Our main goal is to get as much out of the car, making sure the car runs well especially when in the draft. As far as the test in Phoenix, my team and I are aiming to get as many laps as possible. The tricky corners will require just the right setup in order to turn fast times. I'm not familiar with many of the drivers and their driving styles, so it'll be a great opportunity to see what everyone can do." (Is the Infiniti Pro Series fulfilling its role as a stepping-stone to the IndyCar Series?): "I definitely think so. The cost is lower than a lot of other development series, and you have a lot of IndyCar Series teams running and owning Pro Series cars. I definitely think it's a strong series. It's a building block for the IndyCar Series, that's for sure."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Sinden Racing Service Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About his second season of Infiniti Pro Series competition): "Our main goal is to win the championship, and to win the championship, we need to win races. I think we're going into it pretty strong. I finished second in more than half the races last year, so our chances are really good. I'm sure Sinden (Racing Service) will put forward a great effort to get me into the winner's circle. There's a lot more competition this year, but the drivers from last year are still going to be a big threat. Ed Carpenter will be really good, and Aaron Fike will be strong, and I'm sure Cory Witherill will be winning races just like last year. I think the competition started off pretty high, and it's only going to get more competitive as the year goes on." (About the Infiniti Pro Series as preparation for the IndyCar Series): "It's great how the IRL incorporates the Infiniti Pro Series into all its autograph signings and press conferences. They really make it a great developmental series because it's always involved in all the IRL's activities. It's great for the crews and the drivers because it gets them a lot of exposure. The IRL has done a great job in promoting the series and really getting the name out and getting the drivers some recognition."
MARTY ROTH (No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About his second season of Infiniti Pro Series competition): "I can't wait for the season to get going. It's an early start compared to last year. The Test In The West should be real beneficial to getting us in gear for the season. I'm real glad to be back with Brian Stewart and looking forward to a full season with the Infiniti Pro Series. It was a great season last year, although short. This full season of Infiniti Pro Series should be a real exciting one." (About the Test in the West): "I'm really looking forward to heading out to Fontana. I've never been there. I understand it's a fabulous racetrack. I just love the fast speedways. We'll be starting off testing there, dialing the car in on that track, and then heading down to Phoenix. It'll be the first time that we'll be running the high-downforce kit on these cars, so we've got a lot of work to do at Phoenix." (About having a teammate this year): "I'm looking forward to having a teammate (Jonathan Urlin) out there. We should be able to dial in different tracks a little bit quicker. He seems like a really good guy. I look forward to working with him." (About running at Phoenix before): "I ran the Indy Lights at Phoenix. It's a great track. I had a lot of fun there. Way back in 1990, I finished fifth in the Indy Lights race. It's a great track. I love it."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About making his oval-racing debut in the Infiniti Pro Series): "It's very difficult for me to know what the competition's going to be like because I haven't raced against any of the guys. I've seen only a couple of Pro Series races, and watching and actually being in the car are two completely different things. I'm just concentrating on trying to get the team working together and getting my driving on ovals sorted out before the first race, being comfortable in the car and going as quick as we can. If we can go as quick as we can, then we can go well this year." (About the Test in the West): "We went to Fontana (California Speedway) before Christmas, but there are still a whole load of things with the car that we need to work on, as far as the settings and stuff. It's going to be a case of getting more comfortable with me in the car. That's our first objective. Trying to work in traffic, out of traffic, seeing what the car handles like, working out how the car reacts to different changes -- the standard things with testing." (About the Indy Racing League): "There's nothing like this in Europe. It's the first form of racing that's got me excited without being in the car. Before, if you'd asked me if after I'd retired, would I ever come back to watch a race, I doubt it. But having seen the IRL, I'd be willing to sit there for a season, watching every race and be quite happy."
JONATHAN URLIN (No. 33 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About making his Infiniti Pro Series debut at the Test in the West): "In the first test, we have to just get a good feel for everything and make sure that everything works together as one package. The main goal is to keep the bottom side of the car down, keep it off the wall and have everything run nice and smoothly. It's a brand-new car and brand-new engine, and obviously it's a big step for me, but not necessarily for the team because they've done it the year before. I've never in my life been so excited for a season since I've been 8 years old. It was my first season racing go-karts. This doesn't even compare to that at all -- it's a million, million times better. I'm glad there is no more offseason. I don't like the offseason because you're not racing cars, and that's what my life is about -- racing cars." (About the Test in the West): "I've never been to California (Speedway). It's going to be pretty cool. I can safely say that no matter which track we went to for the first time, it's going to be a blast. I am definitely excited to take the Infiniti Pro Series car to California for the first time because it is so big and wide open. The biggest learning curve is going to be adjusting to the speed of the cars because I've never piloted a car at that speed before. I'm kind of glad that we get to go to a nice, wide-open track at the start because it's easier to get used to the new speeds and the new feel. Then as soon as we get to Phoenix, we can start working on a little bit more of a setup."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About the Test in the West): "The Test in the West is the perfect opportunity to try a few new things out and learn more about the car, on both the superspeedway and short track. California Speedway is identical to Michigan, so it will be all about drafting. The object is to get the car to cut through the air with as little drag as possible. When we test at Phoenix, it is a more technical track, and we must have a good setup to be quick." (About the competition in the Infiniti Pro Series): "The series is growing, and there will be a lot of new faces this season. I think it is critical to get familiar with new drivers and learn their driving style, especially before we're running side by side in a race."