GRAHAM RAHAL ( ...
GRAHAM RAHAL (#06 Hole in the Wall Camps Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About his qualifying run): "It is nice to get in. Obviously, I feel bad about my comments last week. This team is certainly known for its preparation, and we showed it today. We've had a good car so far. Even yesterday when we were doing the long runs with high downforce, we were really good. This is only the first step, though. We're among the fastest today, but still a long way to go."
(About being here at Indianapolis): "I think I've gained a lot more respect for this circuit than I had before. You never really realize how hard it is here. Everyone always talks about how every single corner is different, and I tell you what, it really is."
(About the qualifying run): "It was actually a pretty good run. It was a bit tough, because my first lap was solid at 223.6 (mph), but the laps after that I could just feel (the wind) every time I went through Turn 2. I couldn't get the car to turn, so I had to lift every time. It was a pretty big lift, too, and it costs you a lot of time. Obviously, we're disappointed with that, but after last weekend it is nice to put it into the race. Obviously, we would like to be among the quickest of the day, and that is the goal."
(About getting this week over): "It has been quite a week. It does feel really nice to get it out of the way. We are pretty happy just getting in."
(About the wind affecting the car): "It is one of those things where every time you come into Turn 2, you kind of bend the car from high in the banking and bend it down to straighten the car out to get an even longer run down the back straightaway. The biggest problem is the wind is gusting so much it feels like it is picking the car up. Your hands turn even more because you can't get the front to grip. When you're trying to bend the thing down, you know when the wind is hitting you because you can't get it to the apex. Like I said, the first lap wasn't that bad, but the second lap clearly hit me. The laps after that, I just kind of lifted a little bit early until I got to the apex and then hit the throttle. We had a pretty quick car today and a really good race car."
(About the issues with high wind): "There have been a lot of places where engineers say you'll feel the wind, but I never feel it. This place seems to have a huge effect."
(About yesterday's incident): "I white-walled (the car yesterday). We were trying to do a qual sim, and we got some clear track to do it on our own. We were pretty quick. I think we did 222.9 (mph) on the out lap. I came through Turn 1, and a huge gust of wind came. Yesterday, we kind of had a tail wind going down the front straight. I got it in the middle of the corner, and the car wouldn't turn whatsoever. With that little wing angle, it is so tough to get it back that I just went a little wide and white-walled it. Justin (Wilson) had a moment kind of like I had earlier in the month. He almost lost it. It was like: 'This is enough for the day. Let's go back and rest on this one.'"
(About last week's comments): "I really do feel bad about my comments last week. It is kind of a sore spot. This is a team that has always been known for its preparation. We have shown that because of how many championships and race wins these guys have won. Realistically, we weren't expecting to be in that position. We were thinking that if we could get in (the field) on the second day, (then we would be content). We were even questioning if we could get in on the first weekend. Suddenly to be that close, your expectations ramp up and you think, 'We really can do this.' The reason it escalated even further is because (Tomas) Scheckter went out and went slow, so at that point it was realistic we could get in. It was a little disappointing. That's the way it goes. We were happy with our position last week. We were pretty impressed we were that quick."
(About being surprised about being in the Indy 500): "I really wanted to race here. Last year, I was here with Carl (Haas) and Mike (Lanigan) up in Mike's suite. I was trying to convince them to run a car with my dad this year. It would be a joint venture. We would use my guys and dad's cars. It was something we wanted to work on. The winter started to come along and we started to hear rumors, so I didn't know where it was going to head. I got to the point where I didn't really care which series went on, but one of them needed to. When the merger was announced, I was the happiest person. I didn't know where we would stack up (with the IndyCar teams). We knew it was going to be tough coming over to the IndyCar equipment versus what we had used in the past. I didn't think we could expect to be in the top 10 in points. Suddenly after St. Pete, we were fourth in points. We were looking pretty good, and then Kansas was good for us again. There is a bit of momentum on our side here. We are going to keep learning. On any of the ovals, we are closer than we expected. There is still some speed to find, but being we're so new to this, we are pretty happy with our pace."
MILKA DUNO (#23 CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About her qualifying run): "It's great to qualify in Indianapolis. The wind was in tow in the backstraight, and it was increasing and increasing. I'm happy, but I think we can run quicker. But it's OK for now."
(About her time at the track this May): "It's fantastic for me. It is my second time here. It's always fun here, and it's just fantastic."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Hemelgarn Johnson Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About the qualifying run): "The strategy with the new format is to run one. We just started yesterday, so we have a lot of work to do. We had a good morning. The weather changed and affected a lot of guys. I think it affected us more."
(About the speed he expected): "We were looking for 221 (mph). We were hoping for certainly more than that (217.939)."
BUDDY RICE (#15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We are set up conservative. I think it is good we got all three Dreyer & Reinbold cars in today. That was the goal for today. There is nothing to be gained by risking the car. Actually, it is really good that Townsend (Bell) is the quickest so far with the #99 William Rast car. It was a good day for the team."
(About Bell's run): "I didn't see exactly what he ran, but both cars were set up very similar. My car picked up more push and really slowed down. That's OK. There's no risk today. It is a 500-mile race. We have 10 pit stops. We have a lot of work to do starting from where we are at, anyway. We need to be patient. We need to get back to working on our race car, which we've been doing all month long. That will be our strong suit. It gets a bit redundant because that's what everybody says. If you can get your car to run consistent through the whole thing, then you're going to have a really good car. We did that at Kansas, and we've been doing that since we've been here. The weather makes it a bit tricky, especially for some of the new guys that are here. It is a bit tricky. I'm happy. We got all three cars in today. That was the goal. Knock on wood -- we haven't torn anything up yet this month."
(About the wind): "It is Indy. Everybody can talk about the wind and the rain. That's what makes this place what it is. I think everybody would like it to be ideal, but that's part of dealing with Mother Nature and coming to a place like this. It is going to be tricky. If this was a week ago, it would be really tricky to trim out as much as they did back then. That's what made last week so great to see those guys keep pulling out and running. This weekend, the weather is completely different. It is windy. It is cold. It is everything, but that's what makes this place awesome. It is tough. It is not supposed to be easy."
(About his speed): "I figured we would have been quicker than that . We should have been closer to Townsend. There are little difference es in the car. The weather was a bit different. Our car had a bit more push in it. It doesn't take much here. That's what makes this place so awesome. It is no big deal because we got all three cars in."
(About working with Bell): "Townsend and I have been working great together. We've known each other a long time. It has been a big help for both of us to be working together than to be working as a one-car team."
(About the new drivers): "I think some get it and some don't. I've read some quotes in the newspaper about some people who have driven around here and said, 'I don't see what the big deal is.' Obviously, they have never hit the fence before. I've seen one of them hit the fence now, and the speed was nowhere near where they were running. This place demands a lot of respect. It will bite you in a hurry. It will do a lot of things you have never seen a track do. With the wind, the weather and everything else, it is totally different. Some get it, and some don't. There w as a quote by Dan Wheldon that said, 'None of them have hit the fence, and once they do you see them slow down and they start realizing what this place is about.' When you get your bell rung by this place, you start really paying attention. That's why you see the veterans progressively get to the front. There are some young guys that come in, get in the good cars and go really fast. I was no different than they are. Once this place bites you, you start to pay a little more attention to it and start to pay attention to what's going on in the saddle."
E.J. VISO (#33 PDVSA HVM Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"In this first attempt, we tried to play it safe. We went out with a lot of downforce. We spent a lot of time checking everything. We are planning on going for another attempt. Yesterday we had small contact with the wall. The wind changed so much, and the setup was quite different to the one I had run before. We spent 10-15 minutes in the car today waiting for the rain to go away, and then we did not have our best attempt."
(On repairing the car from Friday's accident): "The team did a great job and worked very hard yesterday. We weren't in a huge accident; we just damaged the rear wing. They spent a lot of time checking and making sure the car was perfect for today."
(On mindset after accident): "It has not affected me. I think I am mentally stronger, and that small touch with the wall is not going to affect my confidence. We just need to find the reasons why it happened and try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Yesterday everything looked the same, and the only thing different in that run was that we were full of fuel and the tire pressure was low because it was only our second lap."
(On Indianapolis 500 experience): "Regarding the track, it's a very difficult track to the ovals I have been on. There are four corners, the car is very trimmed, very little downforce, and it's going to be tough in the race next to other cars. Regarding the event, I really like it. I like how the spectators are living this month and living the racing. They are around even if it is raining. They are really passionate, and I like that."
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (#36 Sangari Conquest Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I did flat out all four laps, but the car is just not very fast. We don't know what it is, but we'll continue to work on it. I have to try again, and I wish I knew what to do. I'm not very happy. I just did 219 and was consistent, but we need to find more speed. I haven't run faster than 220 this month. The wind is a bit tricky out there. On one side of the track you would have a car that was loose, and the other end the car was pushing. I don't have much experience on ovals and same with the team, so we are sort of struggling, but I like this oval and Indianapolis. We knew we would be here a month, but we haven't done much better than this, so it is what it is."
(On what he would be happy with leaving Indianapolis): "I think if I finish the race here it would be my first oval finish. It's a long race, and we can't expect so much being a Champ Car team competing with teams that have been here for five years. Being a rookie and a rookie team, with a rookie teammate, sometimes the idea or the way is not very clear. To finish my first Indy 500 would be good. In the two years I raced Formula One, the only race I finished both years was Monaco, so then maybe the difficult part will go through here, as well."
SARAH FISHER (#67 Sarah Fisher Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"It's not as fast as we wanted it to be, but we'll take it. We'll take a good, solid entrant, and just keep working on our car. It was very gusty out there. That's what happened on my lap two; otherwise we would've had a higher finish, but it is what it is. It's nice, though. It's supposed to rain again today, but hopefully it's good. We're in, and we can keep moving forward. Only having one car, we think about what the most tragic thing that could happen. It's nice to know that we don't have to work on those on-the-edge setups anymore. We've just been putting our heads down and plowing forward. If we can avoid the rain again, we'll be putting a lot of race laps on the car."
(About sponsors): "We've had some help, for sure. We're almost there. We're about three-fourths of the way to being comfortable. We have a couple of leads, and I'm sure being in the field will help, as well. Direct Supply has been on board from the start. They're longtime fans of the Speedway. Hartman Oil came on board and IUPUI just got their motorsports engineering program appropriated, so now we're helping them and their students."
(About community support): "We've got the best fans. I've got fans coming up to me and giving me $20s, $50s, some gave me $100, and it's just so appreciated, just to know that we've got the support and the fans are giving back, let alone being supportive of the race team."
Continued in part 2