Indy 500: Third day qualifying quoteboard, part 2

Continued from part 1 BRUNO JUNQUEIRA ( ...

Continued from part 1

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#18 Z-Line Designs Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"This is a pretty special place, and I like it here. I have great success here. I've had some problems, but still, I know why they call this the greatest. The pole, the two top-five finishes. Today was another great day. I couldn't qualify in the top 11 last weekend and it rained out on Sunday, so it put a lot of pressure on the team, especially because we don't have a backup car. I tried to put the car safely in the field. I was very happy with my four laps. Very consistent. Almost the same speed as the Newman-Haas car. More consistent than them, and I'm not trying to compare anything, but it shows that you're going to be good today and the car is good. It was a difficult day today because it was very windy. That time could win the race, and now we're going to concentrate a little more on traffic and race setup this week. I want to get in traffic and make sure the car is there in traffic. That is pretty difficult. I'm satisfied. I was easily flat all four laps. I know I can take out more downforce and go 223s, but at this point, we would only gain three or four positions and take a big risk."

(About how this run compared to pole run in 2002): "Actually, the weather was about the same. It was the same temperature and the wind was the same, making it difficult. The year I won the pole here, I remember the morning session, Paul Tracy just hit in (Turn) 2, so there was a lot of oil dry and I was the first guy to qualify, so it was pretty difficult in 2. I had completed (Turn) 3, and I was on the limit to be on the pole. Here, today, it's different because I'm trying to be in the race. I want to control the car, and I have to get the car in the race today. Instead of medium downforce and trying to drive the car to the limit, I'm forced to take a more conservative setup and be flat all the way around. I was flat when I was on the pole, as well, but on the limit. Today, I was a little more controlled, but it was still not easy."

(About race goals): "I think if we can complete the race, it would be great. I think top 10 would be what we're trying for. But with this race, I think I'm happy with my race car. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to practice, but on this race, I remember in 2004, I had a great race car. I qualified fourth and then the race, and when we started the race, it was really bad. We worked on the car and worked on the car, and we were running about 10th or 12th and we had a good car at the end and took a gamble on strategy, and I was leading the race for 20 laps. I was even out running five laps after pit stops, so I almost won the race that year. If you're running in the top 10, anything can happen. What happened to Helio (Castroneves) in 2002 was the same thing. He was running about 10th and with strategy, the yellow came at the right time, so if you can run top 10, anything can happen. But in a normal situation, our goal is top 10. If we are there, we're going to take a gamble, if the opportunity arises ."

(About getting over a crash): "It's a very difficult thing. I was talking to another driver last night. He already crashed this week, and his mind is not 100 percent good. He's always concerned about that corner where he crashed, and I'm trying to help him. It's difficult. For me, what I do is when I came out here with the new car, first lap, 217. I wasn't 100 percent flat because the car had a little too much understeer. I was flat in two of the four corners in the first outing. I just don't think about it, and drive the way I drive and try to go as fast as I go. If you start to think, it gets very difficult and you feel every movement. The car moves. Especially on a windy day like today, the rear of the car is going to move, and you're going to turn the thing and it's going to turn itself. You have to trust the car and the team and the setup. For me, I just try to think of the pole and that I'm capable to drive here instead to think about the accident that I had."

(About how to explain and understand weather at Indy): "I'm trying to help my teammate Mario (Moraes), and he's improving a lot. He started the week learning, and his line is good. I think he's going to make the race safely today, too. The weather and the wind are the most important thing here. When it's cold, you have to take it easy the first two laps, but when it's hot, you can go fast the first lap, and you have to be patient, as well. You have to be patient in the race, especially. When you start the race three cars side by side, that's the only place that you do that. The front straight is very narrow. With the grandstands full of people, it gets even narrower. The start of the race is a piece of work. I remember the first time I was here I started the race 20th or 22nd because I didn't qualify. I wasn't supposed to race here, and starting toward the back of the field is difficult. That straight is so narrow. Turn 1 is like a tunnel. The car shakes, and it's a pretty difficult experience. This year, we're going to start better than 20th, I h ope, and it will be very similar. I always tell people, here the goal is to go flat all around, but Turn 1 at the start, be ready to brake."

WILL POWER (#8 Aussie Vineyard-Team Australia Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I'm really proud of the crew. They worked all night. I can't thank them enough to actually have the car out there for practice. But it was once again the same as yesterday. The wind makes it really difficult. The last lap there, I started pushing in (Turn) 2 toward the wall; turn into (Turn) 3 and suddenly have a massive moment. You've got to run the car conservatively. That's what we were doing today. We were going out there just to get in."

(On experiencing the changing conditions at the Speedway): "The first three days were pretty wind-free, to be honest. But then yesterday just out on an out lap, bam, it catches you out, and you don't know what you did wrong. It's 'what did I do wrong?' which makes it really bad for your confidence. You're thinking: 'OK, the guys just fixed the car. Well, I can go out tomorrow and do exactly the same thing because one lap it's pushing like hell; the next lap you're i n the wall. You tell me.'"

(On putting the accident Friday behind him and going back out today): "It's funny, actually. I ran into Jaime Camara, and he said he still hasn't come back. I can understand. You go out, and you just can't trust the rear of the car. I went out and I just came straight back in and said, 'Guys, I can't do it. Sorry, I feel too nervous.' I got back in there and did a run where I was flat and got a little bit of confidence back. It's hard to explain. It's real nerve-racking. When you hit the wall; until you do that, you don't know the feeling. It's an instant where it just happens, and you have no chance to catch it and no warning. That's what makes you really nervous. I guess these other guys that run here that have been doing it for five years must really understand, you know, the feeling and how the car should be."

(On the repair to mental confidence a driver has to go through after an accident): "Mentally, it's the toughest because of the fact that you can really hurt yourself and also the fact that you have to watch your team work all night to rebuild the car, and the thought of going out and doing it again tomorrow. You know what I mean. This year, you're fighting for your career. You know what I mean? We've been thrown into this in the deep end; absolutely. And if you don't perform your out; your career's done. You've worked your whole life, and you can have a couple of bad wrecks on an oval because you were pushed into it so fast. The circumstances have nothing to do with the team. It's just the whole circumstance with the way everything's come together. You know, you find yourself having to learn very quickly."

ROGER YASUKAWA (#98 CURB/hhgregg/Real Power Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"You know, it's been all right. I think things could be better. Unfortunately, we're about a half a mile an hour slower than we expected, so I'm not sure this 218 is going to hold up at this point, but it's great. If not, we're going to have to work on some speed. The car has been the best all week during the qualifying runs, so we're pretty happy with that. We just need to bring the car out now and see if we can pick up more speed."

(About the qualifying format): "It's definitely nerve-wracking, but that's part of the challenge of the Indy 500, and I think every driver enjoys this."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"I'm not happy with the speed that we turned, but I'm happy to be in the field and we can work from there. If we have a good race car, we can undo those couple positions in a lap or two."

(On the wind affecting the run): "I don't think so. For whatever reason, we're not getting the speed we need out of the car. I don't know; I'm not sure why. It could be so many things with these cars. It's all a grip-to-aerodynamics trade-off. If you peel off the downforce, you go faster in a straighter line but you have less grip in the corners. I'm not an engineer, and I don't pretend to be one. I just get in the car, put my foot on the floor and drive."

(On mindset going into race week): "I love to just get to a racetrack, get the car dialed in and go race. In a lot of ways, it's been torture for me because you have to wait for so long to go race. I want next Sunday to be in two days here and go racing."

( About your first Indy 500): "It's been neat. We were fast in the beginning, and then we ended up hitting the wall because we were just trimmed out and had too little downforce and were asking for it there. It's been mediocre since then. We just haven't found the speed back in the car. I'm just looking forward to the race. That's what it's all about, 500 miles. Anything can happen."

TOWNSEND BELL (#99 Dreyer & Reinbold William Rast Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"Yeah, we always say well we just want to be comfortably in the show, but, you know, when you get out there it's one less car you have to pass if you can get a good run in. It's the first time I've seen the times. I didn't realize it was that close to Graham. We just nipped him. He had a big first lap then slowed down a lot. We had a decent first lap then slowed down a little. We knew we wanted a consistent four-lap run. I'm just really happy with the job the team's done all month. Can't thank my teammate, Buddy Rice, enough for his cooperation, help and willingness to work together to get our cars right. So it's been a really good deal so far. I'm just pleased to see us have a strong run today."

(About driving Indy cars at Indianapolis): "What's really cool about Indianapolis, I think, is these cars evolved from this racetrack, so it's like a match made in heaven, if you know what I mean. A lo t of the other tracks IndyCar races on, a lot of those tracks were developed for other cars, and sometimes it's a bit of a mismatch. This is just, for me, it's such perfect harmony of car and track."

JUSTIN WILSON (#02 McDonald's Racing Team Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"It was tough. Every corner was different and difficult. Turn 2 was the worst. Every time you turned in there, if felt like the front end was lifted off the ground and skated off the track. You're reluctant to lift, but you have to, so you do a quick lift and back on. I was actually quite frustrated with a couple of my laps. It feels good to get in the show, but I wanted to go again. I think we could do a much better job the second time around. But that's quite a gamble. It's great to finally qualify for the Indy 500. I'm very proud and pleased with the team and the effort they've put in all month and all year, in fact. It feels great for McDonald's and myself to get in the race, and now we can get going. The weather has been difficult all month. I think the best two days were during rookie orientation at the start of the month, and it's so windy and gusty and rainy for so many days, we still feel that we're a couple of steps behind where we need to be, but the team has done a great job and I think we've got a good race car, so I can't wait until Race Day. We just have to take what we have, but it would be nice to have another go, though. It's tough; it's been a tough month. I'm just pleased that we've managed to survive. We've kept the car in one piece. It's been close a couple of times, but the McDonald's car has been quick. I'm pretty happy with what we've got. My car has been able to run well in traffic, so maybe I'll just chill out for a couple of days. It's so stressful that I'll just take it easy and see what the engineers think. See if they have any bright ideas about how to run quicker without adding downforce or taking downforce off."

(About losing rookie label): "I think when the checkered flag drops. If you're there after 500 miles, I think you're going to feel pretty good about yourself and not feel like a rookie anymore. Obviously, when they drop the green flag you 're going to go for it, but you still feel scrutinized and you don't want to make any rookie mistakes. You're trying to make sure you do everything right."

(About best advice he received from Rick Mears): "The best piece of advice he gave me was that you know when it's going wrong from the moment you turn into the corner. That's pretty true. When you get down there and you turn in a little bit too late, or a little too early before you get into the corner, you've got a pretty good idea about whether you're on the right line or not. He said: 'If you're not on the right line, it's just not worth it. Get out of the throttle.' That's saved me a number of times."

(About "In Loving Memory of Davey Evans" decal): "Davey Evans was a longtime crew member at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Unfortunately, he was killed at the start of the month, and everyone misses him dearly. It just shows the strength of the team to pull together and work through the difficult times."

DAVEY HAMILTON (#22 Hewlett-Packard/KR Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"It's the hardest run I've ever ran here, for sure. Last Saturday, we had a good 13th spot, and I was happy with that. But, unfortunately they only took 11. We came out today and it was a tough day. We went out for early warm-up, and we lost a gearbox completely. Something happened. We lost a gearbox completely. It got caught between gears, and with paddle shifters, it doesn't happen that often. When it did, it broke the whole gearbox. The Carpenter guys, Foyt's guys, my guys all jumped in and replaced the whole back of my car. We didn't even have a chance to put it on the setup pad. We just changed the whole back of the car, put it on the track and throw it up there, so I didn't know what I was going to have. It was just too tight. I just couldn't turn down in (Turn) 1 and (Turn) 2. Turn 3 and 4 were OK. We lost a little bit, but you take what you can."

(On the qualifying system): "It sucks. It's a terrible system. It's not exciting. You know, every time we go out to qualify, we're hanging our ass out, man. It's the four toughest laps in motorsports, and I'm very vocal about it. I would have been 13th on this grid right now, and these fans last Saturday would have seen 24-25 cars qualify, and we wouldn't have been sitting around all week waiting for qualifying to come around. The time we did have on track we could have been doing race sims. The top 11 guys, they're way ahead of us. No doubt about it. It's going to be a tough year for all the guys who weren't in the top 11 and getting that extra track time in. I love the taking the three attempts. I think that's fantastic. Let the guys get shots at the pole. If I want to go back out right now in the same car, man, I can go do it. But they need to change it. It's not fun. I'm OK, re-qualified. I'm in the show. But Ryan Hunter-Reay peeled it off the fence over there. These cars, I don't know if you've checked, but they cost a lot of money, and it's not good putting a guy at risk to get into that top 11."

Continued in part 3

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Rick Mears , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Buddy Rice , Jaime Camara