IPS: IRL: Nashville: Saturday notebook

FIRESTONE INDY 200 DAY 2 NOTES De Ferran wins Firestone Indy 200; Chevy Gen IV Quotes LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 18, 2003 -- Gil de Ferran won the Firestone Indy 200 July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway, his second win of the season and the ...

FIRESTONE INDY 200 DAY 2 NOTES

De Ferran wins Firestone Indy 200; Chevy Gen IV Quotes

LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 18, 2003 -- Gil de Ferran won the Firestone Indy 200 July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway, his second win of the season and the fourth of his career.

FIRESTONE INDY 200 NOTES:

*This was Gil de Ferran's second IRL IndyCar Series victory this season. On May 25, he won the 87th Indianapolis 500. De Ferran now has four career IRL IndyCar Series wins. He won at Pikes Peak and Gateway in 2002.

*Scott Dixon finished second, his fourth top-five finish of the season. His has three victories this season, at Homestead-Miami, Pikes Peak and Richmond.

*Dan Wheldon finished a career-best fourth. His previous best finish was seventh in April 2002 at Motegi.

*Defending Firestone Indy 200 winner Alex Barron finished fifth as a substitute for the injured Felipe Giaffone. Barron has competed in three races in 2003, and fifth is his best finish. His previous best finish was sixth at the 87th Indianapolis 500.

*Sam Hornish Jr. led four laps en route to an 11th-place finish. It marked the first time this season that Hornish had led a lap and the first laps that a Chevrolet engine had led in 2003.

*The Firestone Indy 200 ended under caution, marking the fourth time this season that a race has ended under caution. The other races were at Motegi, Pikes Peak and Richmond.

*Penske Racing has now won 116 Indy-style events.

*Gil de Ferran won using a Toyota engine, marking the seventh time at Toyota engine has won in 2003.

*Gil de Ferran, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves finished 1-2-3, respectively, using Toyota engines. It marks the third time in 2003 that those three drivers and Toyota have swept the podium. The other sweeps were at Homestead-Miami and Richmond.

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FIRESTONE INDY 200 POST-RACE QUOTES:

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was just one thing after another tonight. We got off to a good start, but then everything that could happen to us did after that. But, you get races like that. That's racing. That is how people win; that is how people lose. It wasn't a good night for us. I think we ran out of luck tonight, to be honest, because there were just so many things that happened. It would be one thing and then I would say: 'OK, we got a break. Now, let's go racing.' But then it would be something else, so it was a frustrating night. But, I still can relive the start and my first 70 laps or so. That was pretty good, so that will cheer me up."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It was such a tough race, so much stuff going on, going to the back once again. In the end, we had quite a good position. Then they left (Buddy) Lazier out with five laps to go on the restart, and I had to try to get around him on the outside. He messed up me, and then Tora (Takagi) hit me, so the last four or five laps really ruined my race. Otherwise it was a pretty decent race. I think they were just stricter on it. I think it was just the IRL; sometimes the rules have been a little bit lenient. I think when there's a whole bunch of cars ahead of you, and then say there's a backmarker and the backmarker doesn't come in, and you try to catch the leaders in that little space before the pit speed comes on, sometimes you push it, but you're not really over speed. But it's good that the IRL is enforcing the rules. I don't think that they were that strong on it before. We'll just have to be more careful in the future."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm under a lot of pressure right now. Everyone was telling me to stay flat no matter what. We were having a good race. We started getting loose on that last run and hit the wall in Turn 4 about 10 or 15 laps ago. The car was OK, and we were able to keep going, but then I just kept getting loose and spun out of Turn 4. I came in the pits, got a new set of tires. I was leaving the pits and just couldn't go flat out then cause I bent something, I'm sure. I'm under a lot of pressure to continue to go flat out, and I was trying to continue to do that. I went in to Turn 2, and the car just took off into the wall. One thing good is we really, really pushed it this weekend, and we ran really good. I know that is really encouraging for everybody. That is the good part about it. I just hate to crash and end a race that way. It was real sad."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "All and all it's a real shame about the penalty. I don't think it was deserved. The guys tried to build a new setup on the car yesterday morning. With not coming here testing and given other teams like Penske and Ganassi coming down here and running like 200 laps in testing, for us to not have that and to try within two 45-minute sessions to build a whole new setup is tough to do, but he guys stayed with it all weekend. I think we had a top-five car at the end of the race. I'm pleased. Hopefully we've gotten ourselves in a new direction."

ALEX BARRON (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It feels really good to get a top-five finish. The result shows how good the team is - they put together the car. With a new driver the results show that it's a really good team. For Hollywood to put me in the car so quick, I've got to thank them for the opportunity and hope I get to continue from here on out."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Obviously, the race was not how we wanted it to turn out, but we had a good car. We were able to get up there in the lead for a little bit, which was something we hadn't done yet this year, and I hope we will have a lot more of it next weekend. The car was really good in traffic. We got our momentum taken away from us - we'd get pass stuff left and right, but we just had to make sure we kept the momentum going. That's been the big thing for us this year."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I have to give a lot of credit to Tony (Cottman, manager). The car was very good once we got the momentum up. It seemed like we struggled a little bit on the restarts. It wouldn't accelerate as quick as I would like it to off of Turn 2, particularly. Once the momentum was up, the guys gave me a good car, and I was able to focus on bringing the car home. The car setup was brilliant. I was able to run pretty much close to flat all night long. We might have carried just a little bit too much wing, because we couldn't get along side anyone to overtake which made it difficult." (About the concrete surface): "It was cool. It's just like another racetrack, really. The only thing I was concerned about a little bit was the tires going up, but the car was under me the whole night very, very well."

***

The Indy Racing League announced July 19 that it has approved a new engine design for Chevrolet for competition in the IndyCar^Ù Series. The full release was sent out via e-mail on the evening of July 19. The following are quotes from today's press conference with Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of operations for the Indy Racing League, regarding the announcement.

QUOTES FROM TODAY'S CHEVY GEN IV ANNOUNCEMENT:

BRIAN BARNHART: (Is reliability the reason only one team will use the engine at Michigan and Gateway?): "That has a little bit to do with it. Part of the issue, as well, is as you are introducing new parts in here. You have to give the ability to test, without mandating mass production, simply because if they have made a mistake in the production then you have mass production, made 20 of 40 bits, if it is a cylinder head, 40 cylinder heads that are all junk, then you've cost the manufacturer a lot of money. You want a contract to last for the introduction of new bits once or twice before it is made available to all participants so they can test them. If there are reliability issues, they can make adjustments before they have to mass-produce them for everybody." (NASCAR is criticized about making changes throughout the season. What is atmosphere that makes it different for IRL?): "It is unprecedented in Indy Racing League history. What we are doing -- this is a major change, than anything we have had to do before this because I think we are facing unprecedented circumstances, as well. Toyota and Honda have joined the series and raised the bar of competition, and it was clear all year long that GM has faced a points deficiency. At this point in time, it is a request they have made to alter their specifications in the best interest in all partners involved, Toyota, Honda, GM, the teams, sponsors and drivers, that they are allowed to make this change as soon as possible." (You have made precedent doing this. Will this results in the future decisions along the same lines?): "As long as the situation is the same. If somebody through the halfway point of the season hasn't led a lap, I will do what I can to help them, as well." (Reaction from participants): "We spent a long time talking to all of the Chevrolet teams, as well as the Robert Clarke from Honda and Lee White from Toyota. Like I said, the consensus has been actually pretty positive. We need to get GM better and make a change in the interest of everybody. It is in the best interest of everybody that the best competition is maintained, the side-by-side competitive quality that we have on the track now. The Chevrolet teams are happy that Panther gets to run it at the Michigan event. Who ever gets is for the St. Louis event is yet to be determined. It is going to be the next highest car in the points total." (What if the engine is unreliable?): "That will be hard to speculate. They have been tested three times, in Chicago, Kansas and Michigan, and if there wasn't a lot of faith in that fact that it is going to help in the end, then they wouldn't have made the exceptional request for us to make the change without the faith that it is going to improve the situation. One of the most difficult things would be, and again that is why we test in one on situations, if in Michigan and St. Louis if it would have proven to be highly unreliable, then I would assume at that point in time there may be issues as to whether this was the right time for everybody to make the change. But again, that has not proven to be a point between Chicago, Michigan and Kansas. They've got right at a 1,000 miles on it already, and it has gone very well." (How much better?): "I don't want to get into numbers. There is a very significant performance increase in drivability. Panther Racing with Sam Hornish has done a lot of testing, and they have been very pleased with the progress they've made. They first ran at Chicago. They ran at Kansas the day after the Kansas race there, and Sam ran very competitive speeds the day before during our race event. He got about 450 miles, then the engine went to Michigan. They changed the motors and had weather-related challenges. They changed the motors out again and also ran a considerable amount of time. They have been very pleased, and it has been a very impressive debut. General Motors has done a great job keeping us informed throughout the summer of their options and what progress they have been making. Like I've said, we have done a good job from a league standpoi nt keeping them (Toyota and Honda) informed, as well. Toyota and Honda want the competition to improve, as well as everybody else. All this is going to do is to keep them working harder, and they welcome the competition, as well, I'm sure."

***

NEXT EVENT INFO.:

The next IRL IndyCar Series event is the Firestone Indy 400 at 3 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, July 27 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC-TV and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.

The next IRL Infiniti Pro Series event is the Michigan 100 at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, July 27 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) July 31 on ESPN2.

Tickets for both races can be purchased by calling (800) 354-1010 or by logging on to www.mispeedway.com.

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Brian Barnhart , Robert Clark , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn , Sam Hornis
Teams Panther Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske , HART