IRL: Atlanta Midas 500 Classic pre-race quotes

HAMPTON, Ga., Monday, July 10, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and officials about the Midas 500 Classic on July 15 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: TYCE CARLSON ( ...

HAMPTON, Ga., Monday, July 10, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and officials about the Midas 500 Classic on July 15 at Atlanta Motor Speedway:

TYCE CARLSON (#20 Hubbard Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “I’m really looking forward to the race at Atlanta because it’s become a comfortable track for us. We learned a lot about consistency with the car during some recent testing there as it behaved extremely well over some very long runs regardless of how much fuel we carried. This looks to be a very positive event for us, not only because of our testing, but because we feel we have some momentum going following these last two races. Being a fairly new team, we see things continuing to jell more and more -- whether it’s the chemistry between crew members, the time frame for preparing the cars and most everything else. As always, we’ll be looking to practice and qualify in the top third of the field, then run a smooth race and be in position over the last 20 to 30 laps to win or at least earn a podium finish.”

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, current series points leader) (About Atlanta Motor Speedway): “Atlanta is a great race facility. Every one of Bruton Smith’s tracks is first class. Atlanta is like Daytona for the Winston Cup drivers - it’s relatively easy to drive flat by yourself, but in a pack, if you lose the draft, you’re done. Likewise, if you know how to work the draft, you can catch up to a lot of people. I know we’ll have a lot of fun, as we always do at Atlanta. It’s very aggressive racing, which I enjoy. Atlanta will be a tough race -- no one will be holding anything back.” (About leading the point standings entering Atlanta): “It’s nice to be leading the championship, but we still have a long way to go. Still, the #51 Excite@Home team is very strong, and we have a good, competitive package with Infiniti, Dallara and Firestone. I think we can do it. Prior to our win at Pikes Peak last month, we’d been in contention for the win at every race, but for a variety of reasons we weren’t able to capitalize on that. The #51 Excite@Home team is working very well right now, and I’m very happy with my driving. The important thing right now is to keep calm and focused on the championship.”

MARK DISMORE (#28 OnStar/GM BuyPower Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “I’m happy to be done with the 1-mile tracks; I’ve always run better at tracks like Atlanta. The last two years our car was real fast in the race, probably the fastest car, so I’m hoping this year it will be just as good. We enjoyed the break between Pikes Peak and Atlanta, but the OnStar team is ready to win these last three races and the championship.”

STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Mexmil/Tokheim/Viking Air Tools/Cigarette G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “I like racing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, and I am really looking forward to racing there again. The track is very much like Texas, but Atlanta is a much better track to race on. It is much smoother and also wider, so it gives you more room to maneuver and pass. So, I am very excited. The track lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway are fantastic, and you can see clearly around the whole track. I like the whole facility and the people down there, as well. In Texas, we had a good car, but I was being conservative because I really wanted to finish that race. But going into Atlanta, I feel very confident because we led the race last year, and had we not been involved in the yellow-flag accident, I am sure we would have finished in the top three, if not winning that race. So, I think the whole team goes back to Atlanta knowing that we ran really well there, and we were leading the race last year. I feel confident about our chances, and I know my team feels the same way, so we should have a good race under the lights this year.”

SCOTT HARRINGTON (#43 Mid America Motorsports/Western Star Trucks Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “This will be my first race with Mid America Motorsports, and our main goal at this point is just to finish the race. It looks like we’re going to run the ‘99 Dallara, which is going to put us behind the 8-ball a little against the teams with 2000 chassis. So, our goal is just to finish and get to the checkered flag.” (About racing at night): “I love racing at night. The lights and the reflections off the cars add to the excitement for everybody. I did a lot of night racing in my motorcycle days, and I always liked it and I always did well at night, so I’m really looking forward to racing under the lights at Atlanta. I think it just adds to the enjoyment and the excitement of the event.” (About Atlanta Motor Speedway): “I like Atlanta Motor Speedway. I think we were running third at Atlanta last year when we had clutch problems. We were kind of in the lead battle there for a little while before the clutch problem developed, and I spun trying to leave the pits. But for me, I’m just excited about getting back in the saddle again, and that’s all the more reason that our goal is just to get out there and finish the race. I haven’t raced since Vegas in April since we missed the show at Indy, so I have to knock some cobwebs off. It’s a new team for me, and we have to get to know each other, but I’m looking forward to it and to a good finish.” (About deal with Mid America Motorsports): “We’re looking at this as the start of a long and successful relationship between myself and Mid America Motorsports. We are going to work together to build a winning program for the future. They were new to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series this year, and they struggled with some of the things that new teams struggle with, so hopefully with my experience we can build a great program together.”

JIMMY KITE (#27 Big Daddy’s BBQ/Blueprint Racing Special G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, resident of Stockbridge, Ga.) (About racing at his home track): “It’s cool because it is the same track I used to come and watch when I was a kid. Who knows, there might be some future ‘little Jimmy’ up there in the stands watching me like I use to watch. It is cool knowing I’ll have a bunch of friends and family there to cheer me on. Besides Indy, I can’t think of a better place for my first win.” (About physical demands of running high-banked tracks): “The g-loads wear on you pretty bad at these high-banked tracks. Your body takes a pretty heavy load in the corners, and it is a straight-down load. At Indy, you’re getting more of a side-load, but here you are just getting pushed straight down into the seat. To get the idea, have someone push straight down on your head 416 times. That is the way it feels by the end of the race.” (About best and worse parts of racing at home): “The best part has to be sleeping in my own bed. I also know what restaurants to eat at, what the best way in and out of the track is and how to get to where I am going. It is also nice to have people coming up and asking for advice rather than going to them and asking for it. The worst part about racing at home is that everyone knows my home phone number. There is also the possibility of having a bad finish in front of my hometown crowd.”

RON PELFREY (Owner, #81 Team Pelfrey Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, driver Billy Boat): “Team Pelfrey is excited to be participating in the Midas 500 this weekend. Last year, we finished second to Scott Sharp, which was our highest placement since we joined the series in 1998. This year, we expect big things to happen, as well. Billy Boat has sat on the pole for last two years, and our goal is to give him the opportunity for three in a row, with a win.”

ELISEO SALAZAR (#11 Rio A.J. Foyt Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “We are in a better position now than we were before the race in Colorado last month because now we’re only 25 points out of the lead. I think this race will separate out the top two or three contenders. We have to score points in this race if we’re going to be one of them. I am in the best position of my Indy-car career to win the title. I think a lot about the points because history remembers those who won titles, not those who finished in the top five. We have a legitimate chance to win, and I’m going to drive the best I can.”

JERET SCHROEDER (#6 Kroger/Tristarmall.com Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “My goal for the Midas 500 Classic is no different than it is for any other Indy Racing Northern Light race, and that’s to finish on the lead lap. I want to win the Rookie of the Year title and that’s in the back of my mind, but we still have three races left, and I have to stay focused on the job at hand. I have to finish and do the best I can, and if everything works the way we expect it will, I don’t need to worry about it. I don’t think about where the other rookies are during the race. I worry about the cars ahead of me and behind me, whether they’re a fellow rookie driver or not.” (About racing at night): “Racing at night isn’t a concern to me because Atlanta has excellent lighting, and everyone else has to deal with the same environment that I’ll have to deal with. Sometimes glare can be a problem, but Atlanta and Texas have some of the best lighting in the country so I’m not worried about it.” (About racing on a 1.5-mile, high-banked oval): “As far as returning to a mile-and-a-half track, we had our best finish of the year so far on a mile and a half when we finished fourth at Vegas, so I think we’ll be OK. I’ve never raced on the oval at Atlanta, but I raced the whole road course there in Formula 2000. I’ve only been there once before though, and I haven’t been there since 1993.” (About Georgia roots): “I’m looking forward to going to Atlanta a lot; I spent the first two years of my life in Georgia. I think we lived in Marietta, but you’d have to ask my mom. I have a lot of friends in Georgia who I’m looking forward to seeing, and I really hope we can have a great race there.”

SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems/MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “Of course, I’m real excited about going back to Atlanta as the defending champion and even more pumped after the Texas race. The Delphi team is really working well together, and we’ve made a lot of progress in the points since Indy. Our goal here is to finish in the top three, and hopefully we’ll be there at the end in position to win.”

AL SPEYER (Motorsports director, Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.): “One of the best races we’ve ever been a part of was last month at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s sister facility in Texas. Since both tracks have the same degree of banking on the straightaways and curves, with similar widths, we fully expect the Midas 500 Classic to be a continuation of the excitement generated at Texas. The Firestone tires to be used at Atlanta feature race-proven compounds and constructions that will give drivers the traction and durability required to put on a good show. Given that, we believe the fans could see one of the best events of the year, with plenty of side-by-side racing, bold moves and truly competitive action.”

AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles ECR Racing Tickets.com Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “I am looking forward to racing at Atlanta because with the track configuration so close to Texas Motor Speedway, I think we are going to see some great wheel-to-wheel racing. We can definitely go two-wide into the corners like at Texas, and that is what is going to show those Atlanta race fans some of the best racing they have ever seen. Atlanta holds a special place in my heart, because my first Indy-car race with Galles Racing was in 1983 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The track was completely different back then, but it still holds some great memories for me. We started dead last and finished sixth, and that was the beginning of everything for me with my career in Indy cars. I had raced one race in 1982 at Riverside, but 1983 was my real start because it was with Galles, and it was my first full season.”

JEFF WARD (#14 Harrah’s A.J. Foyt Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): “I really like tracks like Atlanta, Texas and Vegas. They’re a lot of fun to race on, and I usually run well on them. The toughest laps of this race will be the ones in the beginning because of the sun glare. The sun is in your eyes down the front straightaway until it sets in Turn 1. Hopefully the later starting time will help that. That will be important because we’ll be running so close together like we did at Texas last month.”

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , A.J. Foyt