PHOENIX, Thursday, March 15, 2001- The familiar red ...
PHOENIX, Thursday, March 15, 2001- The familiar red #12 Bradley Food Marts/ Sav-O-Mat/ Sinclair Dallara/ Oldsmobile of Buzz Calkins is ready to launch into the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season this weekend at the Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). The 1996 Indy Racing co-championship team and driver are confident coming into the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 weekend that 2001 will be the year Bradley Motorsports returns to its winning ways.
"We've had very good races and very bad races here at Phoenix," reflected the winner of 1996 season-opener at Walt Disney World. "We tested really well here last week and accomplished all we wanted to. The Bradley guys are doing some of the quickest pit stops they ever have and our full-tank tests went real well. I am confident that the Bradley Food Marts/ Sav-O-Mat/ Dallara/ Oldsmobile is a car and a team to contend with for the win here at PIR."
The team has undergone multiple changes in the off-season that Calkins anticipates will put Bradley Motorsports back into victory lane. "We've made a lot of changes this off-season, including moving the shop to Indy. A lot of times you come into the first race and don't really know where you are with the team. You feel a little uneasy. We feel like we've had adequate testing this year with the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat #12, and we are firing on all cylinders. We feel really good going into this Indy Racing Northern Light Series season."
Bradley Motorsports feels that the changes made in 2001 will compliment what the team has become universally known for in the Northern Light Series... taking checkered flags. Calkins is second on the series' list in career starts and far exceeds the competition in completing races. The 13-race schedule- which has the cars on the track every two weeks this summer- will play right into the hands of a team that is known for putting together cars that don't break and a driver known for not making mistakes.
"The longer season will make each race not as important from a points perspective but consistency will still be key," said the 29 year-old driver from Denver. "It will be important to be at the top of your game in Phoenix because you may never regain your momentum if you lose it here. All of this is for the better, especially if you are prepared. I feel like we are prepared."
Calkins is also quick to recognize the importance of running during the Copper World Classic weekend. The traditional festival of speed, which sees four classes of cars throughout the weekend, will have the Indy Racing cars as a class for the first time in history. "This is going to be a great weekend of racing. With all these races- the supermodifieds, midgets, Silver Crown cars- I don't think people are going to want to leave the track at night. It is exciting to have the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat car as part of such a historic event."
"We are definitely aiming for the championship," offered Calkins. "My expectations are the highest yet. I think we have put together the best team since we started in 1996 so I think this is our best opportunity ever to win races. This is my second year with my engineer David Cripps and Dallara made a lot of headway during the off-season, particularly in the aerodynamics. I feel real good about the year in the Bradley Food Marts/ Sav-O-Mat/ Sinclair Dallara."