SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We had a little problem this morning, but the mechanics fixed the problem, and the car got better. We changed the Infiniti engine, and now the car feels really strong. This track is nice.
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We had a little problem this morning, but the mechanics fixed the problem, and the car got better. We changed the Infiniti engine, and now the car feels really strong. This track is nice. It's pretty smooth. This is my hometown track, so I'm just happy to drive here."
JON HERB (No. 16 G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This is a great track and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we're not where we need to be, but we're working hard to solve the problem. The car drove great, but we just didn't have enough speed. We're going to change the engine and work on the setup, run down some electrical issues and go from there. This is a dynamite track and a great market to be in. We need to be out here."
LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was difficult to learn anything because we did not run at the Test in the West, but it went pretty good. We changed a few things on the second session, and I don't think we went a good way, but now we know the good way to go. Overall, this morning was OK, but we'll have to see tomorrow."
RICK TREADWAY (No. 55 Airlink Enterprises/Spade Motorsports G Force/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "Practice went pretty good. We still had a pretty old motor in the car, pretty high on the mileage. I felt really comfortable adapting to this track without every being on it before. I just feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to drive for Treadway-Hubbard/Airlink Enterprises. We will change the motor before qualifying and the race."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light Life Fitness Tae-Bo Delta Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It was a positive day. We're working on setups and trying to find speed. Obviously, everyone is flat out. We're just trying to trim the car out to make it more efficient and gain speed." (About the condensed practice schedule): "It doesn't matter to me or my Coors Light team. The schedule is the same for everyone, so we can work with anything. Actually, the shortened day is kind of nice."
RICHIE HEARN (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Practice went pretty good. We really didn't have to change a lot. The car is fairly quick. For not being out here for a couple of years, I got up to speed fairly easy. These guys prepared a good car. A top-10 starting spot would be good for us. I have just been trying to work on my race setup, trying it in traffic. That is what's important to me. I think we definitely have a top-five car if reliability-wise we can make it to the end. They tested very well here at the Test in the West. I think they were sixth fastest, so they had a good setup to start with. We just progressed from there. It makes it easier for me when they show up ready to go like that." (About racing at California Speedway after growing up in Bakersfield, Calif.): "There are a lot of people that will be coming out. In fact, I'm trying to find tickets because now everybody wants to come. I even have people coming from Las Vegas for a one-day trip. This is as close as it gets. For me, this is definitely a home race."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"This session, we were working a little bit in the draft. I think that's why I got a better lap time. This afternoon, we were working a little bit for qualifying with no draft."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We've tested extremely well here, and we're extremely pleased with the wear on the tires. We can run high. We can run low. We run well in traffic. We like everything we have. We just need things to go our way on race day."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I ran here in 1999 with the Indy Lights series, and the track seems to have a lot more bumps on the back straightaway, but it doesn't really do anything to the car. I'm flat out all the way around. The car feels good. There are some guys running in the draft, but we're not doing that because when you go to qualify, you're all alone. I think we're in good shape."
JEFF WARD (No. 9 Chip Ganassi G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's the first time we've run on a 2-mile, high-banked track. We're just getting the race car trimmed. We want to be in traffic right now. We ran on purpose by ourselves this morning at 219 something, which is pretty good by ourselves. It's going to be a great race. You can see when four or five guys get together, nobody's going to take off. Then we have another five or seven guys that can get thrown into that mix, so it's going to be an exciting race. Pit stop strategy is going to be a big thing and fuel mileage."
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 A. J. Foyt Racing/Banco Chile Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We didn't test, so this is our first time here. I'm running flat out, but it is not that easy. There is not so much banking, and the two corners are different. It surprised me, really. The car is handling really good, but we'll have to trim it out to find more speed."
GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This afternoon went a little better. We're just trying to work out the bugs. I wish we had more time today. At least I kept it in one piece, which is better than last week. From a driver's standpoint, we're never fast enough, but we keep creeping up on it. I'm excited about tomorrow on the one hand, worried on the other. I like to be on top of the board, but I'm glad to be racing in California. This is where I want to be. I'm not sure if you can call it a 'home court advantage', but it's a little more comfortable to be at home. Plus, my mom (Sandy) is singing the National Anthem (Saturday), and I think people will like that - not just because she's my mom, but because she's a really good singer."
JOHN DE VRIES (No. 37 Pit Bull Energy Drink/Rhino Cleaning Products Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car felt good, especially after the boys worked on it all week. I think we still have a little more in us. We've been making some changes to make it quicker. This is a great market. It's an absolutely great stop. I think it can get stronger and stronger every year. The weather is great. People just need to see what the IRL is about."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were out there working on our race, just seeing how the car is going to run in the race. I'm pretty excited about this weekend out here at California. It's the first time we've raced on this track, and we're really anxious to see what's going to happen. I think it's going to be a really good race. It's going to be tough. We're going to see some new faces up toward the front this week. It's going to be a long race. We're not going to know who's going to win it until you come off Turn 4 on the last lap."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Fontana is a beautiful track. It ranks right up there with being one of the nicest in the country. The track is very smooth and has three legitimate grooves. With the long backstraight, it provides ample drafting opportunities. It proves to be a great race come Sunday."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Every year this series has gotten stronger and stronger. Last year you had a new driver like Jaques (Lazier) come out of nowhere and win. There isn't one driver that doesn't want to win the race here. There is a lot of competition. There is a lot of animosity now, which is good. I like battles, and there are good battles now between teams, drivers, engine manufacturers, and it's good. I think this is a great series. It's drivers like Tomas (Scheckter) and Jaques (Lazier) and all the younger drivers that will keep pushing this sport up ahead. I look forward to every race this season. Today, we picked up from where we were at the Test in the West. It's the last big superspeedway before we go to Indy. Our guys have been incredibly busy the last six months. They're a good group. We have the best equipment we've ever had in the history of this team. It's exciting. We're on top of a good wave." (About California Speedway): "This is a very special racetrack. There's a lot of traffic. It's different than Texas and Indy. Unlike Jaques, I was looking for the tow. The best way is with two cars ahead of you. I think there's a lot of other issues at this track than just being in the draft. Mechanics and pit crews play a very important role. I think there's a number of drivers that can do it, but there are a handful of teams that will be in a position to be strong throughout the whole race."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We had a little problem with my car. I had to use Eddie's T-car. I just have to say thank you to the guys. They did a great job in changing everything. The fact that I can jump into the T-car and be quickest is great. The car felt good. Hopefully we can keep the same performance for tomorrow. It's tomorrow that counts. I think any fool can qualify the car, but it's who's going to win the race. I think it's no problem to do this circuit flat out in any line you want to do it. I think if you're in the top 10 or 15, it doesn't matter in qualifying. It's going to be irrelevant. It's whether the car will stay together for the race." (About the 400-mile race distance): "Physically, I'm ready, but mentally, I haven't done a race this long. It's about getting into a rhythm and making sure you're in position. For me, it's all about the last 50 laps."
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We are better here than we were during the Test in the West. We had a 2001 Aurora for the test, and now we have the 2002 Chevrolet. I have more confidence with the team since we have spent time together. We have continued to build together. Their preparation of the car is excellent. The conditions here are different -- a little warmer and not as windy -- and that will make a difference. If the temperatures drop here tomorrow, the car should be quicker, but the handling should be the same."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're real happy with our run today. We went out and ran 20.7 by ourselves. It was a little freer coming off the corners. I got a little tow. I think that realistically 15 cars have the possibility of winning this race because of the draft. It's obviously a very long race. It's an endurance race. You've got to condition yourself to be there in the last 50 laps. You might get a lap down because you have to pit early. Just about anyone can win this race. I know Eddie and Tomas are going to be up there. They were strong here in the Open Test. What you saw in the first two races with those three guys (De Ferran, Castroneves, Hornish), I think they'll be up there, but just about anybody can win this race."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're changing an engine. Hopefully things will go better tomorrow. We know we're not in the run for the pole, so our goals are different than some of the other teams here. We want a fast, well-balanced car that will finish the race. This is a beautiful facility. The track is relatively easy because it's flat."