INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Oct. 7, 2002 -- Quotes from notable drivers, team members and other officials from the 2002 Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at the House of Blues in Chicago, where Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Foyt IV were honored as...
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Oct. 7, 2002 -- Quotes from notable drivers, team members and other officials from the 2002 Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at the House of Blues in Chicago, where Sam Hornish Jr. and A.J. Foyt IV were honored as the season champions of the Indy Racing League and Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, respectively:
SAM HORNISH JR. (2002 Indy Racing League champion): (About Championship Celebration): "Definitely, it was a good night, the fact that we won the championship. We're all a little bit on to the next thing right now, trying to figure out a way to win a third championship. But to have a night to celebrate, the guys, the team owners and myself. It was just fun to be together to see people from the league, other drivers. It's just a really special night for us. We had good entertainment tonight between Orlando Jones, the painter and the music. It was a wonderful evening." (Are you ready for an offseason break or are you eager to begin testing?): "I wish the season started right away. All and all, I think we have until the end of this month before we get on the track testing. We're pretty much just waiting on the Chevrolet engine to get ready. I think we're going to hit Kentucky, Homestead and Phoenix, maybe California. We're just really excited to see what the new engine brings, what kind of feedback we can learn from it. And after the beginning of the year when we get the new cars, we'll be excited to see what they can do, too." (About artist painting Hornish's portrait during Championship Celebration): "I didn't know until he was about halfway through. I thought it kind of looked like me, but I wasn't sure. I didn't really know what was going on. Then they told me it was going to be me. It was a pretty neat experience. I've never had anybody paint a picture of me that I've been there to be able to watch. It was kind of strange because I saw the first one he did, and it looked like was doing a tree at first, then it looked like a mountain and it turned out to be Eric Clapton. He has a little pattern that he does with all of them. It was cool. A lot of people were saying: 'What's he doing? Does he have dots out there (markings on canvas)?' I think it's just a real cool technique of how he does it, and he can make it look like what he wants it to be."
JOHN BARNES (Co-owner, Pennzoil Panther Racing): "2002 couldn't have been better. We ended up with the championship. We're really excited about next year. We've already started testing our 2003 Chevy engine program. We're looking forward to the new Dallara chassis. We hope to add another IRL team." (About Championship Celebration): "Tonight was an incredible evening. To be able to look across from our balcony over to Team Penske's, see Roger (Penske) there and know that we beat Team Penske is a huge thing for Pennzoil Panther Racing." (About painting of Sam Hornish Jr.): "Awesome. We were able to watch it from the back room over there. He was incredible."
KEVIN BLANCH (Team manager/chief mechanic, Pennzoil Panther Racing, winner of Chief Mechanic/Team Manager of the Year Award): "Winning awards is really more a tribute to the whole team than myself. I'm just the guy that happens to receive the award. The guys do a great job, and without them there wouldn't be me. And without all of us behind Sam, there wouldn't be a championship. I think it's a little bit more gratifying winning the second time because it just proves the first time we did it wasn't a fluke, that we are a championship-caliber team. In the last three years, we've been second, first and first in the championship, so it kind of solidifies who we are. It lets the world know we are as good as anybody else out there."
LAURENT REDON (2002 Bombardier Rookie of the Year): (About the 2002 season): "We wanted to win a race this year. We were close. It's good that we won the Rookie of the Year. I'd like to thank all the team. We had a pretty low budget, so I think we did pretty well, considering the budget we had. We had one of the lowest budgets in the paddock. It's OK. If you take that into consideration, we had a pretty good season. We were pretty much always competitive. We could do better, but that's racing. I enjoy racing in this series, and it's growing, that's for sure. I'm pretty happy." (About the 2003 IRL season): "I'd like to be part of it next year. That's my plan. I'd like to be in a car to compete for winning races. I really want to be in a situation where I'm in a good team and a good car. Our team is good. It's growing, so I'd like to see if we can take another step together. If it's realistic, it would be good." (About the Championship Celebration): "It's fantastic, this place. I'd never been here before, and it's very nice. I think it's the right place to do something like that. It's good to see all of these guys outside the track and in a different situation."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Second place, 2002 Indy Racing League standings): "There's no way I can be upset with the results from this season. Marlboro Team Penske worked so hard this year, and I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't win the championship, but I'm very satisfied with our performance this year. I want to congratulate Sam (Hornish Jr.) and his team. They did a good job all season. I had a fantastic year, and I'm honored to be part of such a great organization. I'm proud to be involved in the IRL. It's a fantastic series, and the racing was so competitive."
GIL DE FERRAN (Third place, 2002 Indy Racing League standings): "Apart from the disappointment of the last two races, this was a really good season. I managed to win a lot of poles, win some races and run up front most weekends. I think we were very competitive at most of the tracks. Whenever you have four guys battling for the title with two races to go, it is a pure indication of how tough the competition is. For our first season in the IRL, our results were pretty good."
BRETT SHELTON (President, Michigan International Speedway, co-winner of Promoter of the Year Award): "MIS is extremely honored to be recognized by the Indy Racing League with this award. I think it speaks to the foundation that we laid in 2002. I think it's a tremendous honor for the community and the Race Week committee, also.
TIFFANY HEMMER (Director of racing administration, Indy Racing League, winner of Indy Racing League Achievement Award): "I'm deeply honored. There are so many people at the IRL that work so hard. It's just a privilege to be considered as one of them. I'm real lucky to work with the people I do and to see how well the IRL has turned out this year with a wonderful season."
LES MACTAGGART (Technical consultant, Indy Racing League, winner of Indy Racing League Special Recognition Award): "I had no idea I was receiving this award. It was a wonderful surprise and a great honor to receive it. When they announced my name, I went completely blank."