DAY 1 -- Friday, Sept. 6, 2002 Indy Racing League Post-Practice Quotes DAN WHELDON (No. 15 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Everything's going according to plan, really. We tested here (last week). So, we're just making sure the...
DAY 1 -- Friday, Sept. 6, 2002
Indy Racing League Post-Practice Quotes
DAN WHELDON (No. 15 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Everything's going according to plan, really. We tested here (last week). So, we're just making sure the car is very good for the race. I better do good because I want to drive here in 2003. A lot of it is credit to the team, as well. You can't look good without the machinery, and that goes for the Chevrolet engine, too. Everything in this team works well as a package, and it makes my job much easier."
TONY RENNA (No. 78 Kruse Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The Kruse/HomeMed Special car gave me really good speed this afternoon, which was great because in the morning practice we were having some off sets with the gearing. The track this afternoon was a bit slick, though, because the tires used by the ARCA cars don't mesh well with our Firestone Firehawk tires. But the Kruse/HomeMed Special car felt good. We ran some race-style runnings, and I think tomorrow's practice we can gain some more speed and be ready for the qualifications."
GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Our strategy was right where we wanted it today, especially considering I had not seen Chicagoland Speedway until this morning. We worked on both qualifying and race trim, finding unique ways to free up the car, while at the same time not losing too much grip. We've still got some adjustments to make in tomorrow's practice, but we'll be set come qualifying. Racing in Sunday's Delphi Indy 300 should be great, especially with more rubber and running a higher line. It's a beautiful facility, and the track is top notch and very fast."
LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We ran in race conditions, so with quite a bit of downforce. The car was pretty good. We always try to run in traffic. I think we'll be good for the race. Tomorrow we're going to run for qualifying, but right now we're pretty happy about the car for the race."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "The first and second sessions we were always competitive, within the first two or three spots. We have to work a little bit more on race setup, though, but we are in good shape for qualifying. I think we can be in the top four or five cars. The second session wasn't very good initially because we were out after the stock cars, but it got better by the end. Just need to tune for the race. It has a little push when I'm in traffic, and we need to make that better. It's very good when I'm by myself, but I want to spend the last testing session tomorrow working on running in traffic."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car is just as good as the other one. There is a really small difference. It's good to have a backup car like that, that you can step in (right away). Fortunately, everything went smooth. The guys changed everything they needed to the backup. I feel at home with this car, as well. Qualifying is not our strongest thing, but I feel the car is really good for the race. We're not going to have a shot for the pole anyway, so we're just working for race setup, running full tanks and drafting. That's all we're doing the whole day anyway."
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm pretty happy with the car running by itself. We didn't really draft with anyone, so I think I can have a car in the top 10 for qualifying."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm still a mile an hour off the top eight, but the car is good in traffic. I don't have any problems running behind the other guys. I'm not sure about qualifying, but it will be good in the race."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The No. 7 Corteco/Bryant car feels really good. We had a chance to work on both our qualifying and race setups, which is the advantage of the three-day weekends. We aren't as rushed and can really try numerous combinations to get the car right. We will be good for the race and actually qualify better than we have recently. My Kelley Racing crew brought me a good car this weekend. Chicagoland is a great track, so we are looking for a good day on Sunday."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "For this weekend, the car has been good. We're pretty happy with everything. The first session, obviously, we were set up for qualifying trim. This morning was just strictly qualifying. This afternoon was all full-tank runs, and we were running everything out just for the race trim. We're real happy right now with the way the cars are working. Hopefully, we'll have a strong weekend here and a solid Sunday."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): "The car's turning better, we just need to find some more speed. We're definitely better off of (Turn) 4, but we still need a better gauge of where we're going to be in traffic. We're better than we were this morning. We'll just work on continuing to improve."
GREG RAY (No. 20 Empress Casino/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I'm very pleased working with everybody at Sam Schmidt Motorsports and look forward to working with Tim Neff and all the guys. The car was 220 mph right out the box this morning. I think we found a few things between airbox pressure and a trim switch that's maybe is costing us a little bit. Really we've been working on the handling of the car. We've done a few things to improve the handling of the car in traffic, and we've been running with full tanks. Overall, having not worked with these guys before and having no previous experience at this track, I feel like everyone is communicating very well. We'll just keep our nose down and keep working on having a good race setup."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We've had a busy season, to say the least. I think the heroes of our team have been the mechanics repairing all of the cars we've broken, but we seem to have leveled off a little bit. We're a little more tranquil right now, so we'd be very happy with a win. It's a beautiful facility, state of the art. I am looking forward to seeing full grandstands this year, as we did last year. It's a fun place to drive. A lot of the time, speeds you see are definitely towed. You get a car in front of you, and all of a sudden you're picking up 40 horsepower more. You've got to take advantage of it and not put any extra steering in. I got a tow from him (Buddy Rice), but it wasn't quite enough was it, he's at the top of the charts today. I have believed all year long that we've had cars that should have been up front. I believe that the results will show that we're more harmonious."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (About incident involving Felipe Giaffone): "I didn't really see what happened or why he spun or what caused it, but when he hit the wall, the nose box of the car fell off and started rolling down the track. I slowed down so I could wait for it to roll one direction or the other and wait to see exactly where it stopped so I could go around it because that was the biggest piece of debris I saw on the track. It stopped, and I started to come up the track, and I looked in my mirror and almost got run over. I think maybe I need to put a big blinking light or something on the back of the car so that people don't run over me on cautions." (Does the championship enter your mind during that split-second?): "I just said, 'Well, I think it's going to do less damage if I try to hit that thing square and punt it out of my way than it's going to do if he runs in the back of me and we both go in the wall.' So I figured I would try to take the lesser of two evils." (About damage): "Pretty much the whole left-front suspension, left-front wing and a couple of other small things, but the guys at Pennzoil Panther Racing really struggled and worked hard to get the car ready to go. We wanted to make sure we ran that car in the race. That's the one that was completely ready to go. They did a good job getting it out there so we could go out there and run some more laps." (Does a two-car effort detract from your focus on the championship?): "I don't know. I don't have a choice in the matter. We're going to look at it as a positive. That's another person out on the track that we can get some experience from. Having a one-car team, there's only a certain number of changes we can make in a session. If you have a two-car team, you can go two totally different ways, and if one car is fast and one's slow, you know which one to go to. You can mix and match pieces from each setup. I think it'll be good to have somebody out there, but we'll have to wait and see what happens race day." (About fast times compared to other tracks): "I think the amount of banking that this track has and the temperature is pretty much just right. When we were at Kansas, it was really hot, which made the track greasy. When we were at Michigan, it was cool, and it put a lot of drag on the cars, a lot of aero drag on the cars. I think the temperature is pretty close to being right. Chicagoland Speedway is a very nice track, very smooth, and it has a good amount of banking. You can run two wide, and you don't necessarily have to hug the bottom every lap of the race in order to be fast. It's also a fun track to race at, so I'm really looking forward to the race on Sunday."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Our focus today was working on the race setup. During both practice sessions, we did full-tank runs and tried to run with other cars to see how the Marlboro Team Penske car handled in traffic. We started with a setup from our test at Chicagoland Speedway last week and made changes throughout the day. I think the car was actually a little better during the test, but overall we're in good shape. I'm not too worried about our speeds given the focus was race setup. Tomorrow we'll work on qualifying, so we'll see what times we can put on the board."
GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm happy with today's practice sessions. We were able to work on the race setup throughout the day, and we made some good progress especially this afternoon. By the end of the day, the Marlboro Team Penske car was pretty good. Tomorrow morning we'll work on our qualifying setup, and hopefully we'll be able to put it in the top 10."