IRL: Chicagoland: Post qualifying quotes

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're pretty happy. We actually pulled a gear even better than we thought. We're real happy with how the car is. We're not losing any speed in the corners at all. We've got...

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're pretty happy. We actually pulled a gear even better than we thought. We're real happy with how the car is. We're not losing any speed in the corners at all. We've got the car running well. A lot of guys pitched in this weekend to try to do some stuff. I was pretty surprised with that time. We have an even better race car, so I'm pretty optimistic that we'll be in the hunt come tomorrow."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I went out and didn't have any gear selector number on it, but I don't think it made much difference. We had the right gear; it just wouldn't get up and go. The car actually feels really good. We found something this morning to where it's really handling. I like what it's doing in the corner, but now we've got to go find that speed. We're flat out. We're just stuck to the racetrack too much."

GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "As always, it's rough not having that many laps on the track. The facility is very nice. I like the track itself, also. It's just a little rough starting from ground zero, only having a couple of sessions trying to put it well in the field. It's pretty hard. We'll see what happens. We'll see if we can find some more speed."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "For qualifying, I knew we were never going to be the fastest guy. We're not worried about the qualifying. We're actually a little bit quicker than I was expecting. With the heat, I think we lost a little bit of downforce, and all you're trying to do here is have less and less drag and downforce, more engine. It's a big fight. For tomorrow, you need to have a good engine, which I think I have. You have to have a good chassis, as well, in traffic, which I think I have, too. I know my car is good for tomorrow, so we should have a good race."

DAN WHELDON (No. 15 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We've done very, very well. The Pennzoil Panther team has put a great car under me, and obviously the Chevrolet motor is running very well. I think we're going to be very good in the race. This weekend we worked very hard on the race setup, so I am looking forward to it. I think we'll be ready for the race. With all the companies that I have behind me, I'd be looking for a podium. The guys are very good to me, and I just have to hit my marks. I think there's a chance that we could win, but we'll just play it out and see what happens."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): "The tows here really make a difference, and by ourselves, that's as good as we've gone here. The stagger was good, and we could get through the corners really well. It's not the front row, but from where we've been this season, we're happy with the start. We want to be a part of that lead pack of cars, either at the front or in the middle. We know we can make it work from there."

WILL LANGHORNE (No. 55 Grill 2 Go/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Car G Force/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "Qualifying went pretty well. We had some improvements that we got into the car, and they've helped us a bit. So we're chipping away. That was about what we expected in qualifying. We'll take that. We have a good race car for the race on Sunday, so I think we're in a good position."

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The track is similar to how it was this morning. The air has thinned out because the heat has come up, but the balance of the car is not going to change much. A lot of what you are seeing during qualifying is not what is simulated during practice because there is only one car out there now, and there is not the draft. Our main goal is to be fast during the race. The most important thing is the championship. We are going to do everything we can in the warm-up and get the balance right with full tanks and get ready for the race."

ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We don't seem to have a good qualifying setup. It is not the ultimate speed I wanted, but the car will be good in the race. The car is perfect, and I don't think the chassis is slowing down the car. I don't know what the solution is."

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're disappointed because we thought that we would be in the mid-(2)20's (mph) or higher. But we have a good car for the race, like usual. It is a car that is easy to drive, and I can put it anywhere I want."

HIDEKI NODA (No. 28 Eikoh/Tomoe/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The qualifying was not very good. Although we're only done 15 laps, I kept the car flat. The car just doesn't go any faster, but we have practice tonight to get more laps in and learn more. We have to fix the car tonight and finish the race tomorrow. We'll be fine."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It was good today. The top five is where we wanted to be, but everybody expected a little bit more like a pole or the front row. Fifth is good, though. Fifth is good. We're in good shape. The guys did a great job. I'm enjoying this so much. I look at Helio (Castroneves), who is down in 21st, so to be where we are is good for tomorrow. We now need to concentrate on the race. That is my main concern, anyway. I think this car is capable of the podium, and I'd like to take it more than that to a win."

RAUL BOESEL (No. 12 Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'd like to qualify better, but whatever we do in the car, we cannot gain speed, so there is a little bit of frustration. The car runs fine. It has a good balance, but whatever we do we cannot free the car up. We're always trying things, and we are going to try to do something else."

LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's a pretty good car. We're pretty happy about our qualifying. The engine came in a little warm, but it doesn't matter. Yesterday we had a good car in race conditions, and we like this track. We'll be ready for the race tomorrow."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We have to be happy with a fourth-place qualifying position. Not being able to test here and with limited track time, it's a good run for the CURB Records team. It puts us up in the front. We'll be able to be in the lead draft, and I think that's going to be a key here. We spent a lot of practice time focusing on our race setup, trying to make sure we have a good car for the race, so I'm looking forward to it. I think we're going to have a great race car, and the key for us is going to be executing in the pits, not making any mistakes. We're going to try to bring this car home for a top-five finish or better if we can."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): "We believed we'd be quicker. The car has neutralized. It had no scrub. We ran the lowest line possible, but that's all it had. Tomorrow is what counts."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I am very surprised at the big jump in the competitiveness of the Pennzoil car. I take my hat off to that team. They appear to have found 2 miles per hour since the last race. That's an amazing technical feat, and I don't say that spitefully. They really stepped it up for the end of the championship. Buddy (Rice) did a great job getting a Red Bull car on the front row. I had a bad qualifying run. We had to change two engines leading into qualifying today. We've had a series of problems there, but we are working hard to resolve those issues. I am looking forward to tomorrow. It should be a good day for us."

GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm slightly disappointed not to be in the top 10, especially because we had such a nice, clean run. However, it's a long race, and what's most important is that the Marlboro Team Penske car handles well throughout the day, and we can move up through the field. Now we're going to focus on the race, and hopefully we'll finish near the top."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Our qualifying run was very disappointing, especially since we are battling for the championship. The Marlboro Team Penske car ran well in the test here, so we were optimistic, but unfortunately we had to go in the heat of the day rather than in the front of the line. Now we need to stay focused because tomorrow is the day that counts. It's a long race, so we need to stay out of trouble and bring it home. I've got a great team behind me, so hopefully we're going to do some magic."

GREG RAY (No. 20 Empress Casino/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We think we made some improvements to the car this morning. We were flat out yesterday, but the car did not feel just right. Today we made some improvements to the car, and the car just feels a lot nicer. We're not at the front of the pack, and we certainly have good motors, but I think we're probably struggling a little bit on horsepower. We decided to throw the kitchen sink at it in qualifying the first time. We tried a different setup and a different gear stack. It might have worked, but I think they got cold feet there at the last second, so they waved it off. We came in and just went out with what we practiced in. We did a (2)19 (mph lap). I think if we would have had our second lap, we would've done pretty close to (2)20 (mph) flat. The car is good. I'm happy to be running with Sam Schmidt Motorsports this weekend and working with the guys. I think we just need some more time together."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "What a fabulous car my Corteco/Bryant crew gave me for qualifying today. We would have loved to stay on the pole, but for the second time this season, we are starting third. It was good luck for us at Texas. I know we will have a great car for tomorrow. At this track, like Texas, drafting is key. So far in practice, the car has performed great in traffic. We will do some fine-tuning in final practice this afternoon and be ready to go tomorrow."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We've been working on our car to make sure that it would run good in traffic. That's been our main focus throughout the weekend. Actually, I almost missed a gear by a little bit. We were planning on running fifth gear and had to go to sixth gear to not hit the rev limiter. Things seemed to work out exceptionally well for us today, better than we expected, actually." (About expectations for tomorrow's race and the championship.): "If I were to win and Helio (Castroneves) were to finish third, I'd gain 15 points, and I'd be seven (points) ahead of him. Eight points really isn't that much, it's four points a race, and almost all the positions are separated by two points, especially when you get up to the top. I'm not really all that worried about it. I think I was 18 (points) behind when we went into Kentucky when we took the points lead by four points. I made up 22 there. We were 61 behind when we won at Richmond and came out of there 30 behind, so you can pick up 20 or 30 points if your opponent has a bad race." (About being conservative): "One time this year I thought about hanging back and making sure that I finished the race and get the points, and about that time I got hit in the sidepod and spun in the wall. I've learned not to think about that. I go out there and I push it as hard as I can, within the limits of the car, and I try to win the race. Out of the 13 races that are completed, seven of those have been won by the top three guys in points. You've got to make sure that you're always up there toward the front, and you've always got to push for the win because next week in Texas might not turn out as well as we'd like to. You've got to get as many points as you can when you can get them." (About winning the championship in 2001): "It was a lot of fun last year. We were all very happy and pleased with what we'd done. It meant a lot to us, but it would mean even more this year considering the struggle that was put up and the battle that we've had. We'll all give it our all. We couldn't do anything any more, so either way we don't have anything to feel bad about."

BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "When we practiced here, we were working on our qualifying runs with full tanks to see what was going to happen. When we unloaded yesterday morning, we knew we had a pretty good car for qualifying, so we started working on full-tank runs because I know tomorrow's going to be the important deal. We need to be running well in traffic. It's flat out all the way around here. It's going to be two-abreast, so we've really worked on full-tank runs. We're really focusing on that, so we should be pretty good for tomorrow. We'll just have to wait and see how the yellows play out and see what happens." (What has been the key to getting up to speed so quickly?): "Basically, I've been driving open-wheel cars since I started, so that's been a progressive, steady move up. I've tested Champ Cars. I've also been over to Europe and drove over there in F3000 and driven some F3 cars, so to make the step up to IRL cars when I tested in November on a big 2-mile oval in Fontana took a little while to get up to speed. Once we got up there, it's not a problem. We did the test at Kentucky, and by the time we got to Michigan, I was pretty comfortable. I think that was the big key."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing