IRL: Chicagoland: Round 14 pre-race notes and quotes

WHAT: Delphi Indy 300, 14th race in 16-race 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series season WHERE: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill., 1.5-mile D-shaped tri-oval WHEN: Broadcast: 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Sept. 12, ABC. Green flag: 1:55 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, ...

WHAT: Delphi Indy 300, 14th race in 16-race 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series season

WHERE: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill., 1.5-mile D-shaped tri-oval

WHEN: Broadcast: 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Sept. 12, ABC.
Green flag: 1:55 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, Sept. 12

DISTANCE: 200 laps/300 miles

POSTED AWARDS: More than $1 million

CARS: Dallara and Panoz G Force chassis; Chevy Indy V8, Honda H14R Indy V-8 and Toyota Indy V8 engines; Firestone tires

TV: Race: ABC (live), 1:30 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 12

RADIO: Race: IMS Radio Network, 1 p.m. (EDT), Sept. 12
Area affiliate: WJOL-AM 1340, Joliet, Ill.
Live coverage of MBNA Pole Qualifying (11:45 a.m. EDT, Sept. 11) and the race also will be available at www.indyracing.com/indycar.

SCHEDULE: (all times local; subject to change)

FRIDAY, SEPT. 10
11:15 a.m. -- Delphi Indy 300 practice (two groups/30 minutes each)
2:30 p.m. -- Delphi Indy 300 practice (two groups/45 minutes each)

SATURDAY, SEPT. 11
9 a.m. -- Delphi Indy 300 practice (two groups/30 minutes each)
11 a.m. -- Delphi Indy 300 MBNA Pole Qualifying
5:15 p.m. -- Delphi Indy 300 practice (all cars/30 minutes)

SUNDAY, SEPT. 12
12:55 p.m. -- Delphi Indy 300 (200 laps/300 miles)

PRE-RACE QUOTES: (Drivers listed in alphabetical order)

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Chicago is the first race I started with Red Bull Cheever Racing. I've been to all the tracks with them now, and we know what we're working with. Chicago has exciting photo finishes, but it's usually really hot all race weekend. It's a two-groove race track with some good passing, so the IndyCar (Series cars) will put on a good show."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I had a bad race at Nazareth, but I've put that behind me and am looking forward to going to Chicago. I have good memories there because it's the first track I raced an IndyCar (Series car) at last year and also the first place I tested a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car. This track means more to me than a lot of the other ones we went to this year because I have history with it. I'm feeling really good about the race there."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Chicagoland Speedway is always challenging which is why I enjoy racing there. Marlboro Team Penske has struggled a bit this year on the longer ovals, so hopefully, we'll be able to turn our luck around this weekend. We tested there earlier this season, and hopefully, we'll be able to translate what we've learned into a good result."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Last year's race was certainly an exciting one that went right to the wire. It was so close at the end, and I finished just a hair behind Sam (Hornish Jr.) I think it was one of the closest 1-2-3 finishes the IndyCar Series had ever seen. Chicago is always a fun place to race, and it always seems to be a good show for the fans. The Target team is coming off a better weekend in Nazareth where we had a top-10 finish, and I've gotten my confidence back in the car. It was good to have a weekend off before coming to Chicago, because now, I feel more confident about finishing the season on a good note. It's been tough on the whole team to not be able to be as strong as we were last year, but I am already looking forward to a strong 2005 season."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I am looking forward to the final three races of the season, and I think we will be very strong. As a team, we really turned things around last month and showed that we have reached the next level. We had top-two finishes at both Kentucky and Pikes Peak and, if it weren't for a couple of mistakes -- a spin on pit lane at Michigan and a restart problem at Nazareth -- I really believe we could have walked away with four top-three results. I have never been to Chicagoland Speedway, but we have been very competitive on the 1.5-mile tracks, and we have a lot of confidence and momentum going into the race. We also have a lot of friends and fans in the Chicago area that we have not seen in two years, so I am looking forward to this weekend."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm glad to get back on the superspeedways because we have a better race set-up for those type tracks, and we've been more competitive in the last few races. We've had some bad luck with the timing of the yellows though, and that has affected our results. Hopefully everything will fall into place this weekend, and we'll have a good race and a good finish for Team Conseco."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The ArcaEx team has earned podium finishes in each of our past two outings, plus we've had very good success this season on the 1.5-mile ovals at Texas and Kansas. We are looking for another strong run this weekend at Chicago and hope to gain another position in the points race."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "This is an important race for our team. So many of our sponsors like XM Satellite Radio, Klein Tools and Forsythe have a large presence in Chicago, and we'd really like to go out there and compete for a victory. Last year, we finished third by a few feet, and we feel like it's our turn to get into victory lane."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm excited to go back to Chicago, and Marlboro Team Penske is really hoping to turn things around this weekend. I've always done pretty well there, so hopefully my success at the track will continue this year. It's a great track where we've always had close finishes, so I'm sure the fans are in for quite a show."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm really looking forward to racing at Chicagoland Speedway. It is a very fast track, and I expect the Team 7-Eleven car to again be very strong. My thoughts are still to take things race by race, and I hope to extend my points lead this weekend."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I had my best qualifying effort to date in our last race in Nazareth, and I'd like to improve on that this weekend in Chicago. I'd also love to bring the No.10 Toyota/Panoz G Force across the finish line in the top three. I've finished fourth three times now, and the Target team keeps giving me really strong cars for each race. I've learned a lot this year, and rewarding the team a win before the season comes to an end is my goal. Chicago would definitely be the place to do it because of the last few venues we have left on the schedule this year, this is a track that suits our cars best."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "The last two races on the short ovals were not very good for us but, good or bad, I am still learning a lot from these experiences. I am confident that we will do well in the next three races on the bigger ovals. This will be my first time to run at Chicagoland Speedway, but we have been strong on the 1.5-mile tracks and I had my best race result on a 1.5-mile track. I am going to do my best to work for a top-three finish this weekend."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I'm excited about going to Chicago. That track is fast and fun. There is lots of room to race, that's why you see so many wild finishes there. Our cars have been very good on tracks like Chicago. Obviously, we would like to see another finish like Kansas for the Rahal Letterman team, but this time I want to be first. We have been strong on the banked 1.5-mile and 2-mile ovals, so I don't see any reason we shouldn't be right in the fight for the lead again. Of course, with the wide racetrack, you get a lot more cars in the middle of the fight for the lead. You'll see three- and four-wide racing. That happened in 2002 and 2003. That track is a good one for our cars. I just want to be in the front of the pack this time. In 2002, I was in the middle of the pack. I think Buddy was there too. Now we want to be at the front."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "The Chicagoland Speedway should be a real shootout. Many of the closest races in IRL history have been run there. I finished ninth in 2002 and was a half a second off the winner. That is how close it can be. But I feel good about our cars coming to Chicagoland. We have won at Kansas and Michigan with a similar track configuration, but Chicagoland's track seems to be a little wider, and you get more three-wide racing. A driver and team will have to play out the race strategy because you want to be in position for the final 20 laps. It is that way at all of the 1.5-mile tracks. You have to get yourself in position to race for the lead. We have done that and won races. We need to keep that strategy going for Chicagoland."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I think Chicago is a special stop on the IndyCar (Series) schedule for all of the drivers and teams. It's one of the largest markets we're in, and it always has a supportive and soldout crowd that gets to see a race that perennially produces a two to three wide finish. For me, it's also a race that Delphi sponsors, so it's critical that we have a good showing. Chicagoland is one of the tracks on our schedule where qualifying position is not indicative of a good race car. If we don't have the speed in qualifying, our car still needs to draft well so we can suck our way towards the front on race day."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We obviously have had a challenging season this year, but I'm looking forward to finishing strong on the remaining three superspeedways. We've typically been more competitive on the larger tracks and are looking to improve upon our performance from last year in Chicago. Chicagoland suits my driving style well, and we look to post a strong result."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I am looking forward to this weekend's race in Chicago. In the Menards Infiniti Pro Series last year, we qualified second and went on to take the victory, so it will be good to return there and also to be back on the superspeedways again. Hopefully we will have a good run."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The race in Chicago is very important to me with both of my co-sponsors, Klein Tools and Jim Beam, being located in Chicago. We're going to have a lot of guests at the race, and it's important to the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew that we do well. We're going to do everything we can to make a run at the championship. Tony (Kanaan) has a sizeable lead, but we still think we've got a chance to win."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing