MADISON, Ill., Friday, Aug. 16, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the Gateway Indy 250 on Sunday, Aug. 25 at Gateway International Raceway. The event starts Aug. 24 with practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying (quotes listed...
MADISON, Ill., Friday, Aug. 16, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the Gateway Indy 250 on Sunday, Aug. 25 at Gateway International Raceway. The event starts Aug. 24 with practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): "Both sides of the track are very different from each other. The wind and the weather can change the car dramatically. It will be one of the more intense races we will run this year. It will require a strong focus. The track there demands a high level of mental and physical concentration -- more than some of the other tracks. The pit lane is also difficult because it is narrow. We tested there recently and that will help dramatically. I also have raced there on three different occasions. It will be nice knowing that we have had a lot of advance preparation. This will help going into a two-day event where you have less time to work on your setup." (About pre-race testing): "We got a lot of information on different combinations that we might use for this race, and that's the most valuable thing we took away from it. We know we can be competitive."
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to getting back on the short ovals. I think the CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team is positioned to do well on short oval tracks -- we have a lot of experience. The car has been good all season on the shorter tracks. It'll be nice to get back to where the driver plays a little bit bigger role. The car is running great. The Infiniti power has worked well for our team. The last three to four races we just haven't been able to get a break. Hopefully, Gateway will be the place we can finally break into the top five or Victory Lane. I think we made great improvements in the pits during our pit stops in Kentucky. We've very excited and pumped up to get back to the track next weekend."
RAUL BOESEL (No. 12 Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm very excited to go back to Gateway. The last time I was there with Patrick Racing in CART, we were on the pole. This track is a lot more of a chassis setup track than a horsepower track like we've been running lately. I've not ran a short track in a while, but I'm pretty confident."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "St. Louis is a fun place because of the long straightaways and short turns. It's a track we have to shift on, which adds to the fun of it. It's a lot different than Kentucky, where we just ran, but that's part of what makes the series exciting for us as drivers. Plus we're really close to downtown (St. Louis), which is a neat, thriving city. It should be a good event for us. We had good speed here in testing this week, despite the weather. The No. 24 car was third fastest, just behind the Penske's, and we're definitely ready to race."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner): "I'm looking forward to racing at Gateway again. I think this type of track suits my style, and Marlboro Team Penske's prior experience at the track (in CART) may help us come race weekend. Gateway is a challenging track in that the turns are very different; Turns 1 and 2 are very sharp while Turns 3 and 4 are flat out. We had a successful test there Aug. 14 and 15. The weather was cloudy on the first day, and it was a little windy the second day, but we did long runs and worked on both race and qualifying setups. Overall, I'm happy with the results. We've got to keep our focus and execute given the tight points battle for the IRL championship."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "Gateway is a very tough track to set up for, and it would have been better for me if we had more time to work on the car setup. But with it being just a two-day show, we'll have to do things in a big hurry. The track used to be very bumpy in Turns 1 and 2, but I heard they repaved it, so it shouldn't be too bad. As far as race strategy, it will be pretty much the same as at any other track. You have to stay with the leaders so that you can position yourself in the last 15-20 laps to have a chance to win the race."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're certainly looking forward to racing in St. Louis next weekend. We've been doing well at this type of track all season, and we've gotten some of our best results on the short ovals like Gateway International Raceway. I'd say we've got a very good chance for a successful weekend. It's important that Marlboro Team Penske does well in St. Louis so that we can go into the final two races in a strong position in the championship."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We were fortunate to be able to test at Gateway this week and judging by the number of teams who were there with us, I'm glad we did. I think if you don't test here, you will be at a disadvantage come race weekend. This is a tricky track. Turns 1 and 2 are quite different from 3 and 4. But we learned some things that definitely helped the car all around, and I think we'll be right on top of it on race day."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "I definitely like the racetrack at Gateway. We're back to the smaller ovals where we've been strong every time. We have a good car for the smaller ovals. It's going to be very close all the way up and down the grid. The Penske's will be strong, and (Sam) Hornish will be strong. Gateway is different from all the other smaller ovals because it's not symmetrical. Turn 1 and 2 are pretty tight, and 3 and 4 should be pretty flat when the car is good. You really have to have a good setup, but it's tricky because you are making compromises all the time. We're still feeling good about getting our first win at Kentucky but still nobody really overreacted. We're pumped up, but we realize there are three races to go in the championship, and we are only 17 points out of the lead. It's wide open, but the driver who finishes all three of the races stands the best chance, so that's the most important thing to do first. And then, you want to finish as high as you can in all three. We have a good finishing record, so we just need to keep doing what we've been doing."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing League champion, 2002 series points leader): "This is one of the races that Panther is very good at, the tighter tracks where it's all about setup. The only downfall of that is the Penske cars are usually fast at these tracks, too, and it's usually a dogfight between these two teams. We just have to go out there and continue to do what we've done over the last couple of months. If we don't have what it takes to win on that certain day, then we do the best with what we've got, and it usually works out pretty good. If we've had the chance to win, we make sure that we don't throw it away early. The guys on the team have been working really hard, and everybody's pumped up, and we think we've got a shot to repeat. We go to three tracks that we really like." (About pre-race testing): "As far as saying what we learned, a lot of the things we learned last year held true. We were leading with six laps to go and had to pit. We basically lost it on fuel mileage. This year we're hoping that won't happen to us again. We had a very good setup here last year, and we improved on that a little bit."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing League champion): "We did not have the beginning of the season we had hoped for; we did not have the middle of the season we needed, and we're looking to end our season on a high note. We have unfinished business at St. Louis, and we're looking for a win. Last year, we lost a cylinder at the start of the race, so I'm looking forward to running on eight cylinders. Hopefully, we'll be the dark horse. My Coors Light team and I feel confident we can bring a podium finish."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 55 Atlas Van Lines/Sam Schmidt Motorsports G Force Chevrolet/Firestone, 1999 Indianapolis 500 Bank One Rookie of the Year, St. Louis resident): "I am obviously very excited to be back in a car for my hometown race. My priority has been working on a program and sponsorship for the 2003 season and racing at St. Louis this year will certainly help that cause. I look forward to working together with some guys that I have in the past: Treadway, Sam Schmidt, and, of course, Ray Parsons, who we all hope will get to join us back at the track very soon. We actually get to do a test here, as well, so I can't say how excited I am. I really didn't like this track when I started the race last year because it is a very difficult track to drive, but about halfway through the race, I remember calling in and letting the crew know how much fun I was having and how much I liked the place. So with a test day, I feel we can be very competitive."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "After my first race at Kentucky, this is so very different. It is short and tight both in the turns and the pits. You'll see a lot of activity and excitement, especially if everyone is pitting on the yellow."
LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About Gateway International Raceway): "It's the kind of track I prefer. You have to set up rather than being flat all the time. It will be nice, and hopefully we'll come back to the front."
BUDDY RICE (No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We're basically trying to get through the race weekend without any problems. It's going to be a tough race with a lot of cars and probably a one, maybe two-groove track; it's hard to tell right now. Hopefully I'll have a real solid weekend and come home with everything in there and try to get a real strong finish."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1992, 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner, defending event champion): "We had a good test for the time we had. The track was even smoother than last year, and I'm looking forward to coming back and having another great race here."