20th Anniversary Grand Prix Of Miami Pre-Race Quotes MIAMI, Friday, Feb. 22, 2002 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (drivers listed...
20th Anniversary Grand Prix Of Miami Pre-Race Quotes
MIAMI, Friday, Feb. 22, 2002 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the 20th Anniversary Grand Prix of Miami on Saturday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order):
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "My goal for Miami is to get Blair Racing on the podium. My goal for the season is to run strong and win the championship." (About preseason testing): "The Test in the West helped us learn a lot about the car and work out the glitches you usually have in a new car. The new crew worked well together, and the chemistry with the team is coming together." (Personal anecdotes about Homestead-Miami Speedway): "It's nice knowing that the first race is somewhere I have raced before. It is where I debuted in CART."
TYCE CARLSON (No. 18 Immke Auto Group Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Paul Diatlovich and Jim Immke have both been a part of my whole Indy-car career. They have each helped me separately, but Homestead will be the first time we have all had a chance to work together. I am very grateful for the opportunity provided by both of these guys. Our goal for the season is to put together a package to run all of the races. For Homestead, our goal is to put a good race car under me, qualify in the top 20 and race all day. Obviously, we come to the race wanting to win, and the key to the Homestead race is consistency. We need a good car for the whole race. Bursts of speed are nice, but I was able to study last year's race, and Homestead rewards being steady." (About preseason testing): "PDM included me in all of their winter testing. We tested in Atlanta, Homestead, Phoenix and Las Vegas. The team tested three rookies (A.J. Fike, Aaron Fike and Cory Kruseman) and worked with Scott Mayer to give him some experience. Each test gave me laps in the car at speed to keep me sharp for the new season. From my experience, the car is always good right off the trailer. Since we have spent a lot of time at the track together, I have a great relationship with the team. That means a lot when we show up at the track. We can get to work making the car faster since we already know that the initial setup is going to be good. They know what I like in a race car. I am really looking forward to the Homestead race and the chance to show what we are capable of now that we are working together."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indianapolis 500 winner, Miami resident): "We had a very productive test at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this week so I'm optimistic about our performance in the Grand Prix of Miami. We ran some long runs as part of our final preparation for the race, and I'm happy to say that the Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet was both consistent and reliable. We're continuing to learn about the new equipment at each test, and I'm beginning to feel more comfortable in the car. On a personal note, I'm really looking forward to kicking off the IRL season in my hometown - it will be great to race again in front of my friends and family and to sleep in my own bed."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "I love going to Miami because it reminds me of my Formula One days in Brazil. You spend your days at the racetrack and then have fun at night. The track is very difficult because there is no banking, and the wind is a major factor in determining the setup. Last year's race was the first time we finished in the top 10 (ninth) with the Infiniti Indy 35A engine, which was very new at that time. We have made a tremendous amount of progress on the engine since then with a new electronics package and several modifications to help with reliability. When you see the Red Bull Cheever Racing team at the track in Miami, you will notice how much larger we look. We have more than doubled in size to accommodate our second car, and we have fortified our engineering staff based on our technical collaboration with TWR Group, which owns the Arrows Formula One team. I am very proud of what our team has done this winter preparing for the 2002 Indy Racing League championship. The new look of the Red Bull car is very sexy. It has been a lot of fun working with Red Bull this winter, and we look forward to introducing them to American-style open-wheel racing. Come by the transporter and try a Red Bull, they are not kidding when they say it revitalizes the body and mind!"
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., resident): "I'm very excited about running at Homestead-Miami Speedway again as it is sort of a home race for me. I really like the track, and I've had some good runs there; but I've never come up with the ultimate prize, so I feel I have some unfinished business. Marlboro Team Penske tested there recently, and we've been doing our homework, so I'm hopeful we'll perform well at the season opener."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Chevy Rookie of the Year): "It's a new year with a new team, for me, but the goal stays the same -- to win races. It's a new team for me, but they've all been around for a while, and it's really their third year together as a team. They have a lot of experience. Morris (Nunn, team owner), brings a lot of experience to the table. It's a new car for them to work with, but we have had a good offseason testing, and I think we can be strong from the very first race. It looks like we've all developed a good working relationship, and I'm really looking forward to spending a whole season with these guys. We're not strangers, that's for sure. In my last two years of Indy Lights (1999-2000), we both were sponsored by Hollywood, so it was like we were all part of the same family, and we spent a good bit of time together. I always wanted to drive for Morris Nunn, and now I get my chance. Last year, Homestead was only my second IRL race, but we did OK. We had a radio problem that led us to make a bad call during the race, and we lost a lap. But we got the lap back and finished fourth, which felt pretty good at the time. Homestead is a neat track. I love it a lot. It's windy, from time to time, and that changes the track a lot, just like Indy. The weather really has an effect on the track, and you know that in South Florida the weather changes all the time. There's a lot of room to race, and with this IRL formula, we have enough downforce to make good passes out there. I feel good coming back to Homestead with my new team. I have a full year of experience, now, and we're ready to push for a win every weekend."
JON HERB (No. 16 International Star Registry G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone) (Season goals): "To finish all of the races in the top five or 10 all year." (About new developments in team): "We are coming in this year with an entirely new team, including a crew chief, head engineer and mechanics, and together we are striving to put the best possible team behind the racing effort. We also believe that we have aligned ourselves with the most qualified partners like Firestone Firehawk tires, Menard engines, SWE Racing transmissions and Aeroscope." (About preseason testing): "The Test in the West was our first and only opportunity to work together as a team, and it was essential for showing us where to concentrate our efforts for improvement as well as ironing out any potential problems. Personally, it was good for me to get some laps around both tracks because I had never been there in an Indy car, and I definitely look forward to going back." (Personal anecdotes about Homestead-Miami Speedway): "Last year at Homestead, my motor expired on the third lap into the race, but we still had a great race, and we're looking to make up for that this year."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light Life Fitness Tae-Bo Delta Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing League champion): "I think we, as competitors, are excited about the 2002 season opener in Miami. The Homestead-Miami track is a beautiful racing facility, not to mention the weather is nice this time of year. From a competitor's point of view, this track is very challenging in terms of getting a hold of the track and finding the right race setup. The long-radius, flat corners provide a particular challenge but make for great racing. This a great place to start the season, and it sure would be nice to drive my new silver-and-purple Coors Light race car into victory lane at Miami." (Outlook on team and 2002 season): "My team remains unchanged, which is great because we work so well together. Our offseason testing was successful, especially at the Test in the West. We definitely look forward to hopefully having our best season yet."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think the goal for Team Menard and for myself is to come out to Miami and have a strong showing, win the pole and win the race - this is what we do, and this is why we come to the track. Our big push is to continue the momentum we had at the end of last year where we ran very well, won a race and were a threat each weekend we rolled the car onto a track. Getting out of the gate fast at Homestead with a great result is important to this team in that respect. I want to build momentum early. We know we can win. It's a matter of grasping that consistency each race weekend and working on being in the hunt when the race begins to wind down."
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 Foyt Racing/Banco Chile Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, Miami resident): "This is the most challenging of the 1.5-mile circuits for several reasons. It is a low-banking track, which puts a premium on handling and driving, so you have to have a good-handling car. Being that the track is so close to the ocean, it is always windy here. You can have one characteristic in one corner, and then that can change during the course of the race if the wind changes. And, even though it is winter, we still get some 80-degree days, so the track can get hot and greasy -- all of which means the driver has to be very aware, or as you say, you have to be on your toes the whole time."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion): "Although I've had the opportunity to participate in other types of racing this year, my entire focus is really on putting the Delphi car in victory lane as many times as we can. I feel that the 2002 season began on Feb. 6 with the Test in the West. We had a good test for Firestone in Fontana during December and went back for the Test in the West and accomplished even more. Once again, I think we've got a great baseline to develop off of. I'm excited for all the races. I'm excited all the way through into the summer. I enjoy every race, and every race we've had some success on. If we haven't, we've got some great ideas to be even more successful. I love Homestead, I've done well at Phoenix, Fontana's going to be a great race. Nazareth's my kind of track. I've raced there before in a CART car and loved it. Indy goes without saying. And then back down to Texas, which I love. So I'm pretty pumped for these first six races. Hopefully we'll notch up some early wins and get some momentum through the rest of the year."
AL UNSER JR. (#7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm happy to be joining Kelley Racing. It's been a long time coming. They're the most impressive team in this business, and I feel that I'm with the best team. I'd also like to welcome Corteco into the Indy Racing League and hope that our relationship is beneficial for everyone."