IRL: Hornish Jr and Beechler Kansas press conference transcript

Sam Hornish Jr. And Donnie Beechler Press Conference Transcript Ameristar Casino Indy 200 - Kansas Speedway Kansas City, Kansas, Sunday, July 8, 2001 HOST: Pat Sullivan GUESTS: Sam Hornish Jr. and Donnie Beechler Pat Sullivan: We have two...

Sam Hornish Jr. And Donnie Beechler
Press Conference Transcript

Ameristar Casino Indy 200 - Kansas Speedway
Kansas City, Kansas, Sunday, July 8, 2001

HOST:  Pat Sullivan
GUESTS:  Sam Hornish Jr. and Donnie Beechler

Pat Sullivan: We have two hot drivers with us, in a variety of ways, in our press conference center for the third-consecutive race. Actually, Sam Hornish Jr., has finished in the runner-up position, but he's been absolutely fabulous, with only one run out of the top four all season long. And obviously he retains his point lead. Donnie Beechler, of course, many of you know the story, sixth in Indy Racing points last season, did not have an opportunity to perform, until given a chance with A.J. Foyt in Indianapolis. He responded on Bump Day by posting the fifth-fastest time overall for the 85th running of the Indianapolis 500. And since that time, he has reeled off a string of very impressive runs, with three top-10 finishes. And this ties a career best of third at Phoenix International Raceway last year. Both of these drivers are very competitive individuals. And I know particularly Donnie very well, coming from the short-track race. And I interviewed Sam in Pike's Peak. Sam still has that look like at Pike's Peak. He finished second. He looked like the world had fallen on him. But he had another impressive run. And Donnie, being competitive like he is, also feels as if he had a car that could go to victory. Donnie let's start with you. You had the opportunity with A.J. Foyt. I happened to speak with you at the Indianapolis area during the week, a little time back, and you talked about how delighted you were to get this ride. One of the questions is, this has been a race-by-race deal. This has to help you get down the road.

Donnie Beechler: Yeah, I think it does. He's been funding this thing by himself, and that's what's making it so tough for us right now. So the last few races we've been very cautious out there to try to just roll the car into the trailer. And it got to be where I just couldn't race. I mean, I was so worried about tearing the race car up and not going to the next race, that it was just messing with me. After Richmond, I just said, "You know what, I have to just run this thing like I have 10 cars, and we have sponsors, and..." Because that's what actually got me the ride. And I don't want to just roll the thing in the trailer every race for A.J., and I don't think he wants me to do that. But on the other hand, he wants me to be careful because we don't have spare cars. You know, Salazar is running for the points. We're not. So coming here with that mindset, that's where I am. When I started the race, that's what I focused on. We had a good race car. We could get a run on the guys. But they are not going to give you the inside line. And I tried the outside a few times, and it just washed the front end out. And that's all I had for them, was a third-place car today. But A.J. Foyt and his crew did a tremendous job for me.

PS: Sam, I suspect one of the things that people will want to know about, we chatted just a minute ago, obviously, with Eddie Cheever, and we asked about your pass around him late in the event, and whether or not he was going to attempt to draft around you. He said, "No way. I never give up position that easily." He was clearly faster. But in retrospect now, any thoughts that you wish that you would have waited to make that move just a bit later?

Sam Hornish Jr.: I don't know. It's real hard to say, because when I was coming beside Eddie I noticed some water leaking off the bottom of his car and spreading up on my car. And I didn't want to be behind him if the engine might blow or anything like that. In hindsight, I think I did the right thing. We'll take another second. We're still trying to build on that points lead. It was fun racing with Eddie all day long, you know, side-by-side racing. He gave me room. I gave him room, the same with Donnie. It's fun to go out there and race against guys like that, because you're not scared they are going to put you in the wall or anything like that. It's pretty clean racing. And I have to thank Pennzoil Panther guys again. I stalled the car coming out of the pits, went all the way to the back, made up about up half the positions. And then came in for the last pit stop, and they got me out in second. I think we were like eighth going in.

PS: Just a question for both of you, before we really turn it over to the press. During the practice sessions, we never really saw much wheel-to-wheel, side-by-side racing. I heard the television report, and also in the booth, we were a little surprised at how much you guys were going to wheel to wheel, at times sporting almost three wide. Tell us about racing here at the Kansas Speedway, and whether or not, going into the event today, you were convinced that you could run side by side.

SH: Yesterday morning, I don't think I was liking the track too much because of the fact we were so far off in our setup. But we got a little bit quicker. And then I didn't think we were going to actually be able to run two wide, because everybody had been running down toward the bottom, because that had been the fastest way around the track the whole weekend. And once we got some other cars out there and started to put some rubber down, it was really enjoyable to go out there and race, because it's a track where it's similar to the mile ovals, where it doesn't have that much banking, where you really have to be cautious when you go to the outside, like Texas or Atlanta. Plus you've got the speed that you have on other tracks. It's a lot of fun to race here in Kansas.

PS: Donnie, the same on your end?

DB: Yes, we had a really good car from the get-go, first when we came out of the box here Friday. And if you get your car handling, and it sits comfortable up there, it's not like Texas where the banking it is a little bit more. But I felt comfortable up there. You can't change your car, once the race starts that much. You can just do minor adjustments. And we needed to make a little bit more of a change, mechanicalwise, to get the car to run flat in the second groove, up high. But it got you to where, going down into Turn 3, you could run up high, if a guy was down low, and just come underneath and come off the corner. So it was a very racetrack. I'm looking forward to coming back next year.

PS: I think we all are. Bruce?

  Sam, how fierce is to be to racing against Eddie at the end of a
race?  Because he's pretty intense in those things.

SH: Every time I've ever raced against Eddie, we've pretty much given each other a fair amount of room. And that's something I try to do with everybody. If they squeeze me off or whatever, turnabout is pretty much fair play. So it's just -- I don't know. I wasn't worried about it at all. I just knew, as soon as I went by him, as long as nothing happens to his engine, that he's probably going to pass me back, because of the fact how quick he was by himself. And as long as he had his car handling well enough to stay behind me in the draft, that he was probably going to be able to go underneath me. But it was a lot of fun. I enjoy racing with all the drivers in the Indy Racing League.

How frustrating it must be to finish third, week after week after week. But at the same time, it's also pretty gratifying, too. Can you kind of talk about your emotions, being second three weeks in a row

SH: I don't know. I figure with the car that we had at Pike's Peak, that was a frustrating one. We were fast enough to go out there and lay it all day. And we just didn't have it at the end of the race. As far as Richmond goes, we weren't quite as fast as Buddy. So it was gratifying to be able to go out there and finish the race. I was pretty tough on the car that day, sliding around quite a bit, trying to keep up with Buddy. But today, just to keep finishing ahead of people that are close to me in the points, that's the big thing, because as long as we do that, we keep stretching out the points lead, and that's what we need to do.

For either one of you, was this race more competitive than maybe you thought. These flatter tracks, sometimes two or three guys get away. I guess usually it's Buddy and Sam. I guess, Donnie, there were probably seven or eight cars that were very competitive here.

DB: It was. And you had to be a lot quicker than the guy to get around him. Because if you were just a little bit quicker, it might get you to the side, but the corner would come up and you would lose it, so you would have to get another run on him. So I think you had to be a couple miles an hour faster than someone, to really get a good, solid pass on them.

PS: Questions from the press box. Bruce.

How special was it to race in front of this many people? I mean, that's got to uplift your spirits quite a bit to see a full house.

PS: Bruce's question was, it had to be uplifting to run in front of this many people here at Kansas Speedway.

SH: The turnout was unexpected. I'm really pleased to see how many people came out. I'm glad we put on a good show. There's nothing more I want to do than put out a good show for a full crowd. I hope they all come back next year and bring a friend

PS: Where are they going to put them?

DB: They were saying it was sold out a month ago. But then people said Richmond was sold out. So I don't know how they determine what's sold out. We thought, well, they are going to block off a section that's sold out, and not open any more. But this place was completely sold out. So that's fantastic for us. And hopefully we can keep building on that with the races that are coming up.

PS: Other questions for Sam and Donnie? Questions from the press box?

Steve with the Associated Press. How aware are you of the points when you're out there on the track, racing? And does that change what you do at all

SH: I think everything I've done so far this year, I've tried to go out there and bring the car home, first of all. If we had a car that was capable of winning, we went out and won. If not, we brought the car home. And that's been the key to our success so far. We depend on the Panther guys to put good cars underneath me every race we've been to this year. There were a couple tracks that they weren't as good as the tracks that we won at. But the thing was, we all worked together, and we brought the car home, and we made positive changes to the car throughout the race. And that's just what we did today, and that's what we're going to keep trying to do.

PS:   Additional questions for the press box?  No more questions.
Thank you.  Any questions here?

Were you able to prepare for the heat, being here a couple days? Yesterday the heat was a real factor for the truck guys. Can you kind of talk about beating the heat today

SH: I don't know. It almost feels like God turned on the air conditioner today, brought those clouds in and made everything a lot cooler. I have to be thankful for that. Plus it probably helped out with a couple people's handling. We were hoping for something a little cooler. So it played into what we wanted, as far as handling of the car goes. So it was nice to be here a couple days ahead of time, and even to be here when we tested, just to know what the temperature is going to be like, what the humidity is going to be like. You just try to get as many fluids into you as you can, and eat right, so --

PS:  Additional questions?  Congratulations, Donnie, on tying your
career best.  And for Sam, your points lead in three consecutive runner-up
finishes, with two victories.  Congratulations, guys.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Donnie Beechler , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.