RICHIE HEARN ( ...
RICHIE HEARN (#91 Hemelgarn/Racing Professionals Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"You go from not sure what you have to anxiously getting in the car to getting in the field in a short span. I'm very relieved. The car was solid. I'm going to hopefully go out there and work on race setup. I trust the car is going to be good, and hopefully we have a solid race next week."
(About how this weekend typifies his career): "Unfortunately, you speak the truth. I'm really trying to get back full time. It's not like I choose to do this one race a year. It's very tough to find a ride. Hopefully I can have a good run next week and get something for next year."
(How did the effort come together between Racing Professionals and Hemelgarn Racing?): "I know Ron (Hemelgarn) loved this place, but he sold all his cars to Racing Professionals and Jon Herb. I think he decided he wanted to do it again. He leased this car back from Jon, but unfortunately Jon had an accident last week so they had to put it together. Ron just called me. He knew I was coming here for a ride. We kept working on it and working on it. I tried to find some money, but none of my deals came through. Jon and Ron Hemelgarn decided to do it, anyways, and really stuck their necks out for me. I have to thank them. Hopefully, I can give them a good race next week and have a good run. I felt positive that I could get something. There weren't a lot of rides available without bringing money. I tried, but I couldn't put anything together. Ron Hemelgarn and Jon Herb had some offers from some guys with money, but they decided to put their trust in me. I have to thank them for giving me the opportunity to show them that I can do what they thought I can do. Hopefully, I can keep it in one piece Sunday and have a good finish. It's been a long time since I've been in the (Indianapolis 500) program, so hopefully I can change that next year."
(Why didn't anyone qualify at noon?): "I don't think those guys have it. We didn't, because I hadn't driven a car yet. We ran the 10:15 to 11:15 (a.m. practice), and it was OK. We just went back (and worked on the car), and then we had to go through tech first. That takes a little while. I think if we wouldn't have done that, then we probably would have. I just don't think those guys that are left have the speed yet, so they'll probably milk it as long as they can until the weather cools down a little."
(When was the last time you've been in a race car?): "This race two years ago. I've been in some go-kart races, but I don't count that. It's been two years since I drove anything. I try not to think about that too much."
(What's in it for you?): "A little bit of prize money, you know what I mean? Obviously, this is the greatest race in the world, and anyone who doesn't say that hasn't been a part of it. Once you do it one time -- especially when I had the third- and sixth-place finishes -- you want it again. Last year, I had a lot of things going on. I just couldn't be here. I had my other team running a couple races. This year, I decided to say, 'Screw it.' My team raced this weekend, and I put my truck driver in charge. I had to be here. I was not happy watching the race on TV last year. I remember where I was watching it on TV in a bar. I was not a happy guy to be with. The one place about this place is that it rewards experience. I know that if I could get here and if there was an opportunity, then people would like at me since I've had success here. That's what I had hoped to happen. I didn't get my ticket until the Friday (before opening weekend). -- I got on a plane and flew here and hoped for the best."
(About his expectations for the race): "I think we could finish in the top 15. You have to be optimistic. You don't really want to say that, really, because you come here to win. I'm not going to beat the other teams that do this all the time. Something really bad would have to happen to them for us to win. My sixth-place finish was because Mark Dismore had crashed, so I didn't get in the car until the second week, and look how we finished. You just h ave to stay out of trouble and let it fall how it falls. If I finish the race and I'm not in the top 15, then I will be disappointed."
("Is there more in the car?): "There is definitely more in the car. We're not very trimmed out. There just wasn't a reason to stretch it that much. What's the difference between starting 33rd
(or a couple spots better)? So what if I could be a couple a miles faster? If it came down to that, then I could have squeezed more out of it, no problem. The car is very solid. I'd rather get it in and get out there in practice and work in traffic."
(How many patches do you think you'll put on your driver's suit between now and Sunday?): "Hopefully as many as possible because it is kind of bare, you know? I know Ron is working on some stuff. Sometimes sponsors are weary about doing something before you're in the race. Now you can go back and say: 'I'm in the biggest sporting event in the world. You need to be apart of it.' Hopefully, we can put some stuff together. I don't know how it is going to happen, but hopefully it is something."
(What drives you to do this?): "To be here on Sunday. There's nothing like walking out on that grid before the start of the race. You just remember that and want to be back. I never would have felt like watching the race on TV last year, and I wasn't going to let that happen. Either way, I was coming. It's hard not to be the grumpy guy in the pits, because you really don't like watching people having fun when you want to be out there. You just have to stay positive, and hopefully something good happens."
(How painful was it watching last year's race on TV?): "I wasn't a happy guy to be with. The people who were with me kept telling me I needed to go back there. It was very frustrating."
(About what he's done since arriving in Indianapolis): "I get here and get free lunch at Honda Hospitality. I talk to reporters over there. I see what rumors are going on. I had a couple teams I was working on. I sat on pit wall and watched things happen. I have a lot of friends here, so I have a lot of good people to hang out with."
PHIL GIEBLER (#31 Ethos Fuel Reformulator Panoz/Honda/Firestone):
(About his team) "They worked real hard and never got discouraged. They stayed as late as they needed to, got there as early as they needed to. They gave me a good car today. It felt great. I'm really happy for them, more than anything. These guys are awesome. They pulled me up from the Indy Pro Series, and they believe in me and I believe in them. It's a good match. It really shows what the team is made of and even the other teams that helped out with parts and stuff like that, it means a lot to me. I didn't want to disappoint them."
(About how late the team stayed to work on the car): "They were working, I think, until 1 a.m. I think they were here when the garage opened (this morning). Basically, they had to tear the whole car apart, check every nut and bolt. The engine was broken, so we had to pull the engine out and basically tear apart the whole car and rebuild it, then make sure everything that wasn't broken was fitted right. So it was like building a whole new car. It wasn't as bad as it could have been but it was quite a relief to get it all put back together this morning. When I saw it all in one piece this morning, I was like, 'That's feeling really good.'"
(Was the sigh of relief after you got through Turn 2 or when you took the checkered flag?): "When I got through (Turn) 2 on that last lap, that was better than crossing the finish line because I was starting to pick up again a little push there and had some pretty big push there on my third lap. I was just happy to get through there. We dialed the car back in to where it was balanced right. Every other corner was feeling good. It's just a little bit with the wind there. Since catching us out there yesterday, we didn't want the same thing to happen today, of course."
(About being a rookie): "Ultimately, you have to have extreme concentration and focus at this place. You relax for a second, and it can catch you out. I don't think that's what happened yesterday, but it definitely brough t my focus up to a very high level. I'm very concentrated out there and just trying to take in as much as I can, learn as much as I can, every lap because we're way behind on laps out there compared to most people. Being a rookie, my first time here, every lap I'm just building confidence."
(About being the fastest rookie): "That feels a good. I wish we could have done it yesterday. It would have been a whole lot faster if I had gotten that one last lap in. It's a small team, but we do a great job. We've had a big mountain to climb all week so it feels really good to get everything done and get it in the show. That was more than the initiation I wanted."
(About locking your keys in the rental car this morning): "I got in a rush there, and we were trying to run back to the garage. Yeah, great way to start the day. I had to do a bunch of things this morning, got sidetracked and closed the trunk, and the keys were in there."
(About preparing for the qualifying run): "I got out there first thing this morning, and the car was the complete opposite feeling of yesterday. So I was like, 'Oh man, what do we have to do to catch a break here?' We had a bit of an issue there in Turn 2, and we had a late night last night and an early morning this morning with the team, but they pulled together strong. The car felt complete opposite this morning, but all in all, we got it back to where it was comfortable. We had to get the car balanced again because we tried a few different things to help the understeer problem that we had yesterday and it went almost opposite. So, it was a big change this morning. It really caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting that. We just balanced it back in little by little, and it was good enough for qualifying today. So, we have to work at it for the race, but everybody at Playa Del Racing worked their butts off, all day all night, early this morning. I'm just happy for those guys."
(Did you get any sleep last night?): "I had pretty good sleep. Actually my alarm didn't go off. I got up a little late. " (About making the Indy 500 field): "Every driver wants to make this race."
ROBERTO MORENO (#77 Chastain Motorsports Panoz/Honda/Firestone):
(About Bobby More decal on side of car): "Well, I've turned in an application for my (American) citizenship. On the form, it says there, you can choose a different name if you want to. So I went with Bobby More. I just need to get the accent right. I have not figured that one out yet."
(What did you go through to get up to speed?): "Basically yesterday, I asked to change the car. We were going in direction quite good. Then we changed the car and got a bit lost. Then people started to get in line (for qualifying). We didn't have time to trim and fix the car. So we decided to try and qualify with the car as it was. Just in case it decided to rain (Sunday). What if it were to rain tomorrow? The car was really difficult to drive yesterday. We had lots of wing, and it was still difficult to drive. Today, we went back to what we had initially yesterday. We worked on that. My engineer did a great job. He focused really when we needed and he was right on. The car was good today. I was doing 217.1 with race downforce. Then they said it is time to "trim." I was a little unsure. But as soon as we trimmed, the car felt good. We trimmed one more step. Then they said lets trim two more steps. I said, 'No, no.' We are quick enough. We had just gone over 219.6, which was good. So we went ahead and trimmed one more step. The car wasn't really good, so I said to the guys lets go back one step on the trim and go into line (qualify). We did two more laps before qualifying at 220. I said, 'That is good enough; let's get in line and qualify.' I'm so glad that I got this opportunity. Stephan (Gregoire) is doing well. He will be back racing again. Thank you to the Chastain family gave me this opportunity. It's an honor. One day, you are nobody sitting at home. Some people think I am too old and I don't have any more left. But do not forget my spirit. It is so young, my strong desire to succeed. I am 48 years old, and today I feel great. I did it. We got in. I love this place."