IRL: Indy 500: Bump Day quotes

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race IRL IndyCar Series Bump Day Qualifications Quotes Sunday, May 18, 2003 BILLY BOAT (No. 98 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "After the last couple years, we definitely didn't want to be in...

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
IRL IndyCar Series Bump Day Qualifications Quotes
Sunday, May 18, 2003

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "After the last couple years, we definitely didn't want to be in that position again. The Panther Pedigo team did a fantastic job of giving me the race car that we could go out and put solidly in the field. It was disappointing to have that incident and not get in the race, but the guys have worked very hard, and they are a great bunch of guys. It feels good to put them in the race solidly and not have to worry about it." (Did it affect your mental preparation to not run last week and know you had to run today?): "Any time you hit like I hit last weekend, you probably need to clear your head, anyways. And that's what we did. We could have gone back out, but sometimes you can get yourself in trouble doing that. You're better off to wait and get prepared and make sure the driver and the car are both ready and come back like we did today. It might have cost us a couple rows on the grid, but 500 miles is a long race, and anything can happen. We have been working hard last week, working on our race setup. I ran over 500 miles myself in testing, so we feel like we got a pretty good race car that can hang with the Toyotas and Hondas." (This morning has been the first time you've been in the car?) "The car I qualified was the car I ran all those miles with last week. That's why we took Friday off. We had all those miles on, and we had to rebuild the car and put a fresh motor in it. It would have been nice to get a few more laps this morning. There was definitely a little bit left in the race car. We could have changed gear and gained a mile an hour because we were pretty hard on the rev limiter. We knew what we needed. And we didn't want to get greedy so we took what we had." (On the love-hate relationship with Indy): "You love to come here, and it kicks you in the stomach, and you keep coming back. This place has such emotion and history, and it's a place everybody wants to get to. Until you take those four qualifying laps, there's nothing like it in the world. It makes you learn to come back again and again. But as cruel as this place can be, you still want to keep coming back because there's nothing like completing those four laps or those 500 miles. I know what it was like when I sat on the pole here, and I can only imagine what it's like to win this race. And that's why everyone comes." (Are you ready to get out of the habit of qualifying on Bump Day.): "I don't know about me and this day. We sort of have a love-hate thing going. Our intention was to put it in on the first day, but after the incident that I had, that didn't happen. It just seems like my luck here has steered me to this day. And you have to take what it gives. Sometimes it doesn't give you a choice." (Do you think this is a trend for Bump Day?) "I think what you have to look at is the quality of the field this year. There are a lot of great teams and a lot of great sponsors. I think the quality and depth of the field has never been better. It's unfortunate that the small guy has been squeezed out. I don't have an answer for that, except for Corporate America to get behind open-wheel racing. That's really the answer."

SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 5 EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Unfortunately I had an accident last week, but fortunately, my car was OK. My average is getting better and better, and next week I think we'll be OK." (What pressures were on you?): "Today I talked to A.J. this morning, and he said, 'Right now, we don't have to take a risk.' Our car is obviously not set up for qualifying. All four laps, my car was pretty consistent, and that's good for the race."

AIRTON DARE (No. 5T EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I don't know if it was enough time to get up to speed. There was a miscommunication with me and the team when I went out to qualify. We ran 225.3 (mph) this morning, and I thought we could pick up a mile an hour, and we slowed down three instead of picking up one. I wanted to waive off, but I didn't get an answer back from the team, so I kept it in the gas and we complete the other laps. We are in the field, but it's really frustrating to be that slow." (How hard will it be waiting this afternoon) "I'm on the bubble. I'm in trouble now. A.J. has one more car in the garage, which has a qualifying motor. I didn't have a qualifying motor in my car, so it should be at least a mile and a half quicker than the one I've got right now. If we made the right adjustments, we could run 226 or 227." (Are you really nervous?) No, I'm not. I'm frustrated because the speed we ran doesn't show how good we are. I'm not concerned at all. I know can jump in the other car and ran 226 or 227 right away."

JIMMY KITE (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "That first run we went out, and I was just tickled to death. The car felt great. It was just turning itself. Then I completed my second lap, going in to Turn 1 to start my third lap and the car started sputtering a little bit. Then coming off of Turn 2, it did it again so I shut it off, brought it in and let the guys look at it. They said they pinpointed the problem. We put it back in line and put four new Firestone tires on it. I don't know if the wind conditions changed, the tires didn't quite come up. Obviously, we were about 1 mph slower on the second run but still quick enough to be in. I'm still going to be running next Sunday, and when it comes down to it, that's all that matters. It seems like every year here I am on Bump Day doing something. I prepared myself. I was nice and calm this morning. I'm ready. 'Hey, its Bump Day.' Then all the sudden we had that little glitch. It let those gremlins start running through your head: What if, what if, what if? So I was very happy when I came off of Turn 4 and watched the checkered flag waving." (Did you run out of fuel on first run?): "You pretty much hit that one right on the nose. I think they're allowing me to say that we did run out of fuel." (About limited practice time): "The minimal amount of laps hasn't been a problem. Last year when I jumped in the car at the last minute, and even last week, the first week, the car has been good right out of the box. We just make little tinkers. We work really well together. That part of it is easy, running 10, 15 laps a day. The hard part was knowing that we didn't have a sponsor on the race car, and you watch all these drivers walking in and out of the garage knowing that any one of them for the right check or the bad time of the day for the car owners I could be out of the ride. Right now knowing that I was the driver of the car today when it qualified is a huge relief off my shoulders." (How have you kept your mental emotion up to say, 'I could still run i n this thing?'): "I made it those first three years, and we were really pretty quick those first three years. 2001 we didn't have quite the right package. Last year we were more than fast enough, just the rain caught us out. We've been talking all year for the past year, myself and PDM, that we knew we had some unfinished business. I've been running the pavement Silver Crown cars and the winged sprint cars. It's not as if I've just been sitting around waiting in this. I mean, I have been racing cars, keeping that part going. We had one goal starting at the month of May, and that was to make up for last year."

JIMMY VASSER (No. 19 Argent Mortgage Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About his week and his run): "I've pretty much been doing full-tank race setup since I arrived. I had the luxury, obviously, with Team Rahal and Kenny Brack having been here for 10 days prior and done a good job with their car, so it wasn't like I was starting from scratch right off the trailer. So, I felt comfortable straight away. I think we helped to make gains together, Kenny and I, with the race car, and I think we're going to be looking good. The Honda power, I think, is superior to the other stuff I've seen in race trim on the track. I'm energized and encouraged for the Argent car on Race Day. I know we're starting back a bit, but it's 500 miles. I've been back there before. I've been down a lap in a 500-mile race and end up winning. Team Rahal has great pit stop capabilities, winning a lot of pit crew competitions over the years. I'm confident that sooner or later on Race Day, probably later than sooner, but sooner or later we're going to end up finding ourselves near or at the front. And if we deserve to stay there, which I think we do, I think we have a good race car, then we're going to be able to fight for the win. All you can do is put yourself in a position for that. We had high expectations for high speed today. The speeds I ran today were what I was able to run in race trim. We didn't really get a chance yesterday to fine-tune the race setup, so we just took a bunch of downforce off our race car. It didn't really like that. Even with the drag numbers that we had on the car, the car should have been much quicker than that. So we just opted to put a little more wing in it and go ahead and qualify it and race it. A lot of crazy things can happen here if you start playing around. We're happy to be in the race. And now our focus is on Race Day, obviously." (About Vasser's CART team owner, Stefan Johansson, and Bobby Rahal working together to allow Vasser to run the 500): "Well, Stefan is a driver first, and so is Bobby, I think. I had tol d Stefan early on in our relationship this year that I wished to do Indianapolis and some Busch races. He said, 'Hey, no problem, as long as we're covered if something bad happens,' like if I get hurt or something and then they lose out. I know Stefan real well, he's a good friend and he understands, as a driver, that there are things you want to do, and I appreciate that." (Still feel nervous about trying to qualify for the Indy 500?): "Yeah, you get butterflies. I know what to expect. The first few times you don't know what to expect and over time you get to a comfort level about expectations of the run. But you still have some butterflies because you still have to qualify to get in the race and bad things can happen. You can blow engines, things can break, you can end up in the fence. So, you have the anticipation. On Race Day, I still get a little nervous energy, and I think that's good. It think that keeps you on your toes. It means you're ready to go." (Is there a different feel to Bump Day when you've got nine cars going for nine spots?) "Well, yeah. There's a little different feel to it. When I was a rookie here, I got bumped out and had to bump myself back in. I had to wait to get bumped in the second week. That was nerve-wracking. Usually there's always some cars left in line and some broken hearts and egos. Prior to today, it wasn't different because we were still planning that there might be, and you have to. I'm still not so sure that there won't be today. But I don't think that takes away from the importance of the race. Thirty-three cars, 30 cars, 25 cars -- this race is still going to be extremely difficult to win. The quality of the competition, the competitiveness of the teams and the manufacturers and the quality of the drivers is going to make for a race that's as difficult to win as any. I don't think so much should be hung on a number. Maybe a little bit for the drama of Bump Day, but the number of the cars, I don't think that's all that important." (What's the purpose of the long runs?): "R ace setup. And I think the Argent car is as good as any in race trim right now." (Explain differences between CART cars and IRL cars): "There's a lot more similarities between the cars than there are differences. That makes it easy for guys to traverse from one series to the other. As soon as you get used to the ergonomics of the cars, then you're dealing with similar dynamics of the race car, grip levels, things that you play with, things that you can adjust on the car are similar. The tires are very similar. The tires are fantastic. I think the biggest difference in the cars is the powerplants now. We run in champ cars the Ford Cosworth turbocharged engines. It's a spec engine. Everybody has the same, and there aren't a lot of adjustments that can be done to them now. In the past, working with different manufacturers in champ car, Honda and Toyota, there were a lot of things you could do in adjustment to the engine. I see that again now, here, with Honda and Toyota and Chevrolet being here, with more of an open formula for adjustment in fine-tuning it. A little bit more science is involved, and I see that as a major difference."

RICHIE HEARN (No. 99 Contour Hardening Special Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The plan, obviously not being on the track the whole month, was to give me a car that I can get up to speed with, which they did. There are three or four miles easily left in that car. It's not even close to being trimmed out. The competitive side of me is disappointed because it's that speed, and you always want to be your best, but at the same time, they just wanted to get it in the show so we can go out today and work on the race because the difference between starting 25th and 27th is nothing in the whole race. I'm relieved it's over and now I can concentrate on next Sunday." (Can you describe the feeling of going without a ride to essentially a car that's a teammate to one of the best teams out here?): "This is the third year in a row that I've come here without a ride, and two out of those three years it's worked out. You just have to stick with it. Fortunately I've done well enough here in the past that I know that I can do it. I know I can do it. I believe in myself, so I know that if I get the chance like I did, I'm not too concerned about getting up to speed. It's still tough. I gave myself until this weekend to get a ride; otherwise I was driving home tomorrow. This deal started Thursday afternoon and finished up Friday night. You kind of hold your breath that it was going to work out. It definitely came through, and those guys at Contour Hardening and Curb Records have really stepped up when I needed the money to fill in the gaps, and I'm really happy for them, too." (What's you mental aspect knowing you have to qualify essentially cold?): "I'm thankful that the weather wasn't like last Sunday because that would be really tough. Really, those guys gave me a car, that I knew was going to be fine. There's no stretch in that car and it makes it easier on your brain when you know you can worry about just getting up to speed and not worrying about finding speed. It wasn't difficult as it looked. The car was planted, and in pr actice, the third time by, I was flat out all the way around the track. I'm happy that's the situation I got myself in and it made my job a lot easier." (Is this better than anything you imagined?): "To find a last-minute ride is like winning the lottery. It's probably going to be the best car I've had, period, in any racing situation. It always seems like musical chairs. The chairs are moving, and music stops, and I'm always the one who seems to be standing. To make it with Sam, he and I had a pretty good run here last year, not only here, but through the rest of the year. And I know he worked really hard to get a car set up for me at this race, and everything fell through at the last minute."

ALEX BARRON (No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We came out this morning and we put the car on the track, and we realized the track was a lot different than two days ago. Just as I got up to speed yesterday, it started to rain so I didn't get really to try qualifying. We haven't done anything qualifying-wise, setup-wise. We've been working on race setup the whole time, so this morning we went through a little bit of a glitch in what we were trying to do with the car. We had to regroup, and do one more run, pull out of line to verify that the change was going to work. At that point, we decided we needed to put the Meijer car in the show, and we put it back with a good, solid, conservative setup and went out and put four consistent laps together. At that point, that's what you need to do. There's no sense in taking any risks. It looks like there's going to be probably 33 cars. There's no sense in taking any risks, trying something that's not really necessary." (What's different in the track from one day to the next?): "Infiniti Pro Series rubber. We went out and as I was crossing the line, the front tires were hooking the rubber a little bit, and it was causing the car to be a little bit unbalanced. We just did some changes to adjust to that, and once we made that change -- we made one change -- with the engineering group we have, went back out, and the car was solid. It just shows you the database they have with the three cars running, and I think that's going to be important on Race Day." (Is there a different feel for Bump Day without any apparent bumping?) "For me, there's not. I feel that I have a really strong car to go out and qualify. The guys have been working hard on all three cars to make them go good. We put a different engine in, and we made some adjustments with the car, and the car has just gone quicker and quicker and quicker. It never felt any different for me because I knew I had a fast car, and I knew I could get in solid. It's just a matter of getting the balance for t his particular weather today. It's kind of gone up and down as far as the heat goes, and with the other rubber being on the track, it just threw another element in there, and we just went for it." (About sitting on the sidelines all this time and then falling into a good seat): "I need a shoe sponsor. I wear out a lot of shoes. It's frustrating. I can't say enough about what Penske Racing did for me letting me race at Motegi. It was a great package. It was unfortunate that we didn't have the result there that we needed. That gave me some confidence getting in the car to come here and test for them the week prior to the month of May. I think all those things leading up maybe was a decision that helped me get in the seat. To walk in here on Opening Day and not have a ride, it's very frustrating and I'm sure a lot of drivers can describe it as an up-and-down emotional rollercoaster, but I've had a little bit of experience at it. Sometimes you just need to get away from here and just do something to clear your head. The last couple of days, I was a bit edgy for sure. It was hard to have a conversation because everybody asked you: 'You got anything going? You got anything going?' And after a while, it's just kind of like a broken record. It's tough to hear that. But you just got to keep your head up and move forward and hopefully something works out." (Has Arie (Luyendyk) had much input this week?): "Absolutely. He's around the garage quite a bit. He's been working with his son in the Infiniti Pro Series a bit. He comes in, and we definitely chat about things and you can't find a better guy to talk to you about running the Indianapolis 500. I know the feeling that he's feeling, not being able to race."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 44 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Everybody knows by know that it was a real last-minute deal. I was sitting at home on Thursday, talking to my agent, and I was calling him every five minutes asking: 'Have you got something? Have you got something? Have you got something?' probably bugging him to death. Finally, he just handed the phone to John Barnes, and he said 'How quickly can you be here?' I said, 'I can probably be there in about three hours.' But I had no idea how I was going to get there in three hours. We got up here in about two hours and 30 minutes and came in and made a seat. At the time, I felt like this kind of luck just normally doesn't happen to me. So I was kind of wondering why that was happening. I'm just so excited to be here. The rain yesterday didn't help us, but the one thing I've learned from racing is that you can't control the weather. Everyone asked if I was stressed. Absolutely, but there's nothing I can do about it. I try not to think about it. If this was any other team other than a team of the caliber of Pennzoil Panther Racing, I don't know that it could've happened. They got me so comfortable in that car so quickly. I spoke with both Sam (Hornish Jr.) and Billy (Boat). They were very helpful. Obviously, their setups were on the car. I don't know if it was the exact setup, but both of them told me don't worry this car has a lot of grip. In the first 20 laps, I figured that out for myself. Then it was just a matter of peeling stuff off the car and getting the speed. I don't know what they did for qualifying. This is a really good team because we picked up pretty significantly. The numbers surprised me a little bit, but I've got a feeling it didn't surprise them. They were pretty confident what we were going to run. I'm really happy to be back here. Last year was not the best month of May for me. I'm making new Indy memories, so I don't have to think about last May." (About plans for the rest of the season): "We're pretty close on s ome other plans, but if an opportunity opened up there, I'd rethink what we're planning. I didn't really think that the chances of the Indy 500 were that great toward the middle of the week, toward Wednesday. It's just amazing that this came together. We actually came to Indy on Friday night. The night before we were (going to) leaving for Charlotte Saturday morning to make that (truck series) announcement, but obviously we're going to put that off."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm really pleased that we got a chance to go back out in the Delphi car today. It was a bit of a pain for the crew guys to have to come back in and run today, but we were able to get the last few items checked off of our list. I really feel confident about where our car is for the race. We made a few small changes that really helped the car, and I'm happy. We're ready to go."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "All in all, it's been a good month for the Corteco team. There have been drastic differences in weather, but I think we've gotten plenty of track time this month. I got back into my primary car today, and I feel good about the Corteco car. We made some changes that we had developed during the last week of testing. Now the guys will totally tear down the primary car between now and Thursday, and then we'll just shake the car down during Carburetion Day practice and be ready to race. We worked on our pit stops today, and my guys on the Corteco team just do a great job. We'll be ready come Race Day."

JOHN BIDDLECOMBE (Panoz G Force Director of Sales): "We are very pleased with the way today has turned out. We had the fastest qualifier today in Alex Barron and got three more Panoz G Force cars in the Indy 500. We have nine cars in the field for next week and eight of those nine have won an IRL IndyCarTM (Series) race before. Tora Takagi is the only one who hasn't, and I think it is only a matter of time before he does. I genuinely believe we will have the 2003 Indy 500 winner in our ranks. The teams have been very pleased with the cars on longer runs during the week, running on full tanks and old tires. We don't want to be overconfident, but everybody at the factory at Braselton in Georgia is really looking forward to next Sunday."

JOHN MENARD (Team owner, Team Menard): "It's pretty gratifying. To have the second car in as nicely as what Vitor did is particularly gratifying. You know, we've been a little short on horsepower and still are with the Chevrolet. We worked pretty hard, all the guys have, literally up through last night, trying to get a little bit more power, and I think we found just a few things, and Vitor put four really, really good laps together. Really, he did not have a lot of time in the car, and I think he's really to be admired and respected for putting together for what he did so well in such a short amount of time." (How much hesitation did you have about fielding a second car and what motivated you to do so?): "I had several motivations. I've been coming to the Indianapolis 500 for a long time and probably my primary motivation was when everybody was saying there wasn't going to be 33 cars, I wanted to do my part to prove that wrong. This has been a tradition for years, and we didn't want to break that tradition. Another reason was I wanted Vitor to have some experience. I wanted him to be prepared for us running a two-car team next year when, hopefully, Chevrolet will be back with a bit more power. Hopefully this time next year we can be vying for the pole rather than fastest in class. The third motivating feature is that my sponsors probably haven't gotten the recognition they deserved this year. We feel badly about that, and by putting a second car in what's the biggest television and spectator audience of the year for our series, we hope to make it up to them a little bit." (What have you done to make Vitor so much faster than other Chevrolets?): "First of all, I think Vitor has a lot to do with that. He's, in my opinion, one of the finest drivers out there among a field of very fine drivers. Vitor is very, very focused and has worked very, very hard, very patiently for days when everybody else got to drive a car except Vitor. We've had a week since we qualified the other car, and in that week, we've had a very b usy engine shop. The guys have literally worked without sleep several nights this past week putting some new things together, and we found a few things that have helped." (How does it feel to not have a chance at the pole, considering all the years you've come to Indy and had a good shot at the pole?): "It's very discouraging because it's fun to go fast, and it's fun to sit on the pole, and it's fun to have the recognition. That's what you're racing for, isn't it, to go fast? So you feel a little bit unfulfilled. But having said that, the whole spectacle of Indy is something I enjoy a lot. A lot more than just the racing, the camaraderie of a lot of the people you get to know over the years." (Why do you continue with the race teams?) "We all have our passions, and we all have our things we like to do. I'm a lousy golfer, and I'm bored by it. If you do just one thing in your life, I think that it's like eating a meal without a little salt and little pepper sometimes. And this is the salt and pepper in my life. The nice thing about a car owner is that you can do it until you're too old and stupid to do anything else, so I hope to be doing it a long time."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 2T Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (About your week) "It was really good. Everything turned out really good. At the beginning of the month, I was out of the car, and I was trying to learn as much as I could from a different point of view -- from outside of the car. I was able to see everybody's mistakes and what everybody was doing, so that was pretty good. I'm just glad for Team Menard, Johns Manville and Chevrolet. We are the quickest Chevrolet in the field. Right now, we work for the race." (About running so fast despite not spending much time in the car): "I've been in the car. Two days ago, I had 150 laps or something. So that was a lot of laps. Today I've had a lot of laps, too. Before the month of May, I did two days' testing here actually just by myself. So that got me in pretty good shape. Our work began back there, not just now." (How have you adapted to ovals so quickly?): "Ovals are different mostly in the race, I guess. It's a lot of side-by-side racing, and that's the hard part, actually. Racing is really difficult. Being quick is, I don't know, just step on it and go, I guess. I just try to do my best every time, because those guys deserve it. Team Menard deserves it." (About your emotions and expectations): "It's really the biggest race, the biggest qualify and the biggest, best days that I ever did, in terms of emotions. It's really important to work that and try not to be nervous, and try to work inside of you just being calm and just say, 'Be calm, be calm, be calm.' It's pretty good. It's maybe an advantage being a Brazilian, in that I just started to hear about the '500' when I was 15 or 16 years old. It's not that I grew up hearing about the '500' and all the tradition. It might be, in terms of emotion, bigger for American drivers or people who start to hear about the '500' earlier than me. It's pretty big, it's pretty big emotion."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm so relieved this day is over. It's been one of the longest in my life, kind of like the last day of school before summer vacation. It's a big load off my mind to not have to worry anymore about getting bumped and to just focus on the Indianapolis 500."

AIRTON DARE (No. 5T EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I knew I had a backup car, and A.J. (Foyt) told me I could have the backup car. We knew somebody could come out and bump us out. The speed we did this morning wasn't very fast, but at the same time I had the security that I had that other car. It's really good and had a qualifying motor in it. It was tense, but not that much." (Did you have intelligence in the garage area?): "Oh, yeah, we were chasing rumors all day long to see what was going on and whose going to put a car on. (A.J.) has been cool all day. Since I got the checkered flag, I've been upset that we didn't wave off, but he was like, 'Easy, we're going to be in the show.' Who knows better than him?" (How tense was this month?): "It was tougher the first week because I didn't have a ride. Then on Pole Day, A.J. decided to put in a car for me. The whole month was tense: the first week without a ride and Bump Day now. But I have a few days to take some rest."

ROBERT CLARKE (Vice President and General Manager, Honda Performance Development): "We're quite pleased with our qualifying results, both this weekend and last. We have a total of nine cars in the field, with two on the front row and four in the top six, so I believe we are in an excellent position for the race next Sunday. Both the Honda engine and our teams have shown they are competitive here. We've spent much of the past week working on race setups, how the cars react as the fuel load decreases and tires wear. And now, both our engineers and our teams will begin preparing race strategies. It should be an exciting race, and we're looking forward to it."

BRIAN BARNHART (Senior Vice President, Operations, Indy Racing League): (Do you have a stronger back of the field than in a normal year with lots of bumping?): "I think you do, and not to take away from some of the people, but really what's lacking this year is the secondary market for used equipment. It's not like that adds a huge amount of quality to the field. What you have now is the strongest surviving, and you've got the best 33 cars out there. I'm not sure if we had had 35, 36 -- it's not exactly a piece of cake to go out there -- and I'm not sure you'd really improve the quality of the field by one or two. I think we've got a great opportunity to put on one of the best races." (About the engine quality): "It's been outstanding. I think we're in the neighborhood of 38,000 practice miles, and the cars, and engines, are running like clockwork. We're not blowing up things. It's a great testament to Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet as well as to the chassis manufacturers, Panoz G Force and Dallara. Our new combination that we've debuted has been very successful. I think we lost one motor throughout the month, and we have the potential as we come toward next Sunday, that if a guy doesn't run into something or each other, the cars aren't going to fall out of the race. We're going to have some of the best competition and the best racing ever seen here. One of the things that jumped out at me was that we have an IRL race winner in each of the 11 rows. I think that's pretty neat how that works out. It's the ninth-closest field in history and the third-fastest field in history. And the quality -- the race wins, the championships, the Indianapolis 500 wins that are represented -- makes a great race for next Sunday. We've got as much quality as we've ever seen."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Bobby Rahal , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Alex Barron , John Barnes , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , HART