IRL: Indy 500: Carb Day practice quotes

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Miller Lite Carb Day Post-Practice Quotes IRL IndyCar Series Thursday, May 22, 2003 BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We went out and did exactly what we wanted to do. We ran 12...

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
Miller Lite Carb Day Post-Practice Quotes
IRL IndyCar Series
Thursday, May 22, 2003

BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We went out and did exactly what we wanted to do. We ran 12 laps and got our tires scrubbed in. We worked really hard earlier this month to make sure both the race car and the backup car were exactly the same. The Red Bull car got right up to speed today, and worked well in traffic. We are pretty pleased with everything."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "At the beginning of the session, the crew in the pit box in front of me had their tires out, but the car was gone. When you are this close to the tires sitting flat on the ground, you can't see them front the cockpit. I didn't think anything was there and pulled away and hit their rear tire, flipping it up in the air. Thank goodness it didn't damage the Corteco car. We're ready to go racing. We came out here this morning, and the car ran really well. The Toyota engine has been running very strong, and I'm just very, very happy with the car all the way around. I've been here with some really good teams, and this team stacks up with the best."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We really didn't do much work on the car today because we know if we've got the car close today, that conditions will most likely change for Sunday, and we'll fine-tune things on Sunday morning. We're really pleased. The Delphi crew has done a great job all week, and we seem to have speed. We're good in traffic, and now we need to execute on Sunday. I think this year is the best chance that I have ever had to win the '500,' and the best chance the Kelley Racing has had to win."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We ran just enough laps (22) today to make sure everything is OK for Sunday. I'm very happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car. It's handling well, and I think we are in good shape for the race. Now, we'll just have to stay focused and see how things play out on May 25th."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (Your team has had some of the best-handling cars on flat tracks): "I think if we can get the car handling how we like it to, it won't be a problem. It's a lot different. A lot of people might think they have a good-handling car right now, but when you have to stay out there for 30 or more laps, running at a consistent pace and trying to be fast for that long, then it's different than pitting every time the car's not working properly." (Were you able to do much in traffic today?): "The car did really well, being up behind somebody. We didn't get behind anybody who was in the top five in terms of speed, though, so it's hard to tell. I don't want to say we have a good car right now, and it's different Sunday."

TONY RENNA (No. 32 Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Cure Autism Now/HomeMed guys have been doing a great job. They got the car back together this week, so it's basically a brand-new car again. Everything feels good, we did a couple of runs today to put a little lean on it to see how she would run, and everything is great. Every day is a potential simulation for Race Day and for gathering information, so hopefully we're prepared for whatever the Race Day conditions hold. I feel like we're well prepared, and I'm ready for Sunday."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Victory Brand/Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The day was more about just making sure the car wasn't leaking. We got a couple laps where we were flat out, so we know about where we were on our own, gearing-wise. I had a real hard time getting some dirty air drafting, but every time I would get in the draft, the other car would go in the pits. We weren't able to put down a big drafting lap, which hurts us a little bit in making the gearing calculations. Other than that, it went according to plan. We had a lot of electronics that we wanted to try, so we were out on pit lane for about an hour and a half. We only ran about 30-40 miles, so we kept the miles way down, but we were out there for a long time, trying little bits. All in all, I think we are as ready as we can be. At this point, the car is a good race car."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 44 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (About not running today): "Frankly, we haven't gotten everything together in terms of crew. I've got an engine that is sitting on the dyno right now. The engine that is in my car is timed out. We have our race motor on the dyno, which will be installed later today or tomorrow morning. We don't have the full crew together, but the team's working really hard to get it together, and we'll be really strong and ready to go on Sunday. I think especially because I have so few laps, I'd like to run today."

JIMMY KITE (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It went great. We didn't want to put many laps on it. We had one little glitch on the computer early on. That's why we took it back. We wanted to check that out. We came back out, went out, ran a lap flat. Actually, we're out a gear already. We're glad we figured that out. We know we've got to go to a higher drafting gear. We learned what we wanted to learn today. I know the balance is great." (About this month): "All month long there has been doubt. When I finally got in the race on Sunday and I saw my name on the car, that's when I said, 'All right. I finally got some job security.' This is my sixth month of May. It's hard to believe at my age that I've run that many months of Mays here. I'm tickled to death, and I thank God so much that PDM gave me this second chance. We all felt like we had unfinished business from last year." (About expectations for the race): "We'd be very tickled with a top 15 (finish). If we're able to pull out a top 10 or a top five, we'd be ecstatic. Realistically, though, we're shooting for a top 15."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We were trying to get some things dialed in. We had a lot of problems, but we'll be all right. The track was very slippery, which is normal. You have to be very careful because Carburetion Day is a psychological day. You don't want to get all wrapped up in it."

SHINJI NAKANO (No. 54 Beard Papa's Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was all right. We didn't have any problems. Obviously, I wanted to do more laps, but that's the way it is. That's what we have."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "Overall, I think everything is all right for Sunday. We had a little bit of a problem with the throttle at the beginning of practice, but we managed to fix it. Then the problem was that I had a hard time finding traffic, so I spent most of the practice running all by myself. The car seems to be good when I'm running alone, but it will be very important on Sunday to have a good car in traffic because there is a lot of turbulence on Race Day here with 33 cars. I will definitely have to get some input from (teammates) Felipe (Giaffone) and Alex (Barron) to see what we can do to make sure our car is good in traffic. They said they really liked their cars in traffic today. It will be my first Indy 500, but I have been studying videotapes of past races all week. I have never even seen this race on TV before. It will be rather unusual to start the race with three cars in each row, so we will see how that works out. I think it will be no problem. I'm looking forward to Sunday very much."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was just a shakedown. We weren't worried about lap times. We weren't worried about anything. I just wanted to feel my car, feel my tires, and everything was good. We've had the whole month to figure things out, so if you don't have it figured out by now, you're in big trouble. We're in good shape."

TONY COTMAN (Team Manager, Team 7-Eleven): "It was messy. We had a few issues to solve, but at the end of it, I think we probably achieved what we needed to. It was not the way you would want Carburetion Day to go. We ran a few more laps than I wanted to, but we had to run the laps to fix the issues that we had. I think we finished OK. We'll just have to see how much luck we'll have in the race."

KIM GREEN (Co-Owner, Andretti Green Racing): "Carburetion Day is always eventful. This wasn't as smooth of a session as we would have liked. But, overall, I think all the drivers are pretty happy. You really don't know where you're at until Race Day, but I think we're in pretty good shape."

ALEX BARRON (No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It's been a really short month for me, but I'm definitely excited about Sunday, and I think we're ready to go the distance. Overall, I'm very happy with my race car. It's amazing the job everyone on the Meijer crew has done to get us ready for the race. They only came together for the '500,' but the chemistry seems to be there for a winning effort. It's really an honor to drive the car everybody is used to seeing Arie Luyendyk drive. He's a true legend of the Speedway. We'll compare notes with my teammates and make our final setup and strategy decisions about an hour or so before the race on Sunday. We brought in Tom Gloy to call the race for me and to orchestrate our strategy. We worked together last year, and we definitely had a shot at winning the race by the time all was said and done. I hope we can work even more magic this year. I love this race, and I think it's going to be really exciting this year."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm happy with our day. We tried some different things out there and learned quite a bit in a short amount of time. The car has been good in race trim this month, and I'm very antsy to get this race started. I think that we are in pretty good shape for the race. There's a lot of good competition out there, but I think that we have as good a chance as anyone."

RICHIE HEARN (No. 99 Contour Hardening/Curb Agajanian/SSM Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It went OK. The car is good, it's just not as good as I'd like it. This is the last time I'm going to get to work on it. Today is pretty much everything, it's running in traffic, running old tires, adjusting the car while you're out there, working on fuel mileage, doing pit stops, trying to get in and out of the pits fast. I've got to cram a lot of things into two hours. We're just trying to do the best we can for the race."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm very happy with my race car. The conditions were very good today, and the car felt just great. We ran in traffic a little bit and spent some time running alone. My goal is to win the race, for sure. We're going to have a good shot at it, but a lot has to happen. You have to stay out of trouble. You can't have any problems with the car. You have to have good pit stops every time, and you have to be in the right place at the right time to be able to win it. You also have to have a little bit of luck, I think. That's something we could have used at the end of the race last year. But it's a new year, and everybody is back on even terms, at this point."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The car was pretty good today. We just wanted to go out and get everything on the car checked out for the race. It's a consistent car, and I think that's what we'll need for the race. We only did about 10 or 12 flying laps out there. It's been a great month for us, but now I'm ready to get the race on. Team Target has been awesome this month, and I think that I need to reward them with a victory on Sunday."

ROBBY GORDON (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Our main focus today was just making sure the car shifted gears, the aero balance was right and the gearing was right. I'm very pleased with all of the hard work and preparation the Archipelago/Motorola crew put in this month. The car feels very good, and I'm very confident. We tried some different downforce levels on the car, and that adds to the confidence. I'm very excited and just looking forward for the race to start. We've got our fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate and it will be a nice smooth, not an easy day because it's not easy to win the Indy 500, but it is a lot easier with a car that is prepared like ours."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We didn't actually turn a lap today, we just scrubbed in some tires and made sure they were balanced correctly. Unfortunately, we had a technical hitch that prevented us from running any more, so I scrubbed in three sets of tires, and that was it for the day. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew have given me a good car all month, and I'm sure it won't be any different in the race. So I'm looking forward to it."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We have a good, solid race car, but we're just going to have to see what pace the Toyotas and Hondas set. We know what we can run, and we think we know what they can run, so we just have to see how it plays out on Race Day and hope that we have a little bit of luck."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a limited number of laps to run today, so we used our time to try a few different things on my car that Robbie (Buhl) had tried on his car, which we didn't like. We've got a good setup on the car, and we've run in this weather before, so we are as well prepared as we can be for Sunday."

KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's been a fantastic day for us and Team Rahal today. It's race preparation, so we've done a lot of stuff in the few laps that we've been able to run, and the car seems to run fine, so let's hope it stays the same until Sunday." (What do you expect from this race?): "I think it's going to be a very tough race. There's a lot of cars that are very closely matched. I think it'll be a little bit like follow the leader, I suspect, for a while. I think in the middle of the race on pit strategies and I'm sure a few overtakings if the balance doesn't stay the same and all of that. From what I've seen so far, there are a lot of cars that are very similar in speed, and it's going to be a tough race to win." (Compare the stability of IRL IndyCar Series cars): "I think, obviously, each generation of cars get better and better. The manufacturers have roughly the same technical package to work with, so they refine and refine and refine. Does that mean that it's easy to drive? No, it doesn't. It means that it goes faster. We'll be able to go faster with it instead of slowing down. I don't think this year's car is any easier to drive than last year's car. It's just that it goes faster. CART cars - on the big tracks that we ran in CART, the cars were pretty much planted, like. Michigan and Fontana was pretty easy flat. It's not at all like that here. Downforce-wise is your limitation here. You can actually take more downforce off the car than the car can take. They get pretty tricky to drive when you start qualifying and stuff. For the race, though, you need more downforce, obviously, to deal with traffic, but it's the same as any race car. You want to have as little downforce as possible, and as little as the driver can deal with, basically the faster it will be. But you have to be able to hang on to it for 200 laps -- that's the thing." (What's your first memory of the Indy 500?): "I remember Formula One guys in the early 70s, Jackie Stewart and these guys when they came over here. They raced obviously Formula One in Europe and all that, but they always went over to the United States to do Indy 500. I remember that far back. (Laughing) That was the first memory that I have of the Indy 500. The first one that I really remember watching closely was when Mansell was over here in '93. I remember watching that race when he was leading. Then on the last restart and he hit the wall, sparks flying and that. It was spectacular."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Last weekend, I felt like we needed an extra day. I was looking forward to running last Saturday, but unfortunately it rained. We had a very good day on Sunday. Believe it or not, even though we've been here for however many days, the time on Sunday really helped me out. We did a couple of changes on the car, and I was very happy by the time I left here on Sunday afternoon. Basically, today was a matter of confirming those feelings, trying the car out with different conditions. Today is a little cooler, and the wind direction is slightly different. I was very with the car then, as well, so I only did a couple of laps, so that was it. I was done. There's a lot of people out there who are extremely competitive, drivers and teams of great quality. Even guys who are starting further back that I am, I think have a genuine shot at winning this race. It's going to be a really competitive race. I don't think there's going to be a lot of non-finishers, because the reliability has proved unbelievable this month, so, I mean, maintaining good track position is going to be crucial and being very patient and having good pit stops so that you are in a position to contend for the race after the last pit stop, which is the really what it's all about." (Can you compare the current car to last year's car and to the CART cars you used to drive?): "It's very hard for me to compare the CART car because it's quite a while ago. I don't think my feeling goes that far back. I think in relation to the cars we had last year, these cars are better. They are faster. They are aerodynamically more efficient and the reason we are going faster because they are easier and more stable to drive. Particularly here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Firestone brought a much better tire than what they had last year, and that really is contributing to the speeds. My car is a lot better to drive than last year. I really struggled with the handling of my car last year than I hav e with my car this year at Indianapolis, and I have four wheels, which usually helps." (On the class of rookies here at Indy): "I think the rookie field is very strong. Some guys are considered rookies, but Nigel Mansell was a rookie once upon a time when he as far from a rookie. I think the field is very strong. Obviously (Scott) Dixon is a very strong driver and is considered a rookie. Last weekend in qualifying, my fellow countryman (Vitor) Meira did a really good job, and he's considered a rookie. There's a lot of guys that are very, very strong."

GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): (About why he was standing between the pit lane and main straight during Carb Day practice): "It's always amazing to go out there and see how fast the cars go. I have a very special guest here today, the owner of TrimSpa, which is our new primary sponsor, and it's such an awesome experience. I remember one time after driving here for a while, I'd never been out to pit wall. I went to talk to someone who had a radar gun and I stood there and the wall is very, very short. This is the closest you can get to a moving race car anywhere in the world, and I'm not so sure I like that. I went out there, and a car went by, and it literally scared me to death. I ducked down. It was a awesome experience, and I wanted him to see that today." (What goes through you mine for the next 69 hours before the race starts?): "I'm thinking about what's for dinner tonight. I think we've all raced for some time, and it's the world's biggest race, and speaking for myself, I think I do better when I don't really think about that. The team is prepared, and the car is prepared. We've done all we can do." (What are your first memories of this race?): "I remember when I was in third grade, and the pole sitter from the race was on the Johnny Carson show, and was on the front page of the Monday (Dallas) Morning News. It's not a great jump back in time to realize this is one of the biggest events in the world. It's the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. I always dreamed about being Racer X and come on to the back of the grid of the Indy 500. Win the race and disappear. But now I want the milk and the money. It's truly a great place, and the images you have from the past make it very special."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Arie Luyendyk , Nigel Mansell , Jackie Stewart , Tom Gloy , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing