IRL: Indy 500: Day 10 practice quotes

IRL: Indy 500: Day 10 practice quotes
May 21, 2004, 5:32 AM

Indianapolis 500 Post-Practice Quotes: KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We had the quickest time, but I am not happy because the car is not like my primary car. There is something strange. You have more ...

Indianapolis 500 Post-Practice Quotes:

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We had the quickest time, but I am not happy because the car is not like my primary car. There is something strange. You have more understeer sometimes and then a loose car, and sometimes we are influenced by the wind, and the car changes so much. Yesterday we found little problems with the car, and I think we have similar problems today, and that is why I am not happy."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We made some good progress again today. I feel like we've been pretty close all week. We're just really trying to get it as close to perfect as we can. Obviously, the more information we get, the better job we can do with that. But I'm pretty happy. The Arca/Ex guys did a good job today. Again, having three teammates certainly helped. Bryan (Herta), Tony (Kanaan), Dan (Wheldon) and I all ran in a simulated pack, and that seemed to help."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We have the advantage of having four cars, so we tried to run together as much as possible. That's a lot of traffic, having three cars ahead of you all the time, which is pretty good. As teammates, you can really work together. We're just really trying to do a lot of different things to just find out what will work best for the conditions we get on Race Day. We've had a lot of different weather so far in practice, which is pretty good -- windy, sunny, cloudy -- so that's good. We should have a lot of information and hopefully by Race Day we can choose the right stuff for the Team 7-Eleven car."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm pretty happy with the XM Satellite Radio car. I think we've accomplished everything we wanted to. If we had another week, we'd probably go out there and practice every day, but that is the nature of the game. We've had a good month other than the qualifying accident. Everything has gone according to plan."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Klein Tools/Jim Beam team is working hard on getting a good race car. We found that a little difficult today, but that's the beauty of our team. We have three other cars with competitive drivers in them, and they are willing to help us when we need it. We are going to have a look at our data and then come back out tomorrow to see what we've got."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We had another good day. Even though we are the fastest two guys, that doesn't mean anything. In race trim, we are still not as I would like to be, but it is not bad also. It is hard to judge from what everyone else is doing. There are two or three cars out there that look pretty strong. We have two more days to make sure that we can find a better balance."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Now that the 'first race' of the month is done and we're in the show, we've been putting all of our efforts into the race setup. We want to make sure that we have a well-balanced, consistent car that is good in traffic, so we've been running with other cars as much as possible. The quality of the field is very strong, so Marlboro Team Penske needs to make sure they've done their homework. We've been lucky that the weather has been pretty good this week, and hopefully we'll be able to get on the track again tomorrow and continue our preparation."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "In addition to working on our race setup, Marlboro Team Penske has also been focusing on improving pit stops. Quick stops will be vital during the race, so it is important that the team is taking the time to incorporate pit stop practice at the end of the session. The guys are working really hard and doing a great job. Hopefully this will pay off on Race Day and we'll be able to use our pit stops to gain track position."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think we're doing fine. The Pennzoil Panther Chevy will be where it needs to be on Race Day. There is plenty of time left before the race, and we're getting a lot of good data to work with next week. Panther Racing has a great group of engineers, and it's really going to make a difference in a couple weeks."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We worked on some different things today and also practiced several hot pit stops. We didn't want to do too many laps in the race car. We got some tires scrubbed in and got ourselves one step closer to the big day. It's a long month, so we're really taking our time with things to make sure we don't get into a rush. The Menards/Johns Manville car is starting to feel good in traffic as well."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had a pretty good day and the Delphi crew really worked hard. We went through a lot of things and made some very good progress. Like everyone else, we're working on trying to make our car the best possible behind guys. We're still not quite where we want to be but we're gaining on it."

SARAH FISHER (No. 39 Bryant Heating & Cooling/Cure Autism Now Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "Today we made progress as far as the comfortableness of the car. We got a little bit faster at the end and the car is running well. You have to have a race car that is underneath of you. I'm not going to trim it out like we did last year to run closer to the same speed. I'm going to have a good race car and be there at the end."

LARRY FOYT (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm not happy with the way the car drove today. It felt like something changed so we're checking everything to see what's going on."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The day started out shaky with my little spin in Turn 3. Luckily, we didn't have any big damage to the Conseco car. I just broke the two rear wing upright posts and the left side end fence. We got back out and ran an OK time. We still have some work to do but we're in the ballpark."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Pioneer/Mo Nunn team had another tough day. We started to make some progress but ultimately continued to struggle with the balance of the No. 12 car. We look forward to taking advantage of the remaining practice sessions and improving the race set-up for the big day".

ROBBY GORDON (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Robby Gordon Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Our focus is getting ready to race 500 miles. I think we've got a good handling package that we can transfer over to the other car."

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We need to run in more traffic and for longer periods of time to really get a good feel for how good our car is. We did a lot of hot stops today and worked on fuel mileage. We didn't use a lot of tires because we were somewhat behind after qualifying."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "At the start of the day, we had a really good race car when we were running on our own. Later on, we ran in traffic and realized we didn't have as good of a car as we could have, so we spent the rest of the afternoon making adjustments. We improved a lot as the day went on; we just need to work on our pace now."

Note: Selected quotes from the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing-Hemelgarn Racing press conference:

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 LifeFitness DRR/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I remained confident, disappointed in the fact that I had a lot of things going, but nothing came through for the season. I felt very confident. I've been talking with Dennis (Reinbold) and Robbie (Buhl) for a number of weeks, even since the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of driving positions. I've been in the position for eight years where I haven't really been out trying to sell my services as a driver, and so it is a difficult transition for me. A lot of people are surprised when they hear that I'm in my mid-30s, because I came here as a teenager. I always loved this place. I feel like I probably have 10 years left because I love what I do. I was talking with Gil de Ferran the other day. He's just tickled, he's so happy with his decision (to retire), at least that's how he expressed it to me. For me, and I know Robbie is struggling back and forth, he's sort of between Gil and I, racing is the only thing I enjoy doing. I love it and I'm nowhere near ready to stop. I was disappointed with the prospects, disappointed I was in the position, but was really fortunate to be able to make some choices during the month. I felt the team these guys had assembled, the relationship that I've had with Robbie and Dennis in the past, the fact that they have Owen Snyder and they've been out running, and (Felipe) Giaffone as a teammate, I felt very confident that we're not starting deep in the hole. There are a lot of teams that are good guys, are working on future programs, but they don't have notes, they haven't been out running, they don't have the team that these gentlemen have set up. So I felt that this was by far my best chance at getting up to speed in a hurry and to build for the future. I believe I've made a good decision. (Is it hard to drive for Robbie after years of competing against him?): "I may have really pushed that line with him (Robbie Buhl) in the past, but fortunately we've been good friends for a long, long time. Watching him become a team owner, and the decisions that he has made, our careers have been many, many years racing together. Before the league was formed, we raced. I think it adds an extra bit of enthusiasm to me because he's always been someone I've enjoyed. When you're racing against somebody, you only get so close as friends are, and of course you're all out there trying to make the most out of what you have and out of what you are given. (Did you ever think this would not get done?) "You always have those doubts. I think even when I have a good ride I feel that way. It's just because I love what I do. I'm confident in my abilities to get the most out of what I can get. The economy, obviously it takes a while for it to filter down into racing. There's been hard times for a lot of folks in racing and a lot of series. I've had good discussions with folks. I've never felt quite that way. I've felt that we're all working to put things together, and it takes time. That is disappointing, but at the same time I've always felt pretty good about it. It's an inner feeling that you have, how much you have left to contribute and to do as a professional as a race driver. I'm just nowhere near ready. I do have a lot of friends in the paddock. I never felt like I'm reaching the end. I feel like I have quite a bit left to go."

ROBBIE BUHL (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I'm very happy that we have Buddy (Lazier) with us to run a second car and teamed up with Hemelgarn Racing. We have not had the smoothest week, if you will, at Dreyer & Reinbold, so our guys have been working overtime. But we're going to keep working. This is the biggest racing in the world. We've got a guy in Buddy that's won it before, so we're going to work hard to give him the best of everything we can give him." (About his relationship with Lazier): "With some guys, it may be awkward. Buddy and I have raced together for awhile, and we've always had a wealth of good, clean, hard racing with each other. We have respect for what each other has done on the track. We'll try to pool our heads over what we've done to each other over the years and see how that can translate back to getting us what we want to have out here."

RON HEMELGARN (Owner, Hemelgarn Racing): "I thought that it was very, very important that Buddy (Lazier) be in the Indy 500. To keep the long association that we've had with Buddy is very important. Our crew has been together for a long time. Ronnie Dawes is still with us, since 1986, and Lee Kunzman, (since) 1984. Our guys have tremendous years with the organization, and they're racers. That's what they want to do: They want to go racing. I've been very busy on a few other projects, so when this opportunity came about and we started talking about it a few weeks ago, it just made sense to bring the two groups together. Obviously, Robbie (Buhl), I've known him a long, long time, and it just made a natural match, I think, for everybody. To keep the association with Buddy was so important. This is my 28th year here. I guess not being involved in Indy would be quite a heartbreak for me, if I looked back on it. I think I could go without it, but I don't know. I'm very, very happy to be involved in this operation."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I certainly would have preferred to get on the track earlier. But we battled through some disappointment when our major sponsor backed out just prior to Opening Day and are now ready to race. That hurt a bit, but the Indy 500 has been important to me since I was a child, and I'm very excited with the program we have put together."


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