IndyCar Series Teams Continue Indy 500 Preparations INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 21 2004 -- The IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 qualifying highlighted a busy day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as IRL IndyCarÂ® Series teams...
IndyCar Series Teams Continue Indy 500 Preparations
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, May 21 2004 -- The IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 qualifying highlighted a busy day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as IRL IndyCar® Series teams preparing for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 put in a full day of practice.
Adrian Fernandez continued Honda's strong run at the Speedway, posting the fastest lap of the day, 218.257 mph, in his No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone.
1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier made his on-track debut, driving the No. 24T Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone for his new team, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Lazier's fastest lap, 215.513, was fastest among non-qualified entries.
The day was marred by a single incident, which damaged the qualified entry of Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta. Herta was not injured in the crash, which occurred as his No. 7T XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone suffered a wishbone failure in the right-rear as his car entered Turn 3. The car suffered damage to the left side.
INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I'm very comfortable. I didn't expect this result. Our car is very fast every day. Yesterday I wasn't that happy. Today our car was more consistent. Today we really improved a lot because of his (Adrian Fernandez) feedback. He gave me a lot of different things for the setup." (About his approach to the Indianapolis 500): "Very normal. I'm very relaxed." (What will you do on your days off next week?): "Golf and work out. Just work out."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We definitely got some of the results we wanted today. We certainly learned some things and we're pretty close. But, I think we still have a couple more things we'd like to try. That's one of the advantages of having such a good technical group at AGR is that they keep coming up with new things to try and new ways to improve the ArcaEx car. We'll see what happens."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "You're never going to feel 100 percent ready because there are so many variables. But, I'm happy with the Team 7-Eleven car. I think it's pretty good, but we'll really find out on race day. It seems very consistent. We'll just have to see what's going to happen when it counts."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We are going to practice again tomorrow with the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car and we will continue to prepare for the race. I would much rather spend more time preparing so I know I can sleep well at night. Otherwise it plays on your mind how to make the car better. It's a long race but if you go into it not fully prepared it is going to be an even longer one. I felt that my race car was comfortable this morning but I think we can perfect it a little bit more. That's what we're going to work on tomorrow."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was another good day for the Pennzoil Panther guys. Our Chevy ran well. We just looked hard at what we did yesterday and tried to improve it for today. We'll just carry on improving and get back out there on Sunday."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today was a better day for the Delphi team. We've been making some progress on our race car so that is a real plus. Each day we're gaining on it, little by little, and hopefully we will continue to make gains until race day."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We're pretty confident. Yesterday, I wasn't very happy with the overall results. We were fast, but we weren't as good in traffic as I wanted to run. I know my competition, and I know which are the guys to beat, and I thought my car was not behaving the way I wanted it to behave in traffic. We made some good changes for today, and the car was absolutely more consistent through the day, even when it got windier at the end of the day. That really gives me good confidence that the car is strong now with the package that we have. There are a few little things that we need to try tomorrow just to confirm what we are going to do for the race. We've been working together very well. When one car finds something good, we talk about it, and we try it on the track. Today, we confirmed some things that we have found." (About his teammate): "When I saw Kosuke (Matsuura) driving, and when I was driving in Phoenix and Japan, I knew he was quick. He's very talented, and only thing he needs to learn is the art of winning ovals. Traffic is totally different than a road course. He is learning very quickly, and I think that now that we're been together, we've been able to push the team towards the top. I learn from him, and he learns from me. We both try to get the team to the top."
SARAH FISHER (No. 39 Bryant Heating & Cooling/Cure Autism Now Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "We basically base-lined the car this morning and then went out this afternoon and made a big change. It wasn't quite what we wanted from the car so we were going to try and go back on that change for the last part of the session and just didn't get done in time. We're trying to work on getting a fast race car."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 24T Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was a great day for me to better myself, and to really get to know the team. I enjoyed the day. I"l be able to be comfortable from today forward. I feel good--the car is excellent. We worked all day on race set-ups and went just as fast on old tires as we did on new ones."
LARRY FOYT (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Not a real good day today. I feel like we learned stuff that doesn't work. We tried a lot of different things and it seemed like the car just went backwards for us. We've definitely lost the balance of the car so hopefully we can get that back."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We ran the T-car this morning and never really got too comfortable in it but it's pretty hot and slick out there today. We took our primary car out and we had a little bit of race set-up on it and never really got too comfortable with it. We just need some more overall grip on the car. We've got a few more days to work on it and we're not too far off. We've got some things to dial it in a little bit better so I'm not too worried about it."
ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "With the weather being hot and humid, it allowed for extreme conditions in terms of grip. We ran a lot of laps of the Chevy engine and worked on perfecting our race setup in these temperatures since you never can predict what Race Day weather will turn out to be."
ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I feel like we're getting really close. Today was a perfect day to run since the weather was so hot and greasy. The conditions, as far as making the car handle, were not that good, but they really helped because it will make it that much easier when the weather is not so hot and humid."
BUDDY RICE (No. 15T Rahal-Letterman Argent/Pioneer Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "We ran half of the race distance today. I'm really happy with the car, and we are just going to get ready for the race now. I'm done on the track for the weekend. We are very excited and happy the way the race setups have gone this week. It was a good test for us today. The conditions are as bad as it can get. If it is cooler and nicer on Race Day, we know how to handle it. I think we have every variable covered. Now, we going to go down Nashville for a Firestone tire test on Sunday and Monday. This will get us back to the standard tracks we normally run. It will be nice to get away from Indy for a few days. It will be nice to unplug a little even though we going to another track. We can get in a fish bowl here, so Nashville will be good for me. It will be a little more quiet and calm after this week."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 16T Rahal-Letterman Sammy Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "I'd like to have every day like today. The Team Centrix team is excited about the conditions we have tested this week and last week. We experimented a little and actually went over the edge on some setups. I don't think the conditions can get worse than we had today. Very hot, very humid, very windy. The wind changed a lot, too. Sometimes the car feels great and sometimes it feels good. There is only about 5 percent difference, but we are prepared for the race. I am very confident in the car. Boy, this team is good, and I am ready for the race. It was Roger's T today, and I drove Buddy's T car yesterday, and there is no difference in all of our cars. I think we are going to go there in the race."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 14T Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "A.J. asked me to shake down the car and get comfortable. I got a good feel for what the car likes, and the car feels good. I honestly don't know what's going on. He just asked me to jump in the car and shake it down.I ran for A.J. some last year and had a lot of fun doing it, and I would love to drive for A.J. here at the 500. It would be a dream come true."
A.J. FOYT (Owner, A.J. Foyt Racing): (About running Jaques Lazier): "This was just a shakedown, let him feel the car out. I've got two cars (in the race), I don't need three. It was just a shakedown, just let him feel the car. I had it pretty soft for Anthony, and I just wanted to see what his (Lazier's) feelings were on the car just to give me some feedback information. I was using it for a test car, mainly." (Would you run Jaques if you weren't in danger of getting bumped?): "I doubt it because I really don't have three crews to do it proper. And if I do something, I like to do it proper, and I wouldn't want to cheat him."
BRYAN HERTA (#7T XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I was going down the backstretch and it felt like the right rear part of the car let go. I tried to save it and thought I could for a second. I thought I'd let the car brush up against the wall, but it whipped around and we took the hit."
SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8 a.m. Public Gates Open
10 a.m.-noon IndyCar Series Practice
12:30 p.m. Futaba Freedom 100 Pre-Race Ceremonies
1 p.m. Futaba Freedom 100 (40 laps)
2:30-6 p.m. IndyCar Series Practice
6 p.m. Track Closes