IRL: Indy 500: Day six post-practice quotes

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race IRL IndyCar Series Post-Practice Quotes Friday, May 9, 2003 ARIE LUYENDYK (No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm hurting between the shoulder blades pretty bad right now. But fortunately,...

Indianapolis 500-Mile Race
IRL IndyCar Series Post-Practice Quotes
Friday, May 9, 2003

ARIE LUYENDYK (No. 20 Meijer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm hurting between the shoulder blades pretty bad right now. But fortunately, nothing is broken; no fractures, cracks, nothing. So that's the good news. The bad thing is I have to walk around with my arms folded to keep from hurting as much. My status is day-to-day. There's no telling when I'm going to be cleared to drive. The doctor says it's totally up to me, when I feel absolutely comfortable doing what I have to do to drive my Meijer race car. It's strange, what happened. I've had much harder crashes where I didn't get hurt at all. I wasn't pushing the car too hard at the time. We finally got the car to where it was balanced just right through (Turns) 3 and 4, and I came by and swapped ends in (Turn) 1. I was planning to go around one more time before really standing on the gas. But I didn't get that far, did I? The car was set up in a way where maybe it was too tricky for the conditions, which are different than they have been all week. We'll see how I feel tomorrow and work with Dr. Bock on deciding when it makes sense to get back into the car. There's no sense getting back into the car if I'm hurt to the point where it is going to affect my driving. You have to be smart, first and foremost. It's really disappointing because I think we cured one of the bigger problems we had all through the week, but we never got a chance to see for sure. I'll be back in the car sooner or later, though. This is too much fun."

SHINJI NAKANO (No. 54 Beard Papa's Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was our first day on the track, and since we were only able to get about 40 laps in, I wasn't able to learn too much. We had a couple of unusual mechanical delays that kept us in the garage a lot more than we planned on. Even so, it was very good to finally get the car out there and start the process of learning the track and finding the right setup. I'm sure tomorrow will be a much better day for us."

SIMON MARSHALL (Chief Designer, Panoz G Force): "We remain very confident of having a great shot at the pole tomorrow. During the day, our speed was very strong, and while a few guys went faster by getting a tow at the end of the day, when the Panoz G Force car was running alone out on the track, our speed was very strong. Pole Day is always difficult because there are so many variables, including the weather, to take into consideration. The Ganassi boys (Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter) were both fast today, (Tora) Takagi was quick yesterday, and (Gil) de Ferran also was very strong. We have three of four guys with a great shot at pole tomorrow."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We struggled bad today. Toward the end of the day, I got halfway back in the groove where I needed to be. The weather was totally different, and I'd never driven on the track when it was so slick."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 Pedigo Chevrolet Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're really fighting conditions today. The track is windy, the track is hot, and we lost a handle just a little bit. We put in a different engine, and we don't know where we are right now, so it's going to be a bit of a guessing game. Yesterday, I would have said we were right there, but today is a different day. It is hard to gauge where we really are. Panther Racing is a good team. We are going to give it 110 percent, and hopefully we will be right there tomorrow."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We were the fastest car out there in the heat of the day. We posted our fastest speed without a tow at around 3:15 this afternoon. Obviously, we're very happy with where we're at. I think that the pole will be 231 (mph) or 232 (mph), depending on the weather. It would be great to be on the pole, but I'm hoping for a spot in the top three rows. That should keep us out of the mess that might happen at the start."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We made a lot of speed gains in today's session. Scott (Dixon) and I are exchanging information on our cars, and that is definitely helping both of us. (Engineer) Bill (Pappas) and I sat down before the month and created a plan to follow for the month. We are following that plan exactly, and we are having strong results. I hope that we can get the Target car on the pole tomorrow. It would be a great reward for my team."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car is handling perfectly. It's the best car I've ever driven here at the Speedway, and we got some more data on running in different weather conditions today. It's hard to predict what will happen tomorrow - whether or not it rains, what the temperatures are, etc., etc., so we'll see where we draw and what it's like when it's our turn to go and qualify. When it's our time, I can promise you, we will give it all we've got."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was another wild and crazy day, and another great job by the Delphi team. The guys have been busting their tails all week. We went out this morning, and track conditions were a lot different, so we switched a lot of stuff. They really busted their tails so we could get back out and run so well this afternoon. I think all around that we are in good shape. I don't really know where we stack up with the rest of the field, but I do know that we are in good shape."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We had been trying new things the last couple of days. We had decided that if they didn't work, we would regroup and go back to where we started. That's what we did today, so my times are reflecting exactly that. We didn't find the speed we were looking for, so now what we do is put four smooth laps together, get up the grid as far as we can, and then go for a good race setup. I feel we do have a very good car for the race. We just went searching for a good qualifier and never found it, so we just went back to where we started, and that will be OK."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think we are in pretty good shape. We didn't really try for the ultimate run because the conditions may be different tomorrow, but we know the car is good. We focused a lot in the earlier part of the week to get a good platform on the car. It is my first time here, so I'm not sure if the first part or the last part will be better. Part of it is strategy. At the same time, the conditions change so much during the day, you just have to play it by ear. I'm pretty confident."

ROBBY GORDON (No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think we feel just as good as we did in 2001, when we sat on the front row with A.J. (Foyt). I think we were the quickest car that day in Happy Hour going into qualifying. Maybe we weren't quickest, but top three, I know. I feel real good about that 231 (mph). That first 231, maybe you could call it a tow, but the next time I was all by myself, with the 231.1, so I feel good about that. We did three or four laps in the 231 (mph) range. We came here to win the pole. You come here to win a couple of elements of the month. You want to sit on the pole, and you want to win the race. Everybody wants to do that. Being quickest in practice, it's nice. It builds a lot of confidence overnight. I'm sure I can run four laps flat tomorrow. I don't know if it will be exactly 231 or if it will be 230.5's, but it will be real close. You see how close the IRL has got these cars. The guy that can be the trimmest for four laps and keep a good average speed is the guy that's going to be on the pole. Hopefully, we can do that. I could hold on for four like that, but I was a little too free to be doing that tonight. The most important time is tomorrow. When you know the car is as good as it is, there's no reason to risk it. That's what we did; we just put it away."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It is one of those things. We know we are not shooting for the pole, but I think if we can get the first four rows, top 15, we wouldn't be too disappointed with that. I think that if we get in the heat of the day, we might not have as much of a chance. In the morning or later on in the afternoon, we should be OK. We had a couple different builds of engines, so we were just changing those around, trying to see which one we like the best. We ran two today, but in the past two days, I would say we ran four different engines. It is a learning process. We just have to keep plugging away, keep our heads up and see what we can do."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It seems our setup didn't agree with the conditions today like it did yesterday. The data we went over after our first run today made total sense. The big challenge is to find just the right setup that will work best in the heat like we had today. You never know what it's going to be like when it's your turn to qualify. I just hope it's going to be like it was for us yesterday."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We didn't get a whole lot of time to work on things today. The guys were making some major modifications to my car, which took most of the day. Unfortunately, we got out after 5 o'clock, and it didn't leave us enough time to get up to speed. We have 90 minutes of practice before we qualify tomorrow, so that gives us a chance to get things just right."

GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I hate to say it, but maybe today was a little disappointing. This evening I thought we would be quicker. I definitely threw away laps that may have been in the 231 (mph) range. We have a good handle on the car, but I just can't get that last little bit out of it and stay flat." (About qualifying): "The weather can do anything. Teams can get it right or wrong. I've seen little teams that didn't have a clue get it right, and I've seen big teams with all the resources in the world dial themselves right out of it. We are going to work as hard as we can and do the best we can. It is what it is."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were hoping to accomplish a little more today. We put another motor in last night and were looking for a 224-225 (mph lap) this afternoon. Obviously, the conditions changed, but you still want to be in a certain position. We're just scratching our heads about how to get there. Normally on Friday afternoon, I'll look to the crew and say 'Let's trim it out and see how fast she'll go.' That didn't happen today because we were already trimmed out. I usually hold a little back for quals, but that's all she's got. We drew number one for tomorrow, so we'll see where it takes us."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I decided to go with the Dallara chassis, given I feel more comfortable with it. I won two Indianapolis 500's with the chassis, so why make a change? The Marlboro Team Penske car has been running well all week. The weather changes from day to day have been a challenge, but that is the same for everyone. I think the weather for qualifying will be warm and humid like today. We focused only on our qualifying setup to make sure we are ready for Saturday. Tomorrow is my birthday, so hopefully we'll have something to celebrate."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm glad we finally decided which chassis to run. I'm going to run the (Panoz) G Force because we were a little faster in that car, but the chassis were very close. I was fast in qualifying and race trim in both cars. Now we can focus on just one car, which is what's really going to give us the edge. It was a tough day with the higher temperatures and wind, but I'm pretty happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car. We tried some qualifying simulations and averaged in the 230-mph range. I don't know if that will be good enough for the pole. We'll have to see what the weather is like and how things play out tomorrow."

GARY PEDIGO (Co-Owner, Panther Racing): "We've never had the fastest car here since I've been involved. We've got a race engine in there. We always set the car up for Race Day situations. We'll be all right tomorrow. We just want to put the car in the field, which I'm sure we will, and get ready for Race Day."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I feel good about tomorrow, I think. I think we're right in there. I don't know quite where we're at, but tomorrow is going to be a little bit of a crapshoot with the weather and all that. But I think we are right there with the best of them. I've been real happy. All the (Andretti Green Racing) cars have been up there. Everything's just smooth. It's a little scary, but it's going good right now." (About qualifying draw): "We're happy with where we're at. It's going to be so close, it's hard to say. It's going to come down to conditions and all that stuff."

TONY COTMAN (Team Manager, Team 7-Eleven): "We did one run this morning. Obviously, it was pretty warm today, and the car was good, so we didn't want to touch it. The plan for Michael (Andretti) is to just hang out and run a little bit tomorrow morning in the pre-practice. We've got what we've got right now, and that is the nature of the beast, I think. It's all about whether you can get cloud cover, and you're geared right, and your car is right at the right time. At least 50 percent of it is out of your hands (in qualifying). But we'll see what tomorrow brings."

TONY RENNA (No. 32 Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a very reasonable day today for the Cure Autism Now/HomeMed Pharmacy team. We did lose quite a bit of time for trying some different setups on the car, and we ended up going back to where we started, so we were down for a little while. The guys have been doing a really good job. I think qualifying is certainly going to be interesting tomorrow because today everyone was fighting the conditions a little bit with the wind and the heat. I'm pleased going into qualifying tomorrow, and I think we can solidly put it in the show."

KIM GREEN (President, Andretti Green Racing): "Obviously, this has been the warmest and breeziest day we've had this month. We came out and experimented in some different temperature conditions. Tomorrow is going to be all about where you draw and weather conditions. I do feel pretty confident we've got good race cars, and I feel confident we can qualify up front. If we get the right conditions, I think we've got a really good shot at a very, very good qualifying result. My hat's off to the whole team. All four groups of mechanics, engineers and drivers have really worked very well together up to this point."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I feel confident. I think we can have a pretty strong run. We have a good car. We just didn't want to run too much today. We're saving it for tomorrow."

TIM CINDRIC (President, Penske Racing, Inc.): (About qualifying draw): "Hopefully, that draw will work out for us. Going early, with the way the weather looks and all that, might work out to be the right thing to do. I think right now we're just taking it a day at a time, getting through this day to get to the next. Right now, obviously, qualifying is the focus, but after that it will be all race mode."

DENNIS REINBOLD (Co-owner, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): (About Robbie Buhl drawing the first slot in qualifying): "Hopefully, it's going to be a little cooler (than) today. The higher temps affected us a little. It's always good to go out early. Hopefully the heat of the day hasn't sunk in quite yet so we'll be able to get out there and get some good running. Robbie (Buhl) and Sarah (Fisher) are both very, very comfortable in the cars, and we look forward to a good Race Day. We just want to get it in the show. That's our focus right now, and then we'll work hard on moving up in the race."

BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We don't have a lot of choices. Now, we have to be ready to go for qualifying. We got some things done that will help us for tomorrow. This morning was pretty rough. It was windy, and the track was slick. The humidity and heat weren't very good. By midday, everybody started running their numbers and showing what they could do. We'll just have to wait and see."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It went very well today. We backed up our quickest time of the month, a 227.1 (mph). We are happy with that. A lot of the other guys were running in the 224 (mph), 225 range. The only problem we have is where we drew. We're going to have to wait and see how everything goes with that. Our draw will put us right in the heat of the day. At that point, you lose so much grip and so much speed that you just have to pull out of line and wait until the end of the day."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (Owner, Red Bull Cheever Racing): "We have had a very diligent week. We have been consistently competitive with the equipment we have. I believe we will get the best out of the Red Bull car that we can tomorrow. We have a lot of work to do with General Motors, which I am sure we will get done. I am very proud of the team. Once we get into the race, we will do OK. Buddy (Rice) has been excellent, like a pro. He has had some difficult beginnings this year on other circuits. Here, he has done better than he will be publicly acknowledged because of our cars. We will probably take 17th and not 38th in our draw. I like to get qualifying out of the way. It is a very pressure-filled situation. The minute you qualify, you forget about it and start thinking about how you are going to run your best 500 miles."

KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We ran a pretty competitive speed (229.5 mph) for the heat of the day this afternoon. Then we rolled out the backup for some testing of suspension parts, and for some reason, it just didn't work as well as the primary car. We are going back to the primary car for qualifying, and we feel pretty good about our car for qualifying. The weather doesn't look very good for Saturday, and we'll have to watch the radar closely to see if we can qualify or not. We have an earlier number in the draw, so I'm hoping the weather is good. This kind of qualifying will be fun for the fans but a pain for the drivers and crews. That's because the speeds are so close, and a lot will depend on the weather and the track conditions. I told Bobby (Rahal) to go to the draw, and if it was a bad number, I could blame him at least. But he did OK for us."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We stuck to our plan, and it worked well for us all this week. The car is comfortable for me, both in qualifying and race trim, and all four (Andretti Green Racing) drivers are sharing information and helping each other along. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I believe any one of the four of us can take the pole. In the end, it may come down to the qualifying order."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Team Penske