IRL: Indy 500: Opening Day quotes

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "It was the first practice day at Indy and we made a very, very good start. The car was good -- the same as at the Open Test. It was very windy again. My car was quite good,...

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "It was the first practice day at Indy and we made a very, very good start. The car was good -- the same as at the Open Test. It was very windy again. My car was quite good, just in Turns 1 and 2, I started to have push at the exit of the corner. We didn't run that many laps; just enough to get a baseline. Basically it was a very good start today."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 24 Team Purex/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Things went OK today. We had a few electrical problems this morning, and spent a little time working them out. This is a different car than the one we tested with here earlier, but the cars are similar and we're working our way back up. I'm happy with the way the car is handling.

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We slowly got up to speed today. We were being really conservative. We really weren't looking for a lap time or anything with the Team 7-Eleven car. I'm happy with today. I found what I wanted, even though the speeds don't look as good as Dan's (Dan Wheldon). But, we're there. I think we're in the ballpark and I'm happy. It's just the first day and it's a long week until Pole Day."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Pioneer Mo Nunn team tried a number of different things today on both cars but nothing seemed to work. We just were not very competitive. While it was a disappointing afternoon, we need to remember that today is only the first day of a long month. I look forward to returning to the track tomorrow morning."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State/Telmex/Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a good practice. This was a brand new car for us; it was our spare car. Kosuke (Matsuura) straightaway went out and was fourth or fifth fastest when he left the track earlier. We went out later, but the car immediately felt a lot better. My first few laps were 216 [mph] immediately without any adjustments and in the heat of the day. We started to make some changes and the car felt a lot more comfortable than what I felt the last time [at the Open Test]. We made some good changes and at the end we turned some good laps with no tow. My fastest lap was without a tow so that was pretty good. Obviously, this is practice and it doesn't count, but it puts us in a position where we know we can improve from here."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's good to get a start on the month of May. It was little bit tricky today with the heat. We were making sure things are working as they should, getting a few laps out of the way to feel comfortable. We had a really good setup and used our time effectively, and we'll get quicker and quicker as the month goes along. The first run today I was still getting comfortable in the car, but this afternoon we ran some quicker laps. For me, it's really special to be here as a rookie, Indianapolis is a great reminder of why we do this. And to see a crowd like this on opening day, you never get that type of crowd anywhere else. It's just great to drive in front of the fans here, they've got a lot of enthusiasm."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "You wouldn't know it by looking at our times, but we're not too shabby with the ArcaEx car right now. It's certainly a good starting point.We've just scratched the surface and worked on some race stuff. The times really aren't an indication of where we're at right now. We just wanted to shake things down a bit. Tomorrow we'll go to work on the speed a bit."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's really fun to be back here at Indy. We shook down both cars and certainly the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew put together some very nice cars. The crew has been very busy but the cars are fantastic. The boys have just given me two great cars. It is only opening day but we ran through our program and everything went very well."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Today was exactly what I wanted to get out of Opening Day. We got here and got to running in the XM Satellite Radio car and just got the month of May started. Everybody is trying to get comfortable out there right now and then as the week goes on we'll start trimming the car out and try to get more speed from it. Nobody is showing what they have yet, because it doesn't really count before Saturday."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was a great opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was a beautiful day and it was great to be back at Indianapolis. I also want to wish everybody a Happy Mother's Day. The Patrick Racing car was very good today. The Chevrolet engine ran great and the Firestone tires were consistent all day. We spent today's first practice just making sure that the car responded the same way it did when we tested here a couple of weeks ago--and it did so were are very happy about that. The Patrick Racing team did a great job today. We have a solid baseline and I am looking forward to improving the car each day leading up to qualifying. There is a big difference in the cars from last year. The rule changes have definitely made the cars slower. But, everybody is in the same boat. We certainly would have liked to run the first three races of the season, but I don't think we are at a disadvantage coming here to Indy because of all the rule changes. Besides, Indy is like home to me, so what better place to start the season."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today was a good opening day for the Delphi team. We didn't worry at all about the time sheets today. We basically just worked on the race car trying to get a head start for May 30th in case we race in similar conditions. There is a lot of time left this month to worry about going fast."

SARAH FISHER (No. 39 Bryant Heating & Cooling/Cure Autism Now Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "Today we got off to a little bit of a rough start. We started off quite a bit different from where we had been at the open test. This afternoon we got a little frustrated with that and went back about halfway on what we had been running at the test and it was a huge change. We got the car back to a good position but we only had 20 or 30 minutes to tune on that package so we've still got some work to do. It was a rough start today but at least we ended the day on a good note."

ROBBY GORDON (No. 70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Robby Gordon Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Today's goal was to run both cars and not have any problems. It was a good function-check day, and that was Thomas' (Knapp, team manager/engineer) plan all along. We tried one new setup on the backup car and then went back to what we learned in the test here a week ago."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 36 PacifiCare Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We are still learning about the Honda/G Force combination, but I'm happy with our progress today. We didn't go toward a qualifying setup or race setup. We could have had more speed if we went more toward a qualifying setup, but we are still in the beginning stages of the learning process. It was hot and windy today, so we were running in difficult conditions. I did my best lap time while I was running by myself without a tow, so it is a true identification of our situation. During the Open Test we were 3.2 mph behind the fastest guy, and now we are 2.2 mph, so we are closing the gap. I hope we can continue to move the PacificCare car closer to the front."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Today we were just getting both cars up to speed. We didn't really do much with the T car. We trimmed it out a little, put a new set of tires on it, and I think that's where we got the time. It was pretty windy, but I think we were quite surprised at how much grip the car had in the end considering the last time we were here. Toyota made great gains in the engine. We're still expecting more from that, so it's looking pretty decent. As Adrian (Fernandez) said, it's still pretty early in the month it doesn't really mean anything. We'll try and stay pretty steady." (About expected pole speeds): "I'm still thinking 225. The track's going to probably pick up a couple of mile an hour from today. Also with car and engine specs still coming, I figure it'll pick up." (About drivability of cars with aerodynamic changes): "The IRL has done a terrific job with the amount of downforce they've taken away from the car with what they've altered for safety. A lot of us thought they were going to be too easy to drive here with the smaller engines, but they're definitely not. They're not harder to drive. When you're on the edge, you're on the edge."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was good. We pretty much started the way we left off at the Open Test. The car seemed to be handling with no problems. The wind was a bit stronger than at the Open Test. We were waiting for more guys to get on the track; that's why we spent more time in the pits. We need to keep focused on our job. Other guys are coming and going faster. We just need to wait and see once it gets closer to qualifying. Everyone knows that it's like two races: One is for qualifying, and the next one is the race. We just have to be patient and wait for the right time."

MARTY ROTH (No. 25 Roth Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We're going after a fast time, but we're stuck right now. We were trying all day to get over 210 mark. We made some changes here and there, but are still stuck at 210. We're back and forth on this right now, but it's a long month, and you can't find that perfect setup on Opening Day. What we need to do is keep it off the walls."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal-Letterman Argent/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "It was a pretty easy day for me. We ran just five laps in the backup car. It was pretty much a leak check. The primary car will be here Monday, and we'll be able to get with the program and strategy we set out for the month. It feels very good to work with this team. They are very professional and working well together. Last year I was a rookie here at Indy, and this year I come back with a lot more experience. As a rookie, you can get excited and anxious about doing a lot of things in a hurry. This year we are going to be methodical and plan out everything very well. It should be much better for me and much calmer, too. Of course, working with two teammates and a group of engineers make things a lot easier, too."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 16 Rahal-Letterman Sammy Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Today we just checked for some leaks and to make sure everything on the car worked properly. It felt good. So Monday will begin our regular program of testing many different things on the car. After being a rookie last year, I feel much more confident and calm coming to Indy. The month of May is a driver's biggest event of his career every year. It's so important to the driver and team, and I'm very pleased with the strategy that Team Rahal has taken. Everything is looked at and reviewed. We have a lot of experience with our Sammy team with guys like Don Halliday (engineer) and Dennis Swan (crew chief). So I'm in good hands with them. Now we just need to move forward with the plan that was developed for the whole month."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal-Letterman Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We basically did shakedown runs today. We were just checking all of the systems. We had many problems in the testing day two weeks ago, so we wanted to get the 'monkey off our back' with those problems. I think we did that. We were just cruising around today, and the car felt great. We were trying to get a read on the track and the wind. On Monday, we'll begin our general plan with bars, springs and shocks. I feel very good working with this team. Having teammates like Buddy and Roger are a big advantage, too. There is a strong lineup of engineers, too. I'm excited about this team's chances this year."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It went smooth today. We're really working on pacing ourselves. We didn't run a whole lot. We're just working on some engine tests for Chevrolet, so we're not really trying to dial in a bunch of speed into the car. That will be later this week. Just pace ourselves and slowly work on our time."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Dan Wheldon , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing