Continued from part 1 DAN WHELDON ( ...
Continued from part 1
DAN WHELDON (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About the run): "I'm kind of disappointed. I'm not going to sit on that time, there's no way, as good as we've been all month. There's no way. It wouldn't be fair to anyone at Target Chip Ganassi Racing because there's a lot of effort that's gone into this whole month. Right now, we can go back out without it detracting from our race preparation. That's certainly what the intention is. There's definitely more speed in the car. For some reason, we just didn't get it out."
(Do you know why you didn't get the speed out?): "Yeah, I think so. Putting it right is another thing. We'll just work toward trying to get back some speed and see where we end up."
(Was the wind a factor?): "It certainly didn't help. I've done out laps of 225.6 this month so we know there's plenty of speed in the car, but for whatever reason, we didn't get it in that particular run."
(About the how qualifying here varies from other races): "That's what Indianapolis is all about. It's a challenge, and that's the good thing about it. If it was easy, it wouldn't be Indianapolis. That's why I like it. That's part of it. I wouldn't change it for the world. Obviously, my car didn't perform as well as I'd like. It's good you can go back out and you can have a go. Maybe third will stick, but I'm not going to sit on that. I'm going be bumping into Chip if he thinks I'm going to sit on that."
(What do you think of the format?): "You've got to remember that the race is the big thing. As sick as I am, that's what keeps me so enamored with this event. It makes it a lot of fun. It's great for the fans. That's what it's all about. It's a beautiful Saturday, and there are a lot of people here and it should be exciting for them because they deserve that. From a driving standpoint, one of the things I love about Indianapolis is the apprehension and the fact you can come back out. It really keeps you on your toes. It's, I guess, what you guys call a 'barn burner.' It will go right down to 6, a nd I think particularly today, with the weather as hot as it is, there will be a lot of people waiting to go until the last part of the day. It should be very interesting. For us, we just hope we improve because that was a dismal performance."
MARCO ANDRETTI (#26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About whether he will get bumped today): "Hopefully not, but the way I look at it three guys have to be beat me right now. I'm ninth. It's not a hard time to beat, so we might have to go again."
(About how he would describe the month thus far): "It's definitely been frustrating. For whatever reason, my father and I cannot get to our teammates' speed. Of course, I'm not going to be happy if my teammates are number one and two, and I'm down here. I'm happy (my teammates) are one and two, but that's just the month of May."
(About how his nerves have changed since last year): "Last year, I think I had a car that I knew in my mind before I went out it would be easy, and this one wasn't easy. I knew that."
(About how his feelings have changed from finishing second last year): "I lost the biggest race in the world by just a little bit, and my thinking hasn't changed since I got out of the car last year."
DANICA PATRICK (#7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Well, I think it's a pretty strong showing for AGR for sure. Dario went out there and tore it up. I think for me it was a pretty average run. I don't think we hit it perfectly. That's why we are 1 mph slower than them. We'll have to figure it out and have to see if it's worth redoing it or not. From past experience, it doesn't really the end of the world if you don't start on the front row or pole position. But you still want to give yourself your best shot."
(What speed were you hoping for?): "I was hoping for the high 224s. But it was pretty much a 224 flat and about it. There was some handling issues that definitely contributed to it. We'll have to see how big the problem was. If either of our teammates that have gone out so far done anything tremendously different, that would be a pretty quick fix. We'll think about if we want to run again or not."
(If it was up to you, would you go back out?) "Well, if it was up to me, right now. Right now I would. I would say, 'Dario, what the heck did you do?' and go do it."
(Tell us about your week. You guys have been improving throughout the week as the days have gone along. What are your thoughts?): "I think that over the last day or two here, we've been finding things that make us go quicker. Overall as a team, we are getting stronger. I think that is really good. Really good to be ahead of Team Target, and one, sort of, Penske is gone. We still have yet to see those guys yet. The satellite Penske."
(Is it frustrating to be 1 mph slower than Dario? Knowing how competitive you are, is it killing you?): "Yes, I think what we've been seeing this week, though, is just one little thing can do that. As always, with being the teammate that goes out first, you can always tell them, 'Look, the car feels like this right now.' From there they can hopefully apply that to their car and go faster. There are so many big positives with having so many of us out there on the same team because we can help each other. I don't know if that's what happened out there or not. But he (Franchitti) went well. So I'll pick him and his engineer's brain. We like to give ourselves the best shot."
(Does this day get any easier, being that you have been through it a few times? A lot of the drivers say that this is one of the most nerve-racking moments of the month.): "No, Race Day is pretty much taking the cake on that one. Qualifying day is nerve-racking, sure. But it is what it is. You are by yourself; you go out there. I trust myself. I was just hoping I had good intuition with the car and do the right thing. Whatever comes out, comes out. But when you get 32 other people out there with you, that's when you don't know what is going to happen."
TONY KANAAN (#11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I would think that first of all, we try to stay out of drafts all week. A lot of people are just drafting and looking good for a day. If you're confident enough, you don't need it. Sometimes drivers, and I understand perfectly why, need to see their names up there every day. It makes you more secure and pumps you up."
(About his qualifying run): "If I'm going to get beat, then I'd rather get beat by my teammates than anybody else. Me and Dario (Franchitti) worked all week to develop the setup. We came up with a couple differences. I went one way for qualifying and he went another, and his way was better."
JEFF SIMMONS (#17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We made good progress between this morning and qualifying. Now we know we have a shot at that top 11. I think we're going to get bumped out once the Penske guys run, but I think we can go quicker. We know what we have now, and we know what we need to do. I think you'll see us back out again later having to make another run to bump our way back into the field."
(This is only the beginning of your day.): "Yeah, this is a long day. Every day in May seems pretty long, but this is one of the longest ones."
(How important is it to get in the top 11?): "You don't want to have to deal with the pressure and all that again. You want to get it done as quickly as possible. Then, you can start concentrating on only your race car and stop worrying about qualifying."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (#3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We stopped practicing before we went out there, and actually, two runs we did before that were quicker than that. In this situation, you want try everything, and we're trying to get the pole position. We didn't go and practice. We went straight to qualifying and during the run, it was very hard. I don't know if the wind changed, as well, plus the car changed. It was very difficult, and it spoiled a lot of speed. It's not the speed that we want. We triggered the wave where everyone wants to go out. We want to go out again, but we need to watch what the other guys are doing, as well."
(What did you change on the car): "We're talking about a hair. An unbelievably small change. We're in a situation where every little bit counts. It's just the beginning."
SAM HORNISH JR. (#6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"The same thing happened, just in different parts of the run. The first run, I got a little bit wide at the exit of (Turn) 1, and I couldn't get the car to turn down in there. The second time, we got a little bit of a push. Both times we ended up in the same scenario where I was getting ready to close my eyes and being ready to hit the wall. It's pretty risky. We definitely have the speed to do it; we just can't keep the car handling right for the whole run. It's like we have the car on top of a pencil. One way or the other, we can't get it right where we need to be. I guess second won't be too bad."
(Do you want to give it another shot?): "I don't know. I was nervous enough waiting as long as we did. I don't know if I want to try it again. We'll talk to the bosses and see what they want to do."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Patron Sharp Rahal Letterman Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, after second attempt):
"Great effort by the guys, we did find a little bit of speed. It was very close to Michael; it handled well. On that last lap, it just slide a little bit, made my speed go down by about a mile per hour, and I was real worried that it was going to drop overall lap time. And it did, enough that we just missed getting Michael. A real shame, but the guys did a great job and we had a good run, and we'll just go do it tomorrow. We won't go back out today."
DAN WHELDON (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, after second attempt):
"I'd love to get pole here one day. I'm going to have to come back to do that. But the important thing is the race, and looking forward to that."
(How would you explain to someone that's maybe not familiar with all the ins and outs of racing; How you can be so quick during the week and be a dominant team, then qualifying day just not be able to find it?) "If I knew that, I wouldn't still be qualifying."
TONY KANAAN (#11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, after second attempt):
"It was a pretty tense moment when I was in the car. I was convinced that I could do it. I think my warm-up lap was a little bit too quick, and I lost it on the last lap. For 23 years, it has been me and this guy (Helio Castroneves), so it won't be the first time, and it won't be the last time. Congratulations to him. I think he did a good job and so did I. I have to thank my team. We got five cars in the top 11. Obviously, we lost the pole, but Andretti Green Racing is sticking together as teammates, and five cars in the top 11 is part of it." (About the drama of vying for the pole): "It was two things. When Helio went out, they asked me, 'Do you want to go?' I said, 'Yeah.' Michael (Andretti) was already secured, and for me, it was either sixth or 11th; it wouldn't make a difference. I'm a racer, and I wanted to go for the pole, and I wanted to give this team what they deserved and all the work the engineers have done. I wanted to do it for Dario (Franchitti), as well. I think Dario had it for all day, and I wanted to give it to him. I'm pretty happy, and I think we have a pretty good car, so let's go race."
(About the qualifying format): "Eleven is a good number, isn't it? We promised the fans, so here it is. Guys, May 27th -- I promise you -- you will have a lot of fun."
JEFF SIMMONS (#17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone, after second attempt):
"Well, the car's not bad, but we're having to do too many things out there to get it around through each corner. It's just not real consistent. It's doing the same thing when I make the changes, but it's not consistent all the way around the track. We just didn't quite have the speed today. We missed out earlier on our run and probably could have put in a better time and been a little safer. We might have been in the field right now. We'll come back tomorrow and try to put it in the show as well as we can and still work on the race car."
(Are the conditions of the track that much different than when you went out earlier?): "It's pretty similar. We slowed up a bit, though, for sure. I'm not sure exactly why that is. It may be just sliding around a little bit more. We just didn't have it today."
DARREN MANNING (#14 ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Yeah, we kind of struggled getting out late at the beginning of this week. We didn't get much running today, either. That kind of hurt us. I'm still a little loose. I just had to try to hang on to it. I think I just chose the wrong gear to run in. I think we could have had it with a bit more gear."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About losing the pole): "All in all, we knew Helio would be strong. Him, Hornish, Wheldon, Dixon and, of course, Tony, they really outdid themselves. With the position we are in, we couldn't have pulled out to have another go at it. We're starting on the front row; hopefully we will have a very strong race car. With Andretti Green being able to put in five cars today, that is very strong. It was just a phenomenal event here. We're going into the race with a lot of optimism. We'll see what we can do come Race Day."
(The fans enjoyed the new format, how did you like it personally?) "Obviously, a long wait here. I hated it. I'm glad the fans enjoyed it. They were getting so into it. When one guy would come close, they would all cheer. When Helio would be out there, they would cheer. They had a great time, I think. It kept everyone on the edge of their seats all day. The guys going for the pole, also those in the bumping process. I really think it was a success. But what a horrible stressful day, though."
DANICA PATRICK (#7 Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
(About not getting chance to make second attempt): "Overall, it was good for our team, obviously. Maybe we can get the day off tomorrow, but I'm not sure. That's really good for us. It was definitely exciting there at the end. This qualifying setup is almost turning into a practice session, like a gambling practice session. You go out there and run a bit. We saw Sam (Hornish) run again right away. We saw a lot of action. It's not a straightforward qualifying day, but there isn't a lot that is straightforward about Indianapolis. It is unique in the same way. For myself, I would have loved to go out. I practiced after my qualifying, and every one of my laps was faster than my qualifying run. It would have been nice to go out there. It was going to take a good chunk of time to get up into the thick of things because there was a lot of people right at the 225.0 and 225.1 (mph) range."