IRL: Indy 500 Pole Day Quotes

Post Qualifying Quotes - Saturday, May 10 MIKE GROFF ( ...

Post Qualifying Quotes - Saturday, May 10

MIKE GROFF (#10 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria/Visionaire/Bryant Heating & Cooling): "We'll work next week on a better engine package and see what we can do. The engine is reliable and that's a good sign for the race. We certainly didn't run the speed we wanted to. The full fuel tank hurt us a bit in the beginning. Next week's another week. We were concerned with conditions today, with what happened yesterday with cold tires. We had a little trouble with the car bottoming out, but we ran for all it's worth. We're going to get to know this car a little bit better next week and that will help us on race day. We ran comparable to what we ran in practice and we were qualifying with an engine that had 400 miles on it. To us, that is a good sign for engine reliability. The biggest thing on race day is reliability, no matter what powerplant you're running. "

CAR OWNER JONATHAN BYRD: "The rear wing, which had passed tech before, didn't today. Basically we just had to shave off some paint and it was fine. Mike is the consummate professional and the best driver out there today. (On the racing schedule) "The Texas race is very important too. We believe in the IRL and all it stands for. After the checkered flag drops on the 25th, the most important race will be Texas. "

JEFF WARD (#52 FirstPlus Team Cheever): "It feels great. I was here in 95 and was close. It was very emotional. (Danny) Sullivan came over and gave me a hug." (about qualifying today): "It still hasn't sunk in." (about the incident earlier in the week): "No problem. That's not the first time I hit the wall. That didn't have anything to do with crew error or my error. We blew an oil line. No matter what speed, I would have hit the wall anyway." (about help from Eddie Cheever): "I met with Eddie first at Phoenix. I knew that they had ideas to run a second team for Indy. I knew a couple guys on the team and I knew I wanted to be with a top team. I didn't want to be at Indy and not have a chance to win the race. Eddie's great every day. He sits me down and talks with me. I want to go fast and he tells me to take it one turn at a time. For the first time (today) he (Eddie) said he told somebody Good luck' and really wanted him to do good."

DR. JACK MILLER (#40 AMS/Crest Racing): "Oh, man it's the quickest I've gone. We did the quickest laps of the month during these qualification laps. I would like to say I want to go to Disney World, but I'm going to go promote Crest toothpaste. How'd you like that sponsor plug? The engine just ran awesome. I can probably go quicker than that. On my third lap I turned a little too soon and had to let up on the throttle but I still ran 209. I was born and raised here in Indianapolis and I have come to the Indy 500 since I was five. I took pictures for the Associated Press for 5 years in Turns 1 and 2 so I could learn the line there. (about engine problems earlier this week): "There were quite a few little problems. Each team was having different problems but all of the teams were helping each other. The main problem has been the oiling problems with the oil pump. (what was your first attempt like): "I was a little nervous yesterday but we decided to just get in the field and then work on speed later. This is the most fun I've ever had. (what does Crest get out of their sponsorship): "Their main goal is to educate children. We've seen over 400 schools this year."

AFFONSO GIAFFONE (#17 General Motors of Brazil Chitwood Dallara): "I'm really happy being here for the first time. It's like a dream come true. I've been watching Indy on TV since I was a little boy, and I've got to say TV doesn't do it justice. I can't believe the size of the place. It's ten times more awesome than you'd believe. . . . It's much better live here. (what was it like today with fans in the stands): "The track definitely gets narrow. . . . We didn't do any testing, so I was introduced to the track on Tuesday, and went through ROP. We did 215.8 on the first lap but without testing the car started to push, and there was nothing to do but lift. The starting position doesn't really matter because it's a long, long race. Next week we'll do some long runs. Now that we've qualified, we're just looking for consistency. We'll cool down, you don't want to rush here. (did the cool weather have any effect): "In cool weather like this you have to trust your tires because don't get feedback right away. . . . It got better as it went along. My main concern going out in the cool weather was to get the tires up to temperature. . . . There will be a lot more Brazilian drivers in IRL. It has opened the doors. They'll come over to race."

ROBBIE GROFF (#30 Alfa-Laval/Team Losi/McCormack Motorsports): (Brushed the wall in the south short chute and drove the car back to the pits on second qualifying lap). (was it tires, wind, over-enthusiasm): "Probably a combination of all of them. The car is fine, just a lower wishbone. I'm lucky, though. I've seen others (incidents) a lot like it with much worse consequences. We'll be all right to go out again."

LYN ST. JAMES (#90 Lifetime-TV-Cinergy): (about the run): "It was not as quick as I thought it was going to be. It was solid. I picked up a big push in (Turn) 2. I was a little busier than I've been in past years. I had to adjust the bars I just wish I had figured that out sooner. The track has changed considerably (since the repaving). Three and Four have gotten better and One and Two have gotten worse." (did you think about waving off): "I thought about it. But, this is a real weird game . . . I don't know how to play those strategy games. I'm not the owner . . . I looked for the yellow I did if we were going as bad as I thought we might be, it occurred to me (that the run would be waved). I don't even know what my four-lap average was." (when told she was in third place at the time of the news conference): "You're kidding? Well, let's call it a day!" (about coming back after the wrist injury): "The personal joy I feel inside is at a high level. But the competitiveness takes away the personal joy . . . I knew we could have gone faster, and that will eat at me for a long time." (about being competitive): "God didn't teach me to walk on water like Scott Pruett and he didn't give me the wherewithal of Tony Stewart, but he did teach me to paddle real hard."

RON HEMELGARN (owner, #90 Lifetime-TV-Cinergy): (did you think about waving off St. James' run): "Our warmup lap was really our fastest. The 209 worried me. I knew if she was having handling trouble, it was in Two, because that's where everybody was having trouble. If she would have come through with a 203, the flag would have come out . . . The first race is getting in the race . . . and we did . . . Our goal was getting in the top three rows." (what are your plans to get Buddy Lazier qualified): "The crew's got to take a break. Hopefully, they'll get a day off tomorrow. We're going to try to get Buddy qualified and then Johnny Unser will qualify the third car." (about how he and St. James got the team together): "I've always admired Lyn, coming into a male-dominated field and persevering, I knew she was determined to do this. She called and asked if I was interested and I said sure.' " There were no funds, so we helped with that. But it's been really pleasant. No fuss. No problems. No throwing wrenches. No cussing. It's been perfect. . . I was talking to Lee Kunzman the other day, and I said, Hey, she's really talented!"

KENNY BRACK (#4 Monsoon Galles Racing): "I think the run was good the first 3 laps but then got some oversteer and had to slow down. (is the car comfortable): "It could be better but for the time we've had I'm pretty comfortable. (by qualifying): The first stage is completed. It's great for me and the Galles team so we're happy. (about the size and pressure of Indy): "The size of the place is enormous. I've been to quite a few tracks around the world but this is different. As far as pressure, I just try to repeat what I've done in testing and not make any changes. My car seems to work well when it's hot. On Wednesday, I think it ran good, then (as the temperature dropped) it got nervous and we've been trying to get back to where we were on Wednesday. (did you have enough practice): "I think you can always go faster, and you always want more practice. We did enough. Now we can tune the car. (is this the longest race you've run before): "An hour, an hour and a half in Formula 3000."

VINCENZO SOSPIRI (#8 Scandia Royal Purple Alta Xcel): "Basically the car was fine. The way Dick Simon set it up it was easy for anyone to run it. I'm very happy for my team and now we'll be working on the race setup. (on Dick Simon, engineer): "Andy made the deal, but Dick is the key to making the deal work. (have you talked to friend Jacques Villeneuve): "Jacques Villeneuve and I talked and he said yes to do IRL and Indy 500 because it is best in the world. Jacques told me to go to United States and run in America and in Indy 500. (about the month of May): "Actually, if it was any other IRL race where you come in Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, it would be difficult for me. I think being here longer it is better for me. I have basic one week testing before I qualified. To pick Indy 500 for first race, I think it was good for me. (how is race car): "Feeling is like bullet in the gun. You go so close to the wall and you go so fast you are like a bullet. (any future plans): "Right now I will race Indy 500 and finish (the season) with IRL and Team Scandia."

JIM GUTHRIE (#27 Jacuzzi/Blueprint Racing Dallara): (about car problems yesterday): "In Turn 4 yesterday the motor just quit. The timing chain had broke and intake valves. The guys flew up to the shop in Chicago to work on the motor. This morning my crew showed up at 3:30 a.m. to put it together and then today USAC noticed we had some fluid leaking. We fixed that and decided to go ahead and put it in the show. (about your life changing since the win at Phoenix): "The sponsor is the best thing that has happened. US Industries has come aboard. We got 2 new engines, some matching shirts, a new trailer, and a new suit so we're looking good. (about Indy and CART): "This is the greatest race in the world so why not have the greatest drivers in the world? I'd like to have my buddy Al Jr here and beat him. (about the qualifying run): "The car picks up a good push in turn 1. Everyone seems to be having trouble in Turn 1, and I have yet to go flat out in Turn 1. I almost did on one lap, and almost brushed the wall."

SCOTT GOODYEAR (#6 Nortel/Sprint PCS/Quebecor Printing): (about car during qualifying): "The race car was pushing, all over the place. The car got a big push in Turn 2 on the last lap. We're not really sure what was wrong on the fourth lap. On the third lap coming out of Turn 4 it started pushing and my helmet started slopping around. The key thing now is to get the car working for the race. We're disappointed with the last lap and concerned about the engine, it's got 450 miles on it. . . . As the day went on the motor got soft. I was quite concerned. We had an engine earlier this week we thought would be our race engine. It turned out to be an engine from another planet. But with 450 miles on it, today this motor felt rougher every lap. We can't use it more. We're pleased we're here and in the field. It's nice to get fast today. We've been faster today than all week. I'm pretty happy to get through the day without motor problems. I thought we'd be quite good but it was quite slow. We borrowed information from Arie's setup yesterday. We probably should have done that on Tuesday. Early in the week I called it "Deja vu 1992". Every time we went out something happened electrical, weird things . We couldn't get quality time until yesterday."

ELISEO SALAZAR (#7 Copec/Cristal/Scandia): "I live here and I know what this place means. I'm very happy to be here. (about today): "This package is obviously new and we will make improvements. In three or four years from now they will be back up to 230 again and they will need to slow up the cars again. (how many engines available): "We have one engine per car. It was not very strong today, but it is reliable. We're going to run with that engine until it is rebuilt in time for Carb Day. We ran 300 miles in total, nowhere near enough to be on the front row. We are really banking on the engine being reliable to go the last 100 miles."

DAVEY HAMILTON (#14 AJ Foyt PowerTeam Racing): "It's unfortunate we couldn't keep the two #16s going but we'll be back for the race. We're happy we're in the race. In the third lap we picked up a little push, came a little close to the wall. It caught me off guard. We're hoping to stay consistent. The track felt great. Our whole program is great right now and we're real excited. I like this year's cars better than last year's cars. You've really got to drive them. (about Scott Sharp at track today): "Scotty's a great friend and a great teammate and he's here to cheer me on. He'll be back out here next week I guarantee it. I drive the Power Team car, Scott drives the Conseco car, but we're under one roof. It was a tough week for Scott he crashed two cars but I think we're both going to win some races. "

TONY STEWART (#2 Glidden/Menards/Special): (about being close to pole): "I felt like someone kicked my dog. Team Menard puts a lot of emphasis on the pole. To go out and run the lap like we did in practice, I was pretty excited. Close doesn't count except for horseshoes, hand grenades, and all nuclear weapons." (why qualified when you did): "We figured we were going to go out at this time. We had one more change we wanted to try before qualifications but we ran out of time when everyone dashed for the qualifying line. If you would have given two more days (of practice) I guarantee we would have been on the pole. It's just part of playing the game." (what are you doing next): "I'm Speedwayed out. I'm going to go out to IRP and run a midget. We'll probably take tomorrow off. I'm sure we're going to have a great race package. The crew is just unbelievable." (difficulty with push in Turn 1): "I didn't lift in Turn 1. Earlier (in the month) that was the problem. You were running with the wind, which caused problems. In Turn 3 you have so much of a headwind, it's not a problem." (about qualifying run): "Pretty uneventful really. The car actually stuck too good to the track and was not free enough. That actually cost us the pole by sticking too good." (about these cars to cars last year): "The driver is more a part of it. It's not from a lack of downforce. You really have to work hard to get a great lap." (are these cars more fun): "I have fun in anything I drive. . . . It's just like running on a highway, but it's multiplied." (about qualifying conditions): "We ran both in the cool and in the warm. We just needed to get dialed in. You could have put a foot and a half of dirt on it (the track) and I would have run on it."

ROBERTO GUERRERO (#21 Pennzoil-Pagan Racing Dallara Infiniti): (Will your time hold?) "It's kind of tough, first of all, to say. I don't know how many cars will have to qualify. It seems the second week around this place lots of race cars appear. We have another car ready if it's needed and hopefully we'll have more engines. (On engines) "Unfortunately for the IRL any new race engine takes 2 to 3 years to develop. If you remember, Honda didn't make the show their first year here. The difference is, with other series, 2 to 3 other engine companies were strong, so nobody notices. Every single one of these engines is brand new and creates problem."

BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Delta Faucet-Montana-Hemelgarn Racing): "My guys have been working really hard. Thank God they're as good as they are. I think we'd have had a little bit better time but I had too much push. We had to cram a month's worth in one day. The car is capable of 215's. There were things we had to guess on. Next week, we'll finally have some time with the car. Most importantly to get the setup on the car that we wanted. I've got the right race car and the right crew. We can win this thing. We went out after a massive change and we didn't have a chance to test that change. I came in and we made some adjustments. God, I wish I could have had just 4 more laps. We'd have been in one of the first 4 rows. If we don't win the race, hopefully we'll make it tough on the one who does. (Since last year's victory) "With breaking my back 9 weeks before the 500, there was huge suffering. I have been in so much pain and I rushed the recovery so much, I was unable to really take advantage of winning the 500. Ninety percent of my time was in recovery. I'm still in some pain but it has never affected me in the car. I wouldn't ever want to do it (break my back) again, but maybe it has helped me. I have a whole new approach to things. "

ALESSANDRO ZAMPEDRI (#34 Mi-Jack Scandia Royal Purple): (Being back) "It certainly feels great. A very tough year for me. I had to go through nine surgeries with lots of relapses. It really feels good to be back and running. Rehab eight hours a day until December. December until now six hours a day. (Doubt during rehab?) "I had no doubt. It's something I've been doing all my life. Racing go-karts since I was nine years old. Why not go back? It's like someone at their job and they just don't want to go back to doing their job. I never had second thoughts. (New chassis) "Unfortunately I didn't have many chances to test new car. I got to test in April. Unfortunately we lost 2 engines. We ran here this week and we had some troubles and then my gearbox got stuck this morning. They fixed it during practice this morning. (Without driving the car after adjustments) I never tried qualifying round here and went out blind and that's pretty difficult to do at this place."

STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#77 Chastain Motorsports): "Today was not too bad. This morning we had a big problem with handling. At the end of the day yesterday we made changes in spring settings. We went the wrong way, it had a big push, especially in turns 1 and 2 because of the wind. The car was a little bit tweaky. I didn't know what to expect so it was pretty good for us. . . . It's difficult to find a good setup. Right now I'm in the fourth row. I wanted to be in the first three rows. (On finishing 76th in the mini-marathon early this week compared to driving) "Much slower. I'm from a town in France where everybody runs. Being in shape is a big advantage to keep your concentration, so you won't make a big mistake." (Impression of new cars/engines) "So far I'm quite impressed, especially with the new gearboxes which were supposed to be very heavy. . . . Whether you're with a big team or a little team you don't need a lot of money to be competitive. It takes $1.5 million to do the whole series and do Indy and do a good package for your sponsor. (Oval experience) "My first time on an oval was 1993. Ovals, especially superspeedways, are high speed. Of course drivers like that."

BUZZ CALKINS (#12 Bradley Food Marts): "We had some engine problems, a cracked head this morning and ended up swapping engines. We had no horsepower and didn't get any practice. But we got in the field. This is anyone's race. We've got to put this (qualifying) behind us and concentrate on the race. It's going to be an exciting race. Reliability is key. We've had pretty good luck with engines until today, so I think we'll be all right in the future."

ROBBY GORDON (#42 Coors Light): (About the run:) "I'm surprised we ran for six laps that's the most we ran since we've been here. It's frustrating. The car handled pretty decent. We've got a lot of work to do there are gonna be a lot of late nights. We've got two weeks to get it all sorted out...I think I've run 95 laps or something before qualifying, and 60 of those were under 150, warming up." (About Arie getting the pole:) "Arie's guys did a great job I've got to hand it to him, to pull it out of the box and get it on the pole, with no testing here."

ROBBIE BUHL (#3 Quaker State/Special): "I hope we made it as exciting for the fans as we made it for the crew and myself. I got to give a lot of thanks to Team Menard and Quaker State." (About the first qualifying attempt:) "Actually I was waiting for them to pull me. I was waiting for a wave-off. We knew there was more in the car." (About the second attempt:) "We were probably going the fastest we've gone all week in Turn 1 of Lap 2, with the tailwind and the time of day. In Turn 1, I tried to push the wall. We came in and made some adjustments. In the third run, we just had to get it in." (About the third attempt:) "Not actually the way you want to do things, qualifying on your third attempt. The final run was a run to get the car in the show. I was very confident because there's a great amount of depth in terms of confidence, organization and in planning." (Are you disappointed to not be in the front row:) "Obviously, we wanted to be in the front row, but we're not disappointed." (About switching tires and then switching back to Firestone:) "I don't think it affected our performance at all. The 2500 miles we did in testing was our baseline.

EDDIE CHEEVER, Jr. (#51 FirstPlus Team Cheever): (about being an owner/driver): "I'm 39 years old and I've been in an argument with myself all 39 years." (About the track): "This track is almost a live organism. It changes all the time. While the conditions were changing, I was sliding around in the front. We've had a very difficult week. Yesterday was our first day out. The last two laps of qualifying, I was sliding all the way around the track." (About the team): "We have two cars in the top 10 (at the time). Unfortunately we didn't run in the beginning of the week and that hurt us. I made a bad decision. I loosened up my car a lot. I also had a problem with my gearbox. I couldn't get it out. (About Jeff Ward): "He's done a wonderful job. He's a professional. It's going to be hard to take the Rookie of the Year award away from him. We were really impressed with Jeff in Orlando. In this race, his car was loose but he did not spin and he did not complain. He's a racer." (About the engines lasting): "I believe a lot of engines will finish. Come Memorial Day, the average will not be over 208. If you average 208, you'll lap the field." (About the rest of the month): "I think Jeff and I will be doing a lot of running together. The hardest part of the month begins Monday. This was the easiest part." (About passing): "You line them up and it takes awhile to get by them. Last year, you lined them up and ran by them."

ARIE LUYENDYK / quotes from right after the qualifying run (#5 Wavephore/Sprint PCS/Miller Lite): (About the run:) "The wind moved around quite a bit between One and Two. The call was up to me, coming out of Turn Four, whether we wanted to keep the run and I had my mind made up that if it was over 218, we'd take it." (About the chances of keeping the pole:) "I'm not the world's biggest optimist, because the Menard guys have run quick. You can only run so many laps around this place before you get it right and I think we're pretty close. . . I think there's still some drama to come out there, and I'll be one of those players." (About hitting the wall on the qualifying run:) "I was real close coming off Four. . . I had a real push . . . It was a close call." (About the question of engine endurance for the race:) "Even if we do have some problems with the engine in the race, we'll have some satisfaction with getting the pole, if we hold it. My engine manufacturer has done a great job. We haven't had any problems so far." (Is it better to post a mark, such as the pole speed, or chase it?) "I think it's better to chase the mark, but I didn't want to sit around and wait all day for somebody else to make their mind up." (About the difference between last year's cars and this year's cars:) "These cars, with not as much downforce, don't feel so planted in the turns. This new car is hard to set up and get handling well...I don't feel like they're that much slower, because it's harder to get them to work in the corners it's actually a little more uncomfortable than last year's. Speed is relative to what kind of machine you have. (About going out to qualify when it was warmer:) "We've found, this week, that when you go out when it's warmer, you run quicker, so that's why we went when we did...The car has less grip and less downforce. When there's less downforce, the tires don't heat up." (About having his run last year disqualified:) "Hopefully, we won't miss the pole (this year) because the car's too damn heavy."

ARIE LUYENDYK / quotes at the end of the day, after he won the pole (#5 Wavephore/Sprint PCS/Miller Lite): (About not testing here:) "Testing would have helped us. The good thing for us was that we had no mechanical problems. We were able to run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We had any track time we wanted. The data we had from past years helped us...I'm glad we didn't (test here) it's too damn cold here in the winter." (Was Tony Stewart your competition?) "Tony was just quick. He was my main competition. And I never counted out his teammate . . . Team Menard had the pole two years in a row, so it was nice to get it this year...You never know, they could have done like they did last year and withdraw a car and try again...I just kept saying, It's not over til it's over.' " (Do you think this year's Pole Day was not as dramatic as in years past?:) "In 93, I think, it was dramatic Mario was pretty close to me. But I think the great surprise today was Sospiri. You just never know when somebody's going to come out of the blue like that and take you by surprise. I think today was still a competitive effort. From the second row on, they're all pretty close (in speeds)." (About the importance of being in the front at the start of the race and drivers who may want to charge at the start:) "If anybody wants to go out and charge like mad, I want them to go ahead and do it. It's a long race. The first 400 laps, you just have to stay with the leader. Why punish your equipment? You can be in 22nd place and you get a yellow, and then you can be up with the leader again. You have to make your equipment work for you."

At 7:05 p.m., the temperature was 61 degrees with winds from the northwest at 14 mph.

Field average for 21 cars: 213.116.

Qualifying order for Sunday, May 11: #30 Robbie Groff; #10T TBA; #3T TBA; #2T TBA.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jacques Villeneuve , Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Jeff Ward , Scott Sharp , Scott Pruett , Johnny Unser , Dick Simon