IRL: Indy 500: Saturday quotes from rookie orientation

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, April 14, 2001 - The following are quotes from participants of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on Saturday, April 14, 2001. BRANDON ERWIN: "We just ran two or three sessions this morning, but ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, April 14, 2001 - The following are quotes from participants of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on Saturday, April 14, 2001.

BRANDON ERWIN: "We just ran two or three sessions this morning, but we gained quite a bit of speed from yesterday. Yesterday, we ran around 211 (mph), and this morning I think we ran a 213 (mph) in the No. 30. The McCormack Motorsports team made the car very comfortable. I felt even more comfortable today than I did yesterday. The car was easier to drive when we went faster. The engine that we have in the car has run enough miles now that we need to take it out and go over it, so rather than risk any problems we brought the car in and finished up for the day. Now I'm going to see if I can get an earlier flight back to Texas for Easter. Everybody is pleased, and we're all looking forward to both Atlanta on the (April) 28th and coming back here to Indy next month."

HELIO CASTRONEVES: "Today wasn't a good day. It started good, but then we had a mechanical problem. When we got back on the track, the weather had changed. The car or something in the engine wasn't right. So, we couldn't get the same speed as this morning. The weather was definitely a factor, but I need to learn more about this track. That's why we're here, to learn more about this place. We still have a ways to go."

CORY WITHERILL: "Being here is such a great dream come true for me. I have always wanted to be here and participate in such a historical part of racing history. I don't feel any pressure from being the only Native American here. I have so much support from all of the people I have met over the years. My friends and family always give me 110 percent support. This is really good for the Native American community as well, because we don't really have a lot of role models, at least not of this magnitude. It is such a good, proud feeling to represent the Native American community. As far as driving, there is no difference. It is a bigger and faster car, and a different feel, but the same amount of focus is needed. It is definitely more intimidating off the track than on it. Looking at the cars go by at more than 200 mph, I wonder, 'Can I do that?' But when I get into the car, and I get the signal to go, it's like a normal day at the office. Now that I have passed all of my phases, I can approach the driving with my normal ways. Now there are no restrictions, I can find the key points of the track and get my speed up to where I want it to be."

SCOTT CRONK (V.P. & General Manager, Treadway-Hubbard Racing): "I felt the weekend went great. Our goal on Friday was to come out and get Felipe through his rookie test and comfortable with the car. We accomplished both of those objectives. Today we wanted to get him more time in the car and mileage out the motor. Arie (Luyendyk) has been calling every couple of hours to check in. He's been talking to Felipe to see how the car is. He's really interested and excited to come back. We've led the race every year we've entered, and that was with four different drivers. We hope that tradition continues this year."

DIDIER ANDRE: "Yesterday was the first time I've ever been on the track, and my goal was just to pass my rookie test, which I accomplished with great satisfaction. Now step by step I am learning the track and the car and feel comfortable in trying to gain more speed. This morning was the first time I went out flat out all the way around, and even though it was only at 215 mph, it was pretty overwhelming compared to anything or anywhere else I've ever raced. My immediate goal for the Indy 500 is to make the show. Not only is the Indy Racing Northern Light Series so competitive, but we are also joined by the top CART teams like Penske and Ganassi, and so qualifying is my main concern right now."

LARRY CURRY (Team Owner, Tri Star Motorsports): "Jon's (Herb) performance was very good. He breezed through the ROP test in 54 laps. He went out today and worked up to speed. I think we're the only non-updated car out here, so a 216 is really respectable. He's consistent and very, very smooth with the wheel. With those cars, to be fast you have to be smooth."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: "I am happy about our performance today. This test was very good for both me and the team. We were able to do some long runs today and get a feel for how the car reacts as the fuel load goes down. I am still learning how to drive this very difficult oval, but every lap that I make I feel more and more comfortable. We were able to turn the fastest lap of the two-day session this morning (219.978 mph) and I think that the car still has a lot more speed left in it. I'm looking forward to the month of May. To race here has been a dream of mine ever since I was a child. And now my dream is coming true."

NICOLAS MINASSIAN: "Before the accident (on Friday), we were having a very good testing session. The car was very fast and easy to drive. We went 216 mph in only 20 laps, which I was very happy with. I am disappointed to not be able to drive today. But it is best that I just take it easy and not push it. I am feeling fine after the accident yesterday but my neck is still a little bit sore. I am going to rest it so that I am 100 percent when we come back here to test."

MIKE HULL (Managing Director, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, defending winning Indianapolis 500 team): "This was a successful test for us. Despite the mechanical problem that Nicolas had on Friday, overall we are happy with the results. Bruno was able to run over 450 miles and that will be invaluable when we come back here in May to race. I am impressed with the performance of both Bruno and Nicolas. They did a great job on a track that is very difficult to drive. I can't say enough about this group of people that we have here at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. The credit for the success of this two-day session goes to both the drivers and to this team."

FELIPE GIAFFONE: "We had a good day yesterday completing the rookie test and getting some more laps in. Our goal today is to just get some more laps and get more comfortable with the car here. We picked up a mile an hour this morning already. We'll get some more, running this afternoon. The Treadway-Hubbard team has given me great cars and done a great job this year. I'm really happy to be working with them, and they know what it takes to win this race. This place is pretty amazing. We spent all afternoon yesterday and ran 116 laps. I can't believe that's only about half a race. The race here is going to be very long. Our goal will be to qualify well. I'll spend a lot of time following my teammate Arie (Luyendyk) around. During the race, I'll just do what I've been doing and that's finishing the race. It's worked good for me so far."

TIM CINDRIC, (President of Team Penske): "The most important thing was for Helio to get as much track time as possible, which is the intent of rookie orientation. You can never, ever get enough track time, regardless of how many years you have been coming here. The most important thing we will take away from here is experience."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chip Ganassi
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing