ARIE LUYENDYK ( ...
ARIE LUYENDYK (#5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It doesn't seem that long ago. I know I'm in there, but I want to be up there. Actually it had gone really smooth except one (lap) a day like today when it really counts. On the backstraight I heard a clunk. I felt it (engine going soft) this morning already. It didn't feel like it did yesterday. We thought about changing the engine this morning. We weren't sure. There were no signs on any of the data. So, we decided to still take this first (qualifying) run. I guess my instinct was right. I didn't really experience the thrill of qualifying here today because I was the first one out. I definitely went into Turn 1 a lot harder than I have all week because that's what you have to do, save the best for last. It feels good to know that I'm still able to feel the car and work with the guys to set up the car even with feeling that don't show up on the data. So the next time I tell the guys to change the engine, they'll know to just do it." (Is it different for you racing with a lot of new faces?): "It is, but you know it is the same for a lot of the drivers in the field. You just have to pay attention and look at the history of the drivers that are qualifying here today. A lot of times I'll be coming up on a car, and I'll ask Skip (Faul) who it is. After I know the name, then I know how to react."
BUZZ CALKINS (#12T Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It was disappointing from what we've done all week. We were quicker all week. We haven't run this slow since Monday. It was a defensive run for us. We ran faster in the backup car all week, but it was a little windy. It would have been nicer to get in more solid. We thought with the cooler conditions we would run faster. We lost a little. We will go get the primary car up to speed if we need it. We were running out of the draft just to see how fast we could really go."
AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak Budweiser G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We missed it by a little bit. This morning we ran a little bit better. I'm very happy about it (being back in the field). I just want to thank everybody for coming out and enjoying this great weather and seeing the boys go super fast. The run was OK. We had a push on the front end too much so we lost some speed. It didn't stick as well as I'd like. What can I say? We're in the show, and it's a long race. I'll be in the middle of the pack, and I wish we were up a little further. You can win this race from anywhere. The main thing to do is take a solid qualifying run and get ready for the show. It's definitely where you finish on Memorial weekend that counts, and to win it, you got to be in it. I don't think we have a big worry of getting bumped. We can start thinking of the race. What wins this race is a good, consistent race car, good pit stops and a whole hell of a lot of luck. If you're starting first or last, there's segments of this race where you've got to get on it and segments when you've got to be careful. It's been a tough week for the team with Casey's (Mears) crash. With Casey running into his problem on Tuesday, it really bit us. My guys were working on Casey's car, and Didier's (Andre) guys were working on Casey's car. Now that we're in the show, it will give us time to regroup."
ROBERTO GUERRERO (#7 Yellow/Jack K. Elrod Co./NADA Guides/Hoosier Park Dallara/Oldsmbile/Firestone): "We're very happy for Yellow and the whole Dick Simon team. I can't believe that I'm a little disappointed. How can I be disappointed? A couple of days ago I was walking around, and now hopefully I'm in the Indy 500. It was a very good car, and I thought I could go faster. I didn't want to be too greedy. The car was perfect. It's good to be a first-day qualifier."
JAQUES LAZIER (#77 Classmates.com/Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm so proud of the entire team. We just put this together three weeks ago, and here we are inside the second row. I'm just ecstatic. We had planned on taking around a 221.5 (mph), but I stepped it up a bit. I'm really proud. We're going to try to carry this (team) on through the rest of the year. I adjusted the car through the run, and it was flawless -- the whole team, the chassis, the tires, the engine, everything. That thing was a bull out there." (About winds possibly picking up in the afternoon): "That is a definite possibility. I'm just extremely happy. Even though we are inside of (row) two right now, it probably won't stay that way, but we know we've done a phenomenal job."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39 Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We'll take it. We are in the field. We've done a lot of work here. I think we've been making steady progress. Getting in the field is the most important thing. It is great to see all the old faces and all the great fans of Indianapolis. It is just a really great feeling. We struggled a little to get speed this month. I think we got it in the field safely, and we're ready for the race. The race is why we're all here anyway. I will sleep comfortably in Motegi (Japan), and then we'll come back in two weeks and be ready to go. I couldn't find the balance in Turn 1. I'm older now, a little bit wiser, and I hope that experience will help me on race day. I've got to be patient. It's a long race here. It's going to take good pit strategy." (Where are you on your race setup?): "We're not there yet. We did a little yesterday, and I'm hoping we'll be all right." (About drivers from other series competing at Indy): "This is the biggest race in the word, and it is always going to happen. We've had F1 champions come here to race, and it shows how big this event is. I think that is why you are seeing it happen."
JON HERB (#6 Tri Star Motorsports Inc. Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It feels pretty good. I never really doubted we'd get in the show. It just took longer to get up to speed than we expected. Turn 1 is a little hairy going in at 230 (mph), or whatever our straightaway speeds were. It wasn't turning very good, but I kept it off the wall, and we're in the show. It's another day at the track for me, and I did what I was supposed to do. I'm satisfied with where we came from. I had about 100 laps coming into this deal, and maybe 80 laps at rookie orientation, so I'm proud of the job we did with what we had." (Asked if he was nervous about qualifying): "I was a little under the weather last night, so I took a Sudafed last night and went right to sleep. The first thing on my mind was practice this morning, wondering what the car would do in these conditions."
SAM HORNISH JR. (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It was easier getting into the first "500" than the second "500". It's harder because you are expected to. We struggled during the week, so we couldn't help each other (Michael Andretti.) After five days we found the right combo. If we'd have found it sooner, we could have gone faster. The first two races we won at were handling tracks. The Panther guys are good on handling tracks. I'm confident going in because I know I have a ride in the next race and you don't have to overdrive the car. Pancho (Carter) helps me with my patience. He has a lot of experience."
TONY STEWART (#33 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We didn't have a problem. We just missed the balanced a little bit. The guys have given me a great race car. I would have loved to have been on the pole, but I'm more worried about getting my picture on the Borg-Warner Trophy in a couple of weeks. I had a good run. It's not quite what we had been hoping for, but we're in. This morning we lost the balance a little bit, and the wind definitely changed. I also missed a little on the gear changes. By the end of the second lap the car was a little tighter, but this wasn't a situation where we were trying to go for the pole. I'm sticking to my guns. I've never seen anyone on the Borg-Warner Trophy for winning the pole. I was taking the conservative approach to the qualifying run. I said this morning that Scott (Sharp) and Greg Ray were the ones to watch. It is a chess match. All we wanted was to be in the first three rows. I'm happy to get this part out of the way. I don't have to worry about qualifying anymore. I can just concentrate on the race. This is small stakes poker today. If you want to swim in the kiddy pool then do that, but I got my sights set higher than that. I'm very happy with what we've done so far."
AIRTON DARÉ (#88T 1-800-BAR NONE TeamXtreme G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We struggled quite a bit. We had a setup that wasn't working very well. We tried a setup that Jaques (Lazier) was using, but the car was horrible, and we realized that they used measurements that were different than ours." (About teammate Jaques Lazier): "He is faster than me. We've tried to learn from him. It helps the whole program."
GIL DE FERRAN (#66 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm hoping that that speed will put us in the show, which will be a nice thing for me. I had a tough time early today getting up to speed because it was a bit colder. There was a tailwind in the middle of Turn 1, and it was more difficult, but I think it is early in the day. You're always a little anxious before you get in the car. My first job was to get it up to speed. At least we qualified, hopefully good enough to keep us in the field. We left a little on the table in the last couple of laps, but it was a good, solid run. I knew what I had to do. It's been a great week for us. We just have to concentrate. The team is pretty well prepared. The wind is strong, and it makes it hard to handle. I was quite relaxed when I was in the car. We don't have a lot of experience in this car. We didn't have any heart-stopping moments. I was very relaxed going into the qualifying run. It's certainly very different from a mile oval perspective. Here you run wide open all around. At the end of the day, I'm a rookie here. I've got to figure out the drafting and the line of the racetrack. There is a great aura about this place. It's great to be here. I always saw Indianapolis as an arena where the great champions of our sport ran -- not only the great racers of America but also Europe. You can just feel the tradition. The more talent you have on the track, the better -- not just drivers but the teams. That's not only here; that's in any series."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Life Fitness/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The car was perfect. I saw a 225 (mph lap). The tires had not come up to temperature, and on the second lap it started to nose off. After that something went wrong. I'm not exactly sure (what happened), but it nosed off. The car was handling perfectly. I couldn't have asked for a better car. My engineer (Ron Dawes) hit the setup exactly, and Speedway Engines gave me a lot of horsepower. After 10 years, you would think you would get use to the emotional roller coaster, but you don't. Our emphasis now is on Race Day, and that is encouraging. The team is working on new heights -- to win the championship, the '500' and back-to-back championships. You hope to be the baddest cats on Race Day, so far so good. I'm happy to be in the position that I'm in."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "At the moment, it's (the pole) pretty temporary. I'll be on pins and needles all afternoon long. I couldn't be happier with the Delphi team. It will be interesting to see what my teammate (Mark Dismore) does. I turned to the man upstairs and said this is the time to excel. If we end up being on the pole, it would be tremendous, but we are focused on the (May) 27th. He gave me the confidence and a smile came over my face. It's going to be a long afternoon. There are some other guys that have a shot - Jeff Ward, Mark Dismore -- my teammate and Greg Ray. This says a lot for Kelley Racing. We've really stepped up our program. I can't say enough about the Delphi team. Ilmor gave us great engines. Our goal wasn't the pole, really. If we got it, that was great. It would be great if we were on the front row. We really had no idea what would happen on our third or fourth lap. We actually got faster on the third lap, and that is when I knew we were going to have a good run. I think we've got a great race car. Qualifying and the race are two different things."
ROBBIE BUHL (#24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We didn't get out with this car until last night. The guys pulled an all-nighter. There is a special bond that is built at 3 o'clock in the morning. The car is set up identical to the one we lost at Atlanta. The only parts that are the same are the dashboard and the steering wheel. We knew that it would be a better race car for this track. We tested it here in really windy conditions before Atlanta, and I said: 'Wow. This will be a great race car.' But that is the car that we lost at Atlanta. I really like the race car I have. I think it can win this race. It has awesome driveability."(Were you surprised with the speed the Infiniti produced today?): "Not really surprised. We've been really happy with the Infiniti power. We're still on an incredibly steep learning curve with the Infiniti engines. Eddie (Cheever Jr.) and Scott (Goodyear) have logged a lot of miles and made incredible gains with the Infiniti engine. If they're learning stuff with Eddie, it's applied to us and vice versa. We're going to log a lot of miles on the new 35A next week." (About qualification run): "We had a tire vibration right from the get go. Normally a vibration goes away into the run, but this one picked up. We're just happy to be in the show solid. I think we've got a great race car. Last night I was thinking, 'Man, we could really think about the front row.'"
JIMMY VASSER (#44 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The car was fantastic. It was as best as it has been all week long. I just think we are a little down in power. The car was great. I have to hand it to my guys, my guys for this race anyway. I think we are going to be real formidable on Race Day." (About the qualifying car): "It was really free, just a little lift going into (Turn) 1. I'm really happy with the handling of the chassis. You're never satisfied if you're not on the pole. Obviously, we had higher expectations than that. You have to respect this place. You can't get greedy. The car is really good. We're good for the race. I'm happy with the way the car felt. It just didn't have the speed, the straightaway speed. The engine might be down a little bit."