IRL: Indy500: Quotes from practice 2001-05-08

FELIPE GIAFFONE: "We went pretty good this morning, and then we developed an electrical problem. The car felt good. We went 219 mph on two old tires. We put on new tires, but then we had the problem. We tried to fix it over lunch hour, but...

FELIPE GIAFFONE: "We went pretty good this morning, and then we developed an electrical problem. The car felt good. We went 219 mph on two old tires. We put on new tires, but then we had the problem. We tried to fix it over lunch hour, but we could never solve it so we'll come back tomorrow." (About his chances at the Indianapolis 500): "This is a hard place. If we can get a top 10, that would be really big. Maybe we can get a top five, but we would have to be lucky, have good pit stops and have everything work well."

SAM HORNISH JR.: "It's just not where we want it to be right now. There are some teams who tested here who are ahead of us, but that's just the way it is." (Are you frustrated?): "Well, sort of, but there's a long way to go before qualifying."

JOHN PAUL JR.: "We just got the engine today, and we hope to be out Thursday. I'm chomping at the bit." (The difference between running Indy-style cars and sports cars): "There's a big difference. You can throw sports cars around. They like to be abused. You can't do that with these cars. You have to be much more careful."

STEPHAN GREGOIRE: "This is our third day of practice today, and we have some difficulties in finding speed. We believe there is something broken in the car. Since our crash in Phoenix, we have been unable to go very fast. We have checked almost everything in the car including the bellhousing. Even if we x-ray it, we will put a new one on the car tonight and see what we do tomorrow. We have a great engine, great Firestone tires and a fantastic crew, but we need to find the problem on the car. I hope it's the bellhousing. Tomorrow we plan to be ready at 11 a.m., and our goal is to finish in the top 10 tomorrow night."

SCOTT GOODYEAR: "We got some good running in today. We went through a lot of things with shocks and springs and bars. We found some things that worked very well for us and we ran throughout the heat of the day, which I think was also beneficial. Tomorrow I think we will just continue working on doing some things to the car to get ready for qualifying. There's more speed left in the car. We decided not to run in happy hour today just to keep some tires and some miles for the heat of the day tomorrow, when the race will be and when qualifying for us will be. We have yet to use a fresh set of sticker tires. We put a set on today, went out, and there was a yellow. When we went back out and started to get up to speed, we had a gearbox problem. Tomorrow hopefully we'll find a bit more speed just by being able to bolt some tires on that are fresh."

HELIO CASTRONEVES: "It was good. We were happy." (About not going on out after Mears' accident): "We didn't want to take a chance because of the dust. We still have three days to go. We are not there yet. There is a lot of drafting going on. I was trying to work by myself. I want to work tomorrow to go faster by myself."

JAQUES LAZIER: "For the third day we're well ahead of the pace that we wanted to be on. We feel we can do a 222 mph by ourselves. It feels like heaven being with TeamXtreme and Jonathan Byrd. The car and the team are awesome. We're looking for a great qualifying run on Saturday."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. "We made a lot of progress today. As usual, the Firestone tires were great, and I think the Infiniti engine is capable of running 225 mph, but our handling is lagging behind. We can't get the car to handle well in Turn 1. Two things I'm not worried about, however, are our Infiniti engine and our Firestone tires. Scott (Goodyear) seems to have the No. 52 car working a bit better than our #51 Excite@Home car at the moment. I think he could have been in the high 223s or low 224s today, but he has been very unlucky. Every time that he has put on a new set of tires it has either rained or something has broken."(About his role as owner/driver and teammate Goodyear): "It's very strange when you are a driver and a team owner because you go from wanting to beat everybody to trying to find the right people to build a team around. The whole Cheever Indy Racing team, with our partners Infiniti and Excite@Home and the addition of Scott Goodyear, is really coming together. The funny thing is that when Scott and I first met each other 10 years ago, we didn't really like each other. I wouldn't say we hated each other or anything, but we were definitely wary of each other. I'm sure that neither one of us would have guessed that we'd be working so well together as teammates at the Indy 500. When Scott and I first discussed the possibility of him joining Cheever Indy Racing, I guaranteed him that there would be no "number one" driver. The same equipment and the same effort that is being put forth on the #51 Excite@Home car is being applied to the No. 52 car, and if I can't win the 500 on May 27, I'd be more than happy to see Scott win it."

JIMMY VASSER: "Hopefully the weather stays good, and we can get some of our planned tests done. We ran a mid-222 (mph) today, and I didn't see anybody on either straightaway. Guys are running good times. I'm not sure what kind of tows they are getting." (About wind): "It's not so bad. It was blowing me out a little in (Turn) 2. If I get my car right, the wind shouldn't affect me at all."

GREG RAY: "We learned a lot about race setup and what to do, and more importantly, what not to do. We've been frugal with our tires. We've only used four sets so far. We ran 221.5 in the No. 22 car with tires over 35 laps on them. Right now we feel we've got a good balance in the race car with our race trim. This morning we went out looking for some speed, but never got a good, clean track. Had a yellow that probably cost us a really big lap. Right now, some of these drivers are getting some good times by getting a tow. It's misleading because on Saturday you're all by yourself."

GIL DE FERRAN: "Around lunchtime, when the weather was hot, we worked on the race setup with heavier fuel loads and older tires. Our plan for the end of the day was to focus on qualifying setup, but we weren't able to do that before the session ended. Marlboro Team Penske will get back at it tomorrow."

SCOTT SHARP: "It was a mixed feeling day. Certainly we had elation after our morning run. We went out with full fuel and ran 35 laps to post our best speed of the month in race trim. We were quite happy with the car. We decided to go out this afternoon with our backup car and simulate things we're working on for qualifying. As the crew called the yellow on the radio during our second lap, I saw a little smoke coming out of the rear of the car as I went into Turn 1. When I tried to ask my crew what it was, our radio communication broke down. They couldn't hear me ask what was wrong, and I couldn't hear if they were telling me to pit. I coasted to the entrance and made my way to our pit box. By the time I got there I had shut the engine off, but the fire had started and quickly burned a lot of wiring. Until the crew gets the undertray off and the car disassembled, we won't be able to determine the cause of the fire."

SARAH FISHER: "We started out with a baseline from yesterday, and we were going really horrible. We started out pretty slow, and we just kept creeping up on it. We came here with a little different setup, a little freer than last year. So, we've been fine tuning that. We had a little bit of a problem here and there, but we finally got to the end of the day and reached up to the 220 (mph) mark. So (we) just keep chipping away at it a little bit every day."

MARK DIMSORE: (About comfort level at 224 mph): "I have ran 218 (mph) and it was more scary. You have to be comfortable. That is the trick." (About Greg Ray's comments on 226 mph being necessary for the pole): "I'll buy that, but to do it for four laps consecutively and keep the car under you, I'm not sure about that. You will probably have to have one or two laps that fast. You have to try to make the car do the same thing in all four corners." (About his bad luck at Indy): "My luck hasn't been that great anywhere. We are so far ahead of where we have ever been, and I'm really excited. Tim Bumps oversees the day-to-day business of running the race team. The racing business is tough because you have guys working elbow-to-elbow seven days a week and eight to 20 hours a day." (About his teammates engines failure): "Ilmor has only six months of experience. They know what is going on. They know why the engines failed, and I can't worry about that. On a negative side, Scott (Sharp) has lost some track time. From a positive side, I can give him some feedback, and we have time to learn from our problems. If I win the pole, I will be real happy. If I win the race, you would probably have to call an ambulance. What I did today, will not win the pole. There are a lot of teams that are not showing all they have got including us."

BUDDY LAZIER: "We've just been working on the car and learning things each day. We ran our quickest lap around five (p.m.). Unless you're at the top of the charts, you're not happy. Being fourth on the speed charts and having that kind of speed on Tuesday, you're happy but not thrilled. The team is working really, really hard. The team is really focused through the month of May. At the end of the month if you've won, being on top the other days doesn't matter."

BILLY BOAT: "Conditions are quite a bit different today than we've faced for a couple of days. We're trying to trim the car out a little bit and haven't really found the balance that we're looking for. We can't seem to break that 220 mph barrier. The car is good for a couple of laps on new tires, but we just haven't quite found what we need and what the car wants with less aerodynamics - so we'll continue to work. The good thing is it's only Tuesday and we're not really that far off. We've just got to find that little bit. The cars are so sensitive that just a little bit makes a big difference. I'm confident that as we keep working we'll find the combination we need and put this car solidly in the field for race day."

ARIE LUYENDYK: "I was heading into Turn 1 and saw the smoke. I knew that wasn't a good sign. I had to decide where to go. I didn't want to go high and get into the debris, so I turned just a little bit left. That was enough to make my car spin. I put my head back and waited for the hit that never happened. I was lucky but also smart to keep the wheel as straight as I could." (About progress in practice today): "I was really pleased with that speed. I had actually turned what I thought would have been my best lap of the day earlier in the heat, and I thought that was really good to go that fast at that time of day." (About 223 mph lap that came later in the day): "I was flat all the way around and so it's obvious to me we're making good progress with the car and that's the most important thing this early in the week."

ELISEO SALAZAR: "The car's really good. We just need to free it up a little more and work on the gearing a little, but we're reasonably happy."

ROBBY GORDON: "We're not the quickest but we learned a little today and I'm looking forward to getting back out tomorrow. We were in the 220s straight out this morning so I'm really comfortable with the car. We'll just build on it from here."

JEFF WARD: "Today we were tweaking and came away pleasantly surprised. This car is race worn and the motor has about 500 miles on it. So, we were really pushing it. We were trying to trim out the car as much as possible to get more speed. We were able to take out some of the drag, and I was surprised at how much speed we were able to pick up. Considering how worn it is, this car was really impressive today. Tomorrow we will bring out the new car for the first time. Our goal is to get it balanced and up to speed. We'll be working a few different race and qualifying scenarios, and I'm really looking forward to getting out there."

TONY STEWART: "We ran the car that we ran all day yesterday and got it up to 220 (mph) today, but it's a little different configuration than the second car we're running. We got a chance to bring it out in the afternoon, and it seems to be much better than the first car. It looks like we'll probably stick with that car again tomorrow and roll it out and see if we can't get a little bit more speed out of it. It's pretty good. The thing that's interesting this year compared to previous years is that guys in the top 15 are within 2 mph of one another. It's pretty impressive to see how good everyone is and how even the series is this year. It's going to force us to get every little bit that we can get out of it now. This is the most competitive I've ever seen this series. This is my fifth year being here. In the last four years I was here, it was never this competitive. It's pretty impressive to see how much this series has grown and how competitive it is now."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray
Teams Team Penske