IRL: Indy500: Second-day qualifying quotes, part II


BUZZ CALKINS (#12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"Honestly, when I was sitting here (conference room) yesterday, I kinda had a pit in my stomach. Even if we didn't get bumped, I knew we would have to get the car back up to speed to be prepared to qualify. Feeling wise, this car isn't that different from the other car. I think this car is a little better. This is actually the car we were intending to qualify earlier in the week, until we took the T car out and decided to qualify it."

(About withdrawing No. 12T to qualify the No. 12): "A little unexpected change of plans. It's amazing because we had a relatively easy week. We had been running well all week. But, sure enough on Saturday we lost a mile and a half per hour from what we had been running all month. I think that was the clue that our car was a little better suited for the heat. I think you have to be a little proactive. We knew we were going to get bumped. Looking back on the decision (to take the qualifying run) yesterday, it was probably pretty foolish, but we got lucky. There have been so many instances where you've seen teams wave off runs they should've taken in hopes to move up the grid when they shouldn't have been so greedy. I would guess that the field is going to be set today. I don't think this afternoon was as agonizing as last night."

(About waiting until this afternoon to qualify): "That's the other risk that you have to consider. You could have something happen like what happened to Eliseo (Salazar) out there and blow an engine."

TYCE CARLSON (#60 Tri Star Motorsports Inc./Immke Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"The car was flawless. We were able to go flat out all the way around, but I think we lost a gear. But we had to take a time. Do I think my speed is going to make it? If it's a nice day, no, but we've got our T car. It wasn't as tough as last year at this time when they were pulling me out of the car and taking me to the hospital."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (#39T Motorola/Archipelago Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"I didn't miss this stuff. I've never experienced this (qualifying late). I feel sorry for guys that go through this. It's a high-pressure situation. I didn't sleep well last night. It's very stressful. It was a team decision (to withdraw the qualified car). We discussed it this morning. We put Sam's (Hornish) setup on the car, exactly. It was a team effort between Panther (Racing) and Archipelago. We ran a 220 (mph) in the heat, which was good for me. We would have done well yesterday if I'd have had this setup. I didn't get many laps late because of the problem (Eliseo) Salazar had and him coming down right in the groove, which I thought was unsportsmanlike, by the way. I'm going to be able to sleep now. I didn't need to go to Motegi (Japan) sitting on 220.7 (mph). We wouldn't have been in this situation, but yesterday we had a miscommunication and put too much tape on the radiator and overheated the engine on the last two laps. It was just a weird week. We never seem to mesh. None of us could seem to get it right. We had a lot of other plans. If we weren't quick enough, we were going to wave off the run and put someone else in the car to get it up to speed next week. We had plans B, C and D. I didn't think I'd do a 223 (mph). I was hoping for a 221 (mph). It's been tough. It's been draining. It did catch me out, and it surprised me. I was thinking: 'What have I done wrong to this place? Geez, what's going on?' I know Sam is going to do a lot this week. We trust what he is doing. We'll probably just be here on Carburetion Day."

CORY WITHERILL (#16 WSA/MOTORS/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

(About getting the black flag after team member didn't throw the green flag): "I assumed I just wasn't up to the proper speed. The car felt pretty good on the warm-up lap. I think I would have had a really good speed."

(What was your plan?): "We really didn't talk about what we were going to do. We were just really focused on having four quality laps. We continue to improve, especially today. We seem to gain 1 mph every time we go out. Some teams are struggling. We continue to improve, so the extra day should help."

(About support from Native American community): "The support the native community has given me is 110 percent. I have thousands of family and friends that are following me daily with their spiritual prayers and thoughts."

STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7T Yellow/Jack K. Elrod Co./NADA Guides/Hoosier Park G Force/Oldsmobile Firestone):

"I feel much better. I've gained my confidence back. I was in a confusing situation in my mind. Roberto (Guerrero) really made a difference. He did a great job for us. He was helping me today knowing he could get bumped by me. He is incredible. I have a lot of respect for him. He deserves to be in this race. When you lose confidence at this racetrack it eventually is going to hurt you."

(Why did you wave off your attempt with one spot left?): "We didn't accept this speed, because if we would have accepted it and got bumped we would have missed the show. We were hoping for a speed of at least 220(mph), and we would have been around 218 (mph), which is not good enough to make the show. Accepting 218 (mph), our only hope would have been rain all day next Sunday."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"As much as I like Scott (Goodyear), I didn't want to work in his pit on Race Day. It was a nightmare, a horrible week. It's Indy. It has knocked out people like Penske. I was afraid. It was good until Thursday, then we started having an electrical problem. We thought we had found something this morning, but I think it crept its way back in. We have not done the Infiniti engine justice. I'm glad Robbie (Buhl) had a good qualifying run. Qualifying at Indy is a very pressure-filled situation, even if things go well. I'm going back to Orlando tonight, I can't wait."

(Asked if he thought Michael Andretti found out how competitive the Indy Racing Northern Light Series is): "The IRL is competitive. The cars by nature are really close. Michael Andretti is a very talented driver, as are many here. This is the meanest, nastiest race course, and qualifying is very difficult. It was very touch and go whether we were going to qualify, and when Michael ran 223 (mph), we had no choice. I can't think of anything more humiliating than not qualifying at Indy. You put humility and reason aside. I am amazed at the speed Ilmor found in qualifying trim. In the race, if you don't have a good pit stop you can make up for mistakes. In qualifying you've got four laps and there's no room for error. I'm just elated. I actually do feel like I qualified on the pole. I'm just glad I just qualified for the last row, or whatever. The last row parties are fun. I had a lot more fun when I qualified on the last row than up front. Missing the Indy 500 is unthinkable. The track conditions changed a lot here."

(Where do you go from here?): "Forward."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti