JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers about the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 2 at Chicagoland Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order): BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food ...
JOLIET, Ill., Saturday, Aug. 25, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers about the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 2 at Chicagoland Speedway (drivers listed in alphabetical order):
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion, MBA graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern): "After living two of the past three years in Evanston, I feel like Chicago is my second home. My younger sister and a bunch of friends still live there, so I try to get back as often as possible. My mom grew up there, and I visited my grandparents every summer while growing up. Chicago definitely has special meaning." (About successful testing this summer at Chicagoland Speedway): "We had a very successful test at Chicagoland last week, and we took an immediate liking to the track. This should bode well going into the weekend, and then hopefully we can capitalize on the test and move forward with the Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara as the weekend progresses." (Comparing Chicagoland to the other new tracks on the Northern Light Series schedule): "Even though Chicago is a one-and-a-half-mile track like so many of the other tracks that we run, it is unique in many ways. The banking is not as steep as Texas but a little steeper than what you have at places like Kansas City and Kentucky. The track also has some bumps in Turns 3 and 4 to which you have to adjust. I think you should be able to get some good side-by-side racing in, although it isn't as wide as some of the other places we go. Facility-wise, I would put this track up there with almost any track in the country. They keep learning as they go, so each new track gets better and better."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "Of all the new facilities that we've raced at this year, Chicagoland Speedway probably has the smoothest surface. I think it's going to be a really good racetrack for the IRL because it will allow probably three abreast going into the corners and most likely two abreast throughout the corners. I think Chicago will fall into the category of 'Texas-style' racing that we started about three years ago, with a lot of drafting and two abreast. The track is a very similar configuration to Kansas but with a little more banking, and we did very well at Kansas. We also tested very well at Chicago with both full and light tanks. However, I think Ilmor has made some gains in the last three or four races, so I expect Chicago to be even tighter than Kansas was. It's good to be going to a big market like Chicago, and we're looking forward to another sellout crowd. I think it's just another step forward in the really good working relationship between ISC and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
MARK DISMORE (No. 28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I think Chicagoland Speedway is a one-groove track. There might be a second groove, but it's going to be pretty limited. It's very similar to Kansas Speedway, so if you can get your car to work in the second groove, you'll have an advantage. We had a good test there. We were there for a tire test, but we were also able to do some independent testing. I think we have a relatively decent idea of what to do with our Delphi/Bryant car. We can go back there with a decent baseline setup, and if the weather cooperates, we'll get some valuable track time and come up with a good qualifying car and setup for the race. And with Delphi sponsoring that race, we'll be even more motivated to keep our Delphi/Bryant car out front all weekend."
SARAH FISHER (No. 15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We are looking forward to Chicago with an unconceiveable passion. Over the last few months, we have worked really hard but have been in a rut. However, over the last few weeks our tough Walker Racing team has gotten tougher. I want to prove to myself and everyone involved how strong we are as a team. I know we can do it, the potential is there. With Chicago being a jammin' track, our team has prepared to no end, and we are more than ready."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I haven't tested here, but the team came here with Rick (Treadway) so we should have a good baseline. We've been good in Atlanta, Texas and Kansas, so I expect to have a great race and be in the hunt for the win. I think we'll have a little more horsepower for the race, which should help us a lot. The one-and-a-half-mile tracks have produced great racing for the fans, and I would expect the same here. My Mom's coming to the race, so maybe she will be my good luck charm."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, Northern Light Cup points leader): (About Chicagoland Speedway): "It's different than most of the mile-and-a-half ovals. The corners are longer and the straightaways are shorter. The track is really smooth. When I was there, I was running as high as five cars up would be. I think it's going to be a really fun track." (About approach toward winning Northern Light Series championship): "We want to go out there and win. If we win, the points take care of themselves. We're not going to take any unnecessary chances." (Have you ever been in a points chase this tight?): "Nothing this close. Hey, I'm here to go out there and try to win races and have fun doing this. We go out there and do our best and fill our end of the bargain. If we can't beat him (Buddy Lazier) by doing our best, that means it wasn't meant to be. I think it's just trying to stay aggressive. Not worry about trying to lead every lap but trying to be up front at the end and keeping the car underneath you."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner): "It's a really beautiful facility. Other than Indianapolis, I don't know how you get much better. As the new tracks go, it is a superspeedway. It's a beautiful area we're looking forward to racing in. I think Joie Chitwood (vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway) and that whole group has done a great job, and I'm looking forward to it. We have a tight points battle going, and with three races left I think each one of those three is critical. It's the second-to-last race of the season, and I'm sure the championship rests on how well you do in all three of those events, but Chicago's going to be very important."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am very excited for Chicago. In my history with the IRL, I have been the strongest on the 1.5-mile banked ovals. I look forward to the side-by-side racing that these tracks promote. I would expect that we will pull a big crowd, as well, which means a lot to us as drivers. To be able to perform in front of a lot of fans makes it that much better for us. I have not been to the track testing, so I can't comment on it yet. But from what I hear, it is a fantastic facility."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing co-champion): "I'm super-excited about the whole Chicagoland weekend. It's a beautiful track. It has an unbelievably natural flow to it. The transitions into and out of the corners are so smooth that it almost feels like it's one long straightaway with some kinks in it. Being able to drive the Delphi car in the Delphi Indy 300 makes it that much more important to us and also special. We had a great test there. I think we were either the first- or second-fastest car of everyone that tested there, so we go there with a lot of confidence. It's also on a big mile-and-a-half track that we've been able to excel on this year, and we go there looking to keep the Delphi car out front all weekend long."
RICK TREADWAY (No. 5 Meijer G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I can't wait for my second big-time IRL race. We accomplished our objectives in Kentucky despite losing our radios and coming in to fix them under green, which cost us most of our laps. We're ready for Chicago. I think we'll be a little more competitive now that I have the first one under my belt. Still, my goal is to just finish the race. We've got a great promotion with Meijer and Coca-Cola in all the area Meijer stores, so that will be fun. Arie's (Luyendyk) coming to town to help me out and will be attending all the Meijer stores autograph sessions with me. The Chicagoland facility is great and will provide excellent racing. We tested here a couple of weeks ago, and the track is smooth and fast. It will be a great race for the fans."
JEFF WARD (No. 35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Chicago is a state-of-the-art facility, and I'm really looking forward to racing there. We've tested there twice, so we'll have a big jump on the competition. We've been able to take a lot of time to study the setup of the car on that track, and we're confident that we can build a race-winning car. There's a lot of grip on the track, and we tested in very hot and humid weather, so I'm expecting the track conditions to be the same for race day. I think Chicago is a lot like Texas without as much banking, and we ran great in Texas until we had car problems. This team is very prepared to go into Chicagoland and dominate."