SPARTA, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Sunday, Aug. 17 at Kentucky Speedway: ALEX BARRON (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G ...
SPARTA, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Belterra Casino Indy 300 on Sunday, Aug. 17 at Kentucky Speedway:
ALEX BARRON (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"A big, fast track like Kentucky is always something you look forward to when you have a superb package like the Toyota/Panoz G Force package we have on the Hollywood team. It paid off for us big-time at Michigan, with a race win. We had a big disappointment at Gateway and not because of anything that we did. It was unfortunate we got caught up in the pit-lane pileup that put a hole in my gearbox and eventually ended our day there. But the Hollywood/Mo Nunn team did another great job for me by giving me another potential race-winning car. We got up to fourth before the gearbox eventually let go. Now, we get to go run another big, fast track, and the team had a great test there at Kentucky back in June. Felipe (Giaffone) will be watching the team for the first time since his accident, and he'll be at Kentucky for the first time since his win there last year, and I'm sure that will motivate everybody on the team in a big way. It should be really great."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 1998 IndyCara Series champion, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"The Kentucky track was very bumpy in the first test, but the track worked hard to smooth the surface out. Some of the patching is still a little slick, but I think the track will improve as more rubber gets laid down. You just put your foot to the floor and hold on for much of the track. The team with the best handling on the bumps and in traffic will win the race. I'm very excited about Kentucky. With the newer surface, I think we could have good side-by-side racing. After two DNFs, we need a good showing at Kentucky. We need the points and a good result. We had a good qualifying at Gateway, and I thought we would have had a good finish, too. But, we never saw the checkered flag. We need to see it at Kentucky."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"To say that we're looking forward to racing this weekend is the understatement of the season for our team. Chevy's been working hard to level the playing field, and now it's up to us to prove ourselves all over again. Am I anxious? Yes. Am I ready to race? More so than ever."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"Kentucky is a tough race because it's tricky to find the right line to go flat out, but once you get there, it's very fast. I'm sure we'll see a lot of side-by-side racing on Sunday, which will be really exciting for the fans. We've been doing well at these types of tracks all season, so hopefully we'll be competitive this weekend. We're coming off of a win in St. Louis, which is great for the team's motivation. Hopefully we'll carry it through to Kentucky and keep up the good results."
GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"Our performance on 1.5-mile ovals has improved, and we had a good test at Kentucky last week, so Marlboro Team Penske should be in good shape for the race. They have made some changes to the track surface since we tested there, but that will be a new factor for everyone, and the data we gathered should still be beneficial. We are entering the stretch run for the championship with five races to go, so it is important we have a strong finish."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"It was a disappointing race in St. Louis. We had a dominant car out there and probably should have won that race. They have made improvements to the surface of the (Kentucky) track, and it's a lot better. These next couple of races are going to be very important in the championship race. It's a four-way battle between Tony (Kanaan), Gil (de Ferran), Helio (Castroneves) and myself. Team Target has won a lot of championships in the past, and they know how to win. Although we lost some ground last weekend, we're still right there."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"This is the weekend for the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing GMAC/AOL car. We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to drive with the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 engine. Kentucky was a big weekend last year when we sat on the pole, so we have some shoes to fill there. With the crowds as great as they are in Kentucky, and our testing with the new engine to take place just before, we should be in great shape. We also look forward to seeing those crowds at the Festival of Speed, Thursday, Aug. 14 at Newport on the Levee. I'll be throwing out the first pitch at the Cardinals/Diamondbacks game, as well."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"I'm looking forward to Kentucky, because we had a real good test there, so I think we have a good baseline setup for the Conseco Panoz G-Force/Toyota. The track is one of the more challenging 1.5-mile tracks because it is flatter, not as much banking, and a little rougher. I want to get everything going well and come out of there with a top-10 finish. I also look forward to seeing some of our old family friends from when we used to live there when my dad was training horses."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I'm looking forward to racing at Kentucky. I've tested there a couple of times, and it seems to be a two- or three- groove racetrack, which should be good for racing. It's shaped like the track in Kansas, and we had a good car and a good result there, so hopefully we can repeat that."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion):
"I like Kentucky Speedway a lot. The first time I drove a Panther Racing car was at a test at Kentucky Speedway, and it turned out pretty good. Last year, we started fifth and finished second in a squeaker, and the year before we started eighth and finished third, so it's been a good track for us. We're all looking forward to having the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 in our car again. It performed really well for us at Michigan, and I think it will help a lot at Kentucky, as well. We think we've got a good shot at winning races again, with it. We're looking forward to going to a track we like, and where we've done well the past couple of years. We still think we have a shot at the championship. I have a positive attitude and can't wait to get back out there."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, IndyCar Series points leader):
"It's going to be good, but this championship thing is getting complicated. Things are getting so tight. Every race is getting that way and is so competitive. It's crazy. But, we're going to do our best, and we'll see. I'm looking forward to Kentucky. It was very bumpy when we tested down there. But, they did some work on the track, so I have no idea what to expect. I liked it when we were there, so I'm looking forward to it, no matter what."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 IndyCar Series champion, 2000 and 2001 Kentucky winner):
"Kentucky is a great race track. We've had a lot of success, with two victories and one third place. We've never finished out of the top three, and with the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8 motor, we're really excited. It might take us a while to adjust to the new engine. Nevertheless, we're really looking forward to it. If there was one racetrack that we had to get the job done, it would be Kentucky. I am very much looking forward to it."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Kentucky is a whole different track, so we'll be back to a 1.5 mile with lower downforce settings. We'll hopefully have a much better performance going in there and be able to work out a good car setup. We did OK there last year, except we had a puncture, so I think we'll go back and do well again this year. All of the Chevy teams will be running the Gen IV Chevy Indy V-8, so it's going to be a great race since everyone will be able to be competitive for the first time together. It's a huge weekend for Chevy to show off their hard work. Hopefully, we can give them the result that they deserved at Gateway last weekend."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"I really enjoy racing on the track in Kentucky. It's a fast, 1.5-mile track, with room for overtaking. The guys down there have really stepped it up and made the track a lot better. They did a lot of work in Turns 1 and 2 and made the track much smoother. Both the track and the IRL have listened to the drivers concerns and have acted on those. We have done quite a bit of testing down there, and I think that we're prepared to contend for a victory. Team Target has been very innovative this year, and they are always trying new and different ways to make the cars more competitive. The guys have been busting their tails this year to get us into victory lane, and I want to give them a reward for all of their hard work. Hopefully, we can get that done this weekend."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion):
"The whole Kelley Racing team has been running much better on the big tracks, rather than the smaller tracks this year. As evidence, you can use the races at Texas, Homestead, Kansas and even Michigan, that right now we're running better on the big tracks. So, I think it's with great pleasure for our team that we get back to Kentucky. I like the Kentucky track a lot, and I've had pretty decent runs there, including a fourth place last year. I think we've done well there in the past without a lot of power, so to be able to go back there this year with the Toyota engine is exciting. We're looking forward to a good finish for the Delphi team."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"This will be my first time on the Kentucky track, but I know the team has a good history there because Felipe (Giaffone) won there last year, and we had a pretty good test there in June. It will be my first time there, but it will be my third race on that type of 1.5-mile track, and we have done well on the fast tracks like Indy and Michigan all year. The Kentucky track is a little bit bumpy in places, but I think we will figure out how to be successful there. I had a pretty good weekend with my new Dallara chassis at St. Louis. We learned a lot, and we were able to improve the car during the race. So, I had a strong car for the finish. At Kentucky, we will learn more about our new car, and I think it will be even better. Our Toyota horsepower will be a good thing in the Dallara chassis, and I am looking forward to getting back into the Pioneer car."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"I'm looking forward to going to Kentucky. It's a big, 1.5-mile track, and Kelley Racing as a whole has had good setups on the 1.5-mile tracks. We're excited about getting to Kentucky. The Corteco team had a good run there last year, and finished sixth. I really feel with our package, and the Toyota engine, that we're definitely strong enough to put in a challenge for the win this weekend."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Kentucky is one of my favorite tracks. It is fast, it is bumpy, and you can run side by side. It is just exciting. The racing there is normally good. I haven't been in a race at Kentucky, but looking from the outside, it is good."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I am disappointed with the result and what happened at Gateway. I will try to reset my mind before the Kentucky race and will try to do my best. The car has been good, so I am looking forward to racing in Kentucky."