IRL: Las Vegas Race Day Quotes

TONY STEWART: "Davey's a great competitor and a great friend. His team deserves the win and the championship. It's been a very long night. It's the only night of the year that we didn't have a car that was just right. They did the...

TONY STEWART: "Davey's a great competitor and a great friend. His team deserves the win and the championship. It's been a very long night. It's the only night of the year that we didn't have a car that was just right. They did the best for me they could and worked all race long to get the push out of the car. We had a shock go out somewhere during the race and Larry Curry was nearly in tears. We were ecstatic to get the championship for Larry after all these years. This team has been working long hours, sometimes 16 hours a day dating back to orlando. None of the crew guys or their families complained all year long. This is dedication on everyone's part and we're so produ of everyone. We really want to thank Tony George for creating this opportunity for us. They just gave me a fabulous car." (about signing with Menard in '96): "We had just signed our Busch deal the week before. I had been in Australia for quite awhile when the call came after I got home." (about being the IRL "poster child"): "Maybe now they can take me off the back of the milk cartons. There's a lot of guys who are just like I was, waiting for a chance. I'm just another driver out there. There's 25 or 26 other guys who are just as hungry as I am. If it weren't for the Irl, I'd still be struggling with Harry Ranier. Tony George came up with a series, John took a chance on us and it all turned out for the best. I don't think anyone in CART even knew who I was. Larry (Curry) wants everyone to understand that next year, that this is my primary concern (IRL). I have two great car owners who let me live out my dreams. Larry and I are very close. He can start a sentenbce and I'll finish it or I'll start a sentence and he'll finish it. I bought the house I grew up in last year in Indiana. There's memory after memory in those walls and I wouldn't trade them for anything." (about being close to the wall): "We never panicked when we went up to the wall but you could've measured it with a micrometer. I'm a Monday through Sunday racer. It was nice tonight to have two guys with short-track backgrounds going for the championship. Davey's a great guy and a great competitor. We have the right tools to win in NASCAR. We had a very good car at Charlotte last week. We have a very good chance at winning another IRL championship this year."

LARRY CURRY (Director of Racing, Team Menard): (about his status with the team): "Somebody called the shop and asked if I'd been fired. I said I wouldn't be at the shop if that's the case. Glidden, Quaker State, Menard and all the guys are a true team. And when a great job Aurora did getting the motors together. It was just a very nerve-wracking day."

DAVEY HAMILTON: "Off a little at the start of the run. The car was a little loose. The guys kept working and working on it. The last half of the race, we were real fast. We just got off time a little bit. The Power Team is a very good team and we just fell a little short. Tony did what he had to do. We ran more laps (over the season) than anyone did. We did what we had to do. We just had bad luck at Charlotte and New Hampshire."

DAVEY HAMILTON (11 p.m.): "We were terrible at the first of the race. The first few laps, I thought we were going to be all right. I got into Turn 1 and the thing jumped out and I about spun out. When I lifted, I lost all my momentum and the whole field went by me. everybody was packed up at that point. I didn't have a chance to keep 'em behind me so I went from basically first to last in not too many laps. But the guys kept working on the car all day. By halfway through the race, we were faster thanh the leaders. We just got caught on a pit stop. We pitted and two laps later, the yellow came out and put us a lap down and we tried to fight and get it back. The bottom line is Tony did what he had to do. All he had to do was finish 10th. We tried. We gained points on him, just not enough. We'll come back strong. Hopefully, we continue on with our luck a little bit and we'll get stronger and stronger in this series. I just want to try to win one. I didn;t get one this year. Orlando will be my 14th Indy-car race and car 14, 14th race, maybe we can pull off a win." (about his schedule): "We have a lot of things lined up as far as testing. We've done some in the past but not like we're going to do this year. I plan on running some supermodified stuff and some Silver Crown stuff. We'll see what happens. I'm going to stay busy." (about Vegas as a home): "Yeah, I like it here. I like being involved with the track. I want to see this palcer really succeed. I feel I'm somewhat of a part of helping it succeed. We'll see what happens. If I continue on with the Speedway, we'll see. I like being in Las Vegas ...good place to be based out of. I plan on doing the same thing next year that I've done this year. I know there's four Indy-car drivers here now...with Vasser and Hearn and Sam Schmidt and I...two different groups with four Indy-car drivers, four good guys. I like it here. There's a lot to do to keep you busy." (about the race from a track standpoint): "There's a lot of things I see we can improve on as far as the speedway's concerned and we weren't really prepared for our advertising campaign for this race. For the people who showed up, with virtually no pre-advertising, I'm happy with it. And 31 cars with the IRL, that's awesome, man. The other Indy-car group hasn't had 31 cars probably in the history ofn their series. We're on a roll. Indy's already huge. We're going to have more and more cars there and we'll be right back to where Indy was before the IRL came about. That's bumping guys out of shows. I won't be surprised at our next race, at Orlando, if you see some guys bumped out."

DON SKINNER (Menard crewman): "We had a terrible push in the car. Once we determined we couldn't place in the race, we just ran for the championship. That got the job done. That's all that counts."

DICK SIMON (Team Scandia engineer for Salazar, who got his first Indy-style win as a driver, car owner or engineer): "I've come close to winning so many times. There's nothing like winning the first one. Andy (Evans) has a very strong team and I'm happy to be here. I'm still in shock. My feet are on pins and needles. I was a nervous wreck. When I get aboard the plane tonight, I'll probably have a few tears. The Good Lord and I are having our own session. I was scared on the last pit stop. He said, 'The car is brilliant. Don't change anything.' And we changed the tires and fuel. Teams win championships and when you get the wind in your sails, the next one is easier."

ELISEO SALAZAR: "I have tried to live the best life I could live. The Good Lord has seen to that. I've kept the faith. I almost wrecked a couple times on the back straight. Three-quarters through the race, we knew what it took to win. The wind picked up halfway through the race. There was pushing in Turn 1. I was afraid he (Goodyear) was going to pick up on the restart. But we were first in Turn 1. I wasn't going to get excited until I saw the checkered flag. It was live in Chile and I'm sure they're very, very happy. When I retire, I will try to get other drivers to keep Chile in the race. It is a very special race. We will enjoy it till Disney. I'm very happy. Perseverance pays off. We were close to winning in '95. I knew there was something special between me and ovals. It's a little sweeter because it's been hard. We needed a late yellow. I got away from Dismore at the restart. We had a good car at the finish."

MARK DISMORE: "The car ahd an underseter in the beginning. One runw as perfect. On the last run we had another understeer. I killed the right rear tire with two laps to go and didn't realize it. The tire was down to the cords. The right rear blistered so bad that I thought I had a puncture. I almost got into the wall in Turn 3. I had to back off. The car was real good by itself but not good at all in traffic. I tried to keep half of the car in clean air to compensate for it. There's two grooves here, but honestly, it's only about 1 1/2. Whenever I'd get with 10 car lengths of Eliseo, the car would wash out. Then Goodyear would start to catch me. It was like a yo-yo effect. There's nothing to be disappointed about. We were competitive. We'bve been competitive all year., The guys did a phenomenal job."

BUDDY LAZIER: "Real disappointed. Coming out of Turn 2, it just quit. I imagine wwe passed about 10 cars and all of a sudden it just quit like the switch was just turned off. There was no drive to the gears. They tried to fix it even though we were two laps down but it couldn't be fixed."

KENNY BRACK: "The driveshaft broke and gave me an anxious moment. Yeah, I guess we were close to losing it. It was a great race car. It ran very well, just what you need. The Galles team did a wonderful job of preparing it to drive. We'll start next year right where we left off this year."

EDDIE CHEEVER: "The motor just exploded. I don't know what happened, it happened so quickly. It's very disappointing."

BILLY BOAT: "We were having a good race. However, we had some problems. We had a problem on one of the pit stops. Later in the race, all of a sudden, I had no power. I came in to fix it. The Conseco team did a good job fixing it. But A.J. pulled me in and that's just the way the day went. That's racing." A.J. FOYT: "It was ignition. We were so far down that it didn't do us any good to stay out, so I pulled him in. We had nothing to gain."

ARIE LUYENDYK: "Something broke in the engine. I noticed it during the yellow but I waited for the restart. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part. During the yellow I heard a screech noise and it started running rough. I thought it was the gearbox or engine. Something broke in the camshaft. I was a little leery of restarting. You never know, it could blow up. I accelerated and it didn't go. It was handling good. We were having a good race. Our pit stop strategy was good.

BUZZ CALKINS: "I was so focused on missing Sam that I didn't see the tire. I struck it, and then jumped the curb. At first I thought I had only lost the right front wing but I damaged the suspension and that was terminal. Early in the race my seat brace broke and I had to hold myself upright in the car."

SAM SCHMIDT: "I lost the back end in Turn 2 and grazed the wall with my right rear tire. Everything was fine. I was resting in the grass and Jack hit me an It wasn't his fault. His right front wing hit my fright front wing."

JOHNNY UNSER: "The motor let go. Earlier we had electrical problems. It's a shame because the car was working good. I don't know why we were killing the battery. That's just the way it goes."

JACK MILLER: "I came out of Turn 2 and saw a fire and smoke, so I went low to avoid the tire. Someone was sideways and I just hit him. Great racing conditions. The winds have died down and the racing conditions co uldn't be better."

MIKE SHANK: "It went surprisingly well. It was a little frustrating for me. We have a good team. We had a handling problem and I never regained muy confidence. I touched the wall in Turn 2. That's the only thing that went wrong. I have a mloot of learning to do and a lot of confidence to build. I need to get more track time. I have the brains for it. I just need more skills."

BILLY ROE: "The race went great. I'm just glad we finally finished one. The car went real good in the middle and at the end, it went off. I'm just glad to be here."

VINCENZO SOSPIRI: "Bye. That's it."

JIMMY KITE: "I finished. Pit crew did a great job. We said if Salazar and I finished, we will be happy. Now, Salazar finished first and I finished sixth. I saw the checkered flag. I was so happy. I was so excited I could hardly contain my excitement. At the end, we were having trouble with gauge and sensor. We didn't know how much we could push it so we just wanted to hold on. I am very glad I finished."

STAN WATTLES: "Had a lot of dust on the track. You see my is down to carbon fiber. In general, the guys were not too bad. Everybody behaved themselves. I had one hot lap. I was hoping we could continue. It was fun and I am so glad we were safe. It was my first top-10 finish and I am so glad that it is the last race and I did it here in Las Vegas."

STEPHAN GREGOIRE: "I'm very unlucky. The car was very competitive but it was a bad race. I had no brakes at the beginning so I had to hold back. I ran out of fuel. I got a black-flag for coming into the pits because of no fuel (when pits were closed). I cut the engine and we had a difficult time restarting the car. The car was very fast. Wish we could've been a little bit luckier than I was. I was very happy to finish."

AFFONSO GIAFFONE: "I was having fun. The car ran flat-out. After I pitted, I lost a lug nut. After that, everything seemed to go bad. The car pushed something awful. I had a problem with rear suspension. I cruised to the end. I was very glad to finish."

TYCE CARLSON: "Just a loss of power. Don't know if it's engine or electrical. We don't want to stay out there and get in the way. Two guys are out there running for the championship. We don't want to blow the motor, as well."

JEFF WARD: "The water pump broke and overheated the engine. We had to run real hard to try to make up the black flag. Had a real good car tonight." (about going from 12th to first in two green laps): "I ran high through the gray in Turn 1 to get most of 'em, then picked off two on the backstretch and passed the leader on the next lap. It was pretty exciting."

JOHN PAUL JR.: "The runw as not fun early. We had a big understeer in traffic. I was okay when I was on the outside but when someone got in front of me, I had to back off. We stopped twice for radical front-wing adjustments and got it right. We needed to run this car in traffic more prior to the race. The team experienced engine problems resulting in inadequate track time. After we got the understeer problem handled, the car came into itself finally about halfway through the race. We were laps down but at least I was able to hold my head up high at the end."

ROBERTO GUERRERO: "Just a little bruise on my knee and the top of my foot. But really, it was a lot less than most of the accidents I've gotten involved in. It looked very spectacular but really didn't hit anything solid. It was just a wild ride. I think I've done it all now. I never really really hit anything hard. When I hit his (Greco's) tire, the car started going up. All of a sudden, I was looking up at the moon and I said, 'uh-oh...this doesn't look good.' I was fighting for position with Marco and I was just getting set to pass him. He ran out of fuel right at the time I was right there."

ROBBIE BUHL: "Team menard came here for Tony to win the championship and that's exactly what we did. I look forward to next year. When I got my brains scrambled at Pikes Peak, the guys all rallied behind me.

JOHN MENARD: "We've had some pretty good sponsors. Glidden Paints has been with us for over 20 years and we've had some really good times. The whole concept in the IRL is young drivers. We had a short car count at Orlando a couple of years ago and we thought it'd be good to put Tony in a car. We called him and told him to show up."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony George