IRL: Michigan: Qualifying quotes

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We kind of went out there and surprised ourselves there. We got a little more horsepower out of our Chevrolet than we ever expected and ran a faster time. We didn't know what...

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We kind of went out there and surprised ourselves there. We got a little more horsepower out of our Chevrolet than we ever expected and ran a faster time. We didn't know what was going to happen because there were so many guys running in the draft, so we're not sure where we're going to end up."

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car was real solid, good to drive, but we didn't go fast."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's not as strong as we hoped. I don't think I have the speed, really, or the power on our own. We sort of knew that coming here. We decided to work on the race car, and we were really good yesterday. We could draft well and run various lines, so we'll be fine."

ARIE LUYENDYK (No. 55 Meijer Indy Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The cars are quite easy to drive around here with the downforce that we have. So from that point, it's not hard to get back in and get back up (to speed). After a few laps in practice yesterday, I was flat out, but we just didn't have the horsepower in that engine. We changed engines overnight. We picked up, basically, nearly 6 mph, just with the engine. We also raised the car a little bit to make it go through the air better. We're still just down compared to a lot of guys. Hopefully in the draft we can hang in there and get pulled along. You'll see a lot of side-by-side, three-wide for sure. There's going to be a lot of activity going on. It's going to be fun to watch, but I think in the front you'll see the Infiniti cars. They will be able to maybe pull away from the rest. They'll maybe have a couple of the Chevy guys that have the extra bits in their engine go along because it's really all about horsepower right now."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car felt really good, and we didn't get any scrub, so tomorrow we should have a good race car. That's what's really important for this track."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was expecting a 218 (mph lap), but I looked up and saw a 219, so maybe the wind helped us. At least we know we're going to be in the top 10. This race, it doesn't matter where you start as long as you are patient. It's as close to 500 miles, and last time we ran 500 miles it was pretty good. Hopefully we'll be in good shape here, too."

ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We concentrated the whole weekend on not drafting with anyone, so I did a 218 (mph) by myself. I knew where I could polish the lines here and there. I'm really happy with the run, and it is good to be back at Michigan. It is a wide-open and pretty smooth track. Compared to Nashville, where the concrete and the g-forces take such a toll on you, this will be like a stroll in the park. It should be a good race for us."

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was pretty bad. We just can't get any power out of the motor to run by ourselves. It's trimmed out and everything is as off the car as we could (get it). Race setup, we're pretty decent with the traffic, so we're hoping to get hooked up with the leaders."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We want to do well because this is (team owner) Ron's (Hemelgarn) home track, but we also want to do well for ourselves. We don't go racing to do anything but to win. That's why we go racing. This is the fastest the car would go, just flat out. We need to go make some changes. It's a beautiful facility for the IRL cars to race on. It's going to be a great race for us. Flat-out, shootout, wheel-to-wheel, but I think handling is going to come into it. It's not like Texas where it's all into the straightaway speed, flat out, and handling doesn't matter. This is a little flatter of a racetrack. By the end of the (race), it's going to be a fast race car but also one that handles well."

LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We've had too many problems this weekend. We blew an engine just before the qualifying, so we had to change it. It was not a quick as we were expecting, but we've had too much trouble with the car for the last five races, so it's good when you look at it that way. We still need to work on the car so we can be around at the end of the race."

TONY RENNA (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I think certainly the drafting game is going to play an important role, but from what I gathered so far in traffic it doesn't seem like guys can pull away from you if you have a pretty decent draft. It's going to be probably a little bit of working together from other drivers to stay in line and not to be duking it out too much to let the top three or four Infinitis pull away. Certainly it's been a lot easier jumping in the Corteco/Bryant Special having spent time working with the team before as a test driver and as a spotter. So it's really made the transition into race driver fairly seamless. I have a great relationship with all the guys and everybody on the entire Kelley team, so it's made it jell very well so far."

SCOTT HARRINGTON (No. 37 Rhino Cleaning Products/Brayton Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're way behind the curve right now. We missed most of yesterday with some mechanical problems, so we're well off the pace. Unfortunately, we're a couple sessions behind. The team hasn't run since Indy, so we have our work cut out for us. We know we can run these speeds all day long. We ran 213 (mph) on full tanks this morning. We haven't concentrated on searching for speed or trimming out. We struggled to get here. Todd Brayton did everything he could to get here because he didn't want to miss his home race. We're not where we want to be, but we know we have a good car in traffic. Today is not the day that pays, tomorrow is. Hopefully we'll have a good car tomorrow."

MARK DISMORE (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We've been looking for a setup, and last night we made some big changes to the car, which have really worked. The Johns Manville/Menards car is the best it's been all weekend, and I think we're ready to go racing now. The guys didn't give up on the car, and they worked really hard to bring it back up to where it should be. Tomorrow we need to be realistic and let some of these rabbits out there burn up their fuel running up front. We'll probably let these other guys cut the air and ride for a while. It's going to be important for us to hang tight with the lead group, draft all day and try to save some fuel so we can really go racing toward the end. This is a long race, and a lot can happen during the course of it, especially if you're pushing your equipment too hard."

GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm slightly disappointed. Our car has been really good. We may have been a little too conservative for the qualifying setup, but we'll be in good shape for the race." (On his previous experience at the track): "Hopefully that will pay off on race day, but this track is one where everyone can get accustomed to it quickly. It's very similar to Fontana, so it might be a very similar race to Fontana."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We're happy with where we ended up in qualifying, although the gearing was a little short on one end and a little too long on the other. We were close, but no cigar. I'm hoping there won't be any big change in the weather between now and the race. Our car is very good and consistent. But if it gets a lot hotter tomorrow, it will throw a lot of teams off."

GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I wish we had a little more practice time, but we ran out of time, so it went OK. It went as well as it thought it would go, but not quite fast enough for the pole. We're dealing with issues right now, but the car felt really good. It goes wherever I want it. We still have some issues to work out, but it could always be worse."

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I did not know where we were at with our time. My dash stopped working. I knew we had good balance on the car, but I did not know where we would be. I called into the team and asked them. There are a lot of unknown elements in qualifying because during practice you are not on the track alone. We're happy with our time. The race is really long, you really don't want to go for the pole here -- you want to work on race setup. What Chevrolet, Speedway (Engines) and the guys at Blair Racing have done will make us a contender, for sure. Coming into this event after winning Nashville carries a lot of momentum. This track is so much different than Nashville, and we worked on our game plan all week. We had to find new angles to attack the car, and I feel we have done that in a short period of time. We are riding high right now, but we have to stay focused. This race will be like Fontana, but with a little bit more speed. You will see a lot of drivers show a lot of speed in the draft. Some guys are going to push hard at the beginning, and some are not. I'm not sure that is going to pay off. It is 400 miles, and it takes a toll on everything."

GREG RAY (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car ran a 214 (mph) and ran great. We just hit a wall and couldn't go any faster. I don't know what is wrong with the car. It handles good, but it's just slow."

RICHIE HEARN (No. 20 Meijer/Coca Cola/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was all right. We just don't have the speed that some of the other guys have. At the bigger tracks like this, we just haven't had the speed. I think we're down on horsepower. We ran about the same at Fontana, so I wasn't really expecting to run any better than we did. We'll just make it a good race car and play with the yellow flags, and try to get out of here with a top-10 finish."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The CURB Records team did a great job getting our engine, which we had a little electrical problem with, changed. But unfortunately, the lack of track time, the lack of information, really hurt us. We missed on our gear by quite a bit. We'll go back and rethink it and get ready for final practice. This is a long race. It's going to be endurance and consistency that are going to be more important than outright speed."

BUDDY RICE (No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think the timesheets have pretty much shown that all three Red Bull cars have been up front. They've all been quite close. We were anticipating in our meeting before qualifying that all three of us would want to be together, and make sure that there was a Red Bull car around us. The information swapped, and everyone has been working together quite well. We have a long race for tomorrow. Four hundred miles is a long one. We just have to make it through that." (On the situation at Red Bull Cheever Racing): "The problem between Tomas (Scheckter) and Eddie (Cheever) is between them. It has no bearing on my situation. When I got a phone call, I was brought in to do one thing: to make sure I put the car up on the front with Team Cheever and Red Bull, and then to make sure I finish the race, and make sure it's a 1-2-3 for Red Bull. I don't really care what the order is right now, and I'm not involved in what's going on right now. That's between them." (On his racing future): "Prior to the race, I had a testing contract with Cheever to try to do a couple of tests. It didn't work out logistically. Prior to coming here, I had spoken to other teams, so there was other stuff on the burner. When Eddie called and wanted to do the deal and put me possibly in a top car, that took top priority. With what's going to happen from here on out, I don't know. It might be a one-race deal, so I might be out. I'm on a day-to-day program right now. I have no idea what's going to come as of Monday. I have to get through tomorrow and let Eddie and everybody sit down at Indy and make a decision. I don't plan on giving up right now. I'm racing sports cars right now. I don't have a full-time ride, so I'm going to keep driving whatever I have the opportunity to drive. We'll just have to see what happens. I'll just keep performing the way I am." (On relationship with Tomas Scheckter): "I don't have a problem with Tomas. I did my test in early November. He did his test right after that. He got the seat. What happens with them now has no bearing. We've sat down and exchanged information in the front of that semi every session. We all know what everybody's running, and we're trying to work it out. I just walked into this deal. I tested at Kentucky for 80-90 laps and showed up here. I don't know the difference between the two cars. I know the information, and we're all basically on the same setup. Our cars virtually ran the same time. It was just a tick off. The boys did a good job. They're all fast. I have one job: To keep Red Bull happy, to keep Team Cheever happy, and keep the car up front."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We've had a little more speed here before, but I feel good about the race car. The momentum has got to shift for us, and we just have to keep our focus. The guys keep working hard, we've got the support we need, and we know who we are and what we can do."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We came here with three cars, which was a big, big jump from what we had done before just running two (cars). Tomas was perfect in qualifying. Buddy just sat in the car and almost got the pole. As a team we're very proud, great job from the mechanics. They did a very good job getting all of these cars ready. Tomorrow we plan to do our best. I will continue making changes in the team until we start achieving the race finishes that we have to deliver for Red Bull. If this means more personnel changes, I will keep doing them. If it means moving a person to other things, I will keep doing that again. So far, the experiment is working."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We came into this qualifying with a little bit of a disadvantage. A lot of the performance parts that were on my car prior to this race were not on my car anymore. We've dealt with it good. I've got a setup on my car that was pretty hard to drive, and we managed to pull it off. I'm very happy for my substitute team that have come in. They've done a good job, but maybe instead of doing a (2)21.8 (mph), I could have done a (2)22.8 (mph). That's the way it goes. Tomorrow, hopefully we can carry on the same way we've done today. It's great for them, as well. I can feel the atmosphere around us. It feels like sort of we've been pushed to the underdog team and to get it together and do it was great for everybody. But again, today's today, and tomorrow's tomorrow. And if you think I went quick today, you're going to see something else tomorrow." (How do you deal with the tension in the team?): "I deal with it by putting it on pole. It has been a tough week for me. You get used to working with people -- your engineers, your mechanics, everybody -- you build a good relationship, and as good as this team might be that I'm working with now, it doesn't change the fact that you get used to working with people. For that to get taken away from me was a big knock. Not only was that taken away, a lot of parts on the car that we found to have an advantage, we did not have enough now to run on three cars, and they're not on my car. For me to come back like this and to be on pole I think is the best thing I could have done. To be honest with you, it's not the best atmosphere for me to work, but if it puts me on pole every time, I'll keep doing it. Hopefully we can get a win out of this, as well, not only a pole position." (About Buddy Rice): "Buddy's done a good job, and I've got nothing against him. He's been given an opportunity. It's got nothing to do with him. If I was in the same situation, I'd do exactly the same as he's done, and he's done a good job. He's got nothing to do with what's happened." (Is your situation race-by-race?): "I'm not sure. After the last race, you have to read in the press that he's (Cheever) looking for a new driver. It's disappointing for me that you have to read this sort of stuff in the press. I'm taking it race by race, you know. It depends what he says in the press tomorrow or the next day. Maybe he'll get rid of me that way, fire me in the press. I'm not sure. It's tough. It's been a tough situation. There's been a lot of things said in the press that have hurt me and the team, as well. But you have to come back. I'm a professional, and like I do, I've got to sit in those meetings. I say what happens with the car. We all sit down, and you have to be professional at the end of the day. I'm going to do the best job I can do for Red Bull, for Infiniti, and for Team Cheever." (What is the atmosphere in the trailer doing your debriefs?"): "The atmosphere is fine. I suppose I'm not as talkative or as in detail as I used to be before just because this week has been pretty tough. But at the end of the day, I'm professional, and if there's a problem or if I think there's an advantage, I will tell Eddie and I will tell Buddy, and I would expect them to do the same. I learn to bite my tongue and get on with the job. Every race I come back saying I'm going to do it, and every race I come back stronger. The car feels stronger, the team feel stronger. Like I said, we're going to have to restart with a little bit of a different team this weekend. To qualify is one thing, to race is another. You need good pit stops, especially on a track like this where you're not going to see a lot of yellows. So the teams are going to have a big part in the finishing order. It's important for everybody in the team that not only the car finishes up front, but that it finishes in one piece. You have to look at why problems happen and analyze each race and make sure you don't do it again. If someone makes a mistake on my car, I can accept it. If they do it twice, I don't accept it. I think that should be the same as a driver. At Nashville, we have to say 'What happened?' and how can we make sure it doesn't happen again. If we are getting lapped, any of the Red Bull cars, which way should you go. You need to arrange it so that the team knows what's going on, and if the person is in the lead and someone is getting lapped, the person in front should sacrifice so that the leader can get by and get the job done." (Have you talked to your team owner about the tense situation?): "I'd expect my team owner, as a team owner, to be the one to call me and speak to me about it, to be the mature one. I'm willing to sit down and speak with him, but that phone call hasn't come, so I just get on with my job."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Sam Schmidt , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing