Day 2 -- Saturday, April 12, 2003 IRL IndyCar Series post-qualifying quotes. BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I'm very unhappy, very unhappy. I was dangerously loose, and I don't know why. We ran...
Day 2 -- Saturday, April 12, 2003 IRL IndyCar Series post-qualifying quotes.
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I'm very unhappy, very unhappy. I was dangerously loose, and I don't know why. We ran well this morning and made a few changes for qualifying. We're still learning, so we can mark this as what not to do. I was really loose, and the rear end didn't want to stay underneath me. We missed on the setup a little, but we'll learn from it." (About missing original spot in qualifying line): "I'm not exactly sure (what happened). The car wouldn't start. I think the battery was dead. We're going to look into it."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The speedway has done a very good job of improving this track. There was a major bump where the tunnel is going into Turn 3. They tore up that part and repaved it. It shows how dedicated they are to making sure we have not only a good race but also a safe race. I enjoy this track. We've been struggling a little bit, but we will make our way tomorrow. It is kind of tough because we are a one-car team, so when we come here for the race, we don't get as much time. We did get some test time here last year with the old car and the old engine. We are going to keep our heads up and do the best we can. I've been up in the hotel most of the time. I enjoy coming here. The people are so gracious, and it is a very beautiful place to come here and race. It is kind of a shame that it is halfway across the world."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm not thrilled that qualifying is rained out as we've been getting better and better as the weekend has gone on. But we have a good car for the race and with the added support of Wonda Morning Shot, we'll be ready to go on Sunday. I was delighted that Wonda is one of our sponsors for this race. I've already spent a lot of money buying their hot coffee by the six-pack since I've been in Japan."
DAN WHELDON (No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/ Firestone): "The Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola crew has done a great job this weekend. I know I still have a lot to learn, but as the race progresses, I'm sure I'll catch up pretty quick. The team has given me a lot of confidence, and they allow me to believe that I'm going to do great in the race."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The track conditions changed this afternoon with the wind. We were slower on our qualifying attempt, maybe a tenth or so from the morning practice. But the car was secure, and we were pretty close to flat. The car has felt good all weekend, and I'm feeling good about the race. I think this will be a very competitive race for the fans. The IndyCar Series is so tough right now, and we'll have to be on our game for all 200 laps. I think you'll see some side-by-side racing in Turns 1 and 2. I always enjoy racing here at Motegi. Obviously, I won here (in 2001), and the fans are great. They even gave me some gifts this weekend. I didn't expect it. They are so much fun to talk to, also. They are knowledgeable about our racing, and they collect all types of racing stuff. My super fan (Taiku Hattori) is here, too. She paints her face in Swedish colors and always waves the Sweden national flag. That is pretty cool. The Japanese fans are some of the best in the world. They seem so excited about us coming to Japan and racing for them."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We made a mistake on the setup this morning, and I was very slow, so my time from yesterday is what they used to set the grid. It's disappointing because almost everyone was faster today, and I know Team 7-Eleven had a better car for qualifying. We definitely have our work cut out for us tomorrow."
GREG RAY (No. 13 Trim Spa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We didn't get so much time to run this morning because we had a little problem with the water line. Unfortunately for the fans and for us, we did not have an opportunity to qualify today. This is a very new team and a new track, so we are still learning. I think we have a pretty good setup on my car and hope we run good in the race."
SHINJI NAKANO (No. 54 Beard Papa's/Auto Project Honda/Dallara/ Honda/Firestone): "We didn't have enough time to prepare the car for here in Motegi, but the team has done a very good job, and we expected to qualify well. The setup this morning went in the wrong direction, so we could not get a good position for the race tomorrow. The race setup of my car is not bad, so I hope we can run strong in the race tomorrow."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "Unfortunately, we got caught by the rain. We thought we had a good qualifying setup on the car, but we will never know for sure. We know that the car will be good for the race, and as always, we will have a lot of fun."
ALEX BARRON (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Hard luck that rain washed out qualifying because I felt like we would have had a good run. Marlboro Team Penske is always good in the race, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Losing out on qualifying didn't hurt us too much. I'll just try to run a clean race and do the best that I can in the Conseco car. I like this track, so I think it will be a fun race."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 5 EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/ Firestone): "I am disappointed that we didn't get to qualify because we made some changes after the last practice session that I think would have helped. Now we'll never know. We'll switch to the race setup and just look to have a good race in the Toyota-powered EPSON car."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm really pleased to be at the Twin Ring Motegi. I think it's going to be an exciting track to race on with a lot of side-by-side racing. In particular, I think the starts and restarts are going to be wild because it's so wide. I think there's the potential to see us five cars abreast in places. The Delphi team has done a great job on the car. We started well here and have improved the car each session. We had a really good car this morning, and we were hoping to qualify pretty well here, but the rain came. And that's OK because I think we have a very good car for the race based on the race setup work we did yesterday."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We're glad to be on the front row again. If you look at the practice sessions, I believe Scott (Dixon) was quickest twice, and I was quickest once. Therefore, he deserves pole. It's a shame we didn't get to qualify today, but a third consecutive front-row start is not so bad at all. We'll try and get a win tomorrow. Scott and I, we've been hooked up all weekend, so it should be a good fight. We did some work on Friday, and Michael (Andretti) did some long runs today, so between the three of us, we have a pretty good idea of what we want. We are going to start a little bit different than each other tomorrow morning, and then afterward, we're going to regroup and make changes."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "My qualifying run was not what we wanted because of the rain. We had gone ahead and finished the run because I really didn't know what to do. It started to rain on my very last lap as I was going into Turn 3. We ran a better time in practice, so now that they are lining up the cars based on practice times, I must say quite honestly that I'm happy that it's raining. I do feel really good about the race car for tomorrow. We can run with anybody out here on a long run, so now we'll just think about the race. We've got a good starting spot, so we'll go from there."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "Obviously, we would have much rather ran to earn the pole, but I'm not going to complain starting on the front. I don't know that being on the front row will be that big of an advantage in the race because I think you find a lot of drafting and passing. Starting position may not be that important. This isn't the way I wanted to earn the pole position, but I'll take it. I think you are going to see a lot of drafting and passing tomorrow, so I don't think that starting position will be very important. I think most teams were preparing for a qualifying setup. But with what data we have gathered between Tomas (Scheckter) and myself, I'm confident that we'll have a decent race setup for tomorrow. No, we didn't get as much time to work on race setup as I would have liked, but I think we'll be prepared for tomorrow. In a way, the practice session was used for qualifying because we knew there was a threat of rain. Some teams may have changed engines between the first and second practice session. There probably was a little pressure from Toyota and Honda to do well here and get on the front row. There was pressure on their crew (Kanaan's), and we had the same." (About weather on race day): "It generally stays cool here and doesn't warm up too much. That doesn't generally upset, or separate, the performances regarding the Dallara, the Panoz G Force or the engines like some people think might happen. What's going to affect the race is who is consistent in the long runs and who has their car set up to perform over the duration."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/ Toyota/Firestone): "It's a little disappointing that we could not qualify today. I felt that we had a good car, and we could have taken the pole. I really can't complain because we still have a good starting position for tomorrow's race. I'm comfortable with the car, and I really think that Team Target will do well in the race."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz GForce/Toyota/ Firestone): "I think we are in a great starting position. I am a little disappointed that we didn't get a chance to try for the pole because my engineer (David Cripps) had one more change to the car that he thought might make it possible. But we must be satisfied with where we are, after all. It is our best starting position so far, and it is great because this is in front of my family and friends and all of my Japanese fans. I hope we can make it a great day tomorrow for Pioneer and Denso and Toyota."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/ Toyota/Firestone): "The rain turned out to not be our friend today. But that's the way it goes. Some days you benefit from these things; some days you don't. It all evens out in the long run. The most important thing is that we have a great race car, and I think we are going to put on a great show for these great Japanese racing fans. I really love it here. Except for the weather today, of course."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Unfortunately there was rain, and we didn't qualify today. We were expecting a good qualifying run today. Now, I am going to start the race from 15th tomorrow. Our race setup should be good, so I am looking forward to the race."