LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 11, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Firestone Indy 200 on Saturday, July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place July 18 (quotes listed in ...
LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 11, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Firestone Indy 200 on Saturday, July 19 at Nashville Superspeedway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place July 18 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 1998 IndyCara Series champion, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"It is the Music City, and we are going to have our band playing there. It should be fun. Nashville is a nice track. It's all concrete. It's always nice to run on concrete because the car doesn't change a lot with the weather. If it's hot or cold, it doesn't really matter that much. The track is nice. It's very fast for a smaller type of track. I think it will be a very interesting race. We obviously have struggled a little bit with some of the tracks we've been new to this year, so we have been trying to learn about this car. We took some pretty radical steps in testing to learn about our setups. This track is different, since the more rubber you get on the track, the more grip you lose. It's the opposite of the asphalt track, where more rubber usually means more grip."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Since the track is concrete, the patches in it impact the car with a little more movement. You can actually hear the different sounds of the tires over the surface. The concrete gives drivers a very different feel, or even a lack of feel, in part because the tires grip very differently. You have to make the car soft enough to ride nice. We don't really lay rubber down as much as grind rubber off, which is why you don't pick up more grip. It can be tricky to set up for conditions, and come race time, there tends to be a lot of accidents due to lack of feel for track. We just need to be smart and work on our setup, and try to come away like we did at Kansas City, with two cars running at the end."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"Nashville Superspeedway is a challenge for us because it's difficult to go flat out. I think that's what makes it fun for me, though, because if it were easy, then everyone would be going flat out. It's tough to pass here because there is really only one line, so the key to success will be finding a way to pass on the outside. This track is also challenging because it is the only all-concrete track that we race on, and it's very bumpy, which makes it feel like you're going over seams on a highway. I think night racing is great, especially during this time of year, because the temperature will be cooler, making it easier on the drivers and the equipment. We got the chance to test here earlier, and I think we're in solid shape for the race, as we were able to find a good baseline setup. We closed the gap in the point standings a bit last week in Kansas. Hopefully, we'll be able to put the Marlboro Team Penske car near the top in Nashville, as well."
GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"The degree of difficulty at Nashville Superspeedway is very high, especially for a 1.3-mile oval. It's hard to get the car working well to go flat out, especially in traffic. The concrete surface increases that degree of difficulty, because it makes the track more slippery and bumpy. The good thing about this track is that the conditions get better and the speeds get higher as the weekend goes on. I think the test here was crucial, because we're working with a completely new car this year. It's important that we do our homework, and I think we drew a lot of benefit being able to work on the race setup for the Marlboro Team Penske car during our test in Nashville. I'm really looking forward to next weekend, it should be an exciting race."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"We just finished two days of testing in Nashville, and we're happy with the progress that we made. The track is the only concrete surfaced track that we race on, and it was good to get the track time to prepare. We had two main goals at the beginning of the season. One was to win Indy and the other was to win the championship. We fell short at Indy, but we're in reach of the championship. We're second in points behind Tony (Kanaan), and our focus now is to win the championship. The team has given me cars that can win races at every track that we have been to. We're at the halfway point in the season now, and we have a great opportunity in front of us. If we can keep winning races, we'll be right there at the end."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Nashville is a different race than normal. It's an engineering challenge over the others. We opted out of the testing, so unlike other races we'll be starting from square one. Country music definitely isn't my thing, but I love to swing around Nashville Superspeedway, so hopefully we'll be fast right out of the box."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"We need to come here and try to be competitive. The main thing we've got to do is to start finishing races, running all day and collecting a little more points than we have been. I just want to stay out there all day and get as much experience as I can. Night races underneath the lights are fun. You don't get to do it that much in the year, so having one or two, you really look forward to them."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Nashville is a lot different than any of the ones I've been to. It's concrete. It's a little bit bumpy. It's not quite a 1.5-mile, so it's not a short oval, but it's not a medium one, either. It's kind of it's own unique oval, so I think it was very valuable for us to come here and get a little experience on it before the race. I've only run three IRL races, two in the night and one in the day. I haven't won the night ones, but I won the one day one, so I guess I've got to try to win a night one now. It's fun. I do enjoy racing at night. As long as you don't have any shadow spots on the track, it's just about the same as daytime for us."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion):
"I like going to race at Nashville. We've had some success there with a sixth and a third the last two years. I think both times we had a car that was capable of winning but had a problem each time. They definitely have one of the coolest trophies of any of the tracks we run at. That Gibson guitar is great. I'd love to have one of those hanging on my wall as a trophy. The track itself is tough. It's not more demanding, physically, but you really have to pay attention. It's a little bumpy. Being made of concrete, it has quite a bit of grip, which is good, but as the evening goes on, the rubber that has been scrubbed off tends to start building up in the high line, so you have to be careful. We'll have to wait and see how we do this year. It will be a good race, for sure."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, IndyCar Series points leader):
"Any time you are fast in a test, you are going to feel pretty good going back for the race. But, we still have a lot of things to learn there. The concrete is a different than asphalt, and it's a little bumper, but it's a fun track to drive. The test was my first time there, and the series is so competitive, so the whole Team 7-Eleven will need to work hard when we get back to Nashville to give us a fast car for qualifying and the race. Scoring points for the championship is very important, but the main thing is winning races. If you get the most points out of the race, that is how you extend your lead and grow your advantage. Right now, we're concentrating on winning races but being smart to evaluate the situations that we have and make the best out of it if you can't win."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"The Nashville Open Test was my first time running at the Nashville track. We headed down for testing, but it started raining, and the test had to be pushed back for a few hours. It ended up being a good thing that it rained, because we got to run under the lights, which helps us prepare for the upcoming night race. The Firestone Indy 200 will be a fairly close race. The cars you're going to see running at the front will depend mostly on who has the best setup for the track. The setup we used during testing worked really well, so we're looking to take that setup into the race weekend, and hopefully be able to qualify toward the front of the grid. So far, it looks like we're on the right path to have a really good run at Nashville."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"It's been a challenging season so far this year. We've led a bunch of laps and been in contention to win at a lot of tracks, but things just haven't fallen our way, yet. With the cars that Team Target gives us each week, there's no doubt that we'll win some races, and soon. Our test in Nashville went very well, and I'm excited about next weekend. We ran competitive laps in testing, and I think we have as good a chance as anyone to win here. The track is pretty smooth, and it's a very nice facility. We'll keep digging and give it our best shot there next week."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion):
"Racing under the lights is always an exciting night in Nashville. Nashville is a very unique track configuration and length. It is demanding from a setup perspective, as well as from a physical aspect. As a driver, we'll pull close to 4.5 g's in the corners. Firestone does so much for our team, and the entire IRL, that it is great to be able to put on a great show for all of the Firestone employees and the many other fans in the Nashville area."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"Nashville is another track that is going to be new to me. We had a very good test there, especially as far as our race setup goes, probably our best so far this year. We got a lot of laps and a lot of full-tank runs, and we are really happy about what we learned. It is a very interesting track because it is a concrete surface. Grip is not a problem, at least not for us. It makes the track look a little bit unusual, too. Especially at night. We have had a pretty good car for qualifying everywhere we have gone. Now it's time to take advantage of our good starting position, if we can do it again at Nashville, and make it work to our advantage on race day. We will need to take good car of our tires, make sure our race setup is good and play a good fuel strategy."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"We had a good test at Nashville, and we learned an awful lot about the Corteco Special. I haven't been here for a couple of years, and the track feels real good. It's the same from what I remember from a couple of years ago. The whole Corteco crew is looking forward to another 'Saturday Night Fight.' I'm excited about coming here and racing. I'm pretty comfortable where we're at with the car. Every track we run in the IndyCar Series is unique. Nashville is unique because of the concrete and the configuration, so we're making the adjustments that we need to, and we'll be ready to go racing."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I hadn't been around Nashville before we tested there. It's definitely different. It's white, not like your typical track. We worked on both qualifying simulations and race simulations during the Open Test, but predominately race simulations, because, obviously, that's most important on a race weekend. You've got to establish a good baseline here because it's only a two-day event. The good thing about having three cars is that you can have three different setups on each car, and if one seems to be working better than another, you can go down that route."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We were able to test at Nashville. We have pretty good information for the race, and a good baseline to start with for the setup of the car. Tire wear is going to be key for the race, because of the different pavement with Nashville being concrete pavement. That is going to be hard on the tires. Otherwise, we finished well in the last race at Kansas City, and we just need to keep doing the same things and hopefully bring home a better result in Nashville."