IRL: Nashville: Pre-race quotes

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Nashville Superspeedway is special for me because it's where I won my first IndyCar (Series) race. Since the track is concrete, the grip and setup are really different...

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Nashville Superspeedway is special for me because it's where I won my first IndyCar (Series) race. Since the track is concrete, the grip and setup are really different from the rest of the tracks we run on. The track surface is quite bumpy because the concrete lays in sections, so your car bounces around the track a lot, which can be challenging. Nashville is one of the best tracks for restarts. You'll see a lot of overtakes because you're headed slightly downhill going into Turn 1. Even better, the race winner gets a one-off, hand-painted Gibson guitar."

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I'm looking forward to getting to Nashville and having a chance to experience the racetrack there. This weekend will be easier for the Panther Racing guys because we've already developed a chemistry and now the focus is just on racing. We are testing in Michigan (July 13), so we're way ahead of where we were at Kansas Speedway."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Compared to Kansas and Texas, you have a lot more to gain at Nashville from car handling than from speed. It's the only concrete track we race on, so it presents a new challenge for everyone. I've raced there twice in the (Menards) Infiniti Pro Series, so I have a good idea of what to expect. Driving in a night race in an IndyCar (Series car) will be different I'm sure, but I'm working really well with my engineering group, and I think it will be a good track for us."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Firestone Indy 200 should be very exciting. Nashville is a concrete track, so it takes time to lay rubber down. In the past, the abrasive surface has affected the tire wear. However, with the smaller fuel tanks this season, the window between pit stops will be shorter, so tire wear should become less of an issue. The fans are great, and I hope they come out to watch us, as it's always a good show. Marlboro Team Penske has been giving it their all. We finished third last year, and I'm hoping for another strong finish this year."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "It's been a bit of a struggle for us lately, but the Target team is working very hard to turn things around. Nashville Superspeedway is a good track for us. I started on pole and finished second there last year, and we're hoping that we can have that kind of success again this year. These two-day events are pretty cool for both the drivers and the fans. I really like these night events. There is a lot that goes on Friday to prepare for the race, and there isn't any room for mistakes. It's important to keep your focus, but come Saturday, it's all about putting on a good show and going for it."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "We have been in the hunt the past four races, and I am hoping that Nashville is the place that we get that little break we need to get to the front. The series is so competitive that an extra second on a pit stop or getting through traffic on the racetrack can mean the difference between finishing first or fourth. The team has been doing a great job, and considering we only have six races under our belts, I am really pleased with where we are at right now."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to racing at Nashville. The day that the IndyCar Series raced at Nashville in 2003, I was in surgery getting my back done, so I'm hoping to have a lot more fun this year. It will certainly be another new experience for me. My lap total there is six, and I did all those in my Acura MDX after the media luncheon there a couple weeks back. I haven't even been able to watch a past Nashville race yet, so that is something I'll do before we get there, but I'm looking forward to it. Nashville has become my home here in the (United) States, and I'll have a lot of friends and family coming, so I'm looking forward to it."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "I wasn't there last year, but it's a fun track. Because of the concrete, it's a little bumpy, and you always have to look for the best part of the track. The car has to be working well over those bumps. It's the only track I remember which is 1.3 miles, in between our more standard distances, so the car has to be handling really well. I'm looking forward to going back."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to the race in Nashville. I really like the track there, and we had a good run going last year until we punctured a tire. Nashville is unique because of the concrete surface. The groove is pretty tight, only one to one-and-a-half cars wide. It's not as wide as most of the tracks we race at, so that means there's less side-by-side racing. This is the style of racing I like. All four of our Andretti Green cars have a shot to win every weekend, so we want to make the most of it. The XM Satellite Radio team's focus is on race wins, not the points. We are going to Nashville to win."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I really like Nashville Superspeedway because it is somewhere between a short track and a superspeedway. You need a good handling car that works well in traffic to win. Executing quick, clean pit stops will also be important. I've led laps every time I've raced there, just not the last lap, so hopefully, I can change that this year and bring Marlboro Team Penske another win."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Team 7-Eleven is taking everything race by race, looking to maximize our points for the championship. We had a good run last year at Nashville until we got caught in a long caution period. We were on a different pit strategy, so that put me back in the field a bit. But, I led the race and had a good car, so I don't see why I shouldn't have a strong run this weekend."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): ''This is another track that is new to me, but I'm really enjoying these night events. I'm looking to get a good result in Nashville to set the tone for the next couple of weeks. The Target team has been working steadily and very meticulously, but we just haven't been able to catch a break. Sometimes it's about having a bit of luck to go with the rest of the package.''

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "This will be my first race at Nashville Superspeedway, and I am hoping to do well. We are entering the second half of the season, and it is important to get good results. I would like to finish the race in a good position. We were not able to finish two of the last three races, and I am hoping that we have used up all of our bad luck. I am ready to turn things around at Nashville."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "That Kansas race was something special. Buddy (Rice) and I were running inches apart, and one mistake would cost us the whole race. I respect him a lot, and he respects me. That's what it is all about. It's the teamwork, so he won and I was second. It doesn't really matter for the team if I won or Buddy won. It was a great team effort, and everybody is happy. I feel good about coming to Nashville now. I think we have shown that we can win races. That track is good for racing, and I expect us to be battling at the front again."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "To have that 1-2 finish at Kansas was great for the Rahal Letterman team. It shows that we can work together and produce a great effort as a team. It was exciting to win at Kansas and in such great fashion with (teammate) Vitor (Meira). That was a great race for Vitor, too. It's a huge boost for him and our team overall. It was good for our Pioneer/Argent team to come back and win again. I thought we were close to that at Texas and others had a different idea, but I think we are in position now to battle for the championship. It's a tough stretch of races now, and we need to be prepared to race at the front of every race. We tested tires at Nashville during the month of May, and I think we have a good setup for that track. It's different than other tracks with the concrete surface, but the racing should be good there. I think Vitor and I will be set up for that place."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm really excited for the Nashville race. The last couple of years, the Delphi car hasn't been the fastest car in qualifying, but we have been able to turn it into one of the best cars throughout the course of the race. We've gotten the Delphi car into the top three in both Nashville races. The crowd is always strong and very supportive, and this year they are going to see an action-packed evening."

TORA TAGAKI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "After two disappointing races in Richmond and Kansas City, we spent some time in Indianapolis as a team and believe we've discovered a few things that should hopefully make the No. 12 Pioneer car much more competitive beginning with the Nashville event. As a result, we're looking forward to the race this weekend and fighting our way back into the standings. Nashville is certainly a unique venue and quite different from most any other track that we visit. We enjoyed a strong qualifying effort there last year there and a top-10 finish in the race. We hope for a similar result on Saturday night."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I am delighted to be back in the IRL with Access Motorsports for the rest of this season. I have already had my seat fitting and the team is very committed to achieving some good results in the nine races we have left to run. I am very excited to run the Honda-powered (Panoz) G Force chassis for the rest of the year, and I would like to thank Greg Ray very much for this opportunity. I'm totally re-energized and focused on winning the (Bombardier) Rookie of the Year title."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Nashville is a difficult racetrack because it is not as easily 'two-wide' as some of the other tracks in the IndyCar Series. I think Andretti Green Racing needs to continue to work hard on its race cars. I think some teams are starting to close the gap towards us, and we have to raise our game a little bit. I certainly think the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew is up to the challenge."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing