LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 12, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the Firestone Indy 200 on Saturday, July 20 at Nashville Superspeedway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place July 19, with final practice and...
LEBANON, Tenn., Friday, July 12, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing League drivers about the Firestone Indy 200 on Saturday, July 20 at Nashville Superspeedway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place July 19, with final practice and the race July 20 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): "The track is a nice facility. The biggest difference about the track is that it is concrete and the only one like that for this year. With the amount of downforce that the cars run and the restrictions of the wing, it will be tight at the top of the field. We tried some different things, and we moved in the right direction." (About night racing): "I think they should all be night races; it's cooler. With the extreme summer temperatures, it makes it more of a comfortable environment for fans and teams. (About three races in the next four weeks): "It's a critical time. There's a lot going on, and it is important to keep finishing at the front and collecting points toward the championship."
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The CURB Records team is excited to come to Nashville for the Firestone Indy 200. I'm hoping to continue and even improve upon my success here last year. It would be great for us to have our first win of the season in (team co-owner) Mike Curb's hometown. It's always a goal to make your sponsor proud, and in this case, Mike's not only a sponsor, but also a partner and friend."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner, Indy Racing League points leader): "I had a good test at Nashville at the end of last year, and my teammate, Gil (de Ferran), tested there this week. The air temperature and track temperature during race weekend will be warmer than when I tested, but the good thing is that Gil and I share data so we should be in pretty good shape. We're going to approach Nashville the same way we have the other new tracks, which is to use what we've learned at the test as a baseline and follow our game plan on race weekend to make sure we're ready for the race. This will be the first time we've raced on a concrete oval track, and it's a night race, so it will still be a challenge for both the drivers and engineers. We're more than halfway through the season, and we're still first in the IRL championship standings. However, it isn't over until the last checkered flag drops. We need to maintain our focus and continue to score points."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "I like Nashville. It has a lot of grip, more so than the other short tracks. I like going back to running a night race because then I don't have to get up early in the morning. (Coming to Nashville after winning July 7 at Kansas): "It doesn't change a lot because that win is behind us. We have to concentrate on winning the next race for the Harrah's team."
MARK DISMORE (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Hopefully we surprise ourselves a little at Nashville and finish off what should have been a great result at Kansas if it weren't for the gremlins. We're getting a good handle on our downforce now and starting to work a lot better together. It's still a little bit of a disadvantage for us going to Nashville because we haven't tested there together. As a concrete track, it can be a hard to get a hold of, but I'm sure Firestone will have a great tire for us. Again, one of the nice things for me here in this situation with Team Menard is that I worked with our engineer last season so we have a history and can look back at what worked in last year's race, and last year we had a really good car at Nashville."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "After testing at Nashville Superspeedway last week, I can say that this will definitely be one of the most physical tracks that we'll race on this season. We are pulling over 5 g's at both ends of the track for a sustained amount of time so it really is tough on the body. In addition, the track is very bumpy, which makes it more physically demanding, and I'm sure the heat will play a factor, as well. But all of this just makes it more of a challenge, which I always enjoy. The track has good grip, and there are a couple of grooves, so there should be some exciting racing. The layout and characteristics will require a mixture of horsepower and good handling. Our test went well there last week, and we're still in second in the points, so hopefully we'll have a good race and stay up top in the points."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "Nashville has been tricky in the past and will remain so. However, having a teammate in Robbie Buhl will help get us up to speed properly. The preparation will be up to par, but we still need to work on communication and blending our new team into one cohesive unit."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing League champion, defending event champion): "I'm looking forward to running on the only concrete track on the Indy Racing League schedule. My team and I have had pretty good luck running on concrete, with a first at Nashville in 2001 and two seconds at Dover, in 1998 and 1999. I've got a beautiful Gibson guitar and would like to obtain another spectacular trophy. It's a race that we very much want to win. Nashville has great race fans, and we're looking forward to putting on a good show." (About his season so far): "We're trying as hard as we all can to turn our season around. My Coors Light team and I would like to get ourselves in the top five in the championship points standing. We moved to 10th after Kansas and would like to continue moving forward."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 54 Norwalk/Parsons Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Nashville was my best finish last year with Cahill Racing when we brought it home in fourth. The same goes for Greg Beck when they finished second last year with Billy Boat. July 20th is my birthday. Only good things should happen for us. I have always loved Nashville as a city, ever since I went to Vanderbilt back in 1991, and I was very excited when they announced our race there last year."
GREG RAY (1999 Indy Racing League champion): "The Nashville track is a nice facility. With our first year there, the personnel at the track and all the fans had this wonderful open-arms feeling toward all of us. I sat on pole there and led the first part of the race. So I'm really looking forward to going back and having a much better race this time out."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion): "Nashville Superspeedway is a very challenging driver's track. We are pulling about 5 g's on sticker tires so it makes having absolute concentration and focus absolute priority. With it being the only concrete track we race on, it is a challenge not only for the Delphi team but everyone in the garage to fine-tune the setup just perfectly. Testing is critical in developing the correct setup. Our testing got shortened by the rain, but we did get some valuable information in the laps we completed and are looking forward to the race." (About night racing): "Night racing is something I enjoy a great deal, so I am really looking forward to the upcoming race."