IRL: Nashville pre-race quotes

LEBANON, Tenn., Monday, July 16, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy acing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Harrah's Indy 200 on July 21 at Nashville Superspeedway (listed in alphabetical order): DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 11...

LEBANON, Tenn., Monday, July 16, 2001 - Quotes from selected Indy acing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Harrah's Indy 200 on July 21 at Nashville Superspeedway (listed in alphabetical order):

DONNIE BEECHLER (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I haven't tested there, but I'm really excited about going to Nashville. It's another opportunity to run for A.J. Foyt, and that's great for me. I have learned so much in these last few weeks working with him. He's like a big sponge because he has absorbed so much experience throughout his career. If I can just squeeze out a little bit of that knowledge, I'll be a better race driver for it." (About approach to race): "I am going to approach this weekend the way I did Kansas. I just have to run as hard as I can and not worry about crashing the car. If I don't run hard, I can't give A.J. the right feedback so he knows what to do. It worked for us in Kansas - I got my best finish so far with A.J.'s team, so hopefully we can improve on that for Nashville. I know A.J. wants to do well there because Harrah's is sponsoring the race. I believe the team is capable of winning, and that would be a great race to do it."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The CURB Records team is excited to come in to Nashville, being the hometown of our sponsor and being a new racetrack. We feel we have equal footing with everyone else since it is a new track, and we've actually had the opportunity to test there. It poses a lot of challenges with the concrete surface. It's definitely a lot different than what we're used to running on so it'll have it's own set of challenges for the drivers and the teams. Even though we had a top-10 finish at Kansas City, it was a pretty disappointing race for us, so we're looking to rebound in a positive way and really be one of the teams and cars that seriously contend for the race win."

BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (About the challenge of racing on concrete): "The biggest challenge of driving on a concrete surface is the transitions. Some sections are smoother while others are rougher, which causes the car to be unsettled. The transitions present the biggest challenge to getting the car set up properly." (About Nashville Superspeedway): "The track is a combination of the Dover and Colorado Springs, although it is unique and like no other place in the country." (About the grip of a concrete track): "In some instances, concrete can actually give you more grip than asphalt. In the end, I think you would rather have the consistency instead of overall grip. You can usually get the grip back through car setup." (About the impact of so much testing and racing in recent months, particularly on new tracks): "The new tracks are fun to go to. They take out the monotony and add new challenges to the schedule. For the most part, it has been good to stay on the road. It is great from a driver's perspective because you are able to keep honed in the car. On the other hand, I think a lot of the crews face burnout since they have been going continuously for so long without much of a break."

AIRTON DARE (No. 88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year): "Running at another brand-new track is great for us. It is another world-class facility, for sure. Right now, I would say our main goal is to continue with our consistency. Finishing races, maintaining our top-10 status - that is important. Not too many points are between us and the other teams from number six to 11 or 12. The 1-800-BAR NONE crew has been giving me a great car to work with all season long. Last week's race showed how good our setup and engine program is. Starting from last place and reaching as high as second place can't be done without a neutral car and the power to push you up there. I predict another good showing, and I always like to run the night races."

SARAH FISHER (No. 15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It helps a lot being able to go to a track knowing which direction it goes. We have a starting point that is a lot closer to what we will race with then what we would have had without testing. Testing is key to success in racing." (Did you like the track during testing?): "Nashville is similar to the Kentucky track, besides the fact that it has a bit tighter radius. It is a wonderful facility." (Do you like night races?): "Racing at night is old school for me. Night racing is where I grew up. Besides, us college kids can' get up early. Everything speeds up at night. We will definitely put on a great show under the lights."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, series points leader): "It's a nice track, I really like it. It's going to be tough to pass, but it will be a fast race. It is very line-sensitive. You are going to have to hold your line to keep your momentum up. I think it will be really exciting. It's unlike any other track I've ever raced on. I think it will be helpful if you can qualify up front, because I think it's going to be a fast race. I'm really glad it is going to be a night race. I think it will be great for the drivers, teams and the fans."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I am excited to be going into a new market and getting out onto the concrete. It changes things up for us. It appears that it's going to be a fast track, although I think setup will be the key, and with my guys, that means we will have a shot at victory, which will be tremendous to do that for Firestone on their tires in their backyard. We are motivated to get that first win."

ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Harrah's is sponsoring this race so it is a really important event for us. We will have the Harrah's executives attending, and we want to give them a good show. We've led the last two races but just haven't finished as well as we wanted. So the focus will be on winning this race. I just saw the new schedule for this event, and it appears that the Silver Bullet cars have canceled their race there. I feel sorry for the fans who were planning to see that race, but from a selfish point of view, it is better for the Indy cars. We won't have to worry about the different kind of rubber that those cars lay down. They run a different brand of tire from the Indy cars, and the different compound makes the track pretty greasy and slippery until it wears off. So from that standpoint, it's good for the Indy cars." (About the track): "I don't know too much about Nashville because we haven't tested there. I know it is a concrete track, but I just hope it is not like Dover Downs because that was where I had the worst accident of my career. The suspension broke on my car, and I hit the wall hard. But I did hear that this track is not as rough as Dover was."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Sam Schmidt , A.J. Foyt