IRL: Nashville: Race quotes

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): “I was concerned, but I knew we were strong, and I just needed to hold (Sam Hornish Jr.) up, and that is what I did. We did struggle in the beginning, and we were struggling a little...

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): “I was concerned, but I knew we were strong, and I just needed to hold (Sam Hornish Jr.) up, and that is what I did. We did struggle in the beginning, and we were struggling a little bit in the end, too. To capitalize, I had to finish in the top three, and they gave me the win, so I’ll take it. Everybody was driving aggressive, including myself. I saw some crazy stuff going on, but races like this where it is tough to pass, people race hard.”

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): “It was the last lap, and I knew if I didn't make it work that I would have to get way out of the throttle and that someone might get a run on me, so I wanted to save it. I just didn't get the job done, the Marlboro Team Penske guys did an awesome job for me in the pits and made sure I got in and out, and I don't think we lost a position, at least, from anyone that took tires and fuel. It does a lot for us, none of us got depressed, and none of us got down in the dumps and thought we didn't have a chance to come back. We are just trying to turn it around piece-by-piece and get a little more all the time. It's coming in our direction but just not quite there yet.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): “I had a little push, and unfortunately, my gears were a little bit different. I tried to go a little different than Sam, and it paid off for him. But it was one hell of a race. Some of those guys are pretty aggressive, but that’s what makes things exciting. We made it to the end, and we are happy with a third. My guys in the pit stops, they are awesome. I love those guys. I believe it was a car handling (race), but we can not take the hard work away from Toyota, so hopefully step-by-step we are getting closer.”

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): “It’s just a disappointing result. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam boys did a great job in the pits and the strategy was good. I just got together with (Buddy) Rice and I’m disappointed from that standpoint. But, the guys did a good tonight – a very good job.” (Are you surprised you didn’t wreck during the contact with Buddy?): “You know if you hit the wall that you’re going to lose some serious points, so you just try and keep it off there. Maybe it was more luck than judgment.”

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer Argent Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): “We raced side-by-side at Kansas for many laps with no problems. Obviously, (Dan Wheldon) didn’t want me to go to the inside, and he pushed my car onto the apron. We touched. We should have had a solid finish tonight, but there are some people who think otherwise. I think there should have been racing room and they didn’t want to give any. That’s the way it goes. I think (teammate) Vitor Meira and I had the strongest cars, but the best cars don’t always win, like tonight. We’ll regroup and get prepared for Milwaukee and Michigan. I know we’ll be right at the front again at those places. It’s a disappointment because this car has been good here and in Texas and we lost valuable points with unfortunate incidents. Vitor was so fast, and he had the car tonight. He had some mechanical issues, and we were in position to win. The IRL did a good job in sweeping marbles out of the way on the caution flags. That helped racing side-by-side tonight.”

BRYAN HERTA: (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): “I don't know (what happened), two guys went side-by-side up ahead of me in that pack. Everyone checked up and slowed down. When I came up on them, I just lost the front. And once I got up in the marbles, I slid right up into the wall.”

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): “These guys really needed and deserved this finish (fifth). When the chips are down, you need to be patient and not do anything drastic. It was pretty busy that last 50 laps, and we had a few close calls, but really wanted to keep the Menards/Johns Manville car out of trouble. The Panther Racing guys did an amazing job in the pits. We moved up the grid on every stop. Our Chevrolet has been this good all season. We've just run into a lot of bad luck.”

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): “We had a misunderstanding in the pits, and we made some mistakes. Everyone here knew the Centrix Honda was the car to beat. (Teammate) Buddy (Rice) and I ran away from the rest of the pack, but things don’t always go your way. Everyone is human, and you make mistakes. This Rahal Letterman team is good, and we’ll be back at the front of the field again. I’m disappointed of course. Again, Honda won and that is very good. We just thought we could do it for them. I got stuck in fourth gear on the last 20 laps and couldn’t hold off the field. I was running in fourth on the restart, and then they drove around me. Overall, we lost the race tonight, and I am disappointed about that.”

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): “It was so up and down. I had such a great car. I could run wherever I wanted. I was just taking my time. The Toyota has been strong. In the race, I could hold my own with anybody. I was going high. It was tough to pass. You had to have a good car on the high line, and the high line is where we've really found some speed in all these races. With 20 laps to go, I went on the outside of everybody. It was great. I thought I was going to come out in the lead if we had kept going.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): “Considering some of the challenges we overcame throughout the race, I’ll take the eighth-place finish. I realized that I had lost my clutch during that first yellow. The Target crew did a good job trying to get me out fast on each pit stop but we lost some precious positions. I had a fair amount of understeer in traffic but the Toyota/Panoz G Force improved throughout the race and we were able to race when we needed to. We took a gamble not to change our tires on the third stop and I made up a few positions that way, but on the last restart I could see that the left rear was getting down to the cords so we came in for new tires. All in all we’re happy with our effort. We’ll take all the positives from this weekend and get set to improve on this result in Milwaukee.”

MARK TAYLOR (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): “Absolutely happy to finish, that was the main game this weekend. Of course, with a new team, it's always going to be a little bit tougher. We've got a fair bit to work on for next race, but it was a great finish. We just had a bit of luck on our side, and if we just had a little more time, we could have been even further up. So we're delighted to get a finish, and delighted with the result.”

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): “I had a good car, and we had a good strategy on old tires. We didn’t change tires on our second pit stop and moved up to the front. We were running fourth, but I was really suffering on the restarts. I don’t know what happened, but every time on a restart I was losing positions dramatically. We have to investigate what the problem is, because it was pretty obvious. A few times I anticipated the restart, and I still got beat. There were also a few accidents in front of me where I lost some positions, but we lost most of our positions on the restarts. It was really a frustrating day.”

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): “First of all, I am very happy to finish this race. The last three races were unlucky races. We had a few big problems tonight because I lost the radio after 30 laps. I was able to finish the race and not have contact with anybody which is very good because at this type of racetrack, it is difficult to go two wide. I also had a pit stop mistake, but the rest of the pit stops were really good. I think the team did a very good job and me also. When we lost the radio, it was very lonely and very difficult to drive on the restarts. I was able to finish in the top 10 which is very good."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 20 Patrick Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “ Unfortunately, leaving the pits, we broke another axle. It's very unfortunate. We'll diagnose the problem and find out exactly what's going on. It's very unfortunate because during the last pit stop, we made some changes to the car, and everything was starting to come to us. It's really too bad because the Patrick Racing Stacker 2 Chevy was getting real good and strong, and we were looking forward to the end of the race.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “Vitor (Meira) went under me going into (Turn) 3. I was just respecting the leader and giving him a little room, but there is no second groove here. I went a little higher and tried to bring it back down. It just wasn't going to happen.”

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): “I just got a little bit high as someone got inside of me. At this track, once you try and bring it down low and wait for someone to get by, I became a passenger. I was going slow, and the car drives itself once it gets high”

CLEANEVENT 100 POST-RACE QUOTES:

THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “The race will be on my birthday next Saturday, so I'm looking forward. The team did a good job. They gave me a great start this weekend. We were quickest all the sessions that we had here. I think I did the easiest part, I just drove the car around.” (About his 173 consecutive laps led): “That's a results that everyone's done together. I think the team has been working really hard at the shop. I have been working very hard myself, working out a lot. I'm just ready. I'm looking for an IndyCar Series seat next year, so I still have to do my best everyday. The other thing I like to do, I like to be on the edge.” (Are you ready for the IndyCar Series?): “Pretty much. I'm still taking my time. I know it will come. I just keep trying to do my best every day, and know that it will come soon. My focus in my life right now, my priority, is still the championship in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. As soon as we get it, we can start to think about the IndyCar Series.”

PAUL DANA: (No. 91 Ethanol Hemelgarn Johnson Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “The second-to-last restart, I nailed it and we had a race. We were side by side in (Turns) 1 and 2, and I had (Thiago Medeiros) pinned on the bottom. I thought I could start working the high side, and we had a yellow, again. I kind of messed up the last one, and that was it. The Ethanol car was strong. We’re proving that. At least we were able to keep (Medeiros) honest. Just a little bit short again.”

JESSE MASON (No. 3 Segway Human Transportation Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “It was a good race. Coming in, I thought we might struggle a little bit because of our showing at Kansas, but we worked on it all weekend. We were slow in the beginning, but we worked away. (Chief Mechanic) Mo (Larsen), (engineer) Doug (Zister) and all the guys at Brian Stewart Racing did an amazing job to get the car ready for the race. The car was really good in qualifying. Everybody's so close that it was kind of a toss-up between second (place) through fifth. We qualified good, and the car was good in the race. I've got to thank all the guys. We were fighting a bit of a push, but it looked like the other guys were, too. It's too bad we couldn't give Paul (Dana) a run for his money on the last restart, but we'll get them at the next one. I think we'll be really, really good in Milwaukee.” (About racing in Nashville): “I have a lot of hope for that race. I've got to thank the fans, got to thank everybody in Nashville. We did an autograph session last night, and it was unbelievable. It's great down here. Nice weather, and everything's good.”

AL UNSER (No. 2 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “We have just been struggling all week here on the concrete. We just can’t find the grip. We’ve been fighting a push all weekend. I think we finally overcame it in warmup yesterday. We finally got the push out, but I wanted to go a little bit further. I was hoping we could get something better, but it made the car a little loose. We had that spin early, but we were able to come back. I’m glad the Western Union car finished today.”

ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): “This whole weekend, we've had a car that's almost undriveable. In qualifying, it just hung on, and we qualified sixth, but the car went backwards right away, and I just can't drive this thing. You go into Turn 1, and the thing has a lot of push, loose in the middle and push coming off. It's doing both things, so it's hard to adjust the car. I can't do anything with the bars and the weight jacker. It's just embarrassing to be out there more than three seconds off the leader’s pace, and I'm a danger to everyone that's out there. I'm infuriated with the car's setup, and it's something that we need to work on. Obviously, my teammate has it figured out, but two drivers can't drive the same car. I drive a different car. Once my engineer figures that out, we'll be good, but for now, we're just sucking wind, I guess.”

LEONARDO MAIA (No. 33 Skip Barber Racing School Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “We had a great car, and we were running a solid third. I think we would have finished there, maybe. I was just taking it easy on the tires and hoping that with about 20 (laps) to go, the leader’s tires would fall off, and we would be able to close the gap a little bit. The car felt really good. Brian Stewart Racing did a great job with the Skip Barber Racing School car. I'm just real disappointed. There seemed to be some sort of electrical malfunction, some sort of short circuit. While I was coming into the pits, it may have lit the seat on fire, and it just sort of flamed up when I was coming into the pits, so I stopped it. I tried to put out the fire as soon as I could and got out.”

ROSS FONFERKO (No. 22 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “Coming around Turn 2 on the restart, we had a good run going. I was just hoping to finish the race in the position that we were in, in fourth, and maybe make a run at third. I don't know if we had the stuff for second or first, Thiago (Medeiros) or Paul (Dana), but it seemed like Little Al (Unser) might have gotten a little close under my wing, took a little air off, and that was it. It went around. It just seemed like the rear end wasn't there. I tried to get into the throttle a little bit, give it a little bit to the rear, also turn into the slide. I just couldn't collect it back. There was nothing on the wing to get any downforce back.

BILLY ROE (No. 42 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “I think we had a good race. We had a lot of carnage going on in front of us, and we were able to miss it. The Feeding Children Worldwide Dallara just did a great job. I'll tell you, (chief mechanic) Mark (Olson) did a great job putting the car together after we crashed at Kansas last week. We have a new paint job, so kudos to (the crew). They did an excellent job. I'd like to thank Kenn Hardley and Ken Peterson, he's the guy who brought the sponsor. I think we had a good race, the best race the team’s ever had as far as finish, so we'll go on to Milwaukee and see what happens there.”

BRAD POLLARD (No. 64 Team XBOX/Pollard Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): “We think we lost fuel pressure. We're not exactly sure what it was, but the car just died on the restart. We can't say enough about XBox and the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team. We really had a strong run going. We thought we had fourth place pretty easy because we were closing in on the guy, but I think it was a fuel-pressure problem. We will go back and figure it out, get back next week and get after it.”

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dan Wheldon , Sam Schmidt , Skip Barber , Chip Ganassi , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Thiago Medeiros , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing