IRL: Nazareth: Friday practice report, quotes

Castroneves Leads Opening Day of Practice at Nazareth NAZARETH, Pa, Friday, Aug. 27, 2004 -- Helio Castroneves topped the speed charts in both practice sessions to lead the opening day of practice for the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth ...

Castroneves Leads Opening Day of Practice at Nazareth

NAZARETH, Pa, Friday, Aug. 27, 2004 -- Helio Castroneves topped the speed charts in both practice sessions to lead the opening day of practice for the Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway.

Castroneves, the defending race champion, turned the fastest lap of the day, 20.3179 seconds, 165.667 mph, in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone during the afternoon session.

He was followed by Vitor Meira, who turned the second-fastest lap of the day, 20.3629 seconds, 165.301, in the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone. IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan was third in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone with a lap of 20.3670 seconds, 165.267.

MBNA Pole Qualifying for the Firestone Indy 225 is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. (EDT). A live webcast by the IMS Radio Network can be heard exclusively on www.indyracing.com/indycar.

TOP COMBINED PRACTICE SPEEDS OF THE DAY Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed 1. 3 Helio Castroneves D/T/F 165.667 mph 2. 17 Vitor Meira G/H/F 165.301 mph 3. 11 Tony Kanaan D/H/F 165.267 mph 4. 6 Sam Hornish Jr. D/T/F 165.085 mph 5. 10 Darren Manning G/T/F 164.747 mph

FIRESTONE INDY 225 POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The test obviously helped a lot. I'm extremely happy about the performance of Marlboro Team Penske. We just have to keep working on it. As Tony (Kanaan) said, it seems the horsepower seems to be pretty equal. I don't think they'll have many surprises for tomorrow, but our team has a good setup, and I'm happy so far. (About Nazareth): "I've had up and down moments. Last year was the perfect moment. I thought the track owed me for a long time, and it finally came last year. It's a shame. It's a great track. It's a lot of fun when you have a great car. It's not as much fun when you don't have a great car, but that's what makes this place so special. A lot of people will miss it."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We were just trying to get the setup right. We were working a lot on race stuff, and not really worrying about qualifying a lot. We've proved that we can lead a lot of laps, but it seems that we've struggled towards the end of a race a few times. Since the Milwaukee race, I've been working with Dario (Franchitti) a lot closer. He seems to dominate the 1-mile ovals a lot more than anybody else on our team, so we're really working together." (About Vitor Meira): "The guy has proven how fast he can go. He needs a break. He's been close so many times. I think Vitor has a higher chance than anyone else, even his teammate (Buddy Rice) and us. I really hope he can do it for many reasons. He deserves a victory this year. He's been close, he's been leading laps, starting in the front. I think he's going to be a big contender." (About Nazareth): "I have good and bad memories. I remember 1998 and '99. I started dead last in both races here in Indy Lights. Actually, I started to turn around the championship against my buddy (Helio Castroneves) here. It's a fun little race track, very challenging. You see a lot of people struggling. I think they all agree with me here. It's one of the most difficult tracks we race at. This is a driver's race track. It doesn't matter how much horsepower you have, you can still be competitive."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Centrix Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "To learn this track really quick, the car must be really good, otherwise you just dig yourself a hole. With Buddy's test here last weekend, as soon as I arrived here, the car was perfect. We learned some tricks, and the car was there. The rest was just me learning the track. I've never raced here, but I've watched all the tapes, and the race is definitely different. It's tough to overtake here, and from my perspective, it's one big turn going into (Turn) three and coming out of (Turn) 2. It's one big turn. You're constantly busy. It's going to be tough to overtake, and it's what we're mainly focusing on. We're always very strong on short courses in qualifying, but in racing, we're missing something. We have to improve a little bit on that, but I'm sure the Centrix car is going to be there, just because of the amount of work everybody on the team is doing."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car. This morning we did one qualifying run, which ended up being pretty quick, and then, we were able to work on the race setup for the rest of the day. It's nice to be towards the top of the speed chart, and I'm definitely looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. I'm also really happy with the race setup. The car is handling well both in traffic and when I'm running alone."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/ Toyota/Firestone): "We had some good runs today getting the No. 10 Toyota /Panoz G Force set up for the race. We ran through one set of our Firestone tires right to the end of their usefulness. We put on fresh tires right at the end there, but the yellow flag upset the best lap. The Target team has put together a really good race car, and I'm feeling good about our ability to break into that top three this weekend. Now we'll just concentrate on qualifying well to improve our chances."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing Pioneer/Argent Panoz G Force/ Honda/Firestone): "We were going through all of our setups today. Everything was very good. Today was a practice day and we were able to work on many things. This is the first three-day weekend that we have had in awhile, and you get more time to work on things. Everything is very similar to when we tested here a few weeks ago. So coming off the trailer this morning was not a lot of different for us. It's nice to have both cars up front again, and I expect that for Saturday and qualifying too. Obviously, with the tightness of the track, we need to start towards the front and stay there. But I'm pleased how the day went for us."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (No. 5 Quaker State Telmex Tecate Panoz G Force/Honda/ Firestone): "It was a good day. The car has been good, which makes me pretty happy because we didn't test here like a lot of teams. We have a good baseline, and I think we are looking good for the whole weekend. It is nice to be back at Nazareth. I have been in many races here going back to Indy Lights. It is nice to be here for the last race."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It wasn't a bad day. The track is a bit different from when we tested here, but we worked through some basic stuff and are making progress. We'll know more tomorrow when we go qualify."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "In all honesty, it was a good day. It's a difficult track for me with three completely unique corners. There's not much banking and it's bumpy, so considering how we went at the test, this isn't too bad. We've still got some work to do, but certainly the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car is competitive right now."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We've been working predominantly on race setup, and it's been a bit more of a struggle than expected. But then again, we have been trying out a variety of setups. Our biggest challenge at the moment is Turn 2. We just can't seem to find the right balance there for our Toyota/Panoz G Force at the moment. The Target team has made gains in other places though, and we're going to build on that. The good thing about these three day events is that we have more time to try a bunch of things and that's what we've been up to today."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The car was pretty good right off the truck. I just needed time on the track because we didn't test here. We made a few little adjustments to pick up speed. I think we did pretty good for not testing here."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Buddy Rice , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing