NAZARETH, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Firestone Indy 225 on Sunday, Aug. 24 at Nazareth Speedway. The event starts Aug. 22 with practice, followed by MBNA Pole Qualifying on Aug. 23 ...
NAZARETH, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Firestone Indy 225 on Sunday, Aug. 24 at Nazareth Speedway. The event starts Aug. 22 with practice, followed by MBNA Pole Qualifying on Aug. 23 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 1998 IndyCara Series champion, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"We have been pretty competitive at Nazareth in the past. In fact, I thought I should have won the race in 2001, but Scott (Dixon) made an economy fuel run and held me off. Now, I'd like to come back and get the victory this year. Nazareth is a different type of track, and it's tough to pass, so qualifying and fuel economy will be very important. We'll need to be good from the start of the weekend. Getting a good race setup will be a key, too. You have to be able to make moves in traffic to get through the field. We have had that before, and I'd like to have that kind of car this time around. We need the points and a good result. We had a good qualifying on a short track like Gateway, and I thought we would have a good finish, too, but we never saw the checkered flag. We need to see it at Nazareth. I think the team and myself are very frustrated right now. However, one thing that is good about Team Rahal is that we are all doing what we need to do, keeping our mind in the game, focusing on the challenges and pushing forward as a team to solve them. I am convinced that we will get to the bottom of the secret regarding how to be competitive in this series. I only hope it will be sooner rather than later. Part of the reason is that we, as a group, are completely new to the formula. We do not have any personnel that have been racing in the IRL IndyCar Series in the past on our team. This, in turn, means that we have no previous track or car setup data from any of the tracks we go to this year. We collect this information as we test and race. Another reason is that we are a one-car team, and compared to a multi-car team, we have no way of collecting the data needed as fast. In a two or three-car team, they need to do one run with their cars, whereas we need two or three runs to get the same data."
ALEX BARRON (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"Nazareth has always been one of my favorite tracks. I won two Toyota Atlantic races there in 1997, and I finished ninth there in '99 for Dan Gurney's CART team. It should be an all-out war on the short track with the kind of racing we've seen lately at the faster tracks. Everybody's in a groove now as the season is in the home stretch. I know the Hollywood crew has given me a good race car the entire time I've been here. Unfortunately, we had problems that put us out of the last two races. I'm sure hoping those kinds of things don't happen in threes. I would count on seeing a great race on Sunday, win, lose, or draw."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Nazareth is probably one of my all-time favorite tracks, in part because I've had some great wins and memories there clinching the Indy Lights championship, but mainly because it's such a sneaky track to drive. You really have to know its nuances and capitalize on the strengths of your car to get around it quickly. We've got extra incentive with the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 to make our mark, especially since I had to sit out last year's race due to a concussion. Seeing the track from the owner's perspective, that day was tough, not because I didn't have faith in the team and Sarah (Fisher), but because it's the one track where being strategic, relentless and experienced means you get to the checkered flag first. It's my kind of racing. It's also close to the home base of Aventis Pharmaceuticals, which is located in Bridgewater, NJ, so we'll have a big crowd there to cheer us on, which always makes it fun."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"I always look forward to running at Nazareth because it's our 'hometown' race. Marlboro Team Penske's performance on short ovals has been pretty good, and we had the opportunity to test there earlier this month, so hopefully we can improve on last year's finish. The championship chase is in the final stretch, so we need to execute on Sunday."
GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"We tested at Nazareth last week and came away with a good baseline setup. The test was very beneficial because we needed to do our homework. We had a solid race there last year, but since we have new equipment this season, we're working from a clean sheet of paper. Marlboro Team Penske has been doing well on the short ovals so far, and hopefully, we'll continue that streak in Nazareth. It's important to stay in contention from here on out because the championship race is so tight."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):
"Nazareth has always been a special place for me. You always remember the big wins in your career, and Nazareth was one of those. We tested out there, and as at most of the places we've been to, we were pretty quick. It's an oval that's almost like a road course with all of the braking and shifting that you do, and I think that will play into my strengths this weekend. We're right there in the points race, but I think that we'll need a couple of wins in the last four races to have a shot at it. The guys that I'm fighting with are all very strong competitors, and it's going to come down to the last race in Texas. I've had a very fun year here at Team Target in the IRL IndyCar Series, and I'm excited about these last four races."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"We look forward to seeing what another week of working with our new engine will bring. We had some fast laps in Kentucky, and we're looking for faster laps in Nazareth. This is the race that I first ran with Dreyer & Reinbold in the No. 24 car, subbing for Robbie Buhl. This week, the No. 23 car is back to race and racing to win at Nazareth Speedway."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"I'm looking forward to racing at Nazareth again. I've been there many times, even going back to when I ran in the Indy Lights series, so I've got a lot of miles there. We had a good test, so we have some data to work with. This year, we have raced at places that I've never been to or just had a day or two of testing at, and the Archipelago/Motorola team has done well. With my experience at Nazareth, I think we can be fast all weekend."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion):
"Nazareth is a track that I like. I've always been fast there; I've just never had the right luck. Last year, I got a little impatient trying to get around Buddy Lazier, and we got together and lost 50 laps. The only other race I've had there was in Toyota Atlantic and was trying to get a pass done and spun, so I haven't had a lot of luck there. I've been fast, and hopefully, this year is going to be a change for us. The Pennzoil Panther team is really excited coming off the win at Kentucky. We'll put everything together and see what we can do this weekend. We have a really big task ahead of us trying to get back into the points championship. I know we're a long shot, but if anybody can do it, we can."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, IndyCar Series points leader):
"I love Nazareth Speedway. It's a 1-mile oval, and we have a very good program for those types of tracks. We had a very good car in Phoenix earlier this year and won that race, so I think you'll see us right up front at Nazareth. We were not very happy with the way things went in Kentucky. We're glad that we extended our lead in the championship, but we were not happy about the kind of race that we had, but that is just going to make us work harder. That's what we need to do right now."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 IndyCar Series champion):
"Now that we have the new Gen IV Chevy Indy V8 engine and one race under our belt, we're starting to understand what the engine and chassis combination needs and continue to improve. Nazareth is a challenging racetrack. It is so tight and probably the one track that we run that is most like Richmond. It is flat with two really difficult corners that are totally different, but we're up for the challenge."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Nazareth should be a better weekend for the Red Bull Cheever Racing team. I've done really well at that track. I won the Toyota Atlantic race there in 1998, so I'm very familiar with the track. We're ready to finish off this season with a streak of good finishes, so hopefully, Nazareth will start us off on the right foot."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone):
"We've had five straight top-10's, but wins are what I'm after. It's good to finish races and get points, but this team is about winning. I like Nazareth. It's a very unusual oval with the corners and the elevation change on the track. We've had the speed this year, that's for sure. We just need to stay focused and get this Target car into victory lane."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion, 2002 Nazareth winner):
"I'm excited to go back to Nazareth Speedway. On the schedule, it is the closest I get to a home track. For the people from the northeast who have followed my driving from the earlier years, they come up and remember me from Trans-Am and my early days, and that's exciting for me. It's always great to return to a track where you've won. I feel like going back there with last years setup should point us in the right direction. It's a difficult place to pass, and really, it's a one-groove racetrack. Typically there's a higher premium on qualifying, which is pretty typical today in the IndyCar Series. It's important to stay on the lead lap and have a good fuel strategy for the run to the finish."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"I have been looking forward to going to Nazareth since our Pioneer Toyota team switched to the Dallara chassis. I am interested to see how it will do there on the small oval. We had success in qualifying with the Panoz G Force on the small ovals at Pikes Peak and Richmond, so we hope we can be right there on the grid with the Dallara and also make it a great race car. We had a very good car on race day at Kentucky last weekend. I thought for sure we might be fighting for a podium finish, but then we ran out of fuel for some reason when we were preparing to make our second pit stop. That hurt a lot. I know everybody on the Pioneer can't wait to get back out there on the racetrack so we can finish the job."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner):
"It's very difficult to get around Nazareth Speedway consistently. This track is very unique in its shape, and it tends to be single-file racing, which really puts emphasis on your pit stops, and qualifying becomes that much more important, too. You have to have good track position at Nazareth because at that track, it is king. The Corteco crew have done a great job in the pits all season, so I'm looking forward to the race this weekend."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"Nazareth is a difficult track, and it's going to be my first time there. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam team is going to concentrate on learning as much as we can. I think we will be pretty quick, but I think it will be similar to St. Louis where we will get quicker and quicker as the weekend progresses. I'm sure Michael (Andretti) has done a lot of miles around Nazareth, so he has a good understanding of the track, and I know he'll keep an eye on me. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew is very good and certainly that helps me a lot, and Tony Cotman always has us on the right strategy. We'll do the best we can and hopefully we'll get another top-five finish."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone):
"We had a test at Nazareth Speedway last week, and I am looking forward to going back for the race. We have a good car to start with this weekend. I think it will be a pretty tough race and the weather will be hot. However, all in all, I am looking forward to the race and, hopefully, to being able to finish in the top five."