IRL: Notable quotes from Indy Racing Banquet

FORT WORTH, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001 - Notable quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials from the Indy Racing League Championship Banquet on Oct. 7 at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway (listed...

FORT WORTH, Texas, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001 - Notable quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials from the Indy Racing League Championship Banquet on Oct. 7 at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway (listed alphabetically):

DIDIER ANDRE (No. 32 Galles Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "Well, my final result in the championship, 20th, I think doesn't really reflect what I can do. I think we could've proved much more and better results, but I always have a problem, you know. It's been a tough year, but a nice year, too, because last year I wasn't driving. I was just looking for a ride, and this year I found one in the IRL, and I enjoyed it. Race after race, I try to do my best with what the team gave me and just try to win race after race. I think it's been a very experienced year. I hope next year I will be able to really prove what I can do." (About most memorable moment of 2001 season): "That was my first lap in an Indy car, my first lap at Phoenix. Last year was a very difficult year for me, after having two good years in Indy Lights and finishing second in the championship. Last year, I couldn't find a ride. I did the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I drove for Chrysler. It was good, and I enjoyed it, but not as much as a driving a single-seat car. Then this year when I did my first lap at Phoenix in an Indy car, I was just flying. It was just great and fabulous, and I knew that this year would be very good." (What are you going to do for fun in the offseason?): "Living in the States all year long without my family close to me. I'm missing my family a lot. For sure, I'm going back to my country (France) and seeing my friends, my family, my nephew, who I see like twice a year, I'm really going to enjoy it. Definitely. I love playing sports. I train a lot. My hobby is doing sports, bicycling or running or whatever. I'm going to go the French Alps and do some stuff over there, climbing maybe. I don't know yet. I would say the first thing I'm going to enjoy my family, my brothers, and stay with the people that I love."

JOHN BARNES (Co-owner, Panther Racing, 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series entrant champions): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "Wow. It's just been phenomenal. The true testament is to the people at Panther Racing and Speedway Engines and Firestone, and especially Pennzoil; they've just been so good to us. They have followed us and supported us from day one. I don't think there isn't any races that wasn't fun, even Indianapolis when he (Sam Hornish Jr.) spun early. It was just tremendous to watch him and the crew battle back. I think we gained three laps on the leader during the race. It's just been one of those years. Somebody asked me earlier does this remind me of any other championship year? I think only Al Unser Sr. in 1970 does it compare to. We finished all but seven laps of all laps in competition. We led the most laps by probably two or three hundred. To take Sam in only his second year, actually year and a half, of IRL racing, it's just been tremendous to watch him." (About offseason plans): "January, I'm going to go to Cayman Islands with Rick Long from Speedway Engines, and we're going to kick our heels up, lay on the beach for about a week and a half."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "I think the biggest thing for the 2001 season for the CURB Records-Beck Motorsports team was that a week before the first race in Phoenix the team didn't exist. We basically built the team from nothing in a week. We didn't know if we were going to have enough to go through Indianapolis. We did well enough and got the funding to take the car through the year, and finished fourth in the point standings from a team that came from nothing. Against the competition in this league, I think that really says a lot about Tony George's vision in the IRL and the opportunity it provides for the competitors." (About high point of 2001 season): "Probably the high point would be Nashville, obviously was the hometown of our sponsor CURB Records, and we had a lot of their employees there, and we had an opportunity to win the race and finished second. So to be able to get back up front and lead some laps and really be in contention was definitely the high point for the year." (What are you going to do in the offseason for fun?): "Well, it's becoming a short offseason, but when I quit racing, in Phoenix my son will be starting up racing again. He's racing dirt go-karts now. We'll be doing that and just really spend some time with my family, and spend some time with my business."

BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "The 2001 season for us was pretty much more or less not that great. It had a couple of highlights, but we kind of struggled in the middle of the season. We started to figure some stuff out by the end of the year, but I think we still have some issues that we need to deal with going into next year." (What are you going to do for fun in the offseason?): "Over the summer, I've gotten more involved in doing a lot of mountain climbing. I've taken the first half of a technical rock-climbing course, and this fall I'm going to finish it off. I'm really looking forward to it."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2001 Chevy Rookie of the Year): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "I think it was great. I'm really happy. Even though I didn't finish the last three races, it was still a lot better than I expected." (About winning the Chevy Rookie of the Year Award): "That was the big deal. The first thing that I had in my mind was to try to win the rookie of the year. I was really happy in St. Louis when it was pretty much done, but then there was more focus on the championship because we were in good shape." (What are you going to do in the offseason for fun?): "I have a go-kart race in Brazil. It's 500 miles that we have pretty much every year in Brazil. It's really fun. (Rubens) Barrichello goes, Tony Kanaan, Christian Fittipaldi - it's like 12 hours of racing. It's not for relaxing because we can't really relax, but it's really fun." (Will you spend most of the offseason in Brazil?): "Yes. It depends on how it goes here. Hopefully I'm not going to have a lot of an offseason. I hope to be testing very soon. We'll see. Hopefully my offseason is not going to be very big."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series champion): (What's the next goal for you?): "I'm going to start thinking about next year. That's my nature. It's been a great season. The Pennzoil Panther guys have done a great job. It feels good to be able to relax a little bit and know that the next couple of months I don't have to think about racing. I know when it comes around to the beginning of March, we'll definitely be ready to go again. I think we're going to have an even better year next year. The Chevrolet powerplant coming in is going to help us a lot." (Goals for next year): "Do all the same things we did this year. To have another year like this year would be great. Maybe try to add a win in the month of May." (What will you do for fun in the offseason?): "Sleep. I don't know. There's not a huge amount of things that I can do in the offseason that I can't do during the season. I'm going to Cancun at the end of December. I'll actually have some time to get some sun, and I'll just try to figure out how to win races next year." (About the responsibilities of being the defending series champion next year): "I'm very excited. It's a good thing. Since I came in the league, I've tried to show I'll do anything. I want the league to succeed. It means a better livelihood for me. It would mean I'm always going to be able to race and have a place to race. It has given me my first shot at a major open-wheel series and being able to run at the Indianapolis 500." (What was the one moment that stood out this year?): "Yesterday (photo finish of Chevy 500) was pretty exciting. I don't know if it was the most exciting. I know the worst day of the year, and we've had really good ones, too. It always seems like the bad ones outweigh the good ones, at least in my mind. I think yesterday was a real good day. I'd like to have a lot like that."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "For me, I thought it was a great season for the Indy Racing League. Since the beginning in 1996, I've been so proud to be part of the Indy Racing League, and each year at the end of the season, we're always looking forward to the future because there's always announcements coming at the end of each season that represent and show the growth each year. It seems like at the end of each season we have this huge anticipation for the next season. It's just been such a great, steady growth. It's just something that I've really been proud to be a part of as a race car driver and as a competitor, and this year is no different. There is so much energy in the air. There is so excitement about the 2002 season. Having won the championship in 2000 and coming back and almost repeating, we won four races out of five. We had a great run through the middle of the summer. Of course, there's disappointment because we weren't able to accomplish our ultimate goal, which was to defend the championship, but we came so close. So, I've got a lot as a driver and a competitor to be proud of, and feel really good about the way the season went. It was a great season for us. We came up a little short of our ultimate goal but it was a great, great season for us and the league." (Is there one memory that sticks from 2001 season?): "Winning four out of five races, more races than I think anybody has won in the season, for the rest of my life I'll look back on that and smile about it, of course. But at the same time, it's hard to go from champion to runner-up, but it's a lot easier than to go from champion to being third in the points. I've got a great race team, and we had a great season." (What are you going to do in the offseason for fun?): "Well, I don't have fun unless I'm in a race car - it's just not fun. No, really, I have a lot of fun playing with my kids and skiing, and my wife and I have been hard at work over the summer building our dream house, the house we've been saving and working for for a while. We're going to continue pounding nails and building that. But to tell you the truth, the offseason is such precious time in terms of developing the program for next year, so we may come back and get our championship back next year. It's precious moments, and a lot of that time we're not going to be sitting back on our heels. We'll be using every moment of it to prepare for next year."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "It was a roller-coaster ride for me. Starting off with TeamXtreme then going over to Sam Schmidt Motorsports and then having a dream come true for any driver to join Team Menard. It's a dream come true for me. I'm very excited about it. I got my first win. I got a couple poles. So it was a very successful for me, but at the same time I'm very regretful that it's over because I'm finally in a position I believe where we'll be a contender in 2002 for the championship and for Indy (500). I'm really excited, and I kind of was hoping that the season would happen tomorrow." (What are you going to do in the offseason for fun?): "I'm going to be 100 percent busy because I have a new little baby on the way, and hopefully little Cayden Kyler Lazier will bless Angelique and I in late November, early December. I guarantee that's going to take up every spare second I have, but I'm definitely looking forward to that, seeing another one of my dreams is to be a father. I have a wonderful wife that is very supportive of every endeavor that I take on, and this is a new one that I am very excited about." (What are you more nervous about, being a new father or driving for Team Menard?): "I think I'm pretty equally nervous about both of them, but at the same time I'm very excited about both of them. Like I've said, I've always wanted to be a father. I see what my brother (Buddy Lazier) has done with (son) Flynn. I think that being a father and having a little one that looks up to you is enough to melt anybody's heart."

ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "I would say, other than our accident, it hasn't been the best year for me. I think I finished 16th in the points my first year, and that was new and we didn't run all the races. So it wasn't a good season, but I think we're going to be together next year. We've got a lot to build on. We had a great race going here in Texas until the car broke, which is something we're going to work on. Mechanical failures can take you out of any sort of championship contention. We've got to the point where we're running competitively now. I feel comfortable with the team. But it wasn't my best season, I broke my leg, and I have surgery in a couple of days. I just have to soldier on. I think we've got what it takes to at least, even after we crashed at Texas, we left there 10th in the points, but I missed two races and that dropped us back. Next year, saying we're going to run for the championship on a small budget is a little hopeful, but we can run for the top five." (About offseason plans): "In the offseason because I have an other business that I'm very active in, and it's struggling right now, I'm going to be very busy working with banks and investors. Lots of things that I really wish I didn't have to do, but I have to do since we're in the situation. So, I'll be using my business knowledge as opposed to my driving skills." (What are you going to do for fun in the offseason?): "Once my leg heals, I'm going to go play on my boat down in Miami. That's all I really want to do. I can kind of hobble along. I can race fine, but I can't go down on my boat and that's the biggest problem. So when my leg heals up, I'm going to go down and play down there. Actually try to play some golf, which I've missed out on all this summer because of my leg. Do all the things that I love to do, but haven't been able to do for a while." (Is there one memory that sticks from 2001 season?): "My most memorable moment is definitely the fact that, obviously I broke my leg, and the doctors told me that it was going to be three or four months before I would be able drive again. They basically said that my season was over. I kind of made the self-diagnosis that I was going to be back in the car in Kansas City, along with the help of my team owner, because I didn't want anyone filling my seat, which was vacant at the time. Larry (Cahill) stuck by me. He didn't run anyone at Pikes Peak or Richmond, and he waited for me to come back at Kansas City. So being able to come back again and overcome the injury was probably the best."

GREG RAY (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (Thoughts on 2001 season): "It was one of those seasons that was full of ups and downs, exciting in some good ways and exciting in some bad ways. Five pole positions, one victory, a lot of laps led, a really great shot at the Indianapolis 500, the last race of the year running with A.J. Foyt, and them pulling out the miracle of putting a race car out on the racetrack, so I mean it was definitely exciting. Sometimes you like excitement, maybe this year had too much of the wrong kind. As always, I feel very blessed to participate in something that I love so much. Again, the season didn't go the way we wanted it to, but I plan to work hard between now and the first race. I've got a lot of exciting opportunities. We're going to push real hard. The main goal for me, as probably most of these guys (Indy Racing drivers), is the Indy 500. We want to win some races. We want to win poles. We want to win another championship, but I'd settle all for just one Indy 500." (About high point of 2001 season): "It's difficult to say. Obviously, we had a great car at the Indianapolis 500, and things didn't go our way, so we definitely had the potential to win that. But to have a high moment, we won one race in dominant fashion from the pole. I led almost 190 laps of a 200-lap race. So that was probably the high. We should've, could've won at Phoenix, and we should have won at a lot of racetracks, but that was definitely the one high of the year. Again, even yesterday like I said, just having so much emotion from coming into this last weekend with A.J. Foyt thinking that we had a legitimate shot of being on the pole and winning the race, to thinking that we weren't going to be in the race, then thinking that all of the sudden we had a race car to run in. Again, every racetrack and every weekend you go to is full of excitement, but I would have to say that Atlanta sticks out. Actually, probably the most exciting thing could've very well been here at Texas (in June). We had a rev limiter failure in qualifying. We think we were a candidate for pole position. We charged from 20th position to leading the race by Lap 70, and we had a hard-fought duel for over 100 laps with Eddie Cheever and Scott Sharp. With about three laps to go, I thought I had it in the bag, but that's the excitement of racing. So maybe I'd have to say even though we won in dominant fashion at Atlanta probably the most exciting race of the year for me was the Texas race (in June) even though I didn't win, should've but didn't." (What are you going to do in the offseason for fun?): "For fun, when I think about fun I think about my two boys. I have a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old, and I'm just a little bit older version of what they are. Even all today before the banquet, it was beautiful Texas weather here in the fall. We rode skateboards and scooters, played soccer, rode bicycles and climbed in the trees. Mostly when I'm taking care of business and working on my race programs, I look outside and see a nice, sunny day, all I can think about is playing with my kids."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Tony Kanaan , Sam Schmidt , Al Unser Sr. , Tony George , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Panther Racing