IRL: Phoenix: Friday practice quotes

BOMBARDIER ATV COPPER WORLD INDY 200 DAY 1 - Friday, March 15, 2002 JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Just loose right now, especially coming off the corners. I had a few hairy moments in the morning ...

BOMBARDIER ATV COPPER WORLD INDY 200
DAY 1 - Friday, March 15, 2002

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Just loose right now, especially coming off the corners. I had a few hairy moments in the morning practice where the car came close to coming around on me, so close that my spotter asked me if I was a good baseball player because he said I made one hell of a catch out there. Basically, we've got a little work to do before qualifying tomorrow to keep this thing from skating so much."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "We've definitely improved the race car since we tested here, including things we learned at Homestead. We're fast, but we've got to be ready for Sunday."

HIDEKI NODA (No. 20 Convergent Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car was riding a little low so it was bottoming out. We could have gone faster, but with no testing, I think the team did a fine job today. Every time I drive the car, I learn something new. I'm getting more comfortable with the car, but I'm not quite there."

GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The track is much different than last week when I tested here, but I'm still feeling really comfortable with the car - almost to the point where I'm going to sleep. We have our race setup on the car, but we're still running lap times in the low 21s."

JOHN DE VRIES (No. 37 Pit Bull Energy Drink/Rhino Cleaning Products Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a fire this morning in the motor, a fuel fire. We had a fuel leak. We tore it apart, fixed it and put it back together. All day we only ran about 45-50 laps, and half of those were warming up. This afternoon the setup started coming to us a little bit. We still have a little work in the morning to do. Once we get that dialed in we'll be ready."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Overall, we're pretty pleased with how things are going. As a team, we've really taken a good step forward from when we were here testing. It's really a tough weekend with the track ever-changing. The first practice group really spends the first few laps cleaning off the rubber from the other series. I feel pretty good about the car, and we've been concentrating on race setup. We're looking to have a really good day on Sunday." (About his spin): "I think the tires were still a little cold. I got on the gas a little hard going through the turn, and it started coming around on me and just kept going. Luckily, we didn't make any contact, so the crew put four new tires on, and we went back out."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're really happy with the Corteco/Bryant car. The crew is doing a great job. I'm really proud of the guys. They put a car together that's good right off the trailer. We had our first long run in the car this afternoon. We tried to do it during the test, but didn't get the chance. Slowly but surely we're coming together as a team."

BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "For the first day at PIR, the CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing team game plan is a little bit different than some other teams. My engineer Darrell Soppe's approach to the whole weekend is a little bit different than some of the other engineers that I've worked with. Our focus today was 100 percent on full-tank and race-type setups. We chose to focus on that rather than a qualifying setup. This may temporarily compromise our ultimate speed, but hopefully pays dividends come race time. That was our focus today, and tomorrow we'll put a qualifying setup on the car and see how fast it will go. Darrell Soppe had the car that won the pole here last year, so we feel we're pretty close on what it will take to make the car go fast. We'll just have to go out in the morning and hopefully be close right out of the box."

BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light Life Fitness Tae-Bo Delta Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The track was slippery this afternoon from the heat and all the rubber on the track, but that is typical, especially here at Phoenix. All in all, we had a real positive first day of practice. We're definitely heading in the right direction. The Coors Light car should be real competitive on race day."

ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 A. J. Foyt Racing/Banco Chile Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car is brilliant, it has a very good balance. This morning we did it all on one set of tires, so this afternoon when we put on new tires, I knew it would be faster. I didn't think it would pick up as much as it did."

AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I have to get more used to the car. It (Dallara) is different from what I've been driving the last two years (G Force). I just have to get used to these setups. Comparing it to Homestead, that track is an easier track to drive than Phoenix, so I feel the differences more here from what I've been used to. We won't change the car too much because Eliseo is running good."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (About his consistency during the 2001 season): "Most of the laps we led last year were on the tracks where you couldn't go flat-out: Miami, Richmond, Phoenix and Pikes Peak. I don't know how many hours it took to finish that many races, but it only takes a half-a-second not to finish one. The guys that work on the car deserve a lot of credit. Sometimes things happen that aren't the driver's fault - engine malfunction, something left on the car. We haven't seen those problems. (About his facial hair): "It's so I can remember what race it was - I use it as a photo reference."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The plan for today was to focus on our race setup. We ran one setup on the Marlboro car in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. We ran similar lap times in both sessions, so now we are going to evaluate the data to determine what we want to go with for the race. This afternoon, I also did long runs with full tanks and tried to run in traffic. I was able to see how the car was handling and to get a feel for where to pass and the best line to take. The car was comfortable and consistent which is going to be important on race day. Tomorrow morning our focus will be on preparing for qualifying."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We came here with what we thought was a good setup from our testing, but the cars have been loose all day. We tried several changes throughout the two sessions today. Now that we are into our second race, the exchange of information between the No. 51 Red Bull Infiniti and the No. 52 Red Bull Infiniti is much better. That helps on days like this where we have to get through a lot of set-up issues. I expect our third race will be even better. We know what not to do, but we are working to get it better. Tomas did a run at the end, with full tanks, that led us in the right direction for tomorrow. The changes we made within the team are working very well. I don't think our times today are indicative of anything right now."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We worked on qualifying this morning and got in some good laps. This afternoon, we worked on the race setup. Everything seems to be going well. The No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti was completely different from when we tested here, but we are making progress."

JEFF WARD (No. 9 Chip Ganassi G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Everything went real well. We're doing race setups with full tanks. The track is a challenge because of all these other cars putting down some different rubber, but we've got the car working really well. We're happy with the balance of the car and race setup we have on it. The Ganassi guys are doing a great job. I'm excited about the race. We haven't really tried to go fast yet, so we'll see what we have tomorrow for qualifying, but we're not too concerned about where we start. This is a fast race car, so we'll get to the front no matter where we start. This is the first time I've been here this year. The last time I drove this track was last year when I got out of the race. We didn't come to the test so we're two days behind what these other guys did, but we're not behind at all. We've got the race pace dialed in, we ran as fast as I think anybody's going to run. Racewise I think we're perfect, qualifying, we're not sure yet. Never trimmed it out, so we'll find out tomorrow."

ANTHONY LAZZARO (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a pretty good test here during the Test in the West, although I got into the wall about halfway through the second day, but we came back and struggled a little bit. We've been working on some things. This is the first time I've been to this track when there was traffic on the track. I tested here with the Atlantics a couple of years ago. I'm still struggling in Turns 3 and 4. I'm a little surprised by that. Normally it's pretty much flat through those two corners. I'm not sure if the wind is a factor or not. It certainly was last week at Homestead. Coming out of Turn 4 the wind is hitting you straight in the face, and it's upsetting the handling of the car."

RICK TREADWAY (No. 55 Airlink Enterprises/Spade Motorsports G Force/ Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a push on the Airlink car, but I've got a really good crew chief, and he adjusted the car. He made it stiffer, and it feels real good. We went side by side through Turns 1 and 2 with Helio Castroneves, the Indy 500 champ. We were side by side, and I came out ahead of him. It was exciting. I can't wait for the race."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was pretty windy here this afternoon, but my car is handling pretty good. We were running completely full tanks and just trying different things. I think we should be good."

ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The Silver Crown rubber is playing a big factor in the way we are setting up the car, especially with the heat. The ambient temperature of the track comes up during the day, and we are also in the middle of the desert. The rubber on the track becomes greasy. The car slides a lot. John (Dick, team engineer) and the guys changed the car tremendously. It's a night-and-day difference between the session this morning and the afternoon session. The balance of the car is a lot better. Some guys slowed down and some picked it up. We feel that we are in contention and within striking distance for tomorrow. John has a lot more ideas for tomorrow, and I think we'll be in great shape. If it is warmer on Sunday, the track could be even more difficult to read. If you don't know which way to go to adjust your car, you can back up. We have a big chore in front of us and so does everyone else. Some teams could underestimate that, and it could play a big factor in the race."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The conditions today were a little bit warmer than what they were when we were here for the Test in the West. We're pretty confident that we should have a pretty good race setup. It's a crapshoot. You don't really know what the weather conditions are going to be like until right before the race starts, and sometimes it's too late to make changes. We're pretty excited about this weekend's race." (About being chased): "It's always better being the guy that everybody wants to try to beat than the guy that nobody thinks can win." (About last year): "We finished all but seven laps last year. I have 100 percent confidence in those guys. I know as long as I do my job right that we shouldn't have any problems. Everything we do, we have to do 100 percent. We have to do better than we did last year. Things change so much over the year, the cars get better, the engines get better, the tires get better. You have to start finding the advantages. If you stop working as hard as you did last year then you'll start dropping backward, no matter how much of an advantage you had."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): "If those guys are operating on a crapshoot they guessed right at Homestead. So I'd have to say they are the guys to watch and set the pace here for this race. That's who we're watching. Conditions-wise, the wind picked up a little bit this afternoon. The conditions I don't think are as good as when we tested here, we've improved our car. When were here for the test we were running the old Infiniti spec motor. Now were running this year's motor. It's definitely improved. I'm very happy with the power from Infiniti. Race day isn't until Sunday, and that's the day we're focused on as a team. I've been very happy with out Infiniti motor ever since Indy last year. We as a team, Eddie as a team and the whole Infiniti group has worked hard to improve reliability as well as performance. They haven't lost sight of the issue of reliability to sacrifice the performance. I'm very happy with the power."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We spent the whole afternoon working on heavy fuel. We felt the conditions this afternoon would be most similar to the race. It's hard to compare with what other people are going through. I feel I'm on a much steeper learning curve than I was the last couple of years. Last year we wanted to do well (at Phoenix), but it was more of a fact-finding mission for the Indianapolis 500. I must say Homestead and Phoenix are good for us because most of the winter testing is done at those two tracks." (About the Indy Racing League championship): "I think there's a lot of people out there that have the ability to win the championship both from a driving standpoint and also from a team standpoint, so I don't think it's a two-horse race at all. I think it's wide open. In fact you probably won't know until about three races to go really who will be the main contenders. Right now we're all kind of vying for position for those last few races."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Sam Schmidt , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing