Day 2 -- Saturday, March 22, 2003 IRL IndyCar Series Post-Qualifying Quotes SCOTT MAYER (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was kind of 0-for-2 before today. I tried to qualify last year in Chicago and had a fuel pickup problem....
Day 2 -- Saturday, March 22, 2003 IRL IndyCar Series Post-Qualifying Quotes
SCOTT MAYER (No. 18 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was kind of 0-for-2 before today. I tried to qualify last year in Chicago and had a fuel pickup problem. A couple of weeks ago in Homestead, we had another fuel issue. I had this monkey on my back, and I guess I just wanted to go conservative and make sure we finally got in the show."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Conseco car pushed more than it did in practice, which I wasn't expecting. I had more trouble with it in Turn 1, so we'll work on that for the race. I'm a rookie, and it's all new to me, so I just try to learn as much as I can every time I go out."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 5 EPSON/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We just shook the car down yesterday, so I think the EPSON team did a good job because we didn't have any major problems with the car. Every time out, the car gets better and better. We tested here during the Test in the West, but it was in the (Panoz) G Force, so that doesn't help too much since we're running the Dallara this weekend. We just need more time with the car."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We're not where we want to be on the speed charts, but we've got a good race car. That's been our focus all week. I've raced here for 14 years, and this is definitely a handling track, so we're doing everything we can to keep improving the car. We've got lots of fans at the race for Dial and Purex, and we want to be sure we're around at the end for them to cheer for. I've got to stay motivated, the team's got to stay motivated, and we're working hard every day to make improvements. All of us -- Dreyer & Reinbold, Purex, Aventis, Chevy, Firestone -- are in this thing to win."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car was pretty close to where we were this morning. I had a pretty interesting moment in Turn 2 on the second lap. I was flat right through the apex, and I thought this was going to be a good lap. But just as I got to the exit, I had a moment because the car got really loose. It's disappointing because I know we are quicker than the time we posted. I'm pretty happy because the Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola guys did a good job today. The Phoenix track is interesting. I haven't raced here yet, but I have tested here a few times, and I'm looking forward to the race. Tony (Kanaan) did another brilliant job in qualifying today getting his second pole this year. That just shows the strength of our team."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a good practice session this morning and figured some things out. We went a little aggressive for qualifying. We tried to clean it up to have one good run. I went down into Turns 1 and 2, and it was pushing. The thing just stepped out just a little bit and did a big slide through (Turns) 1 and 2. At least we have a good handle on the car right now. We have a solid race car. The car is good in traffic right now, which it wasn't at Homestead. That's a big gain for us. Hopefully, things will be different tomorrow than they were in Homestead."
JOHN BIDDLECOMBE (Director of Sales, Panoz G Force): "Our teams have worked very hard on their race setup so far, so to have two cars in the first two rows in qualifying is extremely pleasing. We are looking very good for the race tomorrow, and I believe our package for the 1-mile ovals is stronger than what a lot of people thought. Tora (Takagi) bottomed out a little on his run, which hurt his time a bit, but Felipe (Giaffone) and Scott (Dixon) did an outstanding job. We have been able to give the teams more downforce with some new parts this weekend, and it seems to be paying off."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It wasn't too bad. I got a little squirrely in Turn 2 and lost a little bit of speed. We might have been right there for the pole if that didn't happen, but it's still pretty good. Team Target has given me a fast car all weekend, and I'm happy about our run today. We have been working a lot on race setup this weekend. The car has been pretty consistent in race trim during our practices, and I'm excited about our chances tomorrow."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "We didn't have the best run today, but I'm happy with how things are going. They are talking about making Turn 2 a little wider; I wish they would have done it today. I'm still learning the team, and they are still learning me. There's no doubt in my mind that after a few races, we'll be challenging for poles and wins week in and week out. There's a bit a of a learning process with a new team. We have a decent race car, so we'll see what happens in the race tomorrow."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I just wish we would have had a better qualifying session. The Corteco car was really loose on me, so we were just basically hanging on. I'm very proud of the Corteco team. They've worked their tails off this weekend. We qualified my backup car because the primary car was just not getting through the corners, so we made the switch this morning to the backup car, and that is a lot of work for the crew. It's a long race, and we're going to have to try a different pit strategy to try to gain position. It's extremely tough to pass here, but we're just going to have to go out and give it our best shot."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "You hear drivers talk about a tough 1-mile oval, and Phoenix is definitely it. The temperature is rising, there is other rubber on the track from different series, and it really becomes a challenge going into qualifying to catch your setup just right. We weren't quite as fast in qualifying as we were in the morning session, but it was still a good time. We've spent a lot of this weekend working on our car for the race, and hopefully that will pay off for us tomorrow."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The 7-Eleven car was as good as we could get it. I was flat out all around, and we may have been missing a bit of downforce. This is a really good racetrack. It has a lot of history. They haven't changed it over the years, and it's still as much of a challenge to drive as it always has been. I'm very happy for Team 7-Eleven today. Tony Kanaan did an awesome job of putting the car on the pole for the second race in a row. Now if we can turn that into a win, we'll be really happy."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think we got behind the program a little bit yesterday morning. We did our qualifying simulation this morning, which didn't turn out to be great. We made some changes, and it certainly did improve, but I think we needed a bit more. We did a lot of aero-balance changes and ride-height changes, and it's difficult with the Silver Crown cars out there because after they go out, the track changes. Sometimes you have understeer, and then when you run after that session, you have oversteer. I think we have a pretty good car for the race."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Phoenix is one of the tracks that we really like to come and run at because it's all about having the car set up well, being able to run good over a long period of time, and being able to get through traffic. We tend to keep focused on that. We're going to have a tough race in front of us tomorrow, but we'll keep our heads up and make it to the end. We ran quite a bit quicker this morning in practice. I'm not really sure what changed. It's tough; the sun comes out, the track heats up, one thing happens, the other thing happens, it's hard to pinpoint anything. I know I'm doing what I can do. The team is working their butts off. It's not for lack of trying on any of our parts. We're a little behind, and we're working on trying to figure out how to get back up there."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske car had a little understeer so unfortunately I couldn't go flat the whole way around. I didn't want to go over the limit and end up in the wall, so I had to make a split-second decision to lift. The good news is that we are starting in the top five. I think our race setup is actually better than our qualifying setup, so we should have a strong, consistent car for tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to the race. We just need to stay focused and get the same result we had last year and leave with a big smile on our face."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I'm a little disappointed with my qualifying run this afternoon. I had a pretty good first lap, and I wanted to get one in the bank before I went for it on the second. The car was handling very well on the second lap until Turn 2 when I developed a lot of understeer. The car went up into the gray, so I had to get off of the gas. The Marlboro Team Penske car was great today, so I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get the best out of it. Now we just have to focus on tomorrow. We spent all day yesterday working on the race setup, and I'm happy with how the car is performing. It's always nice to be at the front, but it's certainly possible to win from where I'm starting."
BUDDY LAZIER (Delta Faucet/Life Fitness Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was not at all what we wanted. The first lap was really decent. We're still learning what the car needs and wants for qualifying. For some reason, I picked up a hellacious push in (Turns) 1 and 2. I'm running through there flat and I'm thinking, 'Hey, this is going to be good,' and the front end skips out on me, big push. I had to jump out of the throttle and killed the lap. The lion's share of the day and a half that we've run has been on full tanks. That was the first time we've emptied out the car, so really our focus has been on tomorrow. It was a little disappointing. We felt like a top-10 qualifying was in the cards. I just missed a little bit."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "This has been a good weekend for us so far. Team Rahal has done a great job with the chassis setups, and the Honda engine is strong. The conditions do change from the morning, and I think that's what happened today. It takes in the temperature and the winds. If you look at the grid, it's just a couple of hundredths between the cars. It's very close. It comes down to the one who anticipates the best, and that's a little bit of luck sometimes. We were hoping to be in the top five or six, and that's where we are now. For the race, it's a little different. I don't know if anyone really knows what to expect for Sunday's race. It could get hotter, and that will change a lot of things. We have been focusing on the race since we got here. It's 200 miles around, and this track is demanding. This track is a big challenge to every driver and every team. It's so different from Turns 1 and 2 than to Turns 3 and 4. It has been a steep learning curve for us so far this year, but I think we are starting to get the car like we want it. It will take some more time, too. The car is feeling comfortable this weekend, and I think we are making headway. I haven't had the best of luck here in the past. But when I had bad luck here, I had good luck the rest of the season. I'd like to have both good luck here and the rest of the season now."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "We are a little bit disappointed with our qualifying position after we made such good progress in practice this morning. We had a very good car in practice and did not make any major changes before qualifying. But for some reason, the car bottomed out pretty hard during the qualifying run, and we can't figure out why that happened. It's disappointing to be starting where we are, but we know that we will have a good race car for Sunday, and that is what matters the most. I think we will have a good day tomorrow."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Menards /Johns Manville/Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm satisfied. We slowed down a little bit, but I think that was primarily from the heat of the day. I am just happy with the progress we've made at Team Menard. The result we had at Miami is not indicative of what this team is capable of. We came out here right after Miami and did some testing. I think we have a good understanding of the Dallara chassis now. We have a lot of things in the works. We will just continue to improve and make gains."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I was really surprised when I got to (my qualifying run), and I knew I had a good shot, because we struggled this morning a little bit. We tried a setup that didn't quite work. We concentrated most of the time on race setup and were in good shape. This morning, every time we put on clean tires, we had problems where we couldn't get a clean lap, so I didn't know how hard I could push for qualifying. On my first lap the car just stuck, so I knew I could push a lot harder to get a good lap. I got a little loose in Turn 2, so I had to come out of the throttle a little bit and then come back in. If we didn't have that little bit of oversteer, we would have been a little bit faster, but not enough to beat Tony (Kanaan)."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It feels good, for sure. If you guys look back to Miami, it was good to be on the pole. Again, it's a great teamwork. I need to thank Michael (Andretti) and Dario (Franchitti) again. It looks like I'm repeating everything that I said in Miami, but again, we work hard together. We came up to a good setup. I was lucky to pull out a number behind my two teammates, so I got feedback from them about how the track condition was today. I improved my car a little bit, added a little bit of front wing. My car was just perfect. I never thought I would say that, but the lap was flat out. I don't know how could I have gone any quicker. It was just awesome. Days like today, a lap like I did today, I'm going to keep in my mind for a long time because it was a good lap. We want to do one, two, three, but we'll get there one day." (About advice from Michael Andretti): "He told me when he was here in '94, he made the track flat all the way around in qualifying, so I just copied that. I'll follow his instructions for the race. I think what he said is just be patient, take care of your tires and be patient with traffic. It's not that I'm a rookie on a mile oval. I've been in a couple of mile-oval races in Milwaukee and Nazareth." (Did Michael convey how he lost the race here in 1995?): "Yes, he did, so I'm going to try not to do that." (END)