IRL: Phoenix: Pre-race quotes

Copper World Indy 200 Pre-Race Quotes: ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to going back to Phoenix because we had a good test there in the preseason. We'll be able to try some of the...

Copper World Indy 200 Pre-Race Quotes:

ALEX BARRON (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to going back to Phoenix because we had a good test there in the preseason. We'll be able to try some of the new changes on the car that we've been working on, and hopefully have some better luck than we did at Homestead. Since we'll be running on a 1-mile oval after a 1½- mile speedway, the team is going to have to make adjustments for the differences in setups. Track position will be important because it will be harder to pass and harder to get a run on people."

ED CARPENTER (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I always get excited for Phoenix because it's a track I've enjoyed going to over my career. I've raced at Phoenix International Raceway in four different types of cars: Midgets, Silver Crown, Infiniti Pro Series, and now Indy Car (Series cars), so I'm very familiar with this track. We had a promising run at the Homestead season opener and are building a good momentum, so I hope we can bring home good results and get this season off on the right path."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I really enjoy racing at Phoenix because it is a challenge to get the right setup and a consistent race car plus it's physically demanding. They did a good job with the track reconfiguration, and I'm looking forward to another exciting event. We had a great first race of the season at Homestead with Sam (Hornish Jr.) and I finishing 1-2, respectively; a productive test at Phoenix in February; and we've run well at this circuit in the past, so I'm hoping for a strong showing by Marlboro Team Penske next weekend."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 1 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The smaller circuits seem to be better suited to the Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Toyota-(Panoz) G Force combination. We expect to qualify much better at Phoenix than we did at Homestead, and that should help us have success in the race as well. I think you'll see the better teams excel at Phoenix. It's a more technical track and I very much enjoy the challenge it gives us as drivers."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We tested pretty good at Phoenix. The Conseco car handled better on the short runs than the long runs. We did some 50-lap runs and the car got a little loose. We're going back with different undertrays, which should give us more downforce. They widened the track coming off Turn 2, which just gives us more room for error. We still try to run the same line, which is to run low. In the race, the main thing is to get the car good on long runs. You have to run consistent all day and be good in traffic. It's tough to pass there. You have to have patience and wait for people to make mistakes and then try to get around them."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Arca/Ex Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I was plenty hungry for a good run heading into the race at Homestead, so you can only imagine how I'm feeling heading into Phoenix. I want to get out there and run at the front, I want to get out there and win races, so why not just start at Phoenix? That's my feeling on that. It's obviously a much different challenge than what we had at Homestead. We tested reasonably well there in the Arca/Ex car. Between the four of us (AGR drivers), I think at one point or another we were all in reasonably good shape during the test, so I'm really looking forward to putting it all together next week."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Phoenix is going to be a tough race. With the downforce restrictions it will be a really hard race, and we'll have to work hard to make sure we have a good car in the race. The XM Satellite Radio team had a good test here last month but we still have more we need to accomplish. We still have some things we want to try before the race. Phoenix is an important race for us; we need to build momentum for the races coming up at Motegi and Indianapolis. Those are both important races for us and a strong finish at Phoenix will help us going into them."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Phoenix International Raceway will always be a special track for me because it's where I won my first IndyCar Series race (in 2001). It's a complicated circuit because each end is different, which makes it tough to get the car balanced. Once you have the car set up for one end, you have to work on the other -- which can be quite challenging. Marlboro Team Penske's performance in the season-opener in Miami gave us a lot of confidence and we'll be looking to build upon that momentum next Sunday. I think we'll put on a great show for the fans and they'll see a lot of close racing."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I definitely have good memories from our win at Phoenix last year. Obviously, we tested the Team 7-Eleven car there with everybody else last month and I think we have a decent car. It will be a tough race on a 1-mile oval. It will just be a matter of working hard. I expect it to be very competitive, so qualifying well will be really important. We'll see, but I'm excited. I really like the style of the track. It has two completely different corners and requires you to set up your car the way that I like it, which is kind of loose."

DARREN MANNING (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "Phoenix is one of the tracks that I tested on the most and I am certainly going into this race weekend feeling comfortable with my knowledge of the track and the car. The Phoenix track is more technical and more of a challenge with its high downforce and low banking. It really puts control into the driver's hands. It's not all car. We tested well at PIR, and I expect to improve on my first race experience, especially in qualifying, but we'll work predominantly of the race setup throughout the weekend and get set for a good show on Sunday."

KOSUKE MATSUURA (No. 55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "I have tested at Phoenix so that will help me, and it also helps me to have completed one race now in the IRL. That will help a lot. The short course at Phoenix means that I will be learning a lot of things again especially with the traffic. I am very comfortable and also with the team. I am looking forward to Phoenix. We have this one race left before the Motegi race and this will be an important weekend for us."

GREG RAY (No. 13 Access Motorsports Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We've changed engineers and it does changes things for us to some degree. Jeff Britton did a nice job getting us a good baseline. The car was comfortable, and I think (Panoz) G Force and Honda have done an enormous amount of work in the offseason. I was pleased with overall package at the test in Phoenix. The track has changed, but it's not a significant change. They've done things to make the track safer. They've widened the exit of Turn 2 and added the SAFER Barrier. It's not a huge change. The track has the same feel, same texture and same look, so my past experience really pays off. I've always qualified well at Phoenix, and the last time I raced there, I was leading when we had a fuel cell failure. We hit the ground fast at the test and are looking forward to posting a great result for the team."

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Pioneer/Argent Mortgage Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "Obviously I am very excited to race at PIR since it is my home track. Coming off our pole and race at Homestead, I think all of Team Rahal is anxious to get to PIR to keep the momentum going. Coming into Homestead, we actually weren't sure how things would go. Of the four testing days prior to the first race, we had some problems on two of those days, and we really only got in two full test days. But the guys at Team Rahal worked their butts off after the PIR test to get the car ready. The engineers and the mechanics did a superb job coming to Homestead and winning the pole was fantastic. I know we had a lot of jaws drop in the garage area when we posted that number in qualifying. In the race, we were strong too, but cutting that tire (right rear) on some debris cost us a pit stop and changed our race strategy. Now we are looking forward to PIR. I'll have a lot of friends and family there, so running well again would be the best. I feel very confident that we can run up front again."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Phoenix reminds me of IndyCar Series tradition, as the track is one of the longest running on our schedule. Perennially, it is one of our early season, short track, action-packed races. I'm especially excited this year with some of the changes PIR has made. With the widening of Turn 2, I'm expecting the racing to be even tighter, and going side by side regularly through Turns 1 and 2 will be very hair raising for the fans. The Delphi-Kelley team worked very well together to net a top-10 finish at Homestead after starting 17th. We're looking forward to building our momentum at Phoenix as we get closer to Indy."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Phoenix International Raceway is one of my favorite tracks, so I always look forward to running there. It's tight and fast and things happen very quickly there, which I like. With the changes PIR has made in Turn 2, it opens up the arc a bit and everyone has more room to come off the corner, so I think it may enable more passing on the backside of the track, which is good. The Pennzoil Panther team tested well there so we're all looking forward to a great race."

TORA TAGAKI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was very nice to finish fourth at Homestead, since the first race of the year is always a good indicator of the prospects for the season. It was especially encouraging, as we battled for the lead with both Penske drivers (Sam Hornish and Helio Castroneves) and Dan (Weldon) in the closing stages. I would have naturally liked to have finished third rather than fourth, but it was good enough, especially with the fantastic job our guys did after starting 16th on the grid. Phoenix will be another challenge for us, as we were not able to obtain all the data for setup during the test. There are some items to fix before the race. The track modifications also provide us with another obstacle for the setup of the car, but I hope we can find a good solution. The new Dallara undertray, which was introduced at the Homestead event, will help us as it will give us more downforce. It will be interesting to see how the whole picture changes from the 'Test in the West'. Last year, my car was good and we passed six or seven cars at the start, but Gil's (de Ferran) spin put me on the grass and my race was over after just two laps. In order to properly prepare for the Motegi race, I need a strong top-10 finish this weekend. I am sure we will do well in Phoenix, just like the race in Homestead."

MARK TAYLOR (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "Everybody here at Panther Racing is ready to go racing again. We've learned so much from our test in Phoenix and the race last week in Homestead that we're ready to get our car back out on the track. I experienced some longer runs during the Phoenix test last month and we were able to get comfortable with some different setups in the Menards/Johns Manville car. The car felt great in Homestead and we're looking to qualify strong and have a great race next weekend."

DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to the race in Phoenix. I think PIR is one of the toughest tracks on the calendar. If your car is wrong, it is really wrong. The race is going to be difficult as well because even when your car is good, it is nasty. The key for me is to work on the race setup. If we can find a car that is comfortable, then I know the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew will give me good pit stops and we'll have a strong chance in the race. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was good at the open test and now we need to make sure we can take what we learned to give us a car that is consistent throughout the race."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr. , Mo Nunn
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing