IRL: Phoenix qualifying notes

PHOENIX, Saturday, March 17, 2001 - Quotes from Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers after Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 MBNA Pole Qualifying for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series: JERET SCHROEDER ( ...

PHOENIX, Saturday, March 17, 2001 - Quotes from Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers after Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 MBNA Pole Qualifying for the Indy Racing Northern Light Series:

JERET SCHROEDER (#9 Summit Packaging Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We're still having gearbox problems. Basically all we have is first and sixth gear. We lowered it some, but we missed it by quite a bit. Basically this is our winter testing because our deal just came together last week. When you consider that, we're doing OK. The PDM Racing crew is working hard, and hopefully we'll have the problem solved for tomorrow's race." CASEY MEARS (#31 Galles Racing SportsLine.com G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We have been struggling all weekend, and although I feel we'll have a good car for the race, it is hard for me to tell. I have never raced these cars or this chassis/engine combination, so I have nothing to compare it to. But I am confident that the team has the right package to do well, it just takes time."

ELISEO SALAZAR (#14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We expected it to be hotter and slicker. We went too conservative with the setup - too much downforce. We should be in the top eight to top 10 and that will be OK." (About his green driving shoes): "I'm celebrating St. Patrick's Day."

AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We have really been struggling getting through the corners. We are either too loose or pushing. The track just isn't the same for us as it was when we were testing here, and it seems to be affecting us more than others. Our problem lies within our cars though, not the track. So, we are just going to work today and tonight and see what we can do for race day."

AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR-NONE TeamXtreme Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We had a lot of opportunities last year. We just got caught up in some unfortunate things that were out of our control. I thought we would do better than this, but we picked up a bit of an understeer which I didn't think we'd get. We'll be OK tomorrow."

GIL DE FERRAN (#66 Penske Auto Center Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"So far it's going OK." (Difference between Champ car and Indy car): "They're quite different. They (Indy car) have a lot more downforce. I think I'm going to go a little bit faster tomorrow. It had a little too much push, but we're OK. In this car the car really behaves quite differently. It's been a very steep learning curve for me. I wasn't 100 percent pleased with my qualifying effort. I was a little slow getting up to speed. There's not as many warm-up laps as I'm used to." (About picking up speed today over yesterday): "We changed absolutely everything in the car. We changed springs, bars. We really improved for Saturday. We're looking forward to a good, clean race on Sunday." (About running Phoenix in addition to Indy): "We thought by running here we'll find out about the competitors and the reliability. We're running Ilmor engines."

SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We'll see where we end up. We're pretty happy with the Delphi car and made some gains this morning. Didn't run quite as fast as we wanted to just now, but I think we're sitting pretty well for tomorrow. This is a challenge this weekend with all of the different series running here. The track is constantly changing. The weather is different than when everybody tested here. It's been a big challenge, but we're doing all right."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (#68 Penske Auto Center Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"Basically this morning I was testing more for race day. Tomorrow is the important day. So, I am going to just chill out. Unfortunately we had engine issues. We keep changing and trying to figure it out. We're going to change everything tonight. It's a lot of work for the guys, but that's what we have to do. We had a lot of mechanical issues, so I was unable to qualify my primary car." (About Indy Racing League): "It's a great learning curve for me. Everyone is very friendly. That's what's nice about here. Nobody is looking at us like the enemy. The people here are very competitive, very competitive drivers." (About running Phoenix in addition to Indy): "To make sure that we know the competitors and understand the strategy."

MARK DISMORE (#28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I'm not satisfied at all. I'm real disappointed. The car just had a big push. The guys did a heck of a job. I guess I'm as upset with myself as much as anybody because it's my deicision as far as how aggressive you get and I didn't get near aggressive enough with the car. I had to lift in three and four and if the car's right, that's flat at least for qualifying. I just missed the mark. We had a big push through there and it really killed our speed. It's such a competitive series that if your car is not 'spot on', you're at the back of the grid. It's our job, and we missed it a little bit today, but we'll be ready for a good race tomorrow."

BUZZ CALKINS (# 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
(About his qualification run): "This (qualifying) is going to be tight. The car was pretty good. It was understeering down in Turn 1 more than it has, so I know I didn't get all out of it that I could have. This is the best the car has been all weekend. It is going to be a long race tomorrow, and if you stay out of trouble, you should be OK."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (#21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I was a little bit off. I think the car was better than I did this qualifying. I think I could go a little bit faster. This was my first qualifying here, and I'm pretty happy. The car has been great."

STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Tokheim/Jack K. Elrod Co./Nada Guides Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"This is going to be our best qualifying with Dick Simon. The team is really getting better and better. Your know we stayed together. This is our third year. Yesterday we worked on the race setup. That is why we were not as fast. I think this will pay off tomorrow. So, by being fourth, I'm very, very pleased. I love this track. My background is road course racing. This is much more like a road course. There is not a lot of banking. When you have a good car, you can over take. The track is wide enough."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Racing Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):
"We've been working a lot on our race setup. This is a very difficult place, so our qualifying is not a big issue. This new Infiniti is going to be a good engine. The 35A has run well with no reliability problems. It's hard to get a good balance on empty tanks, but I think the #51 Excite@Home car will be fine in the race. We just needed a few more laps to get the tire temperatures up. The wind was a bit goofy out there today, but it was the same for everyone."

DIDIER ANDRE (#32 Galles Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"The biggest problem for me so far has been the amount of time it's been since I've been in a single seater in general (18 months), let alone the limited amount of time I've had in my Galles Racing car. I've been learning a lot this weekend in practice, mostly in trying to deal with traffic, and especially running with guys who have had so much more experience in this series and with testing. My goal for the race is to finish, and with that I will have a lot more laps and experience under my belt. So, tomorrow will be a big learning day for me as well."

BILLY BOAT (#98 CURB Records/Ash Kicker Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"This team has come together in a really short time. We're a little behind, but I think we're going to have a great race car. This team has really jelled well. We ran well for just running one lap in qualifying. There was a lot left out there. We just have to keep working on it. This is the foundation we are going to build, and hopefully we're going to turn this into something good."

DAVEY HAMILTON (#99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We got that thing going pretty good out there. That was probably our 80th lap, not very many. Larry Nash (team manager) did a good job with the car. Sam (Schmidt, owner) put together a good group of guys. He's a good car owner, but I haven't been in trouble yet. I'm having fun this weekend running a lot of cars. I'm not fast now, but we'll make up for it come race day. The problem is this was our test session and qualifying all in one."

JEFF WARD (#35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"This has been like a homecoming for me with Heritage Motorsports and Mitch Davis (team manager). When I came to the Indy Racing League four years ago, I learned my driving style around Mitch's setups. The team is very comfortable with each other, and we have a great future ahead of us."

GREG RAY (#2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"Team Menard loves to start first. This is a good group of guys working hard. New team, new manager, new engineer, a lot of new mechanics. It's a whole new group of guys. We have a great chemistry. Everybody is working together. I really need to focus on having a lot better races this year. I really make it no secret that I enjoy qualifying. I love that single speed event. But it does nothing for the championship." (About what happened last season): "We had a great group of guys last year. I was working with Tom Knapp, a guy that I've worked with since the end of 1992, and he and I had a great relationship. It is hard to put your finger on it, but I think there are some things. I think hindsight is 20-20, but it's hard to talk about it." (About this weekend): "You can tune to adjust, but between the temperature changing, between rubber buildup and then all the different tires, different cars, different lines, it's really just an educated guess. We didn't know how quick we could go because we didn't get to test here as much as we'd like. We came here for a private test and got rained out most of the time. We really just worked on race car setup.

GREG RAY (#2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I was a little disappointed in myself last year, maybe not exercising patience when I should have and tried to keep myself on the right part of the racetrack. One thing I want to step up this year is my focus on the race and the team's focus to have better race cars. This is just a little cake before dinner." (Response to question about no qualifying points this year and how it will affect Team Menard, excellent qualifiers): "I'm just frankly tired of all of this. Everybody has the same chance to go out there and do something you want to do and doing it. I take pleasure in all of them. Qualifying's great, racing's great. I take pleasure in anything that is positive. I have 10 (pole) trophies, I have a lot more than that. I think I have about 13 trophies, and they all look nice sitting next to each other. I take pride in all of them."

SAM HORNISH JR. (#4 Pennzoil Panther Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I kind of chickened out in Turn 1. We've got a really good race car, and I wanted to make sure that it was still good for tomorrow. And I didn't want to make the Pennzoil Panther team work any harder than they already have. We will put our race motor back in, and tomorrow morning we'll work a little more on the race setup. We worked yesterday on our race setup lap after lap, and if I run the same way tomorrow we shouldn't have any problems. We did make a couple of changes this morning. I had an incident coming out of the pits this morning. Spun the car on cold tires and didn't want to push the car too much after that." (About qualifying points): "It really doesn't affect us either way. I'm sure if you're in a position where you lose the championship by one point then it would make a difference to you. Tomorrow is worth 50 points. Today's only worth one point, if the rules stayed the same (as last year). So we are focusing on race day. You can pretty much start anywhere and race up to the front. It's about patience and consistency." (About the difference between running for PDM Racing in 2000 and Panther Racing this season): "There is a lot of difference between the two. Not knowing if you're going to be able to go from race to race. We know we are going to all the races. All we have to do is keep the driver healthy. I don't want to seem like I'm putting down what the guys (at PDM Racing) did for me. They helped me to succeed to what I wanted to do and that's get in one of the premier open-wheel teams. That's what I've been able to do."

SARAH FISHER (#15 Walker Racing/Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"We only had one qualifying lap out there today due to failing tech, and it made the run pretty tough. During practice we had run some dummy qualifying runs as if we would do two laps, and our second lap was always quicker than our first. So that was a little disappointing. With everything not going our way this weekend, the definite high point has been signing Kroger and Procter & Gamble."


ROBBIE BUHL (#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Team Purex G Force/Infiniti/Firestone):
"The guys haven't been home. They worked all night last night. We got our new motor from Infiniti. They literally worked through the night. It's great to have things work like they did. The new motor didn't miss a beat when we ran this morning, and we know there was more in it. We like what we have for a race car. Considering all the circumstances, a top 10 says a lot for the Dreyer & Reinbold Purex crew."

STAN WATTLES (#92 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I don't know what happened. I was on it and flat out, the car just didn't come up. I think we had a little too much downforce. We needed to free it up a little more. At a place like this, I'd much rather be toward the front, but we're in the middle and that's what we'll have to take. This field is pretty tight, so it should be a great race tomorrow." BRANDON ERWIN (#30 WorldBestBuy.com/McCormack Motorsports G Force/ Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I came in because there was smoke in the car. That's why I only had one lap. It happened as I was going into Turn 1, and it wasn't a little bit of smoke either. It was a lot. It smelled like something was burning, so I just tried to do the smart thing, which was to bring it in. When I slowed down, it went away. I'm not sure what the problem was, but the McCormack Motorsports crew is great and they'll find out what it was. It might have been electrical, but I just don't know. The WorldBestBuy.com car is in the field, and we're keeping safety first, which you have to do always." BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, defending Northern Light Cup champion):
"I've got a great team behind me. We're feeling good. This place has haunted me. I won here last year, but this is also where I crashed and broke my back and hurt myself so badly. It still bothers me, thinking about the accident going into Turn 1. You go through there and you are wondering if you are trying too hard or not trying hard enough. It just plays with you and it takes you out of your rhythm, but I think that's just human nature. The key to winning here is to be patient and to have a good race car underneath you. It's a long day and the track changes so much during the race. It's tough keeping a good car under you. We've had a pretty strong weekend. We haven't been the quickest out there, but we've been close and that's what it's all about. We're all here to race tomorrow, but you just never know until race day. The surface gets so slippery. The sunlight, the desert, the surface just gets so slippery with the heat. Obviously we have a different element this year. With so many different cars and different kinds of rubber down, it will make the track slicker. When it's slippery and hot like that, it makes it hard to pass."

STEVE KIGHT (Director of marketing, Infiniti Motorsports): "We had two good, clean qualifying runs. Given the limited experience that we had with the new engine, it is thrilling to see the position we are on the grid, especially with Robbie Buhl. Everyone worked all night last night to get the motor in the car, and then they went out today with very little experience and qualified eighth on the grid. That's outstanding for both the engine and for what that says about the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. We are really excited about tomorrow."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robbie Buhl , Sam Schmidt , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt
Teams Panther Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing