IRL: Phoenix Test in the West quotes 2003-02-08

Day 5 -- Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003 IRL IndyCar Series post-test quotes. SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It has been productive for the team. We are starting to get to know each other, which is big because we have a lot of new...

Day 5 -- Saturday, Feb. 8, 2003
IRL IndyCar Series post-test quotes.

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It has been productive for the team. We are starting to get to know each other, which is big because we have a lot of new people on the team. We really had a lot of miscellaneous problems that have kept us in the garage area. We missed most of the test in Fontana, unfortunately, with two different situations with the transmission and something else that kept us out all afternoon. Then here we are sort of having some issues where we have spent most of this afternoon trying to get fuel running in the motor properly. So it is a little bit of a challenge for us now. We have a decent baseline setup, but we still need to find a little bit of speed and get a little bit happier. At the end of the day it got better, a lot better."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It was a shame that it rained this morning. That slowed us down a little bit today, but I really think the fans enjoyed the autograph session. The car is doing well. The Corteco/Bryant car, we are putting it through its paces. The Toyota engine is running great. Firestone is doing a great job with the tires. We are enjoying it."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I'd say we did as well as we possibly could have expected here at Phoenix -- possibly even a little better, compared to everybody else out there. That has to do most with how well the Hollywood team had us prepared to run at Fontana earlier this week and here this weekend. We ran well in both sessions on Friday. The rain set us back a little bit today. It cost over two-and-a-half hours of track time we could have used. We were probably four or five steps behind a couple of cars (Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves) that tested here already before this weekend. But we'll be back right after the Homestead race to do some more testing. We'll fine-tune what we learned here this weekend, and hopefully we'll be very competitive by the time we race here."

TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer/Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "I am feeling more and more comfortable as I get more time in the Pioneer Toyota. I cut a couple of tires on the track on Friday, so that forced us to come out here and run a little longer on used tires than we wanted to. I put 70 laps, I think, on two sets of tires. That's a lot, especially after the rain washed the track clean this morning. So the problem we had yesterday, which was a little oversteer, turned into a push here today. But we know where we are, so far, and we know what we have to do to go faster. I'm very happy to be here."

SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Overall, we had some basic problems, I guess you could call them, shaking down a brand-new car. This being our first test, we had to go through those first-time blues. Unfortunately, that didn't give us a whole lot of great track time, but at least mentally I'm back up to speed. (Engineer) Mark Weida and I are back talking the same language that we were at the end of the year. We are looking forward to hopefully doing the Homestead Open Test and hoping that we can get more productive track time there."

JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "We're looking at data right now. There's something with the chassis right now; we can't figure out what's going on. That's what these tests are all about, to come out here and learn what the chassis wants. We are going to be here for another day (private testing) to figure it out. Halfway through the corner, the dampers are giving out, and the car is going real loose on us. We are going to look at everything and crunch some numbers and try some more shocks tomorrow and just go from there. We'll get it figured out, though."

ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex Aventis Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Obviously, we didn't get accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished in Fontana. It is pretty evident to everybody we have got some work to do to catch up with some power. We have to focus on that. We made a lot of changes. We made some headway. We learned about the car. We would like to be a little bit quicker than where we are. We lost a motor yesterday, which was disappointing. That kind of takes away the momentum of the day. We have a lot of work to do. As a team, I'm real happy, but we've got to keep working. If we were at the top of the charts that would be a different thing, but we are at the bottom of the charts."

ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm reasonably happy with the day. The crew did a great job preparing the car overnight, and we found a pretty good setup that works here. That was our theme, to come here and test and get a good setup for the race. We got a lot done today, and I'm happy. We didn't run as much at Fontana or yesterday morning, so we are a bit behind. I had confidence that last time we were here testing we got a good baseline, and it proved today that we did have a good setup. The most important thing right now is testing, and that's what we're here for."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I think today was much better for us. Yesterday we had a fair amount of mechanical issues, so we hardly ran. So today was really our only test day, per se. This morning we ran low fuel, and we were happy with the car in that trim. In the afternoon, we ran heavier fuel, more like race trim. We made a lot of progress throughout the afternoon. So I'm happy. The IRL organized this test, and the more Open Tests like that, the better off everybody is."

BRYAN SPERBER (President, Phoenix International Raceway): "It was a pleasure to have the Indy Racing League back at Phoenix International Raceway for the Test in the West. With the rich history of Indy-style racing at PIR, the fans in the Valley always enjoy every chance they get to watch the cars and drivers perform. With all the excitement surrounding this season, the Test in the West practice sessions have the Southwest primed for the Indy Racing League Weekend at PIR, March 21-23."

VITOR MEIRA (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I only did seven laps in the car today. I barely warmed up. Jaques and I are working together. I am learning a lot from him. He has a lot more experience on these tracks than I do. I have spent a lot of time here in Phoenix watching in Turns 1 and 2. I am just doing everything I can to learn."

TIM CINDRIC (President, Penske Racing): "It was a short one yesterday, especially with Gil, just to get him some track time. Today in the morning, we showed we can at least find the speed. We're still lacking a little bit in terms of our overall consistency, and hopefully we'll get that back when the race weekend comes. It's always a great opportunity to come out and try to find out where you stack up. We were the fastest in the morning with the two guys, and the afternoon we tried to work a bit more on consistency. It's hard to know if the track got better or what have you, but it's obvious that there's a lot of guys that can go quick, so we'll see what happens when we come back."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We learned a lot of things we shouldn't do. So, I guess that's a good thing. So we'll do the things we should do. New cars are always like that, you're always trying to find what's positive and sometimes, that's not always what you find. We did a long run to make sure the car could run behind traffic. The good news is the race is not tomorrow. We have a little time, so hopefully we'll be in good shape."

A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The day was going good at first. We made a few changes, and the car was not as comfortable as it was this morning."

KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We had a couple of tense moments out there today. Turn 2 was very tricky, and I thought I was going to crash a couple of times. We were changing many things today after a good day on Friday. And I think we found a lot of combinations for the next time we come back for the race. The Honda engine really felt strong today, so handling was the primary thing for us. Of course, PIR is one of the hardest tracks to set up for, since it has two completely different corners. You want to be flat out through Turns 3 and 4, and then in (Turns) 1 and 2 you have to be precise, yet delicate. Unfortunately, Buddy (Rice) found that out today. I'm glad he is OK. I think we learned more about the Dallara here in the two days. Now we have to sit down and go through the data to determine what is the best for the race next month. I'm really pleased how team is working together."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It was a tough start for us today. We weren't happy with the car in race trim yesterday, and then this morning we had a big imbalance. The Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola crew worked really hard all day, and we had a car that was strong late in the afternoon session. Unfortunately, we had a gearbox leak that shortened our session, and we were unable to put new tires on the car to see how we compared with everyone else. I would say it was a good test for the whole team. Tony (Kanaan) seems to have a good car in qualifying trim, so that looks promising for us."

BRIAN BARNHART (Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, Indy Racing League): "I'm very happy with the results of the Test in the West. I'd like to thank Bill Miller of California Speedway, as well as Bryan Sperber of Phoenix International Raceway, for a very successful week. I'm very pleased with the on-track performances of our engines and gearboxes at both venues. There was extremely close competition as demonstrated by the results at both tracks. It bodes well for a very exciting season as we approach the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway."

SCOTT ROEMBKE (COO and General Manager, Team Rahal): "We came to PIR with a pretty good understanding of what the chassis and engine needed for the test. We were here last week and had a few teething problems. This week, I thought the team jelled very well, and Kenny was toward the top of the timing sheet in every session. We have to go through everything back at the shop and get a combination that we can be comfortable with on the race weekend. Overall, it was a good experience for the team and Kenny. I think we'll improve after our next test, too (in another week)."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "It feels great to be right at the top of the speed chart. We made a huge jump in speed this afternoon. We were struggling to find the right balance, so I gave my engineers an idea that had worked for me in the past. I can't say enough about the guys here at Team Target. We were getting a little frustrated because we knew that we could be fast here, and they stayed patient and focused. The Toyota engine has been really impressive this week, and I think we have a strong package for the season. It was a lot of fun out there today. Hopefully it will be like this when we come here for the race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We have a really good car in both qualifying and race trim, and I'm very happy with the way everything went today. Michael (Andretti) would have been quick out there, too. When he had the problem, he began working with me, and I can say that it really helped. Team 7-Eleven is a great team, they put a great car together for me. I think that working with my engineer, Eric (Cowdin), over all these years also helps speed things up a bit. It's been a very good day."

TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "What is great about this team is that they are so focused on being fast and winning, and that's what I'm about, as well. Obviously, it's been a good fit for both of us. This week of testing for us has been very productive. The Toyota engine has been very competitive on both the 2-mile oval in Fontana and this track here in Phoenix. We still have some work to do, but it feels good to be near the top of the speed charts."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 7 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car felt really good, and after lunch I was going to put on a new set of tires and then go out and put in a time. I thought that I was going to be quick, but then the header broke, and it ended that. I'm really happy about how well Tony ran, and I think that Dario, Tony and I really worked well together over these test days. We may have had our teething problems along the way, but I'm very satisfied with what we've accomplished."

KIM GREEN (President, Andretti Green Racing): "Tony had a frustrating day yesterday, and it's great to see how we've been able to work through it and deliver a race car that was equally good in qualifying and race trim. He did a great job out there today; in fact, the whole team did. We'll have to see how the temperatures change once we get back here to the race in March. It could get a whole lot warmer, but we are very happy with where we are right now. Overall for the entire Test in the West, I must say that we've learned a lot about our race cars, and we've seen how well our team members and drivers are working together. I think we're in good shape heading into the season."

-irl-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Chip Ganassi , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske , HART