Radisson Indy 225 FOUNTAIN, Colo., Monday, June 10, 2002 -- Quotes from selected drivers about the Radisson Indy 225 on Sunday, June 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place June 15 (quotes listed in...
Radisson Indy 225
FOUNTAIN, Colo., Monday, June 10, 2002 -- Quotes from selected drivers about the Radisson Indy 225 on Sunday, June 16 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. Practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying take place June 15 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2002 Indianapolis 500 Bank One co-Rookie of the Year): (About racing at altitude): "As far as the mechanical effects go, it's like when you are working out, it is hard to train and hard to breathe for the drivers and the engine. The physical demand of the altitude hurts the engine performance; the engine management guys (McLaren Performance) will have to play with it and make adjustments. The altitude will also affect the downforce and drag of the car. As a driver, it's going to be harder to breathe, but I don't expect any additional fatigue." (About racing on consecutive weekends and the busy summer stretch of four races in five weeks): "I think the summer stretch will demand a more calculated plan for our whole team; car, motor and travel prep will need to be carefully monitored. Driving the race car on consecutive weekends is better for me and accentuates my training."
RAUL BOESEL (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville/Pittsburgh Paints Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): (Comparing Pikes Peak to Texas Motor Speedway): "It's a whole different ballgame. It's a short oval, and we just need to see if we can have better luck. I get to jell with the team more and more, so I think good things will happen."
BUZZ CALKINS (Owner, Bradley Motorsports, which fields No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone for Shigeaki Hattori. Calkins is a Denver native.): "Of course, we're happy and proud to be coming back to Colorado to race. It's our hometown race, and next to Indianapolis, the most important race on the schedule for the Bradley Motorsports team. Even though the race shop is in Indianapolis, we still consider ourselves a Denver team, with our Bradley corporate offices there. This race gives us a chance to showcase the professionalism and quality of our team in front of our hometown friends and corporate partners such as Bradley Food Marts and Sinclair."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Indy Racing League points leader): "Pikes Peak will present Marlboro Team Penske with a whole new challenge because we've never raced there. We did test there earlier this season, and we were able to get some information about the circuit. I think that the winds will definitely be a factor because the cars are very sensitive to the weather conditions at this track. I'm really looking forward to going there -- it will be very exciting to see how we do. We just have to be patient, remain focused and continue to work hard."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 winner at Pikes Peak, former resident of Aspen, Colo.): "Pikes Peak is a beautiful location right in the foothills of the Rockies. It is always great to come back to Colorado, where I lived for so many years. The Infiniti engines have always gone well in Pikes Peak. In fact, our first win with Infiniti came there. The high altitude always creates problems with the handling of the cars and the engine, making it a tricky oval. It's fast for a short oval and there is a lot of room, so you'll see a lot of jockeying for position. I think we will do well there. If we are going to continue our bid for the championship, there are no races that we can't be prepared to do well."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "I had my best finish yet, second, in the IRL at Pikes Peak in 2000. I like the track because handling plays a big part there; it is not a horsepower track. One thing that is a little different from the other tracks we run is that the car changes a lot during the run from a full load of fuel with new tires to a light load with old tires. I think that is because it is a flat track, and you slide the cars through the turns more so you leave a lot of your tire on the track. Tire wear is a factor, and there is a lot of buildup of rubber on the track, which makes the car's handling even more important. There is also the physical wear on the driver because of the thin air, which makes it hard to breathe. The first couple times on the radio, I am huffing a little bit, and it's hard to talk, but then you get used to it. I always get there a day or two ahead and run on the streets to get my heart rate up, and that works pretty good for me. It helps to be in shape, though."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a very productive test at Pikes Peak at the end of April. We were able to gather data, which should help us come race weekend. The track actually feels like a scaled-down version of Michigan Speedway. Marlboro Team Penske is in a good position in the championship point standings so we need to keep the momentum going with a strong run. I had never been to the area around Pikes Peak before the test. I really liked it and look forward to returning there for the race."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year): "Coming off all the excitement of racing at Texas, it's a very nice change of pace to go to Pikes Peak. I'm not saying it's not an exciting place. It's very much an exciting place to be in its own way. It's absolutely beautiful scenery. That's why a lot of us go into Colorado early and spend a little extra time there, like I'm going to do on Monday. As for the racetrack, it's a great facility. The track itself is very smooth. It's only a mile oval, but it's wide-open racing all the way around. You can go two-wide in a lot of the corners. So that makes for a very exciting race on Sunday. I had a hard time there last year, mostly because we never really found the right setup. We finished in the top 10, but this year I think we'll have a lot more than that to offer. I finished second at my last mile oval at Nazareth, so we know what our car can do on the small tracks. Hopefully we can go one better at Pikes Peak."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 12 EPSON Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, drives for Bradley Motorsports, owned by Denver native Buzz Calkins): "I'm so excited to go to Pikes Peak, especially after our race at Texas. It was the first time I led an IRL race, and it was a great feeling. Our team is working real good together. My engineers, Brian Ma and David Cripps, and I work good together. And the Infiniti engines are real strong."
GEORGE MACK (No. 31 310 Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "This is an interesting month for me, for every track is new. I haven't had a chance to test at PPIR, but I have heard that altitude and wind often play a strong role in how one sets up an Indy car to run fast and effectively. The higher altitude makes the air thinner and less dense. The downforce of the car will be affected. But I trust the 310 Racing crew with their expertise at PPIR will have no problem in finding the right setup. I love knowing that this race is on a 1-mile oval. My background is in short-track racing with karts, and it's always fun to feel like you're constantly turning. (About racing on consecutive weekends)" "It's not even an issue. The more I can race and cultivate myself in the Indy Racing League series, the better."
GREG RAY (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1999 Indy Racing League champion, two-time IRL winner at Pikes Peak, both in 1999): "I like Pikes Peak. It is a handling-type track. The horsepower is not as critical there as is having a good-handling car that is extremely good in traffic. You need to be able to run multi-lines to get through the traffic. I've had some success there, so that builds your confidence when you return to the track. I also enjoy the area. We will be in Colorado Springs by 10 a.m. Sunday morning (June 9). (Wife) Angela and I take the boys, and we make a vacation out of it. We do a lot of outdoors stuff like hiking the trails, taking pictures and, of course, going up Pikes Peak. The weather is always beautiful, cool in the mornings, warming up by afternoon, and you can usually count on a thunderstorm in the early evening, which looks spectacular against Cheyenne Mountain. We always look forward to this week."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1992, 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner, past winner of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb): "To me, returning to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak area is almost like coming home. There are many happy memories for me and my family with the years of competition and success at the Hill Climb. It is great to have the racing heritage of the area extended through Pikes Peak International. It is a driver's track, a very technical 1-mile that gives drivers the opportunity to really race. The friends and fans we have made in the area over the years make coming here one of the favorites stops for me on the IRL schedule. Since it is almost like my home track, it would be great for the Corteco team to have an outstanding weekend and score our first win."