IRL: Pikes Peak Preview

FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 22, 1999 - Quotes from selected Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers, team owners and officials about the third annual Radisson 200 on June 27 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. PPG Pole qualifying is June...

FOUNTAIN, Colo., June 22, 1999 - Quotes from selected Pep Boys Indy Racing League drivers, team owners and officials about the third annual Radisson 200 on June 27 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. PPG Pole qualifying is June 26.

BILLY BOAT (#11 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "I think the key for the Harrah's team is that we need to go into Pikes Peak and come out of there with a good finish. After mechanical problems at Texas, we were lucky to lose only one spot in the points. We need to go into Colorado and come away with a strong showing."

RAUL BOESEL (#3 b-Fast Shopper-TransWorld-Brant Racing-R&S MKV Riley & Scott/Aurora/Goodyear): "The Radisson 200 at Pikes Peak will be my first experience racing on a short oval track, so I'm looking forward to fielding the car in my first short-track race. The b-Fast Shopper-TransWorld-Brant Racing-R&S MK V was an excellent car at the Longhorn 500, but unfortunately we had a rear suspension failure, and we finished in 23rd. Our results in Texas didn't show how good the car was. I want to finish the season in the top 10 in points, and I feel we can do that. We just have to remain consistent."

BUZZ CALKINS (#12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat G Force/Aurora/Firestone, resident of Denver): "I am excited to return to my home state with the momentum of our ninth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. We made real progress in that race, and I expect it to continue this weekend." (About racing in front of friends and family at PPIR): "It is enjoyable to have them see us race in person, but it does not produce any additional pressure. Pressure to perform is a constant." (About racing at PPIR): "It is an excellent facility and obviously one of my favorites. We frequently test there due to its proximity to our shop in Denver. In fact, I was the first Indy Racing driver to test the PPIR surface in the summer of 1996, driving my Orlando-winning Reynard-Cosworth."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 The Children's Beverage Group-Team Cheever Dallara/Infiniti/Goodyear, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, former resident of Aspen, Colo.): "Now that we've successfully integrated the Infiniti engine into the team's makeup, we will be able to once again concentrate on our total effort as a racing team. Being able to refocus on ourselves, we should be able to make up a lot of ground. We are now in as good as shape as we were in Orlando and Phoenix." (About the quest to win a championship): "To win a championship, you must win races. We let Phoenix slip by; we let Texas slip by. We can't afford to let another one slip by if we want to win this championship. The season is still long enough that the championship is still feasible for us to win." (About challenges of racing at Pikes Peak): "These 1-mile ovals are like little bull rings with a lot of traffic. We race very closely in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, and therefore, how well you defend yourself in traffic will determine your result." (About physical challenges of racing in altitude at Pikes Peak): "If the engine runs out of oxygen, you go slower; if your body runs out of oxygen, you lose your ability to think and concentrate. To make sure I don't run out of breath, I am changing my training program and increasing my aerobics until race day." (About the crucial summer stretch of races): "Whoever accumulates the most points in the next three months will win the championship. That's how important the next couple of races are." (About PPIR): "This is the nicest short oval we race on. It's very flat and very smooth. Like a billiard table. They've invested a lot of money into this facility to make it special. Having lived many years in Aspen, and as I still come for several weeks every year with my kids for vacation, I always love coming here to race." (About Goodyear tires): "Tires play a very important part in a team's success here because the air is very rarified, and there is not a lot of downforce. The corners here are very long, and you're in them for a long time, so with the right setup and the right tires, it is possible to drive each lap flat." (About Infiniti engine): "The engine is getting stronger every time we run. Now that we are past the Indy 500 and all its craziness, we can take more time in assessing things and move more carefully. We have made tremendous progress in the past three months and can only imagine where we can take this program by the end of the season."

MARK DISMORE (#28 MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "Last year at Pikes Peak, we qualified fourth on the grid. We had a great car during qualifying, but during the race we went a little backward. We ended up 19th overall. We've done a great deal of testing this season, and I'm hoping it will pay off. Scott's (Sharp) team tested at Pikes Peak a few weeks ago, and they learned a lot about what will be needed in regards to the setups. I think once we get into the race weekend, the Kelley Racing team will be able to see how we stack up against the competition. I'm excited. The team's been providing me with a great car all year long, and it finally showed at Texas with our pole win. It's too bad we had a few problems during the race that kept us from finishing up front. I'm confident our time will come for a win. It will be a challenging race at Pikes Peak, and it will be important to do well. We will need to focus our attention on the driver point standings. We are currently in third place in the championship, and each race from here on out will be crucial. We need to gain as many points as possible to try and end the season on top."

SCOTT GOODYEAR (#4 Pennzoil Panther G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, Pep Boys Indy Racing League points leader): "I'm not concentrating on the points championship right now. Our key focus every weekend has been having the ability to go out and win races. I don't think that we (me and the Panther Pack) look at the fact that we are leading in the points because we all know how quickly that can change, and there's a lot of time between now and the end of the season. We feel confident that we've got a great package, which gives me confidence that we will go on to win more races." (About racing at PPIR): "I like PPIR because it's a very demanding racetrack. One thing for sure at PPIR is that you have to qualify well to be able to run up front because it's not an easy track to make up time on since you're spending so much time turning. The facilities are first class at PPIR, and the scenery is great."

STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Mexmil-Tokheim G Force/Aurora/Firestone): "Pikes Peak has been a great racetrack for me. I like the track a lot. It's a very smooth surface with room to pass. I am really looking forward to a good result. The racing line is not as tight, so there is room for overtaking. Dick Simon gave his team a good-handling car last year, and I know he will use that data on my G Force-Aurora for this race. After the team's great fourth-place finish at Texas, we are all pumped up and ready to race at Pikes Peak. I am looking forward to the great scenery in Colorado, the huge mountain and the race."

DAVEY HAMILTON (#9 Galles Racing Spinal Conquest Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "We tested here a few weeks ago for Goodyear, and the times were extremely close. I think this race will be very competitive, and I feel that we have a good shot. Reducing the rpm really seemed to make a difference here. I think you will see that most everyone will be flat-out, which will make for some great racing. I am glad that we came out here to test for Goodyear, and I feel confident about our tires going into this weekend." (About racing at PPIR): "I enjoy the races in the West, because I grew up in this part of the country. It is a treat for me to race out here, and coming here twice in one season is awesome. My team is based about five hours from here (Albuquerque, N.M.), which makes it so much easier on everyone." (About last year's Radisson 200): "We led 38 laps here last year, and it felt great. This was definitely one of my favorite races in 1998, and I am hoping it will be the most memorable one of 1999. I grew up on short oval tracks, and coming here is like coming home for me."

JOHN HOLLANSWORTH JR. (#42 pcsave.com-Lycos Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, Sprint PCS Rookie of the Year points leader): "I'm looking forward to getting back to a mile racetrack; they are fast, busy and require good decision-making skills to stay out of trouble. I believe the history of Pep Boys Indy Racing League racing at Pikes Peak has shown that it can take a toll on equipment and drivers. Having spent some time mountain biking in the Rockies in the past few years, I can attest that the thinner air density makes a big difference when you are trying to make 'cycling horsepower.' Dad (John Hollansworth Sr.) ran Pikes Peak twice in the 60s, but I was too young to know what was taking place. He finished fifth in a stock car one year; in 1966 he actually drove his Offenhauser-powered Indy car (with dirt tires) up the mountain!" (About team goals): "Our team goals are to finish the race with no mechanical failures and to place in the top 10. Hopefully we will make more progress on these objectives at Pikes Peak." (About experience at PPIR): "The last time I was at Pikes Peak was in 1997 in a FF2000 car. It was an exciting race weekend, and it will be great to be back at this track in an Indy Racing car."

FRANK HONSOWETZ (Manager, Infiniti Motorsports): "At Texas, the Infiniti Indy engine package proved to be reliable and showed plenty of performance by qualifying fifth on the starting grid with Team Cheever. Heading into Pikes Peak, we hope to continue our recent advances. As far as the engine is concerned, the Pikes Peak oval is one of the most unique on our schedule. The first reason is because the track is located 5,357 feet above sea level. This high altitude has the same effect on the engine as it does on a person who is exercising, which is that it is more difficult to breathe. Since the engine is basically an air pump, and it takes in less air at higher altitudes, the horsepower output is lower. This same track at sea level would produce average speeds about 10 mph faster than you will see in Colorado. For this reason, at Pikes Peak the engines are tuned dramatically different than anywhere else. The configuration of the Pikes Peak oval is another unique characteristic we face at the Radisson 200. Since the layout has virtually no straightaways, the engine speed maintained is more constant at this track than any other Pep Boys Indy Racing League oval."

STEVE KNAPP (#35 Delco Remy-Microphonics-ThermoTech-ISM Racing G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, 1998 Bank One Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year): "Hopefully we'll have a better race here than we did at Texas. Don't get me wrong, it was great to finish the Longhorn 500 and get points, but we need to concentrate on improving and maybe get a shot at winning. We need to make sure the car is there for the long run and set up properly so that we don't wear out any tires." (About the 1-mile oval at PPIR): "It's a very nice track, and the scenery is perhaps one of the finest in all of racing. I have always enjoyed my visits to Colorado and particularly Colorado Springs. There won't be any problems adjusting to the flat surface. It's like a mini-Indianapolis with the 200 laps. If we can stay out of trouble, we'll do fine, but what I'd really love to do is get a great finish for Delco Remy and Microphonics, and for the team. That would be a definite plus and be a turning point in our season."

BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Delta Faucet-Coors Light-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear, resident of Vail, Colo.): "I was born, raised and live in Colorado, so naturally this race is very special to me. We would like to have a strong and successful race in front of my friends, family and home-state fans. The Pep Boys Indy Racing League field is made up of very talented drivers, teams and engineers. There is such an even playing field in terms of equipment parity. To win or place on podium, a driver and team cannot afford a single mistake. I am fortunate to have a super team that always gives me 100 percent and often gets me a few places in the race with their fast work during pit stops. This is not only my home state but also the home of one of our sponsors, the Coors Brewing Company. We want so much to win in their and my home state. It is clear that Colorado race fans love their Indy Racing. After winning the Indianapolis 500, it felt like the whole state of Colorado celebrated with us. The owners and designers of PPIR have created one of the best 1-mile racetracks in the world. They have made a tremendous contribution to oval-track racing in the state of Colorado. PPIR is a very fast and wide racetrack, allowing for side-by-side and sometimes three-abreast racing. It is the sort of track that perpetuates good races."

JAQUES LAZIER (#33 Truscelli Team Racing-Warner Bros. Studio Stores G Force/Aurora/Goodyear, resident of Vail, Colo.): "We had a tremendous showing at Texas. We qualified 19th with very little time in the car, and we led the race for nine laps. Since Texas, we have quickly come together as a cohesive team in a very short period of time. We're definitely looking forward to the Pikes Peak race since we are a Colorado-based team, and I'm a Colorado driver. It's a dream come true for the entire team, and we're hoping to show well for our family, friends and the local race fans. We are definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with come race day in Colorado. Our goals for the Radisson 200 are to qualify in the top 15, and we will be putting a little extra pressure on ourselves to show well at the race. This track is extremely wide, and the fans will see some exciting racing with competitors driving side-by-side, fighting for the lead. We're going to be one of those cars. I encourage race fans to come out and support the home team -- #33 Truscelli Team Racing/Warner Bros. Studio Store/EDSS car because we're going to run to the front during the Radisson 200."

ROBBY McGEHEE (#55 Energizer Advanced Formula Dallara/Aurora/Firestone, 1999 Bank One Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year): "I have raced at Pikes Peak several times in USF2000 and really love the area and facility. It is a terrific environment to race in, and I am looking forward to going back there. I was always fast there in 2-liter cars and really like driving the oval track, but I don't think that even compares to what the experience will be like in an Indy Racing car. So other than being familiar with the track I don't think my past experience at PPIR means much to this race. Just like everything else for the Energizer Motorsports team this year, this will be a new experience -- our first time on a 1-mile oval. So, as before, our goals are to build on our base of knowledge and experience and continue to improve. Each race has taught us something different this year. Indy was about making the car last for a long race and continuing under difficult circumstances; and Texas taught us that we can run up front and that sometimes you have to really slug it out to finish in spite of mechanical problems. Hopefully for Pikes Peak we will have ironed out some of the mechanical difficulties that plagued us at the Texas race, and we can put it up front to stay. Even with all of our challenges this has been a very exciting year, and I feel like the Energizer Motorsports team has responded well to the adversities that we have faced. This is a new race, and another opportunity for us to learn and be successful. I am excited about the opportunities this race offers us."

JOE NEGRI (Group Manager, GM Motorsports IRL/Road Racing): "The race at Pikes Peak International Raceway presents three distinct challenges. First, we will be racing at high altitude, which affects the performance of both the engines and chassis. Second, we will be running under a 10,000-rpm rev limit for the first time at this track, a reduction of 500 rpm since last year's race at PPIR. Finally, we will be returning to a 1-mile oval after competing on three superspeedways. The mile-high elevation at PPIR typically reduces engine output by 10 to 12 percent from sea-level conditions. Engine reliability is usually excellent at this event because the stress on critical components such as pistons is significantly reduced. A 1-mile oval rewards an engine with strong torque and quick throttle response, and many Oldsmobile engine builders will be using special short-track engine specifications at this race. Several builders developed interim revisions in engine tuning for the new rpm limit which took effect at the preceding race at Texas Motor Speedway, and they are continuing to refine their engines' power curves to suit the new operating range. We are also continuing our own testing program with the 4.0-liter engine to optimize its tuning for the 10,000-rpm limit. One of the competitive advantages of the Oldsmobile IRL Aurora V8 has been its high-rpm horsepower, so we now have to change our focus slightly to maximize power and torque at lower engine speeds."

SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "I'm looking forward to going back to Colorado and racing at Pikes Peak. I really enjoy competing on the 1-mile oval there. It's an extremely challenging track, and I believe it's probably the smoothest out of all the Pep Boys Indy Racing League 1-mile ovals we race on. There are basically three different grooves a driver can decide to take on the track. A few weeks ago, the Kelley Racing team tested at Pikes Peak, and we had strong results. Our car was the fastest and it was handling quite nicely. We made a lot of different adjustments to the car during the test, and I feel we'll have a car that will be consistent and ready for next week's race. Last year at Pikes Peak, we started eighth on the grid and ended the day in 11th place. We did not test at all there prior to the race, and I think that played a factor in our performance. Of course I was disappointed after the Longhorn 500. We started so well on the grid and ended up in 10th place. But again, the car had problems beyond the team's control. I'm very confident we will do well in Pikes Peak, especially since we had a great test."

JOHNNY UNSER (#92 Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet-Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "We ran hard when we could (in Texas) and the crew did a great job with quick pit stops. It was the first real opportunity we had to work together in race conditions. We are the newer of the two Hemelgarn teams and we learned a great deal even though the outcome did not reward us for the effort and hard work. I look forward to the next race at Colorado Springs with great confidence for myself and the team."

ROBBY UNSER (#81 PetroMoly-Team Pelfrey Dallara/Aurora/Firestone): (About racing at PPIR): "It's a good track. You have to set up your car well to have a good race. God, I like that area a whole lot." (Comparing racing up Pikes Peak with racing at PPIR): "They both can bite you."

JEFF WARD (#21 Yahoo-Merchant Online Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear): "It's important to win races. That will put us ahead in the points. I don't want to try and stay close in the points; I want to stay ahead of him (leader Scott Goodyear). We had a bad race at Dallas with mechanical problems; otherwise we would be right up there, still with the points lead. Anything can happen to us or to Scott, and there are other guys capable of putting together a few wins." (About other drivers in points race): "I think about every race one race at a time. The only guys I worry about are the ones that I have to pass or beat during the race. You can't look at the future and worry about who is going to win three races in a row. I just try to race with whomever I'm with at the time. When I get to the last race in the season, all I concern myself with is who I have to beat or what position I need to be in to win the championship. That's the way I've always done it in the past, and hopefully we'll be in that position at the last race. All I can ask for is to be in a position to win a championship at the last race." (About fitness program for racing at altitude at PPIR): "Altitude, for what we do, doesn't have to do with any cardiovascular threshold. I've done tons of cycling and motocross races at altitude, and sometimes it's good to get acclimated to it. But basically it's a shock for your heart when the heart rate gets up high. When you're racing cars it doesn't get any higher than usual; it just takes a little longer for it to come down. It's best to get your heart rate up a bit before you go out to get it tuned up. It shouldn't be a problem for anyone. (About last year's race at PPIR): "I ran real well at Pikes Peak last year. I've been running real well this year, too. This year I haven't led as many laps as I would have liked to, but we're better in the points than we were last year. We do real well on the 1-mile ovals. Last year I led 97 laps at Pikes Peak and it didn't do me any good. I'd rather just lead one lap, the last one." (Keys to PPIR): "It's a handling track. A handling track is always good for guys that like to set up their cars. Pikes Peak is 10 times more challenging than Texas. Texas is flat-out. If your car is working good you just go flat-out. At all the mile tracks you have to get off the throttle and get on the throttle, and that has a lot to do with the grip in the car, keeping the grip and keeping the balance. At Texas, the balance isn't really important. It's a lot of fun going to these mile tracks where have to really drive and make changes to the car that can win you the race instead of just holding your foot down flat."

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Goodyear , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt