FOUNTAIN, Colo., Thursday, June 15, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Radisson Indy 200 on June 18 at Pikes Peak International Raceway: EDDIE CHEEVER JR. ( ...
FOUNTAIN, Colo., Thursday, June 15, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Radisson Indy 200 on June 18 at Pikes Peak International Raceway:
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, former resident of Aspen, Colo.): "We've been very competitive all season so far. In fact, we could have won every race this year." (About PPIR): "Pikes Peak is the nicest short oval that we race on, and we've run pretty well there. It's a very flat, smooth, tough 1-mile bullring. The rarified air in the mountains is also tough on both the drivers and the equipment. Tires will be critical to success at Pikes Peak. The long corners really take a toll on the tires. If you can get the right setup, though, it's possible be flat all the way around." (On his ties to Colorado): "I always love coming to Pikes Peak. I lived for many years in Aspen, and my children and I still enjoy vacationing in Colorado every year."
MARK DISMORE (#28 On Star/GM BuyPower Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "This track is hard on brakes. I don't know if it's because of the altitude or track, but taking care of the brakes is the key to winning, or even finishing, here. After finishing third here in the last race last year, I have the confidence that we can run up front here. We need a good finish and the points. Everyone is so tight right now, you can't afford mistakes."
SCOTT GOODYEAR (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to Pikes Peak. It's located in a beautiful area, and the facility is always nice. I'm happy to go back and hope for a successful race, and hopefully a win. The 1-mile oval always provides for an interesting race - there's nothing like turning left all the time. And it definitely makes it harder for me to keep track of how many laps I've completed." (About challenges of this event): "The altitude is higher, the air more dense, so that gives any car less downforce. There is certainly homework the engineers have to do to prepare the car to be a great race car under these conditions. And when racing, it is always a challenge to brake and make the car work well in traffic while also going fast. But those challenges will be faced by my great crew, and we'll be prepared for the Radisson Indy 200."
STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Mexmil/Tokheim/Viking Air Tools/Cigarette G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I love Pikes Peak and racing at PPIR. I love the surrounding Colorado countryside, first of all, and the racetrack is very interesting. It's wide and smooth, and you can really overtake other drivers if you have a good-handling car. It's about having a good-handling car for the race. At some of the other tracks we drive on, you can be competitive with a car that isn't handling really well. But at Pikes Peak, you must have a good-handling car. I scored my best-ever finish in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series there, finishing second in 1997, and I was closing fast on the winner, but we ran out of time to catch him. The next year I finished fourth at Pikes Peak, so I am really looking forward to this race. My new G-Force has been very competitive on 1-mile ovals this year. We were very quick at Orlando and Phoenix races, so I think we will be good here at Pikes Peak. With a little luck, I hope we can score another top-five finish on Sunday."
SAM HORNISH JR. (#18 PDM Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We had a great race car in Texas. We moved up to third from 13th right at the start of the race. Electrical problems sent us to the pits early and caused us to struggle for the rest of the day. The final time the car quit, we were too far from the pits to make it back around. We stayed out there even after we had trouble to pick up points on Jeret Schroeder in the Rookie of the Year battle. Our goals for Colorado are to find a great race setup and run all day. I am confident we can make the car go fast; now we need some good luck with the mechanical pieces of the car." (About challenge of running two consecutive weekends): "I think the back-to-back races are a benefit. It keeps you sharp with your skills and ready to race. The tracks are very different. It might have made it easier to go from the 1 mile at Colorado to the mile and a half at Texas due to the speed, but the other way around won' t be a problem." (About special challenges posed by the altitude change from Texas to Colorado): "Colorado is a really fast race track. It could be the track or the thinner air. For a 1-mile oval, it's actually faster than Phoenix. I cannot wait to get there and see how the car will handle with the change in altitude." (Final thoughts on Casino Magic 500 on June 11 at Texas): "I am disappointed that I was forced to view the race rather than participate. The other drivers put on such a good race that I wish that I was out there to help show the fans how exciting Indy Racing Northern Light Series races can be. I am really happy to be part of this series, and I hope the Texas fans enjoyed the show."
JIMMY KITE (#27 Big Daddy's BBQ/Founders Bank/Blueprint Racing Special G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm glad to be going back to Pikes Peak with Big Daddy's BBQ, Founders Bank and Blueprint Racing. I had my best finish here last year. It is probably my favorite 1-mile oval on the circuit. I always have a lot of fun when I come here, and I usually run pretty well. This would be the perfect place to get my first win in the Northern Light Series since it is where I had my first run in an Indy Racing car." (About this event being the last race on a 1-mile oval this season): "It's a shame that we are already so far into the season that this is our last 1-mile oval. I love the 1-milers, but we are in my favorite time of the year since we are left with the 1.5 mile ovals." (About physical preparations for racing at altitude): "I try to get out here a couple of days early. It helps you get used to the air so, that by Race Day, you don't feel a big difference in the thinner air. Still, at the end of the 200-miler at Pikes Peak, I'll probably be just as tired as I am after the 500K events."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems/MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "After the last three races being on superspeedways, I'm kind of excited about coming back to a mile. The Delphi team needs to keep our momentum rolling. We gained a lot of points and confidence in Texas. Pikes Peak requires a great set of brakes and brake scoops (coolers). It's also the only Indy Racing Northern Light Series race that has traditionally become a fuel mileage race, and that's great for our Comptech motors."
AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles ECR Racing Tickets.com Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Racing in Colorado Springs is like coming home for me, because my family's racing history started at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. When I raced in Denver with Galles Racing in the early 90s, we received such a warm welcome from all of the Colorado fans. There is something special about being able to race in the West. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that my hometown is Albuquerque New Mexico, which is so close to Colorado. It feels good to go to a racetrack and feel a lot of support from the crowd. I felt that at Phoenix and Indy this year, and it is a very special feeling. I remember having that feeling in Colorado my whole racing life, so it makes me excited to go racing there this weekend." (About PPIR): "I think that the race at Pikes Peak is going to be one heck of a show for a number of reasons. The configuration of the track allows for a lot of passing. With the Indy Racing Northern Light Series as competitive as it is, the fans are going to see a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing on Race Day. That is great for the crowd, as well as the drivers. We tested there right after Indy, and the track felt very smooth. The car felt good, but I was mainly just getting a feel for everything at the track. It was the first time I had run on it ever, so I had to find my groove and get used to the corners and everything. Traditionally, the Galles team has always been strong at Pikes Peak, so we feel confident about the setup that we are going there with." (About sponsor's support of this event): "Starz Encore Superpak is headquartered in Denver, and they are really geared up for this race. They are very aggressive in promoting their sponsorship this year, and they are going all out for the Pikes Peak race. They have purchased over 3,500 tickets for the race, and that shows their support for both Pikes Peak International Raceway and the Indy Racing Series. They are new to motorsports this year, and they are taking advantage of the incredible opportunities that are available in this sport for corporate sponsors." (About the rest of the season): "Indy is over now, and so we are focusing on the rest of the races for 2000. The Indy Racing Northern Light Series is so competitive that it is important to stay on top of the program. There is not one dominant team, driver or chassis in this series, which shows the parity in this series."