Richmond Open Test IRL Indycar Series Thursday, May 29, 2003 SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It is just great for us to get here. I think some teams chose to skip this Open Test. With so many new faces on the Kelley team...
Richmond Open Test
IRL Indycar Series
Thursday, May 29, 2003
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It is just great for us to get here. I think some teams chose to skip this Open Test. With so many new faces on the Kelley team that have never been here before, it was important for us just to get some baseline running in."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone) "It was OK. After Indy, when we come back over here it is like we were in the fastest place, and now we are like in the slowest place. It feels a bit weird for everybody. The car is running OK. Unfortunately the rain came down. This is one of my favorite tracks to drive. It is really fun to drive. Anything can happen in the race. It is very hard to pass. Last year we could actually go by people in the race. I have fun driving around here. It reminds me a little of a road course."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Rahal/Letterman/Miller Lite/Pioneer Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We just basically came here with a baseline. We didn't get to change anything because the rain came. It is a wild place. It is very interesting. I've never been to a place like this."
GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Special Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We ran at Japan and then at Indy, so this is the first short track I've done all year. Jeff Britton, my engineer, and Jeff Lowman, our shock engineer -- they're just doing a really good job of getting me comfortable and up to speed. We know we have the people; we know we have the equipment. I keep harping that we cannot make a mistake so we're starting off a little conservative. We've gone quicker and quicker with each run out there, and we're getting more comfortable. We are already learning some stuff. I'm very, very pleased with this team. We're having lots of fun, and we're getting better every day."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "It's good. We barely got out there and did a little bit of running. It was good. We just need to do a little bit more running. I like Richmond an awful lot. It's a little bullring, and it's very busy out there. You are always in a corner, and you are always fighting for position. You are always fighting traffic. You never have time to go down any kind of straightaways or anything like that and do any type of resting at all. You end up rubbing wheels with a lot of guys out there. Really, this is a sport that's not a contact sport with our open-wheel cars. When you get to Richmond in our series, the Darlington stripes become the Richmond stripes. And so, you are very, very close and very competitive. It's a great time, always racing somebody or something. It's a great Saturday night fight. Horsepower is important at every racetrack we go to. You know there has not been a time when power isn't the best thing at all. But this being a short track, handling is a very big deal as far as what your lap times are going to be. Just like I said you are always in a corner and once you can get through the corners the straightaway speeds are that much quicker. There is not that much straightaway here, then that corner becomes that much more important. Handling is important in Indy and was important in Motegi. It becomes a little less important when you get to Texas, Kansas City or Kentucky. Because we are trying to pull the drag out of them as much as we can. We run two abreast. That kind of racing and those tracks for our cars is more like restrictor -plate racing at NASCAR. Everything comes down to trimming out and getting through the air and the draft is that much more important."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The car was pretty good. We're just bottoming pretty good in Turn 2. We made a small mistake, and the gears are slightly wrong. We were just out there trying to get the ride-height set before we had to come back and make the change, so we only got 20 laps in. We just did a real quick systems check. The car is somewhat decent, but like I said, it's still bottoming too much. It's my first time here; it's pretty exciting. It's definitely rough, really bumpy, but other than that, it's all right."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were happy with everything. It's really a fun track to drive. We just came from Indianapolis, which is 2.5 miles, flat and smooth and then to come here, it's ¾-mile, and there's some bumps. I think that's one of the strengths of the series, is having such diversity in the tracks we go to. And that would be the extreme, from Indy to here. Things went pretty well this morning. We're happy with what we have. We're one of the Chevy teams. Chevy is working hard to make more power for us, but at a lot of the tracks we go to, that maybe isn't as much of a premium versus a handling scenario at a track like this, so we're excited to come here."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It was OK. It wasn't bad. The guys got the car pretty close, and we made a couple of changes, and it started raining. It's been a year since I was here last, and it's such a big comparison. We just came here from Indy, which is a 2.5-mile circuit. It is very wide, very smooth. It's less than a mile. It is pretty bumpy. It is something to adjust to. It is going to take a little bit of time. It is a lot of tough racing. It is physically one of the toughest races. You are always in the corner. You never really get a break from the straight. It is very demanding. I think a lot of drivers like it."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "It's a lot of fun out there. When I first pulled in, I thought it was a go-kart track. It's a very short track, but it's a lot of fun. With these cars and how competitive the series is, it's going to be a very competitive race."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): (About the accident): "I'm not exactly sure what happened. We just had a small failure, and unfortunately on these ovals when you have a slight failure, it takes you in the wall. I don't know exactly what happened, just that the left front collapsed. Just coming out of (Turn) 2, the front left just dropped, the suspension just dropped, and it pushed me into the wall."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We started around 11 a.m., so I only did 15 laps. This track, it's really nice to be here, it reminds me of my go-kart times, so short and you have the possibility to drive a little bit sideways, which we don't get to do with these cars very often with the ovals. I'm having a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the rain came and really kept us behind, but it's the same for everybody. I would like to have more laps, because I have no experience, but at least I have a good feeling for it right now." (About transition from Indy to Richmond): "Definitely, going from 230 to 160 is a big change. Especially as you drive the whole month at that speed. It is amazing. I got here this morning, and I looked at this place for the first time. It is a small place with such a huge grandstand. That was impressive." (About driving at Richmond): "You have to work in the car. It is very physical, especially for me since I am not 100 percent yet. I felt a little bit of pain in my arm -- not at the surgery place but at the muscle. I haven't built the muscle back in, so it is going to be good therapy for me. We are not going to be able to drive today, but we are going to stay here tomorrow and drive some laps." (About night racing): "I think that it is going to be a lot different. I have raced at night but not in this type of car. We did the 24 hours and we do a go-kart race down in Brazil, which is always at night, but never an IRL car. But the most important thing is the track temperature and how the cars are going to change. I am hoping it is going to be good for us. I am hoping to test at night somewhere. I think my team scheduled a night test for me so hopefully I can get some experience. But I think it will be really exciting."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Coming from Indy at 220 mph and coming to Richmond is very challenging for all of us. We are used to the whole month of May. Even if you are fast, the reaction of the driver is much slower. When you come over here, the mechanics are like, 'You guys are really slow on the straightaway.' For us everything happens so fast. You don't have time to talk on the radio or look at the dash. Everything is very fast because it is such a small track. So far things are good. You have to understand at a 16-second track, to find one-tenth is extremely hard. That is why it is very important to get on the track and learn. I came out this morning, and I was going to try to go nice and smooth and make sure everything falls in the right place. I learned something--I learned that I cannot go so high in Turn 2. To be honest, it is still very difficult there -- very, very difficult -- not because of the angles or the corners but some little bumps that upset the car."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "Today you are back out on the track again. You are no longer the Indy 500 champion, you're going around the turns trying to make the car go faster than it did the previous lap. It's a real drivers' track, it's a handling track, very difficult to go around here. You're not wide open. You have to back off in both turns, so it's very difficult. It's bumpy and you have a lot of (g forces) pulling you in the turns. So, the combination of both -- and sometimes there is some heat there -- makes it a challenge. Coming from Indy, Richmond is a different type of driving; you need a different type of approach than you have in Indianapolis. It is almost back to a road course even though it is an oval. You just have to take one hard drive and put another one back in there. Sometimes you can do that quite well, and sometimes it takes you a few laps to get used to it. Right now I am just struggling because I am a little bit tired, but I will be OK."