IRL: Richmond qualifying notes

SARAH FISHER ( ...

SARAH FISHER (#15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"This is really tough. This is a bullring, and this is what I grew up with. This is why Derrick (Walker) hired me. You don't know what the limit is until you find it, and we found it yesterday. On my second lap I had a little bit of a scrub on the front. I guess I could have dialed that out, and it would have been perfect. It's as good as it can get. This is where driver and setup really count. This is awesome for us. We've made huge gains from yesterday to today. I'm so excited about tomorrow, wheel-to-wheel competition. You'll have to get your elbows up. It'll get greasy tomorrow." (more Fisher quotes will follow)

SHIGEAKI HATTORI (#55 EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"I tried to keep speed, but I got loose in (Turns) 3 and 4. Right now, conditions are really bad. There's a different kind of rubber, and it's too slippery right now."

SAM HORNISH JR. (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"I don't know if speeds will be any quicker tomorrow. The track is really hot with the sun on it. Based on how dark the sealer is, the track gets really hot. We weren't expecting that, but that's racing. Anytime you've got cooler conditions, the quicker you'll run. It's hard to say since we haven't raced here yet. Since tonight's practice has been moved to tomorrow, that practice won't really tell us anything. You better hope you have a good setup from last night or you'll be in trouble."

DONNIE BEECHLER (A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "That was not a good run for us. I had a totally new setup on the car, one I hadn't run yet. I was being very cautious. We'll have to throw a ton of downforce on it for tomorrow."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (#21 Hollywood G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"We had too much push, and I'm disappointed because we were having a really good weekend. We made some changes for qualifying, and it's just not there anymore."

JEFF WARD (#35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G Force/ Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"It's been slick through the corners all weekend. During that last run I got confident in (Turns) 1 and 2 and ran hard into (Turns) 3 and 4. The car snapped in the exit of (Turn) 4, and I lost it. At least I made it across the finish line. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"There's a lot of rubber down from the USAC cars, but it's the same for everybody. We have a really good car. I think it will be good for racing on Saturday. I saw Al pull out of line, and that might have been good strategy because the more cars that go out, the better the track's been getting."

SAM SCHMIDT (Owner, #99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"This is almost as good as doing it yourself. This is the second-best deal. Jaques did a hell of a job. I know this means a lot to Davey (Hamilton). If we can win this one Sunday, it will be all for him (Hamilton). This is pretty huge for us. We were able to do it in '99, therefore we really know how hard this is. To do this at a technical track like Richmond adds icing to the cake. The team is doing such an awesome job. Every race prior to this we've had to put the car together from a crash or an engine problem. That's so taxing to the guys. They're always exhausted. Tonight they will probably be the first ones out of here. They might even get dinner out tonight instead of just McDonald's. Hopefully we can put it all together."

ROBBIE BUHL (#24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone):

"We were a lot stronger in practice than in qualifying. It's just tough conditions. Our car wasn't the happiest car in the world. It stepped out in Turn 2 during the qualifying run, but we will make do with it. The race is what matters. Qualifying is certainly important. Being a short track you are going to have to fight for every little bit. I am not as happy with things at this point as I'd like to be, but overall I am pleased with the program we've put together and the package we've got, including the Infiniti power, which is doing good. We just have to make it count tomorrow night. It will be an exciting race."

ELISEO SALAZAR (#14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"It could have been a lot better. I had a good lap going on my second lap, but then I got a big push in Turn 4 and that was that. I think it's going to be just a one groove track, so it will be tough to pass. But I love it here because you have to play with the throttle and the brake a little bit, and I think the IRL will put on a great show."

AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The 1-800-BAR NONE car did great this afternoon. We pulled to the back of the line because of the high temperatures and the track conditions. We had a little bit of push coming out of the turns, but other than that the car was great. I mean, it gave me my best qualifying position so far. We were all a little nervous because of the crash that we thought may push us past the time limit, but it all worked out great. Our strategy to go to the back of the line definitely paid off."

AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"Well, we waved off the first attempt because the track just had too much rubber on it from the other series running on it, and the car was definitely better the next time, but it was still pretty loose. We have another final session tomorrow and are going to just work on the car and get it dialed in for the race. It will be tight racing tomorrow night, and it should be a good show here at Richmond for everyone."

EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone):

"I had a little bit of push, but my crew did a great job of putting the car back together for qualifying. The track is a bit slippery, but it's a lot of fun. With our cars on this track, it's like flying a fighter plane inside a gymnasium. This place is tough. It's going to be an unbelievable race tomorrow because all the cars are so close together. It's very difficult to get a jump on anybody. I can understand why they call it the 'Action Track' because you're really busy. It's like playing chess at 160 mph. You've got to position your car and make sure you're in the right place. It's going to be a really hard race because we're on the knife's edge the whole way around. It's going to be tricky but it's going to be good. We're all rookies here. The track is new to everyone. I love tracks like this. It puts the emphasis on the driver and how much you're willing to risk. It's really exciting to see Sarah right up there at the front. It just goes to show how much talent she has. This is the first race that my 12-year-old daughter has come to this year, and I'm going to have to listen to her all night telling me that a girl out-qualified me. Our Infiniti engine has been good at every track this year. Richmond is a handling track but also a power track, and I'm happy because the 35A is very strong on the bottom end."

JAQUES LAZIER (#99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"It far exceeds our expectations. Obviously, with this being my first time with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, we wanted to come in here and have a top-10 qualifying, and being on the pole far exceeded our expectations. All the credit goes to the team. They worked extremely hard and kept the faith. They haven't had the success that they deserve, and they've had some trials and tribulations. And they kept going at it and stayed headstrong, and we're tasting the fruits of our labor right now. "

How important is it to be out front?

"Hopefully Sarah's going to give me a break and let me lead the first lap. She's such a hot-shoe. It's going to be tough going in that first lap, and hopefully we'll be able to lead. Obviously when you can have clean air going over the wings, you're going to have the advantage, and I think it's going to be a difficult race with all the traffic tomorrow. Hopefully we can get out in front for a bit and as soon as we get into traffic, we can adjust the car for that." (What were you planning to do this weekend before you got the call to race for Sam?) "Honestly, I was kind of planning on taking care of my wife (Angelique). She's a little sick right now. I was just planning on taking care of her, and then Sam gave me a call after the Colorado race and offered me the ride, and I jumped on it in a heartbeat. I knew this team would have what it takes to run up front. It's a tremendous opportunity for me, and I'm so proud of the guys. They are so headstrong, and they knew they could do it, and they kept working on it."

Does the new track level the field?

"Absolutely. There are teams that tested here before and obviously they had a step up. We kept working, and we had an idea of how we wanted the car set up. I was watching a couple of cars during a test, and the rear end was getting a little loose on them."

Do you think this will help raise your status?

"I sure hope so. Obviously with the weekend with Sam, our whole plan was to feel each other out and find out if this was a natural fit, and so far it definitely has been. This is beginning of, hopefully, a wonderful building block between Sam Schmidt and myself."

SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"I was pretty happy with our lap. I think that's about all it had. This is a whole new element. It's the most handling and sensitive track on our schedule. We've been chasing the track a little bit like a lot of people have. It's constantly changing. You feel like you're at a craps table in Vegas every time you go out there. We'll be very thankful for the cooler temperatures tomorrow night."

MARK DISMORE (#28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"I had more race car under me than what I used. The further back in the line you are today the better. If you're at the back and have a decent car, the chances are you'll be quickest today because the cars in front of you are cleaning a lot of rubber off the track. I felt like we had a car that could've been on the pole in the right circumstances, but this isn't the right circumstances. We'll be OK. Pit strategy is going to be probably more important here than anywhere because you can easily lose laps if you make a green-flag pit stop tomorrow night. "

JERET SCHROEDER (#6 Tri Star Motorsports Inc. Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"I've never raced here before, but actually I'm pretty comfortable. This track reminds me of my old Hooters Cup 2-liter days. I wish we could have tested here, but we're pretty much in the ballpark of where we thought the car would run. We'll add more downforce, but other than that tomorrow's race is going to be a patience thing. We're going to have to wait until all of our cars scrub all of their rubber out of the way. It's going to be really crowded out there, too."

SARAH FISHER (#15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):

"It was a great comeback, but first of all I want to congratulate Jaques Lazier. I mean, he did a tremendous job, and the Sam Schmidt team, they've really worked hard this year. So it's great to see them doing so well. It's really awesome. But, I mean, Walker Racing did a tremendous job after yesterday. You know, I had the little spin in Turn 2, and it got a couple parts in the car, but they did an excellent job putting the car back together and giving me even a better car."

About advantage of short-track background here at Richmond International Raceway.

"It's definitely a short track, and that's where I was raised and born, the short tracks of America, racing with the World of Outlaws. You know, there's nothing better than having 800 horsepower in an 1,100 pound car on a quarter-mile dirt oval."

Were you disappointed when Jaques took the pole?

"Um, a little bit. Yeah, because Walker Racing has tried so hard this year. It would have been kind of neat to see us get the pole, but we have plenty of races yet this year."

About race lap times?

"About 18.5 (seconds) is going to be a good average lap. You may see some 17.5s out of the faster guys."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jaques Lazier  , Sam Schmidt , A.J. Foyt
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing