AVONDALE, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 8, 2002 - Driver quotes from the second day of the annual Indy Racing League Test in the West, Feb. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway: BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy...
AVONDALE, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 8, 2002 - Driver quotes from the second day of the annual Indy Racing League Test in the West, Feb. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway:
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Boat Indy Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Our main focus today was really to work on full-tank running and do mostly race-day setups. We tried two or three different packages. We're just trying to sort through some things to see which one we like best. So far, we're pretty happy. We haven't really tried to go for a fast speed yet. We'll focus on that tomorrow. The car has been good. We've had no real problems, to speak of. Everything is going according to plan. We've got a tremendous group of guys. They're all new, and none of them have worked together before, but they're really starting to jell and work together great. They're all very hard workers. We still have some organizational things to take care of, but we can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel, and things are really starting to come together."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone) (Comparing Phoenix and Fontana): "They are two totally different tracks. Fontana has the long straights and corners. Phoenix has the challenge of getting the car balanced with two different corners. Phoenix is a fun place. We have a pretty good balance, but we are just going to keep working."
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion): "Up to this point, we weren't too bad. We had a decent baseline to work from this morning. We just needed to fine-tune the setup a little more. The car got loose this afternoon. We need to go back on the scale because we lost our way a little."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The Phoenix test has gone well so far. We started with a good base setup from our prior tests, but the track has changed since we're running with more cars. We've been fine-tuning the Marlboro car throughout the sessions, and hopefully we'll learn what we need to put us in a good position come race weekend. It is also helpful to get out here with all of these cars so we have an idea of where we stand relative to the competition."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We are trying out the new Dallara upgrade kit for the short oval for the first time. Everything seems to be going very well. We are picking up where we left off in Fontana and using different setups on each of the cars. We are continuing the learning process and building our data in preparation for the race."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Marlboro Team Penske is having a good test here in Phoenix. We're building on our experience from previous tests and spent the day working on general handling characteristics. We're going through our preparation routine and doing our homework. We're trying really hard to understand what we need to be fast right out of the box. We've got another day to go, so we'll see where we stand at the end of the day tomorrow."
JOHN DE VRIES (No. 37 Brayton Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Today was very good. I like this track now. This morning I was learning the track, trying to get comfortable. I had a push in Turn 2, but we worked out some kinks, and this afternoon I felt great. Al Unser Sr. and Johnny Rutherford have been helping me out a lot. They've been telling me to stay cool, to keep the throttle nice and consistent, stay on my line and try not to come off the throttle so fast."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Chevy Rookie of the Year): "It was pretty good. We still are learning quite a lot. We've been here before, but we are learning. We lost a tire in the second set, so we had to put a third set on right after noon. That screwed us up a little bit. We weren't ready to put a new set on. The track is really fun to drive when you have a good car and really not fun when you have a bad car."
JON HERB (No. 17 Racing Professionals G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We were pretty happy. We missed the morning session. We lost a gearbox in Fontana, and we found out later on that it damaged the flywheel. We had to remove that. We got here with the gearbox fixed, and it wouldn't start. We traced the problem down, the guys worked hard, got it fixed and got it back out there. We got up to speed easily. The Firestone tires were good. The car was handling great. We just bottomed out, which we hadn't done really any of to that point. It bottomed in the middle of the corner, the car nosed up and it headed up to the wall. We cracked a motor, so we'll see what we got for tomorrow."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Panther Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 Indy Racing League champion): "We just feel like we have to work that much harder to come back here and repeat. Firestone brought a different tire here than last year. We're just trying to get back to being comfortable. I think it is going to be a better tire because we are already running faster than we did here all last year. We are glad to be associated with Chevrolet. We think that is going to be the ticket this year. I like shorter tracks better because they are more technical. I prefer that better than being flat-out all the time."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2000 Indy Racing League champion) (About early end to day due to cracked bell housing): "This is disappointing, but it's great because this a two-day test. We will be able to join in tomorrow and not miss too much. With the new Chevy engine, Firestone tires, everything is awesome. They have improved. The Dallara update kit has changed a bit, too." (About wife, Kara, who is due to give birth to the couple's second child imminently): "She is due any second. I have two days before going back to Daytona for the IROC race. We are hoping it happens to fall then. I love my son (Flinn) so much. I just can't wait to have two sets of feet going pitter-patter around the house. I love being a father."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 2 Team Menard Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I did a lot of runs between full qualifying and full tanks. We're just trying to get the hang of the track. That is what you do in testing. We are very happy with what we have learned today. For what we are testing, I think what we learned will transfer to race weekend."
ANTHONY LAZZARO (No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We have been totally on full tanks. We had a little mechanical problem. It cost us a little bit of time. We have had 30 gallon-plus runs. Everybody else has been working on low fuel." (About track): "I love it. It's a real driver's track. We should be pretty good when we come back here to race. I like Fontana better than the 1.5-mile tracks because it is flatter. The schedule has a lot of good tracks. My least favorite are the 1.5-mile, high-banked tracks because they are just an engine dyno. But they make for great racing."
SCOTT MAYER (No. 9 PDM Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had an awesome day. We had a clean day and ran competitively. I've got a good feel with this car. The track is challenging, but it's also driver friendly. The PDM Racing guys are all phenomenal, and I'm not just blowing you smoke. They bend over backward to help me out. They give me a comfortable car that stays under me."
GREG RAY (No. 7 Kelley Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1999 Indy Racing League champion): "This is my first time on a 1-mile oval with this team and all of these new faces. Certainly, working with Tom Knapp is putting a large comfort zone in there for me. But really, we're just getting to know everybody and getting to know the cars and really just working on overall balance and feel for the car. We have such limited testing before the beginning of the season. We've always felt comfortable that we could make the cars go fast. It's just making them consistent in the race and the changing track conditions. That's really our main focus here these two days."
LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This morning we had a problem and couldn't run so much. This afternoon went well. We have a little push right now. The problem this morning came from the gearbox. We rebuilt it during lunch. It ran very good in the afternoon." (About track): "It's nice. It's a very busy track. You are always busy, so you don't have a straight to breathe. I think the Infiniti is much better than what we had last year. I can't compare it to the Chevy, but I think it is the perfect package."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 52 Cheever Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Everybody warned me beforehand about this circuit and that it would take two days to learn, but I think I got back into it very quickly. The thing is, the car is very good, and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team is working well. All the settings we try improve the car, and that is just allowing me to go quicker in the car and build confidence." (About differences between Phoenix and Fontana): "Obviously, it is a lot shorter and more physical. You have to be more precise. You have to be much smoother and a lot more accurate. You can't get it wrong, and you can't afford for the car to be wrong, otherwise you'll be in the wall. There were a couple of times today that it got loose on me, or it was pushing, and I started seeing that wall come at me pretty quickly. You just have to take that into consideration and get the car right. It's a big jump from Fontana."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Kelley Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion): "It's always fun to come back to Phoenix, which is one of the first real tracks that we've always ran at with the IRL. This track has a lot of heritage and is one of the first history-type tracks on the IRL schedule. I love it here. I've always felt comfortable here and have always raced well here. Basically, we're just trying to take the two days we have prior to the race and get ourselves in the best position for the race. We're really not worried about qualifying or worrying about ultimate speed. We're really just trying to get a car that over multiple laps is very consistent and as placeable as possible. Phoenix, typically, is not a multiple-groove track very often in the race. If there's any kind of build-up out there, it's a one-groove track. So you want to get a car than can maneuver as fast as you can and hopefully be able to go around the outside of people. We're just really working in that regard right now and will work on qualifying when we come back for the race. The big variable here nowadays is being part of the Copper World Classic, where there are so many different kinds of cars and rubber out there that the track's never the same from day to day, let alone from February to March. Best thing you can do during these two days is get a car that's really consistent and comfortable. Then you can come back here next month and tune to the track that's ever-changing."
RICK TREADWAY (No. 5 Treadway Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm living my dream. It is awesome to be out here in Phoenix with all the IRL guys. I'm fortunate to be with Treadway-Hubbard Racing. It's been about four months since I've driven. The first few sessions, we were just getting comfortable in the car. We have been concentrating on different lines. I like these tracks because they are a little harder, more challenging. The turns come quicker. That makes it more exciting."