FORT WORTH, Texas, Monday, June 5, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Casino Magic 500 on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway: DONNIE BEECHLER ( ...
FORT WORTH, Texas, Monday, June 5, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the Casino Magic 500 on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway:
DONNIE BEECHLER (#98 Cahill Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to Texas, as we have run there good in the past but had some misfortune. Hopefully this year we can have a good strong finish and stay in the top 10 in points. We will leave Texas and go directly to Colorado. I have had a good run there in the Silver Bullet cars and the Indy cars. We are just excited about how well our program is running and hope to keep it up."
ROBBIE BUHL (#24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone) (About switch to Infiniti engines starting at this event): "I had a chance to practice with the Infiniti engine when we were setting the car up for Steve Knapp to drive at Indy. The first thing I noticed was how much torque the engine had when I was shifting gears. Infiniti has made several improvements to the engine in both horsepower and reliability since the last time I raced the engine. This change is not just because of our corporate connections with Infiniti, but because it is a competitive engine package."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner) (About racing in IROC event Saturday afternoon at Michigan and then racing at the Casino Magic 500 later that evening): "It's going to be a busy weekend. I'll leave Texas right after the final practice on Friday night, race in the IROC event in Michigan at noon on Saturday and be back in the Lone Star State for the Casino Magic 500 that night. It will be an action-packed 24 hours, but after the month of May at Indy, it shouldn't be a problem." (About the Casino Magic 500 at Texas Motor Speedway): "It's important that the #51 Excite@Home team does well at Texas and gets into the top three in points. We're only eight points out of second place. It's essential that we execute flawlessly if we are to make a serious challenge for Buddy Lazier and the top spot in the championship. The Texas Motor Speedway track is incredibly competitive and demanding. Drafting and pit strategy play a major role in success at Texas. The fans in Texas are very enthusiastic, and we always have a great turnout for the race. There's a strong open-wheel heritage in Texas, with several Indy Racing legends -- like (Johnny) Rutherford and (A.J.) Foyt -- being from there. It's our goal to be celebrating with the Texans in victory circle on Saturday night." (About the Infiniti engine): "I'm not being boastful, but I think the Infiniti now is one of the best engines in racing. We've finished every race this season, and we're proving that the reliability is there. The Excite@Home team is very hungry for its first win with the Infiniti engine. We've been in contention for the win at every race this year, but it just hasn't happened yet."
TYCE CARLSON (#20 Hubbard Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "As always, our goal for Hubbard Racing is to be smooth, consistent and competitive. We look to be in the top five in practice sessions, certainly in the top six in qualifying and ultimately to be in a strong position to capture the win at the end of the race. If we can't win, then again we want to be there for a podium or top-five finish. The overriding challenge of this race is to make an extremely strong comeback following our disappointment at Indy in May. Having had to sit out the race both as a driver and team, as well as damaging equipment, we want to prove to our fellow competitors and to the racing community that we're a very solid team and a professional organization that can immediately bounce back from adversity. We certainly have a strong foundation of quality team members to get it done, and the Casino Magic 500 is our opportunity to show our character. The issue of our comeback makes the challenge of racing on two consecutive weekends at two very different tracks even more significant. There are all the normal challenges of the quick turnaround -- the travel and the stress on the crew and the equipment -- but for us it's doing all this after having lost some momentum at Indy. The great thing is that we have a terrific combination of experience and youth among our crewmembers, and I really feel that having a mix is going to serve us well during this 10-day stretch. Additionally, we've been able to test at least a little at both of these tracks so we do have a bit of a learning curve to build upon." (About new team ownership): "This is a new chapter for us in more ways than just our comeback. Ross and Diana Hubbard have taken full control and ownership of Hubbard Racing, and this will be the team's first race under the sole ownership. We feel very strongly that our renewed focus and concentration on racing is going to benefit this team significantly and help us achieve our goals at a faster pace."
MARK DISMORE (#28 On Star/GM BuyPower Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm really excited about coming back to Texas. Winning here last fall was a highpoint in my career, and that has the On Star team's confidence super high. Indy was a little bit of a disappointment. We were hoping for a top-five, but the Indy Racing Northern Light Series championship really starts this weekend. This track, and all the 1.5-mile tracks, suits my style: smooth, fast and patient. You have to time traffic and time your passes to keep the car's momentum up. Also, these night races are easier on everyone and the equipment from the heat standpoint. The On Star/Bryant team should be up front here at the end of the night."
SCOTT GOODYEAR (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We are prepared for Texas and can't wait to hit the track. We won last year's first race in Texas, and we're back to win it again. And with only one position away from being number one in the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series point standings, we're determined to do very well so we can collect the championship lead." (About consecutive race weekends at Texas, Pikes Peak): "It is not an issue. The Panther 'Pack' has done a great job finding the correct setup for the car at both races. They know what is needed to have a great car at both the Casino Magic 500 and the Radisson 200." (About racing at night): "I think night races are great for everyone. And in June, you have to do a Texas race at night. It's simply too hot during the day. The air temperature is not as hot at night, so it's better for the cars and the spectators. I am glad the race is at 7 p.m., for the sun should be set. Last year, I believe we took the first green a little earlier, and the sun was still setting. Having that glowing burst of sun staring at you on Turn 4 is not fun."
FRANK HONSOWETZ (Manager, Infiniti Motorsports): "We are very pleased to have Robbie Buhl return to the Infiniti team. Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is a serious contender for the Indy Racing championship, so it is quite a compliment that they have put their trust in the Infiniti Indy engine in their quest to win more races and the championship."
JIMMY KITE (#27 Big Daddy's BBQ/Founders Bank/Blueprint Racing Special G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone) (About running on the season's first 1.5 mile, high-banked oval): "I'm excited about running Texas and about the high-bank season in general. Brad (McCanless, Blueprint Racing team manager and engineer) and I seem to shine on these 1.5 mile, high-banked tracks. He just seems to have a really good setup for them that works for me. We have had some bad luck the last couple of races with the Big Daddy's BBQ/Blueprint car, but I think these tracks will turn that around. I look at the schedule and all I see are the high-banks and the 1-mile oval that we ran great on last year, so I am really excited. Personally, I consider the 'high-bank' season, Jimmy Kite season." (About possible changes in strategy entering this event): "We aren't going to do anything differently with the car or the setup. We have a great race car in the Big Daddy's BBQ/Blueprint Racing G Force. The first three races we have had a strong car and just some bad luck. We are working at changing that starting at Texas and going on for the rest of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series." (About mental and physical preparations before racing on 1.5-mile tracks): "In a lot of ways, Indy is the best track that we could have as a lead-in to these tracks like Texas, Atlanta and Kentucky. At Indy, you really have to free the race car up to be fast, and it is the same here at Texas. To be fast, you have to have a car that is really free in the turns but is also good in traffic because you always seem to be in traffic on the 1.5-mile, high banks. Funny thing about these tracks is a loose condition still feels good. With all the wing to slow the cars down and the banking, your car can be pushing or real loose and it still doesn't scare you." (About consecutive races at Texas and Pikes Peak): "As long as you don't have any trouble, car-wise, it is no big deal. The Big Daddy's BBQ/Blueprint Racing crew knows how to prepare the cars, and we will be in good shape for each event. If you do have trouble, then it might be hard to turn things around in time. Still, Texas is a good track for us, and I had my best 1-mile run last year in the Radisson 200. If we had to have back-to-back events, I think these will be the best for me to have so close." (About the challenge of running under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway): "Coming back to the night races is kind of like a going-home thing for me. This is what I grew up doing. I love racing at night. I am still trying to get use to these day races. Bruton Smith and all of his tracks have done a great job putting in this lighting system. You can see everything just like in the daytime. The are no dark spots or anything. The lighting is perfect. I am really looking forward to running the Big Daddy's BBQ/Blueprint car here in Texas and again in Atlanta later this season."
ELISEO SALAZAR (#11 Rio A.J. Foyt Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I will be disappointed if we don't win the pole and the race this weekend. I think we have been in position to win all of the races this year, and with just a little bit of luck, we would have won a couple. It reflects well on the car and the Rio Racing team. Before the season is over, I believe we will win a couple of races." (About quick trip to native Chile after finishing third in the Indianapolis 500): "It was very tiring. I wanted to come back to the States because I'd still be doing TV programs and celebrations if I remained in Chile. I was anxious to get back to my normal physical training (regimen) because I haven't really done it since I left for Indianapolis over three weeks ago." (About racing at night): "I like racing at night very much. There is something about the atmosphere, the way that the lights illuminate the track that it gives you something like a tunnel vision. There is nowhere else to look but on the racetrack, so it allows you to become even more focused than usual." (About race strategy at Texas): "The series is so competitive now that 10 or 12 drivers have a shot to win at every race. I don't see that we have a choice, I believe we have to start attacking from the beginning."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems/MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The whole Delphi team is pumped about getting on with the season. Having two races, back to back, will really help all of us keep our focus. I like this track; everything about it is awesome. We finished fifth here in 1998, and I think with the Firestone tires being as consistent as they are, we'll be in a better position to win this year."
JEFF WARD (#14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (About Texas Motor Speedway): "I love that track. I don't have any wins there, but I've been in the hunt for every race. The cars have a lot of grip there, and you can pass on the outside. You don't have to lift if you come up on a slower car, so you don't lose any momentum. You can drive the high l ine. It's a fun track to race on." (About racing at night): "I love racing at night. The cars run better, and I think it's more spectacular for the fans. It doesn't really make a difference to the drivers because the track is so lit up that it's brighter than it is on a cloudy day. You get some reflections and shadows when you come into the pits, but it's not a problem. I really enjoy it." (About race strategy): "I just want to get out and lead as many laps as I can. I'd really love to win there for (team owner) A.J. (Foyt) in his home state."