IRL: Texas II: Friday notebook

Chevy 500 Day 1 Notebook De Ferran sins MBNA Pole for Chevy 500 FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 -- Gil de Ferran, who will retire following the Chevy 500, won the pole for the Chevy 500 with a lap of 23.5031 seconds, 222.864 mph in the...

Chevy 500 Day 1 Notebook
De Ferran sins MBNA Pole for Chevy 500

FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, Oct. 10, 2003 -- Gil de Ferran, who will retire following the Chevy 500, won the pole for the Chevy 500 with a lap of 23.5031 seconds, 222.864 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone.


*de Ferran won his fifth career MBNA Pole. His last MBNA Pole came at Gateway in August 2002.

*This is the first MBNA Pole for Marlboro Team Penske on a 1.5-mile track in the IRL IndyCar Series.

*de Ferran won the MBNA Pole by .0009 of a second over Scott Dixon. The margin is the second closest in IRL IndyCar Series history. The closest was a tie between Greg Ray and Sam Schmidt in August 1999 at Pikes Peak.

*Marlboro Team Penske has won nine MBNA Poles in the IRL IndyCar Series.

*de Ferran's lap of 23.5031 seconds, 222.864 mph was a track record. The previous track record was 23.5415 seconds, 222.501 mph, set by Buddy Rice on Lap 200 of last year's Chevy 500.

*Scott Dixon has started on the front row nine times this season, more than any other driver.

*de Ferran won the MBNA Pole using a Toyota engine. Toyota has won 11 MBNA Poles this season, more than any other engine this season.

*Team Penske has won 144 Indy-style poles.

*Penske Racing Inc. driver Ryan Newman won the pole for Saturday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.


TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"We had a good car. I didn't touch the car, and we went slower. That's the way ovals are. Sometimes you don't do anything and go a lot slower. I don't have any idea what happened, but I'm not very happy with the results. What can you do? That's the way we qualified. We know we can race. We can start in the back and pass people, so I don't think it will be a problem. I'm not worried: It's just not nice to see myself not in the front. I've never really worried much about qualifying this year. If you look at it, I was always 10th or 12th and on those kind of tracks, and in 10 laps, I was third and fighting for the lead, so I'm not concerned."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"I'm really, really happy. It was good. I was expecting more. It's funny; the cool weather seems to hold us back. I guess the only guy it didn't hold back was my teammate. Now, I'm going to see what's going on and have a good time."

AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"It is disappointing. We are 2 mph quicker than our qualifying in June and started seventh in June. Now, we are 2 mph quicker, but we are going to be way deep in the field. It is a little bit disappointing that we didn't run quicker. With the draft being so strong here, we can make up a lot of ground on race day. Nobody is going to get away from anybody. As long as everybody uses their head, it is going to be a great show."

KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"We didn't know what to expect since we were the second car out for qualifying. It felt pretty good, but there were other guys who we knew would go faster. Starting in the front of the field is really all you want for here at Texas. Everyone drafts so much that you want to be in the lead pack. We worked a lot on our race setup today. You have to be able to run in close quarters during the race. We ran with a lot of fuel during the practice, and we wanted to secure a good car for racing conditions. We won't race in this kind of air temperature, so getting things set for Sunday was our goal from the start. Of course, if you could put the car on the front row like we did at California that would be cool, but we'll have to take seventh. I'm sure it will be a wild race on Sunday. The races are always crazy here."

ED CARPENTER (No. 18 Metabolife Ultra Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"Something happened to the brakes. The brakes decided to take over, but we've had a good car so far this weekend, so we'll just have to make the race car that much better."

GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"We were looking for something a lot better than we got out there. We picked up some, but we thought we'd pick up a lot more. We thought we had it all nailed down. I think we're all disappointed."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"It's not where we want to be. We'd rather be up front. We have a chance to win this championship. There's a lot of guys that will be battling it out, and we'll be right there with them. We'll try to stay out of trouble, have good pit stops and be there at the end."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"It was a pretty good run. It's good to start up front here. It was a good day in general. I can't complain. Qualifying has been our strength all year. It's easier to stay out of the mess when you start up front, but if you have a good car, you can get up front."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"It is certainly a great place to start, I guess, but we can't get too carried away here. Because the qualifying is certainly very important, but the race is going to be another game altogether. So far, it's been a dream weekend for me. Helio (Castroneves) came here to test a couple of weeks ago. We, as a team, decided too concentrate on Helio mostly for the championship, because he's got a much higher chance mathematically to win the championship than I do. He came here did two days of testing, and he came up with a setup that has been absolutely fantastic. I started driving the car this morning, and I told Helio, 'Great job. The car is great. It's easy to drive, and it's fast.' So, this afternoon we came out with qualifying trim, and the car was good in qualifying. For qualifying, my engineer, Tom German, he really just picked the right gear. It was perfect, just that little bit extra that we always try to squeeze for qualifying. I don't want to get to emotional here. I still have a couple of days of work to do. I look at this in a totally different light. The one-and-a-half mile ovals have not been a great strength. Both Helio and I, and all the engineers, everybody have been really working, thinking, cracking our heads trying to figure those things out. For me, it's very rewarding on my very last race on this type of race track to say 'OK. Ah, we finally found something that's good and it works.' You have to have a car in this type of racetrack that you can run flat out. I'm not in search of an ego boost, because I don't feel like I need one. The car handled well this morning when we ran race trim, and I guess I can tell you a little bit more about it after the two sessions tomorrow. We'll see, race trim is one thing, qualifying trim is another. It's a good indication that we'll have good speed on both setups."


SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone):

"We're taking it as just another race. I think that's going to be the easiest way. I think if you think about other things, that won't help you out at all. It's been a tremendous year. Team Target -- we've been fast everywhere we've gone. The alliance with Toyota has been huge. I think the easy way is to win the race." (About being in the IRL): "I think we kind of struggled coming over and there being no road courses. The racing over here is incredible. I think it's a lot different than what they've got in CART. I've had huge amounts of fun this year. It's been very close. Sometimes it hasn't worked out, but it's a lot more fun when you can actually race. "

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone):

"You said it. (I'm going to try to) win the race. That's the position that I took since the last race. I don't want to worry about what this guy does or where that guy finishes. If I win the race, I win the championship. That's what we're working on, and hopefully, we can get it. It's 7-Eleven's hometown, and we're going to have a lot of people in the stands cheering for us, so we'll see what's going to happen." (About track and temperature differences from when they tested.): "The conditions are very similar to when Helio (Castroneves) and I tested here. It's just tuning the car to the conditions."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):

"I feel the same way that I've felt since we got the Gen IV engine: We have an opportunity to win. We have an opportunity to go out there and collect a lot of points. Of course we have to have some other people have some bad luck. We'll do the best that we can do. It's been a great year for Pennzoil Panther Racing. We've had a lot of fun, a lot of hardship. We've had a lot of different things happen, a lot of ups and downs. We just feel pretty fortunate to still be in the hunt. If things had happened differently at a few races, we'd either be up there tied with these guys or we'd be farther behind. Everyone has their own little thing that will make or break them with the championship. We're just going to go out there and do everything that we can to win the race. If Scott (Dixon) finishes second, we did everything we could do. We're trying to dot our "i's" and cross our "t's", then it's up to them (the other championship contenders)." (About track and temperature differences from when they tested.): "It's going to be almost 15 degrees cooler on race day than what it was last week when we were here to test. Obviously, you can take a little bit of downforce out of the car."

GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"I am actually trying not to think too much about championship and retirement because at the end of the day, I still have a race to do, and I've got to do everything I can to get a good result on this weekend. I'm trying to push these thoughts out of my mind. And the championship, I'm just going to concentrate on trying to do well, and if we happen to win the race or finish second, then we'll look behind to see what happened here to everybody else. Unfortunately, I'm in a position that I depend on everybody else's result to win the championship, so I'm just going to approach this race as any other. I've been in this situation before. Certainly, in 2000, I was the leader by a few points, but there was five guys going into the weekend. So, it's a tough situation, I think, for anyone this year. It's very tense because you cannot just concentrate on one guy. I'm not leading. It's not a good position to be in when you're not leading, but that's primarily why I said we just have to try to come out with a good result and then see."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):

"It's going to be an incredible race. I'm not thinking about what's going to happen. I need to think about my work and my race and make sure that I do my best and finish ahead of those guys. It's going to be, obviously, a tough job. All these five guys here have been pretty much all the way along together. Again, it's probably going to be on the last lap in the last corner it is going to be decided, this championship. We just have to keep focused on our team. We have to be aggressive, but at the same time, we have to take care of each other. Suppose Scott and I have a problem, you still have three guys here fighting for the championship. There is no way you can race thinking about the points of the other guys because it's so close right now. But at the same time, you can't be stupid and do some banzai move and end up in the wall. That would be the worst conditions for everyone. It's great to be in this kind of situation again. It's nice to see all the other Brazilian drivers succeed, but also between Tony and I, I think it's something in common. I guess both of us respect each other. I believe both of us like each other. Hopefully, the championship will come out between the two of us, not the rest of these guys."

Will you choose inside or outside if it comes down to last lap?:

"Well, my experience on the inside wasn't very good last year, so I guess outside. It depends who's going to be there. Maybe I won't tell you. It depends on who's going to be behind you. If there's only one guy behind, then I would trust trying to play with the guy. We've got to decide for sure on the last lap."

Michael Andretti drove the Indy Racing two-seater yesterday at Texas Motor Speedway with his wife, Leslie, as the passenger. It was Andretti's first time driving a race car since the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.


"It was really exciting. I'm a little too small for these cars, though, because I was moving around in the seat. You don't really know how fast they're going until you're in one of the cars. I think Michael was going a little bit faster than he should have been though, to give me an even better ride."

Jeff Kent, all-star third baseman for the Houston Astros, took a ride in the Indy Racing two-seater yesterday. He also took a ride in August at Kentucky Speedway when the Astros where in nearby Cincinnati playing the Reds.


"This go 'round, the second go 'round, was definitely different. My fear was at an elevated high my first time around. My fear was under control here, but the excitement was the same. There's more control here at this track, higher bank, the speeds were a little bit higher. I knew what to expect. Last go 'round with Al Unser Jr., I had only done a lap and a half. Here I got a chance with Davey Hamilton to do four or five laps. It was an awesome experience. I got to see more of the track. I got to control my emotions a little more, and I got to feel more what the racers go through which is a big-time thrill for me."

About being here rather than the baseball playoff:

"I would rather be in the playoffs right now. With us being in first place all year long and the Cubbies taking it from us the last week was difficult. I guess this is my conciliation prize. In a sense it's worth it to be able to drive up and be able to spend these next couple of days with the IRL racers."

The IRL now will been seen on network TV and heard on radio in Brazil through the major Brazilian media group "Grupo Bandeirantes de Comunicacao" The five-year agreement will put the IRL on two national networks, BAND and Rede 21. Both networks reach more than 92 percent of Brazil, which represent more than 150 million viewers.

The minimum cumulative TV exposure per event on a race weekend will exceed three hours.

In addition, Brazil's leading radio network, "Radio Bandeirantes." will be giving year-long exposure to the series.


"I think this is great news, because it is everything that my sponsor Hollywood wanted. Now, in addition to the high-end cable subscribers who could watch our races in Brazil this year, the TV viewership will cover the whole population base down there, and sponsors like Hollywood see that as a lot of purchasing power. Now, we will be seen by the mainstream population, and that will increase interest in the IRL IndyCar Series in the biggest way ever. Hollywood is happy. I am happy. The IRL is happy. This is a win-win for everybody involved."


"This is a huge breakthrough for our sponsor Hollywood, which is a leading Brazilian company that has been with us since we started our team four seasons ago. We're talking about 150 million in potential viewership for our races beginning next year, which considerably increases the value of the IRL sponsorship in Brazil. That is good for Hollywood, and I'm certain many more Brazilian companies will follow suit."

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Crawford took a ride in the Indy Racing two-seater yesterday.


"What a ride. I'm a fan of all types of motorsports, and that's the closest I've ever been to an IRL car besides being friends with A.J. Foyt through his relationship with my owner Tom Mitchell. I've often wanted to drive an IRL (IndyCar Series) car but never had the opportunity or never knew that I did until yesterday when Brian Barnhart (senior vice president of racing operations, IRL) asked me to go for that ride. There's not a Six Flags ride or Disney World ride that compared to that. Any fan, media person, movie star or other kind of race-car driver needs to take a ride in one of those. Mr. Mitchell owned cars back in the 80's that raced at Indianapolis and has often said we might go back to run the 500. I really respect the IRL and what they have accomplished in the last five or six years. The caliber of cars they have and the caliber of teams and drivers they have is unbelievable, and I'd be proud to get an opportunity to be a part of the IRL one day."

Indy Racing League teams and officials raised $2,615 today for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation as a part of Lee Nation Denim Day. In its eighth year, Lee National Denim Day® is the world's largest single-day fundraiser for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment programs. Employees of the League and teams made a $5 donation in order to wear jeans to work today.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Newman , Greg Ray , Al Unser Jr. , Davey Hamilton , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Scott Dixon , Rick Crawford , Sam Schmidt , Chip Ganassi , A.J. Foyt
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske