HIDEKI NODA (No. 28 Eikoh/Tomoe/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was two laps down because I had a problem with the car at the beginning of the race. Jeff Ward came out of the pits. I think he was on cold tires, and he wasn't...
HIDEKI NODA (No. 28 Eikoh/Tomoe/Indy Regency Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I was two laps down because I had a problem with the car at the beginning of the race. Jeff Ward came out of the pits. I think he was on cold tires, and he wasn't really up to speed. I went outside on Turn 1 trying to overtake him. I overtook him, and he was still a little bit inside. I think because he was on cold tires, he had a push and slid over to me."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "The Delphi car ran strong all day. I had a great car, but we just didn't have enough power at the end. I ran flat out for the last 30 laps, and I just couldn't catch Sam Hornish and Helio Castroneves. It felt great to be running up front all day and to be running with my teammates. I think this just says a lot about Kelley and what a strong team we are in the IRL. We had a roller coaster of a season, and we seemed to be performing much better toward the end. I just can't wait for next year, and I'm excited about our offseason events and for joining with Toyota. The Texas race is always special. It always takes it to the next step. It's a great facility, and it legitimately has three grooves, so that let's you be very racey on the two grooves and sometimes go three-wide. It's great to show you where our series is at. We've got the best on-track product there is."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 Team Smart Blade/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): "What a great way to end the season. The way 2002 began, I didn't know if I'd even be able to have a ride, but to end up with such a good team of guys and with such supportive sponsors in Smart Blade, Raybestos, Purex, Dial, Allegra and Tag Heuer, it makes me really look forward to staying here for 2003."
TONY RENNA (No. 78 Kruse Special Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Another top-10 finish isn't bad for the No. 78 Kruse/HomeMed Special. Ilmor gave us an excellent motor with high fuel reserve. During traffic, I had the power and gas behind me to push to the top, but near the end, that caused the fuel to go low. We had to pit to finish out the race, but my crew did great today and earned us another top-10 finish."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 7 Corteco/Bryant Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We had a great-handling car today. My Corteco/Bryant crew prepared it perfectly. The motor let go. We won't know what happened until the crew gets it back to the race shop. We were just where we wanted to be, running with the lead pack so we could take a shot at the win at the end, but it wasn't meant to be today. I am so disappointed for my guys. They have worked so hard and really deserved a win before the year was over. I want to thank my sponsors Corteco, Bryant, everyone at Kelley Racing for the great cars they have given me all season. We just got better and better. I am looking forward to next year with our new motor and chassis program."
RAUL BOESEL (No. 12 Bradley Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was the engine. I had the fastest car behind Vitor (Meira) when the engine went. I was in good shape when it went. I think I could have had a top six."
DAN WHELDON (No. 15 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Actually, I think everything went wrong today. We didn't have any radio communication from the get-go. It was a disappointing day. We'll come back next year and be strong." (About Sam Hornish winning the championship): "I'm really happy for him and Panther Racing and Chevy. They do a good job. They work hard. They deserve to win two in a row."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Team Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/ Infiniti/Firestone): "Needless to say, we're really happy for the year to be over and to start the focus on next season. It's been a disappointing year in terms of what we were capable of, but the tough times ought to provide a stronger incentive for us to exceed our expectations in 2003."
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We were hoping for a better end to our season, but unfortunately the same luck that has plagued us most of the year got us here at the end, too. I had a great race car, was able to run with the lead pack, but some type of problem with the right rear ended our day. It's been a tough season yet we've gotten together a great bunch of guys. Firestone and the TWR Infiniti guys did a great job for us. Right now, it's a little bit of a sigh to step back and look back at what we've built. Now we'll be able to continue to work on our program for next year, and if everything goes right, next year be back bigger and stronger than ever."
MAX PAPIS (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I really felt we had a chance to do well today. We had a good start and were running as planned. After about the first 30 to 40 laps, however, it was harder to maintain the pace. The car was pushing, so we made changes during our pit stops, and the handling improved. We were running 12th with about 35 laps to go when unfortunately we lost power. I wish I could have contributed more, but everyone did their best today, and everyone at Marlboro Team Penske should feel proud for the terrific job they've done in their rookie IRL season. Thanks to everyone on the team for a great weekend."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I had to come in early for the second pit stop and change tires because I had a blister on the right front. I went two laps down, and that was the end of our race. I managed to get one lap back, and we barely made it in at the end with our fuel strategy. We had a teacup of fuel left. Considering where we were in the middle of the race, I guess an eighth is pretty good. This year I had the best equipment I've ever had driving in the IRL, and I didn't win a race. It's just one of those years you look back on and try to learn from. Red Bull came on board for this season and gave us the opportunity to be very competitive this year. We should have won a lot of races, and we didn't. I hope we will learn from this lesson. Our new arrival Buddy Rice completed every lap of every race, a perfect finishing record. I am looking forward to running him next year because I believe he has a lot to show. General Motors got incredibly strong for the end of the season, and they deserved the win today. For Nissan, this was our farewell run. I want to thank Nissan for all of their support. I enjoyed working with them and racing with them immensely. I hope they return to racing soon."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was really good until the last pit stop when, for whatever reason, the car died. Once that happened, we were in the same situation where we were too far back to make it up. The Red Bull car was fine all day. We sat right where we wanted to for most of the race. The car was really good on long runs. We just couldn't get a break to get us a podium finish or a win here. That's the way it goes."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing G Force/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It wasn't a very good day for us. We had a pit-stop problem in the final pit stop, then we lost the engine. Unfortunately, we had two engine failures this year, and it hurt us quite a lot."
ROBBY McGEHEE (No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "All in all, it was a really good day for us. We took a gamble initially, and that put us up front for a little while. I got to lead some laps and run some laps with Sam (Hornish Jr.). Then, of course, I had to come in for gas. The Red Bull car was really fast in traffic. I had to work with it a little bit in traffic, but I could work with it. Unfortunately, we just got caught the wrong way on that yellow and went a couple laps down. It was a great car. It was the best car I have driven in two years. I know if I could drive it more, I could win races. I just want to thank Eddie (Cheever) and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team for the opportunity."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Coors Light/Life Fitness/Tae-Bo/Delta Faucet Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "It was just not the day that we wanted. We finished seventh, and that's about all she had today. But it was a great championship battle, and we finished eighth in the points. Like I say, it was not the season we were looking for at all. It was a strong effort nonetheless. We had to overcome a lot of troubles this year. We're looking forward to getting it on next year."
GREG RAY (No. 20 Young Chevrolet/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "The car started out a bit neutral. We made changes, and the car got better. The track got better and better. Before our first scheduled stop, (Laurent) Redon got a good run but hit my right front, and I was afraid he'd damaged the car. I pitted to have it checked out, and that put us about three laps down. That was the final nail."
LAURENT REDON (No. 34 Mi-Jack Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was a long race. We were a little unlucky when the yellow came out when we were in the pits. We had a good, good car. It was a nice race. I'm happy we finished the season with a decent finish."
RICK TREADWAY (No. 67 Samsung/Radio Shack Indy Racing Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "The car handled great. We were a little down on horsepower for some reason. The car handled great, and it was fun to drive. There was lots of side-by-side racing. I had a fun team racing today."
ALEX BARRON (No. 44 Rayovac Blair Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Great weekend for Blair Racing. We made a breakthrough on the mile-and-a-half oval setups. The Chevrolet Rayovac car was strong all day. I want to thank Chevrolet, Rayovac and most of all, my boss, Larry Blair. I think we have accomplished a lot this year. As a new team, we excelled. We have a solid crew. Larry put this team together late but worked hard on assembling the right key personnel. We are very satisfied with our results. To finish fifth is great. Chevrolet picked up the pace when they came on board in the middle of the season. We have good pit stops, and we work great together. I can't say enough about our engineer, John Dick. He gives me an incredible car every weekend. Tom Gloy calls a great race. We have the power. It would be a nice feeling going into next season to have some testing under our belts, to have a head start on this and have the same team and package behind us."
AIRTON DARE (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We made changes from the warm-up and went the wrong way. It was pushing in mid-corner and loose on exit. Then I ran over debris from the (Jeff) Ward/(Hideki) Noda accident and put some holes in the underwing. On lap 90, I was looking for the checkered flag. It's the first time we started with a car that wasn't very good, and we couldn't make it better."
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 11 A.J. Foyt Racing/Harrah's Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It was a big disappointment because the motor let go right at the end. I think we could have gotten a top 10. The car was brilliant. I could put it anywhere I wanted, but we didn't have the horsepower. I'm satisfied with what I did. It was the best we could do with the package we had."
KURT RITTER (General Manager, Chevrolet): "We congratulate Sam Hornish Jr. and Pennzoil Panther Racing on winning the Indy Racing League drivers' championship today with Chevrolet power, and we applaud the exceptional skill of all the IRL drivers who made 2002 a memorable year in open-wheel racing. Sam has earned a place among Chevrolet's celebrated Indy-car champions of the past, joining legends such as Fittipaldi, Unser and Andretti, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with him for many years to come. His championship-winning performance today crowned Chevy's successful return to open-wheel racing and showed once again that wherever there's a winner's circle, Chevy will be there."
ROGER PENSKE (Owner, Marlboro Team Penske): "It was a great season, and the competition was unbelievable. Today's finish was another testament to the close racing in the IRL, and we're proud to be a part of this series. I want to congratulate Sam (Hornish Jr.) and the Panther team. They're a real class act."