IRL IndyCar Series Pre-Race Quotes Chevy 500, Oct. 12, Texas Motor Speedway FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, Oct. 3, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Chevy 500 on Sunday, Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. The event ...
IRL IndyCar Series Pre-Race Quotes
Chevy 500, Oct. 12, Texas Motor Speedway
FORT WORTH, Texas, Friday, Oct. 3, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL IndyCarTM Series drivers about the Chevy 500 on Sunday, Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. The event starts Oct. 10 with practice and MBNA Pole Qualifying, with practice continuing Oct. 11 (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone, 1998 IndyCara Series champion, 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner): "It's been a frustrating season for myself and Team Rahal, but I hope we can finish this year like last year (when he won the final CART race in Mexico City). The California race is the way the season has gone for us. Just a lot of bad breaks. On the first pit stop, the fuel buckeye clamp was stuck, and it wouldn't allow the fuel to go into the fuel cell. So we couldn't fuel the car. When you are 12 laps down on Lap 55, you know you are in for a long one. It was more of a test for us. We had a car that was fast enough to run with the leaders, but we never got a chance. I was hoping we could run up front all day, it just didn't happen. That is frustrating for all of Team Rahal. But now we are very optimistic going into the Texas race. We have been back in Columbus and regrouping for Texas. I think we learned a lot about the car at California, and I believe we are ready for Texas. That should be a wild race, as usual. With the championship on the line, I'm sure the racing will be intense. I remember how it was back in 1998 and 1999 when I was racing for the IndyCar Series title."
ALEX BARRON (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/ Firestone): "The Texas Motor Speedway is one of the best facilities that we race on all year. It's a great race for fans because they're always guaranteed an exciting finish. I've raced here several times before, so I'm familiar with the track and have a good idea of what you need to do on track to get the most out of the race. I'm working really hard with the Red Bull Cheever Racing team to do everything we can to get a good result. We tested at Texas for two days so we're hoping the information we learned will be valuable to us in having a solid race setup. We would love to finish off the season on a very positive note."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We hadn't had much of a chance to test with the new Chevy Gen IV until last week at Texas. Our speeds are considerably faster now than when we were here in June, and obviously that makes it a better racing opportunity for us. This track is all about speed, and with one little mistake you can take yourself out of the hunt in a hurry. We always look forward to racing here at Texas, and, hopefully we'll have a strong ending for the 2003 season."
ED CARPENTER (No. 18 Metabolife Ultra Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Obviously this will be the last race of the year for both the IndyCar Series and the Menards Infiniti Pro Series but will be my third IndyCar Series start. I have had two solid finishes in my first two IndyCar Series outings, so I hope to capitalize on that and have another good race. The PDM Racing team has given me a good car, so with a little luck on my side, I hope to have another good race and get some more experience to prepare for next season."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500 winner, tied for IndyCar Series points lead): "It's going to be another exciting race in Texas and a great down-to-the-wire battle for the IRL IndyCar Series championship. I'm really proud of everyone at Marlboro Team Penske. They were able to put my teammate, Gil (de Ferran) and I in contention for the title. Everyone has worked so hard all season, and I hope that we can bring home the big prize. This year is different than last when it was just Sam (Hornish Jr.) and I going for the title. Now there are five very experienced and fiercely competitive drivers trying to win, so it's going to be a war out there. We are just going to go for it and give it our all."
GIL de FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner): "Although we're still mathematically in the championship hunt, we're definitely the long shot so it'll be important to go into the Texas weekend as focused and prepared as possible. I never like being dependent on other drivers' results, but in this case we're going to have to hope that a few of my colleagues have less than perfect luck if we want a chance to win the title. Marlboro Team Penske has been competitive all year, and I'm definitely proud of the team and all the effort put forth this season, regardless of what happens next Sunday. I'm also looking forward to Texas because it will be my last time competing in open-wheel racing. After winning the Indianapolis 500 earlier this year, it would be ideal to end my career with the championship, as well."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone, tied for IndyCar Series points lead): "We've put ourselves in a position to win this thing; now we just have to go out and do it. Team Target has been working day and night to give us the best chance to win the race and the championship. Anything can happen down there, but I feel that we're in a very good position to win the championship. Obviously, it's good to be tied for the lead, but we have a lot of competition from Helio (Castroneves), Tony (Kanaan), Sam (Hornish) and Gil (de Ferran). It all comes down to the last race. If we can win there, we'll win the championship. And that's what our focus is right now, it has to be. I've been in this position before back in Indy Lights when Townsend Bell and I were in the points battle going into the last race. Luckily, I was able to win the race and win the title. There's a lot more at stake now, but the mindset is the same. You have to win the race to give yourself a shot at it."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's been a tough season for us. My teammate has come up in the ranks a bit, but unfortunately the No. 23 car has not been able to keep up. We look forward to the final race, though, at Texas October 12. We are focused on utilizing everything we've got right now in the best way possible. If we do that, it will be a successful race. It is an honor to be racing side-by-side with the top five contenders in such a close championship race. We look forward to seeing where we all sit after the Chevy 500."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone): "Testing went good. We tested two days with both the Dallara and the Panoz G Force. On the second day, we focused on the Conseco Panoz G Force, tried a few different things and picked up speed. We have a pretty good baseline for race weekend, but we still have to work on race setups. My goal for the last race is to do what we haven't done all season, run and finish in the top 10. Texas isn't a hard track, and there's not much I can do other than hold it to the floor, hold it on the white line and turn left. Last time, we had a bad problem with the car pushing, but I think we've learned a lot more about the Conseco car since then, so it should be better in traffic. I'm looking forward to this race because it's in my home state, so I have lots of friends and family for support. Plus we are having some special guests coming from Conseco, so I hope we have good race for them."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone, 2001 Bombardier Rookie of the Year): "I have every reason to believe we will be all right for the Texas race. We had a very good race going there in June before the accident at the end. I think I had at least a top-three car, for sure. We haven't tested there during the daytime, so we won't know for sure how we stand until we get there and put the Hollywood car on the track. But, I'm pretty sure we'll be all right. It's a shame we have had such a long break since the Fontana race. It was not a great showing for such a good team like ours. I can't get it out of my head what a long and disappointing day that was. It would have been great to have another race the very next weekend so I wouldn't have to sit on a result like that for so long. But, the team did some serious analysis at a research center in Michigan last week, and they told me they found some things that should help us. We'll start with our basic Texas setup and build upon that with our new information. After we had such a good race car at Chicago, it was very tough to accept what happened at Fontana, but enough about that. We can go out and have a great weekend in Texas and then all the good memories from that can carry us through the winter."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Obviously, my job is to win the race. For the Andretti Green Racing team, the biggest thing is for Tony (Kanaan) to win the championship. With one race to go, we know that Helio (Castroneves) and Scott (Dixon) will have their teammates helping them out, and I will be helping Tony out. Hopefully it won't come to that. Hopefully I can win the race and Tony finish second and win the championship. Then everybody would be happy. If the roles were reversed, Tony would be the first one to offer to help me. That is what it is down to. It is such a remote possibility that it is not something we are keying on. I'm looking forward to racing at Texas again. We had a pretty good race there in the Archipelago/Motorola car last June, and now we are ready to get our second win."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone, 2001 and 2002 IndyCar Series champion, two-time Texas winner): "We are definitely back in the fight, but I would much rather come in a little bit less out because if I win the race and either Helio (Castroneves) or Scott (Dixon) finish fourth, I'm still going to lose the championship unless I lead the most laps in the race. And, I'm either going to lose by one or win by one if either one of those guys finishes fourth, and that does not put me in a very good position because with the way that Scott has been running and the way that Helio has been running and especially the way that Tony (Kanaan) has been running, all four of us can win this race. There is no doubt in my mind that a couple of us are going to be in the top three, and it just seems to really pan out into our favor, and I don't know what is going to happen. I am just excited to see what happens."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The most important thing to do is win the race. I think the way that I am approaching the Texas weekend is going to be to qualify in the front and be in the front and lead the most laps and win the race. That is what I am going to try to do. It is not that I am going to drive any different, but I am going for the win. I have no other choice. Only the win matters to us right now. Mentally, we have to be very strong and try to not take the pressure as a disadvantage. The way that I will approach the race is like it is going to be a close race. You are not going to see people driving away from people, so we have to be patient and smart to be able to position ourselves for the win at the end. And the key to doing that is to be calm, and that is what I am going to try to do. The way that I am going to approach the weekend is aggressive but being smart and calm."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "I'm really happy to be back to Texas. It's also the track that I have the most laps and races at. The Menards/Johns Manville team has a really good setup for Texas. We tested there last Tuesday to improve the race balance. We expect a great race for us, and one of the reasons is the amount of effort that the team has placed on the car and the race setup."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/ Firestone): "I'm looking forward to going back to Texas. We definitely have some unfinished business down there. Back in June, we led 145 of the first 149 laps and surely had the car to beat. Unfortunately, something broke on the car and that ended our night. We had a great test down there last month with Team Target, and we should be strong there again. I really like racing down there. It's a great track, and we always have good races for the fans."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion, two-time Texas winner): "Texas is already one of the most exciting tracks that we race on, and to have the championship going down to the final race with three very viable contenders creates much added excitement at a track which is already high on thrills. I'm disappointed that we aren't in the thick of the championship battle with the Delphi team, but I'm hoping that we can put together a good effort at Texas and finish the season on a high note. The Delphi team has done a good job this year on the 1.5-mile ovals, and I think we were on track to a decent finish in June at Texas prior to getting caught up in an accident."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "I can't believe we are already at the final race of the season. The year has gone by very quickly. I know there is a championship race going on out there between three or four other drivers, but I am going to push 100 percent because I really feel like I need to finish the season with a victory. We had a great race car when we were at Texas in June, and we had our best result of the season there. We have studied, together with our engineers, why we could not get the speed we wanted at Fontana, and I think we found something to solve the problems we had. Instead of testing on the track, we decided it would be better to do a suspension data test, and I think it was worth it. So with the new information we have and the good result we had at Texas in June, I think we should be OK for the final race of the season."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone, 1992 and 1994 Indianapolis 500 winner, 2003 Texas winner): "I can't wait to get back to Texas. Everyone is always asking why the racing is so exciting at Texas Motor Speedway, and the answer to that question lies in the design of the racetrack and the strategy you have to put into play to win at Texas. At Texas Motor Speedway, you definitely have to plan your strategy for the finish. We go side by side, if not the entire race, then definitely the last 20 laps, and you have to have a strategy on how you're going to get in front because you are going to need it. In June, it was more of a horsepower issue, and Tony's (Kanaan) Honda was no match for my Toyota. It will be good to get back to Texas, and hopefully we can have a finish like we did in June. That would be a nice end to the season for the Corteco team."
DAN WHELDON (No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Obviously, I feel that I can win the race if the stars all line up my way. But, there is a lot at stake for our whole team in Texas. I want to help Tony (Kanaan) win the overall championship, and I want to win rookie of the year. If I can do all that in one day, I'll be very, very happy. Basically what I need to do is go out with the same mentality that I've had all year and do what I can do. If it happens where I can help Tony and be far enough ahead of Roger (Yasukawa) to where I can win rookie of the year, then so be it. But it's hard to predict what is going to happen. It's the last race. There is a lot of stuff going on for different people. I've just got to do the best I can and see where I end up. I'm very confident we'll be very strong again. I definitely enjoy racing at Texas, but it's going to be so close. We're at a point now in the season where the difference between the quickest car and the slowest car is not very much, so I think you're going to see cars running side by side and in line for a big part of the race. You'll just have to concentrate, make sure your car is good in traffic, make sure your car is fast, and then put yourself in a position to be in the front three for those last couple of laps."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Texas is the last race of the year, and thinking back, the season went fairly quick. This is the first track that I have already raced on in an IndyCar Series car, so I am fairly confident going into the weekend. We have been having a pretty good string of top-10 finishes lately, but still we are looking to be in the top five, and I believe that can come at Texas. As for the team, I think myself, Tom (Anderson, managing director), John Dick (race engineer) and the rest of the crew, together with the Honda guys, have really jelled together this season. The battle for the Bombardier Rookie of the Year is coming down to the last round with only a four-point difference between me and Dan (Wheldon). I still look at it as whoever finishes ahead in the race will probably be the Bombardier Rookie of the Year. I have led the rookie of the year standings throughout the season, and I am confident going into the last round. I know what I need to do, which is to do my best, and by doing so, if we are in the top five, I am almost certain that we will be the Bombardier Rookie of the Year this season."