JOLIET, Ill., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Chicagoland 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, Sept. 8, at Chicagoland Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order): ED CARPENTER...
JOLIET, Ill., Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Chicagoland 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, Sept. 8, at Chicagoland Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ED CARPENTER (No. 2 Menards/Jack K. Elrod Co./Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I think our team and myself, we're capable of beating (A.J.) Foyt (IV). We've been the most consistent team, even more consistent than them, but they've been able to pull off the three wins. It's frustrating because I thought in a couple of them we were going to beat them, but we just don't have the speed in a straight line. At Kentucky, I passed him and broke the draft, and he chased me down in clean air and passed me back. He just had more straightaway speed. I think we have great race setups at the high-speed tracks, and I know I can get the job done, but like at Kentucky, we just didn't have enough sheer speed. This race we'll have a new wing package because they made a new rule that'll slow us down a little bit, so everyone will really be starting over. They're giving us more downforce, and whoever figures it out the best will be quick. We just have to do everything to win, but at the same time if all I can salvage is a third or fourth, then I'll take it and hope Anthony (Foyt) drops out. I have to watch out for Arie (Luyendyk Jr.), as well. He's only two points back, and if I'm not going to win this thing, I definitely want to be second because in my eyes that will almost be just as good as a win."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, resident of Galesburg, Ill.): "I have no experience at Chicago, but then again, I haven't spent a lot of time at the majority of the racetracks on the schedule. Typically that doesn't affect me too much because I usually am a quick learner. The last few races, we haven't had the best luck, and I'm looking to turn it around. I'm excited to do well in front of a hometown crowd."
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Harrah's/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've been to Chicagoland with the Indy-car team, but I've never driven on it. I heard it's a lot like Kansas, so the first session I'll just learn my way around and get up to speed. As far as the race, I'll just do what I always try to do: win. If it comes down to making a risky move in the race, I'll have to think about the points a little bit." (About his recent Texas media tour): "It was a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of people and help promote the race at Texas, so hopefully we'll have a good turnout. The best part of the tour was the football, watching them practice and then getting to meet the players and coaches. We went to the University of Oklahoma and also saw our new team in Houston, the Texans. That was great."
MATTHEW HALLIDAY (No. 37 Bowes Seal Fast/Hoosier Wholesale Automotive Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About his left wrist, injured in an accident July 7 at Kansas Speedway): "It's good now. It was hard at St. Louis because it was quite a demanding track, and the car wasn't necessarily handling right during the race. Really, we had a tough weekend on top of having a problem with my wrist. Nothing really went right. The race was quite hard. The last part of it was really just trying to finish the race, but I think for this weekend and next weekend in Texas it will be pretty easy." (About 2003 plans): "We had a very strong season last year in Indy Lights, and this season hasn't really worked really good for me because of a number of circumstances. I think for next year we'll look at the options and work out what we're going to do. For sure, something in the IRL, whether it's the Pro Series or the IRL. It's always what options are open and what deals are available."
RYAN HAMPTON (No. 34 Conti-Genoa-Frost Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "After our win at Gateway, we discovered that the car was on the verge of engine failure in the late stages of the race, so I hope we don't have that problem at Chicagoland. It's a big horsepower track, and it'll be flat out and fast. Obviously, setup is going to be important. I've never been there before, but we'll try to take what we learned at Michigan and Kentucky and use that knowledge to get a good setup at Chicago. Gateway isn't a horsepower track, but Chicagoland is. I've heard it's very similar to Kentucky. Horsepower will be very important. Everybody on the team is still on a high from Gateway, so we'll go to Chicago and try to build from there. It's going to be hard to top our performance at Gateway, but now it's on to another race. I want to put on a good show for the fans this weekend and put the car somewhere upfront for team owner Garlon Frost. We haven't had any testing here, but I've gotten a few tips on how this tracks plays out. As the season closes, CGF Racing is focusing on strong finishes and getting the most out of our Infiniti engine. Hopefully we can find the horsepower to run upfront. We are also focusing on winning over potential sponsors because this is a great series, and I want to be back here next year. What can I say, this is what I love to do."
RONNIE JOHNCOX (No. 8 REV 1 Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About goals for the remaining two events): "We're optimistic. We know we're a legitimate contender to win both races. It's fun to go to the track and know you'll be fast. My goal is to win both races. With the exception of the first race of the season that we went to not even expecting to race, we've gone to every event trying to win it, and we'll do nothing different at the last two. We aren't concerned with points. We just want to win each of the last two races and give us some good momentum going into 2003." (About his eighth-place finish at the Gateway 100 on Aug. 25): "Gateway is one of those scenarios that we would rather soon forget. However, we have found some things that were causing problems with the car that we've been able to address and don't expect there to be any more hiccups from this point forward. It was just a fundamental problem that we had with the car, and we were able to sort it out, take care of it. Sometimes those things happen." (About plans for 2003): "We're planning on doing two cars for 2003. We're in the process of interviewing drivers right now. We're out searching for a teammate for me for next year. We're looking for a driver who has some sponsorship backing but who can also be a capable and productive teammate for me and share information. Ideally, our goal would be to do a test with some of these guys immediately following the Texas race, but that's a work in progress. The biggest thing right now is securing solid funding. I really cannot overstate the fact that we've really done this on a shoestring budget this year. The fact that we've been competitive and contending for wins has raised some eyebrows."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Luyendyk Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About Chicagoland Speedway): "I think it will produce some close racing, especially with the rule changes on the wing package. I think that will bring the whole field closer together. I'm looking forward to it, but we haven't been very strong on 1.5-mile tracks, so I think we need to improve if we're going to be in the top three in this race." (With three second-place finishes, you must be very eager to get that first win): "Definitely. The only tracks that we've done badly on are 1.5-mile tracks, which we're on for the remaining two races. We need to really improve our car on those types of tracks. For some reason, on the really, really large tracks and on the shorter tracks we've seem to found a good setup, and I seem to like that, but on the 1.5-mile tracks we seem to have a car that fades late in the race, which we need to improve on. I think if we get those things sorted out, I think there's a good chance that I'll win before the season's over." (About the championship): "I think A.J.'s (Foyt IV) pretty much got it sewn up. It's going to be hard to win the title, but it's definitely a really good race for second. Ed (Carpenter), Cory (Witherill) and I are right there, and I'm only two points out of second. Unless A.J. has some misfortune the next couple of races, I think he'll be able to hold it together, but second place is anyone's guess." (About the Infiniti Pro Series): "I think it's developed into a really great series. Every race it just keeps getting more competitive. We've seen many different drivers run up front. It's shaping up to be a really great series. The publicity has been great, and as far as the marketing value goes, it's perfect because you're driving the same day as the IRL event so it really attracts a lot of attention."
G.J. MENNEN (No. 99 Greased Lightning Automotive Cleaning Products Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "We had a good test at Gateway, and we carried that momentum into the race. We had a good test at Chicago before the start of the season, and hopefully we'll carry our momentum from Gateway on to Chicago. Hopefully, we can transfer as much information from what we learned at Gateway and what we learned at Kentucky into our setup at Chicago. That's really when we started turning the corner. When we tested at Kentucky, we learned quite a few things."
ROLANDO QUINTANILLA (No. 11 Roquin Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We haven't tested at any other venue yet, so we just pretty much try to get everything out of it that we can from day one and learn the characteristics of the track and the characteristics of the car on the track. It will be interesting to see how everything pans out. For us as a team, we've been consistent in that we've pretty much finished every race we've run in, tried to finish in the top five or top 10, at least. We still need that little bit which is keeping us from jumping into that top group, which obviously requires quite a bit of testing and development of the car. Our financial situation doesn't allow us to do it, but we try to go with what we have each weekend and make the best of it. I've been really impressed and happy with the guys. They deserve quite a bit of praise for our consistency. I think that we've been really good in that our car has run every lap, every session, and we've kept it off the walls and not got in trouble and run consistently. We've meshed together the way a team should, and that's why we've been so consistent." (About the Infiniti Pro Series): "As a series, I think they're definitely going in the right direction. I think with time and with feedback from drivers, engineers, technical directors, the series will only grow for the better. I'm happy that I was at least able to be part of it for now. I hope ultimately to be a part of it next year, too."