DAY 1 -- Friday, Feb. 28, 2003 IRL Infiniti Pro Series post-practice quotes ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "The track is much hotter from when we tested, so we have to make some changes to get...
DAY 1 -- Friday, Feb. 28, 2003
IRL Infiniti Pro Series post-practice quotes
ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "The track is much hotter from when we tested, so we have to make some changes to get the car as stable as it was in the test. It was pushing pretty good through (Turns) 3 and 4. We have some ideas on how to get it sorted out. Once we do, we will be in the hunt again."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "Compared to last week, the cars are a little more unstable. We've made some changes. We ended up with quite a bit of understeer early on, and we made some changes. Now the car is neutral and skidding around, so it's a little more unpredictable. We're going to have to try to settle it down. We have a few changes we think we're going to make, but we have to make it so I can commit the car a little bit better and make the car more predictable."
BRANDON ERWIN (No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts. Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We made some big changes to the car (from the morning session) to try and make a difference, and it made a difference. As I was running out there, I noticed the times weren't really any faster than we ran this morning, but after a while I realized that the track changed. The wind made a big difference. We were much faster in the afternoon. I think if we would have had this setup on the car this morning that we would have been up there at the top. We've been scratching our heads for three days, and we just now found out the difference to make the car faster, so I definitely think it's going to help us in the long run. We made some significant changes throughout the day. We just didn't know at first, but I think we found a good combination."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It went well. We were pretty consistent all day, and the track got slower as the day went on. We've got some things to work on. The Hemelgarn/Johnson crew is doing a great job this year." (About the track): "It's probably one of the more physically demanding. I think it will be one of the toughest tracks."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Fulmar/Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We were a little bit slower this afternoon because of all the rubber laid down by the IndyCarTM Series cars. The wind has really picked up running down the backstretch. I'm pretty happy, and I feel like the car is improving from this morning. I feel like we're gradually getting better and better. I'm happy as far as going into tomorrow is concerned. I know we need to pick up a little bit of speed, but I wouldn't say a whole lot. I'm just trying to get comfortable and letting the car come to me. Being a rookie and this being first oval race, being comfortable is as important to me as being quick. They come hand in hand."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm still learning. Everything here is new to me. We did a test here two weeks ago, and the communication between (engineer) Thomas (Knapp) and me is very good. I came from road circuits, and the driving style is completely different on ovals. But I came from South American Formula 3, and the balance of the car is very similar to the Infiniti Pro Series car. Thomas has helped me to adapt. I know I can win some races, but I'm still learning. I'm a rookie. I'm very happy."
ROGER BAILEY (Executive Director, IRL Infiniti Pro Series): "I'm delighted with the first two sessions of the new year. We had 90 minutes of flawless operation. The engines performed well. We didn't have one little hiccup. Teams behaved. They seemed very well prepared this year. I'm extremely pleased, not only with the preparation, but with the presentation of the teams. Everybody has upgraded their programs. If the year continues the way it is, we'll have a tremendous year."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Our first session was good, but then we changed some things, and we've been getting slower all day. The track changed a lot, and my car was a bit evil. This track is unique. There is not much downforce, and the banking is minimal. With the wind, it can be quite hair-raising when the car isn't correct. You have to have the car dialed in." (About Thiago Medeiros): "I spent some time with him when he tested the Sinden Racing Services car at Phoenix last November, just getting him to know the track. He was a very, very quick learner. I didn't have to teach him much. I just told him to be smooth, and then he was quicker than me. He's good. He won't need to learn much."
MARTY ROTH (No. 3 Roth/Stewart Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We're bridging the gap, but we still have a lot of work to do. It's a great place, great facility. I love Miami. We're used to higher banks, and it's a little easier to hold it flat. Here you need to do a lot more finessing. We have a little more tuning to do, but we'll get there. We have to go look at the data. We still have a fair bit of work to do."
JONATHAN URLIN (No. 33 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We were progressively getting better, and then the gust of wind started coming, and it kind of threw us off. Now we're scratching our heads wondering how to overcome that. We're kind of right back to where we started. The wind is the biggest thing for us right now. I've never really felt that much wind before. Our cars are a lot bigger than anything I've ran before, so the wind affects it a little bit more. It's such a flat track that all the gusts come right in, and the banking doesn't protect us from any of it. That's something that we're playing with, but besides that it's a pretty cool track. It's wide open and will give us lots of room to race."
RONNIE JOHNCOX (No. 8 REV 1 Racing Special Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We didn't have the opportunity to come down here and test, so we're kind of starting from scratch and learning as we go. We've made a fair amount of progress today. Our goal is just to improve every session, which is what we've done so far and carry it on into the race on Sunday. Not only do we need to find more speed, I'm confident that we will find more speed. We learned a lot today. We just had an hour-and-a-half test session, really. A lot of these teams had eight to 16 hours of test time. We're kind of racing ourselves right now, and on race day we'll race the other teams. The track seems to be really smooth. It's really wide. There's plenty of room to pass out there. It's going to be a good race. I think it's a great racetrack."
PAUL DANA (No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was actually very frustrating, and I think it was probably that way for most of the drivers because the track is drastically slower than when we all ran here last week. I was getting really frustrated looking at the lap times on the dash thinking, 'Man, we're hopelessly off the pace.' Then they told me that we were fastest, at least in this session, that we were quickest. I guess if it's bad for us, it's bad for everybody. We threw a whole bunch of changes at the car. We only tested the first day of the two days last week. We kind of gambled and threw a bunch of darts, and they all missed. So the first session this morning, we were just hopeless. We kind of backed up a step or two, tried some other things, and they worked."
GARY PETERSON (No. 27 AFS Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We made some changes today that made the car handle much better in Turn 3 and 4. (Turn) 1 and 2 are pretty nice. My car will be good for the race. It's not the fastest, right in the middle, but for the race it'll be consistent."
MATT BEARDSLEY (No. 12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic Land Title Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "We haven't had any testing. This is only the second time that I've been back in the car since Texas. So we've really had no time in the car, but given the no time in the car, I think we're doing pretty well. We haven't gone too quick yet, but I think after tomorrow's practice and qualifying, we'll be doing OK. It's definitely a hard track. It's pretty flat with no banking, and it tends to get real slippery once the wind comes up and it gets hot. We're fighting a pretty big push right now, but it keeps getting better."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Testing didn't go as well as I hoped. Overall, I think we could be a lot further up there on the grid. The Hemelgarn/Johnson team is an excellent team. The crew is going to work hard to get me a better car for tomorrow. I feel we can get everything going better. We have to look at some of the data and go from there. We need to try to make it a little more comfortable to drive right now; it's a little bit unstable. I raced here in the Indy Lights series in 1999. We were doing all right until we hit the wall in one of the practice sessions, and that kind of took some of the courage away for the race. But like I said, that was back in 1999. Here we are, and it's a whole different day, different car. I like this track. It's a challenging place, and the series is great. We just have to get a good setup on the car, and hopefully by the day of the race we can have the best car."
TOM WOOD (No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "The track changed a fair bit this afternoon. The wind was moving you around more this afternoon than this morning. We worked on race setup, like I think everyone was. Homestead is a handling track. The car has really got to be right, and you really have to drive it right. You have got a lot of factors. It's a handful most of the time. Overall, I think we have a good race car." (About the IRL Infiniti Pro Series): "There were a lot of good drivers last year, but there are a lot more good drivers this year. I think you're really going to have to step it up to compete in this series. It is a stepping-stone to the IndyCar Series cars. It is the pathway to the IndyCar Series."
LLOYD MACK (No. 6 On-Line Financial/Barstow Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "Honestly, practice was horrible for me today. I'm not even going to hold my tongue and say that it was somewhat good. There was something positive that came out of practice today. We didn't get out at all very much in the first practice session because we had some kind of radio problem. The IRL officials wouldn't let us out on the track without it, which I can understand. The second practice session the battery went dead, and after the battery went dead, we had some kind of motor problems. So I only turned a total of maybe 25 to 30 laps all day today. Everybody else is still running their same basic times from last week, and we're running a second and a half off what we ran last week because we can't get the car to go around the track. We can't get it to run, let alone turn around the track. Just when it seems like we have one problem fixed, another one jumps up at us."