IRL Infiniti Pro Series Pre-Race Quotes Aventis Racing For Kids 100, July 6, Kansas Speedway KANSAS CITY, Kan., Monday, June 30, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 Infiniti Pro...
IRL Infiniti Pro Series Pre-Race Quotes
Aventis Racing For Kids 100, July 6, Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan., Monday, June 30, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Aventis Racing For Kids 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, July 6 at Kansas Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
MATT BEARDSLEY (No. 12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic/Land Title Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We had an awesome car at Pikes Peak despite the motor problems. I think we had a good enough car there to be in the top five if not in the top three. Between then and now we have figured out what caused the motor problem, and, definitely, we will have a stronger if not new motor for the Kansas race. I'm definitely looking forward to going to Kansas. I like the 1.5-mile tracks like Texas and Kansas. Thus far it has been an unbelievably good series and a good program. It has been great, and is a really good step toward the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series car. I have a lot of drafting experience from past races, and that is a good advantage. But it still comes down to the car and the general horsepower. For us, top five would be a good way to finish out the point standings, and top three would be extraordinary. Right now we are just trying to focus on doing the best we can do for each individual race."
ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We are coming into the part of the season where we are repeating the tracks that we ran last year. I think myself and some of the other guys that ran in last year's inaugural season are going to have somewhat of an advantage on some of the new guys. It has been great because some of us will already have 100 miles at Kansas. I am looking forward to getting back on a big track after how we ran at the Indianapolis Freedom 100. I think that the development of the series has gone very well. I think the overall strength of the series is getting stronger and more competitive than it was last year. We are putting on some good races. I'm happy that I am learning everything I wanted to learn, so hopefully it will help me to move on next year into the IndyCar Series."
PAUL DANA (No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "This is going to be a big event for our team with the Ethanol sponsors because the three partners that make up the sponsorship happen to have bases of operations in Kansas and South Dakota-Iowa area. It is going to be like the Indianapolis Freedom 100, a high-profile weekend. We are going to have a lot of guests from our sponsors there, which actually makes it fun. We are really looking to be competitive. We had the crash at Pikes Peak, and that has kind of set our program back. The good news, however, was that again in terms of pace we were competitive. For me as a driver it is the same story. We have been competitive in practice, but we are struggling getting the car qualified and converting that into race results. Sooner or later, as we get stronger as a team we will get better organized, and I'm sure the race results are just around the corner. I have to be optimistic. I think that Tony (George) and Roger's (Bailey) vision for the series has certainly panned out. We have seen a big increase in the level of talent and the preparation level of the teams. Already in one year it has gotten competitive, and the depth is really strong. I think the series is doing its job. If we can prove that we can run up front in this series, it is preparing us for the step up."
BRANDON ERWIN (No. 99 Trailblazer Drilling/Savanna Energy Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "We are going to try to be as prepared as we can. I know the team is trying to go back through the car and make sure that everything is perfect on it. We had a really fast car at Pikes Peak. We went to a test in St. Louis, and the car ran great there, too. I'm really confident that we are going to run up front like we have been all year. We have just been hit with a bit of bad luck with the alternator and things going wrong. Regardless, the team and I are really clicking, and as soon as we can get a few things to give us a break, we will be doing pretty well. Right now I feel like the championship is well within our reach. If Mark Taylor makes any mistakes along the way and we can get a win or two, we can close up the gap. I am only 14 points out of second. I think we have bunch of great drivers in there. I feel really comfortable about running with them. We are taking on a drafting race. It is going to be my first trip to the Kansas Speedway, and I think we will put on a good show."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 RFMS/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We ran there last year and qualified fourth but ended up getting in a wreck with Ronnie Johncox and Arie Luyendyk Jr. during the race. I think it will be an interesting race, just like the other big tracks. There will probably be six or seven people that pull away from the rest of the race, and we all run together. It should be pretty hard to pass, and whoever starts at the top will be in the front most of the race. It is a fun track. Last year, it wasn't as competitive of a race as it could have been, with it being the inaugural and all, but this year I think it will be a much better race than it was last year. The series is getting better. Motors are getting more reliable and so are the gearboxes. Everything is starting to come together, and we are starting to get a lot faster. We tested really well down there, six- or seven-tenths quicker than the track record. I feel like I'm ready to go for Kansas."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Kansas is where we started out the season last year. We had a bit of a rough race, but we definitely had the speed to win the race. So coming off a good podium finish, I think we have the momentum to finish well. I'm ready to go back to Kansas because this is the first race of the season where we actually can use the data from last year. It's great. The series has come a long way. There's so much that's happened since the opening race last year that it'll be interesting to see the growth of the series at the racetrack."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I hope everything's going to be fine. I didn't have good luck the last three races. I had a lot of problems at the last race at Pikes Peak with the fuel pump. We fixed the problem for the race, but we lost a lot of time on Friday. We didn't have time to fix the problem before qualifying, and it's always hard when you start on the back to overtake the drivers especially on the 1-mile oval. Kansas City is going to be a very fast track like Homestead where I did my first race at the 1.5-mile circuit. Maybe it is going to be the same condition, and I will try to do the best that I can do. The championship is very tight. Everybody is so close for the second place, and I hope to be on top. In the beginning of the season, I was very close to winning my first race and well, I'm still working to do this. I hope it's going to be in Kansas. I've never been there before. I'll go to Kansas City to do the best that I can do and try to win my first race of the season."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Kansas will be the first track we go to that the Western Union Speed Team has never done a lap on before the race weekend. I guess if we win we may have to consider banning ourselves from testing, but the team is ready to win. Fifth, fourth, and second in the last three races shows that we are making progress; we just need to have a good car on race day. Right now the whole team is looking forward to each race as an opportunity to make up points on the leader. The more information we acquire, the stronger we become, so we are focused on every session to try to learn as much as possible. Hopefully at Kansas Speedway the Western Union Speed Team will be celebrating independence and victory on the same weekend."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "After a relatively disappointing race weekend at Pikes Peak, we were able to go to St. Louis and have a successful test. We worked on many things while we were there, and I feel confident that we can go to Kansas and do well. We haven't been able to test, but I think the car will work well there, and that I have enough time to learn the track. I believe we have a good opportunity to win there and extend our championship lead even further. With the first Infiniti Pro Series race being at Kansas last year, I think the series will be able to show how much it has improved over the last year. It will be interesting to see how much advantage the drivers and teams who raced here last year will have."
JONATHAN URLIN (No. 3 Budget Rent A Car of Canada Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We're trying to accomplish the same type of progression that we've been going for all year, and that's finishing every lap, gaining as much knowledge as we can about these tracks and about these cars, work our way up through the field like we've been doing all year, and eventually by the end of the year we'll hopefully be up in the top of the podium. I think the series has come a long way, definitely accomplishing a lot of the goals the IRL has set for the series. I think the series can really only get better. It's definitely heading in the right direction. If you look at the field, the cars, the competition and how the series has gone so far this year, it's definitely obvious to see the progression that's happened and how far the series has come along. I'm excited to go away next weekend to this track. From what I've seen on TV and from looking at the data, it should be a good time. I don't necessarily think it will be a big problem catching up to a little bit of a fallback that we have from not being here before. Arie (Luyendyk Jr.) and those guys, yeah, they've already been here, and they're going to be quick right off the bat, but I don't think it should be a problem for us to catch up."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I am looking forward to the race this weekend after having a difficult race at Pikes Peak. Kansas was actually our first racetrack last year, so hopefully this year we can go there and come out with a victory. I think the Infiniti Pro Series has improved quite a bit. It has definitely come a long way. Really, it is a lot more competitive this year than it was last year. There are a lot better teams and drivers. The cars are just that much more advanced. I think it came a long way. Experience helps at a racetrack as far as knowing what bumps are here and there, but for the most part the cars have to be prepared from track to track. Now it is really just you being prepared to go around with a big pack of cars driving the whole race together side-by-side, two and three across. I'm really ready for it. All the tracks we race I have raced before. It is just a matter of having a good setup and a good team behind you. The Hemelgarn Johnson team the last two races have given me an excellent car. For the next race, I hope that we can go to Kansas and come out with a victory."
TOM WOOD (No. 9 Trailblazer Drilling/Sam Schmidt Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I haven't tested or raced at Kansas. Sam Schmidt Motorsports raced there last year, and they did quite well. I am sure we will have a good race car. I understand it is similar to Chicago, and we had a good result there last year. Drafting and race strategy is likely going to be the key to placing well at Kansas. We will have a new sponsor for Kansas, Trailblazer Drilling Corp. They have the fastest oil and gas drilling technology in the world, so let's hope some of that speed will rub off on us."