SPARTA, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Kentucky 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order): ED CARPENTER (No. 2...
SPARTA, Ky., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2002 -- Quotes from selected Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Kentucky 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Sunday, Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
ED CARPENTER (No. 2 Menards/Jack K. Elrod Co./Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I've learned a lot more than I thought I'd learn racing the Pro Series cars. Running in traffic, there are a lot of things I've found I can do that I really only could have learned by actually racing. People have told me this and that and given me advice about what to do in certain situations, but until you actually get out there and race in those conditions, with tight drafting and cars all around you, it's hard to apply some of the pointers you're given. As a team and a driver, though, we've definitely improved every weekend, and I think we're ready to step to the top. We came close at Michigan. Hopefully, Kentucky can be our first win."
AARON FIKE (No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I've been to the Kentucky Speedway but never run on the track. It looks like a pretty awesome track. We should be able to run in close packs much like we did in Michigan. I think it will produce tight racing where four or five drivers could win." (About the battle for the series championship): "We've had decent finishes, but it would be nice to get a win under our belt. I would like to tighten up the championship points battle. My Hemelgarn/Johnson team is working hard, and we've learned a lot since the first race. The more laps we run, the stronger we get. We're definitely due for a win."
RYAN HAMPTON (No. 34 Ryan Hampton/CGF Special Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I am looking forward to this race and getting back in the seat and back to business. MIS (Michigan International Speedway) was the first time I had the chance to run the Pro Series car, and I was impressed by the speed, the sound and the stability of the Infiniti/Dallara. Right now, we are still trying to get the car dialed in. Dave (Conti, team manager) is the best, so I know I'll have a great car. I just hope it stays dry so I can see what the car can really do. Cross your fingers."
RONNIE JOHNCOX (No. 8 Rev. 1 Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About Kentucky Speedway): "I've talked to several people who tested there, and I think I have a fairly good idea of what to expect. It's going to be like Kansas, flat out. It's a very smooth surface, so I think you can probably expect a Michigan-like race. I think Kentucky is one of those tracks where you have to have the car as free and as fast as you possibly can." (About the battle for the series championship): "Let's face it -- the guys that are up at the front have demonstrated that they're going to be consistently fast. If they are consistent in their finishes, it's really their championship to lose. From our standpoint, we just need to go to every race and try to win. We're not so concerned with the points, we just really want to use the season as our baseline for next year. We don't have all the pieces in place that we'd like to have at this time, but we're working on putting them in place. We're real happy about the addition of Pete Merkel to handle all of our sales and marketing. We're working on our 2003 program, and right now we're just trying to have the best on-track performance that we could possibly have. We're working on growing our race team. We think we have a very good team. We'd like to have a better result at the end of the race, but overall, we're pleased with how the team has come together."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Luyendyk Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "The team has been giving me a great car every race, and we came close to winning Michigan. I think we'll be really competitive. I think we'll definitely be a contender for the pole and the race win. My teammates (G.J. Mennen and Tom Wood) have tested there, and they seemed to like it. They say it's pretty wide open like Michigan and Kansas, so I think it will be one of those drafting races, and it will be important to have a good car in traffic." (About the battle for the series championship): "Every race is important. Our goal is to win the championship, and we've finished consistently. The races I've finished, I finished second. I think for me to win the championship, I need to finish ahead of (A.J.) Foyt (IV) each race, so I'll be working hard at each track to obtain my goal."
G.J. MENNEN (No. 99 Greased Lightning Automotive Cleaning Products Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I am really looking forward to the Kentucky race. After competing in 3,500-pound stock cars and Trans Am vehicles for the past three years, it has taken me a couple races to get oriented and find a setup that will work the entire race. Also, the track is very similar to Kansas, which gives us more confidence as well." (About testing at Kentucky Speedway): " We had a very successful test last week at Kentucky, and that should help us next weekend. We learned a lot. We were able to answer a lot of questions we've been having all season. Going into the weekend knowing where our car is and things to improve, it really helps our entire program. At least we know we are headed in the right direction." (About Kentucky Speedway): "I think it is going to be a great race. With the Infiniti cars, we are able to run two or three abreast with a lot of passing. It should be a really good event, especially because it is a phenomenal facility. It is state of the art."
GARY PETERSON (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We were able to test last Friday at the Kentucky Speedway, and it went well. While we didn't get to draft with anyone, we were running just as quickly by ourselves as the others were running with a draft. Hopefully, the car will work in traffic with our setup. The team did great, the car is right, so we should do fine in Kentucky. With missing the Nashville race and my poor qualifying at Michigan, I must look at the season as a learning curve and just try to do the best I can at each remaining race. I'm having a ball, and it's a great series to be involved in. The IRL staff, the other drivers, the crews are all working together. I have never been involved in a series with such camaraderie between all."
JASON PRIESTLEY (No. 7 HomeMed Pharmacy Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Our Kentucky Speedway test was the longest test we have had thus far in the HomeMed car without problems. As a result, I feel like Ray (Gosselin, team engineer), Jimmie (Johnson, crew chief) and I learned a tremendous amount about the car. We made a great deal of headway on understanding the setup and what the car likes and doesn't like. I have complete confidence that I will have a car capable of winning the race on Sunday and will be disappointed if we don't finish in the top three."
ROLANDO QUINTANILLA (No. 11 Roquin Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I'm confident. We're still learning. We had time on track and started to develop the car at Michigan." (About Kentucky Speedway): "We went to Kentucky to shake the car down. It was the first time we were on the track, and we just ran installation laps. Realistically, I couldn't really tell you that much about the track. It seems like they've done a good job in smoothing out the track. One-and-a-half mile tracks are pretty neat when they're smooth, just really nice to drive. The smoothness of the track, I really think, is a benefit for doing more side-by-side racing. I think it will be like Michigan or Kansas."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to Kentucky because I passed my Indy Racing League rookie test at the track in 2000 as well as tested in an Indy Lights car. The track itself is similar to Kansas and Chicago. It won't be difficult to drive flat around the track, and drafting will be important, like most venues we run. It should be tight wheel-to-wheel racing." (On the battle for the series championship): "The championship is important, but our main concern is to take the remaining four events one race at a time. I don't have any doubts that we'll be a championship contender, but we've got to take it one step at a time."
TOM WOOD (No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Kentucky will be my first race in the Infiniti Pro Series cars. I am excited to be running with the Sam Schmidt Motorsport team. We tested at Kentucky last week, and the team brought me up to speed very quickly. This series is extremely competitive, and I am fortunate to be with a very strong team. It should be a fun weekend."