FOUNTAIN, Colo., Monday, June 9, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Pikes Peak 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Saturday, June 14 at Pikes Peak International Raceway (quotes listed in alphabetical order): MATT ...
FOUNTAIN, Colo., Monday, June 9, 2003 -- Quotes from selected IRL Infiniti Pro Series drivers about the Pikes Peak 100 Infiniti Pro Series event Saturday, June 14 at Pikes Peak International Raceway (quotes listed in alphabetical order):
MATT BEARDSLEY (No. 12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic Land Title Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone, resident of Breckenridge, Colo.): "It is going to be great racing at home and at my hometown track. I've been there quite a bit and raced on the oval there a lot. I've never really had a race like this, anywhere close to home, with the turnout of a lot of family and friends. If anything, it will make it better, more exciting. Since we crashed at Indy, we have gotten a new car, and everything within the setup is pretty close to the same as it was before Indy. It is a cool track, a pretty fast mile oval. After the accident, we are just trying to get back in it. I'm not really worried about the championship right now. We are just trying to get back in it and get some good results."
ED CARPENTER (No. 14 Futaba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About winning the inaugural Freedom 100 May 18): "I think it is an advantage. I have a little momentum compared to some of the other guys. It is always nice to go into a race after you've won the one before it. The only downside is we struggled a bit in Phoenix, which is similar to Colorado, but I've raced at Pikes Peak quite a few times. I have been racing there since '99. I think we have learned something about the car here in Indy that will work out there, too. I'm looking forward to it. It has been awhile, just under a month, since I've been in a car. It is just going to be good to get back into a car again." (Do you feel that your Freedom 100 win has turned your season around?): "I think it did. We were sitting 15th in points before Indy. Now we are fifth and only two points out of second and 55 points out of the lead. Going into Indy, we were way out of it, looking like a long shot. Now we are right back in the mix, just like we were last year. It is a huge lift. Hopefully it will just keep carrying on throughout the rest of the year."
PAUL DANA (No. 24 Ethanol/Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I'm optimistic because it is another short oval. I'm very confident in our competitiveness on the short oval. I expect to do very well there. I think we have a very good handle on the car. I'm really starting to get very comfortable with what the car can do, so I'm not expecting to see any major changes for the upcoming race. Specifically, we need to qualify higher. We have been on race pace at all of the events but have struggled in qualifying. We just need to really focus on putting the car on the front row if we can. By doing that, we will be racing for wins versus fighting over scraps like we have been doing."
BRANDON ERWIN (No. 99 Natural Golf/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/ Infiniti/Firestone): "I am so excited to be running at PPIR. I absolutely love Colorado and all the mountainous areas. Growing up, my parents used to bring us here at least twice a year: once to ski in the winter and once in the summer. This brings back great memories. As far as the upcoming race goes, we had some trouble in Indianapolis that I think we finally got figured out. My crew has really worked hard to get this car together and ready for the race. PPIR is a driver's track, not necessarily a speed or drafting track, so I feel we should have a definite advantage there. We are still third in points, and our goal is to stay in the top three and maybe even gain some ground on (points leader) Mark Taylor."
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 5 Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I have never raced at Pikes Peak, and we have definitely not had the season we planned on so far. We have had some bad luck. Bad luck at Indianapolis, bad luck at Phoenix. We are looking to turn things around this race. We've hired on some more help in the shop, and our team is getting stronger and stronger each race. We had the alternator problem last race, and we have fixed that. I'm just looking for the car to be reliable this race and hopefully good in the long run. At this point, I would have hoped to give a better showing for our sponsor Grill 2 Go, but we are working hard at it, so we will just have to see. I think it will be good to race at Pikes Peak because I like the shorter tracks. I think they are more challenging. A short track is more of a driver's track. I'm looking forward to running there, and hopefully we can pull out a top-three finish."
THIAGO MEDEIROS (No. 36 Genoa Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): (About goals for Pikes Peak 100): "Be careful not to get in an accident, that's the first step. That's oval racing sometimes -- you can't avoid accidents. But we have nine more races ahead of us and a lot of points, and we're fighting for the championship. We're still in second place, so I'm very confident about Pikes Peak. I've never been there. I've heard it's very beautiful. I've heard that the race will be long, and you'll have to be careful. Some people have told me that it's pretty narrow and you will be downshifting a couple of times a lap, but I'm not sure. I come from racing on road circuits, so that is more like what I'm used to. I'm looking forward to it. When I came to the Infiniti Pro Series, I knew that it was going to be very tough. There are a lot of good drivers in this category. I'm very confident because I've had two second-place finishes, but we are still looking for our first win."
JEFF SIMMONS (No. 20 Western Union Speed Team/Duesenberg Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "I'm really looking forward to the Pikes Peak 100 and getting on with the rest of the season. Western Union is based near Denver, so even though I have never raced at PPIR, I cannot wait to compete in front of all the fans, especially the members of Western Union. The Western Union Speed Team has had two-top fives in the last two races, but we expect more from ourselves. PPIR presents a few interesting challenges. The track is quite wide, but there is very little straightaway, and the banking changes throughout the corners, which will make passing very exciting. Also, because of the high altitude, the cars make a little less power but also less downforce so they tend to move around a lot more. I think that is going to make for a very exciting race for the spectators, and the Western Union Speed Team is well-prepared for the competition."
MARK TAYLOR (No. 4 Fulmar Panther Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I am really looking forward to this race. We haven't been able to test there yet, so it's going to be a real challenge for us; however, I am confident we can do well. My car worked well around Phoenix, and I think it will be the same around Pikes Peak. The difficulties will come with the tight schedule and having qualifying on the first day, so any problems will be magnified."
JONATHAN URLIN (No. 3 Budget Rent A Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It is going to be a brand-new experience. The plan is to hit every lap we can possibly get to; be the first one on and the last one off the track. We will keep on working our setup, getting comfortable in the car, and hopefully by Race Day we will be ready to go. We are progressively working through the season getting better and better every time. We're learning more and more, which is exactly what we are trying to do. Hopefully, we can continue that through Pikes Peak. It is a brand-new experience, a brand-new town. I don't even think I've ever been to Colorado. That's what's fun about the Infiniti Pro Series. We get the chance to travel to all these fun places."
CORY WITHERILL (No. 92 WSA Healthcare Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Our Pikes Peak test in May gave us a good baseline for the upcoming race. The only problem was the 30-40 mph winds, so we didn't get a full day of testing, but we'll be one of the few cars that have track time. We'll have more knowledge and possibly an advantage over the other teams. I really enjoy racing at the tracks where it is crucial to have a good setup in order to race at the front of the field." (About new crew chief Chuck Buckman): "After Indy, we made changes to the team to strengthen our program and make a run for the championship. I think it was a positive move."
TOM WOOD (No. 9 Super 8 Motels/Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "I have raced at Pikes Peak several times in a F2000 car. This is going to be more of a handling track again. We didn't get to test the Infiniti Pro Series car at Pikes Peak, but I am confident Sam Schmidt Motorsports will give me a fast car. I think with the layout of the Pikes Peak track, the Pro Series cars are going to put on a really good show. The track is fast and wide. I am hoping we have put most of our bad luck behind us. We have been quick at Homestead and Phoenix, and with a little luck, we should have a good result in Colorado."