Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and team officials about the
Ameristar *** Indy 200 on July 8 at Kansas Speedway (drivers listed in
BILLY BOAT (No. 98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"The CURB Records/Beck Motorsports team is really anxious to start our
swing of Midwest races. I was the first one to actually drive an Indy car
around Kansas Speedway. At the end of last year, I did some testing out
there to check the track's smoothness before they put the final coat of
asphalt on it. The first thing I noticed is that the layout is similar to
the tracks in Kentucky and Las Vegas. The difference, though, is that
it's a bit narrower than those tracks, so I expect we'll be running
closer to the wall. They put a lot of work into the racetrack to ensure
the final product is glass-smooth, and I think they've achieved that
goal. It should make for some great racing since the drivers won't have
to be worried about the track surface creating any obstacles. Another
great thing about the facility and that area is the fan support. I did an
autograph session out there a couple years ago with A.J. Foyt, and we
literally had lines of people for eight hours for two days. The
Kansas-area fan support is really unbelievable, and it should make for a
great event when the drivers and the teams can see that kind of turnout.
Being the fifth race in seven weeks will really put the teams to the test
in terms of preparation. I think as the season unfolds, we're starting to
see that the teams are better prepared, and they understand you have to
be there at the end of every one of the 13 races to have consistently
better results. You have to be in it for the long haul and pace yourself
as a team in order to earn a high finish in the points championship, and
that's what we're looking to do."
BUZZ CALKINS (No. 12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat
Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Kansas is a great facility, one of the
best in the country. I am actually quite surprised it has taken this long
to get a track built there. That is the middle of such a racing hotbed.
The track seems a lot like Kentucky but maybe a little narrower, so it
will be challenging. We typically run very well on mile-and-a-half
tracks, so I am really looking forward to going there with the Bradley
Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat car. It should prove to be a great event."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing
Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner) (About
development of the Infiniti Indy 35A engine): "All we're really working
on right now with the Infiniti Indy 35A is reliability. That's our main
focus. Since we're pretty close to being up at the front when it comes to
horsepower, we're looking at reliability and fuel consumption. We seem to
finally have gotten a handle on the 1.5-mile circuits with the Infiniti
35A. It has performed very well in that configuration. I think Kansas,
Chicago, Texas and maybe Nashville are circuits that will suit our
package with the Infiniti." (About Kansas Speedway): "I have not tested
at Kansas City. We went down for a test, and it rained for two days. But
from what I've heard, the track has a lot of grip, the speeds are very
high, and I wouldn't be surprised if we are doing 215s or 216s during the
race, which is pretty phenomenal. I know Kansas is fast, flat, and you
can go around there without taking your foot off the throttle." (About
championship chase): "What Cheever Indy Racing has to concentrate on now
is winning races. When we start winning races and stupid things stop
happening, we'll be OK. If we don't get caught up in accidents like we
did at Texas, and we don't lose injectors like we did at Pikes Peak, we
should be all right. At Pikes Peak, we reached the number of miles that
we would have liked to have put on the 35A before we started the season.
In reality, as far as testing goes, our season actually began in
Colorado. We still think that we are in the hunt to finish in the top
three in the championship, and we'll do everything we possibly can to
make that happen."
AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR-NONE G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy
Racing Rookie of the Year): "Well, the schedule has been very busy for
everyone for the past few weeks, but the 1-800-BAR NONE team is
consistently giving me a great car to work with. Right now, we are just
trying to focus on maintaining a good position in the points standings. I
am OK being No. 10 (in the standings) going in to the middle of the
season. Right now, we focus on steady progression, race after race. The
Kansas City race will be fun. It's a new track, the stands will be
filled, and we will have more room to move and to pass each other. I look
forward to getting back to some high-speed action on a longer track."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (No. 55 EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone):
"I'm looking forward to racing at the new racing venue at Kansas City.
It's tough to discuss race strategy, since only a few teams have tested
at Kansas, and of course none of us has raced there. A lot of our advance
work for race strategy is guesswork. The track is a lot like Kentucky and
almost identical to Chicago, where I think pit strategy and having the
right technique on the track will play a big part in who comes out first.
I don't think you'll ever have two cars running side by side for any long
length of time, but I'm certain there will be a ton of passing and
bunching up of cars into packs all around the track."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone,
Northern Light Series points leader): "We went out to Kansas after the
Pikes Peak race. We didn't get a whole lot of time out there because it
rained the most of the time we were there. We ran for about three hours
on the second day and got an awful lot of laps in." (What tracks does
Kansas compare to?): "It's almost like Kentucky, and we put on a pretty
good show there last year. It was pretty exciting, and we'll have a good
race there." (What are your impressions of the facility?): "It's a pretty
nice place. They did a great job building the track. They looked around
and saw what they liked at other tracks and put everything together and
built a super racetrack." (About the new market): "Going there means a
lot to us. It means we're growing, and we're gaining fans every time we
go out. That's what's keeping our series going, and we can try to gain a
few more each time we go out there."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet
Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series
champion, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner): "We went there and tire tested,
but we ended up with a flat tire so we didn't get to run as much as we
wanted to. We know it's going to be a very fast and a very challenging
racetrack." (What's the track compare to?): "Every track is different.
It's kind of a mix between Las Vegas and Texas." (About the series
visiting another new market): "It's going to be great. All the new
markets we visit are great. I like every place we go, and it's going to
GREG RAY (No. 2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We
tested one day at Kansas. It's a mile-and-a-half track somewhere between
a Texas and a Las Vegas. It's a very smooth track, but it's also very
demanding. We really didn't get to do much testing, but we kind of have a
handle on it, and we're all looking forward to going back to that race
after the Fourth of July." (This race ends a long stretch of races for
the series): "We take one weekend off, and that's great for the teams,
the drivers and the fans when we race every weekend." (On the new
market): "All these new racetracks and all these new venues are great for
ELISEO SALAZAR (No. 14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing
Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We haven't been there yet, unfortunately.
I've been told that it's similar to Las Vegas, and I've always run good
there. I've won a race there and led a lot of laps there. I like the
mile-and-a-half tracks with low banking."
JEFF WARD (No. 35 Heritage Motorsports/Firestone/Menards G
Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I think the racing in Kansas City will be
very similar to our previous races at Las Vegas and Kentucky. I ran well
at those tracks in the past, so this should be a good weekend for the
team. Because we haven't been there to test, we'll be relying on our
notes and experience at similar tracks in preparing for the race. We
always do our homework before we visit a new track, and we're expecting a
lot of grip. We have good notes, and we're hoping for some good luck,
also. It's important for a driver to have a good first run at a track.
Every driver has their favorite track, where they've had a lot of
success, and it helps going into a race with that extra confidence."
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