Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "It's exactly where we thought we'd be in
qualifying. At the end of the practice, we were between gears, fourth
and fifth, so we split them. We were surprised we didn't pull more gear.
As the temperature goes up, the speeds go down, and we lost a little bit
of speed. According to the engineers, our car cannot be any more trimmed
out. Most everybody here is as trimmed out as they can be and flat out.
Now, it's just a matter of making the car good in dirty air and try to
draft as best we can in race conditions tomorrow."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 2 Menards/Johns Manville Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"It's been pretty good. We had a little bit of a problem in the first
session, so we had to work a bit harder in the second session. But the
guys on the Team Menard/Johns Manville Chevrolet did a really good job
of catching up to everybody, and we've always been one of the quickest
Chevys up there. The Menard engine shop, we gained some horsepower
these last two or three weeks. We couldn't show it at Richmond or Pikes
Peak, which are not really horsepower tracks. At this one, I think we
are going to be able to show our progress." (About predictions for the
race): "It's going to be tricky. By ourselves, it's flat, easy, no
problem, even with the car not handling good. But for the race, the car
has got to handle good. We are going to have to work really hard at this
last practice to see what we have in traffic, the second groove and
everything. It's going to be interesting. I feel like it is as good as
it can be right now. The main thing for us is handling. In the race, we
are not going to be wide open. There is not enough banking for us to go
flat all race. Our focus has been to have a good car that can run behind
the others and take advantage of their slipstream. If we have a good
car that handles well in that situation, we will be able to save fuel,
and with a little bit taller sixth gear, hopefully keep with the pack
and have a good result." (About the extreme heat): "It's like Brasilia,
(Brazil) here -- hot. It's hot for everybody, even for Brazilians."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"It was pretty close to what we expected. We were a little off what we
were running this morning in practice. You really have to maintain the
tires here and stay out of trouble. I'm not sure how this race will turn
GREG RAY (No. 13 TrimSpa Racing Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone): "We
basically matched what we did in practice. We probably should have gone
with second time by instead of third time by, because we were quicker on
our out lap than we were on our qualifying lap. It is what it is. That's
a good run for us. Hopefully, we'll have a good run in the race." (About
the heat): "The biggest thing for me is not from a physical standpoint,
because I've lived in Texas all my life, and I train out in the heat.
The heat just doesn't bother me at all. The biggest thing is that we
know we have a good car. With the track temperature being close to 150
degrees, there are things you can do to your race setup that are way
more aggressive than the cars can handle. Firestone builds a great tire.
It's going to be up to the teams to make sure they put the right setup
on the car."
ROGER YASUKAWA (No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think
we could have done a little bit more with the setup. We focused more on
the race setup throughout the weekend, and we never really got any time
to work on qualifying, so starting 15th is not too bad. I think we have
a pretty good car, so it's just a matter of being patient. It's going to
be hot tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes."
SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "We found ourselves
a little down today in qualifying, but we worked pretty *** the race
car yesterday. We spent quite a bit of time with our race setup and
working on the car in traffic and getting the car happy there, which is
probably what you will be doing all day on Sunday. So, yes, maybe we
gave up a little bit of outright speed today, but ultimately, tomorrow
is what is important for the Delphi team. It's hot here, too, no doubt,
and that takes its toll on everything: the crew, the tires, the engine.
I've actually felt pretty good. I think, for tomorrow, in the first half
to two-thirds of the race, I'll feel fine, and the heat will really kick
in in the final stint of the race."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 Corteco Dallara/Toyota/Firestone): "The Kelley
Racing team and the Corteco Special have been doing really well on these
1.5-mile tracks. I think we've had a pretty decent qualifying effort,
and from there, we'll go racing. Kelley Racing and my Corteco crew
just do a great job in preparing a good race car for me. My guys, John
Worth, Pat, every guy on the team just do a great job. My engineer,
Mike Colliver, has been giving me a good setup to go out there and be
competitive. For me, the heat is not so bad; it's the humidity. You have
to keep lots of fluids going in and go racing from there."
JAQUES LAZIER (No. 5 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"That was all the car had. We've been concentrating on our race setup
instead of qualifying. I'm confident we can march up through the field
like we did at Texas and this time get a good finish. I know we can go
A.J. FOYT IV (No. 14 Conseco/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"It wasn't a good qualifying run, but I could put the car anywhere I
want it, so I'm not sure why we weren't faster. We're changing the
engine for final practice, and hopefully, we can find some more speed."
BRYAN HERTA (No. 27 Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We
ran just about what we thought we would run because that is the time we
did in practice. The Archipelago/Motorola car has a better race setup,
and it seems we just can't get it to go as fast as we need it to in
qualifying. I know we have a good car for tomorrow."
DAN WHELDON (No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "My
run was disappointing. I really thought we could get a lot more out of
it. Kansas is one of these tracks where you are flat out, so you need to
make sure you have the least amount of drag without the car sliding. We
just struggled this afternoon. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was really
good this morning, and we should be quick in the race."
SARAH FISHER (No. 23 GMAC/AOL/Dreyer & Reinbold
Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "Obviously, we're disappointed with the
run. The good news is I don't think I've ever had an easier car to
drive. The chassis' good, no scrub. I can point it anywhere, and it just
goes. But we've still got a horsepower issue to contend with right now.
We're doing all we can do."
ROBBIE BUHL (No. 24 Purex/Aventis/Dreyer & Reinbold
Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone): "We've got a race car that can go anywhere
on the track, but we can't be towed around at 215 or 216 (mph). This is
a sheer horsepower track, and all we can do is hang on and stay focused.
The last couple of races, we've come up a little short, but we're all
working hard and trying to be patient on the outside."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I'm very
disappointed. We've got to keep working, and we have to get better. We
have to improve. I know we have a good race car, but qualifying was not
what we expected. We just didn't have the speed today, but we'll work on
it some more and see what happens."
BUDDY RICE (No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone):
"Optimistic is a good word to use right now. It's obvious where we're
at and what our situation is right now, so finishing races and gaining
points is what we need to do to gain something out of the season. We
didn't trim our car out until just before qualifying because we were
more concerned about our race setup. This is one of those tracks that's
really hot, so tire wear is a big concern. I know at some of the past
races, the faster cars have had problems with their tires, so we're
concentrating very *** full tanks. We need to make sure we don't
lose the lead pack in the draft so we have another solid finish. We need
to finish on one of these big speedways in the top 10. We've struggled
the last couple of times, so we're getting more aggressive."
TORA TAKAGI (No. 12 Pioneer Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G
Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The Pioneer car was just great all weekend.
I have to thank the whole team for preparing an excellent car for me.
I know if we had more time that we could do maybe a few little things
to get some more speed. But overall, we are happy with qualifying third
for the fourth time this season. I think I have a very good car in
traffic for the race. Obviously, it works well when I'm by myself. The
job tomorrow will be very obvious. We need to stay at the front and make
sure we have good pit stops. It will be very hot, but that is the same
for everybody. We are confident, but we will work very, very hard to
make sure we can get the job done tomorrow."
FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 21 Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/
Firestone): "Wow, what can you say after that? We took a huge gamble,
and it paid off for us big time. We just weren't satisfied with how our
primary Hollywood car for the weekend was working, so we thought about
all of our options and decided it might be worth a try to switch to the
backup car. You never know for sure how the car will be until you take
it out on the track. That car didn't turn a wheel all weekend here. It
was our race car at Richmond, and as you could see, it was very good
right off the transporter. What a great job by my guys for getting the
car together and through tech in time to make a qualifying run. We only
had one lap, but I figured if we couldn't do it in one lap, then we
weren't going to do it anyway. Now we can go back and build our strategy
for tomorrow knowing that we've got a great car to work with for the
race. What a relief!"
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"I'm very pleased with our qualifying result today. We've been
struggling on the 1.5-mile tracks, so it was great to put both Marlboro
Team Penske cars in the top 10 on the grid. Sunday is the day that
counts, however, and I think we have a good car for the race. The heat
is going to be tough on the drivers and equipment, but everyone is in
the same boat, so we'll have to be patient and see how things play out.
I'm honored to be making the 1,000th start for Team Penske tomorrow, and
hopefully, we can bring it home a winner."
GIL DE FERRAN (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone):
"I'm really happy with today's qualifying run. It's no secret that we
haven't been too competitive on tracks like this, but since Texas,
Marlboro Team Penske has been working really hard, and today is a
testament to that effort. While we still needed a bit more speed
to fight for the pole, we're starting fourth, which bodes well for
KIM GREEN (President, Andretti Green Racing): "I'd have to say I'm
disappointed. We've got some work to do to make our cars faster, but
what we've got to do, I'm not sure. I thought we would qualify a little
bit better than this. I felt like when we ran some race runs yesterday
that we were pretty good, but now I'm even a bit nervous about that.
It's going to be a long race. It's a 300-mile race. I think a lot of it
is going to get down to who makes it out of the pits first on the last
pit stop because track position is going to be very, very important. For
Tony (Kanaan), one advantage is that we have the last pit out, and that
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G Force/Toyota/
Firestone): "I'm looking forward to it. I had a good race here last
year. I think we've got pretty good race cars, so if everything comes
together, hopefully, we'll have the same result tomorrow. At Texas,
there was lots of side-by-side racing. I do not think it is going to be
the same here, though. I think here it is going to be a lot harder and
closer than Texas. It is a long race. It does not matter who goes into
Turn 1 first. Hopefully, we can just get in line and start conserving
fuel." (About the heat): "This heat is ridiculous. No, it is not bad.
This heat is great if you are lying on the beach, but driving a car is
a different story. Scott (Dixon) and I are pretty fit, and I feel that
it will play in our favor tomorrow. I believe Firestone will have good
tires, and we will only have to conserve fuel. The strategy for tomorrow
is going to play on how the car is working. Last year, the car was good,
and we could run up front. We will see what happens this year."
KENNY BRACK (No. 15 Pioneer/Miller Lite Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I
think we had too much drag in the car today. Maybe the heat was a factor
today. The car felt pretty good, but I'm not sure it is freed up enough.
I've never raced here before, but I it will be similar to the 1.5-mile
tracks. The racing will be exciting with the drafting. You won't see
side-by-side racing like at Texas, but it will be good, and there should
be quite a bit of passing. Drafting will play a role in the race, but
we need to have a good car, too. You can't rely on*** on with the
other guys." (About the heat): "What heat! It's good for you if you are
on a diet. I should lose some weight on Sunday."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panoz G
Force/Toyota/Firestone): "The team's done a great job. Going into
qualifying, we pretty much knew it was going to be between one of us. I
actually thought Tomas (Scheckter) was going to get it. He's been fast
all weekend. I'm not sure what happened there. We just ended up getting
him. As I said, I think a lot of the credit goes to the team." (About
winning at Richmond): "(Starting up front) helped a lot. Richmond was
going to be a hard circuit to pass, no matter what. We passed plenty of
cars. We just had a fast car up front. It's going to be a lot different
tomorrow. I think it will be back to normal. It's pretty hard to fend
cars off here. They can go around the outside pretty easy. We enjoy it a
lot, leading a lot of laps, so we'll see if we can do it again. We both
want to finish well in the race, so we're going to conserve the cars.
I'm not going to do anything drastic, and I'm sure Tomas (Scheckter) is
the same. We'll be pretty steady and just see how the day plays out,
conserve gas if we can. I think our package is pretty good in the race.
We'll just have to see, really."
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