The Belterra Resort Indy 300 Pre-Race Quotes
Monday, Aug. 21, 2000 - Quotes from selected Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers and officials about The Belterra Resort Indy 300 on Aug. 27 at Kentucky Speedway:
TYCE CARLSON (#20 Hubbard Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): ""We're mainly looking to improve on our performances of this season. Although we've run to the end everywhere we've raced and we stand ninth in laps completed, our best finish is eighth place at Las Vegas, and we feel we're a much better team than that shows. We've been fortunate to be able to test twice at the new Kentucky Speedway, and that's certainly been very valuable. It's a wonderful track and very, very challenging. Even though it has some similarities to other tracks we've run, it's also very unique, and we've learned a lot. I wouldn't want to go into race weekend without having had a few days of testing because practice sessions alone won't be enough to learn very much there. I expect the tight, competitive racing of the last three races to definitely continue at Kentucky, and I feel our testing has prepared us very well for that situation. With the down time since Atlanta, we want to take advantage of all the preparation we've done, do well in these last two races and go into 2001 with some real good momentum."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Excite@Home Indy Race Car Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner):"This race is vital to the #51 Excite@Home team. We're second in the championship, 23 points behind Buddy Lazier. We're going to have to win one event and finish in the top five at the other to have a good shot at the Indy Racing title. That's a very tall order when there are 10 guys that could win at any given race. Our races are very competitive, and the cars are all very close in terms of speed, so it comes down to pit stops, reliability and strategy." (About the race): "I think you'll see a lot of passing, but I don't think we'll be running two abreast for the whole race. I would not want to be the car up high for more than two or three laps because guys start to move you up into the gray area. I think you'll see a lot of passing on the restarts after yellows. You'll see packs of three to four cars. It's going to be an extremely technical race, and I think it will come down to pit work." (On testing versus racing at the new Kentucky Speedway): "When we were testing at Kentucky, we'd go out, do a five- or six-lap run and come in to tune the car. During the race, you have a 55-lap full-tank run that you have to complete. If the car is good, you're lucky. If the car is bad, you've got to deal with it. You have to get a car that is operable and as fast as possible for those 55 laps. There is a lot of guesswork involved. When we come to a circuit like Kentucky that we've never run on before, it's a lot of, 'We think the car is going to do this,' or 'We think the car is going to do that.' And inevitably, it never does what you think it's going to do. To come to Kentucky and have to finish up the championship at a circuit that nobody's raced on makes it very difficult. I could test here for a solid month and still not learn everything that I would learn in the actual race. I think the team that does its homework the best will have the advantage at Kentucky. It's like playing golf. If you're worried about your opponent's score, you're not going to do well. If you worry about your own game, and improve what you can improve, by the time you come back for the race, you'll be in good shape. It's just a question of concentrating on your own car, your own tires and your own team and making sure that for those 200 laps you get the most out of what's available."
MARK DISMORE (#28 OnStar/GM BuyPower Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "This place is tough to get a handle on. In testing, Scott (Sharp) and I ran nose to tail, and the draft doesn't seem as effective as at a place like Texas or Atlanta. The track is kind of a cross between Las Vegas and Atlanta; technical yet fast. I think the race pace will be about 212 mph. This race is huge for the OnStar team, if we're to have a shot at the championship."
SARAH FISHER (#15 Walker Racing Cummins Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (About goals for this event): "First, to qualify as well as we did in Atlanta. Next would be to finish. But, the icing on the cake would be a top-five (finish)." (About racing at new Kentucky Speedway): "I think it is a mix between Las Vegas and Texas. There is enough banking to hold the car really well, and it won't lose traction. On the other hand, it will not be as hard on equipment as a higher-banked track. Kentucky is an excellent facility, and I know that we will put on a great show there." (Why is this such a nice track?): "The facility is brand new, which makes everything much nicer than tracks that are 20 years old - the garages, track surface, bathrooms, stands, etc. They have even laid out the garages conveniently near the tech garage with the media center in the middle. All the action is also laid out in a U-shaped pattern so that the fans can see into the garages. The track is nice for many reasons - wide corners and straights, smooth asphalt, great pit in and out."
SCOTT GOODYEAR (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The Kentucky Speedway is a great track. It's a fun roller-coaster because every turn is slightly different. The track is wide, which will provide side-by-side action on Race Day. It should be a great show for the fans at The Belterra Resort Indy 300, and it will be great racing for the drivers." (About the championship race): "We're currently third in points, so we've got a great opportunity to win the Northern Light Cup." (Is there more pressure than usual?): "Sure, there's some added pressure and the stakes are high. But the team has tested here on three different occasions and has been able to gather different opinions. The information we've gathered has been nothing but beneficial, so we're ready. And on a win, place, or show bet, I'm hoping we get the win at Kentucky."
STEPHAN GREGOIRE (#7 Team Mexmil/Tokheim/Viking Air Tools/Cigarette GForce/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I went to the track recently to sign autographs, and I must say it's a very nice facility. I have spoken to some of the drivers who have already tested at Kentucky, and they call it 'easy flat.' So, it must have just the right amount of banking on the turns and plenty of grip. A lot of teams have already tested there, which concerns me a little, but I think we will be OK when we get there to start practice. We have had a team meeting to discuss our set up for Kentucky and Haydon (Burvill), my engineer, will use data from similar 1.5-mile tracks to give me a fast car right away. But I feel pretty confident about my chances for a top-five finish at Kentucky so we will just have to wait and see."
JIMMY KITE (#27 Blueprint Racing Special G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I'm looking forward to it. I hear Kentucky Speedway is a lot like Vegas, and we ran great at Vegas. We were cheated there with the crank trigger problem, so maybe we'll get that returned to us at Kentucky." (About final two races of season): "I still want to win one. That was my goal going into this year, and I think we still can. I know that the team can win; I know that I can win. We just need to have our luck turn around, and we'll get that first Northern Light Series victory in the last two races of the year." (About season so far): "We said we were going to use this year as a building year, and we sure have. We have found our strong links and our weak links in the chain. With that, I feel strong going into next year. Ed (Rachanski, team owner) and Keith (Sanders, team owner) along with Brad (McCanless, team manager and engineer) have been making the tough decisions all season, and they are starting to pay off. The potential is there with this team."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Delta Faucet/Coors Light/Tae-Bo/Hemelgarn Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone, Indy Racing Northern Light Series points leader) (About Kentucky Speedway): "When we went to test, we were really surprised. The track is an awesome facility. It's really challenging in a lot of ways. There were a lot of things that came out when we tested as far as handling and mechanical grip. We found things that would have been a disaster if we hadn't tested, things that could have taken us out of the race. When you're in the championship battle, you can't afford to drop out of an event." (How do you treat this race, considering you're the points leader?): "I'm not sure how to treat it. There's no stress here. It's only the championship. It's the Northern Light Cup, a million dollars in the last two races. Yeah, there's a lot of pressure! You try to take it out of your mind, but there's a lot of pressure. If we can win this race, that would really help us. I've never won the championship in my five years in the IRL. It's a career goal, something I've always wanted to do. There's a lot of pressure. You just have to keep doing what got you there." (About the thrill of racing at a new facility): "Racing at a new facility is like looking into a dark room. You don't really know what's in there until you turn the light on. And the race is what will turn the light on.
GREG RAY (#1 Conseco/Quaker State/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The season overall hasn't gone as smoothly as we would have liked. We were in a position to win a few races this year and capitalized on the last one in Atlanta. With the new crew members at Team Menard, our main goal is to have a good, strong finish. With no doubt I can tell you that I have every intention of winning the next two races and trying to regain some sort of perspective of what we expect of ourselves at Team Menard. With all that being said, it's a tall order because this league has some fierce competition at every race." (About Kentucky Speedway): "This track is as close as anything to Las Vegas. It's a little faster and has more of an elevation change. It's a very good racetrack to race, and it will be very difficult to pass running at top speed. If you see cars running laps of 213 mph or faster, it will be harder to pass on sheer speed alone. You must consider taking advantages of the other drivers. (What makes Kentucky Speedway special?): "Starting from the design of the racetrack, to the personnel, to the surrounding beautiful Kentucky Valley area. It's all very well designed with great people. An absolutely stunningfacility in and out. For those attending, it will be a well-organized venue and just a beautiful sight for a Speedway. This is just an example of a well-thought-out, modern-day superspeedway and fun to race at, as well as being a very competitive track."
JERET SCHROEDER (#6 Kroger/Tri Star Motorsports Inc. Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I haven't even seen the new track yet, but I've heard it's a real showplace. We didn't do any testing there, but Larry Curry and the Tri Star Motorsports team are very good at sizing a new track up, so I'm not really concerned. Some of the other teams might have a little advantage going in because of the testing they did, but we'll be OK. I always like being at a new racetrack. It's fun to check a new place out, compare it with other tracks and figure out a new track's nuances." (About your goals for this race): "My goals for the Belterra Resort Indy 300 are the same as they always are: First it's to finish, and then it's to finish on the lead lap. If you can do that in a series as competitive as the Indy Racing Northern Light series, you're doing fine. We're still leading the Racesearch.com Rookie of the Year point standings, but the DNF in Atlanta hurt us a little. Some of the other rookies had trouble, too, but we could have bolstered our lead on them if we hadn't had that engine problem. That was our first DNF all year, so actually we've been lucky. You just have to take things like that in stride and focus on the work at hand and try to come up with a car that is fast, comfortable to drive and will finish. Then you just have to take things as they come, do your best and hope for the best."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems/MCI WorldCom Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Everyone has been comparing this track to Vegas, but it's a lot more difficult than Las Vegas. It requires a precise line to drive in order to cut a fast lap. I think it will be an exciting race, but unlike Texas the Kentucky race will take a little more rubber on the track to make it a two-groove track. A new and difficult track this late in the title chase will be very interesting."
AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles ECR Racing Tickets.com Starz Encore Superpak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We are close to 40 points out of the championship lead, and it is only 50 points to win a race. So we feel that with two races to go that we have a pretty good shot at winning the championship. We took our car down to the local ½-mile track in Albuquerque last week to do our installation runs. We wanted to make sure that the cars are perfect before we go to Kentucky because we want to use all of our track time working on our setups. The guys are really focused, and they want this thing as much as I do. We know, though, that there are quite a few other teams that are in the hunt for this, too, so being prepared is everything to this championship right now. We are hungry, and this race at Kentucky is going to be quite a showdown for a lot of teams." (About Kentucky Speedway): "I really enjoyed testing at Kentucky Speedway earlier this summer. The facility is great for everyone, the fans and drivers alike. I think, once again, race fans will see a lot of wheel-to-wheel racing when we go here this week."
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