DAY 1 - Friday, Aug. 24, 2001
BILLY BOAT (#98 CURB Records Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "When we were here testing, the track was a lot hotter. I think it's kind of a compromise as the rain has washed away a lot of the rubber, and I think the racetrack might be a little green right now. We're still trying to sort out the difference between the two ends (of the track). It's a pretty challenging racetrack, and it will really take a compromise on the setup to run well here."
CHRIS MENNINGA (#92 Hemelgarn/Metro Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It is nice to come to a place where I have been before. The car feels good to me. We made a few changes in the gearbox. Right now it is loose over the bumps in (Turns) 3 and 4, and it pushes out of (Turn) 2. I made every mistake I could make. Hopefully that will get it out of my system."
JAQUES LAZIER (#2 Johns Manville/Menards Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "It was a real smooth session for us. We ran a 27.2 or somewhere around there. We definitely know where we can gain some speed. I expect us to pick up a half-second tomorrow. We'll be ready to rock and roll."
AL UNSER JR. (#3 Galles Racing Starz SuperPak G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I have always enjoyed racing at Gateway International Raceway, and this weekend should be a great event. We tested here a few weeks ago, so we are just working off of that data to get both a good qualifying and race setup."
SAM HORNISH JR. (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The car is really good right out of the transporter. We're working on it still to make it a bit more consistent. I'm happy with it. I think qualifying is going to be very important here as it's going to be tough to pass. With a more consistent car, we'll be able to maintain our speed throughout the race. One little bobble, and you'll open the door for the guy behind you. My Pennzoil Panther guys came through with another great race car for me."
DONNIE BEECHLER (#11 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The speeds don't show it, but we're OK. I wish we had two sessions since we didn't test here. We're working on the gearing, and hopefully we'll get another session tomorrow if the weather holds up."
BUZZ CALKINS (#12 Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The track is a lot slicker than when we tested here with the Bradley Food Mart/Sav-O-Mat Dallara. We picked up a push, and that is frustrating, but we'll keep working on it and come back at it tomorrow... weather permitting, of course."
SARAH FISHER (#15 Walker Racing Kroger Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Testing gave us a baseline to start from, so we are a little ahead of the game this weekend. This is a very interesting track to drive. Turns 3 and 4 are more of a smoother, round, speedway-type of corner, while you really have to hustle it into 1 and 2. So it's a challenge to set the car up for both different components, but we are well on our way to getting them under control."
ELISEO SALAZAR (#14 Harrah's A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "We have a big push. It's terrible. The rain delay is going to be really bad for us because we needed the laps."
MARK DISMORE (#28 Delphi Automotive Systems/Bryant Heating & Cooling Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "I enjoy coming to a track where you have to back off the throttle. It's a challenge, not that the other tracks aren't a challenge, it's just a new element. I haven't had a good season. When you know you can win and you're not, that's when it's tough."
DIDIER ANDRE (#32 Galles Racing G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Things were OK until I heard a strange noise in the gearbox. So I shut it down, and we are checking things out."
JEFF WARD (#35 Heritage Motorsports Firestone Menards G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The car felt great today. The team has made big improvements since we tested here, which is really exciting. We didn't go out on sticker tires at the end, which could have given us more speed. But, I'm happy with the practice. I think we'll have a strong qualifying run tomorrow. It's going to be critical to get all the little things right all weekend with everyone running so close."
AIRTON DARE (#88 1-800-BAR-NONE/TeamXtreme G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The setup was real good today. Only a little oversteer in Turn 2, but after the pit we cleared that up. The track feels real good, and we have a firm base to work off of. We put down some competitive times, but it will take more. This track is very similar to Phoenix, so our setup there (in Phoenix) is something we may use just as a reference. For tomorrow, we will build from what we learned about today's setup. Probably the biggest factor for everyone is the weather conditions."
SHIGEAKI HATTORI (#55 EPSON Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Well, the car was giving me too much roll, so I wasn't able to put in nearly as much power as I wanted to into each turn. We'll go back and make the right adjustments and be ready for tomorrow's qualifying."
ROBBY McGEHEE (#10 Cahill Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "Unfortunately we're behind the 8-ball now. We were behind even before we started because we weren't able to test here, but now we're really behind. We had a brake-line failure during the practice session, and we only got to do a few laps. Only having one practice session due to the rain didn't help, either. It was very disappointing for all of us today, but if any team can regroup from this, it's the Cahill Racing team. The guys are great, and we have a great engineer, so we'll just have to regroup. Carrying through with the baseball theme that we have here this weekend with the Cardinals and Atlas Van Lines, I guess I'll just say, 'It's not over until it's over, right?' We'll fix the problem and get a good night's sleep at the Sheraton City Center Hotel, which is one of our associate sponsors here this weekend. Then we'll just have to do the best we can tomorrow and concentrate on getting a car that can go the distance, and then try to stay out of trouble and finish. Setup is very important at this track. Even though I'm from St. Louis, this is the first race I've been in here on the oval. I've raced on the road course, and I've tested a Formula 2000 car on the oval here, but this is the first time I've been in a race on the oval. It's a very challenging track. Turns 1 and 2 are especially tight."
ANTHONY LAZZARO (#44 Parsons' Project G Force/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The guys did a great job giving me a comfortable car. We worked on medium to full-tank runs, which I haven't done yet. So the time was beneficial. We'll work on qualifying a bit tomorrow, but the goal is a solid finish and good race. This feels great. It's good to be racing. If I were at home, I'd be doing housework."
EDDIE CHEEVER JR. (#51 Cheever Indy Racing Infiniti Dallara/Firestone): "We've made some improvements on our car since we tested here a month ago, but it is still uncomfortable in Turns 3 and 4. Once we get that right, we'll be OK. You want to balance the car with the least amount of downforce in order to be quick on the very long straightaways, and the key is going to be carrying as much speed as you can -- without losing your balance -- into Turn 1. That's going to be our biggest challenge. During the race, the question will be whether you can outbrake somebody on the inside, carry the car in deeper, and just focus on the pass because inevitably the corner will be finished. You have to just shuffle through and hope not to collect the other driver or car."
BUDDY LAZIER (#91 Tae-Bo/Coors Light/Delta Faucet Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The track is real fast. The racetrack has done a great job of preparing the track. It's going to be a wild race. We had a great first session. Things are looking good."
ALEX BARRON (#99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Racing Special Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The powerband is narrower and there is a lot more downforce than I'm used to. The CART cars have the balance in the rear that makes passing more difficult, without that the racing will be much closer than I'm used to. It's been good. You always expect more results, but I think we've made a solid start and pray for a dry track tomorrow so we can get some more time in."
SCOTT SHARP (#8 Delphi Automotive Systems Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): (About the fine handed down after the Belterra Casino Indy 300): "At the end of the day you want to have the respect of your peers, but there are other people that come ahead of them, Delphi, Kelley Racing, all my team. I want to win every race. I'm going to try to do whatever I can, and I've never put anybody in the fence." (About today's practice): "I think with two days of working on the car (in the open test) everybody probably got two, three, four-tenths quicker. So for a half-an-hour session, everybody got up to speed pretty quick." (About Mark Dismore): "It's a tough position, certainly I feel bad for Mark going through the emotions of that, period. We've been really good teammates the last four years. I hope it continues." (About the track): "I think it's pretty tight, like a paper clip." (About using two cars): "We're just trying some different suspensions. We went a couple different ways, tried some different things. We used the yellow as a chance to jump from one car to the other and try that, and obviously I liked it."
ROBBIE BUHL (#24 Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone): (Regarding blocking): "I think it's pretty clear. I don't think we have to state the rules again. I think Brian Barnhart's made it pretty clear what blocking, what constitutes that. Having said that, it's a gray issue. We're out there racing; we're all here because we want to win. From an enforcement standpoint, it's got to be black and white, and from their point that's how they have to enforce it. From our point as drivers we have to do what we can to win races. So it's definitely a tough area, but I think Brian along with Al (Unser) Sr. and Johnny Rutherford, who have, what, seven wins in the (Indianapolis) 500, their history as racing drivers and Brian as a steward, I think is a good combination. If you're lapping somebody or somebody is off the pace, that's when you can get around them on the high side. If you're racing somebody you're not going to get around them on the high side. Obviously, we're not going to see side-by-side lap after lap because that's not going to work on the ends, but I still think you're going to see some great racing. The premium is going to be on handling and making sure you can get a shot off of (Turns) 1 and 2 and getting your nose under somebody going into Turn 3."
SAM HORNISH JR. (#4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone): "The way I've always taken the rule is that if somebody has a faster car than you and they're going to try to get by you, you don't make a second move. The way I look at it is the fastest guy, the guy that makes the least amount of mistakes and is the best driver that day should win the race." (About Jaques Lazier helping Buddy in the championship chase): "I watched the replay of the Nashville race, and Jaques was running third and Buddy was about to lap him. Jaques made it absolutely impossible for Buddy to get around him. Who knows? He may help me. If you go out there and win races, the points take care of themselves. The Pennzoil Panther team has worked so hard this year, and we keep doing what we're doing all year long."