IndyCar - First Day Qualifying Comments
TAKUMA SATO (No. 5 Monavie-Panasonic-KV Racing Technology - Lotus): "It's a great feeling for me to be standing here today already qualified. Last year, we had a moment on qualifying day. This is a terrific day for us. I appreciated the effort the team as given. They have done a terrific job. We are working very closely with the other KV teams. We debriefed last night past 9 p.m. to get ready for today. (Teammate) Tony Kanaan helped a lot. He has tons of ideas. We have all been really good in sharing."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 Bowers &Wilkins/Sam Schmidt Motorsports): "It was the worst conditions that we've had this week, so it was not easy. There's 11- or 12-mph hour wind in Turn 2 and before (Turns) 3 and 4. The car requires a lot of changes, so it's tough to be consistent and probably very difficult to be on the edge. So I would have loved to come out with a 227 average because I would have had a free dinner from my engineer. We're .05 from it, so it's OK. I think the boys and all the members of the crew did a fantastic job. My wife has taught me not to take anything for granted, and I'm definitely not going to start this month at the Indianapolis 500. I mean, we just witnessed a spin and a wreck, so the conditions are not easy. So to be safe and sound in the garage takes a big weight off our shoulders."
DAN WHELDON (No. 98 William Rast-Curb/Big Machine): "I'm reasonably happy with those numbers. I would have liked to have gone a little bit quicker and pushed Tag (Alex Tagliani) a little bit more. It was a lot more gusty than what it has been, and there was a difference in the wind direction. That means you have to be more on top of the controls in the car, and I think I handled that reasonably well. I made a little bit of a mistake on the exit of Turn 4 on the final lap when I just let the wind get underneath the car. To be honest, the speed is a testimony to this team. It's not me; the guys have done a fantastic job. I know what I want from the race car, and we're making it work. Being in a race car is what I love to do. My time off made me realize how much I love motor racing. I'm having a blast. We will be a force to be reckoned with."
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing): "The wind just slowed us down a little bit. I didn't have any real drama with the car on the racetrack. It's a little bit gusty. You get a gust of wind in the wrong place, and it can create some issues. It's a little bit nerve wracking. The temperature was a little bit cooler than we were expecting. Everything is so sensitive. A little change in the gear or a change in the wing can mean one-half mile an hour around this place. I think we have a little more speed in the car. The Panther guy has done a great job in preparing this car. This car has been awesome every time we've hit the track, and that has really built up my confidence. I'm new to this qualifying gig. I've been to Pole Day the last four years as a spectator, and it's pretty neat to be a part of the big show."
JAMES JAKES (No. 18 Acorn Stairlifts): "We expected to be quite a bit quicker than that. It's the first time here. What a great place to be - first time on an oval, as well. Hopefully, we'll be in the show at the end of the weekend. The anticipation is amazing. There is nothing like it. We've lost three days because of the weather. We tried to stick to the program as much as we could, but the weather cost us a lot. The wind and the weather is really spinning quite quickly around here"
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 34 Conquest Racing): "The conditions were pretty tricky. They are a lot different than what we were expecting. It was very windy out there. It's changing a lot. We didn't find the speed that we wanted. We have to find something else to be able to make it to the show. It all comes from the aero kit we have right now. We've got to be more aggressive and risk some more. We are too conservative, and that's what's happening. We aren't happy at all."
PAUL TRACY (No. 23 WIX Filters/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I think the most frustrating thing is that we went out with the exact same car as Davey, and he ran 225s, but our car just wouldn't go. We don't know the answer to that. I don't think anybody in the pit lane knows the answer to that. It's just the mystique of this track. We're frustrated. You just have to get the car right. That's the bottom line. If you don't have the car right, then you can't get the speed out of it. Right now, we're just scratching our heads as to why two cars that are identical aren't putting up the same speed. I guess that's Indianapolis."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske): "My car was solid, honestly. The winds put it on the nose a little bit in (Turn) 1 but we just weren't fast enough. I was wide open, but the car wasn't fast enough. So we need to see what we can do and see how my teammates do. I thought we had the car pretty spot on. If it rains, we're stuck with what we've got right here. Hopefully, we get to shoot out. I thought I had a pretty good car, but Tagliani is always fast. We need to find a bit more speed. Hopefully, my teammates go fast. We'll study that data and go through it. If we run again, hopefully it is in a better condition. Roger (Penske) loves this track. He loves this place. He loves to get the pole. Of course, he loves to win. It's such a long race. You can most definitely make up a lot of positions in this race. The pole is great, but I would really rather have a really good race car."
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 30 The RACB/Aspria RLL Special): "We were hoping for a low 226, but that's the way it is. But we got those 225s. It's not too bad, though. I'm still a little disappointed. The car felt good, maybe a little too easy. We needed to go one step further. I'm very excited to be here for my second race. I'm very happy to be here. It's a fantastic event, and it's very important for us to be here. Our team did a good job, and we should have a very good race."
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 Levemir and NovoLog FlexPen): "The 83 car's been good all month. I've had a lot of confidence in it. The team's just working to get me up to speed as a rookie. I can't thank the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew enough. They've kept me safe, smart and patient all month. And whenever I had a moment, they calmed me down. I think it showed, but we'll have to see." (On the wind): "It definitely moved the car around. That's something I had to learn, even through the qualifying run was what to do with my hands with the wind moving the back of the car."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central): "My car is really good. I just think we have a motor going bad. It's as simple as that. Yesterday, we started at 226.8. We ran the same setup a half hour later: 226.3. We ran the same setup this morning: 225.2. Then just ran the same setup: 224.2. So, you don't fall off 3 miles per hour being a setup. Our car setup is very good. It's just that over the last day with the exact same car, we've lost 3 miles per hour somehow. It's been a little frustrating, to be honest. We can't seem to get the car to come to life. The setup's fine. It's probably the most consistent car I've had over a qual sim or for four laps. But you could just hear the engine."
JAY HOWARD (No. 88 Service Central Schmidt-RLL Racing): "The wind direction was the biggest thing because it changed. I got really loose in Turns 3 and 4; that's where I was fighting it the most. The weather changes here, that's what makes Indianapolis unique. The whole week, we struggled a bit in Turn 1, Turns 1 and 2 were easy. We were right on the limit, and we got everything out of it. I was hanging on for the first couple of laps. I was a bit nervous on pit lane, edging up to the line and moving up to the box; it was mixed emotions. It was the only time I thought about last year. Then it was just a matter of doing the job at hand. It has been an emotional roller-coaster ever since last year. This (run) has made it a little bit better. I do have a different feeling about this year. I have a great team behind me and a great car. I know I'm not 100 percent in the field, but I feel pretty confident with the time that we did."
PIPPA MANN (No. 36 Conquest Racing): "We didn't quite have what we wanted from the car. We were running 24's in clean air, so that was really disappointing. The track changed, and the weather changed. It just went away from us this morning." (Having to start over with getting acclimated to the track because of different conditions) is really frustrating because, especially for me as a rookie, I have to learn on my feet on the track. I can't just look at it and go, 'Oh, it's changed, so it's going to do this.' I have to wait to find out when I get in there. I have already had a pole (at Indianapolis) with Indy Lights, but it's a completely different ball game driving these cars. They're so much quicker. They move around so much more, and you have to be so much more on top of your game. The cars change so much with the track conditions. It's been a really big learning experience."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing): (After first qualifying attempt): "I think we were fairly consistent for four laps, so I'm pretty happy. We're close. The wind today is different from the whole week, but it's always changing at Indianapolis. That's why this track is special. It's what makes it difficult. I think we ran the speed we were expecting to, and it's pretty consistent. It's difficult to be running low downforce. The car gets very light in the corners. I've seen this wind before, and it's not easy. It's good to have track experience here." (After second qualifying attempt):"I am very happy to be able to qualify today and to qualify 19th. It was better than expected, and I think the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt team did a very, very good job turning this car around and improving so much. We gained so much speed, we are much closer to Vitor, the car had a great balance in qualifying. We were really trimmed, low downforce, and I was flat all the way around. I enjoyed it so much." (About drama of qualifying): "The first time in my life that I am on the bubble - it was not nice. When I was taken out, I got my helmet and gloves and said, 'Let's go and do it.' We took some more downforce out and to have done it, I'm very happy about that. Big emotions! I remember when I was on the pole here, I was the first guy out at 11 a.m., and I sat in the garage from 11 to 6, waiting on everybody having their runs trying to go faster than me. Today it was the opposite. Seven, eight guys tried to beat me, and they did by a thousandth. That was Simona, and I said: 'Wow. I need to go back there and do it again.' But I had a great car, so that helped."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team Venom): "We haven't made any improvements. We were slow when we rolled off the truck, and we're still slow in qualifying. It's beyond me. I don't have an answer, and that's why I'm super-frustrated right now. I'm really nervous about qualifying. I think as long as we can field this car, we can win. It's just whether we can field this car right now. We're in a bad spot. I've been working on qualifying, trying to find speed all week. In an ideal world, you bank one today and work on the race car tomorrow. But this is going to be the longest weekend of my life, that's for sure. I just don't have any answers right now."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 IZOD Team Penske): "We need to go back to the setup pad and just set everything down. It's been such a rush since the crash and just being able to get the car on track and participating. We need to look at all of the numbers on the car and see where we sit. There's no reason we won't be able to get the speed we need to get in the top nine. The qualifying run wasn't as fast as we would like. We need to get more speed out of it. There's a lot more speed to be found in the car. It was real important for us to get a number on the board. It's been such a rush and a thrash to get this car on the track to drive. I think we'll be able to fine-tune it."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 07 Team REDLINE Xtreme - Circle K): "These guys have been working flat-out. I've got to thank the REDLINE Xtreme guys for working hard. We've been struggling this month. I mean, that's what Indy's about sometimes. We're going to keep working hard. We feel good because we didn't think we had that in the car. That's the best we've run, so that's an improvement. I thought today was almost not even near getting in; of having a shot. So to put four laps together quicker than what we've done before, I've got to be pleased with that."
BUDDY RICE (No. 44 Panther Racing): "The wind made it a little tricky. We thought the winds would be a little bit calmer and the strong winds would come in later. And standard Indiana program, it just does its own deal. The biggest thing that we missed on was the gearing, but it's not like it was a horrible: We just missed it by a little bit. We could have had it a little bit more spot-on, but that's just part of the game. Some of the credit needs to go to John Barnes and Panther Racing and their track record over the past three years that really allowed myself and JR (Hildebrand) to get up to speed and be competing to get into this Fast Nine shootout. I think they have a really good handle on this track, and their oval program makes it really easy for me." (About Tom Carnegie Day): "I think it's only fitting that this is Tom Carnegie Day. For all of the fans and the way he used to talk, I think it's great. I'm glad I'm here for the Centennial, to be a part of it. He had his own speech and dialect, and it was really great. He just made this place special. He's a big part of what makes this place what it is."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply Co A.J. Foyt Racing): "The car was trouble-free. It felt really good. I wasn't scratching my head. A.J. Foyt Racing did a very good job, pre-month of May, to prepare the car and do all our planning. So when we get here, we're trouble-free, just like we are now, so we can work on the small details. It comes from working methodically and not drafting on a day that was great. We knew what we had, and everything worked out real fine. The team works methodically to make sure every piece of the car is right, and that's what they have done so far. We're not a first-row car; we're good where we're at."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 22 Z-Line Designs/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "I think the Z-Line Designs car was handling pretty good. It wasn't quite as quick in a straight line as we were expecting. I'm sure the guys will be studying that data trying to work it out. I think the car is pretty stuck. It's not too much on a knife edge. You can't relax until it's all over at the end of Bump Day. You can't afford to let up in qualifying."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda): "We're struggling. We tried every bit of the setup, from one side of the spectrum to the other, and it just didn't have any speed with it. I'm not really sure what the problem is, but we'll just keep chipping away at it. We've been real quick all this season before we got here. We just need to get in the race. We've struggled with the car all week, but we just need to get it in the race and go from there."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology-Lotus): "Those were some comfortable laps. We had a pretty stable car. I feel like we can trim the car a little bit more and find some more speed. The track was pretty good. It was still low temperatures. It was not too abrasive for the tires. There was wind in the back straight, so we needed to be playing with the tools in the car - the front bar, the rear bar, etc. We believe we achieved what we expected. It's been a great atmosphere with this team. Now we have shared information, and hopefully we can go as fast as we can. It's such a long race, starting position is not that important, especially in 500 miles."
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.): "The car was very neutral. The conditions weren't helping out at all. I had a couple moments during my run. Basically every lap I was just hanging on and trying to save the car. I had a very, very bad vibration in the front of the car, as well. Maybe the tires were out of balance. We'll go back and try to figure out what was wrong with the car and try to improve. We'll certainly fight very hard tomorrow to get it in the show."
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 24 Team Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "It felt great. The car is good, and we just need to find some speed. We had that speed in the morning, but we lost it. The wind picked up a little bit and changed the gears a little bit. We're in the limit. We need to be more consistent. We need to figure out where we lost the speed. The car was much faster this morning. I'm just a little disappointed because I think we should be higher. We'll figure it out. I'm confident in the car, and I'm confident with the team."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing): "I'm fairly comfortable with it. I think the conditions today are pretty tough, and we were a little slower than we expected to run. Given how windy it was, we're pretty pleased. Everybody is struggling a little bit with the wind. The cars get pretty dicey in the first turn, which is already the most difficult corner. But I feel pretty good. The team did a super job getting everything prepared, and I feel really comfortable in the car. We just need to make sure we make it through 200 laps now that we've gone through the first four." (On being a rookie and being a part of Pole Day): "Right before I went out, my chief mechanic looked at me and said, 'No matter what happens, you're about to try and qualify for the Indy 500.' That sort of brought it all home. It's true. No matter what happens, I'm going to go out there and put my right foot down and have a good time. I really enjoyed it."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "The car was a little off, a little loose. We made very few changes from this morning, and it wasn't what I expected. It got pretty sideways in Turn 3, and I had to lift on my first lap. The wind was behind us in Turn 3. I lost a good seven- or eight-tenths (second) on that first lap. It took a long time for the car to build its speed back up. It was tough conditions. I think Tag (Alex Tagliani) went at the right time. The car has great speed. We need to work a little bit on the balance. The Target team did a heck of a job setting the car up this week with the track time that we did get. We worked on qualifying (setup) on the last day (Friday). This place is tough, and it can bite you pretty quick. It's a fine line between teetering on the good and the bad when you go for pole speed. The pole is the ultimate deal. You have seen people here who you wouldn't think would be struggling. We're pretty happy, so far, but you're never happy until you win the race."
ED CARPENTER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "It's great to be fact right now, but we have to keep our head in the game for the race. The competition is just so tough right now, but I think we have some confidence now. I had a pretty bad moment out there in Turn 2 when the wind blew across the nose of the car at the apex, but I was able to gather it back up and get my focus back. It's my first oval race of the year, but Indianapolis is so different from other ovals that I might not have gained anything by running somewhere else. I really didn't feel rusty at all out there. I really appreciated the fans cheering when I finished the run. At this place, that means a lot to me."
JOHN ANDRETTI (No. 43 Team Window World): "I think the speed will hold, and I'm very fortunate to be with such a good team. Teams tend to panic in these kinds of situations because you don't have many places to turn to, you keep digging and talk about things and see how your teammates are doing. And then you quickly try to build off of it. They did everything right. And I am really, really proud of them. Obviously, I don't think that God wants any particular person in the race at any point in time - but I sure do appreciate Him holding off the rain until I got my run done. But I knew when I came off of Turn 4 for the green - I always know about what I am going to run - I thought we were going to be in the hunt. I thought low 224s, and when low 225 came on, I was really, really pleased, as you can imagine. I think the weather really helped us too because the wind died, and it got really cool right when I ran. So I got an advantage. This is the biggest race in the world. I grew up here. It means a lot to my family. It started motorsports, in my opinion. So, for me to be in the race is, especially on the 100th anniversary, I don't have that many more times to stand at the plate and swing the bat, so it's nice to be able to do it one more time."
MIKE CONWAY (No. 27 Hire Heroes USA/7-Eleven/Dr Pepper): "It's been quite elusive these last few days to try and find it. I know we're trying a few things, and we just have to go back to the drawing board and see where we can find it. We just need to try and figure it out. It's not nice to be out of the loop already. We just have to keep battling. It felt OK. There just wasn't enough speed. Me, Ryan and Marco are struggling a little bit. I feel good. I just hope the car has some more speed."
TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 Herbalife Schmidt Pelfrey Racing): "For the crosswind that picked up, we were pretty happy. Didn't think we could go as quick as (Tag), but we knew that, and I'm really happy that we backed up where we were in practice. It's really nice with 40 entries to know that not only you're in the show, but you're up front and you're going to be competitive. This Herbalife 24 car has been fantastic since the day we got in it for the month, and I'm just thrilled. This is my favorite racetrack and the best racetrack in the world, and I just love coming here. It's really just become like a pilgrimage ever year for me to come here from California. It's great to be a part of it. I really want to win this thing, and this is the best car I've had so far. When I start doing stuff in the cockpit on the first lap, you never know how it's going to affect the other side of the track, so I had to make sure I could put a whole lap together in all four corners before I got more aggressive in (laps) three and four. Once we settled down, the time started to pick up. It's a really nice race car and full credit to Tagliani and his engineering staff that really led the program through last year until now. It's just a joy to drive the car."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske): "The track definitely changed for us from yesterday to today; the same for everyone. The wind was a big factor. Certainly, with the Shell Pennzoil car we tried everything we could. We went a little bit conservative this morning. We started pushing, and it wasn't quite the way we expected. So we decided to go back like yesterday when we were very solid; great. But all of the sudden, we were just 225.2. The gear wasn't pulling the speed we wanted. So it's a big question mark. You know, it is what it is. It's one of those things. We took a chance to be a little bit more conservative, and it didn't pay off. But, hey, it's not always that we get it right. All the guys out there have done a phenomenal job." (On where he thought the car would be speed-wise): "I thought we would be a least three-quarter of a mile an hour faster." (On his experience to be able to have success from starting farther back): "Absolutely; this place, it's incredible. Sometimes it plays in your favor, and sometimes it doesn't." (On how much more competitive it is out there with 41 cars trying to qualify): "Absolutely; it's just so interesting how one small change we did turned out to be kind of like a big change out there. But this is Indy, baby."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing): "The Telemundo car has been great. I thought the track conditions would be a lot worse, but the car was great. It felt better than I expected. I am just very, very happy with the car. Yesterday, we started to trim, and we showed that we really had speed. We really thought we had a shot at a decent time. But you never know. You see some guys who were expected to be super-fast who were not. So it can happen to you. The winds changes; it gets warmer. I am just really happy. We just do all of our work and we do our best, and that was what we were hoping to do. I think we did that."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "It was interesting. With that wind gusting, it got really tricky in a couple of points, especially on that last lap in Turn 3 and 4. Pretty interesting. Glad that one's over, got a little bit of work to do on the Target car for the next one. We always worry about weather and the wind and all that stuff, but during qualifying when you're sliding the car around at 225 mph, you have got to get it right. It was a very busy run from my seat. I was definitely working harder than I've ever worked in any qualifying lap."
TONY KANAAN (No. 82 GEICO-KV Racing Technology-Lotus): "It's not quite what we wanted. It's been weird. We haven't been able to find the speed, so if we're locked into the top 24 today, I think that's a good result for us. I really don't know what's going on. I know there are a lot of people cheering for me to start in the back so I can make some passes to the front. But that's not really where I want to be. As long as we can be a first-day qualifier, for me, would be great." (On whether not having as much practice this week changes the race): "I mean, racing is racing. We work on the race setup a little bit. It's new, a team. And after last year, nothing surprises me about this place anymore. For me, it doesn't matter where we start. On the first lap last year, I was 33rd. With 10 laps to go, I was second. It doesn't really matter."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy HVM Racing): "My body's shaking. I was pretty nervous out there. We didn't do many laps. I really have to thank Nuclear Clean Air Energy for the support they've given me. The team, too, they worked really hard to get the car back together. A day ago, I wasn't sure if I wanted to get back in the car. I was really freaked out about it. But I think I made the right decision to get back in, and the doctors have taken really good car of me." (Was this the hardest thing you've ever had to do in your life?): "Yeah, definitely. After the crash, I was like, 'I don't need this. This is too crazy. It's way too dangerous.' You know, after a while you're back to being a race car driver and thinking, 'Nah, I can do this.' And you suck it up. This morning, I felt pretty good. Then I went to qualify and thought, 'Ah, I'm not too sure about that.' And especially when you're sitting (waiting to go qualify) and they're showing your crash on the screen. It's like, really? Thanks. But it's great, the crowd, too. They've really lifted me up yesterday and today. Because of them, I really want to do something well here." (On how her injured hands are.): "They're all right now. They're a little sore, because the skin is pretty tight. We haven't really worked on them yet. We'll see if they want to do that tonight or wait until tomorrow. But they've taken really good care of me. It just looks really gross right now."
DAVEY HAMILTON (No. 11 HP/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): "It was a great day, really. I came in to today thinking that if I'm in the top 16 that I was going to be happy, and I'm 15th, so I can't complain. We were down on speed from where we thought we were going to be. Earlier this morning, we ran a 225.7 mph, but I thought that I could back it up and maybe improve it. But when the wind came up, it kept us in the low 25s. The HP car was great, and I'm happy. The team did a good job, and we are in the race. Now we have a lot of work to do on the race setups."
DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Team GoDaddy): "I felt that we had a fast car not only today, but all month, and thought we would hit a 226 during today's qualifying run. The GoDaddy car was really fast to start the month off. I was happy. It was the best I've felt here in a long time. I felt really comfortable with car, and it felt effortlessly fast and it wasn't really slow until this morning. All I can think of is something we missed or something happened with the track, maybe, and everyone is putting a new set of rubber on and it changed. We just have to buckle down at this point. I guess we are going to have to risk it a little more come tomorrow."