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May 19, 2012  |   By Paul Kelly

96th Indianapolis 500 First Segment Qualifying Quotes

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It wasn’t too bad. The car was balanced pretty good; we got a little neutral in the corners. The way the configuration of the car is, it’s pretty well stuck. The next step makes it slide. We’re still struggling a little bit, but we’re doing the best that we can.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): “I think we’re really happy with that. It’s pretty good. The weather conditions changed a lot since we practiced this morning. We’re right there on the car. It’s exactly what we planned for. The car has been good all month, especially in race trim. We didn’t do a huge amount of running in qualifying trim yesterday. There was a little bit of confusion, I think, in the garage. We overcame it, and it ran really well for four laps.” (On the conditions during his run): “It definitely got slippery. During the last two laps, as the tires wear a little bit, you start sliding around a little more. You have to be paying attention to what your inputs are, and you just sort of ride it through the corner instead of trying to turn it. At the end of the day, it’s the same for everybody. I don’t know if earlier or later in the line is better. I think the Honda produces the same amount of horsepower no matter what the temperature is, so it will be interesting to see how the line goes.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was probably one of the best runs we’ve had. I didn’t expect to be that quick. The guys did a good job with the car. Obviously, I think it’s going to change up. The Andretti guys are very fast.” (Team Penske and your teammates have really been able to dial it in. To what do you attribute that today?): “We always work well together. I think it’s good having three cars. Our car setups are very similar, and I think we had enough time to get everybody similar.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “It wasn’t good. This is my ninth Indy, and that’s the worst qualifying effort I’ve ever had. It was awful. We’ll make a few changes. It’s not too far away. It’s pretty hot and slick right now. I’ve been working hard to get what we’ve been able to get out of this thing, and it’s still not good enough. It’s frustrating, but we’ll keep at it. I’m really angry that we just didn’t withdraw so we could go straight back and get to work. Now we have to go through tech (post qualifying), so it will be even longer before get to work. I want to make a change and go right back out now.”

JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): “The track is changing out there. Obviously, we’ve run all week in the sun, but I think this is the hottest day we’ve had so far. We haven’t had this air temperature. The track is getting a little bit loose out there. I think we’ll take the positives. We’ve got a better race car than we have a qualifying car, so we’re just going to try getting the No. 19 Boy Scouts as high as we can for the race and then we run from there. I think the day is only going to get hotter. I think it was a consistent run. We just need to find maybe half a mile an hour more, and we should be OK.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet): (About making second qualifying run after first attempt was disqualified): “You know, we win as a team, and we lose as a team. I mean, my guys were all crying, and they knew they let me down. But many times I let them down. We get stronger when we have mistakes like this happening, and we get back together. If there is no drama for me, it is never fun. I guess I keep continuing with my legacy here of the drama." (About slicker, tougher conditions): "Definitely, it's a lot slicker, a lot hotter. It was hard enough to do it the first time. To do it again was breathtaking. But we did it; we're in. I am exactly where I want to be." (On knocking teammate Rubens Barrichello from Fast Nine): “I’m going to make fun of him. But, you know, I think he's pretty happy for his first ‘500’ to be in the top 10. I think it's pretty good.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): “Qualifying at Indy is the most terrifying 10 miles of your life. You’re holding your breath the whole time. You don’t blink. You’re just nervous for the entire run. Your foot shakes on the throttle pedal trying to keep it down. But it was a great run for us, and the car was awesome from the word ‘go.’ We knew we were going to be close. When you start to lay the wing all the way back and you have an extra 50 horsepower, you start to feel it. I mean, qualifying at Indy is one of the most difficult things you will ever do in your life. It’s a huge credit to the guys because even when we threw that extra horsepower at it, the car was still great.” (On preparing for the Fast Nine Shootout): “It’s a hell of a start. Hopefully it’s going to be enough for us to stay in there. I’m just focused on making that car a little quicker for this evening. We went out this morning, and we didn’t like the car. We really spooked ourselves after the run we were having yesterday, which we were happy with. It’s one of those things when you’re like, ‘No, why did I do that?’ So we put everything back the way it was, and it’s a huge credit to the Andretti Autosport guys because that GoDaddy car was just flying out there, even in these hot track conditions. We’ll see. It’s only half the battle. We still have to go do it again.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet): “With this format, you’ve got to keep finding a little bit and working hopefully to put ourselves in a good position to battle for the front row. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be decided not on the second decimal, but the third one. I was thinking (the speed) would be a little bit higher. The problem is when you go out in the morning (practice), it gives you a little bit different sensation because it's a cooler temperature. The car handles well, and everything is so different. It might give you a little false reading. Although what we had is pretty much what we thought. It matched the numbers we were expecting. With a scenario like this, so close to each other, a gust of wind or something makes a difference at a place like this.” (Compare today to Race Day as far as work, fun, stress): “Well, this is probably the toughest one because you have a long day. Even though we just finished qualifying, the whole day is just starting. I guess every time you have that kind of excitement, it's normal. It's tiring, but it's exciting, the same way. I love the entire month here. I see the fans. I wish we had every race like this.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): “Actually, it was fun. This qualifying speed for us, we’re happy with it. We’ve got a really race car, and I think in the race we can really do something really good. We have a good crew in the pits, so we’re really looking forward to next week. It was fun today. When you see all of the people supporting us drivers, it’s fantastic. It’s the biggest event of the year. The balance of the car was really enjoyable. It was good, really good. We just needed a little bit more speed. But at the end of the day, I’m here in Indy. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life. I can only enjoy this moment. I would compare this to the start of Le Mans (24 Hours) race. I’ve been there. I finished second in 2011 (24 Hours of Le Mans). It was a big event for me because it’s in France. But I think this is going to get even bigger on Race Day.”

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (No. 30 Office Depot/RLL Racing Honda): “The guys did a fantastic job to get the car ready. I’m really, really proud of the guys. We lost a lot of time (Friday) to get our qualifying setup good. It (time) doesn’t look very good. We want to be in (top 24). I would have liked to have been able to run (faster) today, but we will have to wait until tomorrow.

SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus): “I think we had an OK pace this morning. We definitely found some speed, so that was a good thing. You know, not going out to qualify today makes sense because we don’t really have a chance to make it in the field today. So we’ll focus on tomorrow and hope we make a good run.”

ANA BEATRIZ (No. 25 Team Ipiranga Chevrolet): “I’m not sure what our problem was, but I wish we had done better. At least the car is in one piece, and we finished the four laps. It's still a decent time compared to the guys in the top 10. Let's hope nobody is faster. I really don't want to go back out later. It will be more relaxed (Sunday) for me, but I think it will be exciting for the fans. The drivers don't need that anxiety that I went through last year. But the fans like to see some action.”

RUBENS BARRICHELLO (No. 8 BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “It’s been an awesome experience. I can’t tell you how I was feeling just before I entered the car. I was just eager to get into the car. I’m proud, man; I’m proud. This has been a week of trying. The team made me very peaceful inside the car. It’s paying off. The team prepared me very well for this, and I enjoy my time out here. I needed a little bit more time in the car for me to be able to actually go faster. People at home, they might think, ‘It’s just four corners.’ I’ll tell you, those four corners are much more difficult than many of the other corners I’ve done in my whole life. It’s a lot of setup and a lot of things going on. I think it got a bit hotter than we predicted today. But I had a good run. That was the fastest I’ve ever gone.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Dollar General Honda): “We went out and did our run. It was a little hairy. I definitely wanted to abandon the run at some point, but you have to keep with it. That’s how it is around this place in qualifying, and it’s a little bit hairy some times. The team has done a phenomenal job. I know we aren’t the quickest right now, but I really think we have the quickest car in the field. I hope we can race well. I think we’ll be able to put a good race car together for Sunday. There’s been so many hours put in from all of our guys. It’s a team effort from Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. The race is the big show for us. That’s where we want to shine. Wherever we land today, we’ll try and get ourselves as far up as possible and then we’ll prioritize for the race.” (On his teammate Bryan Clauson’s accident): “It’s a tough deal. It’s a tough break for Bryan and a tough break for the team. He’s worked hard all week and done a really good job. He was quick, too. That’s the shame of it. I think he would have been right behind me, and it’s just one of those deals. It can bite you really quick here. He’s not put a foot wrong all month. He’s been a huge help to us and the entire team. He’s another piece of the puzzle for us and has really helped us grow and be fast around this place. It’s tough to see.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda): “We were relatively disappointed (at not making the Fast Nine). We saw some speed difference from yesterday, but we knew this morning that we were not up to that speed. We made some good progress this morning and did everythng we could. We just needed a little more speed. We'll see after qualifying where we stand, and it's possible we could make another attempt. Otherwise, we have had some good laps in practice compared to the qualifying speed, although the setup, the balance, was different.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Team RC Cola Chevrolet): “I guess you’re never really happy. You can be happy with a car one day and roll off the next day and lose a mile an hour. We'll go back to the drawing board and try to figure out how to get it back. Balance-wise, we are pretty stuck . I'm not sure where we lost that mile an hour. We have to check the boost or something. It just wasn’t pulling the RPMs. In practice (this morning), you can only fool yourself. Nothing you try this morning is going to work in qualifying. It's cool, and you have a lot of grip. We were sliding a good bit, and there is some speed to come with finding a good balance. I don't know about a 226, but we'll keep working.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 38 Service Central Honda): “Our car feels pretty good. It felt great this morning. This morning I think we were pretty quick. We definitely did a 225.2 on our own. A little frustrated; we decided we’d try to run sixth gear rather than fifth, and if we were doing 225 we could run sixth, but we weren't. I think fifth would have a least allowed us to be a mid- to high-224. But we’re closer to the competition than we were yesterday. Chevy certainly has a little bit of an advantage at this point. When they turned the wick up yesterday, the speeds were almost 2 miles per hour more than most Hondas could go. Our goal's got to be the quickest of the Hondas, and I think we could have been close. Newgarden obviously did a good time there, but I certainly think we could have beat that if we had run fifth (gear)." (On the difference in the track compared to morning practice): "It's different, without a doubt. This morning I had no rear issues at all. The Chevy just, right now, has more power. It's as simple as that. But the car definitely moves around. I'm not going to tell you it's easy. It's the hardest four laps I think I've driven around here.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): “It’s probably not going to be enough. There’s a bunch of good cars yet to go. There’s very little chance we’re going to stick there. It’s the way that it is. We hoped and we tried, and it was a clean run – four laps flat out. There’s not much we can do from there. There’s a reason why everyone else has been running for a week, and we got three hours. I think we’ve got to be pretty proud with the effort. It’s been going about as well as it could. We’ll go through the weekend the best we can and see what we can do after that.”

ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA Honda): “This was like one of the hardest qualifying runs I've ever had to do. The car was on the ragged edge, quite loose. To tell you the truth, we're pretty stoked. This month we definitely tested the crew and the Barracuda Networks Bowers & Wilkins 98 car because of the engine switch to Honda. The guys worked really late. We have a great group of guys. We're here, and we had a decent qualifying run, so it's definitely showing dedication from the whole team. But if it would be up to me, I would go back out again. I would risk it, because we were so loose. It was the only time in the Month of May we have been loose like that. I don't think it was a clean run. I was just hanging on. I was out of adjustments in the car – no more bars, no more weight jacker. I think when we saw 224.2, my engineer and myself thought this was a good opportunity to try to make it, so we risked it. But in any other circumstances, I would have probably pulled in because running that way at the Speedway is just pretty, pretty risky. But we completed our run, and it was our best non-tow run of the month by ourselves. But I think there's a bit more in that car.”

TOWNSEND BELL (No. 99 BraunAbility-Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Honda): “This is what having teammates is all about. We were flat lost. I drove my heart out this morning. It was so slow. It didn't look like it, but that was probably the best drive I've had just with what we were dealing with. We went back, and Simon (Pagenaud) had gotten his act together. I'm supposed to be the teacher, him the student. But it's role reversal. They got their setup nailed, and I just said take his car and put it on mine. It was a massive amount of changes for the guys to make; massive. I said just stick that on there and let me go drive it for once. That's what we did, and it worked out. I just tried to stay calm and have confidence in my crew and the confidence in science. We must have changed 40 different things. It's just confidence in knowing that I've got a good teammate with a good car, the 77. Those guys got their stuff sorted out quicker than we did.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet): “I'm hoping we have more (speed). At Indy you never know, never really know what you have. That wasn’t our best balance yet. (Friday) we had much better balance than that. Hopefully we’ll work back to that later today. The track is greasing up a little bit, and I'm not sure but what that contributed to (Bryan) Clauson's deal or not. I hope he's all right. The teamwork has been just outstanding this year across the board. Working with James (Hinchcliffe), Marco (Andretti), Sebastian (Saavedra) and Ana (Beatriz) has been a pleasure, and it’s fun. This whole team has done such a great job preparing for the Indianapolis 500.”

E.J. VISO (No. 5 CITGO/PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet): “We were looking for a little bit more speed, but with these conditions it's really hard right now compared to two hours ago when the guys first started qualifying. I'm happy with my run. The car feels strong, consistent and stable, and that's all we need for a good race. I'm really pleased with the balance of the car. We could have gone a bit faster, but we're happy with what we got. It was a very stable run, and that is all we needed to get in the show." (On the hotter track conditions): "The heat always affects the pace. The car is not as efficient as the car could be when the air is cooler. It was a little bit windy during my run, and the tarmac is way hotter. It degrades the tires a lot faster. Other than that, I am happy with the teamwork this month."

JAMES JAKES (No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda): (After second run): “There is a lot of rubber down, and it's hot. The cars are moving around a lot. I heard a few of the drivers say they were surprised how much the cars are moving. We've had a good car all week, and on the first run I was a bit cautious, but we did it on the second run. I scared myself just a little bit (on the second run). The car was moving around a bit. The entry (to the turns) was OK, but off the corner the car is moving a lot. But it's the same for everybody, but it's racing. You just have to get out there and get on with it. That's one of the fun things about Indy.”

JUSTIN WILSON (No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda): “I’m not very satisfied with that. We lost quite a bit of time when I got loose on that lap. I think we could have had a better four-lap average than that if we could just do four laps at that speed instead of two. I think there’s more in it, but we don’t want to do anything too risky.”

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply Honda): “We were running a super-light downforce when it was cool (morning practice). The car handled great. The balance was excellent. We didn’t compensate enough for the heat. We originally thought we would roll out 10th (qualifying line), and we got bumped out of the tech line. So we got pushed to last (in qualifying line). The conditions caught us, and we didn’t have enough downforce. On my first attempt, we were so light on downforce, I couldn’t drive the car. So we put the downforce back in, but we were over-geared for it. We didn’t have time to change the gearing, so we had to put it in line. All we could hope for was less wind. Unfortunately that’s all we had today.”

MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “We shouldn’t have been out there in the first place. We were in the field with a good enough time, but it was taken away because the car was illegal, so that’s pretty much why we’re not there today. Luckily there aren’t enough cars here to bump us out. We’ve got to go qualify again, do a time, and that’s it. Focus on race stuff. We’re lucky that there are just enough cars to fill the field because we can focus on race stuff. Otherwise we’d have to qualify and be prepared to qualify again.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): (After accident): “This car has been really inconsistent today. It was slow and inconsistent in my first qualifying run. It was loose and sliding around. We made some changes, and it was pushing in the practice before the second qualifying attempt. Then the thing got loose again, so I really don’t know where we are on our setups. We have had difficulty figuring out this new car. It’s a strange car to get just right. I was trying to qualify for the Indy 500, so I wasn’t going to lift. I’ll do the same thing tomorrow to make this race. If I crash another car, then I crash another car. It’s just very frustrating for me right now. But we’ll rebuild the backup car and be ready to go on Sunday. It will be a long night for the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys. It’s not the position we wanted to be in right now. But it has to be done.”

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 50 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Every member of the Target team is working so hard. We’re just having a hard time figuring this one out. It's not been a very good qualifying day for us. It just shows that everybody can get it wrong sometimes. Today as a unit, myself and the rest of the Target guys, we’re just off. We’re not where we need to be to qualify for the pole. There’s a bit of head-scratching going on. We’ve tried a number of different things.”

SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 17 Team AFS Chevrolet): “On the first attempt, we just had no power. I want to thank the complete Andretti Autosport team who did an unbelievable job to change that engine. We had a really good week, then this unfortunate situation. We kept calm, and they did an amazing job; all five teams putting together one car. It was beautiful to watch, and I’m so thankful. We went out there (for another attempt) without one practice lap. We were missing a few things, and it showed (in the lap speeds). It was 4 o’clock, and we needed to (make an attempt). We had the car to be further up there. Unfortunately we’re not in top nine, but hey, we’re in the show.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): “I think we all thought we'd go out there and go significantly quicker. These cars are pretty good. At this stage, we're going pretty much as fast as we were going last year in qualifying trim. You do get some movement, obviously, when you start to trim it out pretty low, but so far we've had good balance. A good starting position in the ‘500’ helps keep you out of the craziness that goes on sometimes, but either way it’s a long day. You have to stay out of trouble all 200 laps.”

KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar-Dragon Racing Chevrolet): “We had a very up-and-down day. This morning in practice, we were really getting somewhere, and I think we were relatively competitive, 24th, so this morning’s time would have put us in the field. Then this afternoon, it got hotter and hotter, and the track got slicker and slicker. We went out to practice and had a bit of an issue with the car that we managed to iron out, and then went back out to qualify and a glitch meant that the green flag wasn’t thrown, so I had to pit. We went back in line and Jay (Penske) decided to pull the car from the field because it was probably safer to just put it in tomorrow with no pressure. The entire TrueCar team have done an incredible job. My engineers have done an outstanding job; my crew guys have been amazing. I think for them, more than anything, we could have put it in the field today, so I’m gutted we didn’t because we had the speed, which is a miracle considering the lack of running we’ve had so far. So yeah, we’ll have to regroup, refocus, come back tomorrow, and instead of P24, we’ll be P25 or P26. The main thing is that we’ll be in the Indy 500. We have the speed, we have a good car, and we know which direction to head. Yes, we’re behind the 8-ball from the lack of testing, but confidence is building.”