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May 20, 2012  |   By Paul Kelly

96th Indianapolis 500 Bump Day Qualifying Quotes


 
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus):
“It was all right. Not the speed we want for the month, but I think we’re in the show, so that’s a really good thing. We just have to focus on our program with the Lotus engine. We don’t have the speed we want, but we’ve been creeping up to the other manufacturers, so that’s a really positive sign. The Nuclear Clean Air Energy car was really good, really comfortable to drive. We just have to find a little more power, and then we should be all right. I think those were the most consistent laps I’ve done here at the Speedway. We’re pretty down on horsepower now with our engine, but we’ve made improvements. At the beginning of the season, we knew it was going to be difficult. But we’ve been improving, so that is the positive thing. We know, even for the race, it’s going to be difficult, so we just have to focus on what we have to do and learn as much as we can. Hopefully, toward the end of the season we’re going to be really competitive. It’s the first time I’ve had to qualify (for the Indianapolis 500) on Day 2. We don’t have the speed to be in the first 24, so we’re just focused on today, and we had really consistent lap times. We’re quite a bit slower than the other cars, so we’ll see what happens during the week. I think we found some speed, but it’s still slower. We’ll just try to focus on our car and what I have to do.” (About Race Day): “I’ll try to be as much out of the way as possible because I know when you have a fast car it’s annoying when somebody is that much slower. We all respect each other, and I just have to do my job to be quick and not try to be in the way, too. That’s kind of our goal for the race. The Indy 500 is the greatest spectacle on Earth, and everybody knows about it. It’s just so special to see all of the people here and all of the history behind it. And I can say that I have raced in the Indy 500. It’s really a special feeling.”
 
MIKE CONWAY (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): “I would have loved to have put it in the show yesterday. We would have been better off. We’re in the race. The car has been very similar all month in terms of handling, it’s been very good. We weren’t looking to blow the world away with speed today. It was a case of getting in (the race) comfortably and not doing anything stupid. Our second lap was slower. We had a slight boost issue, but it went away. We wanted to be sensible. We haven’t been working on race stuff much this month because we’ve been trying to find speed. We can go out and focus on getting the car in race trim and get it comfortable. I just want to thank A.J. Foyt Racing and ABC Supply for hanging in there all week.”
 
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet):
“We just wanted to make sure we had a solid effort to get it into the race. Obviously, to win the race, you have to be in it first. We wanted to accomplish that. Now we just work on the race car. This race, especially, has been won from the back many times. If you have a good car, you can definitely go forward. So that’s what we’re going to focus on. To win this thing, a lot of things have to go your way, no matter if you start in the front or the back. Probably more than any other race, the guy that’s on pole doesn’t win it. We would prefer to start on the front row like last year. It makes your race a lot easier, especially the first half. But we’re going to make it interesting. We’re going to start at the back and move forward.” (On driving the day after crashing his car on Pole Day): “The crash looked bad, but the car didn’t get too damaged. All my guys were working late last night and got it back together. If you think of things bad, it can get a lot worse if you crash again. Today is the last day to get into the race. At least now, no matter what happens the rest of the day, you know you’re in the race. It’s a big relief. There was not much to gain and a lot to lose if something went wrong today.”
 
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “The whole month hasn’t gone as you script them. I think I’ve been lucky for quite a few years to have a pretty seamless month of May. You never know with Indianapolis, when it is going to decide it’s your turn for a bad month. Things change quickly around here. One thing that doesn’t change for me is my confidence. I love racing here, and I love this race. As long as I’m in the field, I’m going to feel like I have a chance. More than anything, I’m just really proud of the effort that the team put in. It’s been an ugly month, but they’ve stuck behind me and stuck together and built a pretty good T-car for me. I think the track is getting more difficult with how many days we’ve had of no rain. There’s a lot of rubber on the racetrack. I think that all of that rubber and grip, it’s not necessarily a good thing because there is so much rubber down, it makes it a little more inconsistent. The car makes a lot of downforce, and it can be deceivingly comfortable. But it’s a little finicky, too. I think all of us were maybe getting a little too comfortable with it, and now things are about to happen. As the week has gone on, it’s gotten a lot hotter, a lot of rubber down, and I think the conditions are just challenging. It’s still a new car. Everyone has a lot to learn. Thankfully, everybody has been OK that’s been in accidents so far. Nobody had seen one of these cars really crash at speed until this month, so I know Dallara is studying every accident they see and making things better when they can.” (How did you feel after your accident yesterday and how did your team respond?): “I give the team very high marks. They’ve done a great job. The effort that they’ve given me all week long has been outstanding. By the time I actually went to sleep, I was pretty exhausted. It was a long day. I was really, really mad for probably three hours, and then the anger starts to go away, and you just have to figure out what you have to do for the next day – what works need to get done, what you need to do to get the car right and handle better. Once you get back in that mode and get back to work, you calm down and start focusing on the job at hand.” (What were you specifically mad at?): “I was mad at myself and anybody that came in contact with me and pretty much the whole situation. I was mad that the car got destroyed, mad that setup wasn’t better and mad that I was stubborn and insisted on keeping my foot in it when I knew it wasn’t any good. You name it, I was just mad at the whole situation.”
 
JEAN ALESI (No. 64 Lotus-FP Journe-Fan Force United Lotus): “It’s a big relief for me to finally get into this race. We've had all week to work on it, and obviously we now have the car in the race. I'm glad, but I really was expecting more speed from the car . That was all we could get, and we took it. We have to work now on the race situation. We know we cannot really gain much from the qualifying setup in practice this afternoon. We will just have to work for the best result from the race.” (About his Indianapolis 500 debut): “This is an amazing experience for me. I’m 47 years old, and I have learned more in one week here than I did in my entire Formula One career.”
 
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 41 ECat/ABC Supply Honda):
“It was nice to go out and get in the field. It’s disappointing because, from my side, instead of doing the maximum, we’re basically doing the minimum to get in, and that’s not how I enjoy racing. We didn’t come here to be field-fillers. We are safely in the field, and we can start working on race setup. We had a lot of downforce in qualifying trim, so we could have gone significantly faster if we had to. I would have liked to have been at the limit because that’s what were supposed to do here, right? I’m happy to be here. We’ll change gears, go back out and simulate race conditions. We’ll find out what kind of race car we have.”
 
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet):
“The run was good. I just wish it had been yesterday, and we’d be quite a bit higher up on the grid. We haven’t really changed the car at all. The balance has been good. The speed varied a lot from Saturday, and we can’t quite figure out why. I’m just happy that the TrueCar-McAfee entry is in the show. I’m glad to be with Chevrolet and looking forward to the rest of the season.”
 
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Curb Agajanian Honda): “It's exciting. You know, obviously when you have a run like we did yesterday at 223 and a half or so and come back today and go run that, you're not excited. But it's a product of just needing to get four laps in and putting something that was safe on the car and making sure we didn't have another incident like we did yesterday. It kind of snuck up on us yesterday. The car had been comfortable the whole run. If you would have stopped me at the flag stand on the third lap, I probably wouldn't have changed a thing. It just got away from us there in Turn 1 and kind of put us in a little bit of a bind. But it's exciting to get in. Those four laps were a heck of a lot easier before I messed them up yesterday. I was bummed, I guess, but it was neat to see all the hard work that went into getting the thing back out there. Those guys worked until 2, 3 in the morning to get us back out there. So to get out there and put it in the show and be able to go and work on race stuff is what it's about." (On Josef Newgarden saying he felt Clauson was simply unlucky): "Honestly, I was watching the video and hoping I'd see something I did different or something. I felt like I mirrored Turn 1 the other three laps. It just stepped out. I didn't sleep much last night. It makes it tough, especially for a small team like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. If we did it again today, we were done. So we just had to go out there and put in a conservative run and get four laps down." (On a former INDYCAR champion saying after Clauson lost it yesterday, he looked like an INDYCAR driver as opposed to a dirt track driver; that he did the right thing): "Yeah, I chased it as long as I could. I don't think I got my hand up quick enough because I didn't get it tucked away and hit it on something and hurt it a little bit. Other than that, I don't know what I could have done different. I chased it up the track. It kind of caught me by surprise, really. I ran through it a hundred times and don't know what I would have done different, other than lift, I guess. I stand firm that my first three laps were easy flat, and it never wiggled on me, so there was no real reason to expect it. Obviously, I would have liked to have gone out there and run 223 and a half like I did yesterday, and we'd be starting 16th or 17th or wherever that would have put us. But we don't have any more cars. There's 33 (spots), and we don't have any sitting at the shop ready to go, so we’ve just got to put four laps down. What there was to gain by trimming out and trying to run 25th quick? Whether you start 25th  or 31st, it really doesn't matter. I guess will get a little bit of a head start on the Hard Charger Award starting a little bit further back. Us short-track guys like that." (If you start in the last row, you'll have a heck of a party to go to): "Sweet, nice, perfect. See, I didn't know that. Now I have something to cheer about. We might have to withdraw and try and go a little slower if we have to. Trust me, those four laps are a heck of a lot easier before you mess them up. I was happy that that last one was over." (On whether sprint cars are a better preparation for Indy cars than other formulas): "I don't know. What we have over here in the ladder system, I'm sure, is fairly similar to the preparation they have over there (Europe). It seems to be working pretty well. What you learn from the USAC side of things in sprint car and midget is you have to be pretty darn versatile to be getting in those cars. You see a lot of different situations, track layouts and a lot of different type of tracks. You learn to adapt and be able to adjust. It's just a different way of coming up. I won't take anything away from the formula ranks. That system seems to be working." (How many laps does it take to get your confidence back?): "I'm not sure I have all of my confidence back, yet. We did two runs this morning, close to 10 laps. We had a couple issues on the first run with some things, so we only had four or five at speed laps to get a feel for it." (On the Band-Aid decal the team put on the top of the sidepod): "That kind of explains the night. They got a Band-Aid to put over the half blue, half carbon on the left side of the car. They put a Band-Aid right in the middle to kind of transition it, I think. That's what got them through the night, I guess, knowing that when I walked in in the morning I was going to see that and laugh. It was cool. This is such a pressure-packed month; sometimes the little things go a long way." (On the support he feels and the weight he feels of the USAC community on his shoulders): "The support from everybody has been amazing. Yesterday - this is the young guy in me - I was trending on Twitter, which I thought was pretty cool. I'd never had that happen before.” (More Clauson on next page)
 
BRYAN CLAUSON (No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman/Curb Agajanian Honda) (cont.): “There's a lot of people watching, and a lot of people are cheering for us and rooting for us to be successful because of the background I have. It's been a while since a guy has made the jump successfully and that the fans felt like they had somebody to cheer for in the Indianapolis 500. Right, wrong, indifferent, you can look at it several different ways. A lot of them still feel like they don't have one of their own in INDYCAR, and that's what we bring with myself and USAC, in general. There's this fan base that feels like they're lost in watching the '500.' They're very passionate about the '500,' but just don't have a common interest. Hopefully, on Carb Day and Sunday there will be a lot of sprint car shirts in the stands and a lot of people cheering for us. It's been pretty humbling, really, the support we've gotten.”
 
KATHERINE LEGGE (No. 6 TrueCar-Dragon Racing Chevrolet):
“It’s definitely a massive relief after the week or two that we’ve had. We basically qualified our race car. We haven’t had time on track to work on qualifying setup or anything like that, so we needed to find a car that was easy to drive at this stage. I am a rookie, and the team did a good job of giving me a very solid, very stable race car. I’m pretty sure that it’s very close to the car that we will race. I finished my rookie orientation on Fast Friday, and we haven’t had any real testing time, so it’s been difficult. But we’re here, and we’ve made the best of it. As my engineer would say, there are no ifs in racing.” (About racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): “At the end of the day, it’s a racetrack. You drive around it in race car, and we are all professionals. But it’s a very special place with all of the tradition and everything else that surrounds it. All I have to do is go out, put my foot to the floor, and drive around four laps right? But you still get nervous. It’s the Indy 500, for goodness sake! I watched Michael Andretti and Nigel Mansell and those guys when I was a kid. I wanted to do that, and now I’m getting the opportunity to. Not many people do, and I’m hugely thankful.”