Eight men go into this weekend's 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 with the chance of lifting the prestigious Bank One Rookie of the Year Award - this is what they had to say ahead of the event...

Ed Carpenter:

On his preparation for Race Day:
So far, it's been pretty normal. I'm ready to race. We've been out of the car for pretty much a week. Carb Day, we took a couple of laps. I'm just ready to get on with the racing; that's the part I like to do."

On his celebration if he wins the race:
The good news is I can walk home to my house. The party will start here. I don't have to worry about driving.

Larry Foyt:

On whether AJ Foyt IV had been a help?:
He's been a big help. I've been driving the stock cars for five years now, and it's quite a big difference with the front-engine car. Twice the weight, a lot of difference there. Certainly, I was able to pick his brain a little bit. A lot of drivers have been helpful, you know, drivers that have driven here for my father. When I was a kid wanting to race, they were racing here, so it's been great to pull a lot of information.

On setting forth a pace for from mid-pack?:
It's certainly a concern for me, not having done a lot of pit-stops with these cars, [and] it's very easy to stall the engine. On Carb Day, we did some practices, and it went well. I've got a lot of rookies on the crew. Also, I brought some of my NASCAR guys down, and they're changing tyres and fuelling.

on Darren Manning's jokes that the team have had trouble finding the five lug nuts on the wheels:
Yeah, right, the jackman, he didn't know where to put it. They've been practicing really hard everyday, and we just want to go out and run our own race, and run all day and be there at the end.

on the pressure of being a Foyt:
I'm just another driver. It's something I've grown up with my whole life. It's one of the reasons my dad tried to keep me out of racing. He knew it's tough, and you're always going to be under scrutiny and under the microscope, I guess. It's something I'm used to. I've spent so many years of my life here watching, so to be here and going through this myself is an awesome experience. Now I'm ready to get it on. I woke up early this morning, about 4am and couldn't go back to sleep. I guess I'm just ready to get it on.

Marty Roth:

On the pressure of racing in the 500:
I'll sleep good just knowing tomorrow is the race. It's been six weeks of a lot of hard work. I moved down from Toronto about six weeks ago when all of this started. It's been wild. It's been quite an education. It's been a lot of work, and I'm waiting for this race to get going. Can't wait for that green flag to drop.

on the magnitude of the event:
This is Indy. There is nothing like it. It keeps growing and growing. It's a fantastic event. There's just so much happening with the media and with just everybody. It's a religion. It's got a heritage to it. And you learn more about that as the month grows. You come here and show up with a race car to start prepping a race car and trying to make it go fast, and you really learn a lot about what Indianapolis is and what it means to Indiana and really to auto racing as a whole.

on the likely reaction in Canada if he wins:
Canada would go pretty crazy. They've won this race with [Jacques] Villeneuve once, and Scott Goodyear had couple of really close calls. It'd be something. It would be almost as big as this whole month has been.

PJ Jones:

on simply being at Indianapolis:
It's definitely a dream come true. Being here for so many Race Days and seeing what this event is all about, it's incredible when you walk out here on Sunday and there are so many people in the stands, the place just takes a whole new shape and look. The excitement, it's just incredible. I'm just very fortunate.

on the difference between his car and the one father Parnelli Jones drove:
I've been trying to explain that to him.

on whether Parnelli would be issuing a pep talk:
He already told me that, if you do one thing, make sure you beat a Foyt! He's been great, really helpful and patient. Before I got in the car the other day, he was really nervous and said 'just be careful, you've got plenty of time,' even though it's just a day, right? He said 'take it easy, you've got time getting the car up to speed', and we did about 20 laps, only did about 200mph, just trying to get everything right, and he said 'you'd better get going'. No, he's great. A really great watchful eye, and he's able to see what everybody else is doing and come back and relate it to me. He's been awesome as a father. He'll be there, he'll be nervous; he'll be pacing back and forth.

on whether Parnelli will be on the grid with him:
I'm sure he will. You never know what he'll do or what he's up to. He's spent the last ten days on the golf course.

Darren Manning:

on what he needs to do to become the first Brit to win this race since Graham Hill in 1966:
I don't know. I hope you were going to help me out with that. Maybe the team can help me out. I think I've probably got one of the best teams that can hold my hand through this race, like Mark was saying with his team's been guiding him through it. The guys at Ganassi have a lot of experience; they've won it a couple of times already. They're even helping Scott, I think, in his second year. It's invaluable experience that they've got. We have a quick car. We were a bit disappointed with qualifying down on the fifth row. Toyota have come up with a couple of things between Pole Day and the race, so hopefully we can run with these Hondas in the race. I think the race is going to be a totally different deal from qualifying. There's going to be so much traffic out there, and the track is going to be so turbulent. You're going to need a lot of downforce and a lot of mechanical grip coming from the car to keep you stuck to the track. It's going to be nowhere to push the cars into the ground like when you're running by yourself. You're going to need a good car in traffic, which we think we've had. Me and Scott have done a lot of running together. I've done a lot of long runs. We should be good.

on the pressure of the 500:
I'm pretty chilled out. It's just about how prepared you are, and we're about as best-prepared as you can possibly be. We're all right.

on the reaction in England if he wins:
They've all come over here now, so they've got the whole pit straight grandstand anyways. All North Yorkshire. They're all big drinkers, so they'll fit in here, I'm sure.

Mark Taylor:

on the build-up to Race Day:
Well, of course, the nerves are starting to build. For everybody here, it's the first 500. That means a huge amount to me, and I think it means the same amount to everyone else. Of course, you're trying to keep the nerves in check. We've had a great month. A very fast, very consistent month. We've been working the downforce out of the car, working on the race setups. So I'm looking forward to it, and I know the car is going to work extremely well. Of course, Panther Racing, they have great experience with these cars, so they're able to help me out as far as being a rookie is concerned. They have the experience that I lack. I'm looking forward to it. Of course, you need to be there on the last lap. That's what counts. We have to move up through the field.

on the support he takes to the Brickyard:
I think there's about twelve of us at the moment. I think we might add a couple before the race starts.

on the response in England if he wins:
I have no idea, but when Nigel Mansell came over here and he was only able to be second, it was huge when he came over here. I'm going to look forward to that, afterward. But you're focusing on what's at hand, and that's tomorrow. You're focusing on that first lap and that last lap. That's the main focus of the moment. That's what's on my mind.

Kosuke Matsuura:

on what Indy means:
I'm very excited. I have a Honda engine, that's why I've been very quick this month. Of course, I want to finish as the top rookie, and if I can, I want to win the race.

on the response in Japan if he wins:
If I win the race, maybe I'll be famous. But I want to stay here in the States for a long time and do a lot of running.

Jeff Simmons:

on the process of getting a ride in the 500:
First, I have to thank Pioneer and Mo Nunn Racing for giving me the opportunity and deciding to run a second and putting me in it. I've gone from one great team owner in AJ Foyt, who let me do the rookie test in his car after Larry [Foyt] was running back on 26 April in the morning. To go from him to Mo Nunn, who is one of the best engineers that motorsports has ever seen, a pretty recent team owner in those terms. He's been fantastic so far. I wish we had more time to develop the car because everything came together really quickly and at the last moment. But, I think we have a good race car, and I think that we'll be able to move forward.

about racing in the 500:
I think there's been a lot of time to think about things. Really, I've been thinking about it since I ever got into racing, wanting to be here. This is a moment I've been waiting for, and so I've been thinking about it all along. I'm just trying to keep everything on an even keel and focus on the job that we have to do. People have said 'were you nervous before qualifying?' I wasn't really nervous at all before qualifying. That was only the first step. I had to focus on that. It was just like doing the rookie test. I had very few laps that I was going to be allowed to do. The motor was already over mileage, and we had to get it done quickly. If I had not gotten that done, I wouldn't have been an option for any of the team owners coming into May. There's been pressure all along, but I'm just trying to focus on the job that has to be done.

on his race strategy:
If we win and we're here, that's what really matters. We're just going to go out there and try and concentrate on feeling the car out. We didn't have a chance to run in traffic at all because my pit crew didn't get here until 11-30 on Carburetion Day. We didn't get to run in any of the traffic. The first few laps are going to be hectic. If we have a good car, then we can start concentrating on the car ahead of us. That's about as far ahead as we're going to focus. We've got to take it just one step at a time with the limited time that we've had. If we can win, I'll throw a huge party here.



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