CHEVROLET RACING IN THE VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
INDIANAPOLIS 500 TESTING – DAY TWO
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER POST TESTING QUOTES AND PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPTS
MAY 1, 2018
INDIANAPOLIS (May 1, 2018) – Day two of testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) leading into the May 27th Indianapolis 500 was restricted to the Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) and the Veteran Refresher Course (VRC).
For Chevrolet in the Verizon IndyCar Series Matheus Leist, No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet and Kyle Kaiser, No. 32 NFP Juncos Racing Chevrolet both participated in the ROP and passed with flying colors.
Danica Patrick made her highly anticipated return to IndyCar competition for a final time in the No. 13 GoDaddy Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. She was joined in the VRC by Sage Karam behind the wheel of the No.24 Wix Filters Dryer and Reinbold Racing Chevrolet. Both veterans completed the necessary steps without issue and are ready to compete in the 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
A manufacturer sanctioned test on Wednesday will conclude testing for the Indy 500 at IMS. Following the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 12th, open practice will begin for the 500 on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
SAGE KARAM – NO. 24 WIX FILTERS DRYER AND REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET: Sage completed his Verizon IndyCar Series Veteran Refresher Course today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27, 2018.
“It was a really good day for me. This is most comfortable I have been here at Indy in the very first day of running. I haven’t been in an IndyCar since last May here. In fact, I haven’t been in a race car since last October in sports cars. It’s been a long wait. I’m so excited to get behind the wheel. This is a new car, so it’s a big challenge for myself and the team. We had to work all of the little kinks today in just three hours. So it is a tall task in the refresher program. We ran laps today and I feel good as we got through so much information today. We are extremely please how the WIX Filters Chevrolet ran today. Usually, the cars don’t feel the best after a refresher today. But this is the best I have ever felt after day one. The car felt good coming through the refresher speeds and even better when we added speed. I’m anxious to get to the Speedway in a few weeks to getting for the greatest race in the world.”
DENNIS REINBOLD – DREYER & REINBOLD RACING TEAM OWNE:
“We had a really solid day. We got a lot accomplished. Sage was comfortable in the car right away and that is important on the first day out with the new car, new brakes, new body kit and the new electronics. And that is something you always want to hear from your driver that is comfortable. We went through all of the refresher phases. We are looking to start the May practice runs ready to go. It was great weather today and we hope that is duplicated the first week of practice. We have a long list of things we need to sort through that week. We know what to prepare for before we come back here.”
MATHEUS LEIST, NO. 4 ABC SUPPLY AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET: Matheus completed his Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program today in preparation for the May 27th running of the Indianapolis 500:
“Rookie Orientation done, ready to race or test. It was good fun. The ABC car was looking good today. Tony did a great setup yesterday so the car was pretty neutral and fast. I went through all the phases pretty well. The first one was 205-210, the second one was 210-215 and then 215-plus. The car was feeling good all day long so pretty happy. The feeling was not that much different than Indy Lights. The Indy Lights cars have less downforce and go 20 miles per hour slower in the straights but the feeling is pretty much the same. This car has more downforce so you feel a little more comfortable with the speed so it was not a big deal for me. We’ll see how it’s going to be in qualifying, but so far so good. I’m looking forward to the month of May.”
KYLE KAISER NO. 32 NFP / JUNCOS RACING CHEVROLET: Kyle completed his Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program today in preparation for the May 27th running of the Indianapolis 500:
“Overall we had a really smooth run, which is exactly what we were all hoping for. We went out and were the first to finish with our ROP testing. We only went through two sets of tires doing it and the car felt great. We had good speed considering we didn’t even get into trimming the car at all and we were running competitive times. I am really happy with the team and I am looking forward to getting back on the road course now. Then we have the month of May, which this is the big one. This was a good first taste of the oval and I am looking forward to more this month.”
DANICA PATRICK, NO. 13 GODADDY ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET: Danica completed her Verizon IndyCar Series Veteran Refresher Course today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She will return to the cockpit on Wednesday May 2, 2018 for additional testing in preparation for the 2018 Indianapolis 500:
WHAT IS BIGGEST DIFFERENCE SINCE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN AN INDYCAR? “I don’t know if I can tell you the differences between the cars when I was here driving Indy cars before. It’s closing in on a decade. It’s been almost seven years. But whatI do know, man, the wheel is so heavy. That was my biggest issue was the weight of the wheel and feeling it. When the wheel is heavy, it feels loose so it is hard to be aggressive with it. I’m stronger thanwhen I was here before, but it is just such a different feel. The stock cars have power steering so there is a big difference there. I did feel feel fairlycomfortable
there at the end as far as driving to the edge of the grip limit. The weight of the wheel still doesn’t feel comfortable to me, but we had to get today done, so
it will be even better tomorrow.”
WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU WENT OVER THE YARD OF BRICKS THE FIRST TIME: “Nothing when I am driving, but when I am walking across the bricks, it is the same type of good feelings driving in and seeing the Pagoda and being here. It is a special place. Anybody that has been here can at least feel that to some degree.”
IndyCar Media Conference
Press Conference Transcript
THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 13 Go Daddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Danica, it’s been a busy past couple of days for you here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, watching some of your teammates yesterday, also getting back in a car for the first time in quite a while today.
When you first walked into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, knowing that you were about to get back in an IndyCar, what was going through your mind? What was the excitement level?
DANICA PATRICK: Low. I just kind of wanted to get today over with, not in a negative sense, but just that it’s been seven years since I drove an IndyCar here. Yeah, it’s been a long time.
So I just, you know, wanted to get through today, get more comfortable, be able to get on with the job. There’s been a lot of anticipation on this day for me, not only the years after I left and thinking about it, because I really did try to do it the second year I’d been gone, until two managers said that people questioned my commitment in it in NASCAR, so I didn’t do it. I really did believe that I was never going to do it again. After that point in time, I was, like, the further I get away from it, the more I don’t want to do it.
But there was no wavering on the decision last year to do it. Once I thought of it, I was, like, Yes, yes, that’s what I’m going to do. So it’s been since fall of last year thinking about, What the hell is it going to feel like? So now I know.
THE MODERATOR: Now those questions have been pretty much answered. Take us through your laps, how they felt to you, how you built up to getting through your refresher program today.
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I mean, we started off with an install check. It’s a brand-new car, so there was a water temperature issue. Took it back to the garage. There’s only three hours today, so you burn an hour pretty quickly getting out there and getting back in, getting back out to pit lane again.
Then it was out one time, coming in just to make sure everything was okay. Then the next run was just too slow. It wasn’t above 210. The car, it just felt very hard to drive. The weight of the wheel was very heavy for me. So I don’t know what the heck I’ve been doing because I feel a lot stronger than when I was here before. You have to see the videos, I crushed it like crazy. I can pick some weight up. But I did not feel very strong out there.
My old engineer Matt ran me today. He made it easier to drive. It’s still not by any means where I want it, but it was enough that we could complete today. With 30 minutes to go and five laps of the second phase and 15 laps of the third phase together, I’m like, I don’t know if I’m going to get through this today.
But I stayed out there and I did all those 20 laps to complete it all. It felt fine. Actually felt fairly comfortable at that point in time for the level of discomfort with the way the wheel felt, things like that, and with the amount of front aero we took out of it to lighten the wheel up for me.
Here we go, my old words, a little bit of understeer out there. I was going to say ‘tight’ but I corrected myself. It was definitely a little too much understeer to go really, really fast. But it was enough to complete the day and move on for tomorrow.
I felt like I was able to feel the grip limit of the car, especially the front, of course, because took so much front aero out. I was really able to feel the front sliding pretty well, even with the way it felt. That’s good for me. Tomorrow it will feel even more comfortable.
But I’ve been waiting to get this day over with for a long time. I say that with love. I hope there’s some understanding for the words that I’m using. I want to get through that so I can get to the fun part, which is really running, making changes, making it faster, feeling really comfortable. It was just a day of anticipation, a level of not knowing.
THE MODERATOR: I’m sure you’ve been working with all of your team, all of your crew at Ed Carpenter Racing over the past few months. What has that team chemistry been like, ultimately finally getting in that setting with them, the work environment at the track?
DANICA PATRICK: It’s been great, really great. I mean, shoot, we even worked together on working out the deal. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. He’s been really nice and easy to work with, very helpful. So it was really cool of him to be around all day today, be there for the word of reason from time to time, like telling me, You’re going to have to do all 20 laps now. But that was all right. I just needed to get through it.
He’s been super helpful. Everybody at the team has been helpful. I’ve been to the shop quite a few times to get the seat made, get comfortable. Of course, there’s still some more changes in that department for how comfortable I feel with all those things, the way that the seat is cut out, my helmet, the padding and everything. But I expected that to happen.
Everybody has been really cool. Everybody has been super easy to work with. I wanted a fun May. I’m glad that they are fun and easy to work with. I think that’s also part of the deal coming together with them, is that it was very easy. I think that’s a good sign of a good group.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll go ahead and open it up for questions.
Q. You’ve addressed this before, but why was it so important to you to come back and do this one last time?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, last year was just kind of an odd year. With having a sponsor leave, which is a scenario I had never been in before, with not really feeling as much hope as I wanted racing. That was kind of a frustrating position to be in. And feeling kind of ready to move on but not in the way of being done at Homestead. It was, like, there’s a better way to do this. There’s a better way to honor the run in my career as well as, you know, the fans, and especially can’t think of a better place to end than here where it all began.
I said to everyone on pit lane, We need a before and after of my 2005 pit road gaggle of photographers, and 2018, because it felt similar. It was really a cool feeling. So just kind of really full circle.
Then, of course, with Go Daddy on the car to top it off, of all my sponsors, they’ve been by far the most known with me, the best fit overall. So it’s just a good story.
Q. After seven years out of the car, I think the most impressive thing was seeing you leaving the pits for the first time, working with the hand clutch, nice big burnout. Ed Carpenter said your goal was not to stall. Talk about reacclimating with this car?
DANICA PATRICK: That’s nice. You didn’t see me come into the pits the second time, where I was like, Shoot, where is neutral? It’s definitely different without a clutch pedal. Taking off is easy. It’s the coming in. It’s like, Okay, clutch, first gear, then neutral, down a gear. You just got to get in rhythm.
I definitely feel still overwhelmed enough with everything going on, just driving, the helmet moving, all kinds of things going on. I’m not looking in my mirrors, checking my dash all the time, moving buttons around. Like I’m not there yet. I did move the front bar around a little bit when I was out there. I did do a couple other little things. Just start simple.
I did feel a lot better at the end of the day. We had the debrief, the whole team, then Ed and I went to the garage, grabbed my steering wheel. He was kind enough to take the time to show me literally how to get it in neutral. I mean, just baby steps, right? Baby stepping into Wednesday.
Q. 2005, I was in the pits. Scott basically said you took to this place like a duck takes to water. There was a certain rhythm even then. What is it about this place, for want of another word, that has been a comfortable feel for you?
DANICA PATRICK: I really only come up with two things. I thought about it when I was out there. There were times where I was driving off the belief that everything was so locked down for me that nothing can really go wrong with the back of the car, just drive through it. I thought to myself, I feel like I’ve built my career on trusting my ass. I think that’s very important here at Indy, is to not drive beyond what you feel is possible with the car because it will bite you. Your gut is usually right. The feel of your butt is right.
The other thing is just the level of respect for the facility itself, kind of feeling like it’s got its own heartbeat, just got to respect it.
Q. Did this feel similar to 2005?
DANICA PATRICK: No, that felt a lot easier. That felt way easier. I think I breezed through the rookie orientation of doing like 226 on the first day. At least that’s what it was in my memory.
No, that did feel a lot easier. But I had also been in the car for four races. So, you know, I mean, I sat on the front row at Motegi the race before it, finished fourth. I mean, I had already been up to speed and comfortable. I wasn’t dealing with things like my headrest, my helmet, things like that. I wasn’t dealing with that. I wasn’t dealing with the weight of the steering wheel and how that felt for me. I was comfortable.
Hopefully once we get all those things comfortable, then more energy and attention will be put forth through the car to how it feels and we go faster.
Q. There’s some drivers that are still in the series that were here when you raced originally, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves. How comfortable are you to be able to get back on the track? How much does it feel like a little bit of a friendly reunion to be back and racing against those guys?
DANICA PATRICK: I mean, it feels good to see them, say hi, give them (indiscernible). There’s been a lot of familiar faces I’m happy to see, for sure. But there’s also been a lot of unfamiliar faces, especially drivers that I don’t know, young drivers.
I said in the drivers meeting we had at the beginning of the day yesterday, I sat there, and of course it wasn’t till one minute before that the front row filled in with all the people I knew. I guess I was like, Oh, I guess I did the rookie thing and showed up really early. Everybody shut up. Good, I do know some people here.
Q. From a competitive standpoint, it’s the first year with this aero package. Do you feel the gap isn’t as much against Scott Dixon and all that as it could have been?
DANICA PATRICK: Can’t tell you that yet. Don’t know. Few of us out there today kind of getting through the simple stuff. I’ll let you know after tomorrow or at the end of the month.
Q. Did it feel like riding a bike, like you had hoped?
DANICA PATRICK: God, no. Riding a bike is much easier than that.
Q. Where do you want to be after tomorrow?
DANICA PATRICK: Just flat out and comfortable, making changes, feeling the changes. I think that once I’m flat out the whole way around, I’m feeling comfortable, feeling the changes, you can really work from there.
Definitely for me I forget that it’s not really Indy yet, it’s just a test, which was supposed to happen a month ago. Of course, shoot, there’s still snow on the ground some places, even today. But it was obviously terrible weather so we didn’t run a month ago. But this is just a test. We’ll be back again in two weeks, and that’s when it really starts. There’s many days before qualifying.
I feel like tomorrow just a smooth day where I get flat out and feel the changes, have good information leading into two weeks from now where we really are going to have to get down to business.
THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you very much.
DANICA PATRICK: Thanks, guys.
IndyCar Media Conference
Press Conference Transcript
THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by three of the rookies who completed rookie orientation here on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval earlier this morning.
Matheus, we’ll start with you, driving the No. 4 Chevy for A.J. Foyt Racing. Ultimately how excited are you to complete that phase and start your May journey?
MATHEUS LEIST: It was pretty cool. It’s my first time in IndyCar here, driving an IndyCar. Last year the last time that I was here I won the Freedom 100, which was one of the biggest achievements in my career. Great to be back here. The car is feeling good. Tony had a great day yesterday. He had the car for me today.
It’s definitely a big jump from Indy Lights. I think the car of course has more downforce, it’s faster, but it’s pretty much the same feeling as the new car. I’m happy, looking forward for the month of May.
THE MODERATOR: We had your teammate Tony Kanaan in here yesterday. We were asking him what sort of feedback and advice he is giving you. In your words, what do you feel he’s been able to contribute to this experience for you?
MATHEUS LEIST: He’s with me there all the time there, in the pit lane, giving me some tips. He said to me to just take it easy today, the first day. I’m going to have the time to push hard. This place is fast, so it’s easy to make mistakes here.
THE MODERATOR: Joined also by Kyle Kaiser, driving the No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet.
Kyle, we were laughing earlier because you were out here last year driving the IndyCar two-seater for Good Morning America. Now that you’ve been out there, what was the experience like?
KYLE KAISER: It was great. I think the team did an amazing job getting the car together. Like some of these guys, they have the chance to have their teammates run and get a good setup on the car. It was our first time running on this track. Hats off to them for giving me a good car that from the get-go felt awesome. That helped us get through rookie orientation quickly.
I went out, felt comfortable, we knocked out the laps. No hiccups on anything, which is exactly you want on a day like this.
THE MODERATOR: In your experience in the ladder series for the Mazda Road to Indy, what was that transfer like?
KYLE KAISER: There’s definitely a noticeable speed difference. I’m not going to say it’s not noticeable. The walls are coming at you quicker. You feel the speed. But you have more downforce. The grip feels really good. I’ve driven laps around this track enough to know where to turn in, hit my marks. It felt very similar. A lot of credit to the Mazda Road to Indy for preparing me for racing on this track. I can’t wait to do more laps later in the month.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it for questions.
Q. These cars aren’t really designed to go 7/10ths. I hear the rookies say the hardest thing to get used to is the first phase where the car wants to go fast and drive really well. How much did you experience that?
MATHEUS LEIST: I think we prepare very well actually. When I was able to push, I mean, 215 plus, I was everything ready. I was comfortable in the car and everything. Was not difficult to take it flat out. I think the program was pretty good actually.
KYLE KAISER: I definitely agree. It was more difficult probably in Phase I than it was for the rest of it because you have to consciously come out of it where your gut instinct is I just want to go flat right now.
I do like Phase II. I thought we had a good rhythm. The car was feeling good. When it was time to go flat out, it felt comfortable. So I agree with the program and getting people ready to run at those speeds.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.