IZOD INDYCAR SERIES
BARBER MEDIA DAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 11, 2013
EJ VISO, NO. 5 TEAM VENEZUELA/PDVSA CITGO ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed working with his new team, working with up and coming Venezuelan drivers and much more. Full Transcript:
ONE OF YOUR CREW CHIEFS OR TEAM OWNERS WAS INVOLVED IN DOING SOME WORK WITH HVM?
“Yeah, Keith (Wiggins) a guy that we all liked and they raced with for two years. 2008 and 2009 pretty much I learn a lot from him when I was brand new in the series. I know he has a deal going on with the team where I’m going to be running with this entry so pretty much Andretti and HVM are helping each other. Probably in a technical area Andretti is going to be the one taking control of it. I know Keith is going to be bringing his experience in racing into the team as well.”
IS THERE A POSSIBILITY TO SEE YOU ONE DAY IN AN ENDURANCE RACE?
“I would love to. We haven’t spoken about it, but I have done a few endurance races and I like it very much. I would like to do it. Of course, we haven’t spoken about it, but maybe you can be my agent and help me (laughs).”
DO YOU KNOW IF HE WILL BE ON THE TIMING STAND AT ALL OR WHETHER THAT WILL ALL BE ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT?
“I’m sure he will be there. As I said before Andretti is pretty much taking full control of the car of the entry of the team. How you know he is presence is always important especially when we are going to be using his entry. I know he has his racing priorities that his other kind of racing that he is starting to do, but you know this is what he loves doing. The entry is still his.”
HOW DOES YOUR MOVE TO ANDRETTI INTERFACE WITH YOUR TEAM VENEZUELA?
“Well, I want to make it clear that Team Venezuela is nothing to do with me. Team Venezuela it’s a group of Venezuelans that have been involved in sport for a long time. Actually one of them is a guy called Vicente Tralci, a former driver. He is the one that took me into racing in 1990. He took me around a race track in a go kart and his lap. That day I really knew that racing was for me. So, he has just been putting a lot of energy together creating Team Venezuela. Team Venezuela is we want to call it and a very proudly say it. That is a Venezuelan team so far this is step one into IndyCar, into racing. But, they want to grow, what they are doing in the business side is partnering with Andretti. A lot of the assets in my entry, my team, are going to be owned by them the cars. So that is a way that they are doing it. That is Team Venezuela so they thought about me to come and drive their car, which they negotiated with Andretti to work together this season.
“Team Viso is something that I have done for years now it’s almost two years that I’ve been helping Venezuelan drivers pretty much when they are starting to do those first steps into that professional level. I’ve been around them and giving them all my advice, helping them with their sponsors back home. I have been in that position myself many years ago. I’m probably the difficult one where you see a kid and you really don’t know if you should do it. If you really like it pretty much is focusing all those attention ideas and efforts into one direction. That is why you can see in the Indy Lights this year there are going to be probably two or three Venezuelan drivers in the Mazda. There is Diego (Ferreira) he won already his first race last weekend in Austin. I’m very excited about it. This is a way that I thought about bringing something back to my country very proudly and I feel very lucky person that I have been able to race for so many years having the back-up from my own country. From sponsors from there, from companies, from everyone, so I think this is the least I can do for my own country is to help some other coming drivers trying to make it.”
IS THERE A POSSIBILITY IN THE LONG TERM TO SEE A RACE IN VENEZUELA SOMEWHERE?
“I want to. Of course Venezula is a country that has been going through a lot of changes in the last year, especially now. That has been an idea that I had for years. You can go and ask the guys in IndyCar I have been every year I bring up the idea. I haven’t forgotten about it. I am going to make it happen for sure I will. I need to wait. It is a big effort. A lot of money, a lot of organization happening around, soon you are going to see me, you are going to be invited. I’m going to pay your business class from Germany (laughs).”
IS THERE A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN VENEZUELA SIMILAR TO WHAT IS GOING ON IN AMERICA?
“Yeah, there is plenty of racing going on in Venezuela. You can see that they are pretty much a driver in every single category around the world including Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR, there is a driver that did a few races last year in the Road Courses. GP2, Mazda, Indy Lights so racing is growing back home. Of course we need to start from the fundamentals that it’s racing in our own country. Which is happening probably not in the level it should be happening. That is growing it’s coming.”
ANY YOUNG DRIVERS IN YOUR COUNTRY?
“That is what I have been doing. I just explained about the Team Viso. That is something that I have been doing and I’m going to keep doing.”
SO YOU HAD ONE DAY ON THE TRACK AT SEBRING WITH MICHAEL CANNON YOUR NEW ENGINEER HOW DID THAT GO? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN THIS TEST?
“First of all for me it’s very refreshing to be with a team that they are not only successful in racing because they can prove it. My new team Ryan (Hunter-Reay) just won the championship and I really know all the effort that is behind it. They not only see the technical side of racing, but they really understand each of the part of the puzzle, marketing, merchandising, media, attention to the sponsors, all of those things are very well taken care of. It’s really refreshing when I stepped into the team and we started going through things. You really feel that they are pushing every single aspect. My sponsors, my partners, my group, Team Venezuela guys, everybody is really excited and looking forward. Sebring so far has been the only day I have been interacting in the track with the team. It was a good day. I think a day that it was new for all of us. It was a brand new car, new engineer, new driver, new crew, everything was new and we believe it was successful one. That is only the beginning. We just getting ready tomorrow and after tomorrow we are going to be on track. Definitely we have a lot of work to do.”
HOW WILL YOU MEASURE SUCCESS NOW WITH THIS NEW TEAM?
“I think you can measure success when you as a driver, you as a person and you as an individual feel that you truly gave your best. Sometimes I’ve been feeling successful even if I finish not in a great position in the race, but you feel that you gave everything you have. Those were the resources I had at that point. I think this year I’m definitely going to be counting with a way stronger organization, partners and team. I think we are going to be able to be so much closer to the front. I’ve can already feel some podiums coming. These guys they work super strong, super hard with the strategies. I have pretty much won races in every single category I have been in the past except in IndyCar. I want to make that one happen.”
YOU SAID STRATEGIES; DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR STRATEGIST WILL BE?
“As of now ‘Ziggy” is going to be helping me Paul Harcus. For sure he has the experience. He has done it for a number of years
. I’m sure Michael Andretti is going to be surrounding the timing stand. This is a team that they work very closely with the four entries.”
WHAT YEAR DID YOU SAY TEAM VENEZUELAN GOT YOU WHEN YOU DROVE FIRST?
“1990. Almost 23 years ago. That was my birthday present. I will be turning 28 on the 19th. That was my birthday present when I turned 5. That was my present they took me to this go kart track and I drove around. Before I drove a little go kart I drove in the lap of this guy Vicente which now is the owner, director of Team Venezula.”
YOU BECAME A MUCH MORE CONSISTENT DRIVER LAST YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THIS SEASON?
“I think that I’m in a position that I need to be trusting the team. I think they do have every single resource to make good things happen. I know and I don’t need to say, but I know I have the speed because I have proven it. I am right now I probably just need to find a stable path with them and just really attack when I should. That is something that I am going to be counting with is the strong team that is always going to be behind me. As of now that is what I’ve been feeling and seeing inside this organization.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 2 IZOD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed being with Team Penske for two races, having Helio Castroneves and Will Power as teammates, driving both a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet SS race car and an IZOD IndyCar Series Chevrolet-powered race car during the season and other topics. Full transcript:
HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS CAR FROM THE LAST INDYCAR THAT YOU DROVE? IS THERE LESS POWER AND MORE DOWNFORCE?: “Well, it’s a lot different than what I’ve been driving for the last seven years, I can tell you that. After I drove it at Sebring I was like, ‘Maybe it will all come back natural to me.’ It felt like I was riding a unicycle. I almost forget what it feels like to drive a Champ car — it’s been so long. The cars, they’re definitely fun to drive. They have a ton of grip. I think the biggest thing for me is just the braking force of these cars and just everything in general. The G-force, trying to get used to that again. Stock car racing, training, you’re working on just that mental aspect of being in a car for four hours in the heat, especially during the summer and that wearing on you and being able to be strong enough for that. There’s a not a lot of race tracks physically where you get worn out, at least for me. Bristol maybe a little bit, Dover, but physically overall you’re not just drained after a race. In IndyCar obviously, it’s physically demanding. I think for me, that’s the biggest thing is trying to get back into that and that kind of mentality of how to train for that and just to get used to that in general again. The car overall once I got up to speed with it, it felt good. The biggest thing is it felt a little heavier in the back so when the thing kind of starts to sway you get in the corner and it gets loose, it almost feels like a little bit of a pendulum kind of swinging behind you. That was kind of the biggest thing that I noticed.”
IS IT DIFFICULT TO GO BETWEEN THE STOCK CAR TO THE INDY CAR AND EVEN SPORTS CAR RACING?: “I was a little nervous getting back in the Cup car at Phoenix because I hadn’t even drove one of the new cars and I hadn’t been in a stock car for over four months. Phoenix, obviously being a short track, it’s not as critical to get up to speed, you kind of ease your way into it. I kind of got up to speed pretty quick. I think it’s going to be more of a transition getting back to the Indy car every time than going from the Indy car back to the stock car. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes being a part of this just a challenge for me because I’m challenging myself every week just to adapt to something new. If I didn’t think I could do it, I wouldn’t be here. I’m excited about that and those chances to adapt back and forth. There’s not a lot of drivers out there that can get to say that they’ve raced a sports car, they are going to race a stock car and they are going to go race an Indy car during the year. I’m excited about that.”
DID YOU EVER THINK YOU WOULD BE BACK IN INDYCAR?: “I’ve learned quickly in life that you just take everything as it comes. You take one day at a time and you don’t say no to anything and you expect everything to happen. Did I think it would happen like this? No, but I love the IndyCar Series. It’s not like I left and stopped watching. I’ve still got a lot of friends in this series and I think this series has a lot of great things to offer. If it can just get put together the right way and go in the right direction, there’s a lot of great things. The racing last year, I watched as many races as I could. It’s some of the best IndyCar racing I’ve ever seen and to have the championship come down to the end like it did. It’s fun to watch and to be a part of and there’s so many great drivers in it. For myself, putting myself against some of the best in the world and I know that’s going to be a lot of hard work. I don’t expect to just come in and dominate. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. These guys are the best for a reason. I love the challenge and I’m excited to have this opportunity. I feel honored to have this opportunity. I’m going to do everything I can to make it right.”
WHY DO YOU THINK THE NASCAR FAN DOESN’T SEE WHAT A GREAT PRODUCT INDYCAR IS?: “I think it’s just got to be marketed better. Honestly, I don’t know if they see it and then they don’t see it, I just don’t know if they see it honestly. That’s part of the problem. If it’s able to be marketed better, that’s what over the last several years NASCAR has done, they made sure that they marketed their drivers and told their stories — good or bad. Especially in life now, that’s what people are drawn to. This series has got a great American champion with RHR (Ryan Hunter-Reay) and to see what he did last year to win the championship and have that, that story needs to be told. A guy like Will Power that has probably been the fastest man in the series the last couple of years and for whatever reason it hasn’t happened as a championship, but those types of stories are what need to be told and I think it’s not that people see it and they’re just not attracted to it. I just don’t think they see it. If we can market it better, the series can be strong. It’s not that in the U.S. or North America that there’s only room for one racing series, there’s plenty of room for a lot of racing series. It needs to be a strong open wheel series and I just think it needs to be marketed better and if the series is able to do that then people are going to watch. There’s so many great venues to go to. There’s so many different types of venues. If you’re an oval fan, you’re going to see oval racing. If you love street course, there’s a lot of great street course races. We’re at one of the best pure open wheel, motorcycle, whatever type of road course you want to call it — we’re here. There’s something for everybody. It just needs to be marketed and shown better.”
IN MAKING THE TRANSITION BACK TO INDYCAR FROM STOCK CAR RACING, DID YOU USE THE SIMULATOR IN ITALY?: “No. No, this is all just happening one day at a time. The most help I’ve gotten is from Helio (Castroneves) and from Will (Power) honestly and from the race team. I’m just piecing it together as it comes.”
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIM
E YOU WERE ON AN OVAL IN AN OPEN WHEEL CAR?: “Milwaukee 2006.”
DID YOU RACE THREE TIMES IN MILWAUKEE AND IN LAS VEGAS?: “Three times in Milwaukee and two in Vegas. One or two in Vegas. Plenty of oval experience. I got this. Plenty. I’m not going to lie, I roll out onto pit lane in Indy, there’s going to be some nerves there. I’m going to be a little nervous because I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to brake at the end of the straightaway. Actually they told me I could, they just said I would be really slow if I did that. There’s definitely some nerves, there’s some unknown there. Road course racing, I’ll adapt to it pretty quick and hopefully get up to speed. It’s going to take a little bit at Indy. Fortunately enough it’s Indy so we have plenty of time to get rolling. I’m with the best team so I think there’s a couple of people that know how to get around there pretty well at the Penske organization. There is a guy named Rick Mears, he’s not bad I heard. There’s a lot of banners up inside the Penske garage and in the shop, it seems pretty good. There is a guy named Helio (Castroneves), he seems pretty good. Will (Power) is a big help to me because he was in Champ Car when I raced so he can kind of describe to me what it was like coming to Indy for the first time from the old cars and what to expect. There’s a lot of people that are going to help me and I feel fortunate for that.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU SEE DRIVERS THAT YOU STARTED WITH BEING SUCCESSFUL IN INDYCAR NOW AS THE EVOLUTION OF THE SERIES?: “I think it just shows that the talent’s there. There are some of the best that are there. It’s fun at least because when I left there was still all the best there and unfortunately they were split between two series. You can sit there and argue all the time, ‘Okay, who’s better?’ It was a terrible argument because you couldn’t compare it. To have it back to one series and to have all these guys, it’s fun to watch because you have to show up with your ‘A’ game. If you don’t, it’s not like your fifth or sixth, you’re going to be 20th. That’s what makes it fun. It’s good to see the guys that I raced against and I think you have a good mix of both. You have the guys like Dario (Franchitti) and Helio (Castroneves) and those types of guys that have been in the series for a long time that are still really fast. Then you have the young guys like Will (Power) and (James) Hinchcliffe and RHR (Ryan Hunter-Reay) and all these guys that were really fast as young guys that have come in and they’re stars of the series. It’s a fun series and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
DID THE FACT THAT OPEN WHEEL WAS SPLIT IN 2006 INCREASE YOUR DESIRE TO WANT TO GO TO NASCAR AND TRY THAT OUT?: “Yeah, it was no secret that being in Champ Car at that point you didn’t know what was going to happen. It was tough. I took a lot of heat for leaving, but at that point being sponsored by Red Bull and they had a Cup team starting, it wasn’t like I was like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to ditch one series and go to another.’ I didn’t know if the series I was going to be in was even going to be around next year and if I was even going to have a job. I didn’t know if Jerry (Gerald) Forsythe was going to the IRL, he hated it. It wasn’t like I was guaranteed a job the next year so I took a lot of heat for leaving because people though I just left one job to go to another. No I left something that I didn’t know if I was going to have a job the next year to a job that at least I knew was there. When I went into NASCAR I didn’t want to go into it like I did. I didn’t think I was ready to go right to Cup, but at that point you can’t turn it down. It’s how it happened.”
IF THIS WORKS OUT FOR YOU DO YOU THINK IT WILL ENTICE OTHER NASCAR DRIVERS TO TRY INDYCAR RACING?: “Honestly I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me if it does or it doesn’t. For me, it’s just focusing on myself and looking for the best opportunity, being happy in life and in general and then at a race track with whatever I’m driving. I think it’s pretty simple. You make the series strong, you’re going to entice a lot of people because it’s a fun series to be a part of. You go to a lot of great venues and you drive a really cool race car. I think it’s pretty simple. I’m not going to entice people to come over. It’s all about the series enticing them. If it’s strong people will come. It’s like the field of dreams — if you build it, they will come.”
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SEE THIS TRACK?: “I’ve played it in a lot of video games and I’ve watched a lot of video. It’s almost the same, but not quite. It’s a fun looking race track. Just talking to Helio (Castroneves) and Will (Power) and they really enjoy this race track. It’s a good flow it looks like. It’s a track that you can really attack, it’s got a lot of speed in it. I’m looking forward to getting out there. There’s also a lot of little nuances around this place that just to get within a half-second or six or seven tenths, it looks like there’s not a lot, but if you get that last little half-second, there’s a lot of little nuances around this place that it will only take laps to figure out. Hopefully, for two days it goes smooth and I think the biggest thing for me is obviously speed is important. You don’t want to leave here at the bottom of the time charts a second off and think I’m okay. The good thing is the Penske race cars have been dominant around here since they’ve come here so I know I’m going to have a good race car so for me it’s about being comfortable. If I can leave this test being comfortable and feeling good in the race car and kind of understand pit stops and how all that is going to work and things like that and still have decent speed, then I’ll be happy leaving this test and be ready to come back for the race weekend and know it’s about the race weekend and not about learning the track more or learning these cars more. It’s just about focusing on how the race weekend flows. That’s what I’m going to try to do for two days.”
HOW CLOSELY DO YOUR DRIVING STYLES MATCH WITH WILL POWER AND HELIO CASTRONEVES?: “I made it simple and said to start with their setups. I didn’t care which one, they are both fast. I’ll figure it out as it comes. I would say initially just looking at it, I’m more of a closer to Will (Power), he brakes really late and really hard on the brake pedal. I feel like in open wheel racing that is more how I was. Helio (Castroneves) is more of a flow kind of let it roll through the corner, but at the same point in these cars I don’t have a driving style yet so if I can kind of mix both and try to get the best of both worlds then that’s what I’m going to try to do. As I get comfortable with the race car, then we’ll start making changes and see what I feel like I need. The first half is all about just getting comfortable and just trying to stare at their data over and over again and figure out what makes them so good around this place.”
WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT A SECOND RACE AT INDIANAPOLIS?: “You have to be careful running a race at a place like Indy twice. Then you start losing all the prestige of it. What makes Indy, Indy is you go there for what used to be a month and is a couple weeks now and it’s down to that one race. The series would really have to look at would that be beneficial and would people come out for it or does it just lose the luster? To me, especially around a plac
e like Indy, in my opinion the way I look at it, there is no reason to run a second race there. I think what it looks like is you need to go to places that don’t have a race. Whether it’s an oval or a street race or a road course — get that city excited about that race. Go to more venues and get those fans excited because maybe you go to a venue where nobody has ever seen what an IndyCar race is all about and all it takes is going out there one time and then they’re hooked. Indy is going to get the crowd so I think it just needs to go to places, new places. I don’t care what kind of venue it is, just go to new places. You have to keep the places that are strong and bring in new cities that can just love Indy car racing and know what it’s all about. Me, I wouldn’t want to go to Indy twice, whether it’s a road course or another oval race. You win the Indy 500, you’re in victory lane there and one person gets to say that every year. No reason for a second opportunity.”
IS DRIVING IN THE INDY 500 SOMETHING YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO?: “Of course. Being an open wheel guy, I miss not being able to do that when I was in Champ Car. I felt like when they split a little bit of the Indy luster kind of got lost. As the series has come back together, you’ve had a lot of great races there the last couple years. I’ve never really even been to Indy up until I rolled out in a stock car for the first time and thought, ‘Okay, this is what Indy is all about, I get it, but it’s still not the Indy 500.’ Honestly, when I sit here and talk about it right now, I’m excited and I’ve got a lot of emotions, but they will be nothing close to what it’s actually like for the first time when I roll out there April 11 for rookie orientation and it definitely won’t be the same until I get introduced and you walk down to the yard of bricks and they introduce you and you get those 200,000 people cheering or booing whatever. At least it’s a reaction.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE, NO. 27 GODADDY.COM ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed the new tracks that were added to this year’s schedule, the important of being with the same team and other topics. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL OPINION ON SOME OF THE NEW TRACKS THAT HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE SCHEDULE FOR THIS SEASON?
“I’m very excited about some of the new tracks especially Pocono because it’s just so different. It’s such a unique track. Indy cars haven’t been there in a long time so it will be a new thing for everybody. A bit of an even playing ground, I think it’s going to be very good for our cars. I think the racing has got a lot of potential. Houston is new to this calendar, but some of us have driven it before in its previous life as a Champ Car track. That will be interesting to see how that one turns out. It was a little bit rough the last time we were there, so hopefully they have made some improvements. Certainly, Pocono I think is the new event on the calendar that everybody is really excited about.”
YOU HAVE SOME CONTINUITY THIS YEAR BEING WITH THE SAME TEAM FOR ANOTHER YEAR HOW DO YOU THINK THAT IS TO HELP YOU?
“I think if you ask any driver continuity is a huge asset. It’s a huge thing to move forward and progress as a driver and as a team. For me it’s coming back to the same team for the second year for the first time in my career. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that. The kind of unfortunate thing is in January my race engineer left and that is sort the most important relationship on the team is the driver’s relationship with his engineer. The good news is the guy that we got was my engineer from the previous season and a very accomplished guy in that respect as well. I’m glad that we don’t have to go through the whole getting to know you, first day phase and we can sort of just get on with our jobs. The only down side is that because he wasn’t there last year I can’t say ‘oh well remember last year in Detroit when we did this.’ There is still going to be a little bit of learning and it’s still not 100 percent ideal because we are going to have a little bit of a communication gap to begin with, but the relationship is there and I’ve got a lot of faith in Craig (Hampson) so hopefully we can have some success.”
WHERE DO YOU SEE HAVING AS MANY TEAMMATES AS YOU DO LOOKING AT YOUR DATA WHAT ARE YOU SPECIFICALLY WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS?
“I’m going to have to get better at reading data faster because there is going to be so much to go through this season with four cars. I think that we are still learning this car in a lot of respects and the more information you can get the better. For me one of the big areas that I felt like I could improve last year was in Q-3. We made it to the fast six quite a few times with the exception of here and Barber it was sort of a fourth, fifth, sixth-place effort. We really struggled to sort of get on the front row there. It was a little bit team wide, but I think Ryan (Hunter-Reay) had a little bit more success than I did. We have been trying to figure out over the off season what we are doing wrong in Q-3 cycling on a set of tires. Then on the street circuits in general Ryan (Hunter-Reay) is the king. He is very good at certain elements of corner entry and this car suits his style very well. I have had to look at that a little bit. Marco (Andretti) teaches us a lot at speedway. That kid just has such a feel there it is unbelievable. So there are always areas to improve. I’m anxious to see what EJ (Viso) has got, the data that he comes back with, what his driving style is. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and I have a very similar style. We could really rely on each other on set-up. It will be interesting to see where EJ fits into that whole mix as well. I think information wise the more you have the better.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU LAST YEAR? STARTED SO GOOD THEN KIND OF TAILED OFF.
“It’s no secret that six, eight races in whatever it was we were in the top five and I didn’t think genuine title contender, but certainly in a position to be in the top four, top five in the championship. What happened at the end of the season I think was twofold. One was the competition got a lot tighter. As everybody figured out the cars a bit more those gaps got a lot smaller and some guys that maybe were outside the top-10 guys at the beginning were inside the top-10 guys by half-way then top-five guys by the end of the season. Then the other thing is I hate to say it but we made some mistakes. I made a mistake in Iowa we made some strategy calls that put us in bad positions. I think Baltimore Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and I restarted one-two on one restart and then a caution came out. He opted to pit, we were on a different strategy, he goes on to win the race we got caught in a mess back in the back of the field and had a bunch of problems. I think that a lot of the races that my teammates did well we were right there. Either I made a mistake or we made a mistake on the box or we made a mistake in the pits. I think Detroit and Toronto were the only two that were just sort of bad luck. We had failures and a track issue. I think all the elements are there and the pieces are there. The team is obviously very capable and I think if we can just hit all our points on any given Sunday we will be as competitive as anybody.”
DOES THE LACK OF TESTING THIS WINTER ARE WE JUST STARTING FROM WHERE WE WERE AT THE END OF LAST YEAR OR HAS A LOT BEEN LEARNED OFF THE RACE TRACK?
“The problem with such a long off season and very little time to test is it gives engineers like six mo
nths to sit in a box and come up with crazy ideas. Then you only have like three days to try and get through all these things that they have dreamed up. I think what you are going to see is last year everybody had so much testing we all arrived to St. Pete, we knew what our cars were going to be like. The rust had been blown off if you will. We were all almost basically race fit. There were very few silly accidents. There were very few start and restart problems. I don’t think we are going to see that this year. I think we are going to get to St. Pete everyone is going to be so anxious to finally be back in the car you are going to see guys making more mistakes in practice, hitting the wall in practice and more mistakes in the races because we just haven’t been in the car. It’s like telling a quarter back ‘hey you’ve got to practice with your team for three days before the start of the season.’ It’s crazy. It actually makes ours the hardest profession sport to be in because you cannot practice your craft. You are not allowed to practice your craft. That is a very difficult situation. I just think that this year with so many fewer miles in the off season we are going to run into more problems in the first two races.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES, NO. 3 HITACHI/SHELL V-POWER/PENNZOIL ULTRA TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed having AJ Allmendinger join Team Penske, working with two teammates, changes to Team Penske and other topics. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
Q. Allmendinger says you have the second best looking hair.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, you be the judge when we finish the race and we take the helmet off. I think that will be answer.
But it’s cool to have AJ around. Actually, it’s great. Having AJ on the team, it’s pretty fun, it’s pretty cool. He’s coming back. First test he did in Sebring, he was right on the pace. It’s great. It’s great to continue to have a good atmosphere.
Wishing all the best for Ryan, obviously. We create a good foundation since he was on the team in 2006, I believe. So hopefully he can join us whatever he’s going to do.
In the end of the day, we’re here. Another year, 2013. We’re looking very strong again. The DW12 seem to be a little bit better, which I think everybody went through all the phases of learning the car. I’m really, really excited for 2013 to start.
Q. Who is going to talk to Will and you during the race now most of the time?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Right now (Tim) Cindric going to keep in Will’s car. John Erickson so far is officially the guy on my car. I believe Roger is going to be the consulting. I hope he’ll be consulting more on my side because Cindric has his opinion, his own, which is a good thing for sure.
But right now officially John Erickson is going to be calling my races.
Q. You don’t want Roger?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I do. What I heard, I think he’s flexible now. He also want to be going to the NASCAR races. I believe he want to be back and forth. In this case of a third car, he also be able to call the race for the third car.
But, yes, it would be an honor to have Roger. So far two races I did with Roger, which was in the Porsche, the Spyder, we finished fourth and won one race. It’s a pretty good record, I have to say. I would enjoy having him in my group.
Q. When you get a new teammate, how do things change? I know AJ won’t be there all the time. How does it change?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For us, having AJ around, like I said, he’s already understand the Penske work ethic, you know. First test as we had, it was just like he’s being there, even though it was a NASCAR team, but he’s been there.
I don’t think it’s going to change much. Right now Will and I, we understand about third car to be there. It’s important also now, especially because we don’t have much practice to collect data. We feel AJ is going to be really good.
Right now the way he adapt is extremely fast. I think that’s one of his characteristic. He’s able to jump from NASCAR to IndyCar to DP. He doesn’t need time to adapt. So I guess that’s one of his strongest point.
I feel going into the race here and Indy, he’ll be extremely fast as well. It will be good. For sure it will be good to collect a lot more data, like we always have.
Q. (Question regarding foundation with Will.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For sure, Will is proving the last three, four years how incredible he is in the road course and street course. I mean, the guy is a super talent. For sure he’s able to do a lot of things that I haven’t seen my other teammates do.
He’s able to adapt quick in certain circumstances, especially in qualifying. Sometimes you’re able to match one or two corners, but the good thing about him, he’s able to put like a good lap in all the corners.
I would say he’s very accurate, especially in qualifying, and he’s able to be smart when you switch to race pace. That’s his strength right now at this point.
I would say for us, we be able to work together well. Him and I use similar setups, especially in ovals. You know, in his case ovals hasn’t been his strongest point, but I guess experience will help. Right now we’re doing everything we can to make sure both cars, not only in ovals or road course, but they be competitive.
Q. Seems that when you’ve worked together with Will Power over the last two, three years, it almost seems to me like you’ve improved.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, yeah.
Q. I don’t mean just because you have somebody to compete against, but I feel like you’ve stepped it up a little.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: For me, I have to say moving with this new car, I change the way I drove with the left foot brake. Last year was the first year that I did that. Especially when you have two paddles in the car, plus carbon brakes, reaction time got to be faster.
Plus the double-file restarts, you know, it’s one thing in the start of the race, but every yellow you have double-file restart, so we have to be on it all the time, especially when the tires might be cold, not new, things like that.
So, yes, that’s why I change a little bit. I felt very, very comfortable. But still, when you spend most of your life braking with the right foot, you still face some challenge. But right now it’s nothing an issue for me.
Q. Now you’re back, a championship contender again.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You got to update. I said it before, just like a computer, you got to update. Sometimes the computer’s good, but the technology around you go faster. You got to just keep going.
Right now we have a new group in our team. I have John (indiscernible), I never know his name. As you can see, it’s new for me, too. We work together with the prototype, the Porsche Spyder. He was working with Ryan Briscoe last year. I mean, our group of guys, especially the engineers, are incredible.
The reason when they eliminate a third car, I felt, we all felt, that Ron, who was the top engineer, it would be good for him to look both cars instead of just one car, keep in pace with everything.
I felt great with John because I worked before. Plus John worked with John Ericson on the Porsche Spyder for many years together. So I guess the combination would be great.
Also we have different crew guys. We did a mix, you know. We’re getting all the best guys.
We do have a problem. We have old very good guys. It’s tough for you to select. But internal they have some type of questionnaire of who is going to keep going to the races, that’s the way they select who is going to be on the No. 3 and the No. 12.
We chasing a little change, the No. 3 group. I like what I had in the past. But sometimes little change, details, makes a big thing on the racetrack.
Q. You said that AJ was on pace at Sebring.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes.
Q. What do you think he will bring to you guys that will be a benefit for both of you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Just a different style. He seemed to be very aggressive with the car. Sometimes in some of the tracks it’s important for us to find out what’s possible.
I remember when Will came onboard, I mean, we have one style, and all of a sudden a guy comes with a different style and able to make it happen. So it’s great for that. I feel AJ going to bring that, as well.
That’s why, I mean, I’m excited. Plus he’s funny as hell. It’s really nice to have another guy making fun. I’m sure he’s not understanding much, which is funny as well. But right now the three of us are having a good time.
Q. Is AJ a left foot braker also?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think he’s always been a left foot braker. Those old guys, me, Dario, I don’t know who else, those old guys, we kept the right foot. I think Dario still right foot, is the only guy.
Q. I thought he changed last year.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: He’s left? I know the Dallara end up making a new pedal. Suits the right foot brakes. I decided trying the new challenge with the left. But I don’t know who else works on the right foot brake.
Q. If Mr. Penske wants to field a sports car, would you be interested in racing at Daytona and Sebring?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Would love to. I think I did twice. With Team Penske I did once and we finish in the top three. It would be great. In Sebring I race with the Spyder and we finish third, as well.
I would love to. It’s a great series. I believe the series is growing, as well. But right now I’m not focused on that. Just starting the IndyCar Series. Can’t wait to be in the racecar. Can’t wait to be racing again.
Q. Is the off-season too long for you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes. I think for everybody. Especially when we don’t have testing. I would strongly suggest – I don’t know the financial part of it – but when you have that kind of a long off-break, it’s difficult to everyone, for the drivers especially. Especially for rookies, they need to understand how it works.
All of a sudden you have June, July and August a race every weekend. It’s becoming rushed to everyone, including the mechanics. They have to turn over cars from street course to ovals. I think that’s the most tough of it.
Sometimes mistakes end up happening because you don’t have enough time and probably spending more money. So I wish we would have at least started much early. If it can’t be in February, at least early March, so you could break it up with the times and dates.
But that’s outside of my control. I don’t know. I just want to wish that that would happen.
Q. What would an ideal season look like? How long and how many races?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think 19, the way we have it, with the doubleheader, is good. 17 race weekends, it’s not bad for the combination that we have.
But I would rather start in February, have a bigger space in some of the areas, especially in the middle of the season, give a break for the mechanics. Drivers it’s actually not a problem. For the mechanics it would be great. And coming back with those double-headers in those places that you have a break, that probably would make everybody fresh for those type of conditions.
And finish, I would say, about November. Used to be in the past, long, long time ago when we used to run CART, we used to have even more races, 22. But I feel if you don’t want to test, you save money, at least you have those spread-out races, you probably would have an opportunity for, you know, okay, what’s next, keep the ball rolling.
That’s just my humble opinion (laughter).
Q. Will you go to Indy when Allmendinger does his orientation?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Texas, isn’t it?
Q. April 11th, I guess. Right after this test.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I know I have an appearance with Hitachi and Shell, but it’s right after Barber. They didn’t request my presence yet. I would love to actually. Trust me, he doesn’t need much of a help.
Q. What are the chances of getting a second race in Brazil? Still interest down there?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: They are. Brazil, economic situation is very strong. Certainly it would be great. I heard now Formula One might moving from Sao Paulo to the south of Brazil. Obviously it’s all about how much the promoters are willing to spend. I think it’s more than actually interest.
At this point I feel that America has a lot of other places, which we should have a little more 50/50 in terms of challenge if it’s a street course, oval, short oval, speedway. At this point I think we just got to take the pace the right way and see what happens.
Q. How was T.K.’s wedding?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was actually very funny. Lauren was really, really happy. That for me was incredible to see her having a great time, smiling. I was very happy for both.
I did not drink. Actually, much of us were having a good time and have fun because we knew we had a test this week. But it was great. Very happy for them. We show the best for the couple.
Q. Did you like doing the Harlem Shake?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You’re asking me what to do? I don’t even know what to do. But it was funny. We all prepare and I was the only one that (didn’t?) have my helmet on. C’mon. It was great. Everybody got into it. It was great. We had a good time.
Q. You said she was having fun. Was T.K. not having fun?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You know T.K. I don’t need to talk about much. Sometimes people ask about him. Normally in the wedding it’s not his time, it’s her.
Q. When are you getting married?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Very good. Hopefully very soon (laughter).
I’ve been thinking a long time, but just thinking the right time. It’s tough. You trying to think about all the details, it’s worse than a race team, let me tell you. But you will hear me.
With that, I’m done. Thank you (laughter).
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed the upcoming season, working with AJ Allmendinger and other topics. Full transcript:
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO MOVE UP JUST A LITTLE FARTHER?: “Just get four points. I just need to score fou
r more points. It’s not really to change much. We made changes within the team and had a relaxing off-season. I’ve never seen a team work so hard in the off-season really. Me personally as well so all we can do is bring what we’ve got, do our absolute best. My approach to the season is really no different than it’s been the last three years. Just going to keep chipping away and hopefully at some point we can get the thing done.”
ALL THE WORK THE TEAM DID IN THE OFF-SEASON, DID YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT FEEL RIGHT FROM THE GET-GO?: “Actually you can’t change much on the car. We definitely made improvements, but it’s all such small stuff. The only thing the series allows you to do is change dampers and that’s it. I think pretty much everyone runs the same dampers now anyway. It’s going to be about putting the weekend together in the best possible way to get everything out of everything basically. I felt we’ve been strong in testing, but we’ll see the next couple of days will really tell where the engines stack up. Obviously, that’s probably or that really is the place that you can make the biggest gain in the off-season is with the engine. Chevy has been working really hard I’m sure.”
IS IT A GREAT SOURCE OF PRIDE FOR YOU THAT YOU ARE ON TOP EACH YEAR WITH SO FEW CHANGES THAT CAN BE MADE TO THE CARS?: “Spec racing, it really does come down just to the driver and engineer or the team as a whole getting everything together on the day. As far as the whole team does a great job for us between myself, my engineer and having to go out and actually do it — spec racing can be cool and so tight. We see now where two tenths among 10 cars, it’s crazy competitive and it’s a lot of fun to drive.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM LAST YEAR’S CHASSIS AND ENGINE PACKAGE MOVING INTO THIS YEAR?: “The team I think has optimized everything we can with the car as it is. This is all details that you can find. I feel we’re definitely coming into this season and the way we started last year is definitely different, the car is different to how we began the year when it was brand new.”
DID LOSING THIS CHAMPIONSHIP STAY WITH YOU LONGER THAN OTHERS HAVE?: “No, not really actually. It’s funny, not really I think you learn to finish second. I’ve finished there three times. A week after the race we were back in the shop talking about next year already. I have to say it was the most relaxed off-season I’ve ever had. I just kind of enjoyed it. It is what it is. I get to compete at a high level with probably the best team year after year and it’s just an enjoyable thing to do. It’s cool that we are always there in the hunt for the championship and it’s a real motivation to try and get that done.”
DOES YOUR APPROACH THAT LIFE IS PRETTY GOOD HELP YOU DEAL WITH THE ADVERSITY OF FINISHING SECOND IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?: “I just think that as you go on in life, just in general or with your job, whatever that may be and for me it’s racing. You become a lot more comfortable with your surroundings and the people you work with, the series and everything you’re in. You just become more relaxed naturally because it becomes more common to you. That’s what’s happened with me. I think that would happen to anyone in any job, you just become more comfortable.”
WILL IT BE HARD TO GET BACK INTO RACE MODE AFTER SUCH A LONG OFF-SEASON?: “You have to get back into the process of working with your engineer and everyone on the stand. I think these two days will be great to get back to that mode because the tests that we’ve done have just been single car tests where you are just going through the normal process of going through a 30 minute session and we’re going to get this, this and this done. You have to give feedback quickly. We’ll have an opportunity over these next two days to get back into the process.”
ON AJ ALLMENDINGER BEING PART OF THE TEAM: “AJ (Allmendinger), the small amount that I’ve worked with him, he’s a great guy, great personality. He’s funny, but on the track he’s very fast as we can already see on the data at Sebring. The lap time wasn’t representative of it, but he got up to speed very quick. You could see some very good sectors in there and I was already learning stuff off of him. I think he’s an asset to the team and so far I think he’s doing two races and I hope he does more. He’s good and I enjoy working with him.”
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO, NO. 78 NUCLEAR ENTERGY AREVA KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed her new opportunity at KV Racing Technology,
NEW TEMMATE, NEW TEAM AND SOMEWHAT A NEW SPONSOR?
“So yes, everything is new and this is the first time that I have changed teams in my IndyCar history and joining KV Racing Technology is something pretty exciting. You know, I think they are a really strong team and hopefully we can have some really good results this season and having a teammate like TK (Tony Kanaan) is the first time I am having a teammate so it’s a bit strange. You know you have to learn to kind of share things and I think we are starting to learn how to do that, especially on my side. It’s really exciting especially having the New Clean Air Campaign that is still with me. You know after the season we had last year it was really difficult but they believed in me and chose to stick with me and that is something real important for me.”
DESPITE THE UNCOMPETITIVE SEASON YOU HAD LAST YEAR WITH LOTUS, IS THERE ANYTHING POSITIVE YOU CAN TAKE OVER? “You know, yes, I think last season was really hard but there are some things that I can take out positively especially for example at Indy what I experienced in 2011 was really difficult for me. And maybe not having a competitive engine….it allowed me to kind of take my time through the whole week and kind of work through things that were going to be an issue within myself. So I think that is something very positive and I think I learned a lot about myself just to be patient and to try and get things out of a car that I could not do before. Some corners were really quick and some were street courses so that was really good.”
WHEN WAS THE DEAL FINALIZED WITH KV AND WAS YOUR FORMER TEAM TRYING TO CONVINCE YOU TO STAY WITH THE TEAM? “Well, I think at the end of last year it was pretty clear to me and the people around me that it was time to make a change. I really have to than, Keith (Wiggins) for all the things he has done for me because I think I learned a lot and he gave me some pretty good opportunities but I think it was time to open a new chapter.
“The deal came together pretty quickly and I think it was after Fontana that we started talking with KV and they were really excited about the opportunity to work together and we had a pretty quick test plan because they had some test dates available so I think pretty much in November after I did my first test it was kind of done and it’s great that we got everything together. And also my engineer came with me from HVM so I think that is something special that they allowed me to bring some people that I wanted around me to the team.”
WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE THE FIRST TIME YOU GOT BACK INTO A PROPERLY-POWERED CAR?
“It was here in Barber actually and I did the first lap and I seriously couldn’t believe the power difference and I was shocked because last year I knew for sure they are faster but I couldn’t imagine I was down that much of a difference. And yes, it was quite a shock and at the end of the day I wanted more power but it was great to be with Chevy. They have so much
experience and they listen to what you want and make things possible. Every test we went to, they came up with something that is going to help you and also the openness between the Chevy teams….I think that is something pretty special because you can know what the other teams are testing and it keeps you on track of the development of everything and that is something very exciting.”
HOW MANY TEST DAYS DID YOU DO HERE AT BARBER?
“We did a few test dates. So we started with a day here, and then we went a day to Texas which was good for me to go back on an oval with an engine and it was fun to actually kind of get a lap time out of the thing. I think my out lap was quicker than any lap I did there last year. So that was pretty fun and then we did two days in Sebring and then one more day in Sonoma. So we have been testing a little bit and it’s been interesting because it was the first time we kind of had test days of going through things especially coming into a new team because there are more options that we didn’t have last year so we kind of had to work through these things. Some things I liked and things that Tony liked and so on. So hopefully this test that we have coming up is going to show the pace we have and what we learned from the last couple of days.”
HOW ARE YOU AND TONY WORKING TOGETHER AND HOW SIMILAR ARE YOUR STYLES?
“Yes, it’s a little bit different I have to admit. I think his driving style is a little bit different to mine and I think that took some adjustment but the good thing is that I think they learned some things from us and I think they learned some things from us and I think we have improved over last year. So that is a good thing and I think the way we worked together took a little bit of time. Like the first couple of tests, it was really strange to have a teammate and how you work with that but I think two weeks ago in Sonoma it really started clicking. Also between the engineers it began to click and they began to learn how to work together and I think that is a really good thing.”
HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO GET TO INDY AND HAVE A PROPER CHANCE TO RUN?
“Yes, it’s really exciting and I think when you go to Indy you really want to win the race as well as any race track you go to. Tony finished third there last year so I know the car can do some really good things and he has a lot of experience so I think I can learn a lot from him during that week of practice we are going to have and hopefully we are going to have kind of a smooth 500 because so far it’s been a tough place for me a little bit but hopefully in this season it’s all going to come together.”
YOU SAY YOUR DRIVING STYLE IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THAN TONY, ARE YOU TRYING TO ADAPT TO HIS DRIVING STYLE?
“No, not really because I think there are some things I think he does better, and I think there are some things I do better. At the last test I think we kind of found the compromise that was good for both of us. I don’t think I can drive like he drives, and I don’t think he can drive like I drive so I think it’s more in the set-up we have learned to kind of favor me a little bit and what favors him and I think so far we have made steps forward but I don’t think as a driver that you want to drive like the other person. You know what is right for you and I think it’s important to have the car underneath you to do what you want to do.”
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA, NO. 6 DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Media Day and discussed driving for Dragon Racing, how he has adapted to the new car and other topics. Full Transcript:
HOW DO YOU THINK TAKING A STEP BACK TO COMPETE IN THE INDYCAR SERIES THIS SEASON IS GOING TO HELP YOU?
“It was a huge decision for sure. It was a decision made together with Gary Peterson in the way that course the deal was to build up to move a full season AFS Racing, but for me it was even greater because it was my future in a way. It was a tough decision to make, but at the end now I see that it was the right way to go, not rush it. I think that was my problem in 2010. I think we tried rushing it too much. After a great season in (Indy) Lights, but at the end still 22 years-old I think that is a good way to think back, sit down, breathe and take another go at it. It’s working.”
HOW IS THE SITUATION WITH THE TEAM?
“From my side I think I really kept away from any kind of situation. I just whenever we start working was directly with the team on the development together with Chevy, together with our shock guys. I haven’t been very connected to the situation. At this point it’s Jay’s (Penske) problem I guess.”
HOW HAVE YOU ADAPTED TO THE NEW CAR?
“Being able to of had three races from last year it helps. It gives a little bit of a jump start. Of course being in only three races it’s always a problem because you want more, you want more track time, you get very little track time everywhere that I went. I think that is something that is going to be interesting this year. I will be able to already prepare myself have the whole information not only part-time information from the teams. It should be very interesting to see where we go from here. I think we have done very good in the preseason, but there are so many test objects that we want to get through in very little time. It is going to be tough, but together with Sebastien (Bourdais) it’s a great way to divide the work load and see where it goes.”
IF YOU LOOK BACK AT THE END OF THIS YEAR WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO FEEL LIKE YOU HAD A GOOD SEASON?
“I think putting everything that has happened over the past three seasons I’ve been like part-time and getting all the positive and putting it all into play that is for sure the most important thing here. Getting to have Sebastien (Bourdais) to work and push each other is going to be also key. He is obviously a bit ahead at this point. For me I have the motivation to beat him and of course he has the motivation not to be beaten by me. I think that is going to be key. I think having in the back of my head a little bit of tranquility of knowing that I have a full season that is also a key. IN the past only having one or two races it was a bit nerve racking not to make mistakes, it was a lot of pressure. Right now I have a lot of different kind of pressure. Pressure of a season, pressure of a championship and that is where I’m going to.”
HOW OLD ARE YOU NOW?
THAT SEASON TWO YEARS AGO YOU KNEW ALL SEASON THAT IT MIGHT NOT BE A FULL SEASON I THINK YOU DID ALL BUT TWO RACES…
THREE SO YOU KNEW THAT IF YOU HAD A COUPLE OF BAD CRASHES YOU WOULD BE DONE SO YOU HAD TO PROBABLY BE A LITTLE BIT MORE CONSERVATION THAT YEAR?
“Exactly it was a very tough situation very tight budget. It was one of those situations that we were looking for the budget throughout the season. That budget was also into the crash damage and also into results. It was a different world and I’m very thankful to Conquest Racing for the giving me the opportunity of course, but it was not the opportunity that a driver wants if he wants to give his full potential. That is what I see here in Dragon Racing. I can give my full potential just not thinking of anything negative, just giving my 100 percent.”
WHEN YOU SAID YOU AND SEBASTIEN (BOURDAIS) CLICKED JUST DRIVING STYLE IS THAT WORKING WHEN YOU ARE COMPARING DATA?
“We are in a way. Sebastien (Bourdais) has always said that he cannot drive a loose car period. That is one of his things. I heard that from Formula 1 when I was back in Europe. But, when you get to work with him you realize what kind
of a car he likes. Of course he having more experience he tends to learn from his driving style and try to marriage in some way. If it works for him he wants it also to work for you. That is something that we have been seeing in the last testing that he can drive a loose car. It’s his way of thinking what a loose car is or not. I will say that is a clicking.”
DO YOU LIKE A LOOSE CAR?
“I like a loose car more than anything on ovals for some reason. I think that is also a thing that we want to do each other maybe me pushing Sebastien (Bourdais) on the ovals and he pushing me on street courses. I think it’s a great combination and we have been starting to build so far. In the street courses I think there are a lot of things that we can combine. His braking is unbelievable. His braking consistency is something that I want to learn a lot from. Things like that you want to learn from somebody like him.
MARCO ANDRETTI, NO. 26 RC COLA ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Media Day and discussed what he did in the off season to improve his skills on the street courses, testing and other topics. Full Transcript:
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING TO GET OUT OF THIS TEST COMING UP THIS WEEK AND HOW YOU ARE PREPARING FOR THE SEASON COMING UP:
“I guess this test is primarily geared just toward obviously all the road courses. Sometimes when you find something good here you can take it to like a Sonoma or Mid-Ohio sometimes not it’s a finicky place as well. Obviously we race here so it would be good to come up with some kind of a good package for here. (James) Hinch (Hinchcliffe) ran good here last year in qualifying so we have a good starting point anyway just try to build on that.”
HOW ABOUT KNOCKING THE RUST OFF? LONG OFF SEASON CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT AND WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING TO TRY SHARP AND GOOD?
“There are so many miles you can run on a treadmill it gets boring. The off season is too long for me. Is there rust? There is no rust. I would say I’m the kind of person you could just wake me up out of my sleep and I will go drive. Obviously, take it will take a couple of laps.”
THAT FIRST RACE HERE IN 2010 DO YOU FEEL LIKE THAT WAS ONE THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE WON HERE? DO YOU THINK THIS TRACK OWES YOU ONE?
“I don’t know. If this track owes me one there is a bunch that owes me one. You can’t look at it like that. I think we were in a really good spot contending with Helio (Castroneves). It’s a track position place and we were up front the majority of the time. We kind of ran out of strategy at the end. Our pace was there which I was pleased with that. You’ve got to qualify up front here. Although, I think Firestone has done a great job here in particular at separating the alternates from the primary and I think that actually creates passing around a place that you might not get any passing without that.”
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO RUN SINCE FONTANA?
“I just had a one day Sebring and I attempted another day and we had to stop for an engine thing. So, a day and a half at Sebring.”
I READ IN SOME OF YOUR QUOTES YOU ARE REVISITING THE STREET COURSE STYLE AND THE WAY YOU ATTACK?
“There is no question that I need to up my game on the streets. I think I always knew I was over driving the car and this tire, but I didn’t know how. I was really diagnosing it in the off season. I did all kinds of stuff. I went overseas with a driver coach and everything. You can never be too proud. You can always learn something. Basically, I’m just asking too much of the front tire in the middle of the corner. So, the way I attack the corner I’m over the edge of the tire so I’m creating problems for myself is what he said. Rather than getting the time from the tire it’s actually like almost in a downward spiral because I’m just over the edge of the tire. There is some similar stuff that helped me going up against Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and stuff like that, but we have to just put it to work and see if what I learned is going to work. I’m pretty confident.”
WHO DID YOU WORK WITH? WHO WAS YOUR COACH?
“I’m not supposed to say.”
DID YOU DO MAINLY SIMULATOR OR ON TRACKS MORE WHILE YOU WERE OVER THERE?
“We did some stuff in London and I did the Dallara simulator. That is pretty fun. The first 10 minutes I was a little woozy and then you have to get used to it then everything kind of calms down. You have to get used to that lack of feeling so to speak under your butt you know what I mean. There is that feeling when you are driving the race car that tells you ‘okay there is the back end now you can go to power’ where it is more, it’s still a little ‘video gamey’, but I was very impressed.”
WAS WHAT YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE TIRES WAS ALL SIMULATOR BASED OR WAS THERE SOMETHING ON TRACK?
“Actually, it was road car stuff in the wet. It was like really just driving the finesse and stuff like that. It was interesting because he was supposed to go set a time and I was supposed to beat him. He said ‘just do what you would normally do’ then I beat him. Then it was tough for him to really teach me what I need. I actually picked up a couple of tenths just from the finesse part of it. Something where finesse is not a part of Marco Andretti my first seven years of my career I can tell you that. That has been really working against me.”
DID YOU SPEND TIME LOOKING AT RYAN’S (HUNTER-REAY) INFORMATION?
“I would be foolish not to look at Ryan’s stuff.”
IN THE WINTER TIME DO YOU JUST SIT WITH YOUR LAPTOP AND LOOK THROUGH THAT INFORMATION?
“Yeah, my biggest thing is I brake like Dario (Franchitti) and not huge. I don’t have a lot of pitch. I brake late, but I’m not blaming the tire, but for me what hurt me was carrying the brake too far into the corner. It sounds obvious, but if you are on the brake with a little bit of steering it will put you right over the edge of the tire. For me you have to get the braking done harder and earlier and get off the brake before you turn so I think that will help me on the streets instead of just braking really late and over loading the front of the car. Then you are going to snap if you come off with under steer it just creates a lot of problems.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING A FOURTH TEAMMATE?
“We will see. We all have a lot experience together yet. We were both kind of had our own little mechanicals going at the day we had at Sebring. I’m sure it will be fun.”
ORIOL SERVIA, NO. 22 PANTHER DREYER AND REINBOLD RACING CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed starting the season with Chevrolet, working with JR Hildebrand and other topics. Full transcript:
ON STARTING THE SEASON KNOWING THE POWER IN YOUR CAR: “It really is the biggest difference for us. The way we approached last year, we had a new car like everybody else, but we had really no testing to learn the car. We thrown into the lions a little bit without really knowing the weapons we had and it showed. It was a really, really tough start to the season and it was only when we got Chevy for the first time in Indy that we obviously had a great race. We actually had two or three good races then. We had probably the worst qualifying record I ever had in my career and in defense of the team and myself, we were just learning every weekend a little bit about the car. We didn’t have testing like I said. The weight distribution is quite different and was quite different between the two engines.&nbs
p; The power delivery as you can imagine was very different. Even the little we had learned in the Lotus didn’t really translate much. It was tough. We’re super excited because we’re continuing together and that is the first time that has happened to me since 1999 to be two years in a row with the same team so that’s huge. Also because we feel last year we just did what we could, adapting quickly, but we didn’t have a proper pre-season like we had this year. I think we are a lot better prepared plus when we got the Chevy we also started to work together with Panther, but because it started in the middle of the season it was never really totally fluid like it should have. Now that we have half of last season together, the whole off-season we are finally working like a two-car team. Honestly, I couldn’t be more excited to start a season.”
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SEASON? OBVIOUSLY TO QUALIFY BETTER?: “Yeah, exactly. First we were very proud saying, ‘We’re passing more cars on track than anybody.’ Until it got to the point where it started that we got the record in the series, but it also shows how bad we were starting. We are starting to be a bit more quiet about that. I myself have very high expectations just because as you guys know, I’ve been around the series for quite a while and I feel like I’m getting better. It’s just tough to put yourself in a good position where you are with a team that can give you the means that you need to go for the win every weekend. I think what these guys proved last year, obviously Andretti is a great team and a powerhouse also, but if you can beat Penske and Ganassi then you are doing an awesome job. I think that motivates teams like us that have been getting better, but we are not yet at the level of those two guys. If we focus on doing everything in our hands perfect then we don’t need anything else. We don’t need any tools we don’t have, we have everything we need we just really need to fine tune every weekend and work hard and it’s doable. I’m at a point in my career that I just really want to win races, I want to win the 500 — it’s a race that I’ve loved always like everybody, but I feel it fits me very well. The last two seasons I had great runs and started on the front row in 2011 and finishing sixth. Last year being almost a lap down until 20 laps to go because we had a flat tire and was finishing fourth. It’s just a race that I love and as I said it fits me. The team obviously being from there and having the past they had there, they are also very excited. We want to win races, but we are obviously focusing on the 500 as something for my mental health it would be awesome to win.”
ARE THERE SIMILAR DRIVING STYLES BETWEEN YOU AND JR HILDEBRAND AND DO YOU SWAP SETUP CHANGES?: “I think we are very similar. We give very similar feedback. The truth is that last year we were sharing all the information, but we were starting with complete different setups just because they had their learning, we had our learning and we got to get in the middle so we were sharing everything, but my engineers were working on the setup through the week and on Thursday they would send them our setup and they would do the same. It was complete transparency, but it’s not like we were working together like my team and his team and okay let’s see what we do. That really never happened. That’s a big difference this year, especially because Tino Belli (technical director) his position is on top of both, it’s more like working like a two-car team where we’re going to be starting much similar on setups and then we can really compare driving styles. I’d say that whenever we had a similar car we were within a tenth of each other and giving very, very similar feedback, which you need to be competitive. I keep saying the reason why (Will) Power is the fastest man in the world or the paddock really is because for the last two years had two guys that only beat him a couple times in qualifying, but I’m sure he was picking up a tenth from Helio (Castroneves) and a tenth from Ryan (Briscoe) in the different corners and that’s how a guy that is already fast becomes super fast. That’s where I think we can help each other with JR (Hildebrand) and help out our team.”
ARE BOTH CARS IN THE SAME RACE SHOP?: “Actually my car is in my shop and his car is in his shop and the engineers are actually spending time in both shops. But the actual car and mechanics are in my shop. Last year we had to do what we had to do, but it was a pity because I don’t know if you guys have come to the shop, I’ve been to many, many teams and for me it is the nicest IndyCar shop there is. I’m happy that my guys are able to work from there.”
IS THERE ANOTHER TRACK OTHER THAN INDY THAT YOU WANT TO WIN?: “You know, I’ve been doing this for so long that I love the Long Beach race and I always have and have had good results there. I’ve always liked it and I now live there also. The race track itself and I’ve always been open about it, I don’t think it’s anything special. It’s kind of like boring, but after you’ve done it so much and you really try to be good at it in every corner, it’s just what makes you addicted to it. Just turn nine, turn three — it’s just all the corners. It’s difficult in fighting it so much and you are getting better at it and you end up liking it. It’s like anything else. I don’t have any other favorites, I really enjoy all of them and at the same time I don’t have one that I hate. I used to love a race track that we don’t go to anymore, which is Elkhart Lake and Surfer’s Paradise. Hopefully, we will come back to both.”
HAVE YOU HEARD MUCH ABOUT POCONO?: “No, but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve only seen it, I’ve never driven around it, but I’ve seen a lot of NASCAR races there and it is one of my favorites to watch. I’m sure our cars are going to be very different than they are there, but I am looking forward to Pocono. I may be completely off, but it reminds me a little bit of the track in Germany, has a similar like three corners, fast, flat, three corners and I enjoy that a lot. I’m looking forward to our first test there.”
ED CARPENTER, NO. 20 FUZZY’S PREMIUM ULTRA VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed additions to his team, testing so far this season and other topics. Full transcript:
ANYTHING NEW FOR THIS YEAR?
“No, everything is pretty much the same. We added one new assistant engineer that we didn’t have last year but other than that, everything should go pretty much the same as last year. The car hasn’t changed; the people haven’t changed, so we are just trying to carry on from where we left off. It was nice to have a real offseason because last season we didn’t really get to do much preparation specifically for different races and we were just getting ready to go, so as a group, I think we feel much more prepared coming into this year. Hopefully we will be able to get up to speed a little quicker.”
SOME TEAMS ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE LACK OF TESTING BUT SOUNDS LIKE YOU GUYS ARE FEELING GOOD BECAUSE YOU ARE TESTING MORE THAN YOU DID LAST YEAR?
“Yes, I have been in the car twice since Fontana but as far as the other development that we have been able to do and that we did none of last year, I feel like I expect to see some gains everywhere we go.”
I THINK I READ THAT MATT BARNES IS YOUR ENGINEER AND HE TOOK OVER AROUND INDY OF LAST YEAR? OBVIOUSLY YOU GUYS STARTED TO JELL AT THE END OF LAST YEAR?
“Yes, he started out last year as my assis
tant and we started to make some moves for various reasons in May and we worked well together the whole time but it takes a little while to get the chemistry going and understand each other and know what the other is thinking so as the year went on, I felt like race-by-race we got better and better with one another. It’s nice to not have much change for this year.”
OBVIOUSLY YOUR OVAL PROGRAM IS RIGHT WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE WITH EVERYBODY ELSE. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE CREEPING UP ON IT ON THE ROAD AND STREET CIRCUITS?
“I felt good about where we were headed at the end of last year and we had a good test a couple weeks ago at Sonoma. But I hate to say we are putting more of a priority there because there is still a lot that we want to accomplish on the ovals and you don’t want to ignore your strength either because that is where our greatest opportunities are going to be anyway. But I do feel like we are going to keep closing the gap and I feel confident coming in and I feel excited for the test here and like I said, we had a good test at Sonoma so I am ready to keep making progress.”
AS A TEAM OWNER WHO HAS TO DECIDE WHERE TO SPEND YOUR RESOURCES, WHAT PERCENTAGE WOULD YOU SAY YOU SPEND ON OVALS VS. ROAD/STREET COURSES?
“Without doing track testing it’s easy to balance it off-track but we probably have weighted it a little more towards the oval side. Indianapolis is obviously the main goal for us and probably most every other team as well. It’s the most important race of the season and you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to be the most prepared for that race so I think for that reason alone we spend a little more energy there but at the same time, we haven’t ignored anything.”
DO YOU STILL HAVE A LONG TERM OBJECTIVE TO GO TO A TWO CAR TEAM?
“Yeah, the plan is always to grow, but that is easier said than done. If we could do it, we would have done it by now, but when the opportunity is there we will certainly take advantage of it. It’s going to have to be the right situation at the right time, just like it was when we started the team to begin with. Hopefully it comes sooner rather than later.”
GROWING FAMILY, BUILDING A HOUSE, GROWING A RACE TEAM, HOW DO YOU BALANCE ALL THAT AS A DRIVER?
“Well, Heather (his wife) is phenomenal and really helps with everything away from it. And the time I spent in college managing a full time race schedule and a full load of classes helped me learn how to manage my time well. I don’t really think it’s that difficult but obviously a third child makes things hectic at home but it is what it is. As far as the race shop is concerned, Derrick (Walker) and Tim (Broyles) do a great job and I don’t feel the need to be there every minute of every day and I am not a micro-manager by nature so I just try to stay organized and prioritized. I got faster with the first two kids, and I feel like I keep getting better so if that trend continues who knows how many we will have.”
WHAT DO YOU FEEL A SUCCESSFUL 2013 IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE?
“Obviously we want to keep winning races but improvement and improvement all around. I feel like we left a lot on the table last year even with getting one race win. I feel like there were two more where not much would have had to been done different to have a couple more wins so like I said earlier, I expect that we are going to be better and faster just about everywhere we go. So hopefully more wins.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY, NO. 1 DHL ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed being the defending Series champion, changes at Andretti Autosport, having four cars in 2013 and other topics. Full Transcript:
Q. How was Atlanta?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It was interesting. It was usual Atlanta, unfortunately.
Q. Your thoughts on how you follow up a year like last year?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: How do you follow up a year like last year? I really don’t have the answer for that. We’re going to have to be better than last year, that’s for sure. I know that. That’s what we’re looking to do, is come back and improve in our weak areas.
We didn’t have too many weak spots last year, but if anything you can point out, the superspeedways, I think Texas, Fontana. We were running decent in Indy, but we had a mechanical failure there.
I guess the big tracks we need to step it up a little bit.
But I think across the board we’re just going to have to be better than last year. It’s going to be a really tough season. I think this is going to be the tightest competition we’ve seen in IndyCar in a very, very long time.
Q. Depth of competition, new car.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I mean, everything. The manufacturers are another year into it, Honda and Chevrolet, two of the best in the business, have another year under their belt. Then you have all these teams, Andretti, Ganassi, Penske, Schmidt, you can keep going, Rahal, KV, all these top teams have a lot more data on these cars. We’re not testing to the first race now, we know what we’re doing with them.
I think it’s going to make it that much tougher to get a win. It’s going to be tight. Qualifying is going to be at a premium. It’s going to be like that through the whole season, you know, just give-and-take a little bit.
But I think everybody’s expecting that and it won’t be a surprise when it comes.
Q. You mentioned the big tracks. I know it doesn’t affect your individual engineer. With McDonald leaving, one of his fortés was the big tracks. Does that make the challenge bigger?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Absolutely, it does. With him leaving as late as he did, that definitely wasn’t ideal. Everybody is dissatisfied with that, leaving that late in the off season because it put us in an awkward position and it helped Schmidt quite a bit.
But I think the additions we’ve had since then, with Craig coming on and working with James. Craig is a top-notch guy, top-notch engineer. He’s a real addition to our race team.
I think as James put it, where one door closes a window opens, I think he said. It’s an opportunity for us to take the next step forward, somebody with a different perspective, dealing with working with Newman/Haas for so many years. We’re looking forward to that information. We’re really looking forward to working with Craig.
We have Michael coming on with E.J.’s car. Ray, my engineer, is working as a de facto technical director in some ways. He’s kind of leading it, I guess. I’m really happy with our direction. And I think the atmosphere on the team is really positive, despite those late personnel changes, which you would think would really put the team down. The additions we had right after that really boosted the team. So it could be a win.
Q. Ray still on your car, overseeing the entire group?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Ray is on my car still. He’s overseeing the group. At the same time Craig, he’s fully capable of taking on his own program, whatever that may be. Let’s just give you an example, like aero. Then Ray would work on dampers. Kind of piecing it together.
Q. Is there any progress on the Fort Lauderdale race?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yes. The support continues to come. It’s a matter of getting the location we want to do it in. In order for one stretch of road to share two straightaways, the roads are going to have to be widened, and t
he sidewalk would have to be dealt with in a way where it’s removable almost. You wouldn’t know it if you saw it, but they do this at a few other racetracks.
They would be able to remove the sidewalk, and underneath would be pavement/racetrack. For the rest of the year they would put the sidewalk back.
The problem is all this is financially very (indiscernible). You have to take a big risk in order for it to pay off over five, six years for a race to work out.
There’s a lot of local support, a lot of local support, whether that be from car dealers, DHL is right there locally, as well. Just had very good feedback on it.
There’s just so much to it. It’s shocking how much there is to it. We’ll see. A lot of people want to make it happen, the right people want to make it happen.
Q. What was your off-season like?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Off-season was unreal. It started off pretty busy testing. We went into the tour right afterwards and then went and tested. I was tested in Road Atlanta, Race of Champions in Bangkok, then our son was born December 28th. So he got there just in time to make 2012, the year that could be pretty much unmatched. 2012, it was a year of firsts. Never be quite a year like it, even if we win a championship. Pretty unbelievable season, unbelievable year, outside of the car, as well, so…
But it’s been busy in the off-season just doing sponsor appearances, the usual stuff, and keeping up with mostly what’s going on at home, with the little guy. I’m still getting used to being woken up all hours of the night. Last night wasn’t exactly smooth sailing either.
You know, any parent knows it’s a lot of fun. We’re loving every bit of it. Doing the 12 hours of Sebring next weekend and then on to St. Pete. Daytona 24 Hours, too. Forgot that one. Finished second there. How close it was at the end was pretty amazing, but had a pretty good time with Wayne Taylor’s team there. Almost got a win for Chevy.
So, yeah, it was a very busy off-season. Missed the testing, though. Really missed the testing that we did last year. A number of drivers have mentioned that. Testing three days at Sebring and then basically going racing into the season is a bit of a bummer.
Q. You got three days at Sebring?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah.
Q. That’s actually a lot.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I heard from a few guys that tested Barber, Sonoma, Sebring, Texas, Milwaukee. Not all one team, but been around quite a bit, so…
Q. What was it like doing the Race of Champions?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: The Race of Champions was a lot of fun, very unique. You get there, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to that track or not, if you know the cars and which one to get. These guys have it dialed in. The guys that have been there many times know.
I got off the plane, a few hours of sleep, I got there late, went straight to the track, put on a helmet, get in line, here comes a car, they don’t tell you anything about it, you get in it and you run two laps. You get out, the next car, you run two laps. The next car is there, you run two laps. Each car you run, different gears, different braking points, different handling, then the next night is the race. One warmup lap before the race.
You really have to work with your other drivers to get information out of them. Trust me, they don’t want to tell you a thing. These guys are there with a smile, but they don’t want to tell you anything.
I had a great time with them, a great time with the people that organized it. It was put on the right way. But I heard that Schumacher, they rent the cars a couple weeks earlier to get some times in them. The Team USA guys, hopefully we’ll be able to go back at some point. We’re definitely going to do some practice.
Q. (No microphone.)
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I was, yeah. Definitely by the time the races got going, I was kind of finding where it was at. It’s all 2/10ths, 3/10ths. It’s nothing big. I was just overdriving the car. Because how you drive IndyCars, everything I’m used to, pretty hard. There was no grip. I was sliding around, losing a lot of time. I learned a lot but had a good time.
Q. How advanced do you feel like your car is this year versus last year?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It’s been fine, for sure. We’re dealing with the same animal. There’s no breakthroughs. You’re going to find some teams that find an advantage with dampers, find an advantage a little bit under the braking, stuff like that, power down. But there’s no major revelations happening. It’s small chunks here and there.
That’s why I really hope we get to develop some type of aero kit or something that really takes the next step of development next year, so we can really go back to the drawing board and work on things. I just really enjoyed what we dealt with last year, which was developing an engine in a very short period of time.
Right now we’re in that last percentile, where we’re tweaking things, getting it honed in. We have the standing starts and everything else that we can work on. That’s new. That will be fun, I think.
Q. You think they’re any different than the pit stops?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, it’s quite a bit different. A lot different actually. Leaving the pits, you’re on a pit lane limiter, helps you get out of the box. You’re not allowed to do that on standing starts. This is just basically taking off in a straight line as fast as you can go.
Yeah, it’s quite a bit different.
Q. Ryan, have you noticed much of a change from the engine to start this season versus last year’s Chevy?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No, I really haven’t. Not much. I mean, you know, like I said, a little bit of refinements, like the shifts are a little crisper. Going down the straightaway, you’re almost like you’re waiting for, Is that different? I don’t know. It’s small, very small.
Q. Do you feel any pressure coming in as the defending champion or a relief that you have it out of the way?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It’s both really. The best thing about winning a championship, this is what I’ve been working for my entire life, it’s a dream come true. Nobody can ever take that away from me now, from us, from our team. It’s something that we accomplished. We earned it, straight up earned it. Nobody can ever take that away. That’s a beautiful thing. We were IndyCar champions.
We’re starting new now. We’re the defending champions. And that does absolutely nothing for us when the green flag flies in St. Pete. We’re starting all over again. We have to go out there and live up to the No. 1 on the side of the car. That’s where the pressure comes from, is living up to that No. 1.
I know if we execute and put a decent car on the racetrack, we’ll be competitive, competing for race wins. Putting the package together is the tough part. That’s what we have to focus on.
We know how to do it from last year. We know where we need to be a lot better. Hopefully if we do that we improve in the areas we need to, then we can make a serious run for this championship.
I know one thing, it’s going to be interesting. I think the past three seasons now it’s come down
to the last race, and it certainly will this year, I guarantee it.
Q. Does that ever creep you out a little bit to see your face on these banners, ‘champion’ next to it?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No, it’s definitely cool. I wouldn’t say ‘creep me out’ is the right word. For sure, it’s interesting to see.
Q. Does it seem real?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Not really. It’s all still a pretty new feeling, the champion side of it. There was so much pressure packed into the last bit of the season, I just kind of had the blinders on. The next thing I know we’ve emerged from the masses as champions of the IndyCar Series.
Q. When did it strike you that you were the champion?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: A few weeks after probably, yeah, is probably when it really settled in.
Q. What about having four cars, four drivers this year? They’ve done that before. Do you think that is going to make things easier or more complicated?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don’t know. I really don’t know. We haven’t had time to work with it yet. We haven’t had an opportunity to work with the four cars. E.J. did one day at Sebring with us. Everything seemed great, fine. Like you said, this is what they’re accustomed to, what they’re used to working with, is four cars. Hopefully this will be beneficial for us.
We certainly had a great chemistry last year with the three of us. This is hopefully a good addition, so…
We’ll see. We’re certainly all going to continue to be open to learn. If a teammate goes quick, that makes us quicker, so we’ll all work together and push.
Thank you, guys.
JR HILDEBRAND, NO. 4 NATIONAL GUARD PANTHER RACING CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Media Day and discussed testing, standing starts, teammate Oriol Servia and other topics. Full Transcript:
HOW MUCH TESTING HAVE YOU HAD SO FAR?
“Very little we did a day at Sebring last year and did what turned out to be not much of a day unfortunately at Sonoma a couple of weeks ago. We have the great fortune of working much more closely with Dreyer Reinbold Racing this year and Oriol Servia so for the days that we have had go awry he has had some good days. Looking forward to getting here hopefully getting out on a dry track for a couple of days and more than anything really try to sort of solidify that relationship and transparency with Dreyer Reinbold Racing or Panther DRR as they are called now. Last year it was something that happened midseason that we sort of joined together and I think because of that it wasn’t as streamlined of an operation as we all really needed for it to be. I think there were a lot of times you could argue that it made things more complicated than really helped us figure anything out. Having the off season to kind of iron those wrinkles out and with Tino Belli coming from Andretti Autosport as technical director to kind of oversee that whole element of the operation I think will be a pretty big gain going into this year.”
WHAT WAS YOUR ISSUE IN SONOMA?
“We had an electrical problem in the morning that just took a long time to figure out what exactly it was. We thought it might be an engine issue, but it turned out not to be. We got the car running again in the afternoon, but we just didn’t end up really doing many laps. We did like 20 laps in the afternoon.”
DO YOU CONSIDER ORIOL SERVIA A BIG BROTHER OR MENTOR TYPE?
“I think more than that necessarily I think he has always been in the top two or three guys on my list of guys that I want to have as a teammate. Besides him actually being available as a guy that is kind of a teammate just because he always stands out as somebody that understands the value of working together with somebody. Anytime he has been in a good car he runs up front. I think the two of those things together just make him kind of an obvious guy to want as that sort of mentor or partner or whatever in racing. It was fun to work with him last year. I think we were both sort of frustrated by the whole thing not really being what we would have liked for it to be from a sort of engineering stand point. This year it will truly operate as a two car team. That is kind of an exciting thing for both of us.”
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR TEAM’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES GOING INTO THIS SEASON?
“I think our strengths obviously at Panther our strengths have always been showing up to places like Indy and being fast. I think that the confidence that we have going to places like that this year is only bolstered by the addition of another car and a new presence in the engineering department with Tino (Belli) coming from Andretti. Those guys were quite fast at Indy last year. That strength is something that is exciting for us. I think in general there has been no reason to beat around the bush that the street courses in particular have been somewhere that we have struggled the last couple of year. In our mind coming from Indy Lights those are the only races that I won were road/street courses. I think at Panther we are focusing pretty heavily this year on debunking that sort of outlook that we are much stronger on ovals than we are on road/street courses. That is certainly something that we are looking to change.”
HAVE YOU DRIVEN OTHER CARS THROUGHOUT THE WINTER?
“Yeah, I’ve actually driven a bunch of stuff that probably at the end of the day isn’t really that close to driving an indy car to be honest with you. This is not totally public information yet, but I’m going to be racing a drift car for a couple of events this year. So I’ve been doing a little bit of that with a couple of buddies of mine we are working with Chevrolet on an engine program for it. We have been trying to build that out over the off season. I drove one of the GRC (Global Rally Cross) cars that do the rally stuff. I have driven a bunch of vintage race cars. I drove some historic F1 cars and stuff like that. That really was just to sort of stay sharp. Those things are a hell of a lot bigger handful than driving an indy car is. Been keeping busy, but it’s tough. With last year we kind of got spoiled by having a lot of manufacturer test days available. This year that didn’t exist. I think that we certainly still feel like there is some work to be done before we show up at St. Pete next week and there will be some work to be done through the first part of the season.”
ORIOL (SERVIA) WAS SAYING THOSE GUYS ARE BACK IN THERE OWN BUILDING. DIDN’T THEY SHARE YOUR BUILDING LAST YEAR?
“The car is over there, but the engineering staff is all in the same building at Panther.”
AT TRACKS THIS YEAR YOU GUYS WILL STILL BE TRAILER TO TRAILER?
“Yes, so all the debriefs and all that stuff will be in the same place.”
ARE THERE ANY TRACK OR ANY RACES OTHER THAN INDY THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR?
“I am really looking forward to the first few races of the season to be honest with you. St. Pete was a race we ended up having a fuel pressure issue, but we were looking solid to finish fifth or sixth there last year. I think that is somewhere now with a little bit of a new outlook on the set-up of the race car I can really have a teammate situation. Those first few races going to St. Pete coming here (Barber) and going to Long Beach are places that we definitely look forward to. I would say another one that sticks out is Pocono. Just being a new track on the schedule I think that is going to be somewhere that I’m expecting that to be tougher depending
on what the downforce package is that we end up running there. But if it’s like a sort of Texas style downforce package that place is going to be pretty ballsy if you want to go fast. I’m all for having tracks that we are light on downforce and high on horsepower. We just have to get the high on horsepower part sorted out here.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON STANDING STARTS?
“I really like standing starts and I think it adds another piece to the puzzle that is in the driver’s hands, so I think that is another interesting element to it. That has little to nothing to do with your car set up and it’s just a lot about us because we won’t have any kind of real launch control or any of that. You know, I can see where the series is hesitant to implement it everywhere that we go, but I think that there are a lot of tracks that it will work well on that we go. It’s definitely an exciting way to get the race going because there is a certain kind of risk versus reward factor for getting it right versus screwing it up so I am looking forward to doing them wherever they start.”
SOMEONE MENTIONED EARLIER TODAY THAT YOU COULD STALL THE CAR DURING THE STANDING START
“Oh yeah, you definitely could. They have been working on the anti-stall for these things so that is something if they get that really working at a high level, then you probably won’t but yes, you can definitely stall the car for sure.”
I GUESS THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH THE CLUTCH, WITH A RIGHT CLUTCH AND A LEFT CLUTCH?
“Yeah, so the car always has a left and right clutch paddle and the reason that is, is typically there are pit boxes like on an oval where you are turning left into the pit box that you need to be able to clutch on the way in or….actually it’s turning out of the pit box. You need to be able to turn the wheel to the right and have the clutch engaged when the wheel is like this (gestures) and you wouldn’t be able to get to it when it’s on the other side. So it’s basically for having pit lanes in opposite directions. You need to have a clutch on both sides to be able to turn the wheel one way, and can’t grab it on the right side, and turning the other way you can’t grab it on the left side. But in Formula One it’s been tested with the Formula One car in 2009 and there are a lot of different things you can do because of the fact that you do have two clutches or clutch paddles that you can have one paddle like Dixon said at 30, 40, 20, 10, or 50 percent or whatever that is set at some piece of engagement. You can have the other one where the clutch is totally disengaged with the other clutch so that when the lights go out you can just dump the one clutch and not actually be fully engaging the clutch because you have got the other one somewhat part way. So those are things you can definitely dial in and the engine manufacturers who I think will be working with the drivers and the teams to figure out how all that is going to work. At the end of the day, every track is different, every grid position is going to be different and every track is going to be a little bit different so even if you can totally get it down to a science on pit lane, it’s going to be something totally different once you start the race.”
BUT YOU SEE THAT AS A POSITIVE?
“Yes for sure. And I think to your point really quickly about the stalling thing, the fact that the cars are turbo cars adds to the potential ability to end up stalling them. Because if you do end up kind of bogging down….once the RPM goes down you have no boost and that is where a car that has a lot more torque like the old Indy cars, we never had any issues getting out of the pit box with those and going forward. You just dump the clutch and go. Whereas this year, particularly that this year was a lot on the ovals, you had to feed it in a little bit because you couldn’t get the revs to come up quickly enough to get the boost spooled up enough to just floor and dump the clutch. You would just kind of stick right away and have the car (makes rev sound) kind of lurching out of the pit box so I think that is an added element that could become an issue.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 KV RACING TECHNOLOGY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber Motorsports Park and discussed working with Simona de Silvestro, expectations for the season and other topics. Full transcript:
ABOUT THE NEW SPONSOR THIS YEAR: “We haven’t announced it yet, but we’re going to have a few new sponsors I think. That’s what we need to do to survive.”
ARE YOU GETTING ALONG WITH SIMONA DE SILVESTRO?: “She’s awesome. I already had a female teammate before so I’m used to getting out of the truck when they need to get changed. It happened before. She’s awesome. It’s the best opportunity she had in IndyCar so far so looking forward to work with her and help her out whenever she needs. Not just Simona (de Silvestro) needs a good result, but the series as well having her and her personality coming out more often will help us out too.”
DO YOU THINK RUBENS BARRICHELLO WILL RETURN TO INDYCAR?: “I was with him this weekend and he was trying to race in St. Pete, but he has a lot of commitments right now back home with the stock car racing and he’s going to do some Formula 1, he is going to commentate some Formula 1 races and I think that the TV broadcast won’t let him do the IndyCar race in Brazil because it’s a conflict between the two TVs. I would say if you ask Rubens (Barrichello), he would do it in a heartbeat. We’ll see, if he has the opportunity I think he would go back and fight with the TV people to let him do it. It would be lovely to see him back. I will miss him. I was a little bit responsible for his coming to IndyCar so I would say I will miss him for sure.”
DO YOU THINK RUBENS (BARRICHELLO) WOULD DRIVE IN THE INDY 500?: “Depends. Depends where and with who and he would consider for sure. If he believes he is going to have a competitive car, yes. If you’re going to call him just to make the field, he won’t even pick up the phone I think. If it’s this team I think he would do it because of me and the team and being here before. It’s tough. He was a little bit bitter when he couldn’t get a job or he couldn’t find a team for this year. That’s a guy that didn’t have to do this at all last year. He did it and I think we didn’t take the right opportunity to give him. That’s the financial situation that everybody faces. It was easier for him to decide to go do something else because he doesn’t need the job pretty much. It’s the reality, he was doing it because of the love of the sport, the pleasure to drive with me. I would say if somebody puts a call to him, he’s going to call me and ask for sure what is my opinion. I will try to tell him not to come so it’s one less guy that I have to fight.”
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO IMPROVE YOUR PERFORMANCE FOR THIS SEASON?: “We regrouped. I think last year what happened was Rubens (Barrichello) came into the deal extremely late. It was February and we were planning to run two cars and we ran three. What people didn’t realize, I don’t think we had the structure like those big teams do to run three cars. We still did it, it’s not about just the money or anything like that, it takes awhile to get a three-car team going. We have plenty of examples. Then because of his name and my name, it added a lot of pressure and a lot of hope to everybody. We didn’t do any worse than the year before, we had actually more podium finishes than the year before and my first year with KV. The team didn’t succeed the way everybody expected. W
hat we did was just regrouped, downsized big time and still, I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘we’re going to give the Penske boys and Andretti boys and the Ganassi boys a run every race.’ We’re not up there yet. We’re still building. There’s a lot of things that need to happen for us to be up there. I can tell you this, one of the biggest races that matter the most to me, I think we can win that one. With this team, I finished fourth and third. That’s what we are focused on right now and trying to be competitive and win more races through the year. I think until we find the stability with the sponsorship and the people in the team, we won’t be able to beat those guys because that’s what they’ve got. We have the same equipment and we have very good people. My engineer, the guy has been with me forever and the quality is there, everything is there, but consistency and stability, it means a lot to a race team and we don’t have that yet.”
DID YOU SPEND ANY TIME IN THE WIND TUNNEL THIS YEAR?: “We did plenty. The program is full on and then again, it’s not about the quantity of days that we did. It’s about the quality of work that we can do. We’ve done everything we could yes, could we have more? Always. I’m extremely confident that we’re better off this year than we’ve ever been since I joined this team.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR DRIVING STYLE AND SIMONA’S DRIVING STYLES ARE GETTING CLOSER?: “It will get better I think. One thing that I’ve learned all these years, it was not about trying to adapt to each other’s driving styles. At Andretti we never, you will find somebody that will drive closer to you, but it’s about understanding what we both need to make the cars go faster. That’s what I’m working with her. It’s funny because like you said, she’s not used to having a teammate so the first time you approach her to tell her things she’s looking at you like, really? Like she never asks a question because she’s not used to it. We’re developing that relationship right now and yes, she has a very different way of driving, which I would relate. I remember back in the days when I was (Alex) Zanardi’s teammate when he came back. We had completely different driving styles. Zanardi once told me that this is because you are the new generation and I’m the old generation. I think I’ve got to that point now and it’s the other way around. Tires have changed over the years and you drove before and you know exactly what I’m talking about. She just has a different way of driving because she’s in a different generation than me. Maybe I will be able to do things that she does, but I don’t think she’ll be able to do things that I do because it’s just the way it is.”
OTHER THAN INDY, WHAT OTHER RACE OR SECTION OF THE SCHEDULE DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO?: “To be honest, I like the calendar a lot. I always wanted to go to Pocono. We’re going to Brazil, which I don’t have to speak about. Long Beach, Detroit and other places where we have been extremely successful and Texas. The mile ovals that I know my strengths. There is not a place that I would say right now — Houston, I haven’t seen it, but I remember in my rookie year that was my second full year of my career in IndyCar back in the Champ Car days. I would say that I am looking forward to the season. There is not a place, obviously I would pick a place to win — if you give me two places to win then probably I would pick Brazil and Indy.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 7 DRAGON RACING CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Barber media day and discussed the off season, his thoughts on standing starts and other topics. Full Transcript:
HOW WAS YOUR OFF SEASON? WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE OFF SEASON?
“Long, very long, way too long. Pretty much V8 and Daytona (Rolex 24 Hour) that is it.”
IS IT HARD TO GET BACK INTO THAT RACING FORM?
“Yeah, it has been a long off season and obviously just trying to get back in the groove so Daytona was good. Straight away a double stint it was like ‘okay wake up’ (laughs). So, yeah pretty sore after that actually. I was starting to get a little worried about the rest of the race, but it’s funny how the body kind of gets back into it. Like the first double stint was really bad then I got out of the car was broken pieces and so was the same thing. You do an endurance race and you don’t have your own seat and then you try and ‘I’ll be alright I don’t need an insert or anything.’ Then you come out of the car you are in pieces so it’s another 20 hours to go so you are like ‘whoa that is going to be a long one.’ Then the body adjusts and you get back in the groove and the next ones go smooth and you can even do a triple stint no problem. It was kind of good to do that. For sure it has been a long off season just glad we did a little bit more testing last year at that point. We did half a day in Sebring and a full day in Sonoma. Then here obviously the two days will be very welcome. We will see how it goes.”
HOW’S YOUR SHOULDER?
“The shoulder has never really been an issue it’s always been kind of the back, the ribs that got into the vertebrae that has been the problem. It is still kind of soft and I can’t do any weights, but I will be alright.”
YOU GOT A SLOW START LAST YEAR, BUT THE ENGINE IS THAT AN ISSUE THIS YEAR?
“We have a very good package. Very happy and pumped up about the season we know there is potential. We have showed that last year. We just need to put it together and score. Hopefully, we have a chance to do that and have some fun.”
YOU ACTUALLY HAD A VERY GOOD RACE LAST YEAR HERE ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. WOULD YOU PUT THIS AT THE TOP OF THE LIST OF PLACES YOU THINK YOU COULD DO WELL AT?
“No, I don’t know. Obviously, last year we didn’t have the package that we are going to run this year. It’s a stronger package obviously, but we will see. I think we have been pretty fortunate that we could find a set up that was fairly strong for the road courses and a different set up obviously for the street courses. We haven’t really changed from that very much because the car has been pretty good. We have just made little progress on things on dampers and stuff. We will just run through the list of things that we want to try and explore a couple of things and hopefully we can get a little better. I think last year we had a really good race because mostly the degradation was nowhere near as bad as the others. We will obviously keep a close eye on that.
“It’s one thing to be very fast on one lap in this place, but you can hurt your tires really bad. There is a lot to be said about nursing the thing and being smart. You can’t just; especially when you run the pack with the dirty air you can hurt yourself pretty good in a hurry. I remember last year just being the last corner just being able to pretty much go around the outside of Marco (Andretti). I remember him passing me like a rocket ship when he was on fresh tires then dropping like five seconds during the stint. It’s a strange place when it gets warm and everything you have to think a little bit what is going on and how much you are actually asking the whole package. It’s always an interesting race and I guess it’s only under the circumstances that we could shine last year at that stage with the other engine. Just very happy that we have a baseline, we are pretty happy with what we’ve got right now with Chevrolet and we know we can be very fast. Now it is going to be about putting it together and having good day
HAVE YOU DONE MUCH RIG TESTING?
“Yeah, we went rig testing so that’s a big plus. We confirmed a few things and gathered some ideas on others. I think obviously the biggest thing is to start with a known base and not just flip a coin and just go okay, what’s going to happen this weekend. That’s big. We’ve really been fortunate that we have been able to keep most of the people as well. That’s crucial. If you want to keep the chemistry and build on something, you need to keep the foundation and the foundation of the team has stayed together over the winter. It wasn’t easy obviously, there was a lot of financial stress on the team after everything that happened last year and that kind of carried through the winter. You still have to pay the bills and everything. Just glad that we could do that. Although we wish that we could always do more, we’ve been able to keep the main things together and start working as early as January and build on that. It’s been pretty good. It’s definitely the one season in IndyCar that I feel the most prepared for. When I came back in 2011, I had no idea what was laying in front of me and last year not knowing anything about the package and not being able to test and putting a new team together and all that was quite a trip. To be in a very different position now and feeling a little more under control gives us a lot of reassurance.”
WILL HAVING A TEAMMATE HELP?
“I’ve never really been hoping to get stuff from my teammate, but obviously from time to time it’s always welcome to be able to get double reads on stuff and I think he is going to be pretty fast. There are going to be corners where he’s going to be a little faster here and there and you can always learn from that and get better. It’s a good thing for the team to be a strong two-car team and a good organization and look sharp on everything. We’re building up. We’re going to have PR now. It’s all coming together. It’s taking time; you don’t build a team from scratch in a day, particularly with everything we’ve had to go through over last year. We feel that with Chevy we have the right partner. We have good sponsors with McAfee and the team is kind of gelling together. Pretty excited about the season.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT STANDING STARTS?
“I feel we’ll all be starting from speed zero. We’ll see how that goes. The cars are not as hard as I thought they’d be to get out of line, but it’s not an easy thing. It can always go wrong, you can always stall, you can always screw it up. At the end of the day, it’s another exciting thing for the fans. It’s another thing to try to get on top of and it will be interesting. It’s going to be very much dependent on the track, obviously there are some tracks that are just not adequate for that and I’m sure the series will look at that very closely and when it’s just not appropriate then we’ll just keep the rolling starts and when we can we’ll add the excitement of standing starts with the engines revving up on the grid and roaring before the green flag.”
DID IT BOTHER YOU HOW IT PLAYED OUT WITH KATHERINE (LEGGE) AND HOW THAT BLEW UP?
“If you are referencing that interview, yes. It was a 20 minute interview, with one question in there and to make that big of a mess out of it, obviously, not even…just being inaccurate is what happened. But, it is always going to be like that. You are always going to be asked the question you probably just should not answer. I guess I’m sometimes a little too easy on the speech side of things. It’s the way it is. I’m glad that the team’s in good shape, and we have two cars that should be running the right way with two good drivers. It is sad for Katherine. But the team made the decision and I’m moving forward now.”
HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO HER, OR IS THERE NO NEED TO?
“I sent her an email to say ‘This is what I said or meant’. I didn’t get an answer. I am perfectly fine with what I meant. There was no offense. She is a good driver. She can do good things. Again, it was just not my decision.”
DO YOU ENJOY CAMARADERIE WITH THE OTHER FRENCHMAN IN THE SERIES?
“Well yes, it’s the French Connection out there. (LAUGHS) It’s kind of funny that you have to go to the U.S. to be acknowledged and given a chance. There are worse places to go, it’s good. I think Tristan (Vautier) has obviously shown great speed in testing. Simon (Pagenaud) is right on. They are both with a good team. Hopefully we can mix it up, and just show that the French drivers don’t have anything the envy to the others.”
DO YOU HAVE THE SAME ENGINEER?
“Yes. Neil (Fife) is back with me. That is really why I am really happy with what we’ve starting to try and build. We have same assistant engineer, the same engineer, the same chief mechanic, the same mechanics for the most part. So it’s really the foundation of our team LA base has stayed the same. It’s been a little frustrating for them over the winter not be able to do everything they wanted because there were some restrictions to everything we could do in the winter. But, still we kept everyone together and we are going full-steam ahead. We know what we had last year and to build on that is key. Really I can’t put enough emphasis on this. If you want to build on something, you’ve got to keep whatever is under you. Otherwise you can’t…very unstable. I’m really glad we could do that.”