JANUARY 18, 2022 ED CARPENTER RACING DRIVERS ED CARPENTER, RINUS VEEKAY AND CONOR DALY met with members of the media during 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series Media Content Days. Full transcripts: ED CARPENTER, ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET:THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Ed Carpenter. Welcome back. Another year. You got a busy plate of drivers, races, goals are probably still the same. Rinus VeeKay. You signed Conor Daly. You’re in a driver suit still yourself.ED CARPENTER: Still got it on somehow (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: What are your thoughts coming into this one?ED CARPENTER: I’m excited. It’s nice to have some continuity, expand the continuity a little bit. For me obviously still chasing Indianapolis and as many other races and wins as I can compete in.With Rinus, looking forward to year three. He had a lot of success over his first two seasons, had a breakthrough win last year. Also had some inconsistency last year which you can see at times in year two.I think he’s entering the phase of his career where he’s starting to mature as a driver and also a person, becoming more independent. At the end of the day he’s still a kid, he’s so young. So I think you’re just going to see him come into his own skin and talent even more so this year.I know Conor, having worked with him, I think he’ll benefit from being able to focus a little better on one team, one home, not bouncing around, looking for his next opportunity. Looking forward to that continuity.The two of them did work well together over the past two years. Having a good understanding of each other to be able to carry that forward I think will be a good thing for the team.
THE MODERATOR: You’ll run two cars at all the races except Indianapolis?ED CARPENTER: That’s what we’re confirmed for today. That could change.
THE MODERATOR: Is it difficult to say or you’re really pursuing yourself in some oval races?ED CARPENTER: No, we’re definitely working towards me doing some more, but just not to a point we’re going to lock it in yet. I have a desire to race more. This opportunity came about that kind of steered us that direction as a team and business. When you get those, to me it was very similar to the process of me not running full-time in 2014.This is a great opportunity for our business with a new partner coming in to transition the 20 car to one full-time driver. I know I’ll be at Indy. Maybe you’ll see me at some or all of the other ovals.
THE MODERATOR: That means a different car number for you?ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I think so.
THE MODERATOR: Do we know?ED CARPENTER: There’s a couple candidates. We haven’t fully come to agreement yet, but…
THE MODERATOR: Questions.Q.Was the decision to make the 20 car full-time based purely on financials or were there other reasons behind it?ED CARPENTER: The 20’s been full-time. Moving it to one driver versus a split role I think is what you’re alluding to.Yeah, I mean, everything we do at some level is partnership related. We had the fortune to bring on BitNile as a partner. They were looking for one driver to go behind for the season. I’m definitely not going to go back to running road courses outside of an emergency sub situation if required.Definitely sponsor, business driven for sure.
Q.Obviously Rinus has already been discussed as a future champion, multiple race wins across a season. How do you feel about keeping hold of him in the long-term? If he has a good season, it’s great for the team, but means he’s more talked about as well.ED CARPENTER: Yeah, that’s natural. I think some years there’s more movement than others. Every team’s after talent, whether it’s behind the wheel or on the car, the engineering office. I don’t remember an off-season that’s gone by where I haven’t had to defend myself from within from someone wanting to get a driver, engineer, mechanic.It’s the nature of the beast, what we do. You can’t prevent it. You just have to try to provide an environment and opportunity from within that makes them want to stay with Ed Carpenter Racing.I know Rinus enjoys his environment right now. It’s our job to make sure we’re providing him with opportunity to meet his goals that he has personally and professionally, give him a place where he can accomplish those.We both want the same thing. If we have a successful year, I think we’ll be positioned well to carry on. If he feels like he needs something else, he’ll be able to pursue that when he can. The goal is for him to be with Ed Carpenter Racing for a long time.
Q.You mentioned a couple minutes ago putting Conor in a car with one team. He tweeted this was a multi-year deal. You said maybe the comfort that might bring him. What do you hope to see more of from Conor this year knowing he’s going to have a full season in the car, planning and scheming for what his future in 2023 is going to look like?ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I think we have a good feel for each other. Conor knows where we’ve struggled and what our emphasis has been as a team to improve. We’ve been working with him long enough that we know what his strengths are and areas for improvement on his end as well.For sure Conor, he’s fast, he’s been able to produce good qualifying results and have some good runs. I think the goal for him this season is to maintain that pace that he’s shown throughout the rest of a weekend. That’s not pointing the finger at him and saying he needs to do that, it’s a group effort. That will be the collective focus, to finish off weekends a little better than we were able to last year.
Q.You’ve seen INDYCAR on this upward swing, growth arc. We have 14 races on network TV, some added momentum in some other areas. What would you like to see the series do to continue on this upward swing and take advantage of some of these opportunities you have this year?ED CARPENTER: I think we need to do everything in our power, which I believe that everyone is, to make sure the product we’re putting out there with this opportunity that we have, with the growing number of network races, to be putting the right product out to market to continue the growth, not only cater to the great fans that we have but to draw in more fans and grow the base.At the end of the day that’s going to be the thing that continues to drive us forward. We have a great product, but it can always be better. That needs to be the goal.
Q.With regards to the upcoming year, you came close to getting a podium at Indianapolis. What would it mean to get back to the podium this season?ED CARPENTER: That’s the plan. Indy was a tough one last year. We had a great car. We were right where we wanted to be the first stint, had a pit lane stall for some reason. I thought I made a mistake, but there was a bit of an anomaly that caused that. Spent the rest of the 450 miles catching up just to get to the lead pack for the race to end.I still feel really good about the cars that we have for there. Just need to be able to get through with a clean execution the whole way, be in position for it.We just got back to the front too late last year.
Q.What impressed you about Rinus as a driver?ED CARPENTER: I mean, he’s just one of those rare guys that comes along that is an exceptionally talented, naturally gifted driving a car, maximizing the car. He never gives up. He’s pretty strong at all types of circuits that we go to, whether it’s short oval, speedway, road course, street course, he’s pretty versatile.He definitely has all the tools to develop into a champion. That’s the goal with him, is to get a championship.
THE MODERATOR: Rinus VeeKay had an injury last year mid-season after Indianapolis. Never really found his stride afterwards. Do you have some commonalities that help explain that?ED CARPENTER: That’s been a big topic of conversation internally and a lot of other people have asked that, as well.Certainly I think it was a setback in preparation training, et cetera. The other thing that I think factored in a little bit late in the year, he went to a couple venues that he hadn’t been to or raced at in the past with the way the previous season was. I think there’s a combination of factors that took place. In some instances we just didn’t do a good enough job executing through an event.At the end of the day it’s not something that’s making me lose sleep at night. I’m pretty confident that as a group we’ll get back on track.
THE MODERATOR: You talked about your problems early in the Indy 500 last year. The second half of the race was one of your best segments. Is that as good as it’s been except for the year maybe you finished second?ED CARPENTER: In its entirety, yeah. I think we had a really good car, we were fast, not quite good enough in traffic. Had we not had that issue, could have just been in the top five all day, I think it would have given us an opportunity to finish higher than what we did.Yeah, I think the team collectively, we had really good cars. Conor led the most laps, Rinus was up there leading as well. We had what we needed. We just didn’t put together a complete race with any of the three cars.
THE MODERATOR: Back to the Zoom for more questions.
Q.For 2023 there’s quite a radical difference coming both with the power unit, other parts of the car. How much time can you focus on the 2022 car when you’re also having to have people off to the side investigating all your possibilities for the ’23 machine?ED CARPENTER: I would say for the most part right now with the information that we currently have access to, we’re really focused on the now and this coming season. There’s going to be a point in time probably after we get through the month of May where we’ll start getting more information and getting more involved directly with the next season’s changes.But as we sit here today, the ball’s not really in our court, so to speak, on that side of things, on the preparation. It’s going to come before the season’s over. I feel like we’re prepared as a group to manage that. But right now everyone’s focus is on 2022.
Q.As a part-time driver, you’re eligible to be Chevrolet’s test driver for the 2023 spec engines.ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I don’t know how all that’s going to shake out yet. I’ll definitely do whatever I’m asked to do.
Q.Conor had a really good run at the 500 last year. Obviously you want to win it as a driver. What would it mean to you to win it as a team owner? Was there a point when you looked up and said, Oh, crap, I have a good chance to win this with one of my other cars?ED CARPENTER: First off, I’ll be happy, for sure be happy, if any of our team cars can win. Everything we do is as a group and a unit. That doesn’t mean that I would not want to win it myself if I got to pick.We definitely go there with the same intention on every one of our cars and every one of our drivers. It’s hard to say what my emotions would be like as far as happy meter personally and professionally. Either way it’s an accomplishment.I know from seeing how Bryan Herta, for example, reacted with winning it as an owner, it’s equally as impactful for what we’re doing, which is on a different level.As far as it goes in the race, I don’t really pay attention to that so much or think about that. Obviously I’ll see and know when they’re up there, but really just focus on my own race and cockpit at that point, not thinking about scenarios like that, just staying focused on my job at that moment.
Q.There’s a lot of popular drivers that have been in this race, but you’ll always go down as the hometown boy, hometown hero. You get great cheers from the fans in qualifying and in the race. How important is that to you?ED CARPENTER: I mean, it makes it fun. At the end of the day what we’re doing is fun. We’re all extremely lucky to be able to drive race cars for a living, to be able to drive INDYCARS for a living, compete in the Indy 500, the greatest race in the world. It definitely makes it more fun.The year there was no one there, it was awful. It wasn’t the same. I think it was an eye opener for everybody. Once we got going, you move past it. The energy level and the excitement just wasn’t the same with no one there.Yeah, it’s gratifying. When you’re around a long time, people eventually like you, so… Thankful for that (smiling).
Q.What is your approach to training during that time and staying in shape? What kind of guidance do you give to the other guys to be able to put up with the season?ED CARPENTER: I’ve worked with the same trainer for quite a while. We have our routine kind of that’s evolved over the years as my schedule has changed and I have to balance my driver schedule and owner schedule. Conor and I actually work with the same trainer so we train together I would say 75% of the time, schedule permitting.Rinus himself, he’s had someone that he’s worked with in the past. He just made a change in working with the same trainer as me somewhat now as well.I don’t question any of our guys’ preparation.
THE MODERATOR: Thought your training was chasing children.ED CARPENTER: That’s what I do from 4:30 to whenever I go to sleep.
THE MODERATOR: Asher, you’re on, brother.Q.Is there still any contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay on getting in?ED CARPENTER: I talk to Ryan still because we’re friends. We have been for a long time. I’m not sure that there’s really an opportunity at the here and now, which Ryan and I have talked about. But I will always continue to talk to Ryan because he’s a good guy. I’m sure he’ll end up being around at some point, whether it’s with us or someone else because he definitely still has a desire to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 SONAX ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET:THE MODERATOR: Rinus VeeKay, good afternoon.RINUS VEEKAY: Good afternoon.
THE MODERATOR: Quite disappointed you moved out of Speedway, Indiana, where we are receiving the slightest bit of snow.RINUS VEEKAY: I’m sorry. I’m not good with the cold. I enjoy sunshine a lot more.
THE MODERATOR: Second season with Ed Carpenter Racing is about to begin. Your thoughts? Optimism, I assume?RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, I’m very optimistic. I think this off-season we have not just waited around for the season to come around, but we have definitely taken all of our time to improve compared to last season.We definitely knew what we had to improve, so we spent a lot of time going over it, tried some different stuff. I’m curious to see how much we will improve this next season.
THE MODERATOR: Your boss was asked earlier about the second half of your season after the collarbone injury. Was that a factor in the second half of the season or did you think it was going to some new tracks?RINUS VEEKAY: There was one race — actually two races. I missed Road America. Mid-Ohio, I wasn’t 100%. I was happy to be back in the car, but I wasn’t 100% yet. The rest of the races I had no problems with the collarbone.I think the biggest problem was, yeah, I think as a team we were just struggling a little bit getting up to pace, showing up fast. Instead of tweaking the car a little to get the last few 10ths out, we were just trying to determine the whole setup.I think we just struggled a little bit, which can happen. It only showed the whole team what we had to improve for the coming season.
THE MODERATOR: What is new on your car this year?RINUS VEEKAY: A lot. I think the thought about the whole car setup is different. I have spent a lot of time with my engineer, even staying at his house on weekends, doing fun stuff, but still making sure my feedback will be translated in a different way so he can take everything, like every little thing I say, translated into the setup.Right now he has a better view of what I need in the car than before this off-season. So I think we definitely improved. I think everyone’s really at the same level of we know what everyone needs on the car.
THE MODERATOR: Was that Woody?RINUS VEEKAY: Brent is the strategist. Matt Barnes. Actually right now while I’m in Indy I’m staying at his apartment. I’ve been here already for five days. I’ve been at the team, yeah, tried to show my face as much as possible, even when it’s off-season, be part of the team.
THE MODERATOR: Are you going to give out the address, a pizza party tonight?RINUS VEEKAY: No pizza for me. I’ve been eating out too much this week.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q.You obviously came through the Road to Indy. New crop coming in this year. What advice do you have for them?RINUS VEEKAY: First of all, very proud of the Road to Indy of producing such talents, making sure they get to INDYCAR. That’s also quite something. Getting the talent to win in your series is one thing, but really making them have a career in INDYCAR is special.I hope they will do very well. I think for them it’s hard to see. In the Road to Indy, you’re winning a lot if you do well. David Malukas. You’re racing for wins every weekend. In INDYCAR, they will probably not come close to a win in like the first 10 races because they’re learning, everything is new. It’s a lot different than you’re used to. It’s a lot more stuff.If you think you got everything, there’s so much more you can learn. I think just being patient, focused on your weekend’s execution. Whenever you do well enough to win a race, it will come your way.
Q.How beneficial is it to you this season going into the year with not having the consistency of having Conor with you but also having him as a full-time teammate this year?RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, I’m very happy for Conor that he’s back again. It’s always been a lot of fun. I think it will definitely help Conor, too, to have a full season with one team, one team only. It will not only help Conor but also his crew, if they’re just working with one guy.I’m very happy with it. I think it was definitely very good. I’m looking forward. He was on an upward curve throughout the last part of the season last season. If he can pull that through, I can get back to what I was like the beginning of last season, we can both go for many top 10s and good results.
Q.I wanted to ask if one of the targets for you guys is specifically consistency? Obviously we saw you driving like a bat out of hell in GP of Indy. We come back to the Indy road course, you’re kind of relatively nowhere. We’re seeing Penske, like Will Power did the opposite of that. Is that something that you feel you have a handle on as a team?RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, we definitely have put a lot of focus on it because it’s not something — yeah, it’s not something that you forget so quickly. If you look at Romain Grosjean, he had two consistent Indy GPs, which is very good for him.I think what was basically the big factor between those two weekends was NASCAR running in the second one. The more they started running, the worse my car started to feel. I think we were not proactive enough on making setup changes towards, yeah, like fighting that NASCAR rubber.
Q.Obviously you led quite a few laps at Indy, as did Conor. Do you feel you are ready to fight? Say you got involved with the same kind of fight with a veteran as Helio like Palou did last year, do you feel like you’ll be ready to take that fight to any veteran INDYCAR driver?RINUS VEEKAY: I definitely think so, yeah. I have a lot of experience now in Indy actually, running in the front, passing cars and everything. I know with Ed Carpenter Racing I have a great car.Yeah, I just cannot wait for the Indy 500 this year. I think really I feel like a veteran now going to my third Indy 500. Just, yeah, I might have an advantage being a little younger and not knowing the dangers compared to Helio.
Q.Ed was in before talking about you. You’re young, but it’s your third year, you came through the Road to Indy. You’re growing up. He talked about your finding some independence. What do you think he meant by that?RINUS VEEKAY: Can you repeat the question? Sorry.
Q.Ed was saying that you’re growing up, becoming more independent. What does that entail?RINUS VEEKAY: Well, I was always having a lot of fun. I still have a lot of fun, as long as when that goes away there’s a serious problem.At the beginning of last season, like everything was fine. I was joking a lot. Sometimes a little too joke-y. We got some hard weekends in a row. It really made me think. I think it really opened my eyes to always keep looking for that little bit of extra speed that’s hidden for the weekend.Now I know that I’ve won my first INDYCAR race, I want to win more. Yeah, in the future I want to win an Indy 500 and also become an INDYCAR champion. To be able to do that, yeah, I need to get every — find every little speed I can from wherever I can.I think last half of the season really opened my eyes in a good way. I think it really matured me, too.
Q.When you were talking about the car setup for this year, you said there’s some different thinking behind it. What have you been trying to do there, what the new thinking of the setup of the car is?RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, so what I said, I have spent a lot of time with my engineer. We’re always in a very serious setting where we’re always talking about racing, thinking very deeply.But now because I was staying at my engineer’s house for so much time, actually we’re just laid back talking, very chill. If you don’t dig so deep, you say very normal things that actually you never think about saying.We talked about some stuff about setups. He really knows what I need from a car right now. I said a few things in the off-season which kind of opened his eyes, gave him a direction of thinking which way we have to go on which tracks.I think that definitely helped. I think team atmosphere has never been better than it is at the moment.
Q.You’ve been connected to someone who is going to be sought after in the driver market if you have a good season. Is that something you’ve taken with you on your journey in 2022? Is it something you think about that essentially there’s going to be some big teams looking at you in the future?RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, I know that’s the case at this moment. I’m not really thinking about it. For now I’m just focusing on every weekend producing the best possible result what we can do. Yeah, actually for me actually I want to show myself and show the team that we can actually stay competitive throughout the whole season. I will see whatever happens after that. I think as long as you show the best driver you are, the best part of yourself, you will always have a future in INDYCAR.
Q.Ed mentioned with growth and maturing, he said you either changed up your workout routine or switched trainers altogether. Can you talk about how as a driver you go about deciding to switch things up from a physical standpoint.RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, so this off season I’ve been focused on being physically fit a lot, especially after what happened to my collarbone. I didn’t really have any complications, but I just wanted to be stronger. I felt like the stronger I am, the more work I put in, you will definitely feel the difference on track.I actually did a lot of strength training. Then I got into the simulator. I was complaining to the guys, There’s no force in the steering wheel. It’s so light.They’re like, No, Rinus, it’s about the same strength as it was before.I’m like, Okay, that was a good sign.That was funny. But actually, yeah, I was always (indiscernible) around with my personal trainer. We actually stopped working together after four years. Yeah, it was time for me for some change, trying something else.I think for me not being 24/7 with a personal trainer also makes me just go head first in some other things that normally I would let him do. If there were, like, things with the team, if I’m in Indianapolis, right now I’m staying at my engineer’s place, trying to be doing a lot of stuff with the team, where with him I would always take off, go work out. I still do that but then on my own or with a trainer in Indianapolis.
Q.I wanted to get your thoughts on your countryman Max Verstappen had an exciting finale. Your thoughts on how that went down?RINUS VEEKAY: Yeah, it was a crazy season finale. Probably the craziest in history with Hamilton leading the championship every lap until the last one almost.Yeah, it was a lot of controversy about FIA, how they handled stuff. Well, Max definitely got — definitely was the better one. How do you say that?
THE MODERATOR: It worked out better for him.RINUS VEEKAY: It worked out better for him this time. But Hamilton had a lot of luck. It worked out for Hamilton several times earlier in the season.If you look at the stats, Max was the better driver last season. Definitely a deserved championship for him.
Q.When you think about the upcoming wins for yourself, would you rather they be that exciting or a straightforward victory?RINUS VEEKAY: Really depends. Really depends, yeah. I like a good straightforward victory where you’re just faster than everyone else, you sweep the floor with them. I think that’s pretty cool.But any kind of win, a win is a win. I would take any kind of win as long as it’s fair.
THE MODERATOR: Apologize for saying this is your second year. 2020 kind of got away from me.RINUS VEEKAY: It did to everyone, right?
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for being here. Enjoy your day.RINUS VEEKAY: Thank you very much.FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
CONOR DALY, NO. 20 BITNILE ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET:THE MODERATOR: Conor Daly has joined us.CONOR DALY: How’s it going?
THE MODERATOR: Doing well. The season begins February 27th so you’re right on time.CONOR DALY: Yeah. I mean, it’s kind of par for the course really. I’ve done late deals before, I’ve done no deals before, and I’ve done I guess somewhat early deals before.Yeah, doesn’t matter, as long as we got it done (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: How did the process come together? It was a juggling act as it usually is.CONOR DALY: Well, I’m willing to tell you a great story about it. This truly is a very Conor Daly-type story, how this all came about.Everything kind of seemed to be going the wrong way, all of our deals we were working on were kind of pitter pattering out. I planned a 30th birthday trip to Las Vegas, obviously. At the time I had talked to a long-time friend of ours, both me and Doug knew him as well, Doug Boles. He had this idea for this meeting with this guy that was interested in racing, INDYCAR racing. I was like, You know what, happy to do it.Are you going to be in Vegas by chance like December 17, 18?I said, Funny you ask. Yes, I will be there for my birthday.I went out there with me, Alex Rossi and two of my other friends from Indy here, and Travis Pastrana met us out there as well.Had this meeting on Saturday. I was like, This is it, this is what I got. I have this meeting or I have nothing.We woke up Saturday. My friends, they were still celebrating. I was not. I was locked in. I was sweating. I was like we tried to have lunch. I ate food. Travis got in. He’s very exciting. It’s very tempting to start doing what Travis wants to do, which is like jump off of buildings, cool stuff like that.I said, Hey, I can’t. I got a meeting.I go to this meeting at like 6:00 in the afternoon, to do whatever they’re going to do with Travis and Alex.By the next hour and a half we shook on a deal what it was announced at. I was like, Wow, that was the craziest thing.After that I went back and shouted at Travis and Alex, my friends, I think I’m employed. We had an incredible next two days.Ed, I texted Ed that night. It was obviously — he’s on east coast time. It was very late for me by the time the meeting was done. Ed called me at like 5 a.m. Vegas time. I think I just did this deal. I was obviously still awake because we were celebrating.I said, Hey, man, how is it going?He was like, Is that legit?I said, I think so.He said obviously, Call me when you wake up.I obviously went to sleep for a while and called him. Yeah, incredible story. It was a wild. People always say, Conor, you spend too much time in Vegas.I was like, Guess what, got me a job this time, you losers.It was great. Worked out well.
THE MODERATOR: Multi-year?CONOR DALY: Yeah. It was an incredible deal. Todd at BitNile, the holding company, they want to do an incredible amount in INDYCAR. They love INDYCAR. Todd has been an INDYCAR fan for a long time, which is really, really cool.Obviously we love the people that support our sport, right, which is really cool. Now he wants to get directly involved. He’s big on undervalued assets. He thought I was an undervalued asset, which I appreciate. That’s great.We’re going to try to really blow this program up, have an incredible time with it, make sure we do the business that we can do for him, give the support that he’s given us for him and his companies.
THE MODERATOR: Somehow I’m not surprised.CONOR DALY: Yeah, me either. Travis, I tell you what, the look on his face when I told him.He’s like, Man, that’s awesome.It was great people to celebrate with. Alex Rossi, Travis Pastrana. Mount that on a wall somewhere.
THE MODERATOR: You’re going to be in the 20 car all year, which means Ed is not.CONOR DALY: Yeah. Since the announcement people every day are asking, Are you doing Indy?I’m like, What part of the full season is not the Indy 500?It’s really funny to see. It’s just hard for people to disassociate Ed. Even me, Yes, I think I’m doing the full season.What is Ed doing?I haven’t asked him yet, to be honest.Actually I have to thank Ed in a very large way because, I mean, he did step aside for me to drive the 20, which is really cool.He’s always been a great owner. He loves the team. He does a great job with who works with us. This was obviously a very business-driven move. It’s hard to jump out of the seat. I mean, I’m a race car driver. Ed is a race car driver. You know what I mean?Yeah, it will still be great to work with him at Indy. He’s the boss so he can do whatever races he wants, I’m sure. Who knows. All I know is I’m in for the season, which is great.
THE MODERATOR: Amazing stuff.We’ll go to questions.
Q.Had this deal not worked out, what were you going to do?CONOR DALY: Great question. I considered a lot of things. But I really don’t know. Anything that I had planned in the background, like a B plan, still obviously had to have some sponsorship, whether that was NASCAR truck racing or whatever it was. All of those deals were kind of not falling away but being subtracted from the numbers that we needed.I really don’t know. Doesn’t matter now, I guess (smiling).
Q.A full season with the same team. How good will that continuity be for you?CONOR DALY: Well, honestly it’s awesome. I have not had that since 2017. That’s a long time ago. I feel like I was a child back then. Didn’t even have a mullet, didn’t even have a beard. That was my second year in INDYCAR at the time. A lot has changed since then.I was speaking to my engineer Pete yesterday. He’s like, I’m really pumped to do the whole season with you. That’s going to be great.Yeah, it will be nice just to kind of have that relationship.It is awkward going from team to team. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just an odd thing. In racing you’re very much in-house, you know what I mean? You don’t want to share information with anybody else because you got to keep it in-house, keep your stuff going on. Everybody is a little bit like, Great to see you, where you going now? Someone else that we want to beat?Kind of an awkward situation. It will be something that I’ve craved for a long time just to get back to. It will be nice not taking stuff from one locker to another.
Q.We’ve only got a real direct front view of you. How is that mullet doing?CONOR DALY: We went a little bit more less. I don’t know what someone called it today.Josef said, That’s hot.I said if Josef is saying that, that’s good. Josef is a beautiful man. It’s important that he respects it right out the gate. That’s good. I’m going to write that down in my notebook later, my journal.
Q.As one of the most popular drivers in the series, what do you think INDYCAR could do in order to grow the fan base?CONOR DALY: Great question. Wow.I mean, every sport is looking to grow their fan base, right? It’s a power play all across the board. The more people that support it, the more your sport as you said, the people in the sport are succeeding.There’s a lot that people are doing all across the board. You’re seeing different entities with television programs, with different social strategies.I don’t have the answer for that. Everyone has their own opinion on that. I mean, I think for us as drivers, we have to do a lot more. I think it takes more work than it used to.Our goal as a kid, you were to be the best driver you could be. I think a lot of what we have to do now is be the best brand that you can be. The driving is obviously the most important part. If you’re winning races, doing things, that’s great. If there’s no one watching those races, that’s also a problem because then you need to be able to race more and win more. There’s also a lot of work you have to do to make sure there are races to win.I think there’s a lot that we have to do as personalities. I think there’s a lot of drivers in this series that are awesome, awesome talents, but also awesome personalities. I just think we have to work harder to do that. It’s not necessarily one person or the other. A lot of it comes from us, too.Would I love to see us have a Netflix show? Yeah, for sure. But I’d also like to go to the moon. I don’t know which one of those things is going to come first but it’s hard to do both of those things.There’s a lot of people that want to see our drivers and the series go to a very, very high level. Everyone is working to do that. It’s not like everyone is here sitting around hoping that it’s going to happen. Everyone is working towards that goal of seeing INDYCAR grow and succeed and have people get there. I have faith in those people that are working there.Hope is not a strategy. As long as we’re doing things, eventually that goal will be reached where our fans are continuing to grow. Hopefully see us all do cool things on the racetrack.
Q.Do you think, talking about the Netflix stuff, will be cool that you have some camera behind you? How do you think will be the dynamic if you have someone looking for you in every place that you go?CONOR DALY: I think it’s awesome. I think that’s the way to really bring people into what we are doing. I think there’s so much that we do that is not — when you watch the TV broadcast, we put on our helmet, we get in the car and we try to do things that not many other human beings can do on the planet, which is really cool. There’s also a lot that goes on to get there.I think that’s a massive step that could be discovered and will be shown for sure, so… There it is.
Q.On the media side, we’ve lost some really big names, full-time driver-wise, in the series from Hinchcliffe to Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais. We’re seeing a lot of maybe unfamiliar faces to a lot of INDYCAR fans. I know part of growing this fan base is getting the 14 races on network TV. Another part has to be having drivers build brands to make a lot of these young drivers be more familiar faces to a casual INDYCAR fan. What do you feel either drivers as individuals or the series can do to help build some bigger brands, bigger names?CONOR DALY: Well, I mean, the guys that you said that we lost, I could immediately tell you guys that we just gained. You know what I mean? There’s guys like Kyle Kirkwood. We know Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean are full-time. They’re superstars, take a lot of attention. Kyle Kirkwood is an electric personality. I’ve hung out with him. I like that guy. He’s very, very talented.But as the previous question, we got to make sure that we make sure that people know that those guys are there, you know what I mean?I think there’s always a changing of the guard. There’s always people I’ve seen in the sport, out of the sport. It’s weird to think I’ve seen that, you know what I mean? Devlin deFrancesco that was coached when I was in INDYCAR. It’s wild. Devlin’s dad used to sponsor me when I was in F3. It’s crazy. It’s an awesome position to be in, see all these young guys like Callum, the rookie class is really cool, strong, you know what I mean?There’s a lot that is going on but there’s always going to be new people in and some people out, some people that come back, some people that go away. It’s kind of part of the game, right?I’m excited about the talent that we have. Obviously the full-time drivers right now, I mean, it’s probably the most full-time drivers we’ve had for a long time. It’s very, very exciting. Everything about it is really cool.You have Patricio O’Ward testing in Formula 1. People are saying, Is he going to Formula 1? Is he going to Formula 1? He’s in INDYCAR right now. That’s really cool. You know what I mean?
THE MODERATOR: With the rookie class, Tatiana, you have worked with.CONOR DALY: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: In Star Mazda?CONOR DALY: Tatiana was my teammate in 2010. It’s crazy to see. She’s been awesome. Her family is great, great people all across the board. I’ve obviously followed her journey since we were teammates. I keep up with her every now and then, talk to her every now and then. It’s cool to see what’s going on. It’s great. Have another female in the series, awesome. Great stuff.
Q.You seem like no matter what interviews, being on track, on Twitter, you seem like you’re a person who is always just yourself. You don’t ever seem like you have a façade or anything like that. I don’t know that you agree with this, but I know some fans feel maybe it’s because so many of these driver deals run year to year, sponsors are so important, some drivers maybe hold back or don’t show their true selves in front of the camera. Is that something you feel like would go a long way helping build some of these driver brands or get fans to know more about a driver? I as a person who follows the series know all those drivers, but maybe the casual fan might not know who Kyle Kirkwood is off the track, something like that. Is that something you feel would be important?CONOR DALY: I mean, I think a lot of people agree with how I do things. A lot don’t obviously.I think I would love for everyone to be able to see these guys how I see them sometimes. You know what I mean? That’s never going to happen. We’re never going to see certain people in the lights. They don’t want them to see theirselves, right? Everyone is going to do what they want to do.Teams are going to have certain policies as well, right? There’s a team effort that goes around with their drivers.I mean, I can only say what I can say, right? We have incredible people here. We have incredible people that want to see this series succeed. I think in general who doesn’t in this paddock want us to grow, right?Again, the common goal for everyone is to, like, be better, be more successful. Everyone wants to win races. Everyone wants to succeed. Everyone wants to make more money. By doing that all together, we can all hopefully attain that common goal.I would love to see a lot of us work together to do that I think better. There’s a little bit more we probably can all do together.Do I have the answers? No. I’m not the INDYCAR wizard of success obviously. I think there’s a lot of cool people that we have in the series that are working to make that happen and I trust those people.
Q.What does the continuity of the deal with ECR do for your confidence?CONOR DALY: I think it takes confidence to be at a very, very high level. I’ve been a guy that’s there to do a certain amount of races. Now I’m the guy that’s doing all the races, which is really cool.I know that us as a team, we have done so much together already. I think from year to year we’ve shown that we’ve improved for sure in a lot of different areas. I’m excited for what’s ahead. I think when I listen to my engineer say, Hey, we’re going to test here, here, here and here.I’m like, That’s a lot of places, which is great. If I get to Texas, wow, haven’t done that in a long time. If I get to test at Iowa, haven’t done that in a long time. That will be really, really cool. I can’t wait for those types of things. It builds the confidence.Confidence right now is at an absolute massively high level. I can’t wait.
THE MODERATOR: Appreciate your time. Congratulations on your Vegas trip.CONOR DALY: Thank you. Yeah, Vegas, you always hope is successful for many, many different reasons. This one was extremely successful.