AUGUST 25, 2012
TALK ABOUT THE CHANGES MADE TO SONOMA RACEWAY: JAMES – “The track did have some changes; upgrades if you will. We had a chance to test here last week. Really, the biggest one is turn seven. They widened the turn out, which helps. But the profile isn’t a ton different for us. The big difference in (turn) 11, the geometry of the corner is the same; it is just a little further down. The big change is turn seven. That changes that corner quite a bit. I definitely think it has made turn seven a better passing opportunity, which is obviously the goal. This race has always been notorious for difficult overtaking. I just think the nature of these big brake zones, and tight corners – they are tough in our cars. Indy cars are not really designed for first-gear thirty mile-an-hour hairpin (corners). It makes it very easy to make a mistake. I think that is actually going to create as many passing opportunities as a big brake zone as guys may be getting in a little bit wrong to (turn) 11 and having a nice little drag race up into turn one here. I definitely think there will be more action in the race for sure.”
TALKING ABOUT SITTING SECOND IN THE STANDINGS AND THE DEPTH OF THE FIELD AND THE COMPETITION THIS SEASON: RYAN – “This is definitely one of the most IndyCar seasons I have seen in a long time. Either one that I have been a part of, or not. If you ask guys like Dario (Franchitti) and Tony (Kanaan) will say the same thing, and they have been around for awhile. I don’t mean to make them old. This year has been extremely, extremely competitive. The DW12 (chassis) has done an excellent job in really making for some dramatic races. I think this championship is going to come down to Fontana. It’s going to be fought between three or four guys at least. I think realistically the top-five have a shot at winning it. Every race is going to be pivotal. We came into Mid-Ohio, the last race, leading by 20 points, and now we are trailing by five. It can swing quickly. We had an engine issue there at Mid-Ohio which sidelined us. Hopefully we don’t have any more of those, and that is behind us and we can go on and we can win the championship for Andretti, DHL, Sun Drop and Chevrolet.”
YOU ARE RIGHT BEHIND WILL POWER IN THE STANDINGS, WHO HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL HERE. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU TO SURPASS HIM IN THE POINTS HERE? RYAN – “This is definitely a Penske track. Last year it was one-two-three. For the past four or five years, this has been a notoriously difficult for the Andretti squad. It is tough. Right now we definitely have to close the gap. They are the team to beat. We aren’t stellar at the moment. My side-kick Hinchcliffe here has come up with some crazy set-up stuff for this afternoon’s practice. He’s going to go guinea pig it. Hopefully we will be able tag along. This is probably one of our most difficult races coming from Andretti Autosport standpoint.”
WILL THE NEW LAYOUT HELP YOU? RYAN – “We were hoping it was going to. You took one corner and just tightened it up a little bit. And you took another corner and lengthened it a little bit. It didn’t really change the layout that much. Yes, it might change some passing situations. Like James said, slowing the car down more, it’s a little bit more difficult now. The guys that were quick here, the teams that were quick here and quick here still. We still have that same gap to close. It is a gap of about sixth-tenths of a second, which is a lot. But, we desperately need to close that. We will be working hard today.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE TEST SESSION HERE LAST WEEK? JAMES – “We learned what not to do. Which is almost as good as learning what to do. Not quite as good, but almost as good. We showed up here, because as Ryan said, this isn’t statistically the strongest track for our team, with a couple of different concepts. Unfortunately, not one of them really took. I think the test was vital because we have now had a week to analyze all that data. I think we have actually come up with something, after yesterday sitting down with the engineers, that I’m a lot more confident than I was Saturday morning when I got out of bed thinking ‘Man, this is going to be a tough weekend’. Again, we’ve got a long session this afternoon to try and work it out. We’ve got three cars pounding away at things. We’ll see. I do have faith in the team. One of the big things we’ve seen out of this team is comebacks and bounce-backs. We’ve had some pretty bad Fridays that have turned into some really good Sundays. Hopefully we can make that happen this weekend.”
IS THE CAR SETUP A MAJOR CHANGE WITH THE LAYOUT CHANGES TO THE TRACK? JAMES – “it’s pretty close because fundamentally, like we said, it is the one corner where the profile really changed. The rest is just lengthening or shortening sort of things. 96% of the track remains unchanged. The setup philosophies are very similar which is why, as Ryan said, the teams that are traditionally quick here, are still quick here.”
HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR TWO-AND-A-HALF OFF TIME? RYAN – “My wife (Becky Gordon Hunter-Reay) ran the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. That was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have ever had to do. Sit at the bottom of the hill and watch the car leave…you are like ‘ok, now I just sit here in the trees and listen and make sure I don’t hear a big sound’. You lose radio communication. Becky did a great job getting up there. It was the only completely stock car in the race, and it was the only stock electric car.  So we did that. Then went to New York and did some media and PR stuff. That was a busy day. Got a lot in. Then with this Isaac thing coming, I had to completely hurricane proof my house, even though I had no idea if it was coming. Which is awesome. Spent the whole day. And now its not coming to Florida, so good thing I did that. (Laughs). But now our lawn furniture is all inside, so its nice. Our whole house is filled with lawn furniture.”
JAMES – “You should entertain and have a party. There’s enough places to sit..”
RYAN – “That’s what I was thinking. I would just let people track the house.”
JAMES – “I’ll come by after the race, how’s that? We’ll have a little gathering at your place. I’ll call friends.”
RYAN – “Will you?  Let’s do that.”
JAMES – “Yeah, it’s a date.”
RYAN – “Date.”
JAMES – “Which segways nicely into how I actually spent some of my time after Mid-Ohio.  I spent a few days with Michael, Marco and Mario (Andretti) in Pennsylvania. A little bit of team bonding, which was a lot of fun. Ryan here, he big-timed us and didn’t show up. He was invited, but…” LAUGHS
RYAN – “I had to go support my wife, and look after my house.”
JAMES – “Details, details. You are focusing on all the wrong points, Ryan.”
JAMES – “It was toing and froing. I wish I had more actual down time that I did with toing and froing to Charlotte for various reasons.”
RYAN – “Toing and froing?” I’ve never heard it used.
JAMES – “Toing and froing. It means going to a place, and then returning from the same place. You should add into your vocabulary. You expand your horizons a little bit Ryan.”
JAMES – “So, housekeeping. I paid a lot of bills, opened a lot of mail. It was very domestic. I did a lot of laundry. It was great. It sounds weird, b
ut it actually nice to have the time to do stuff like that. It is nice to have 48 hours at home to just literally clean my house, pay my bills and stuff.”