CHEVROLET INDYCAR V6 DRIVERS MIKE CONWAY, SCOTT DIXON, TONY KANAAN AND JUAN PABLO MONTOYA met with members of the media at the open test for the Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park. Full transcript:
MIKE CONWAY, NO. 20 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA ED CARPENTER RACING CHEVROLET:
“So far it’s been very good. Really enjoying working with Ed Carpenter Racing and the whole group of guys there. I know a few of them from before that I worked with. Still it’s good to get back together and work on a program for the season. Preseason testing has gone well, but still need to keep working hard. Obviously we are trying to learn as much as we can once we are allowed on track over these next two days. That will be our final prep then really for St. Pete. I’m looking forward to all the races ahead really. I think we still have a little bit of time to find maybe, but we are working hard to find that and hopefully we will get that over the next two day and looking forward to the season ahead. I got a good few races last year which I was fortunate to get and then obviously really happy to get all the races I’m getting this year with Ed Carpenter Racing. Really thankful for that and can’t wait to get going.”
BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK HAS BEEN GOOD TO YOU IN THE PAST. TALK A LITTLE ABOUT RACING AT THE TRACK:
“I love the track as opposed to when we first came here in 2009. It’s more of a track I’m used to with the European style of tracks being quite fast flowing. It’s good fun here. It’s always very testing on the tires and the car. It’s always some parts of the circuit compare to other it’s a bit of a give and take sometimes with set-up. It’s always good to get that going. It’s a fun place to come to and I think one of the best tracks including all the facilitates and the cool museum they have here. It’s always good to be here.”
DO YOU HAVE A PROGRAM LINED UP IN EUROPE BESIDE YOUR INDYCAR COMMITMENT?
“No, I have a deal with Toyota doing the testing with the LMP1 program and some LMP2 running as well in the WEC Series (FIA World Endurance Championship). Yeah, keep me busy a lot of back and forth to Europe this year. It’s good. Lots of seat time which is good for me. I’m glad, very fortunate to have a few programs going on. I’m happy about that.”
HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO GET THE CAR TO YOUR LIKING COMING IN KIND OF FRESH WITH MAYBE HOW ED (CARPENTER) LEFT IT WITH WHAT HE LIKES IN A CAR VERSUS WHAT YOU LIKE IN A CAR?
“It’s been good I’ve been able to take my time a little bit longer obviously with all the testing we have had or we are going to have before the first race. It’s been good for me to really kind of all the little details that you kind of don’t have time to work on during a race weekend has really been good to work on those. Yeah, really explore different things, just testing loads of different items which you can’t do on a race weekend. It’s been really good for me to learn a bit more about the car and how they have been running it and the way we progressed it over the last few tests that we have had. It’s been good; every time we have gone out we have improved it which is the main thing. Still some bits to work on but we are looking good I think.”
WAS IT THAT FAR OFF WHEN YOU GOT IN THE CAR?
“No I mean straight away the car felt good when we got in at Sebring. No I was happy with the car, but you know you always try and get it in more of a direction that you like or you are used to. But not they definitely did a good job with preparing the car.”
IS IT A BIG CHANGE TO GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN INDYCAR, LMP1 AND LMP2? IS THERE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR YOU?
“No, it’s not really a big thing to jump back and forth to. Yeah, each car has obviously got their own little details, intricacies and the way you have to drive them. It’s good for me I think just to develop new skills and to apply them to different cars. I think it’s been really good for me in terms of driving different things. I’m enjoying that and it is certainly helping IndyCar again too it’s definitely helping me. It’s been fun.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 2 VERIZON TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET:
TONY KANAAN, NO. 10 TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET:
SCOTT DIXON, NO. 9 TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET:
WHAT IS THE TRANSITION LIKE COMING FROM SEBRING TO PREPARE FOR TESTING AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK?
SCOTT DIXON: “Not too bad. We were just talking about it, but I will say a 12-hour is a lot easier to recover from than a 24-hour. I think my biggest issue was staying up for the Formula 1 race and then falling asleep 10 minutes before it started. I think the race for us was a lot of fun. The car was really competitive. We had a few up’s and down’s at the end, but it was really successful for the team which was fantastic to see. I’m really proud of the No. 01 guys, but I don’t know. It feels good and the travel was pretty easy to get here obviously. I had a day to relax so definitely ready to go. Unfortunately it’s a little wet out there now which has added to the delays today so far.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU GUYS ARE LOOKING TO LEARN FROM TODAY?
TONY KANAAN: “I think it’s a lot of we have all of us, we have our race engines for the first time. It’s going to be making sure everything runs okay and we can get a couple… the last two good days before the season starts. I think it’s getting rid of some of the issues that we probably can’t avoid up until we get to St. Pete and just have a good test. We are coming back here to race, but still a track that we haven’t tested this year as a team so it will be pretty important for us to come out of here with a pretty good idea of what we wanted to have.”
MAKING YOUR RETURN TO INDYCAR THIS SEASON I KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN TO A FEW TESTS WITH A LOT OF CARS ON TRACK WITH YOU. THIS IS THE FIRST SERIES OFFICIAL OPEN TEST WITH THE FIELD YOU WILL BE PARTICIPATING IN. AS YOU CONTINUE THAT ADJUSTMENT PERIOD WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU WILL BE LOOKING FOR TODAY?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: “For us it’s work on the car and myself a little bit on new tires. Just trying to find a good balance on long runs. Just learn. We just have to keep going through a learning process again and just see what happens.”
WHEN YOU CAME BACK TO OPEN WHEEL FROM THE NASCAR BUSINESS HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO ADAPT THE CAR? IS THERE STILL SOMETHING YOU CAN USE WHEN YOU WERE DRIVING CHAMP CARS WITH THESE NEW DALARRA CARS?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: “I think a little bit of everything that I have done helps me with experience. Adjusting to the cars no I got up to speed pretty easy. There are a lot of things still to learn. Sebring was easy because I have been there before. I was there before in the Champ cars so I knew the track really well. Did a lot of laps back in the day. It hasn’t changed, it’s bumpier than hell, but has always been. It is what it is. I’m very open minded about this year. I think being with Team Penske and Verizon is really exciting. We have a hell of a car, hell of a team and I’m very open minded right now what’s coming.”
DO YOU EXPECT YOUR TEAMMATES TO BE AS HELPFUL AS THEY HAVE BEEN IN THE OFF SEASON ONCE THE SEASON STARTS?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: “Yeah I think we work really well together. We have a really good friendship with Helio (Castroneves) and Will (Power) and we understand that the ultimate goal is the team. We get that. I think we do a really good job of working together and maximizing everything and helping ea
ch other. Yeah, I don’t see why not.”
COMING INTO ST. PETE WHAT IS GOING TO BE YOUR MINDSET WITH THE NEW DIFFERENT FORMAT TO THE WEEKEND, THE FAST SIX QUALIFYING ALL THOSE THINGS YOU HAVEN’T REALLY EXPERIENCED?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: “I haven’t experienced for example red tires. I asked why they don’t give us red tires for practice or like official tests like today would have been useful to get on a set of reds to get an idea of what they do, but have to wait until St. Pete and see what it does. I think the positive is I did a lot of testing in Formula 1 with a lot of different tires, hard, soft so you learn to drive them all. I think that will play into my hands a little bit. Of course I think the guys that do it every week know what the tires doing they are going to be a little bit ahead of me on that, but we will see. It’s a matter of putting a good lap together.”
YOU SPENT A LOT OF TIME IN NASCAR, REGRETS MAYBE NOT LIVING UP TO THE EXPECTATIONS THAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO DO ON THAT SIDE OF THE RACING WORLD?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: “Not really. We did what the team could do and what the car could do. When we had a good car we made the Chase we won races and we competed for wins on oval and stuff. But when you don’t have the car to win it makes it impossible. When the car was competitive and it was good we were good when it was bad it was bad. As a driver you can do so much, but at the end of the day if your equipment is not where it needs to be it makes it impossible.”
JUST THE FACT YOU MIGHT GET TO TRY OUT BOTH RAIN TIRES AND DRY TRACK TIRES DOES THAT HELP?
TONY KANAAN: “I think we are going to be using slick tires. Maybe some people will do an installation lap with the slicks, but the track is going to be damp for sure this afternoon, but it looks like tomorrow will be better. Different conditions for a fact I believe that when we come back here it is not going to be this cold. Just have to play with what we got. Track time is extremely important especially now a days that we don’t have much track time. This is really the first time that we are all together. It’s just a different day.”
HOW DOES BARBER STACK UP WITH OTHER VENUES IN TERMS OF TESTING?
SCOTT DIXON: “I think at this point of the season it’s just getting miles. We have only done three days so far this year. It doesn’t really apply to any other track that we go to. At least this year Sonoma, Mid-Ohio we run similar tires so that actually helps a lot. Years previous the tires have been different from track to track to track. Barber is a unique circuit. It’s kind of close to Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, but in a lot of ways it’s not. It’s unique, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a fantastic facility and definitely for the fans and people out this way it’s been a fantastic event for us. This early in the season to get miles is the important thing as Tony (Kanaan) touched on. Everybody has got their first new engine spec for one of the four engines for the season. There is a lot to be learned on drive ability. There are some brake options that are sort of being circulated out there that we need to get through and it’s just trying to get everything ready for the first race which is in a week and a half. There is a lot to be achieved and obviously with the weather today it’s sort of hindered that a little bit, but I’m sure we will be out this afternoon to get some laps in.”
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT IT’S LIKE NOW TO SWITCH TO THE TARGET TEAM AND HOW YOU HAVE KIND OF FOUND A NEW HOME THERE?
TONY KANAAN: “Well in a way it was a very easy transition for me. I’ve known a lot of the guys there and I’ve hung with Scott (Dixon) and Dario (Franchitti) forever outside the race track so it wasn’t like everything new. The new thing for me is just the size of the team, the resources is just like it’s endless. For me it took me a little bit of time to adjust to that. They made me feel extremely welcome. It definitely helped a lot by doing the Tudor United Sportscar Series races with them because some of my crew actually was on the No. 02 car. I had a lot of time with them. We had a 24-hour race and a 12-hour race together already. It’s not like I don’t know those guys. I’m happy I’m extremely excited about the season. I think I still have a lot of things to get a grip as far as the way the Target Chip Ganassi team works, but so far it’s been pretty good. Now we just need to go to the track and do what we know.”
YOU ARE THE DEFENDING SERIES CHAMPION. IT’S GOING TO BE A NEW SEASON FOR YOU WHAT IS THAT PRESSURE LIKE DEFENDING THE SERIES TITLE AS YOU ENTER A NEW SEASON?
SCOTT DIXON: “I think it’s obviously a good problem to have. I’ve been in this situation a couple of times before and we actually haven’t defended it that well. In ’09 we had a close shot and nearly won another championship. We will just have to sort of see how it goes. For us in the past when we have come close to another three championships I think it’s always been the start of the year that has kind of hindered us. I think we need to focus on making a good start in the first three or four races. Barber has always been – I think I’ve finished second here every year I have come here. It would be nice to improve on that maybe. I think we need to start the season stronger and I know the team will be very good. The transition to Chevy has been very smooth and very exciting I think for the team in a whole. Expect us to be competitive it’s just hopefully we don’t give out too many point’s at will.”