Chevy Racing–IndyCar–Mid-Ohio–Tony Kanaan

AUGUST 1, 2014

TONY KANAAN, NO. 11 GLAD TARGET CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET, met with media at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and discussed racing at Mid-Ohio, his first season with Target Chip Ganassi Racing and other topics . Full transcript:

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing.
Tony, with a team that’s been so successful at this track, what do they bring to you?

TONY KANAAN: Obviously, we have a lot of good data from the track. It’s no secret that we’re kind of struggling a little bit this year. Every track we’ve been this year hasn’t been the same as past results.

We’re trying to be extremely realistic. We came and tested here last week. I think the cars are pretty good. This morning we only did five laps because of the requirement to keep the set of tires we have. We don’t have enough tires this weekend from the allotment to run every session.

I think we’re strong. Obviously Toronto was a good weekend for us. Looking to bring the first win to Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Coming to the track that they’ve won the last five races, it’s always a positive spin.

THE MODERATOR: Three podium finishes for you in the last three races. What is the cause of this turnaround for you this season?

TONY KANAAN: I think the team is working extremely hard to understand what’s going on, what’s been wrong, so we can win some races.

We did a couple summer tests, a couple of the ovals, Sebring. I’m understanding the car a little bit better, the way the team likes to run it, trying to dial in things that suit my driving style a little better, and it worked out.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony.

Q. How valuable is Scott’s input this weekend since he’s won a lot of races here? Collectively how is the information going between the two of you for this weekend?

TONY KANAAN: Really well. I think we’re trying to merge the information and trying to make it that we can use both of our experiences as a positive spin to be able to win the race.

It’s early. We just had the first session today. We’ll see this afternoon, probably more to talk about, see what’s going to happen.

Q. I know you’re focused on your own season. Do you ever take a look at the bigger picture of the championship? Do you have an opinion on who might be the favorite amongst the four guys?

TONY KANAAN: It’s tough to say. In my opinion, the way that the championship is looking, Penske looks pretty strong. But Hunter-Reay, he’s always going to be a factor.
It’s tough to say, but in my opinion I would say probably it’s going to be between Will and Helio.

Q. (Question regarding tires.)
TONY KANAAN: It’s actually the series and the teams. It’s a cost-effective thing that they’re trying to reduce the minimum so teams don’t spend all the budget on tires and everything else.

Firestone actually has plenty of tires made for us to have it. I think it’s just by the rules, that’s what was decided in the beginning of the year, the allotment for the race weekend.

Q. Tony, you were talking earlier about getting the car to suit your style. Can you talk about your driving style relative to Scott’s? Any big differences?

TONY KANAAN: I can’t get into too much details. But Scott likes to drive the car extremely oversteering. I don’t like that much. I would say that’s the only thing I could say.

He’s a little bit less aggressive with the brakes and the throttle than I am. That makes a big difference on the setup, as well.

Q. I know it’s too early to look to next year, but the way you acclimated to the team, do you feel like next year is going to be a chance for Tony Kanaan to have another chance for a championship?

TONY KANAAN: I think it has to be. Every time you come to a new team, it takes a little bit to get used to it.

It’s such a short season, although we have a lot of races back-to-back, I think it took me a little bit to get used to it.

I’m definitely looking forward to next year. I think we’ll be in a position to win a championship, for sure. We should be doing that this year already.

Q. Two straight years, no yellows. How weird is that at a course that is as tight and technical as it is? Can you do three in a row?

TONY KANAAN: We’re going to try. I think that’s the beauty of it. Look at the quality of the drivers and the teams. You don’t have mechanical failures or drivers making mistakes, you have a full green-flag race.

I enjoy that a lot. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be sometimes. The last two races, I think the fans loved it. They liked the way it was.

It opened the window for a lot of drivers to win races as well. It makes a big difference. Strategy doesn’t get to play as much because you don’t have as many yellows to play around.

Hopefully we’ll go for three in a row.

Q. (Scott Dixon), people are saying he’s in a slump. How do you look at the season?

TONY KANAAN: I find amazed that you go and you win a championship in the way that he did last year, then all of a sudden you get judged by having an ‘okay’ year. People love to say that. I get that a lot. I got that a lot in the past, as you know.
I think everybody’s allowed, you know, to have an okay year, not as good as people expect. Obviously when you’re racing for an organization like Target Chip Ganassi, people are going to expect you to win every race. You saw the expectations when they announced me, it’s me and Dixon.

The series is very competitive. You can’t take for granted. Everybody is working really hard. Same car, same engine, same tires from the past three years. Competition, it’s really close.

The team, we took a direction that we figure out it didn’t work. We’re changing that. Scott Dixon is Scott Dixon. If anybody wants to say anything, I would say they’re wrong. Like I said to you, I’ve been in that position. I think May last year we proved it, that I wasn’t getting old, I wasn’t in a slump, it wasn’t anything.

It’s just a matter of time when you get things right. When you have competition like we have here, it’s hard to be on top every time.

Q. You are getting old though, sorry (laughter).

TONY KANAAN: I know that. But you’re way ahead of me. That makes me feel much better. By the time I get to your age, probably going to be in a nursing home (laughter).

Q. You can come see me.

TONY KANAAN: I’ll come see you. We can talk about racing. I’ll bring you some wine, morphine (laughter).

Q. What has it been like working with Mike Hull and Chip Ganassi?

TONY KANAAN: I’ve been to a big organization before when I was with Michael. People are different, personalities are different.

I’ve learned a lot from Mike Hull, the way he manages the team. And Chip, the mentality of winning. This is Chip’s only business. That’s all he wants to do, is win. If he doesn’t win, he is not happy.

I’ve been there for almost a year now and I’ve seen quite a bit like how much this guy, how badly he wants to win. If you want to make Chip happy, just win races. You don’t have to do anything else.

I’ve learned how to persevere. Although I thought I knew how to do it, I’ve done it a lot for the things I went through in my career, the mentality there is, Whatever we need to do, we need to win races. Don’t even give up if you’re 20th going into the weekend. You make changes. You drive people to their limit. You put enough pressure, they can take the pressure and also perform.

It’s been quite a bit of an experience. Learning how to understand the mentality of the team was one of the biggest things I had to learn.

THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you.

TONY KANAAN: Thank you.