JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 CHEVROLET AT TEAM PENSKE, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
“We were definitely just shy on speed. I don't have an answer for you on why. I think we felt confident that we were going to make another step, and I think we were similar to last year in a lot of ways as far as our gapping to where we needed to be.
So yeah, I don't have an answer for you, but yeah, we were shy on speed. Just didn't have it in the car.”
DID IT FEEL DIFFERENT TO PREVIOUS YEARS FOR THE RACE?
“For the race? Yeah, I would say so. I think in race trim, the car feels like it has everything it needs to be successful. I think it feels quicker than last year's car in race trim. That side of it, I feel really good. I think the race car is great.”
DOES IT FEEL TOO DIFFERENT FROM THE SPOT THAT YOU WERE LAST YEAR, STARTING TO WIN RACES AND BUILDING CONFIDENCE?
“I think I feel confident in what we're doing right now. I feel like the potential is super high, and our team, we've not realized the potential for the last couple events. I feel like if we've had five events, three of them were potential winners and we only won one of them, so we didn't fully realize our potential up to this point, but it's there, so that gives me a lot of confidence not only just for this weekend but for the rest of the year.”
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RACE, DOES YOUR APPROACH CHANGE TO KEEP YOU BUSIER OR MAYBE HAVING A KID NOW KEEPS YOUR FOCUS? DOES THAT CHANGE AT ALL?
“Not really, no. Honestly, I don't have a great answer for it. It's not that different. My family was in Alabama, as well, and just the whole cadence or the flow up to the race day has not changed much. I feel like having the family is very similar. Very, very similar. Not a lot different.”
ARE YOU MAD (INDISCERNIBLE) DO YOU TAKE IT AS A COMPLIMENT THAT YOUR IDEA HAS BEEN SO CLOSELY FOLLOWED?
“I didn't understand it. It felt like a layered joke that's not fully played out is what it felt like. It also felt like a compliment, yeah. Like it was just a big Bus Bros promotion. Like should we just be thankful for that? Like we didn't pay them to do it, so I didn't know -- I was confused by it more than anything. But maybe we owe them money. Maybe that's what it is.”
CANAPINO HAS A GOOD PACE, BUT HE HAS A PROBLEM WITH THE PHYSICAL QUALITY, ABOUT THE TRAINING. WHY IS IT SO HARD -- EXPLAIN TO THE FANS, WHY IS IT SO HARD TO DRIVE IN INDYCAR?
“They're very physical cars. I think it's been so impressive to see Canapino. He's been one of the most impressive people this year. I think most people sort of wrote him off in the very beginning and said he wasn't going to be worth anything in INDYCAR, and he's been the exact opposite. He's been fantastic. He's never driven an open-wheel car from what I understand up until this year, so that's one of the most impressive drivers I've ever seen, but physically very different to what he's used to. He's used to sort of a touring or a sports car which I'm assuming has power steering, which is very different to an INDYCAR. INDYCAR has no power steering, has a lot more downforce, so the physical loading that you're susceptible to is probably twice whatever he was used to in the past. Just being able to drive the car at a high level and also physically being able to get used to it is a huge challenge, and for someone like Canapino, I'm so impressed, crazy impressed.”
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE TRAINING OF YOUR BODY IN THE FIRST THREE OR FOUR MONTHS WHEN YOU ARRIVED TO INDYCAR? YOU RACED IN INDY LIGHTS --
“Yeah, in INDYCAR you have to get used to the amount of physical loading that the car is going to give you because it has so much downforce, it takes multiple races to get used to trusting how much load the car can make and actually using it. It's one thing to feel the load, but then to keep going and driving through it is a totally different deal. A lot of people normally back off.
I think that's what you feel when you first drive an INDYCAR, and to be able to get used to it so quickly is impressive.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PARENTS, HOW THEY HANDLE YOU BEING A DRIVER, AND DO THEY SAY ANYTHING TO YOU BEFORE THE RACE THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
“I can only imagine that they feel nervous when I race. Not having a son, I would feel the same way if my son was racing. I think if anything they're just happy that I'm doing what I love, and they encourage me to be happy and content doing my passion.
So yeah, they just try and -- they're just very supportive, very, very supportive parents. They don't overstep. They're not in my way at all. They're here to enjoy and hope for the best. At the end of the day I think they always have concerns when I'm out there, but that's racing. There's always going to be a little risk there.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR TIRES? DID YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEM DURING PRACTICE, AND HOW IS THE RACE GOING TO BE?
“I didn't have any big problems in practice, but Monday was tougher because the track temp was so high. I think the track temp is going to decide the complexity of the race. If it's a cooler track temp, I think it'll be a lot more congested, the field is going to be a lot tighter. If it's as hot as it was on Monday at 125 degrees, you're going to have more tire dropoff, and that's not necessarily one axle or the other. I think it depends on the car. Some people are going to wear out rear tires, some are going to wear out fronts, but it will potentially string the field out a little bit more.
So we'll have to see. I haven't had any big problems. I was pretty happy with my tire degradation on Monday. I wasn't happy with the balance of the car, but had I degradation was very good.
So if it's a hot day or if it's a cool day, I don't mind, but it will change the race depending on what you get.”
THAT MAKES EVERYBODY COME INTO THE PITS EARLIER THAN --
“I don't think so. I think everyone -- if other people were telling you that, that's a surprise. I didn't realize it was that bad for some others. Man, maybe it should be hot then because we could go a whole stint no problem.”
IT LEADS TO UNDERCUTTING AND (INDISCERNIBLE) --
“It normally doesn't. Typically the overcut is stronger here. I mean, never say never; we're always ready to change on the fly if something is looking better, but typically the overcut is stronger here. If you can have good degradation on your tires and you can burn the fuel in the car and then run fast at the end -- typically that's what happens. If you have good degradation, once the fuel burns off, the car can run much quicker flat out catching the tow, so you typically want to go as far as you can and get the overcut advantage. That's been historically better here. I think that'll still be the same unless something peculiar happens.”
DO YOU THINK THAT PASSING WILL BE HARD IN THE RACE?
“It depends on the temperature. Yeah. Like if it's 100 degrees track temp it's going to be pretty easy to pass. But if it's 125 like last Monday -- it's not that it's hard to pass, but it will be tougher. It won't be as easy as maybe people thought.”
I ONCE ASKED TONY KANAAN, AFTER HIS HEARTBREAKS, DOES THIS PLACE OWE YOU ONE, AND OF COURSE HE HAD A CLASSIC ANSWER: NO, INDY DON'T OWE ANYBODY ANYTHING. DO YOU HAVE THE SAME APPROACH?
“Oh, 100 percent. 100 percent. This place doesn't owe anybody anything.”
WHAT HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT ABOUT THIS PLACE THAT HAS TO HAPPEN SUNDAY BESIDES FITNESS FIRST? WHAT IS IT THAT'S THE MAGIC?
“I’d like to think I understand the process of it. I know what needs to be done. We were on our way to doing that last year.
It's sort of the same simple ingredients. You have to have a good consistent car. You've got to make good decisions, pit stops got to be excellent, can't have any mistakes, and then it's building to be in the conversation on that last stint. You put yourself in position, and then when it comes down to executing, you've got to execute if you've given yourself an opportunity. That's sort of how it flows.
I've had that a couple times. I've been in that conversation I would say twice, and then there's a couple other years where we probably could have been in the conversation, but for one reason or the other we just weren't.
But it's the same formula, and you've just got to keep trying. You've got to keep trying.”
IT FEELS LIKE YOU ARE GETTING SOMETHING ABOUT THE PROCESS OF BUILDING A RACE. DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT'S A THING OF PROCESS, THAT YOU HAVE TO DO THAT IN ORDER TO WIN A RACE, OR IT'S JUST FLOWING IN THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THE TRACK?
“No, I find it very much to be a process. There's a way that you construct the race that can realize a victory. It's not always the same thing. Also you can have a plan for what that construction is going to look like, and then maybe it's got to change midway through the race because things are different than what you maybe proscribed them to be, but for me it's very much a process, and I love that. I love that it takes putting it all together to realize victory, and that's not just here at Indy but every race. Every race Sunday you've got to put everything together and construct it, and to me that's the most fun challenge.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 CHEVROLET AT TEAM PENSKE, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
HOW DO YOU FEEL AROUND YOUR RACECAR FOR SUNDAY AND WILL THERE BE PASSING?
“I think there will be a lot of passing. The aero bits that they’ve allowed teams to have on the floor have made a big difference. They are very efficient bits, so everyone is running them. Provides quite a chunk of downforce, so, for me, the last 20 laps will be just back and forth. That will be the case all race; at the beginning there will be people sitting back and saving fuel, but you can pass a lot easier. The tires do degrade, some do get vibrations so that will play into the fact that some cars will be good, some with be bad, some will come through and some will go back. I think it’s a good package.”
COMPARED TO THE LAST FEW YEARS, DO YOU THINK YOUR ODDS LOOK MORE FAVORABLE?
“The car is good. When I look through the field, there are so many good drivers and cars. You have to spend that first half trying not to make any mistakes, get in a good position with pit stops and see where you stack up. My car in particular, I feel really good about so far.”
DO YOU THINK ABOUT HOW THE RACE MAY GO, ANTICIPATE WHAT TO EXPECT?“
I do. It’s just natural to think about how the race will play out at the end. I just envision it’s going to be a back and forth, back and forth dogfight. It’s hard to envision how is it going to be, how are you going to pass someone coming to the white, how is that going to play out?”
WOULD YOU RATHER BE LEADING GOING INTO THE WHITE FLAG?
“The way I feel, if you’re leading at the white flag, the guy will get you on the backstraight. The question is would you get him back by the line. So where do you place yourself? What do you do? It’s a tough one.”
WILL WINNING HERE ON SUNDAY BE EVEN MORE GRATIFYING WITH THE CHALLENGES YOU’VE HAD PERSONALLY?“
I just think it’s the pressure of this event and the lead-up to it. My wife has certainly had a rough time. I feel like we’re lucky honestly. Some people have had it way worse. Luck that she’s recovered well and I feel fortunate in that respect. I try to switch all that stuff out when I’m in the car anyway. I think it will be emotional for all the reasons this race is. It's so big and means so much.”
IS THERE ANY INTERNAL COMPETITION BETWEEN YOU THREE TO GIVE THE BOSS HIS FIRST INDY 500 WIN SINCE HE’S HAD THE KEYS TO THIS PLACE?
“You kidding me? We all want to beat each other badly; probably more than anyone else in the field. If the other two say otherwise, they’re lying. I would be happy for Roger (Penske) though to get a win if it wasn’t from me.”
WHY IS IT THAT DRIVERS ALWAYS WANT TO BEAT THEIR TEAMMATES? BRAGGING RIGHTS?
“The reason drivers want to beat their teammate is they have exactly the same equipment that you have and you are judged off that. But it’s probably a bit more than that. Obviously, it’s always hierarchy. Who’s on top in the team. It’s ingrained in us. That’s why we’re competing.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET AT TEAM PENSKE, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
WHAT ARE YOUR EMOTIONS LIKE ON RACE MORNING FOR THIS RACE WITH ALL THE FANS HERE?
“It’s exciting. It is the one race of the year where it’s like….its our Super Bowl and that is the analogy that everybody uses, but that is exactly what it feels like. When you walk out through Gasoline Alley it’s like a stadium and it’s such a cool feel. Driving the car, you can see people, you can’t really hear them. But Indy is one of those places where you can feel the energy of the crowd, you can hear them before you get in the car, and then you are in the car, and they sing ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ and its pretty awesome. It’s definitely one of the most emotional pre-race grids. For me, I have said this a number of times, I am a guy that wants to be a U.S. citizen, and my wife a U.S. citizen, and I find it a very patriotic day. It’s quite emotional and I love that. I enjoy that. So, it’s an awesome thing.”
HOW MANY LAPS DOES IT TAKE HERE TO KIND OF SETTLE IN AND SAY TO YOURSELF, OKAY, IT'S JUST ANOTHER RACE?
“Yeah, the first stint takes some time to get used to and learn some stuff, but once you get going and go through the motions, it definitely takes some time for the nerves and anticipation to wear off. Basically, on the first lap you have got to really get a lot of that out of your system or you can find yourself in trouble.”
IS CHEVY A LITTLE CLOSER THIS YEAR THAN IN THE PAST?
“I don’t think we have been far away the last couple of years, I think it’s just been a couple of little things that the teams have done specifically. But I definitely think that Chevy has upped their game, for sure. Especially on the oval side, it has been noticeable for sure. That definitely makes you feel good to be in a Chevy for sure.”
IS IT TRUE THAT IT TAKES THREE TO FOUR MONTHS TO TRAIN YOUR BODY TO RACE IN INDYCAR?
“Yeah, it’s difficult. I feel like it’s only been this year that I felt like I am fit enough to race in INDYCAR. Your body takes some time to get used to it, your neck exercises, and your shoulders. I definitely feel better than I ever have in INDYCAR, but it does take time.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH THE FANS IN NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRAILIA WHEN YOU RACE?
“A lot of Kiwis and New Zealanders are getting up and watching the race. In New Zealand, its early for them. It’s like 5 am and 7 am where they get up and watch on a Monday morning. They love it. Particularly not only with me, but with Scott Dixon and Marcus Armstrong. For a country that only has 5 to 10 million people, we definitely punch above our weight for sure.”
DO YOU THINK NOW AFTER A COUPLE OF INDY 500S THAT YOU NOW HAVE IT FIGURED OUT AS FAR AS THE MENTAL GAME?
“Yeah, for sure. I understand the cadence of the race a lot more and that is a big deal for me. That’s something that I have had to learn as it’s gone on. I am very grateful, and touch wood so it doesn’t happen again, but I am grateful that I have crashed. Because I think having to feel how the car talks to me before, I didn’t realize how close I was to the limit before I crashed last year. It sounds stupid, but it legitimately is a thing. So, I am in a good spot in that regard.”
YOUR LIVERY IS PROBABLY THE MOST EPIC AT THIS PLACE, RIGHT DOWN TO THE HELMET. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH RICK MEARS HAS INFLUENCED AND IMPACTED YOUR CAREER?
“He has been a huge influence. Particularly on ovals. But it’s a very proud moment for me to run that livery and it would mean the most in my career if I could bring that scheme, that livery, and that helmet to victory lane. Again, not only for Rick, but for Roger (Penske) too. And for Rick, although he has been out of the saddle for a long time now, he is still someone that you can talk to about lines and the way the race develops and where I am going with the race car. It’s a lot of fun doing that, and I cherish it because he is a legend and he is a guy that is stuck in the garage because if he moves outside he is swamped because he is a celebrity basically. To have that guy just a text away or a phone call away is pretty awesome.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 CHEVROLET AT ARROW MCLAREN INDYCAR, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
CAN YOU GO THROUGH WHAT YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE FOR THE RACE ON SUNDAY?
“I’m looking forward to a dogfight. I think the race is going to be tougher than ever. There's a lot of very competitive race cars. We hope to be one of them and have a shot in it at the end.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT MAKES YOU GO SO WELL AT OVAL RACING IN GENERAL? IS THERE SOMETHING YOU DO DIFFERENTLY THAN OTHER GUYS?
“Comfort, I guess. You've got to be comfortable in ovals. You've just got to work really hard with the engineer and understand each other. They've got to know what you like and what you need from the race car to extract everything out of it.”
YOU'VE BEEN KNOCKING AT THE DOOR ALL SEASON TRYING TO GET THAT FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON, OBVIOUSLY FIGHTING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT MAKES YOU DETERMINED OR HUNGRY KNOWING THAT YOU'VE COME CLOSE AND YOU HAVE A GOOD CHANCE AT WINNING THAT 500, THAT WOULD BE NOT JUST BIG FOR YOU BUT FOR THE WHOLE COUNTRY?
“Oh, it would be one of the proudest moments of my life to be able to give this very special team at Arrow McLaren their first 500 win. I'd love to be the one that gives them that.
We've been on this journey for four years now, and we just keep on building.
I READ A STORY WHERE YOU WANTED ZAK'S WATCH BUT THEN LOOKED UP THE PRICE --
“Well, why do you think it's a bet, bro? Yeah, beautiful watch, and he's just got it. He walked in the engineering office, showed that thing off, and I was like, dude, you shouldn't have done that.”
I UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU GO TO TEXAS YOU'VE GOT A GROUP OF FANS, BUT EVEN ONE-ON-ONE YOU'RE VERY INTERACTIVE WITH PEOPLE TRYING TO BUILD THAT FAN BASE. WHY DO YOU WANT TO INVEST IN FANS ON THAT LEVEL?
“You know, I just -- we're humans, like everybody else. We're not freaks of nature. We're just another human being. When people are around and they might be your fan -- like I'm a fan. I'm a fan of many people.
You definitely leave the situation a lot different if you had like just a couple of exchange of words with your favorite race car driver or rider or whatever it might be versus if you don't. You might leave kind of like, oh, kinda bummed. You can make someone's year by two minutes.
So I just try -- I treat people like I'd like to be treated. I can have a bad day just like anybody else. It's impossible to be on all the time.
But I try and do so as much as I can.”
EVERY MONTH OF MAY, EVEN THOUGH THE FIELD IS SO TIGHT, THERE'S ALWAYS ONE DRIVER THAT SEEMS TO SEPARATE A LITTLE BIT AND ALL YOU GUYS KIND OF RECOGNIZE HIM AS THAT'S THE GUY THAT'S IN A SWEET SPOT. ROSSI JUST SAID YOU'RE THAT GUY.
IF YOU ARE DON'T THINK YOU'RE THAT GUY, WHO DO YOU THINK IS?
“I don't like to get too ahead of myself. I'm trying to make my race car the best it can be in traffic and be comfortable. Everybody saw what can happen when I'm comfortable in a race car in Texas. That's the best thing I can do for myself.
On race day, we'll see what we've got.”
WHO WOULD YOU PUT IN THAT SWEET SPOT?
“I'm focused on my stuff right now. I haven't really paid attention too much on other people.”
IF YOU'RE IN CONTENTION FOR FIRST LIKE LAST YEAR, ARE YOU JUST GOING TO SEND IT?
“Yeah, we've got a sixth, a fourth and a second, so there's really no other -- there's not another spot to get.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ARROW MCLAREN THAT'S MADE YOU GUYS SO CONSISTENT OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS? HAVE YOUR CARS JUST BEEN SO GOOD AT SPEEDWAYS?
“Ever since I joined the team, we have a very strong oval package, not just superspeedways but short ovals. Indy is a different beast in itself. The closest to Indy would probably be Texas, but it's not. They're two very different animals.
But we have had a lot of success. I've had very strong results at all the ovals.
I don't know what it is. I just think the car is good. Like the car, the package that we have has been good ever since I've joined, and I just keep molding it a little bit to what I like, and we keep getting stronger and stronger.”
WHAT'S GOING TO BE THE PRISTINE CONDITION FOR YOU TO KNOW THE CAR IS GOING TO BE UP -- SOME PEOPLE PREFER WARMER CONDITIONS AND WARMER GRIP ON THE TRACK?
“I want a good car in traffic. That's what I want. I don't care if it's hot or cold.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL MENTALLY GOING INTO THE RACE? I KNOW THIS YEAR HAS BEEN QUITE -- MAYBE DIFFICULT IS NOT THE RIGHT WORD, BUT IT'S BEEN A LONG YEAR, AND MAYBE YOU'VE HAD TO HAVE A THINK ABOUT THIS ONE, AND YOUR MENTAL APPROACH GOING IN?
“We're flowing, man. I feel so much better now that you're here. (Laughter).
But there's so much stuff that leads up to the race, and it's like, damn, the race is next. Well, Carb Day is next, then it's the race. But we're right there. We're four days away.
We don't have to change much of what we've done. We just have to run our own race, focus on our things, and have a shot at it in the end. That's ultimately what we want. That's the position that you want to put yourself in and have a fast enough race car to get it.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST, NO. 6 CHEVROLET AT ARROW MCLAREN INDYCAR, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
“Was really exceptional in that regard last year, but it's also been closer this year, but I think we're one of the better ones for sure in our team. But I don't see any outliers out there.
I feel we all at Arrow McLaren look good, all Ganassis look good, I think the Penskes look really good. There's some random selected ones on top of that. There's a lot of good drivers, and getting it right on the day is also the biggest thing. Yeah, we'll see.”
DOES THIS PUT MORE PRESSURE, MOTIVATION?
“I mean, I think we know that we have a good shot. We have an awesome starting position. We have a good car, good engine.”
So you know that those chances -- if you look at Penske, for example, they've had a lot of years that they know pretty much that they can't win the race. Things can always happen. But they haven't had the perfect opportunity, and I feel like we have that. Obviously going to grab that opportunity with both hands, and you just have to be 110 percent on race day, and then if the luck and everything is with you, it is, and if it's not, you have to try again next year.”
WHAT YOU LEARNED ABOUT THAT FINAL STINT LAST YEAR, WHAT WAS THE MAIN LESSON FOR YOU?
“I think it was good experience to be up front because you never really know what that's like until you're there, and we spent half the race last year in the top 3 and ultimately leading the final stint after the pit sequence.
I think the lesson there was if you want to win the race, you need a car that is quick in clean air, not only in traffic because as soon as you're leading you just get passed again, and that's kind of what happened to us. You learn also that the further up you go, man, the harder it is to stay -- like it's just more competitive. The drivers are better, the cars are better, and to hang on to that position gets multiplied very quickly like how difficult it is.
But it was an awesome experience for both me and Pato, and I feel like that really gained us more confidence going into this year.”
IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT LAST YEAR IS WHEN YOU MADE THE MOST GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT ON WHAT IT'S GOING TO TAKE TO GET THE JOB DONE IN THE INDY 500 VERSUS YOUR OTHER STARTS HERE?
“For sure. I think every year you come here you learn so much, but last year was the first time I came here and we executed pretty much a perfect race, good pit stops, mega car. I felt confident. I was right in the window balance where you need to be to pass other cars and to be sporty.
That's the most important thing to have in the pack, like how did that feel and how can you take it even further.
Yeah, that's invaluable for sure, that experience.”
THIS IS THE THIRD YEAR WITH MCLAREN. FEELS LIKE YOU GUYS ARE REALLY ON A HIGH RIGHT NOW. IS THIS THE BEST IT'S FELT WITH MCLAREN SO FAR GOING INTO RACE DAY ON SUNDAY, ACROSS THE BOARD FOR THE WHOLE TEAM?
“Yes, I think for sure. I think honestly, we've always had a really good race car here. Even the first year I was with the team, we had I'd say probably a top-5 car.
But yeah, I feel like we just have the whole package in a different way. Obviously we're starting higher, which makes it easier. We have our pit crews are better. I think Chevy has brought their A game this year, which is awesome. It's just all the little details working a little bit more in our favor, so I think would be fair to have a bit more confidence going into this one.
But at the same time, everyone else is just better, as well, because the whole series is going like this. It's not only our team. Maybe we've been growing quicker and we've become a bit better more rapidly than some other teams, but man, we're still fighting against some giants, and they will not be easy to take on race day.”
WHEN YOU CAME HERE IN 2019, FAST FORWARD TO NOW, DID YOU EVER THINK, TELLING YOURSELF IN 2019 THAT YOU WOULD HAVE FELT BITTERSWEET, DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU'D BE ON THE FRONT ROW A FEW YEARS LATER, GOING 233 MILES PER HOUR AROUND THIS PLACE?
“Yes and no. I think we're all the same. When you have the opportunity, you always feel a bit disappointed if you don't get it. It doesn't matter which team, what the circumstances are. If you have the chance to grab the pole or a win, you're always going to be a bit bummed if you don't get it.
But yeah, it's a good problem to have. It's awesome. That's kind of where we've gone as a team now, as well, where a couple of years ago we were stoked when we had podiums and top 5, and now it's like we're pretty disappointed when we're not winning or on pole between our teammates.
I feel also we are one of the teams that always seem to have at least one bullet at the front in every race, so yeah, hopefully will be one of us taking it home.”
WITH THE ARROW MCLAREN BEING ONE OF THE HOTTEST SEATS IN THE SERIES RIGHT NOW, THERE'S A LOT OF COMPETITION FOR IT. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO CONTINUE TO GET GOOD RESULTS EVERY WEEK JUST TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU STAY IN THE SPOT THAT YOU'RE IN?
“I mean, you always have to deliver, no matter where you are. I don't think anyone is sitting coasting and collecting in INDYCAR. You have to fight for it every weekend.
I don't really -- I feel like a lot of people ask me that, like do you feel like you need to prove yourself. Yes and no, I think. I think I need maybe some good results. We feel like they're coming. We've been on the front row three times this year, on the GP, in Texas and here.
It's really coming together well. But yeah, you need the results to back it up. I feel like the rest of the season is looking pretty bright for us. So I'm not really worried about it, I just try to jump in the car and do my thing, and everything else will work itself out.”
OUTSIDE OF THE FRONT ROW GOING INTO TURN 1, GREEN FLAG WAVES, IT GETS TIGHT IN TURN 1, ARE YOU GOING TO TALK TO ALEX AND RINUS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MANAGE THE START A LITTLE BIT?
“We're going to have a meeting tomorrow with Kyle Novak, our race director, and he'll kind of go through what he expects from us. Obviously, we're racing, but I think we'll maybe have a better idea at that point.
I haven't really planned out yet what I'm trying to do, but it's pretty nice to be on the outside because the first lap if it gets swept you can clearly use the outside. It's almost better to be there than in the middle where you can get pinched between two cars, so I'm pretty happy where I'm at, and if I come out in P1 or P3 or P4, it's all going to be pretty irrelevant, I think.”
YEARS PAST YOU KIND OF WANTED TO HIT A FUEL NUMBER, KIND OF RIDE IN, BUT IT'S ALSO EASIER TO PASS UP FRONT. DO YOU PLAY THE CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME OF SWAPPING? DO YOU SETTLE IN? WHAT'S YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON THAT?
“I think you get a feel for it. I think you have to try a little bit what it's like to lead. You have to feel the car out because that's a problem if you're just leading. Eventually you'll end up lapping cars or be in traffic after a pit sequence, and then you need the car to be sharp when you're like five or ten cars back.
I think my plan will probably be to feel -- if you can, feel the car out as much as possible, try to get an idea exactly where you want your tools to be, leading and not leading, and you just have to feel it out. You never really know what people have until race day, and for sure there will be some insanely strong cars out there. Yeah, just trying to get an idea how you can get around them.”
DOUG SAID THIS MORNING WE'RE PROBABLY ABOUT 5,000 TICKETS FROM THIS PLACE BEING SOLD OUT. EVERY DAY YOU CAN FEEL THE MOMENTUM BUILDING, MORE AND MORE BIGGER CROWDS. DO YOU FEEL THAT AS A DRIVER? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO ALMOST A SOLD-OUT RACE ON SUNDAY?
“Yeah, I feel like we've felt it everywhere this year, before the 500 even. The GP was really impressive to see. I think that was definitely the highest numbers I've seen since I came over here, and also during practice and qualifying, it's been -- yeah, there's a lot of people around.
That's fun to see. It's on an upward trajectory, the whole series, the race. I think what they're doing with the whole "100 Days to Indy" is awesome and everything is just pointing in the right direction for the series, so we're glad to be part of it, and it makes these races way more special.
CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG, BUT AFTER THE PARADE ON SATURDAY, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'RE DOING PROMOTION-WISE OR IS THAT IT FOR YOU FOR THE WEEK?
“We have some little stuff like meets-and-greets, partner things, but we try to have a pretty chill race day because if you haven't noticed, as a team we're doing quite a lot of activation on the side. So yeah, race day is pretty sacred for us, and we just try to eat, sleep, hang out with the family maybe and just take it easy.”
LIKE SATURDAY NIGHT, DO YOU TRY AND SETTLE DOWN FROM EVERYTHING THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN THE NEXT DAY, OR WHAT'S THE PROCEDURE OF JUST TRYING TO CHILL OUT A LITTLE BIT?
“Yeah, I mean, I stay here at the track. Normally I go home, but I just try to avoid the traffic, so I'll stay here on race day, just kind of try to isolate yourself a bit from the race, not think too much about it, watch a movie, eat something good. Yeah, it's simple really. There's no magic to it, you just have to sleep, and that's it.”
ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE PENSKE GUYS, A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THIS IS A MCLAREN-VERSUS-GANASSI SHOWDOWN. IS IT IN YOUR EYES, AND IS THERE A RIVALRY THAT'S STARTING BETWEEN YOU TWO?
“I think it's too early to say if there's a Penske and McLaren battle right now. Penske is Penske, and they won the championship recently, and they're always strong. We're getting there. We're getting closer. I think that's been consistent. We're crawling closer and closer to being up there every race, and I think that's the right trajectory. There's no magic to it. It's just hard work, and yeah, step by step, I think we'll be there.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI, NO. 7 CHEVROLET AT ARROW MCLAREN INDYCAR, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR SUNDAY?
“The racecar is great and the team has had an amazing month so far. I’m excited about Sunday. I don’t know if you can predict anything at IMS and the Indy 500, but certainly I think we have an amazing shot with four very good racecars. We’ll just have to go through the process and see if Sunday is our day.”
ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT AND ARROW MCLAREN IN APPROACH TO THE SEASON?
“There are probably more similarities than there are differences. I came from a very good team and joined a very good team. The one thing that Arrow McLaren kind of prides itself on is the atmosphere and the people that are there are excited every day to show up and for the opportunity to compete, to win races and fight for pole positions. It is an amazing team dynamic inside the garage, outside the garage and everyone is just pumped to wear papaya and represent the team the best way we can.”
YOU HAVE RECENT EXPERIENCE OF A CHEVY ENGINE VERSUS A HONDA AROUND IMS. ARE THERE DIFFERENCES?
“There are certainly differences and I think that’s been a positive thing that myself and Tony (Kanaan) have been able to bring to the table when talking to Chevy and the team. We can clearly point out strengths and weaknesses of the package and work to improve it to make it better. So, I think that’s been a good asset this month and certainly for the rest of the year.”
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE THIS MONTH WORKING WITH TONY KANAAN?
“It’s been great. Tony is an amazing person, a fantastic racecar driver, a wonderful person and great ambassador for the sport. He’s a legend at this place. He and Helio (Castroneves) are the two that command the loudest ovations, so to share in his proverbial last 500 is pretty awesome and we’ve been enjoying it. He’s been ingrained with the team since St. Pete and he has really helped with everyone sort of merging together as a cohesive unit with three full-time cars. So he’s played a big role in that and now he’s on track with us for the past couple of weeks as well. It’s been an honor and he'll be around for quite some time with the organization. To share his last 500 with him has been an honor.”
IN 2016, DID IT HIT YOU AS YOU WERE LEAVING THE TRACK THAT YOU WON THE INDY 500?
“For me, I think it came when I came back in 2017. When I came in in 2016, no one knew who I was – nor should they known who I was – and I was this invisible person who wound up somehow winning the race. And coming back in 2017 as the defending winner was a very different experience. That’s when it hit me the magnitude of winning this race and what it can do for a driver’s career. Hopefully we can add to that resume.”
WHAT ARE THREE WORDS YOU WOULD USE TO DESCRIBE THE INDIANAPOLIS 500?
“It’s not three words, but it’s the best race in the world and there’s nothing like it.”
TONY KANAAN, NO. 66 CHEVROLET AT ARROW MCLAREN INDYCAR, Indy 500 Media Availability Transcript:
A LOT OF GREAT MEMORIES FROM HIS INDY 500 WIN.
“It’s funny because it was the best experience of my life. The other day, for some reason, I watched the podium. Roger never actually told me but they changed the podium procedure after my win because it was a mess! You guys probably don’t know this, but we had to drink two milks because I spilled the milk before it was time because someone gave it to me! I was impressed with how many people I hugged that I have no idea who they were! And I still don’t! That’s what stands out the most.”
HOW TRICKY WILL IT BE MANAGING YOUR EMOTIONS SUNDAY?
“It’s going to be a mess. It will stop when I put my helmet on but up until then, I’m going to be a wreck, for sure. From the green room to the driver intros… It’s one of the times that I’ve enjoyed the most in the past. I just know… your nerves are up there. Every single driver that is in that green room, we’re ready to go. We’ve done all this, and the emotions are high. Then you’re going to add that this is the last one and everybody is trying to make it feel good. I’m going to have to drink a couple of extra bottles of water. That’s how much crying I’m going to do.”
IT'LL ALSO BE THE LAST TIME SHARING THE TRACK WITH HELIO (CASTRONEVES)...
“In INDYCAR. We have other plans (laughs). It will be the last time we are sharing the track with a lot of these guys. But that is not a sad thing. That was my decision. I’m not leaving because I couldn’t find a job. The most asked question I got… and if you ask (Scott) Dixon and some of those guys, they still say yes I’m coming back. I’m going out on my own terms.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS OF STAYING IN INDYCAR IN SOME CAPACITY AS A DRIVER COACH OR BROADCASTER?
“I don’t think I’d be a good coach, to be honest. I think Dario (Franchitti) has a much better approach. But yes, I’ve been coming to all the races with Arrow McLaren this year. I have the intentions of continuing doing that. We haven’t talked. The deal with Zak and the team, Gavin (Ward, Racing Director) was like, ‘Let’s go try to win this thing. On Monday.’ I said not on Monday. Next Wednesday after we win the race and we do all the media, we’ll talk about the future. But I have no intentions of leaving INDYCAR in any way shape or form. This is where I belong.”
ON PAST COMPETITORS AND THE SUPPORT SYSTEM IN PLACE.
“You talk about every era. I think mine is an end of an era if you put names together of people who I’ve raced. I was part of Bobby Rahal’s last year. When Michael (Andretti) retired, I was the guy he chose to replace him. Look at the teams that I’ve raced for. I’ve raced for Andretti. I’ve raced for Foyt. I raced for Ganassi. Now for Arrow McLaren. Somebody told me that if I lead a lap this weekend, I’ll be the only driver who has led laps for seven different teams here. Back to the drivers, you look at the legacy of those guys. I feel very honored. It wasn’t a very easy era.”
A FAVORITE INDY 500 TRADITION?
“I think the parade is probably one of the things that I enjoy the most. I get yelled at all the time when I get out of the car and jump out of the car and hug people. Every year they tell me I can’t do that. So this year, who cares? What are they going to do? Fire me? (laughs)”
“I decided it was the final time three years ago. And we came back here and there was nobody in the stands. I’m like, ‘I can’t do that.’ So we worked really hard and Jimmie (Johnson) and I got together and Jimmie is like, ‘I cannot do only one year. Can we do two?’ I said, ‘Jimmie, we are going to do one year, we’re going to share a car, you’re going to come watch the Indy 500 and the next year you’re going to kick me out of the car.’ Sure enough… he didn’t kick me out of the car but we raced together. Chip (Ganassi) made an extra car and I was fine. Last year, I didn’t mention anything. I finished the race and I was convinced it was my last one. I was done. I was not going to announce because I’m tired of Dario, Dixon and all of them making fun of me saying, ‘Hey, do you think you’re Tom Brady?’ And then Zak called. Racing is about performance. A team like this, with the history that they have, they finished second and fourth (in 2022)… I know I still have it. I’m not giving up because I don’t think I have it. I just proved it again. I was like, ‘OK, I’m not going to say no.’ But this will be the last time. Honestly when I announced, I couldn’t celebrate with anyone. You what I think will be fun for me, fun for my kids, fun for my family, I have 70 friends coming from Brazil just to watch this.”
DID ANYONE TRY TO TALK YOU OUT OF IT?
“Everybody including my wife. But it was good enough that we announced Kyle Larson on the car next year. Unless Mr. (Rick) Hendrick tells him he can’t and I need to sub. Then it won’t be my fault!”
DID YOU HAVE ANY SECOND THOUGHTS?
“No. My point is if I’m going to be back here, I wanted to be back here in a competitive car. No disrespect to a bunch of the teams, but some of the teams are not. To be back and just to be a number and suffer through it and go away like that, I didn’t want to. Chip gave me an opportunity. Zak came. If Roger (Penske) called next year, I don’t know what I’d do! But it’s not going to happen. I’ve been around long enough that I know the opportunities are coming less and less.”
YOUR LAST RACE…HOW ARE YOU GOING TO RACE?
“Like it’s the last race of my life! I’m going to leave it all out there. That’s the intention. The start, I don’t know. But if the opportunity is there, we will do a Tony Kanaan start, for sure. I’m going to race like I have no friends. I’ll apologize later.”
ON THE AERO CHANGES FOR THIS YEAR.
“We added more. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a better race. But what are we going to call a better race? It’s a matter of opinion. They call a lot of the races between 2013 and 2015 the best race because you had a lot of passes and this and that. I don’t think that’s going to happen this year. It will be more strategy. But it’s more difficult. It was a lot more unpredictable in the past. But I think those changes are the right changes. The cars are more where we can race closer, but by racing closer doesn’t mean you can pass all the time.”
THE NAME SENNA IS SYNONYMOUS WITH EXCELLENCE. AS A YOUNG MAN GROWING UP IN BRAZIL AND GOING INTO A RACING CAREER OF YOUR OWN…
“Nowadays, Formula One is more popular in America. I came here 25 years ago, and me, Rubens (Barrichello) and (Michael) Schumacher were walking in Orlando and someone stopped the two of them and gave them a camera to take a picture with me because they had no clue! It was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me!
“For me, it’s even more special. I had the history with Senna. When I was in Europe in my last year, I was out of job in Hockenheim and we were racing at the same weekend at Formula One. He went to my boss at the time and basically told my boss that I was better than him and that I should be able to finish the championship. That same guy gave me a job for two more years. It’s not just the history. It’s not just McLaren and Senna – me growing up and seeing him winning three championships in that Marlboro car. It is what he did for me. He was my hero. I had the pleasure to meet my hero, and my hero changed my life.”