MODERATOR: We're going to go ahead get started. We're joined by Danica
Patrick, driver of the No. 7 GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport. This
weekend Danica will be attempting to qualify for her sixth Indianapolis 500.
She finished third at last year's race and has four top-10 finishes at this
Danica, obviously, this week the rain's been a factor. What have you been
doing to kill time?
PATRICK: Signing stuff, signing stacks of hero cards and photos. You know,
there's just not much you can do, really. I mean, you know, there's not been
that much track activity, so there's not even that much to talk about when
it comes to the car, either. So what did I do yesterday? Worked out. You can
work out a little bit longer when there's nothing to do. I don't know,
organize the bus, throw old stuff away, all those DIY stuff that you can do
like what you would do at your own house.
But it's disappointing because, you know, this is kind of what I was hoping
wouldn't happen with the month, is that rain wouldn't be a factor because
it's much more impactful since there's lost track time. But I'm sure
everybody will get up to speed and it will fast-forward the programs, and
maybe some top speeds will be sacrificed and maybe some comfortable cars
will be sacrificed to just extra downforce. But I'm sure we'll make it work.
Q: A lot of people talk about on a normal IndyCar race, you practice for an
hour and a half, then you go out and qualify and then you run the race, but
this isn't a normal IndyCar race. Do you think more thought probably should
have gone -- this format only works in a perfect weather situation.
PATRICK: Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I'm sure that there was some
logical reasons to shorten up the month, like money. And, you know, I don't
know, maybe -- I don't feel the tradeoff because I don't own a team, but
maybe it is worth the tradeoff to the team owners. There are a lot of
entries, so maybe that's why we have so many car entries as well, because
it's -- I mean, well, think about it. In years past you'd see 90 percent, 95
percent of the field out there the first week, and then you'd see cars that
planned on starting on the second week, probably for the money reason
obviously. So maybe that's why we have so many entries to start with.
But, yeah, I just hope that it doesn't take away from the racing, because
the longer we have to make the cars better for all situations, the closer we
can run to each other out there on the track and inevitably the better the
racing is. So hopefully it doesn't take away from that.
Q: Danica, Saturday trying to make that first nine, do you sort of sandbag
early to not show your strength or do you go all out? Is it a different
PATRICK: I don't think anyone really knows exactly how it's going to shake
out except we know when the track is the quickest due to humidity and
ambient temperature and stuff. So as cool as it can be and as good for
horsepower, which is important around here. So beginning and the end of the
day are usually the best. So I imagine there will be no sandbagging
whatsoever; it's the Indy 500. You never know what you're going to be up
against on the next round.
So I actually view the first run to be probably one of the most important to
getting into the top nine, just because it will be cooler out. If you have
to make up time, I mean, you can lose a mile an hour at least just in
conditions. So you can't -- shoot, you work your butt off to find a couple
of tenths a mile an hour with setup and things like that. So I think that
first run is going to be really important.
Q: Danica, I'm wondering what comes to mind when somebody asks you about
Tony Kanaan, specifically how he's helped you or maybe a story you can share
about your time with him.
PATRICK: My time with him, you make it sound like it's over or something
like that or like he's gone, your memories.
You know, I think of Tony and I think of someone who's a great driver and
someone who has been very helpful. I mean, he's one of those guys that if I
have a question, he'll give an answer. I think he's a great guy and great
for the team. And he's funny, he's a good storyteller, he's always good for
stories. Every time I hear the same ones, they get bigger and bigger every
time, but I'm sure somebody's had that situation before. But that's the
charm of Tony. He's a great storyteller, and he's very animated, which keeps
Q: Danica, ever since we saw the old video of you as a little kid talking
about the Indy 500 but you've had a lot of different things going on in your
life since then, a lot of different endeavors, but is the Indy 500 still
that one thing, that ultimate goal? If so, how do you approach knowing it
just comes around once a year despite everything you have going on?
PATRICK: I said on the way out of the track yesterday -- I had somewhere to
go -- if only there was an Indianapolis series, we could race like tons of
time here, but I guess then it would dilute it all. So that's the excitement
is that you're only here the one time, and it is the biggest race of the
year. It's the biggest race in the world to me. And it still is. As I said
when I was 13 or 14, however old I was when that video came, when I said
that the only thing, only trophy missing from this room is the Indianapolis
500 trophy, that's still true.
Q: Danica, we can remember times that you sat out there on qualifying day
that you wanted to go back out again. I've talked to a couple of people this
week that said they wished that that decision was still in their hands. Do
you like it better this way having it not in your hands, having to go back
out there again or -
PATRICK: You mean the top nine?
PATRICK: I didn't see what was wrong with it before, so I don't know. I'm
not going to criticize it until I've done it, but there was nothing wrong
with it before. It was exciting. I mean, last year was the first year I ever
re-qualified, and I had runs two times and I was in line and I think I would
have been the last car to run, and where was I? Eighth or seventh, I can't
even remember where I qualified. But I just remembered that I thought I had
a shot at getting up into the top few positions and, you know, maybe a pole
but, shoot, being in the front row is fantastic. So I just remember getting
pulled out of line because it was, you know - I don't know why. You have to
ask somebody else why I got pulled out of line. (Laughter)
I was ready to go. So that was exciting. Disappointing for me, but exciting
for the fans. Part of the game is that there are cars that shouldn't be in
line that are in line. So you have to take into account those cars. You
know, it's going to just be like normal qualifying shootout kind of stuff
with the top nine. I don't know, I mean, you can go from 10th to the top
five positions pretty easily at the end of the day if you fix your car up or
if you didn't have a good run the first run. So, you know, I don't know. I
don't know; I didn't see what was wrong with it before.
Q: Danica, Castroneves is going for his fourth Indy 500, and obviously as a
competitor you don't want to see him get that. But the drivers in the
garage, can you kind of empathize on how special it would be to be part of
that, something that hasn't happened in this generation of drivers?
PATRICK: You want me to comment on how exciting it would be to be around
Helio for his fourth win? (Laughter)
Q: Just, I guess, the special importance of something that hasn't been done
with this generation of drivers.
PATRICK: Rick Mears is around, and he did it four times. I don't know. If
it's not you, it doesn't really matter. So, you know, everybody wants their
own win. I was saying last night as I was driving by the billboard that said
"Triple Triumph," I'm like, 'He's got three, some of us want just one,
even,' you know, just one. I mean, that's great for him. It's a massive
accomplishment, for sure, but it doesn't affect me.
Q: How important is a good spotter - in the case of this track, two
PATRICK: I think spotters can be overlooked, for sure. I think that their
value, you know, comes with lap traffic and things like that, that's to me
the biggest thing. Accidents happen and, to be honest, as long as they're
within visual. The other day when Wheldon spun, I saw it in my rearview
mirror. I saw the smoke, I saw the fire. I mean, I saw it. So there's a lot
of stuff that we see as drivers, but one thing we can't really control is
what the driver ahead of us knows, you know. So things like blocking or
things like that, you know, a driver that's not doing what they're supposed
to be doing, they need to be on it and on it with the official up top with
the spotters and the other driver's spotter and lapped traffic comes, and
I'll be like: 'Hey, let that car know that I'm coming. Let's be proactive.'
So I think spotters can be very useful. But, you know, at the end of the
day, you're still driving the car. It can take away some risks if, you know,
a spotter is working hard for you.
Q: In years past, you've kind of come in here and have been the big story.
But this year it just kind of seems like with the way the season started and
with some of the other story lines that are going on, you know, you're not
as much in the spotlight as you were and also with the start of the season
the way it's been with you. Is that something you kind of relish, kind of
being a little bit off the center stage a little bit, or is it something you
want to be back to being the big story?
PATRICK: No, I'd like to be the big story because it usually means I've done
something good, usually. But I don't know, what is the big story? What's the
big story this year?
Q: Helio, the new format, fast nine.
PATRICK: Yeah, so we're talking more about racing. We're talking more about
the activity and the racing. And Helio has been fastest both days, so he's
well deserving of that media. So, yeah. No, I would love to be the lead
story, but it will come when good things happen. If we get out there and I'm
quickest today, it will be the story then.
Q: The other aspect of being the big story is the season hasn't started off
very well, and that's probably something that you don't like to happen.
PATRICK: Yeah, but there's so much news and so much stuff going on that we
all have short memories. I'm forgetting about how the season started myself
because I'm in my favorite place. So it's, you know -- as everybody around
me says, you know, you're just like one race away. You're just one race away
from turning it around and having a good season. So what better place to do
it than here?
Q: Danica, you've got a couple of new women added to the field this year.
What advice, have you talked to them and advice -- you had a lot of
experience, they don't have the experience here and on ovals that you had
when you came.
PATRICK: I only raced two ovals before I came to the IndyCar Series.
Q: You were on as lot of racetracks around central -
PATRICK: I'm sure they have a lot of racing experience.
Q: Anyway, do you give them any advice or have you talked to them?
PATRICK: No. I've met Simona (De Silvestro) and Ana (Beatriz), and they both
are really nice. They both have talent. If they ask me a question, I would
answer it. But, you know, I don't even see them. It's funny how you can all
be in the same area so often and even my teammates sometimes, you cross
paths, and if we didn't have the communal engineering room where we are
around each other all the time, I mean you'd - you don't see very many
people just because you head out to pit lane and you do your thing, and you
come back in and you're in the garages and we're in garages with no windows.
So it's amazing how little you see people. I probably see more people in the
gym than I see out on the racetrack.
Q: Danica, the other aspect of the new format that has not really been
addressed is the importance of the points. How do you feel about the vast
amount of points being issued for the top qualifying positions?
PATRICK: I didn't know this. What is this situation?
Q: Pole is 15 points. Front row is 13 and 12, and it goes progressively back
PATRICK: Interesting. (Laughter) Well, I might be making more than one run
then. All of a sudden now if you're eighth or ninth, there's a reason to go
back out again. I mean, that's kind of one of the other things I was
thinking is that, you know, if you're eighth or seventh or something, you
know, you're inside of the third row, that's not too bad. Is it really worth
risking going out there and either going slower or doing something even
worse? Not really. I mean, is it? I don't know, unless you think you can get
the front row for sure.
Yeah, there will be more reason to. So I guess it's good they put some
infrastructure in to make that happen. But, cool, I guess. I guess, to be
honest, I would think that those would have been made more sense previously
when we had an entire week to warm up for this, but now it's like a little
here, a little there. It's not really dedicated, it's not dedicated on any
level to qualifying. It's both qualifying and race. So it would have made
more sense in the past when we had an entire week to do this. It was almost
like qualifying was a race, you know. Now it's a little diluted.
Q: I'm wondering as you learn more and more each time you race and you get
older and wiser, how much easier is it to get over when someone takes you
out in a crash? Is there such a thing as people holding grudges still,
because I know some drivers have long memories. But do you get past that
PATRICK: Depends on how dumb it was.
Q: Really? Some you hold on to?
PATRICK: It depends on how dumb it was. I mean if it was a completely
bonehead move, then you're going to be mad. If it was a racing accident
where it was, 'Oh, well, I did a little of this; they did a little of that,'
then what are you going to do? It was just something that happened, and you
took a risk, probably. So, you know, I would have to say that you still get
just as mad no matter what, no matter what point in your career you're at.
Q: I've heard some older drivers even back in the day, they hold that grudge
as long as they're in the car. I'll never forget that guy or I'll never
forget that person or whatever.
PATRICK: Well, I guess you can forgive but you never forget, right? That's
how it goes on in every aspect, isn't it?
MODERATOR: Any other questions? Bruce.
Q: Kind of going back a little bit, you're saying that you haven't really
had a chance to talk to the other four female drivers. Do you think that in
some ways they maybe may be a little intimidated of coming up and asking you
PATRICK: I don't know. I guess it wouldn't be normal necessarily for any
driver to go to another driver that's not in the team and ask for advice. So
that's probably the situation. I'm sure that all these drivers, guys and
girls, they all have people that they can ask within their team questions.
So that's probably the biggest reason, really. I don't know. I mean, yeah, I
would have to say it's really just because if you're not on the same team,
it's not convenient or normal.
MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and take our last question.
Q: Danica, this question is kind of from left field, but the Navy's
finally -- not finally but going to put women in submarines for the first
time. Would you -- how do you feel about that, you know, breaking another
all male --
PATRICK: This isn't even a field; this is deep in the ocean. This isn't left
or right. (Laughter)
Q: In the Navy, would you like be in a submarine? (Laughter)
PATRICK: No, I'm scared of water. So then put me 2,000 leagues under the
sea, and I'm not going to be happy. I don't even snorkel. I can go on
vacation in a beautiful French Polynesian island, and I don't even put my
feet in the water. So I can be in an overwater bungalow over the ocean, and
I don't even put my feet in the water. So no, I would not go in a submarine.
Q: That's not true. Barbara Eden was in "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea."
PATRICK: I didn't even know that was happening, but I guess that's good.
Like I have always said, there's lots of men and women crossing over into
the stereotypical gender areas all over the place, and that's just another