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2014 Standings
After Toronto
Driver Standings

Driver Standings
1 Helio Castroneves 533
2 Will Power 520
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay 464
4 Simon Pagenaud 462
5 Juan Pablo Montoya 428
6 Scott Dixon 387
7 Carlos Munoz (R) 384
8 Tony Kanaan 380
9 Marco Andretti 375
10 Sebastien Bourdais 358
11 Ryan Briscoe 344
12 James Hinchcliffe 330
13 Charlie Kimball 317
14 Justin Wilson 311
15 Mikhail Aleshin 298
16 Josef Newgarden 288
17 Jack Hawksworth (R) 287
18 Graham Rahal 266
19 Carlos Huertas (R) 265
20 Takuma Sato 234
21 Sebastian Saavedra 229
22 Mike Conway 218
23 Ed Carpenter 168
24 Oriol Servia 88
25 Kurt Busch (R) 80
26 JR Hildebrand 66
27 Sage Karam (R) 57
28 Luca Filippi 46
29 James Davison (R) 34
30 Jacques Villeneuve 29
31 Alex Tagliani 28
32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman (R) 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8

Rookie of the Year
1 Carlos Munoz 384
2 Mikhail Aleshin 298
3 Jack Hawksworth 287
4 Carlos Huertas 265
5 Kurt Busch 80
6 Sage Karam 57
7 James Davison 34
8 Martin Plowman 18

Wins
T1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 3
T2 Will Power 2
T2 Simon Pagenaud 2
T2 Mike Conway 2
T5 Helio Castroneves 1
T5 Carlos Huertas 1
T5 Ed Carpenter 1
T5 Juan Pablo Montoya 1
T5 Sebastien Bourdais 1

Podium Finishes
T1 Will Power 6
T1 Helio Castroneves 6
3 Ryan Hunter-Reay 5
4 Tony Kanaan 4
T5 Carlos Munoz 3
T5 Juan Pablo Montoya 3
T7 Marco Andretti 2
T7 Simon Pagenaud 2
T7 Mike Conway 2
T10 Carlos Huertas 1
T10 Scott Dixon 1
T10 Josef Newgarden 1
T10 Graham Rahal 1
T10 Charlie Kimball 1
T10 Ed Carpenter 1
T10 Jack Hawksworth 1
T10 Mikhail Aleshin 1
T10 Sebastien Bourdais 1
Manufacturer Standings:
1 Chevrolet 2056
2 Honda 1042

Lap Leaders:
1 Will Power 353
2 Tony Kanaan 326
3 Helio Castroneves 241
4 Ryan Hunter-Reay 167
5 Ed Carpenter 116
6 Juan Pablo Montoya 74
7 Takuma Sato 67
8 Sebastien Bourdais 60
9 Simon Pagenaud 59
10 James Hinchcliffe 56
11 Scott Dixon 44
12 Jack Hawksworth 32
13 Justin Wilson 25
14 Marco Andretti 22
T15 Mike Conway 15
T15 Josef Newgarden 15
17 Sebastian Saavedra 14
18 Graham Rahal 10
T19 Oriol Servia 7
T19 Carlos Huertas 7
21 Ryan Briscoe 5
22 Mikhail Aleshin 4
23 Alex Tagliani 3

Entrant Points
Pos. # Entrant Points
1 3 Team Penske 533
2 12 Team Penske 520
3 28 Andretti Autosport 464
4 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports 462
5 2 Penske Motorsports 428
6 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 387
7 20 Ed Carpenter Racing 386
8 34 Andretti Autosport/HVM 384
9 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing 380
10 25 Andretti Autosport 375
11 11 KVSH Racing 358
12 8 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing 344
13 27 Andretti Autosport 330
14 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 317
15 19 Dale Coyne Racing 311
16 7 Schmidt PetersonMotorsports 298
17 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 288
18 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian 287
19 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 266
20 18 Dale Coyne Racing 265
21 14 A.J. Foyt Racing 234
22 17 KV/AFS Racing 229
23 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 134
24 26 Andretti Autosport 88
25 21 Ed Carpenter Racing 66
26 22 Dreyer and Reinbold 57
27 33 KV Racing Technology 34
28 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 29
29 68 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing 28
30 6 KV Racing Technology 22
31 63 Dale Coyne Racing 21
32 41 A.J. Foyt Racing 18
33 91 Lazier Partners Racing 11

Finishing Average
1 Helio Castroneves 5.38
T2 Kurt Busch 6.00
T2 Will Power 6.00
4 Simon Pagenaud 6.92
5 Sage Karam 9.00
6 Scott Dixon 9.61
7 J.R. Hildebrand 10.00
8 Tony Kanaan 10.23
9 Ryan Hunter-Reay 10.38
T10 Juan Pablo Montoya 11.15
T10 Sebastien Bourdais 11.15
12 Ryan Briscoe 11.38
13 Justin Wilson 11.92
14 Carlos Munoz 12.00
15 James Hinchcliffe 12.46
16 Oriol Servia 12.5
17 Marco Andretti 12.69
18 Ed Carpenter 12.75
19 Alex Tagliani 13.0
20 Charlie Kimball 13.23
21 Takuma Sato 13.46
22 Mikhail Aleshin 13.61
23 Jacques Villeneuve 14.0
24 Mike Conway 14.66
25 Graham Rahal 15.0
26 James Davison 16.0
27 Carlos Huertas 16.07
28 Josef Newgarden 16.92
29 Sebastian Saavedra 17.0
30 Jack Hawksworth 17.16
31 Luca Filippi 18.50
32 Martin Plowman 20.5
33 Franck Montagny 22.0
34 Pippa Mann 24.0
35 Townsend Bell 25.0
36 Buddy Lazier 32.0


Pole Positions
T1 Takuma Sato 2
T1 Will Power 2
T1 Helio Castroneves 2
T4 Ryan Hunter-Reay 1
T4 Sebastian Saavedra 1
T4 Ed Carpenter 1
T4 Simon Pagenaud 1
T4 Juan Pablo Montoya 1
T4 Scott Dixon 1
T4 Sebastien Bourdais 1

Appearances in the Firestone Fast Six
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay 5
T2 Helio Castroneves 4
T2 Will Power 4
T3 James Hinchcliffe 3
T3 Scott Dixon 3
T3 Jack Hawksworth 3
T7 Simon Pagenaud 2
T7 Josef Newgarden 2
T7 Tony Kanaan 2
T7 Sebastien Bourdais 2
T11 Takuma Sato 1
T11 Marco Andretti 1
T11 Sebastian Saavedra 1
T11 Mike Conway 1
T11 Juan Pablo Montoya 1
T11 Ryan Briscoe 1
T11 Luca Filippi 1

Qualifying Average
1 Helio Castroneves 5.53
2 James Hinchcliffe 6.90
3 Ed Carpenter 7.00
4 Luca Filippi 7.66
5 Simon Pagenaud 7.69
6 Will Power 7.76
7 Scott Dixon 8.84
8 J.R. Hildebrand 9.00
9 Sebastien Bourdais 9.76
10 Carlos Munoz 10.3
11 Tony Kanaan 10.53
12 Ryan Hunter-Reay 10.61
13 Juan Pablo Montoya 10.84
14 Takuma Sato 11.69
15 Kurt Busch 12.0
16 Marco Andretti 12.61
T17 Josef Newgarden 12.92
T17 Ryan Briscoe 12.92
19 Justin Wilson 13.0
20 Jack Hawksworth 14.5
21 Mike Conway 14.66
22 Mikhail Aleshin 14.84
23 Graham Rahal 15.38
24 Sebastian Saavedra 16.53
25 Charlie Kimball 17.15
26 Carlos Huertas 17.84
27 Franck Montagny 21.0
28 Pippa Mann 22.0
29 Alex Tagliani 24.0
30 Martin Plowman 24.5
31 Townsend Bell 25.0
32 Jacques Villeneuve 27.0
33 James Davison 28.0
34 Sage Karam 31.0
35 Buddy Lazier 33.0
INDYCAR media call transcript

Scott Speed, Bobby Rahal, Bertrand Baguette and Jay Howard
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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Toro Rosso F1 boss Franz Tost (L) talks to Scott Speed (R)in 2007 when Speed drove in F1
IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Scott Speed, Bertrand Baguette, Jay Howard and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and current team owner Bobby Rahal participated in a teleconference today to discuss the opening of track activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to begin preparations for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500.

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Scott Speed. Thanks for taking the time to join us today.

SCOTT SPEED: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Scott will attempt to qualify for his first Indianapolis 500 as driver of the No. 20 Dragon Racing Fuzzy's Vodka car this month. Should he qualify for the 500, he will become the third driver and the first American to compete in the three major auto races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: The Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and the United States Grand Prix Formula 1 race.

Scott, it's been kind of a whirlwind week for you from the announcement last week to testing at Chicago and then tomorrow, rookie orientation at the Speedway. Have you had enough time for it to sink in, what you're about to take on?

SCOTT SPEED: I don't know. It's really been very exciting. Like you said, everything happened quickly and as we are approaching the day when we first get to drive on the track, I'm just getting more and more excited.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about this deal with Jay Penske and Dragon Racing, how did that come about?

SCOTT SPEED: Well, I got a text like about a week ago I guess, asking if I was available to run the Indy 500. And at the time I had a conflict on qualifying weekend with the Iowa Nationwide Series race.

And the next morning Jay called me and basically assured me that the equipment they have is top‑notch and that they have got a real solid program, and convinced me that basically I needed to really try to get out of my Nationwide deal.

And I basically called Kevin Harvick and, you know, explained to him the opportunity that I had and I needed to make sure that it was going to be no problem with his sponsors and the stuff he has going on on the Nationwide Series side that I had already committed to. He was able to get ‑‑ he was basically able to replace me and me leaving that program wasn't going to cause him too much pain.

So I was able to basically get out of the Nationwide Series race and fully commit to the Indy race.

THE MODERATOR: Tomorrow is the rookie orientation program, you have laps around the oval in stock car and Formula 1 car, as well, you've been on part of the oval. What are your thoughts on racing in IndyCar at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

SCOTT SPEED: Well, I think it's going to be completely different and there's no question it's going to be a really big learning experience for me. There's going to be ‑‑ it's going to be nothing like the stock car for sure and running around the ovals; it's probably a different experience.

Q. I wanted to ask you about the American drivers at Indy this year, seems like after several years where there's maybe a dearth, but now you have Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter‑Reay; could I get your take on that? Is there more of a trend toward hiring Americans this year maybe?

SCOTT SPEED: I don't know, honestly, things have happened so quickly for me, and so much of my time has been outside the open‑wheel circle of people, everything is really new.

I do know that there's certainly been a push to get more American drivers. I've sort of felt that. But it would be hard for me to comment on anything and be accurate about it.

Q. Can you talk more about how quickly this deal came together, and if you had any thought at all of running the Indy before getting the call?

SCOTT SPEED: Things obviously came together really quickly, but you know, it was one of those things where you start looking for rides in December, it's difficult to land anything good for a full‑time are even for part‑time races.

I was lucky enough to get some Nationwide races with Kevin with good equipment and I was sort of staying true with that same thing with any open‑wheel opportunities that came up.

When the opportunity came up with Jay, I felt like it was a good enough opportunity that I felt like it's worth taking a look at. But it's one of those things where if it wasn't such a good opportunity, I wasn't interested in doing it.

Q. You've driven all manner of cars what was your first impression or your impressions of being in an IndyCar more than it was last week and stuff; kind of compare it to the Formula 1 car you drove, and of course, the stock car stuff you've been in, just performance‑wise.

SCOTT SPEED: Well, I mean, it's obviously quite a bit different than both of those.

The Formula 1 car when I drove it had an unbelievable amount of grip and downforce and technology in it. The stock cars obviously had really no technology and no grip in them. And the IndyCar was somewhere in the middle; obviously a lot more towards the Formula 1 car with the grip level.

But running that around an oval was really strange because the only oval experience I've ever had has been in a real heavy stock car that did not have a lot of grip. Running around the white line at Chicago going 215 is quite a bit different than from the last time I was there in a Cup car.

Q. Obviously you never ran Indy in a stock car but what imagine it will be like, you ran really fast in Formula 1 cars but the opposite direction. Where do you think it will be? Are you going into it purely with an open mind tomorrow about stepping up to speed, or how are you approaching it from that angle?

SCOTT SPEED: Well, I expect it to be very different. The way I'm approaching the weekend is very conservatively. I don't want to take any steps backwards. I don't want to have any moments. I don't want to crash the car. We don't have a backup that's at the same level.

And I have a lot of time to get up to speed, and I'm confident enough that I'm going to get there, and there's no rush for me to be the fastest in practice. So I'm going to take it very easy and be fast when it counts.

Q. What is it about Jay Penske? He seems to have a pretty nice personality and stuff. What's impressed you about him just in your relationship thus far?

SCOTT SPEED: I don't know. I will say I don't know Jay very well but from the very beginning, Jay has always been easy for me to talk to. I think we have very similar personalities and it's been something that it's been easy to talk to hip.

Q. Have you had any sort of relationship with Jay at all getting that text message?

SCOTT SPEED: No. I think I remembered Jay from a while, but it's one of those things where I've really been removed from any kind of circle of open‑wheel people for the last four years pretty much.

So really there has not been a relationship with anyone in open‑wheel racing for the last half a decade almost.

Q. And why did ‑‑ did Jay tell you why he called you?

SCOTT SPEED: I don't remember honestly. He said that he was able to secure some sponsorship for either my car with the Fuzzy's Vodka, or Penn's (ph) car. And in any case he was able to find enough money to run two cars, and as far as the drivers that were available, I guess he was interested in me.

Q. And have you been thinking at all about IndyCar while you were doing your job hunting?

SCOTT SPEED: Yes, absolutely. I put a little bit ‑‑ some small feelers out in that direction. But it's nothing I really tackled full, full force merely from the fact I don't feel like I'm done proving what I can do in NASCAR.

But certainly the Indy 500, it's almost its own deal. It supersedes everything. Certainly very lucky to get the opportunity to run with something that appears to be a really good opportunity in competitive equipment at the biggest race in the world.

Q.  And have you ever been to an Indy 500 in person?

SCOTT SPEED: I've seen it. I've seen practice. I've never actually been in the race in person.

Q. And during this time that you've been out of a ride, what have you been doing?

SCOTT SPEED: You know, setting up a lot of things with my company. Obviously leaving Red Bull, you know, left a lot of things that needed to be done within my sort of Scott Speed, Incorporated, umbrella of finding management, which I've never had in my life, finding someone to take care of the website, the media site. Trying to become a big package and go out there and start looking for money and looking for opportunities, good opportunities wherever they might lie.

Q. Have you been out to Mantica much during that time period?

SCOTT SPEED: I just got back from Mantica actually. I was out there for my brother's wedding. He had a wedding in Stockton at a real nice golf course, and my mom's 50th birthday was on last Saturday.

Q. Have you driven an IndyCar?

SCOTT SPEED: I drove an IndyCar on a road course before I started racing in GP2. Red Bull wanted me to get familiar with a heavier car, and I came over and tested it for a day with Eddie Cheever Racing at Sebring, and other than that and what we did a couple of days ago at Chicago, I haven't driven one, no.

Q. How did you feel about this ‑‑ is this a one‑time deal for you in the 500, or is there more for you in the hop?

SCOTT SPEED: Certainly I think we are committed for the Vegas, the old $5 million up for grabs. Beyond that, it's something that is still up in limbo a little bit.

It's certainly a crossroads in my career where it was a really tough situation at the beginning of this year with nothing lined up, and having to search for something, and you know, it's one of those things where I need to take my time and pick a really good opportunity for next year and make a good decision and Chase down the right thing. That's something that I haven't 100% decided on which direction I should go.

Q. I believe Team Penske, he was ultimately going to have you team with Paul Tracy for at least a year, maybe Paul's final year next year. Are you cool with that idea or do you really have a compelling need to get back to NASCAR?

SCOTT SPEED: I have a compelling need to get back into something that's competitive enough to win, for one thing. Formula 1 is hard enough to be in when you're not in ‑‑ when you're not with a team that can win. And I really enjoyed the time that I raced in the Truck Series and Nationwide Series, and we had a chance to win every weekend and I miss that.

I can promise that wherever I go, it will be something that I can win races in, because I certainly have a lot more fun doing that race.

THE MODERATOR: Scott, we thank you for taking the time to join us today.

Bertrand Baguette
We welcome one of the drivers from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Bertrand Baguette, to the call. Bertrand, thanks for your time today.

Bertrand, talk a little about your Month of May Program, obviously having a very good rookie season last year and being back for a second year, does it change how you approach the Month of May?

BERTRAND BAGUETTE: Yeah, for sure, it changes everything. Now I know what to expect, so like you said, last year was my rookie year. It was a tough year because I had discovered everything, the Indy 500, the circuit.  It was difficult because it was my first time in America, so now I know what to expect. So I'm really looking forward to it and hopefully it will it be a good month for us.

Q. Obviously you have not driven a car yet this season, so Saturday probably can't come fast enough for you. You have to be looking forward to getting into a car.

BERTRAND BAGUETTE: That's for sure. I mean, winter has been very long. Last time I was in an IndyCar was for the Miami race last year. So five, six months without driving an IndyCar, so it's quite long. I'm really happy that Saturday is coming, so I'm really happy to have one week to get back in the car, one week to get in the Indy mood. So I think it will be long enough to get back to speed and hopefully qualification will go okay.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about the team you've aligned yourself with this year. You're with Rahal Letterman Lanigan, which is a team that won the Indy 500 in 2004. What's it been like working with Bobby Rahal and his team?

BERTRAND BAGUETTE: I'm really proud to be working with Bobby's team. I discovered the boys two weeks ago in Columbus, and I was really impressed. They have very big facilities, they are very motivated people, and like you said, they know how to win this thing because they won it in 2004. I'm really proud to be part of this team, and I'm sure that we will be able to do a very good job.

Q. You made the reference of getting in the Indy mood, can you expand on that a little bit? What are you referring to there?

BERTRAND BAGUETTE: Well, from my side, getting in the Indy mood is quite different from my European mood. I need to get back in the American mentality.

To get back to the Indy mood, that means I need to get back to my oval points (ph), I need to get back in touch with my engineers, and then we need to speak about the setup. So it's all about that. Once you are in Europe, it's completely different to America. So like I said, I need to get back to my Indy mood, is maybe my American mood. So it's about like where I was last year.

Q. Behind maybe isn't the right word, but how tough is it to step in and just do one race? You were there last year and stuff, too, but how difficult, or a challenge is that, to get up to speed, so to speak?

BERTRAND BAGUETTE: Well, it's quite a big challenge. I think it's a little bit easier to do it on an oval compared to road course. A road course, you need to ‑‑ it's always harder to get back up to speed on road course than ovals. The fact that it's an oval, it's a little bit easier. Yeah, it's very hard. It's the first time I get to do that. It's the biggest race of the season for a lot of the drivers so, we have to be quick, we have to be quick, up to speed.

Like I said, we have one week of testing, so we'll be able to take our time and get back up to speed. And if there wasn't this week of testing, I would say it would be nearly impossible but with that week, we'll have more time to get back to speed, and I think it should be okay.

Bobby Rahal
THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by the co‑owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Bobby Rahal. We thank you for joining us.

Bobby is a three‑time IndyCar champion, won 24 races including the 1986 Indianapolis 500. Obviously that was 25 years ago you won the Indy 500. What do you remember about that Month of May?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, for sure, I think going into the month, we had been pretty competitive in the front row in '85 and second row in '83 and led the race prior to that. So I think we always thought we would be competitive if we had a chance.

I think the thing that hung over all of us was ill health of Jim Truman. And I love ‑‑ well, I don't know if any of us really felt any undo pressure like, oh, my God, we've got to do this because Jim's in such bad shape. I think always in the back of our minds, we knew that this was going to be Jim's last race.

But having said that, as I said earlier, I don't think we did anything different. I think we just kind of got a very good setup on the car on race day. Grant Newberry was my engineer, and he had done ‑‑ we had not actually had a very competitive start to the year. We had had some reliability issues.

But Grant was, or is, a very sharp guy, and he just ‑‑ we had a car that had I think on average was quite a good car. You could adjust it, and of course we ended up winning the race.

It was kind of a bittersweet experience, frankly, because it was Jim's 51st birthday actually the weekend of the race, and then, of course, it was delayed a week, and he really summoned I think all his strength to be there, because he was in just very bad shape. He hung it out. He was tough. He stuck it out during the pit; it was a pretty warm day if I remember correctly.

Like I say, it was bittersweet, because he just knew ‑‑ I mean, I'm so glad that we were able to win. To realize a victory, a dream for someone else is something very few people have the chance to do and we did that, the team did that for Jim that day, and as I said there, was always the same kind of hanging over the victory. There was not much of a celebration, put it that way.

But in the end, we did what we went there to do and it was a great month for us.

THE MODERATOR: You had another special Month of May in 2004 with Buddy Rice, and this Month of May you bring two quality drivers with you, Bertrand and Jay Howard, to the Speedway. How much are you looking forward to being back the Speedway with these two drivers?

BOBBY RAHAL: While Rahal Letterman Lanigan has not been in IndyCars on a consistent basis over the last several years, I think each time we've come to the Speedway we've been pretty darned competitive.

Last year of course, after the first round of qualifying, we had split the Penske and Ganassi teams, and I think a lot of people were a little bit surprised by that. But I think for me it was just a recognition of ‑‑ that this team is a darned good team. We have got good people on it.

And you know, at the time I told Scott Roembke, or Scott and I told Steve Dixon who was there because Scott and I were at Laguna Seca for an ALMS race. I said, okay, we are done, that's it, forget it. And you know, our goal is to be in the top 11.

And I have to tell you, our goal is the same this year. The first round of qualifying, our goal is to be in the top 11, and that's a big goal. That's tough, because when you look at, I mean, geez, there's three Ganassi cars, there are four Ganassi cars, three Penskes, and that's seven of the 11 right there, and you've got a bunch of other good people there.

So to be in the top 11 is going to be a real accomplishment. But our goal and I think we have always had good race cars come race day and so having the guys we have, you know, here in the cars, they have proven that they can do that it. And so I see no reason why we can't figure in the race.

Now I know we have a very good crew, most of whom, if not all of them, have IndyCar in the experience in the days when we were beating Penske and Ganassi, so you know, I'm optimistic. I think it's going to be ‑‑ I think the weather, it's going to be interesting how much running time we actually get, because I think that could be the real trick to the first week. But I'm confident we have the right drivers and we have the right people running the cars and I think we should be competitive.

THE MODERATOR: I know you would like to see Bertrand or Jay Howard win the race, but if you can't, seeing Graham win on your 25th anniversary would be special, as well.

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, yeah, obviously it would be. I think that would be unbelievable. I mean, I think it he's going to be tough. I don't think there's any question. The Ganassi team is a tough, tough team, and they have got four really good opportunities. So to beat any of them are going to be difficult.

Obviously if Graham were to be fortunate enough to win the race, what a tremendous thing it would be for our family. But I have say, my head is going to be ‑‑ my head is going to be down helping Bertrand, and Scott Roembke is going to be doing his thing. Yeah, I think I'll miss most of it frankly. But it would be pretty cool. But at the same token, you know, our job is to win, too. So we are going to do whatever we can do to win and that's just the way it is.

Q. I know you have your ALMS program up to speed and all that. Are you looking to get back into end I car full‑time and does the advent of the new chassis engine formula that's supposed to start in 2012, does that give you impetus to get back into IndyCar maybe sooner than later?

BOBBY RAHAL: There's no question, I'm in Arizona right now at the airport, and just had some meetings with companies out here, all trying to put together a program for 2012 in IndyCar. And absolutely we want to be there.

I have great ‑‑ I'm a big supporter of Randy Bernard. I think he's doing some great things and he's starting to collect a really good group of people in support of what he's trying to do.

You know, I'm very, very bullish about IndyCar right now. I wasn't that way a couple of years ago to be honest but I see real progress being made in a real ‑‑ I see a strategy to take IndyCar back to where it should be or where it once was. Although I have to tell you, competitively I think it's absolutely where it once was.  I think it may be better.

But without question, we want to be a regular runner in IndyCar Racing, as well as ALMS. And so, yeah, I think that next year ‑‑ I think that when Chevrolet announced they were coming on, I thought that was the best thing that could happen to Indy Car racing in frankly a decade or so, and now Lotus is in, too.

We want to be in there at the bottom, we want to be there at the bottom of that, this new era, and everything we are doing right now is dedicated towards putting together a competitive program. Not just a program, but a competitive program for 2012 and beyond.

Q. I wonder if you had a chance to see the mock‑up cars that it Dallara has unveiled and that will be on display this month at the Speedway. What do you think about that?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, it's different. I think it's modern and I think that it addresses frankly some safety issues that have long needed to be addressed with open‑wheel cars. You know it, I looked forward to seeing what Chevrolet is going to produce for their body work and Lotus and anybody else that comes in. But for sure, it's a cutting edge look, and I think that's what IndyCar Racing has always been about is cutting edge. I think it's pretty cool.

THE MODERATOR: We have Jay Howard, driver of the No. 88 Service Central car. Thanks for taking the time to join us.

JAY HOWARD: Yeah, sorry about the delay there. I'm at the track and I'm actually in the car, so I apologize.

THE MODERATOR: Yeah, I know last year had to be a disappointment not qualifying for the race so obviously how special would it be for you to be in the Indy 500 this year and erase all that disappointment?

JAY HOWARD: Yeah, there's no words that can describe it to be honest. Being with Rahal Letterman Lanigan and having Sam Schmidt teamed up together and running the program for me is a dream come true for me.

And you know, I feel like I've paid my dues and been in some cars that have not quite been competitive enough, and just from what I've seen from being around all of these guys, I'm really, really confident and anxious to get on track.

So you know, it doesn't matter if I win the 500 this year, what happened last year will never go away. I will never forget it. I'll never be all right with it. But I'm looking forward and yeah, like I say, really excited and really, really confident; I'm happy.

THE MODERATOR: Adding to the confidence and happiness is knowing that Service Central has come aboard to support you again for this season, and obviously you've joined a team as capable as Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

JAY HOWARD: Yeah, I can't thank Paul and those guys enough at Service Central. They have been a great sponsor and they were great last year, they were very patient through hard times. And I'm really grateful for them to help me and, yeah, I can't say enough good things about them.

Q. Talking with Scott Roembke the other day, I understand you just have two cars; just wondering what will be your instructions or whatever you want to call it or advice to Jay and Bertrand about basically taking care of equipment, etc., as you go into this week? And then No. 2 I'll go ahead and ask my follow‑up, why is your team able to like, do you think, from your vantage point, step up once a year so to speak and put a competitive car on the track there at Indianapolis?

BOBBY RAHAL: First, we have two cars. We have a little bit more than that, but we have two cars. I think the first thing for us is to give Jay and Bertrand very good, very comfortable cars to drive where they are not having to hang it out and take chances in order to go fast.

Last year we started out with a car like that, and I think we'll end up and we'll start off with a car like that again this year. It's just ‑‑ some of it is just being really disciplined and not getting caught up in things of the moment, because Indianapolis is a place that can really mess with your head if you allow it, as a driver or anybody within a team.

So it's just being really ‑‑ it's being calm and it's just going about our work that we need and drivers being disciplined. I have no doubt that they will be so, and you know, as I said, we have a lot of very, very experienced people in this organization that have been there, done that, especially at Indy.

And so you know, this is a team effort and this is making sure that we give these guys a good car, a good, confident car, and then working with them to just ‑‑ if things don't work out so well one day, that we remember it's a long week and month and we'll get them again the next day.

So I'm not concerned about the fact that, you know, that we go there with the cars that we have. And I think for your second question, you know, we have got ‑‑ the people we have, as I said earlier, are all very experienced IndyCar people. You know, Ricardo Nault, who was the chief for Buddy Rice is there, doing the same thing. We won the 500 under Ricardo's sort of direction, and Steve Dixon is a long‑time IndyCar guy and Scott Roembke is the best as far as I'm concerned. He's I think ‑‑ probably the best I think just described it.  He really knows the Speedway in particular.

And the thing about the Speedway is unlike the other ovals where you are mandated wing angles and this and that; the Speedway is like it used to be where you get there and you're trying to go as fast as you possibly can. So it's all about aero drag, mechanical drag, having a comfortable car for the drivers, being able to suck it up for qualifying.

As a result, that really plays to those people who are really ‑‑ who can really create a better car under that sort of circumstance. And as I said last year, you know, I don't think anybody even gave us a thought. Graham was T‑5 after first round of qualifying and everybody thought, holy smokes. And we had the same people.

You know, I think that it's ‑‑ I think just the uniqueness of Indy in terms of setups and what‑have‑you allows a team like ours to come in and be competitive.

Q. I know this isn't a press conference for the Ganassi team but I wanted to ask you about one of their drivers, Graham Rahal. How different were you, your fourth year at Indy, than those first three years? What did you know? How did you know how to handle things, and how much will Graham be from four years ago, from being able to handle it all, etc.?

BOBBY RAHAL: I kind of look at Graham like Sam Hornish. And I think Sam crashed every year until he won the 500. I think he crashed four years in a row. And Graham did the same thing in the same place, I might add, two years in a row, and last year drove I think a good race. It was a shame we got black‑flagged. I think that was undeserved. But of course that's my opinion. But I think he drove a great race and showed what he could do.

So I think coming back for a fourth year that, one more year, just the experience level, that's big. That's all you can say, it's big. So I think that, you know, I guess I think that it's a good time for him as it was for me.

My first year, I didn't know which end is up. And the second year, it was better, and the third year was better yet and the fourth year was even better. Every time you go back there, you just have that much more experience and you just know that much more what to expect. And you deal with it. You're in a much better position to deal with it, I should say, so I think he's probably at that sage.

Q. Bertrand, you have this joint deal with Sam Schmidt to run; what jumps out at you about him, the connection there?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well I've watched both of these guys race over the last several years. You know, last year Bertrand with Conquest, and Jay over the years ‑‑ Indy Lights and what‑have‑you, even as far back as Star Mazda, if you really want to go back in 2005, I think that was. Obviously good drivers. I think they have the right attitude, and they are serious about what they are doing.

So I think that each of them brings their own individual value to the team, but I think both of them understand that if we work really well together, there's a very good chance for us, and you know, Indianapolis is a long, long race, and anything can happen in this race.

And so we are just going to make sure we are in a position with both of them, and we are in a position to make a difference when it needs to be done.

Q. The cars are going to change pretty quick and appear to be that you can do a lot of different things to the aerodynamics to it. Does that suit most owners? What's your feeling?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, first off, I think that the differentiation in the cars, the look, is important. That's what IndyCar Racing always was for years.

I think that was part of the appeal, part of the real attraction for people was to see who was showing up with what each year. For various reasons that has not happened over the last, frankly, we are talking almost eight or nine years now. I think that the racing is tremendous. I think the look and differentiation for the cars is important.

And I think for 2012, we have a formula that allows people to do that in a very economic way, or at least economic compared to the old days.

So I'm a fan of that. I think the cars should look different. I think there should be differentiation. I mean, if you listen to people out there, the fans, one of the things they hate about NASCAR is everybody ‑‑ all the cars look the same. One of the things they didn't like about IndyCars, everything looked the same.

I think if we get some different looks in there, I think it provides a more ‑‑ I don't know, again the attraction gets better. So I think the new rules are quite good, and I think the sport will benefit from it.

Q. Will you be eligible to go for this five hill dollar at the end of the season if you so desire; will y'all try to enter that little sweepstakes?

BOBBY RAHAL: I want to make an announcement today that I'm coming out of retirement for that race. I figure I need the money; 5 million is pretty good. (Laughing).  Is it April Fool's Day? No. I'm not doing that. I'm not that brave anymore.

We are intending on being there. We have talked to Indy Car about the qualifications and who are they looking for and that kind of stuff. We want to be there. We have already volunteered one name; so we kind of sort of have our hat in the ring a little bit.

Yeah, we want to be there. Who wouldn't? For the potential to win 5 million bucks. Plus on top of that, the excitement that that race is going to be about, who wouldn't want to be involved in that.

Q. Wondering whatever happened to the No. 3 Budweiser March Cosworth that you drove victory in 1986?

BOBBY RAHAL: Well, that car is actually in the museum right now from what I understand right now. A fellow named Pat Ryan who lives in Asheville, North Carolina has owned the car, literally from ‑‑ not sure when Steve Horne from Truesports sold it to him, but not far along after the race.

I'm really thrilled because in July or end of June, first thing in July I'm going to Goodwood in England, who is having ‑‑ they are celebrating the 100th year of Indy 500, and they are going to ship the car over and I'm going to get to drive it at Goodwood. So it's in good shape. Pat is taking care of it and the car is beautiful, and so it should be a lot of fun.

Q. And it's go to be able to sit in it; right?

BOBBY RAHAL: I don't know if I fit in it quite as good as I did at that time but I can still get in it.

THE MODERATOR: That will wrap up for today's IZOD IndyCar Series teleconference.

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