IndyCar Hinchcliffe, Bernard-Zucker teleconference
Q. James, I know racing at Toronto means a lot to you no matter what car you're driving. Getting to drive an IndyCar in front of your friends and family must make this weekend very special to you.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, it certainly does. I've been telling everybody that I've been coming to this race since I was 18 months old. I've had the opportunity to drive here in a few of the different junior formulas over the years which have all been incredible in their own right, but at the end of the day I was always sitting in the grandstands with everybody else when the main show started. It's going to be special this year to see the race from a different seat.
Q. Canadians are very prideful of their own, if it's hockey or auto racing. You told a story of Greg Moore. What is it like to be a Canadian racing in Canada, and last year you won at Edmonton? How important is it for a Canadian to do well in his home race?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, you know, obviously Canadians are very proud people. We have a sort of small population compared to some of the other big countries in the world. When it comes to sports, we like to prove that we can still compete.
Motor racing is no different. I think there's a big motor racing heritage in Canada, especially with open-wheel. So they're very big fans. Even when I was racing in the junior formula, the support that you got from the fans in Toronto and Edmonton was incredible. They're very knowledgeable, very passionate. They just love cheering on the locals.
For me certainly that win in Edmonton last year was one of the high points of my racing career. I raced in Canada a bunch of times, but it was the first time in my formula car career that I managed to take a win on home soil. So it was a nice moment, especially after rebounding from a DNF in Toronto the week before.
Q. I wanted to see could you talk about making the jump from Indy Lights to Indy, what that transition has been like for you this season?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: The transition has been certainly more difficult in some aspects than I was expecting and maybe a little smoother in other aspects. It's been a little bit of everything.
The workload in IndyCar is certainly a lot more, and more than I was expecting. But to the other side of that, the first time I got to drive the car, I was very pleased to see how comfortable I was in it right away. I think a lot of that credit has to go to the Indy Lights Series, the time I spent there, how close that car is.
It's a very competitive series. You really appreciate that now you are driving against the best guys in North America. It's been a huge learning experience. Rookies don't get a ton of testing these days, so every race weekend is basically a two- or three-day test session. It's all about getting laps. I've thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
We've had some ups and some downs. Some aspects were more difficult. At the end of the day I've worked very hard to get to this point and I'm learning as much as I possibly can every opportunity I get and just enjoying every single minute of it.
Q. Randy, with all the tracks available, those who have been asking IndyCar for race days, what attracted IndyCar to Auto Club Speedway?
RANDY BERNARD: It's one of the largest markets in the United States, number one. We need more ovals. We're trying to keep a balanced series. We also think a night race there will be very exciting. It has a lot of history with IndyCar. We think they're some very solid partners that we can bring on to enhance the event.
I will say on a personal event, Gillian and her team have been outstanding to work with, very aggressive on wanting this event.
Q. You mentioned the balance. I know the schedule isn't ready for release and you're not going to give any hints to what else is out there. How important is adding another oval and keeping the balance of road and street races to the schedule?
RANDY BERNARD: Well, we want to say we're the fastest and most versatile racecar drivers in the world. That's what will differentiate us from other forms of motorsports. So we need to try to live up to that. It's very difficult sometimes when you're trying to complement road, street and ovals.
IndyCar, the tradition and history, is all about ovals. What we're trying to do is make sure we can maintain some great racetracks for that.
Q. Gillian, it's been nearly seven years since your facility hosted open-wheel racing. The track and area have a long history in IndyCar racing. What makes the IZOD IndyCar Series such a good fit for Auto Club Speedway?
GILLIAN ZUCKER: I think as most people know this racetrack was built by the Penskes, built with open-wheel racing in mind. In our minds, this is the most competitive place to see open-wheel racing in the country. We hold the world speed record for the fastest lap of 241 miles an hour. We know that the finishes here have been unlike any other.
We feel like this is going to provide a really excellent opportunity to provide world class racing for our fans and diversify our schedule.
Q. How important was it to add IndyCar to the track schedule for 2012?
GILLIAN ZUCKER: Well, I think Randy can attest to the fact that we wouldn't leave him alone (laughter). I think he had a choice of taking out a restraining order or granting a race here. We're thrilled he opted to grant the race here.
It's not just about our staff being excited about it, wanting to round out the schedule for the community, provide the economic impacts that this type of event can bring, it's also just about how exciting this racing is and providing something that's truly dynamic that fans could enjoy. We couldn't be more thrilled to have open-wheel racing back at Auto Club Speedway.
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