Milwaukee 225 Sunday Press Conference
TONY KANAAN: Can we race here again, that race that is missing?
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport who finished third. This is the second podium finish for James this year. He also finished third at Long Beach in April. James has finished sixth in his only other start here at Milwaukee last year. Today's third-place finish moves him into second place in the championship point standings.
We'll get started. Tony, talk about today's race.
TONY KANAAN: It was kind of a long day for us. In the beginning of the race, on the first stint I was just trying to manage the tires and to see how the track was after the rain.
When it was time to go race, after the second stop, I felt that my car lost a little bit of speed and I didn't know why, so I couldn't save as much fuel. I could not run a leaner mixture because I was starting to lose a lot of positions.
Those guys went three laps further than I did. I was concerned about that. If the race had gone green, we had a long period of time of green flags. After, I said, 'We're hanging in here, I know this place well enough.' Last year with 30 laps to go I put it in the wall. I said I'll wait till the last stop and see what we can do.
We got a very, very good pit stop, a very good four or five out-laps, and I was able to gain a lot of positions and put myself in contention to be on the podium. Once I was there, it was just a matter of trying to manage your position.
For me, it was a long day just because it's very unlike me not to attack on restarts. I didn't have anything for Ryan. Like I said, I felt the car was down, I didn't have enough speed. I was actually defending myself on restarts, which I realize I do not know how to do that. I did a very, very poor job on that.
One yellow to go. The last yellow, I said, You know what, that's it, I'm going to try to go as fast as I can. Ryan did a great job. Got a gap. We had a lap car in between us. I lost those two precious seconds there. After that I knew it was over.
So second place, we'll take it. It's my best result. We're building some points. I had two terrible races in the beginning of the season. The race before Brazil, when I came to Brazil, I was dead last in the championship. So I'm happy. Happy for Ryan. I think it's nice to see another team winning apart from the two we are used to seeing all the time. Justin, Ryan this weekend, Michael did a great job of bringing this race back. What a great event.
Hinch, I want to vote for him for his homepage. I want him there. I saw the freaking thing on the wall every yellow. I'm like, Hinch! I'm going to freaking dream about that all night. Tonight I will tweet to my 700,000 followers.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Good man. Appreciate that.
THE MODERATOR: James, obviously today was an important day for you in terms of a podium finish but also with the points. You said you weren't thinking about championship, are you thinking about championship now?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: No. I think not thinking championship is what maybe got us to this point. If you told me eight races into the season we'd be second in the points, it didn't add up, it wouldn't have made sense to me.
I think that just shows how hard everybody at Andretti Autosport has been working, the amount of credit that the Go Daddy guys and everybody on that team deserves. Whether it's been road circuits, street circuits, speedways and short ovals, we've been quick, whether it is qualifying trim, race trim, and the results are showing. We're finishing races, staying on lead laps and things like that. The consistency is paying off.
I'm happy to get back on the podium. I'm kind of bummed that seven races in, we only had one. I'm glad to be back here.
Huge congrats to Tony and to Ryan. He's been on a bit of a down streak. It's been tough for him. It's been great to see him bounce back. It's kind of a perfect day in a lot of ways.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Do you have a clear understanding of what the restart rule is? Scott Dixon was surprised that he got nailed. Did you see his restart as being jumping the restart or what?
TONY KANAAN: The rule is clear: you cannot put your car outside of another car before. Nose-to-tail double-file restart. Beaux rephrased that this morning.
I didn't see it. I saw the first one. Then they waved it off. I don't know. I got hammered after Indy, including Scott criticized me of jumping the start. I guess he tried to do the same.
I didn't see it. But I remember specifically in the drivers meeting this morning, Beaux said, I don't want anybody looking, I want nose-to-tail. That's the rule.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I was beside him. I saw it. It was 100% a violation. What I don't get is we threw the yellow. So he had to go back. He didn't do it again when it went green, so he didn't really gain anything. Either leave the green and penalize him or start the yellow.
Was that a violation of the rule? 100%. Do I think the penalty was appropriate, given the circumstances? Maybe not necessarily.
TONY KANAAN: He said he was going to give it a warning depending on the situation. But if they wave it off, I agree, he should not have gotten the penalty.
Q. Would have, should have, could have. If he hadn't have gotten penalized, how forward would he have been?
TONY KANAAN: He would go back to his position and start where he was.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, but he's Scott Dixon.
TONY KANAAN: He would be right there. If, if, if. If Will hadn't chopped me off last weekend, maybe... (laughter).
Q. The restart zone is so deep on the straightaway, it's allowed for this bunching. Would you like to see it go back to where it was into turn three and four?
TONY KANAAN: My opinion, the earlier you go, the better is going to be for everybody not to get what we're doing. Right now the only people that get penalized for that, it's first and second place, because you can time them.
What I did at Indy, it wasn't a violation. I just know where they're going to accelerate. If I'm three rows behind, I can accelerate before them. I'm not passing anybody. I'm still behind the car.
My opinion, yes. If they're going to do it or not, I'm not sure. In my opinion, what's happening right now is the start and restart zone, it's too late into the straightaway. When it goes green, you can pass. So that actually caused double problem, in my opinion. To me, I would like to see it a little earlier.
I will follow the rules, whatever they want to do.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You pretty much covered it.
Q. Certainly some guys were able to make up ground, but I don't know that anybody really passed the leader. Is there something that could be better or was it just that the guys who led were that much better?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Clean air is king, especially at this place. It was difficult to follow other guys, especially on the restarts. If you were three, four, cars back, guys in front of you, it was sketchy.
TONY KANAAN: As you know.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Thanks for that, by the way.
When you're in clean air, it's such an advantage. But the leader should have an advantage. He's up there for a reason. I'm for that. I don't think the leader should be handicapped by restarting in first.
Q. James, how was your racing with E.J. Viso today? He claimed you were blocking at some point.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I guess the race director disagrees. In the last stint there, he had a couple runs coming off of four. Saw him coming. Moved to the middle of the racetrack, which I have the right to do. As long as I move before him, leave a lane if he chooses to go for it. I put it in the middle every time. One time he tried to go high, one time low, couldn't make it work.
I don't know. It certainly wasn't my intention. I wasn't trying to block. I was trying to, as Tony said, drive to the rules. The race director thought it was okay. I guess I'm cool with it.
Q. James, how special is this for this race team? You talked about Andretti bringing this back here. You take two of the top podium spots. How special is it to get a win?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think the plane ride home will be a lot more pleasant than it was last week from Texas.
He really put his neck on the line for this race. It's tough to get an event so late into the year and try and pull it off. I'll tell you, they have been working 24/7 since January to make this thing come off the way they have. You look around, I think they did a helluva job.
The fans came out, sat through a rain delay. Ultimately we went out and put on a good show again. We love this place selfishly because it's so much fun to drive, but we also put on a good show. For Mike to have pulled off not only what I think is a successful event as a promoter, but have two cars on the podium as a race team owner, it's a good day to be Michael Andretti.
Q.I believe before the race, he told everybody you are coming back next year. James hit on it, but...
TONY KANAAN: Amy started the interview, gave you my stats here. I love this place. I always did. I was glad to see the fans. I was glad to see the infield, with all the entertainment for the kids. I think every race should be like that. If your kid wants to come, he will come.
I'm glad. You know, I know Michael quite well, and the people that work for him on the other side, which is Scott Rush, the guy that is in charge of this event. They are very capable people. I was so glad it was a very successful one.
In having only a few months to put together an event like this, like Hinch said, it's remarkable. By default, I was catching a ride back to Indy, I did an appearance for free, it was me and Hinch at the time. People were extremely excited. I think Michael Andretti is still a big name in racing.
Everybody that tried to organize this race up until now, I don't think they were successful, not because they couldn't organize the race, but because they didn't have the name that Michael has and the credibility that he has, what he brings to the sport.
He said we're coming back. I'm extremely happy about that.
Q. Spinning ahead to next Saturday night in Iowa, you do very well at that track. How do you feel about heading there, especially now with the heat races they're going to have?
TONY KANAAN: I don't know about the heat races. But I feel extremely confident. I knew the next two races, which is here and Iowa, those are places that I did quite well, places that suit me. So I got to take advantage of that.
I'm confident that we're going to be in a contention there. You know, a shame what happened last weekend with us because we've been in contention to win a race. It's like Hinch, we've been knocking on the door, knocking on the door, looks like it never happens. To be able to win a race, that's what you've got to do.
Q. James, was Michael behaving different before the race than he would normally do?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: No, I don't think so. I mean, Mike has been a professional sportsman for a long time. The pressures I think of promoting an event are not dissimilar to the nerves you feel in the buildup to a race.
If he was feeling nervous about how the event was going to turn out, he certainly didn't show it. With what you saw here today, I think he leaves here pretty happy on both fronts.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, James, congratulations on a great race. Best of luck in Iowa.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Thank you.
TONY KANAAN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: As we wait on Ryan Hunter-Reay, we're joined by Andretti Autosport owner and our boss here at the Milwaukee Indy Fest, Mike Andretti.
Michael, take us through your feelings right now between getting a win, obviously finishing third with James, and what looks like a great event all around.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Unbelievable. First of all, thank you, Milwaukee, for coming out and supporting it. I think we had a great crowd for the first shot out here. It's something to build on. Hopefully we're going to be back here next year and for a long time after that. We're excited about that.
I think the whole Andretti Autosport marketing team did an incredible job. My hat is off to those guys. We have a great team there, as well as a great racing team. I think we showed that here getting two cars on the podium. Really excited about that.
Ryan did one heck of a job. So did the whole DHL team. They didn't miss a beat. Pit stops were great. Pit strategy was great. The car was really good. So that was all good.
Then James did a helluva job just to hang in there and get himself up on the podium for Go Daddy, so that was awesome.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go with questions.
Q. Is it possible you feel better about the event than you do the race win?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: This definitely makes me love it even more, for sure. We won it five times as a driver, now four times as an owner, it's really unbelievable. So there's something about this place, something that we just love. You always have good feelings at places where you've done well.
Q. Would we be wrong in saying 20,000 for a crowd today or do you think it's north of that?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I honestly don't know. I don't know what they had in the infield as well as up in the stands. I know we don't have a final count yet.
It looked good. It was what we were hoping for. Like I said, it's something to build on. We know this isn't something that's going to happen overnight. But I think for a first time out, it was really successful.
Q. When we talked a couple weeks ago at Indy, you seemed antsy about this thing, how well it would do. At what point did you start to feel comfortable that it was going to work?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think the last week, it was just unbelievable how smooth it was. There was not one hiccup anywhere, in operations or anything. Then also the whole week you're seeing the weather forecast at the time was looking really good. It was like, 'This thing, I think we're going to pull it off, and it's going to be everything we planned on it to be.' That's what happened.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: We were starting to then, when we were seeing everything, the way it was coming together. We decided to announce it yesterday, that we were going to announce that we would have tickets go on sale tomorrow.
Q. From a team owner standpoint, to stem the Honda tide, the last two weeks it's been non-Penske or Ganassi teams that have won races, how important is that for the series?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I don't know about the series, but it's good for us that we're one of them.
Anytime you can beat those two, you've done something, because those two organizations are total class organizations. They're the ones that set the bar. When you go out there and beat 'em, it's great. I think it's great for the series, as you said, to have other winners. I was really happy for Justin and the whole Dale Coyne team last week. I'm glad we were able to come out and do this.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our race winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay. This is Ryan's sixth career win, second career win here at the Milwaukee Mile. He started from the pole position in 2004 and led every lap en route to that victory. Also the fourth victory for Andretti Autosport here at the Milwaukee Mile.
Ryan, congratulations on a big win here today. Take us through your emotions of getting the win here at your boss' event.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, what a story line. It really is amazing. Milwaukee has been so important to IndyCar for so long. I think this is a huge event for Milwaukee. These two belong together.
I really thank Michael for sticking his neck out coming back here and really doing it the right way. Andretti Sports Marketing, if they're going to do it one way, it's definitely the right way. Hopefully this is the basis for years to come. We've laid the foundation now. Hopefully many years to come, this will be a very successful event on the schedule.
Getting the DHL SunDrop car in Victory Lane is quite a big deal for us. We're very happy about that.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.
Q. Ryan, it didn't look like anybody had anything serious for you.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I didn't really like the restarts. I would rather it had just gone green. You can't always get your way.
It was tough work. You really have to look after the tires, know when to use them, know when not to. Michael knows his way around this place. He was in my ears, coaching me, Make sure you have the tires when you need them. We saved them when we needed them. We pounced, ready to go when somebody slipped up. On the restarts we were aggressive. The guys did a great job in the pits.
Really just a very, very strong day from Andretti Autosport overall. They did an amazing job. The last few laps were a lot of fun, just opening up the lead, counting down on the number of laps.
I'll tell you what, though, 225 laps around here feels like a 500-mile race. It's a short little place, it adds up quick.
One thing I wanted to mention, too, I wanted to say happy Father's Day to my dad. He wasn't able to be here. I want to dedicate this win to him. He's done so much for me in my career. He's the reason why I'm standing here.
Q. Michael, what were your feelings coming in today? Ryan, what was the talk amongst the other guys on the team? Was there additional pressure to win because it was your boss' race or not?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Lot of extra pressure (laughter).
No, I was feeling a lot of things. The first time at the event, so we had to focus on that. Then there was still the race. Honestly didn't know what to expect because it's an all-new package with the car and everything.
We were cautiously optimistic. Until you get out there with everybody, you don't really know. After the first stint, I thought, 'You know what, we got a shot at winning this thing for sure.' The guys did a great job calling the race, he did a great job driving it, great pit stops.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I spoke to Michelle from DHL this morning, she told me it's DHL Victory Lane. I didn't even know that, to tell you the truth. The Andretti Sports Marketing team has been so busy, I didn't know that detail. I remember thinking about 10 laps to go, 'This would be really cool, I got to stay on it here, make this happen.'
But, no, there's no added pressure. We put enough pressure on ourselves to go win. Every race is very important. These points are very precious each and every race.
It's great to get a win here and be back where we belong.
Q. Ryan, the pass on Helio for the lead, can you describe the pass?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I was saving my tires behind him, kind of biding my time, saving some fuel. Everybody was strong on new tires. I just wanted to see where he went off. It started happening. It started happening through two. Lap after lap he looked weaker through there. I still let it go, didn't push too hard.
Then he had a wiggle, then another wiggle, then he got off into the gray. I just went for it and got him into turn three. Kind of similar deal with Dario, as well.
Q. You mentioned being a little bit nervous about the restarts. The fact that one of those guys pursuing you was Tony, who has a pretty good reputation as far as restarts, how aware were you of that?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Definitely racing Tony at the end was good because we race each other clean. I knew that. Tony is going to go for it just as much as anybody else. He wants to win as badly as I do, as badly as the next guy.
Everybody on a restart, you know that's the time to go. That's when the cars are in the closest proximity. That's the time to make it up. Everybody gets that little bit of desperation in them. You're just doing everything you can to get to turn one with your nose first so that you have the clean air.
Q. Michael, whose idea was it to move everything to the infield and redo the whole event feel of this racetrack?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it was the whole team. We had like a roundtable discussion, throwing out ideas, what are we going to do. That's where we came up with the idea of the Indy Fest. Why don't we take the festival into the infield? I think it might have been John that said it at that time. We all thought it was a great idea. It just snowballed from there.
Q. You're Mr. Milwaukee now. You won here in Champ Car, led every lap. You had to work different to win today's race. What suits your style so well at this track?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don't know. We won at New Hampshire last year, too. Every driver that drives the Milwaukee Mile knows you can't do it without a good racecar.
I enjoy short-track racing. Places like Milwaukee, New Hampshire, they're very challenging. The car changes so much through a stint, it's just a really challenging, different type of racing. I really enjoy it.
But you're no better than the team you're with. They've certainly given me a great opportunity here and I have them to thank for it.
Q. The roles are reversed, but back when you were driving here, your team owner was the promoter of the race.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: That's right.
Q. What do you recall about that? Following in the footsteps of Carl Haas.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: That's funny. I never really thought about that. It was cool to win the race for him and stuff.
You know, I don't know. It didn't happen on purpose, but it's cool that it happened. Carl was great to drive for. I have my best memories in racing in Newman Haas. We miss Carl and Paul a lot. But they've done so much for racing. Like keeping Milwaukee going back in those days was one of the things they did.
Q. Where does this one rank win-wise compared to '91?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: You know, they're all special. Every win is special. When you're a driver, it's a different feeling as an owner. But it's special in a different way.
This one's special. To have Ryan go out and win our first race that we're promoting is huge. We had this sort of feeling back when we did the first race that we promoted back in St. Petersburg, we had a 1-2-3-4 finish there in St. Petersburg. People are probably starting to think these things are rigged (laughter).
But those are things that will always go up there as being one of the special ones, and this one ranks right up there.
Q. Michael, it will be a full year to plan and promote this thing. How much bigger do you think it can be?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it can be a lot bigger. We got in so late, it was hard to get people to come and activate. I think there were people skeptical, are we going to be able to pull it out. Sponsors told us, 'Let's see how you do it this year, then we'll look at it.'
I think we proved to everybody that this is going to be a first class, world class event. I think we're going to have a lot more interest next year, especially on the corporate side. I think on the fan side, too. I think there were some skeptical fans out there because of past problems they had. I think our team did a great job. I think we proved you're going to get a real bang for your buck. You're going to have a great race, because Milwaukee is always a great race, but you'll have fun and have fun with the whole festival activities.
Q.I thought the whole point when you took over full ownership of the team was you spun the race promoting efforts to your two partners. How difficult is it doing both?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's a tough balance. It's something you have to be careful on how you are with your people. There's a lot of people from Andretti Autosport that are working on the promotion, as well. There's been such dedication from everybody. Those guys are putting in extra time. We have to be careful we don't burn them out too much.
We're working on building a staff and getting ourselves bigger so we can hopefully do more events at other races, as well.
Q. Do you see momentum building in terms of going into Iowa?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I hope so. We have a great series. We have great drivers, great personalities. If you like racing, how do you not like what's been happening this year in all the races? It's been flat-out great racing.
I think our product's great. That's important. Hopefully people are going to take notice. I think they're starting to more and more. Hopefully you guys will report a good show and hopefully create some more interest for us, as well.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, absolutely. On the racing side, this is tough to beat. We've just been having great races. Big props to everybody involved in developing the car, to the engine manufacturers. It's been a lot of fun.
But one thing I also forget is thanks to Go Daddy for an awesome site. It's pretty much the only site you need on your web browser. It's new, improved, awesome. Thank you, guys, for the support.
Q. 'Vote for Hinch' on the back straightaway.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: 'Hinch for Homepage'.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations.
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