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DATE News (chronologically)
05/23/11
TV News

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
Indianapolis 500 Airs on ABC for 47th Consecutive Year

One of the longest-running relationships between a sporting event and a network will continue on Sunday, May 29, when the Indianapolis 500 airs on ABC for the 47th consecutive year. ESPN on ABC’s coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins at 11 a.m. ET with The Indianapolis 500 – A Centennial Celebration presented by Honda. The race telecast is presented by GoDaddy.com and begins at noon, with the race’s green flag at 12:12 p.m.

Brent Musburger hosts the telecast, while Marty Reid will call the race with analysis by former IZOD IndyCar Series star Scott Goodyear and 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever. Reporting from the pits will be Rick DeBruhl, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch.

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05/23/11
irl

Lloyd saved the best for last
Alex Lloyd gets a kiss from his wife after making a late run to make the Indy 500 field
Last time Alex Lloyd left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his emotions were running high after a fourth-place finish in the 2010 Indianapolis 500.  A year later, Lloyd left the track on the same emotional high after two long and trying days of qualifying, that resulted in a last minute qualifying attempt that put his #19 Boy Scouts of America car into the 33-car field for the 95th running of the Indianapolis 500 next Sunday afternoon.

“When I saw the crew guys faces pulling up in pit lane it was such a great feeling to see not only how important this was to me, but the entire #19 Boy Scouts of America team and their families,” Lloyd said.  “It was a better feeling than finishing in fourth place last year.”

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05/23/11
nnw

Fastenal to Sponsor Roush Fenway’s Nationwide Fleet
If the Fastenal Ford Mustang seems to be all over the track during the May 28 Nationwide Series race, that’s because it will be – or rather, THEY will be. In a rarity for NASCAR, Fastenal, a regular primary on Carl Edwards’ No. 60, will sponsor all three Roush Fenway Fords in this week’s Nationwide race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Fastenal’s blue and white colors will be featured on three of the fastest cars in the series. The all-star lineup includes the No. 60 Fastenal Ford Mustang driven by series champion Carl Edwards, who’s already chalked up three Nationwide Series victories this season; the No. 6 Ford Fastenal Mustang of 2010 Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who earned his first career NASCAR win last week in Iowa; and the No. 16 Fastenal Ford Mustang, scheduled to be driven by 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.

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05/23/11
nastruck

Charlotte Trucks Keep Ratings Streak Alive
SPEED coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Charlotte scored a Nielsen Household Rating of 0.98 (773,000 households), up 42 percent from last year’s rain-delayed .69 and the highest rating from Charlotte since 2008. Race coverage peaked at 1.30 (1,024,000 households) and averaged more than one million viewers.

It marks the fourth consecutive NCWTS race to score a year-to-year ratings increase (Martinsville 4 percent, Nashville 18 percent, Dover 26 percent). Ratings for the series are up 7 percent overall versus last year at this point.

Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on SPEED – June 4 at Kansas Speedway, where the series will celebrate its 400th race. NCWTS Setup with Krista Voda begins at 1:30 p.m. ET and race coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET. SPEED also will air coverage of NCWTS qualifying at 11 a.m. ET.

Comment
05/23/11
nascar

Evernham's father dies
Raymond Donald Evernham, Sr., “Pop”, 80, of Mooresville, NC, passed away on Sunday, May 22, 2011, at his residence. He was born in Rumson, N.J. on March 18, 1931, to the late Raymond John and Madeline Hawkins Evernham. He is also preceded in death by a brother, Alfred Evernham and a sister, Marjorie Davidson. Evernham was a mechanic working with the railroad and with race teams. He served his country in the United States Navy on board the destroyer USS H. J. Ellison DD-864. He was a member of Grace Covenant Church, Cornelius, N.C. He is survived by his wife, MaryLou Bailey Evernham; children, Raymond Evernham, Jr. and wife, Erin, Willie Evernham and wife, Barbara, and LuAnn Evernham; grandchildren, Danelle, Donald, Willy, Ray J., Scotty and Taylor and great grandson, Christopher; sister, Caroline Nicholl and brother, Robert Evernham.

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05/23/11
nassprint

Daytona announces ticket deals to fill empty seats
Daytona International Speedway announced special pricing for youths for the Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 on July 2, the first time an offer like this has been extended to the top line series.
Reserved seats for children 12-under are $10 and ages 13-17 are half-price. The special pricing is available for advance sales only.

For the Subway Jalapeno 250 on July 1, children 12-under are free in the general admission areas and $10 in Sprint/Petty/Earnhardt/Roberts and Weatherly Towers. There are half-price tickets for children 13-17.

Throughout the weekend, children 12-and-under are free in the Sprint FANZONE.

Comment
05/23/11
irl

Foyt and Andretti team up
Bruno Junqueira giving up his ride for Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Why?  When in doubt, follow the money
An Andretti and a Foyt are teaming up to put Ryan Hunter-Reay back in the Indianapolis 500.

After a disastrous weekend for Michael Andretti's team, the owner and his father's old rival have reached a deal to get Hunter-Reay, the only American to win an IndyCar race since April 2008, into A.J. Foyt's No. 41 car for Sunday's race.

Details of the arrangement weren't immediately available, but it may have come down to cold, hard cash.

"We've been competitors for many years, but it's still the kind of relationship when someone is really down and out, you don't turn your back on them -- at least I can't," Foyt said in a statement. "This is going back to the way racing used to be, where if people were in a lot of trouble, you tried to help each other."

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05/23/11
Racing News

Anderson, Indiana driver killer at track
A race car driver has died from injuries sustained during a crash Saturday night at Anderson Speedway.

Madison County Coroner Ned Dunnichay confirmed Sunday that driver William Mefford of Knightstown died from blunt force injuries to his head and chest.

Mefford, 49, was racing at the track Saturday when a mechanical malfunction caused him to crash his car, according to Anderson Speedway track owner Rick Dawson.

Dawson said he watched the crash, and noticed that just before hitting a barrier, the hood of Mefford’s car flew open and the vehicle began accelerating.

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05/23/11
irl

Izod Likes its Bang for IndyCar Buck
When you hear someone mention “Izod,” what comes to mind? Preppy guys sporting collared, short sleeved shirts complete with crocodile logo at a backyard barbeque, talking business and bragging on their golf game?

Maybe so. But counter intuitive as it might be, Izod’s biggest foray into sports marketing isn’t the country club world of tennis or golf. The Philips Van Heusen brand is in its second year as title sponsor for IndyCar, whose signature event, the Indianapolis 500, runs this weekend. The company pegs the investment at “mid-eight figures” over at least six years, which generally jibes with earlier published reports of $10 million annually (it’s hard not to wonder why sports sponsors always insist on giving ballpark estimates of their deals instead of the precise number – if you’re coming that close, is there really any competitive advantage to stopping short of the actual figure, or are you just doing it because you can?).

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05/23/11
f1

I am committed to Formula 1, says Michael Schumacher UPDATE
Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher says he's "not concerned" about reports that he's on his way out - nor does he bother reading them.

Schumacher is still without a victory, or even a podium finish, in his comeback with Mercedes GP.

His disappointing run has led to many reports that he could quit F1 at the end of this season.

The seven-time World Champion, though, has insisted - yet again - that he won't do that.

He told BBC Sport: "I am not concerned. I am pretty relaxed.

"I know the headlines and stories that have been made up. I'm just focused on getting closer to where we want to be."

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05/23/11
automotive

Honda Joins Clean Energy Partnership
Honda has announced that it will be joining the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), the major European fuel cell vehicle and hydrogen infrastructure demonstration project. Honda will be making two FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicles available to the project.

The CEP brings together vehicle manufacturers and energy companies to support the development of a European hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Current partners include oil and gas suppliers Linde, Shell, StatoilHydro, Total and Air Liquide, which has also recently joined the project. Other participating automakers include BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM/Opel, Toyota and Volkswagen. Hyundai is also set to join, following an agreement in February.  Source: Fuel Cell Today

Comment
05/23/11
f1
nassprint

The Mobil 1 Car Swap at The Glen Will Be Open to Spectators
Watkins Glen International is proud to announce that the upcoming Mobil 1 Car Swap at The Glen on Tuesday, June 14, will be open to all spectators.  Admission and parking will both be free for fans of all ages and there will be numerous locations for fans to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Tony Stewart and Formula 1™ World Champion Lewis Hamilton take laps in their own and then each others’ cars during the event.

“It has been our goal from the beginning to make this historic event open to our tens of thousands of fans and we are thrilled to make this announcement,” said Michael Printup, president of Watkins Glen International.  “There has been no question as to how badly our fans want to attend the Mobil 1 Car Swap at The Glen.  They have overwhelmed us with their emails, phone calls, and comments through social media and it is this incredible passion that makes our fans the best in motorsports.”

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05/23/11
f1

Pirelli preview the Monaco Grand Prix
Pirelli heads immediately from one of the quicker tracks seen on the calendar to the very slowest, but at the same time definitely the most glamorous: Monaco. The tight and twisty confines of the Principality are ideal territory for Pirelli’s PZero Red supersoft tire, which makes its debut in Monaco. For the first time, by extension, it is also twinned with the PZero Yellow soft tire – which becomes the ‘prime’ nomination after five grands prix as the ‘option’.

The PZero Red supersoft is one of the most extreme tires in Pirelli’s range. While not quite a qualifying tire, it still provides the ultimate performance offered by any of the PZero line-up. One of its characteristics is the remarkably short warm-up time, meaning that all the performance is available right from the beginning, but it’s extremely soft compound consistency means that it has an anticipated range of fewer than 10 laps: even less at the beginning of a race when the cars are full of approximately 200 liters of fuel. With the Monaco street circuit characterized by few overtaking opportunities, qualifying is of crucial importance.

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05/23/11
irl

It's time for IndyCar to get over Danica-mania
IndyCar has so much invested in Danica Patrick will it fold like a deck of cards when she moves to NASCAR?
There was much angst on Sunday as the sun set on Indianapolis 500 qualifications at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Gasp, Danica Patrick hadn’t qualified for the race.

“Can you imagine an Indianapolis 500 without Danica Patrick?” said one veteran motorsports announcer at the Speedway.

Well, yes I can. To my knowledge, there have been 93 Indianapolis 500s without Danica. And the event earned the moniker “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” long before the GoDaddy girl ever put her hands on a steering wheel.

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05/23/11
f1

Half of Abu Dhabi GP tickets sold already
More than half the tickets for November’s Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have been sold within four weeks of going on sale – ahead of target and holding out the possibility of another sell-out event.

Tickets went on sale globally on 28 April and 55% had been sold by yesterday (Monday), with the bulk of buyers to date living in the UAE and Europe. The 20% discount on grandstand tickets expires on 31 May, so race-goers are being urged to get their bookings made before the end of the month.

“We’re delighted with the way ticket sales are going,” said Richard Cregan, Chief Executive Officer of Yas Marina Circuit, which will host the race on 11-13 November. “This is turning out to be an incredibly exciting Formula 1 season, and I think we can expect a thrilling race at Yas. We still have tickets available in all the grandstands, but they are selling fast. Now is the time to buy, before people find their preferred area is no longer available.”

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05/23/11
f1

Hamilton thinks new rules will make Monaco exciting
After chasing Sebastian Vettel to the checkered flag in Spain yesterday, Lewis Hamilton is now solely focused on this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. The Englishman, who won on the famous streets in 2008, heads to the Principality with confidence that both KERS and DRS will provide much action.

“I love Monaco,” Hamilton said before leaving Barcelona. “After such a strong showing in Spain, I’m really looking forward to Monaco this year because I think we’ll see a different race from previous years.  I think a combination of DRS, KERS and the tires will really make the racing come alive and I’d love to see some overtaking action and some hard racing this year.

“I think the DRS zone at Monaco is only around 300 meters, so it’s pretty short and not really long enough to enable us to really get enough of a launch on the car ahead.  I think the aerodynamics will only really start working properly once we’ve reached the braking zone for St. Devote, so I don’t think we’ll see too many DRS-assisted overtaking moves next weekend.”

Comment
05/23/11
f1

Latest F1 news in brief - Monday
  • Nico Rosberg could not find a way past his teammate Schumacher
    Mercedes
    Kolles threatens exhaust protest in Monaco
  • Rivals eye Red Bull defeat in Monaco
  • Rosberg would have liked team order in Spain
  • Alonso angry with Pirelli after Spanish struggle
  • Red Bull's Marko accuses Ferrari of spying
  • Kubica will not return in 2011 - Lopez
  • Ecclestone meets with Sutil, Bahrain prince in Spain
  • Alonso cops $80m tax bill for return to Spain
  • Karthikeyan burnt during Spanish Grand Prix
  • F1 to generate at least $30 million in Texas

    Read more & Comment...
05/22/11
irl

Marco Andretti and Michael Andretti post-qualifying Indy interview

Marco Andretti and father Michael Andretti talk to the media after qualifying
Tim Wohlford/AR1.com
MODERATOR:
Well, just another day at the track, eh, Marco?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Not exactly. That was new for me.

MODERATOR: Wow, talk about it. Watching, I was surprised that Lloyd put up the time he did. He went out and did it, and all of a sudden the pressure was on you.

MARCO ANDRETTI: I wonder if the track just got better, or what. I knew we were going to be hanging it out at the end there. Our approach was we're going home anyway. Really, I mean, the way we went out, it was either stick it in the fence or stick it in the show. So luckily we were on the upside of that.

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05/22/11
irl

Dale Coyne and Alex Lloyd post-qualifying Indy interview

Dale Coyne (R) calling the shots as Alex Lloyd waits in his Boy Scouts car to qualify
MODERATOR:
Alex, we have been watching all day, and when the heat was on, boy, did you deliver a scintillating series of laps. Congratulations.

ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, thank you. I mean, it's been probably one of the most stressful weekends I think I've had in my career. I remember it last year, we had to qualify on Bump Day last year. I remember that being pretty stressful, and I didn't want anything to do with it this year. Fortunately, last year we got in comfortably on Bump Day; we had the speed. This year, since Fast Friday we've lost a mile an hour each day. Honestly, I was pretty worried. I think we all were. I think the chances of us making the show seemed pretty low.

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05/22/11
irl

Indy Bump Day notes
Panther Racing rejoined an old friend and will have a familiar look in the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, as the team announced today that Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka has partnered with the team to be the primary sponsor on former Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice's No. 44 entry. Rice, who won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 from the pole position, qualified seventh yesterday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Panther's second-best starting position at the historic 2.5-mile race track.

"It's great to have Fuzzy Zoeller and Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka back home with Panther Racing," Panther Racing Managing Partner and CEO John Barnes said. "Fuzzy is the kind of guy we like to have on our team - he's a champion, a fierce competitor and somebody who wants to win the Indianapolis 500 just as badly as everybody on our team. Buddy Rice has done an unbelievable job for us this month and we're happy to find a great partner like Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka to help get us one step closer to victory lane at the Brickyard."

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05/22/11
TV News

Wind Tunnel Sunday
Featured Interview-Jeff Gordon (4-time Sprint CUP Series Champion)
Featured Interview-Ned Jarrett (NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2011)
Featured Interview-Alex Tagliani (Pole Winner, 2011 Indy 500)
Expert Analyst-Robin Miller (SPEED Open Wheel Racing Reporter)

Comment
05/22/11
ta

Ave Goes Back-to-Back-to-Back in Trans-Am Series at Mosport
Tony Ave, of Maiden, N.C., scored his third consecutive SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series victory and his ninth in the past 12 months in another dominating performance on Sunday at Mosport International Raceway.
Ave started his No. 4 Lamers Racing/Beebe Racing/Optech/PME Chevrolet Corvette from the pole position, exercised extreme caution on the initial race start under wet conditions and got a clean restart following an eight-minute red flag for a multi-car incident on the opening lap. As a result, he led every lap and cruised to a comfortable, 14.961-second victory over local racer, Blaise Csida, of Stouffville, Ontario.

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05/22/11
irl

Updates from Bump Day at Indy UPDATE #3 Lots of bumping:

Danica is in
Alex Lloyd is in
Paul Tracy is in
Marco Andretti was out and then got back on last attempt of day
Ryan Hunter-Reay is out, bumped out by teammate Marco Andretti
Mike Conway is out
James Jakes is out

05/22/11 Qualifications to resume about 4:45 PM.  Danica seen sweating...

05/22/11 We have 2 hours before end of day.  It’s lightly raining here, but the big storm passed (barely) to the south.

The Danica has yet to take a qualification attempt after her car failed tech inspection. 

Bumped are:
Matos
Conway

On the 'Bubble' is Alex Lloyd

Dragon is out.  Right now We'd say they're the odds-on favorite for the Jigger Award.

The rain was about 1/2" in about 5 minutes....

05/22/11 Field is full, Danica yet to re-attempt, severe thunderstorm about 1 hour away (maybe less).

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05/22/11
f1

Ferrari embarrassed in Spain
The Spanish Grand Prix ended with just a fifth place for Fernando Alonso. Unfortunately, this race also featured the team’s first retirement of the season, when Felipe Massa stopped on track with a gearbox problem.

After five races Fernando is still fifth in the Drivers’ classification on 51 points, while Felipe stays on 24 and drops down to eighth. The Scuderia is third in the Constructors’ classification.

Stefano Domenicali:“There is no denying that being lapped hurts. It’s even more painful after seeing a driver of Fernando’s caliber putting on such a breathtaking display at the start and then fighting like a lion to keep drivers with clearly faster cars behind him for almost twenty laps. We need to provide him and Felipe with a car with which they can fight all the way to the end of a race and not just in the first part. On a track that favors cars that have a lot of aerodynamic downforce, ours are lacking in this area and that was glaringly obvious, especially on the new hard tires brought here by Pirelli. We never managed to get this type of tire to work and our pace was at least two seconds off that of the first four. What to do now? Continue to work on improving the car and finding the aerodynamic downforce that is lacking. We now go into a run of three races which will see the use of the soft and supersoft tires: we will see what happens and assess the situation at that point.”

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05/22/11
irl

It's lights out for IMS - Torrential downpour stops Indy action UPDATE
Torrential rain hits Indy
Tim Wohlford/AR1.com
The rain has cleared at 1 PM and now the sun is out.  However, another cell is roughly 75 minutes away.

05/22/11 A torrential downpour has hit the Indy Motor Speedway and resulted in a power outage just as the second day of qualifications were about to get underway. The eastern 2/3rds of the USA has been socked in with bad weather for days.

Comment
05/22/11
f1

No penalties for trio after stewards investigation
(GMM) The McLaren drivers and Mark Webber escaped with mere reprimands on Sunday after being investigated by the stewards.

The stewards, including former F1 driver Mark Blundell, looked into whether the trio went too quickly for the yellow flag triggered by Heikki Kovalainen's crash.

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05/22/11
irl

Foyt looks back historic 500 career
Far away from the city life of Houston, Texas is the private getaway of A.J. Foyt.

The four-time Indianapolis 500 winner enjoys 1,500 acres of simple country living, where you'll see more bald eagles than people. It's like a little slice of heaven.

"It's alright," Foyt says. (See related Video)

He built the incredible ranch in the late 1980s and packed it full of memories from racing and more. That included a basketball autographed by former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight.

"Super guy. I liked him because he called a spade a spade and didn't sugar coat it," Foyt said.

A lot like Foyt himself?

"No, I am easy going," Foyt laughs.

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05/22/11
nassprint

Earnhardt Jr. close to contract extension
Hendrick Motorsports is close to finalizing a multi-year extension with Dale Earnhardt Jr., team owner Rick Hendrick said Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hendrick hopes to announce the deal within the next month. He would not give specifics, saying most of the major points are agreed on and the extension would keep NASCAR's most popular driver at HMS for another three to five years after the current five-year deal that expires in 2012.

"We know we want to be together and we just want to get this over with," said Hendrick, who told ESPN.com last year he was working on the extension. "It shows I'm committed to him and he's committed to us." ESPN.com

Comment
05/22/11
gp2

Leimer sprints to Barcelona victory
Fabio Leimer has repeated his sterling performance from last year with another strong drive from pole to claim victory in this morning's sprint race in Barcelona, leading all the way to win by ten seconds from Dani Clos and Marcus Ericsson.

  The Swiss driver made a good start when the lights went out to lead the field into turn one, with Clos powering by a slow starting Jules Bianchi. The Frenchman was swamped at the start, with a charging Giedo van der Garde Pic bottled up between them: Bianchi pushed left, the Dutchman ran out of road, and the pair were into the wall with a safety car period to clean up the mess.

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05/22/11
gp3

Pal wins GP3 race 2 in Spain
Tamás Pál Kiss gave Tech 1 Racing their first long awaited win in incident filled race at Circuit de Catalunya.

Today Pál Kiss showed that Tech 1 Racing will be a force to be reckoned with this season. After finishing eighth in yesterday’s feature race, the twenty-year-old Hungarian started from pole and kept his cool to take a lights to flag victory, despite the ensuing chaos behind him off the line. Pál Kiss gave Tech 1 their first GP3 race victory and third podium of the season.

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05/22/11
f1

Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday
  • Hamilton title unlikely as Red Bull wing it in Spain
  • Brawn puts brakes on 2011 calendar extension
  • De la Rosa turned down Hispania race seat
  • Todt firm on 2013 rules after Barcelona meeting
  • Rivals mustn't use Ferrari's high wing idea - Alonso

    Read more & Comment...
05/22/11
irl

Indianapolis 500 Fast Nine Transcript
Pole Sitter Alex Tagliani in Press Conference
Tim Wohlford/AR1.com
Q: Ed, this has been a great week for you, obviously, and your team. You had a really good first lap. I don't know if the warm-up lap was too quick or there was a problem on (Turn) 2, but you know what happened.

ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I was kind of surprised the warm-up lap was that quick. You know, in the moment I was a little frustrated just because you never want to lose spots from the first round. We were sixth going into the Shootout. But we hardly made any change to the car at all and we just lot the balance, picked up a lot of under‑steer, the opposite of what I had in the first round.

Once again, the car had more speed, but between myself and as a group we missed a little bit on the balance, but still really happy for the team. There's a lot of guys, especially a lot of big guys, that aren't in the Shootout today. We're not here to win the Shootout, we're here to win the race. You know, we'll get back to work tomorrow and get the car out on the track if it's dry and keep working on our race setup.

Q: What are we to make of the fact that we don't have the usual Power teams up here in the Fast Nine, Andretti didn't do much, Penske only had one team. What are we to read from that, if anything?

CARPENTER: I don't know. I think it's just a testament to all the teams in the series are working really hard to get better. It's probably ‑‑ it has a lot to do with the fact of how long we've been running this car. You know, it's gotten tighter every year. You know, as mechanics move around to different teams and engineers move around to different teams, information gets spread out, and there's all sorts of things. But teams have to work hard to catch up, and I think those guys have kind of reached a point with the car where they couldn't get any further, and other people caught up, and in some cases, at least today, did a better job.

Q: Can we talk about the second lap? I think that was the one real tight with the wall.

CARPENTER: I felt like it was too tight with it on all of them. I don't remember specifically. But like I said, the front of the car just didn't want to turn. I was trying to keep my foot in it because I knew when we did the warm-up lap that the car was well capable of going over 227, just missed on the balance a little bit.

Q: Talk about the rain delay.

CARPENTER: I wanted a chance to go out and do it again. If we had to do it again, I would still want to go try again. That's the competitor in me. I think you always think you can go better and go faster. If I had a chance right now to go jump in and do it again, I'd be out in the car.

Q: You're now in a great position to make a run to win the Indianapolis 500.

CARPENTER: Yeah, starting eighth for the second year in a row, and last year I felt like we put ourselves in really good position and just had a bad break under yellow and had to pit with a closed pit. Other than that I felt like we were in the hunt. I know we can position ourselves from the eighth spot, so we'll see how it goes.

Q: Dan, tell us about your day, the shootout, et cetera.

DAN WHELDON: I think for me it's just very good to be back in the race car. I've had my four-race hiatus, vacation, whatever you want to call it. But it's obviously phenomenal to be back, especially at Indianapolis.

I think that Bryan Herta and Steve Newey put together a fantastic group of guys with Bryan Herta Autosport. They've got a great group of people that have worked incredibly hard. We're obviously on a partial-month program, but I think as you can see, certainly the car was competitive enough to compete for the pole. Unfortunately we were a little bit off on that Fast Nine, but it was ‑‑ it's a testament to the team's effort.

You know, actually it probably would have been a little bit higher up if I had listened to Bryan but I really wanted to go for the pole, and I perhaps trimmed the car up a little bit too much. It's been a fantastic day. I think everybody on the team should be proud. I think William Rast will be proud of us.

But it's fantastic because we have a collaboration with Sam Schmidt Motorsport, and for Alex Tagliani to get the pole, it goes to show that it's really been a good program and obviously talent is incredibly strong, too. I think for the most part it was a very good day, and I'm looking forward to the race.

Q: Are all the guys in the team new to you?

WHELDON: That's a good question. I briefly worked with the engineer that's engineering my car, Todd Malloy, when I first signed for Andretti Green Racing, which it was back then. But for the most part it's obviously a new team to me.

Bryan has been a teammate and a close friend, so the relationship is a little bit different now. I probably can't play as many practical jokes on him as we perhaps used to because he's the boss. But I touched on it earlier today; he is a man of his word, which is very rare these days. I had some good opportunities for this race. There was a fair few options, and when I spoke to Bryan, I said: 'Bryan, you know how important this race is to me. It's potentially my only race that I'm going to do all year; can you give me a fast enough race car?' And he said, 'I'll absolutely make sure that you have one.'

There's not a lot of people out there that I would trust. But it's been phenomenal to be in his team. I think it goes to show the kind of person he is when you look at the group of people that are working for him, and just very proud to be part of it. I think in the time that I've had off, that certainly has made me realize how much I love motor racing. It's made me realize how much I want to be a full-time participant in the IndyCar Series. I'm just enjoying it very, very much.

Q: Dan, you're sort of in the elite around here now at Indianapolis. Who in the younger drivers might you have talked to or mentored or answered questions for in say this month or last year?

WHELDON: Who would I have mentored?

Q: Who might you have talked to or given advice how to run here?

WHELDON: You know, honestly I got given an opportunity a long time ago by Michael Andretti, and through that opportunity it's ‑‑ you know, and even, I think, what my parents have instilled in me and I think my wife and I have the same values, I'd like to help anybody that wants help. Certainly the younger guys ‑‑ like I said, I was given an opportunity to move into Indy cars. I've been given many opportunities that have helped me progress through the motor ranks. So for me I'm prepared to help because I've been given that same opportunity, and I think as somebody that's more experienced now, I'm not going to say older but more experienced, I feel it's kind of my responsibility to give back. So you know, that's something that I'd be very willing to do.

Obviously, Bryan has an Indy Lights driver that obviously we're going to start working hard on him. He was very quick in the test so he could probably teach me a thing or two around here. But it's one of those things where if somebody wants help and is prepared to listen and value your help, then I'm prepared to give it to anybody.

Q: I asked Ed Carpenter the same question. What do you make of the fact that you look at the Fast Nine, you've got no Andretti, you've got one Penske, don't have the usual suspects, got some of the smaller teams. Who do we read into that?

WHELDON: I think it's Indianapolis. You know, it's incredibly competitive, and it can change. And I think obviously people value Indianapolis so much that they'll put so much effort into that one particular program, into that one race, that it does kind of stir things up a little bit. And I think the big thing that you see is there's a lot of testing restrictions, and with that said, you typically see only the big teams practice.

Well, at Indianapolis, I think even the smaller teams get to at least have some time on track to perfect their cars, and so it makes the field incredibly close. We've been using the same car now for a little while. Obviously, Honda provide very, very equal engines, you've got the same consistent Firestone tire. With that said, it just gives people time.

But Indianapolis, the field is always a little bit jumbled, but typically the same people end up in the front end of the race, bar two or three. It'll be an interesting race. From the race running that I've done I think it's going to be difficult to overtake, so it's truly going to be very interesting.

Q: Townsend, you have logged a lot of time in this press room, and most of the time that's a very good thing, and it is again.

TOWNSEND BELL: Thank you.

Q: Do you agree?

BELL: I do.

Q: You had a good run.

BELL: I did.

Q: Looked like maybe you were going to hang on that front row for a while. That would have been really exciting, but nonetheless, tremendous.

BELL: Yeah, we gave it everything we had. That's a pretty good four laps, I think, for the car, and really stoked for the team, obviously for Alex. He's got a rocket ship. He's done a great job, and he deserves every ounce of the speed he's got out of that thing.

We're happy with our run. The Herbalife car has been strong since the moment I got into it, and with my engineer, Gerald, we've continued to make it better and better and felt like we've made smart decisions, and here we are, we're inside the second row and ready to rip.

Q: If you could talk about everything this team has done with both cars this month in terms of not just bringing them up to speed but really setting the pace this whole month, being among the leaders.

BELL: Yeah, it's pretty impressive when you look at the organization that Sam has and the amount of things that he has going on, and to still produce the quality that he's given us here is exceptional. You know, my car got off an airplane from Brazil a day late because of the rain delay down there, and the team just hustled big time, guys were working through the night to try to get the thing turned around and to oval spec and Indy spec, and they pulled it off. It's great to have a chance to go fast here, and full credit to the team for making it happen.

Q: I'm looking at the 24 on your hat.

BELL: Well, my sponsor Herbalife, they've been with me for four years, they've got a great new line of products called 24. It's for the 24-hour athletes. There's seven different products in the range. It's ‑‑ a big part of going fast and going fast for a long time is having good nutrition, so that's what they've put together.

Q: Do you use the products?

BELL: Of course, yeah, every day. Since I've had an association with that company, Herbalife has just given me tremendous support in terms of understanding the nutrition I need before, during and after racing. I used to think just a bowl of pasta and some water was the way to go, but with this new 24 line it's pretty impressive what they've come up with. They've worked three years on it, and they're launching it at the Indy 500 and the Tour de California back home.

Q: With the rain we had a little bit different format for the top nine. Everybody only got one shot instead of being able to make multiple attempts. Did you like that format? Could we be on to something here?

BELL: I liked it. You know, for us, I think if Penske, Ganassi had a little bit more time, there's probably a few more tricks in their bag than what we had. I was quite pleased that we were able to make a solid run earlier today to get into the top nine, was pleased with that. And then the fact that it's just one shot, do what you can, I like those odds for us. So I was happy with that.

I think it's exciting. It seemed like the fans liked it. Just standing out there you could feel a buzz and an energy and an excitement about the way things played out. It was pretty cool.

Q: Given how you're really just running this race this season so far, how much additional pressure does that put on you to perform and do well?

BELL: You know, it's a really good pressure because it's not so much pressure, it's like I savor every minute here. If this is the only race I do this year ‑‑ maybe I'll do more, I never know. But you just savor every minute you're at this wonderful speedway and driving cars fast and all of that good stuff. But yeah, I just savor it.

You know, it's a little stressful. I find the first round of qualifying a little stressful because we don't have a backup car. We're out flirting at the very limit, and there's a little extra pressure just to make sure you don't screw up and make sure you're in the race. But then once I know that I'm in the top nine, man, I couldn't wait to get out there and just let loose. I love it. I want this month to go 12.

Q: Oriol, I think we had a lot of money on whether you were going to be a candidate for the pole position, and you almost got it. A great, great day for you.

ORIOL SERVIA: I would have lost a lot of money because six months ago, a month ago, Monday, I would have not bet we were going to be in the front row and that close to pole position.

We knew even before we started the week we were going to have a good race car because that's what the team always works on and always achieves. It always gives you good race cars. But at the same time we knew that over the winter we just didn't have the millions to go in wind tunnels and find the last little bit of speed that you need in qualifying.

So we thought if we were really lucky and conditions really set up we were going to be in the top nine. That was our maximum goal. Then when we were in the top nine, you know, we had a bit of a conversation where we were like, well, are we just ‑‑ let's not be too stupid here. We have a good race car, let's not crash it. Do we want to just be conservative? We go out there, we put a lap, same setup, or do we go for it? I just had such a good feeling in the other qualifying in the morning with the car that we just said, let's go for it, because it just really felt good.

And you know, it just felt great. I told them after I finished my laps, no matter what happened ‑‑ I didn't even know we were actually P1 at the moment. Whatever happened, this is how you want to feel after a qualifying lap. Thank you very much for giving me that, because it was just right on the edge but not one wiggle. It was just perfect. So they gave me a great car. I think we got all out of the car, and that's what ‑‑ we got the best we could, and that was enough for a front row. That was enough to be faster than Dario, even before he had his little fuel hiccup, and as I said, to have the three Penskes behind in qualifying, which they are usually pretty good at this game, it just feels amazing and such a great achievement for the whole.

Over the winter, we didn't know if we were going to start the season, and they still worked hard on the cars and prepared them not knowing within certainty. Then Telemundo got on board, and it got better and just gave us more confidence, and we've been progressing since then. I've just been saying we haven't peaked yet, and it's just coming at the right time. I'm just super-happy, proud. It just shows ‑‑ qualifying is about true speed. It shows it pays off, the hard work they've done.

Q: I had my head down after your first lap. You could hear the crowd roar.

SERVIA: I've been feeling the crowd with that, with a lot of people but with me, too, and it just feels great, especially after a year without racing last year. It just seems like people have appreciated me walking around last year and trying to find a deal right and left, and it's just great.

Q: It seems to me that with you partnering with James Hinchcliffe, I know he missed the first race of the season on the road courses, but then when he did show up I almost feel ‑‑ I don't know if that motivated you more but it almost seems like as a combination the two of you work well together with the team and get better results.

SERVIA: There's no doubt, I mean, at all. It couldn't be better. It's always good to have a teammate, especially when you're trying to beat those guys named Penske and Ganassi, who not only are good but they have three cars and four cars. With one car alone, it's just going to be impossible. So to have just a teammate is good, but to have a guy like James, which he's got the speed, but also he's gone through three years in Lights and two years in Atlantics, where he's learned that you need to work at things. So he's come with great attitude. We always got along before, so we knew it was going to work. And honestly just feeds the way Newman/Haas works.

Newman/Haas is a true one team. I've never seen it anywhere else. There's nothing that you hide for yourself, from engineers, mechanics. It just works all the way down, and that's what you need if you're going to beat those big guns. It's definitely been huge to have James, and I think we're both just two gears and part of this big team.

Q: You're with a great team with great success, and the record shows that.

BUDDY RICE: Yeah, when we unloaded I think we had such a good car, I knew that the speed was there, it was just trying to get enough time with the way the weather was breaking and the way the tire allocation was going to work out. Obviously, I think the weather helped us a little bit. I think that obviously if the weather was a little bit different, I think we could have probably had a little bit better car for qualifying.

But both Panther cars with myself and JR with the National Guard car were quick all week, so I think we both had shots of getting in there. We just missed a little bit with the gear and the weather.

Q: Will is also dressed to roll here. Will, you got into the final nine. I know you're used to contending for a pole position. Just tell us about the day, the conditions, et cetera.

WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, that car was solid all day. You know, and I was pretty trimmed out, so I don't know what else I could have done. We just didn't have the speed. But happy to be on the second row. I mean, as far as the team today, we didn't do that well. We were probably a little bit surprised. But it's a long race, and yeah, congratulations to Alex Tagliani. He deserves that. He's a very good driver, and I'm very happy for him.

Yeah, you know, not much else to say. We were solid in every run. We had two runs; that was it.

Q: Buddy, you look at Will's car and you see Verizon plastered all over the side pod. Your car doesn't have anything on the side pod. How are you guys able to ‑‑ first off, what kind of budget do you have and how are you able to put out this kind of performance with the limited amount of resources you've got compared to a team like Penske?

RICE: Well, I think a lot of credit needs to be given to John Barnes and his organization at Panther Racing. I think their track record speaks for itself. They finished second here the last three years, so I think with that, that's where really all the credit goes to.

I don't know if I would say they have limited resources. John has been doing this a long time, and I think he decided he wanted to run a second car, and that's really where the decision came down to. That's what John thought was best for the team, and that's where we're at right now. But limited resources, I don't think so. I mean, if you look at what Panther has done in the past, obviously the bar gets set high with both Penske and Ganassi. That's what everybody looks at. But as you can see, I think that everybody has had these cars for so long, everybody is creeping up and there's only so much you can keep going on the same car, so it's allowing everybody to catch up. We did it in '04 with Rahal and we weren't one of the top teams, sat on the pole and won. It's no different than what I did in '09 when we won the 24 Hours At Daytona. It's the same thing, same kind of teams. So it can be done, you just have to put everything together and make it all happen.

Q: Buddy, I don't think we've seen you around for a few years, and I'm just wondering how hard was it for you to just jump back in the car and get up to speed, because it seems like you just didn't have any laps being here.

RICE: Well, I don't think ‑‑ I didn't have a bad result in '08 when I left, and now I think once again there needs to be a lot of credit given to Panther Racing and their oval program. Because the car is so good, it allows me to come in, get right up to speed, get comfortable and get right back in the swing of things. It's not like I've just been sitting at home doing nothing; I've been racing Grand-Am, I've won the 24 Hours At Daytona since I left and been doing stuff like that. I just haven't been here.

And the reason that hasn't happened is just because the right opportunity and situation hasn't been able to present itself and completely come together. There's been a lot of opportunities and a lot of different things going on, but it just never happened. But I'm grateful to be back. I'm glad I'm here for the centennial, and I've been given another shot at winning another one.

Q: For Will and Buddy, what was it like seeing Ryan have a tough day, and then Helio didn't quite measure up to what your car was and what did you talk about afterward? Did you have a chance to analyze it?

POWER: No, we haven't. I felt very bad for Ryan. He just got called out there in one of the practices. As soon as you have a crash around this place it's very difficult to get your confidence stroke back, and you're not in a primary car, you're in a T-car, which is never quite as bad. So definitely a bad day for him. And I think if Helio had another run, chances are he might have made it in the top nine. But I have to say, yeah, we were all probably caught a little bit unawares that the competition was ‑‑ had become a lot tougher. We're hoping our race cars are good.

Q: Buddy, I'd just like to have you look back just for a minute on the year that you won because I had a great seat for that looking straight down at that pass you made after the rain delay, and I don't remember, did you say you did touch the wall or scrape the inside wall? Any thoughts on that?

RICE: No, I'd do it again. It's the Indy 500.

Q: And last thing, weren't you a baseball player?

RICE: I did play ball, yes.

Q: How does it compare hitting a home run with winning the Indy 500?

RICE: Do you see the size of me? Do you think I hit many home runs? Do you see the guys that are hitting home runs now? Josh Hamilton is like 6'6", 250. I'm about the size of one of his legs. (Laughter.)

Q: What was the change to the track conditions from earlier today when you first went out and qualified and then when you went in the Fast Nine?

POWER: Yeah, it was actually better when we went out the second time because there was no wind and it was probably maybe a little bit warmer so that helps the car's speed. So it was just, yeah, a little nicer to drive.

Q: One of the other journalists told me that 10 of the top 24 today were one-offs, basically non-series regulars. Are we going to be seeing a return to a day when people are able to come and go between series? And the other question is, like I think we've kind of alluded to, how would one even get prepared? My understanding is to do this every week is the way to go, and to jump right in as you've done, Buddy, is remarkable.

RICE: I think there's twofold to this. One, most of the regulars, myself, Wheldon, raced multiple years here and also have won. Townsend Bell has ran here quite a bit. I know some of the other guys haven't done it as much. I think that's one of the big things. We've been here; we know what to expect and it's nothing new.

Number two, everybody has had these cars for so long and they've been in the same car in the series, so for someone to leave and then try to come back is not a major difference. You're getting back in the same car. I don't think you'll see a whole lot of one-offs next year. I think you'll see it's much more difficult to do that, the resources, and I don't think the data will be there for anybody to do that. I think you'll see most of it will be guys running full-time.

Now, with that said, I think you'll see some one-offs, but it'll get back to what it was before. The guys that drive and run the cars full time will have the edge, for sure, especially for the first few years.

Q: Scott, it was a heck of an effort and it looks like it was between you and Tags for the last few days and that's exactly what it came down to.

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was kind of a strange day, and it was good to see everybody stick it out, and kudos to IMS for actually drying the track and getting the Fast Nine show going at the end. I think it was a good effort, and obviously everybody stuck around to see it.

Yeah, we missed a little bit, I think, at the end. The conditions were substantially a little bit ‑‑ well, not substantially, a little bit better. I think that's why you saw the increase in speeds. But Dario obviously missed on fuel a little more than what we did, and we ran out in one and I ran out just getting to Turn 4. I think that cost us the pole.

We had 227.5s across the board for the whole three laps to start with, and going into (Turn) 3 looking at my splits on my wheel, I was the same or if not up on those laps, even before I ran out of gas, and we lost nine-tenths of a mile an hour on the last lap. A bit frustrating, and I know Dario is a probably a little more ticked off than what I am. To come so close and not quite get it was real frustrating.

Not to obviously take anything away from Tagliani. He did a fantastic job. It's a team that he put together a few years ago, and obviously to see them so strong and take the pole, I feel real happy for him and what he's achieved.

Q: If you put two more gallons of fuel in the tank, how much speed would that have cost you?

DIXON: I think we only needed about a quarter of a gallon or half a gallon. It's pretty close. Dario could have probably have used two gallons. I think we still would have ran ‑‑ that's why I said the split was about the same going into 3, which was saying that we had run a 227.5 or better, so that would have put our average at 227.5, something. I still don't have clarification of what Tag actually ran in the end for an average, but I think that would have been pretty close.

Q: The guys in the shop talked the last couple weeks about precision and executing and making sure the little things are done right. That said, we got a little surprised, making sure you guys have enough fuel to qualify, and also, what do you ‑‑ how is your mindset of the entire team as you head into next week?

DIXON: Yeah, I can imagine it's pretty exciting in the team truck car at the minute, and I haven't seen Chip yet. Obviously, Dario lost a lot more than I did. I lost the pole, I think, due to it. But Dario lost a good six or seven positions.

You know, obviously mistakes happen, and I made a mistake early in my qualifying run this morning where I almost spun and had to do a big lift in (Turn) 3, which it happens. I think with the big downtime, almost two and a half, three hours from the rain delay, that kind of stuff, maybe the engine had too many warm-ups, chewed through the gas quite a bit, and it kind of seems to me that that's what we missed by is maybe one engine warm-up on fuel and we didn't calculate for that. Dario's was a little more as I said earlier.

But yeah, it's frustrating, but it goes back to that saying that most of us hate, "That's racing."

Q: Did you think about it when Dario had a problem and you went out in were you wondering if you were going to have a problem?

DIXON: It did cross my mind because we were ‑‑ I was on the team channel before that obviously just listening in to how his run was going, and it also helps what gears you should run when I go out. And he got his fuel warning light in like Lap 1 or 2, which is really strange, and I'm like, 'Wow, that's odd, because Mike said it on my radio,' and I was like, ''Maybe it's just the threshold or setting is wrong.' And then when he came through (Turn) 1 on the third lap, I heard him ‑‑ I thought he lifted, and I'm like: 'Man, he's got another lap to go. I hope he's just in a lift.' But obviously it ran out of fuel.

So exactly what happened, instead of running through my head, I was like, 'Hmm, we use probably the same numbers all the time to calculate fuel, and hopefully we didn't mess up on my car because obviously it's too late at that point; you can't just pull out and put fuel in with how the rules are.' It's kind of frustrating in some ways that we only got given one attempt today, and I think Dario last year was like, we only need to do one attempt. I'm sure if it was ‑‑ you asked him right now, he probably would have liked another attempt. Yeah, it happened, and that was it.

Q: The Ganassis and the Penskes have dominated here, especially in qualifications and even in the races, as well. You guys may well dominate the race, your two teams. But what do you think about the lesser teams doing so well in qualifying, and what does that say about Indianapolis?

DIXON: Um, you know, I think if you ‑‑ a lot of the times ‑‑ I'm not a team owner or anything, and I don't even want to attempt to be one. But I think maybe it's where you put your emphasis on where you spend your development money, and yeah, I know Tagliani and his guys in Allen McDonald and them have obviously worked extremely hard, and that I think showed during the week. I don't think I ever saw them do one race run. They focused solely on trying to get the pole. The cars were definitely fast, and you could see that across the stable. At least three or four of those cars were in the top nine. I think today was a real strange mix of people and efforts, and even to see Helio starting 16th is kind of mindboggling.

But I think the weather conditions, how the day played out, the short amount of time with 40‑something cars trying to qualify is really hard to get your time right and really nail your first attempt, and it caught a lot of people out today.

It's a good mix. I think it will make the race fantastic. You're going to see some good cars coming from a little further back and maybe some cars that haven't concentrated on race setup too much slip up.

Q: Alex, we've had a lot of great Canadian drivers here, but this is the first time a Canadian driver has been on the pole, which you should be very proud of. No one will ever be the pole sitter for the 100th anniversary event, and that will be true even if the world ends at 9:00 tonight. Congratulations.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Q: Tell us about it.

TAGLIANI: Well, you know, it's difficult to explain. A lot of sacrifice and tears and pain through my career, but you know, I think for this team, just the fact that everybody is still intact, and they accepted my offer to be part of this adventure last year, and they take the risk to lose credibility if the driver is no good and if the resources are not there; and for Joe Atkins from Bowers & Wilkins after a 20-minute phone call, he said, 'OK, I'll sponsor you,' and he got hooked to be the sponsor of this team; and for Sam that looked at it and said this is an entity that is good and deserves to continue; and just for the boys. Like I'm at the shop most every day, and I see how much passion they have to build this car. You know, it's good already. We sit on the top most of the week, but every time you go into our garage, you know, they always do something on it, and I think that shows how much they care and how much they want to have results.

So like I said, it's very difficult to explain, but to do it here at this particular time, you know, the 100th anniversary, if you participate in the 100th, you didn't do the first one and you won't do the 200th, so this just happens once. (Laughter.)

Q: This is a great personal accomplishment for Tags, but what a day for your race team.

SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah, I mean, I'm rarely at a loss for words, but this has been difficult ever since it happened to put it into words. I mean, California grew up watching Rick Mears and just dreamed about coming to this place and then was fortunate ‑‑ my dad was actually a team owner here for the Donald Davidsons of the world in 1978 and '79, and they didn't have any great success, and then started coming here, drove here in '97 and '99. It's truly huge. Whether it's the 100th anniversary, whether it's the adversity that this team has overcome and Alex has overcome personally, whatever, I mean, it's just really, really large.

Q: How important was it for you to have someone like Allen McDonald who's already won this race with Andretti Green?

TAGLIANI: Allen is a guy that I would like to have as an engineer until I end my career in open-wheel racing basically. He's a great friend. In racing there's a lot of emotions, and I've said, like not long ago, that we were coming off the wheel because I'm a road course specialist and I'm not going to be happy until I sit on pole in street course and road course, but here, he's amazing. He has this patience and this plan prior to start running the car where as a driver you ‑‑ you know, it actually relaxes you a lot because you just listen to him, the way he wants to do things.

If you've seen the statistics last year, we ran probably 89 laps before we start racing. I don't know how many laps we did before we qualified, but we're the car that completed the least. He knows this track a lot. He knows the track with a lot of particularity when it's windy and the temperature, so I was on track when I needed to be and getting great confidence about the car, and when we started trimming, he's always telling me what we're doing and what I should expect, and it allows me to be pretty good with the tools when I need to go out there and adjust the car.

He plays a big role, and what I like about Alan is also that he allows everybody to have a good spot in the team. Brendon Cleave, he's an amazing engineer, as well, and he's acting as a damper and assistant engineer, Robert Gue, Craig Luba, the guys, they just like working with Allen because Allen gives them a chance to be part of this group and developing the car through the winter. You know, Sam allowed them to pretty much do everything they wanted because he believes in the capabilities that they have. So I think the chemistry is very important. It's not just a one-man show. It's a big team effort here.

Q: Alex, your competitor Scott Dixon said that you had worked primarily on qualifying through this week. Is that true, or did you do some race setup?

TAGLIANI: No, I mean, early in the week we were on pretty heavy downforce with a full tank, so obviously the tires were better than they're going to be when you're going to have full tanks. But we know what the car has in regards of speed with the downforce. But yes, you know, I think Scott realized that we don't have the luxury to go out there and risk a car that is capable of being on pole, and it was the smart approach.

I think knowing it from the NASCAR guys, when they have a car that is very good, they just never run it other than at that track, and that's why they keep accumulating cars in their shop, because they're just getting paranoid that that car is just good at that particular track. So this car is the car I drove last year. It was fast. It unloaded fast. If you feel that you have a shot to be on the pole for the 100, you're not going to go out there and draft people and put yourself at risk. And Rob Edwards, the manager, and with Sam, they said, past 5:00 you guys pull back in the garage because it's going to get crazy out there, lots of tows, and we just followed the plan, and I think that's why we're here tonight.

Q: Seems to me your team has more rights to gripe than most other teams. Look at the things that have happened, not only with Sam, obviously with your situation in the past, but all the events of the last winter for Alex, and yet your attitude, folks are always smiling, and here you are now. Is there some special thing that you're doing to try to intentionally stay positive, and has that paid off, or is that just something that's part of the people who are there?

SCHMIDT: I don't know how long people have known Alex, but I don't think he has a problem with that as far as a positive attitude. For me when something like this happens you can either choose to stay at home and watch ESPN all day or you can get out and do something with your life. For me, I've done a lot of things in my life. The thing that made getting up every morning worthwhile, beyond my faith and my family pushing me, was the ability to come out here and compete. I make no bones about it; I'd much rather be in the driving seat rather than in the owning seat, but this is definitely the second-best thing, and this is really special because at the end of the day, as Alex has said a couple times, it's much more difficult to put the right group of people together, and it's much more challenging. To get this all to work is really difficult.

So at the world's greatest venue in the world, to have this today is ‑‑ it just makes it all that much more special. I mean, I was more than willing to pack it in at 4:00 o'clock, take the trophy and go home with that rain delay. I was calling on everybody I knew with Cherokee blood lines to do a rain dance. But the reality is this is much more special to go out there and actually do it and beat them at their own game, so to speak, and with a much smaller operation, much less funding, and I think that's what the Indy Racing League and the IndyCar Series is all about.

TAGLIANI: A bit to anticipate your question, I think if you would be able to see us at work during the week, Allen McDonald comes from a pretty big organization. He comes from Andretti Green, and they were running four cars. But he's really happy. You know, he's really happy where he is, and I think the respect that Rob Edwards has accumulated over the years working for Walker, 16 years with the same team, when he picked up the phone and he called the guys, three quarters of the team, I worked with them in the past, and you know, didn't take long for them to accept.

And when we work together, we're just ‑‑ we fight, we kiss each other, we hug each other, we go for dinner. You know, it's just like we all know what's at stake. We want this team to succeed. You know, like we don't put our sweat, our tears, our effort just to come here and parade and just say we're part of the Indy 500 or we're just going to compete in IndyCar. And this year it was even more, because for me when I started, I had this discussion many times, it's like last year we didn't have a leader. I accepted to start this team because it was my opportunity to be in the seat. I wanted to be in the seat.

But now we have a leader in Sam, who has shown trust in us very quickly, and that's why the chemistry just continues. Just now we want to win for our leader, because there's a lot more pride when there's someone on top that controls us and gives us a direction than when the driver is in the seat and his partner is in Montreal. It was the wrong, I think, structure. I think there's more to come from this.

Q: Both of you obviously are on a very happy high right now, but just a comment. I think as the week unfolds you'll come to understand how many other people who followed your week, how many of those you made happy and how many people will end up being just cheered up by what you both have done.

TAGLIANI: Yeah, I realize a bit. I tried to be available as much as possible in the garage to the fans. Like I said before, the one thing that also makes me very happy is that I'll be able to get rid of some beers that I have in the bus because Joe Atkins from Bowers likes to drink his beers, and with the pole we'll get rid of the beers. But also, all the people that ‑‑ but also everyone for some reason, is like a little bit tired of the domination of the Penskes and the Ganassis, everyone that came and cheered for us and bet on us, I'm happy that we didn't make them lose money.

Q: Last year you kind of surprised everyone when you made the Fast Nine, and this year you repeated it and now claimed the pole. Talk about the difference between last year and this year and how you went through that.

TAGLIANI: Well, you know, it's my third time here at Indy. The first year I went through a big roller coaster, as well, came out with the Rookie of the Year. But it was not easy. I had bad luck and luck to be back in the field at the end, but I felt the pain of this musical chair and pulling out of line and not wanting to risk, and we paid the price at the end. And then last year I was on the other side of the fence. We were very strong from the beginning.

But this year I think is just ‑‑ how important it is for a team to continue on what they built. You know, it's not very easy to be a one-car team on the weekends. Normally we don't have the luxury to have people like Dan Wheldon and Townsend Bell to come and look at data and work together and improve bit by bit when it's getting so competitive. And that's why teams like Ganassi and Penske have multiple cars, because they feel like it's an advantage.

So this year I think it's just because we have been strong last year and over the winter, the crew and the engineering group built on it with very little change aerodynamically in the car and in the tires, it shows the potential that this team has. When we're in the window and we unload fast, I think we're pretty much on the top. But it's difficult when we unload and we're not in the window; being a one-car team at road courses we're struggling a bit because we're throwing the dice. But here I think it's a good place to show that the team is very, very strong.

Q: How do you feel about your pool invoice now?

TAGLIANI: Very happy. Yeah, my wife is very frugal, and like we were shopping for furniture because we actually have like rented furniture in the condo now here in Indy. So I wanted like a coffee table for the new place, and she said, no, no coffee table, you can't spend that. So now she just told me that I can have the coffee table that I wanted.

And the other day, it started like being a bad day. It was last Friday, and I opened my phone, I get like this $2,600 invoice, my pool is broken, the pool guy has to repair it and all kinds of things, and I was like, 'Oh, I really hope that we'll stay on the top; maybe I can get a bit of money and pay that invoice.' And then Castroneves goes out and starts drafting just to be like ‑‑ I was pissed; I said it right here, give me my five minutes of fame and my check. But now it's a much bigger check.

So I'm happy for this team and for Sam and for all the guys. I think more than the money and all of that, I think it's the timing is great for what we've done this week.

Q: Obviously today is a very special day for you and Alex, and I'm sure one of the lowest points in your life was probably when you had your accident in 2000. Could you just talk about where today rates in your life?

SCHMIDT: Yeah, I've definitely had some roller coasters in my life, just ‑‑ where does that rate? It's for sure near the top. First and foremost, my wife and my kids are the most important thing in my life, so seeing some of their accomplishments and seeing how they've grown up to be spectacular kids is really good. I'm sure it has nothing to do with me. But that's really special.

And leading the race here in '99 myself was really a special moment, and both Arie and I still feel like we should have won that race, but we didn't. So there's always just this burning desire to come back and finish what's unfinished. So this is ‑‑ and then you've got the Indy Lights program. We've won five out of seven races here, which is spectacular, knock on wood, but it still doesn't fill the void of winning the best against the best.

This is one huge step forward, and we knew ‑‑ like Alex said, we knew coming in that it was fast, but as several people have seen over the years here, lots of funny things happen here, and so you've not only got to get ‑‑ there's races within races. You've got to get through every practice. You've got to get through every day, and we had our spins with the rain this month, just all of these roller coasters this month.

From a racing perspective and an accomplishment perspective for the team, for Alex, for myself, this is right up there.

***

Dario Franchitti did not participate in the post-qualifying press conference. Target Chip Ganassi Racing provided this quote from Franchitti:

DARIO FRANCHITTI: "We were pretty close on setup with the Target car, but not good enough for the pole today. We were definitely good enough for third place. We obviously ran out of fuel at the end of the third lap and that was it. It's disappointing for us, but I'm happy for Sam Schmidt, Allen McDonald, Alex Tagliani and their whole team."

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