Carb Day Indy Press Conference Transcripts IZOD Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge
Ryan Briscoe, Matt Jonsson, Tim Cindric
Friday, May 27, 2011
MODERATOR: Welcome to the Economaki Press Conference Center for a very big part of the full festivities of the running of the Indianapolis 500, the pit stop competition. Some money, of course, and a lot of prestige and pride involved in this, as well.
Tim, I'll turn to you. Normally we have the driver as the star of the show, and rightfully so; they're the ones out there putting it all on the line. But this is an event that really showcases the people that can get you into Victory Lane and this is their moment to shine, your team behind you.
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, thank you. The stars of this program obviously are these guys behind us, Matt and his guys. Rick Rinaman also had a big part in getting these guys prepared in the offseason. Obviously, he's been on the other side of the wall before in his own right. But you're right, this isn't a day about anything more than the pride that comes to winning this particular contest. Our organization spends a lot of time preparing for this because it's just a testament to the dedication and the execution it takes on Race Day.
MODERATOR: One of the things I've always really admired about Mr. Penske when it comes to this event, he makes it very clear, "I want to win every contest that is held, period," that's what he says, Matt. You've won this yourself in 2005, and this is a moment of pride for you as well. Congratulations.
MATT JONSSON: Thank you very much. Yeah, it's not just for me; it's obviously for the guys, the whole crew here. I want to mention the 12 car and the 3 car. The pit practice, they put up such a great challenge that it raises our bar as a team, as well. And certainly thanks to Rick (Rinaman) that does our coaching anymore. Same thing, Ryan as you said, you know, it's about the driver, as well. He's very consistent coming in right on his marks, cool, calm and collected all around. The whole crew, Ryan and everything. That's why the stops are so consistent, I think.
MODERATOR: Rick is the ultimate warrior. How much does it kill him not to be flying over there with you?
JONSSON: Hopefully he is flying over there with us.
RYAN BRISCOE: Actually, he was hanging over the wall cheering me on before all this started.
CINDRIC: I think Rick is more nervous not doing it.
JONSSON: Yeah, you know, it's the never-die spirit, and that carries over to the whole team. Roger has the same spirit, and it rubs off on the whole team, that's for sure.
MODERATOR: Ryan, I suspect as a driver we always look at you when you're standing in Victory Lane and getting your picture and there's the glory, et cetera. We don't get the behind-the-scenes look when you have to go by and look at Tim Cindric and Roger Penske in the eye when things didn't go well. In this competition, this is where you can really screw up and the glory gets taken away from these individuals behind you. Do you feel pressure in this event?
BRISCOE: Yeah, sure. This event is really all about these guys behind me and all the work they put in in these couple of weeks we're here practicing every day. But year round back in Mooresville, they're practicing every single week and putting in the hours so that we can come here and try to win this and win races with good pit stops. Certainly for me today with all the fans, it's a day for them to showcase themselves in front of everybody, and really all I can do is screw it up for them. I just try to be consistent, hit my marks, and try to treat it as though I'm in the race. That's exactly what I have to do in a race situation and be consistent, hit my marks, and it makes it good for these guys, too.
Q: Ryan and Tim and Matt even, you're sponsored by IZOD for this race, and they sponsored the pit stop thing, so you've already kind of given them a return on their investment, so to speak. How important was it to do that for them being a new sponsor?
CINDRIC: With IZOD coming on board, you know, we've been trying to get them in Victory Lane here the first few races; we've been really close. There would be nothing better or nothing sweeter than to win this race, but to win the pit stop contest with their name on it is awesome. Now we've just got to get Jeff to get these guys a trophy. That's the next step in this program.
BRISCOE: No, I agree, a trophy would be great. They certainly deserve one. But I think on Sunday, you know, these pit stops are definitely going to help us get to the front. It's so important every single race, and this race more than any other because we'll be having six, seven, eight, maybe nine pit stops on Sunday, and it can really make a big difference. We have a good pit stall in the race, that's going to help us, too, and I believe we'll have a great race car. All things put together, pit stops included, hopefully we can get to the front and go racing for the win here.
Q: Obvious question: Pit stops will be a major part Sunday for a victory, and any three of you, what makes this pit crew better or different than the other crews out there today?
CINDRIC: You can answer that, Matt.
JONSSON: Like I said before, I think the 3 and the 12 is very, very good, as well. It's really, like I said, I mean Ryan did his part today, which it's huge for us that he comes in at the same speed, is very consistent. Yeah, any three of Penske's pit crews could have won this today, I'm going to say.
CINDRIC: I think the competition has really gone up. When I look at how many teams tried out for the contest this year and the competition and the fact that Helio's team barely made the contest this year, which is a testament to the amount of competition that's out there. I think the biggest thing this contest does is it gives these guys just a little bit more confidence than maybe what they would have had going into Race Day.
MODERATOR: Let's talk about that for a second. Tim, I hate to tell you this, but we normally see a whole lot more of you during the month of May, on Pole Day and fastest days and that's something that you've prided yourself on. And this has been for you a struggle of a month. How much does this help?
CINDRIC: Well, Saturday didn't turn out how we like. We were the fastest on Thursday, we were the fastest on Friday, but we weren't fastest on the day that really paid the most. We feel like that day got away from us. I think we understand it for the most part, and this is a place where you have to put that behind us. You know, you can have that, and come Monday there won't be a lot of talk about where everybody started, it's going to have a lot to do with how you executed on Race Day. So fortunately the big race hasn't occurred yet, and I think we're well positioned there and pit stops are going to be a huge part of it.
MODERATOR: Your team always prides itself on strategy and at times have proven that. Helio has won races here where things did not go well here, Ryan. You've got some ground to make up. I would assume, given your years of strategy, more than ever these people are important to you.
BRISCOE: Yeah, definitely. But people have had -- lots of drivers that have won this race have had things happen, including Hornish in '06, and that was right at the end of the race and got a penalty. We're sitting pretty good here with 200 laps to go. We've got a good race car. Certainly, qualifying didn't go the way we wanted. It would be nice to be starting further in front. We'll certainly have to be careful on the start where we are, middle of the ninth row. A lot can happen that's out of our hands. So I'm certainly going to have to have eyes open and be on my toes. But we've got a long way to go. Roger is going to be working my strategy, and he's a master of it. I'm going to be doing my part, and my guys here will be doing their part. Hopefully it's all good enough that we can get to the front and race for the win.
Q: This is for Matt. Speaking of penalties, we saw with the D&R guys on Justin's pit stop, the dangers of what happens when somebody runs over the air hose. Those are pretty serious things that happen when the car runs over the air hose and catches one of the crew members.
JONSSON: Yeah, there's certainly a risk to this and, therefore, you need discipline. You know, like I said, cool, calm and collected is what needs to go on in pit lane really, and that goes between fuel, tires, driver and the whole kit. Something goes wrong, it's normally someone that's -- mistakes obviously happen but, also, if you panic, it just fuels the fire, so to speak. So you've just got to do your thing, and everybody does their job. It's a team, it's a team effort. If every piece of that team goes together, it's a great pit stop basically. So then it's safe, as well.
MODERATOR: Other questions from our group?
Can you relax in these next few days, Ryan?
BRISCOE: Well, you know, it's pretty busy, to tell you the truth. I've got a few appearances the rest of the day today. And tomorrow we've got the parade, which is always a lot of fun. But we've got a bit of work. We haven't had much time to sit down after final warm-up and still got a bit of work to do, but we'll do whatever it takes to be ready for the race on Sunday.
MODERATOR: I'm sure you will. And there's your group and you've got to feel proud about it.
BRISCOE: Yep, yep. I want to thank everybody, especially these guys.
MODERATOR: Thank you again for coming in.
CINDRIC: Thanks, guys.
2011 FIRESTONE FREEDOM 100
Josef Newgarden, Sam Schmidt, Esteban Guerrieri, Victor Garcia
Friday, May 27, 2011
MODERATOR: Well, gentlemen, congratulations. I'm sure Josef is on his way. Victor and Esteban, on completion of a run that, a race that had plenty of excitement. How about from your angle, Victor?
VICTOR GARCIA: Well, it has been a really like short race because we have done 12 laps racing each other. It has been, though we have done really few laps, it has been really good because we have been racing Esteban, Goncalvez went into the top three, and he was really quick. They were racing each other really, really good and really careful. I was worried about because in this morning it was quite crazy. But, yeah, really fun and -- well, a podium in my first race ever oval in America, so really happy.
MODERATOR: Absolutely, when you get on the podium in your first performance here, that's got to make you feel good.
GARCIA: Yeah, yeah, really happy. I have to thank also my team and the Firestone people because they have done a great job, although we have had only like five laps today, enough -- 20 laps today and 10 laps yesterday, but yeah, really good. And thank you to all that have come. Thank you very much for coming.
MODERATOR: Esteban, the question always comes up in a situation like this when a race gets stopped early is whether or not you were going to have something at the end perhaps to take away the victory. What's your thoughts on that?
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI: What do you think, I had something left?
MODERATOR: Well, I always think a guy does that's running second.
GUERRIERI: Was looking good, but if you wanted a close finish, there you are, you see the top 10 in seven seconds. Anyway, I think I had a good car from the beginning, you know. I started fifth and then I made my way up. It was also a lot of fun. It is different when you're racing than when you're practicing, you know. In the race you really commit yourself to the overtaking. I was going sixth gear flat out all around and it was working quite good. The car was working great. Then as you saw, there was a lot of safety cars and, well, in the end my plan or my idea was to pull away with Josef, you know. I had a spotter, Wade Cunningham, he was really experienced and he said push him to try to cut the tow from the third, which was him. (Laughter)
Him or Goncalvez. But to cut the tow and then we finish the race in the last few laps. You know, you just fight for the position, but only against your teammate, not against three or four. So that's what I tried to do in the first restart because there was so many - I'm confused a bit - but I tried to do it on the first restart. Then on the last restart, I lost a bit of gap and I didn't know why it was feeling a bit nervous, the car. Then straightaway the safety car, which was the last one, the long one. Then we realized my rear right tire was cut, I had two cuts, we don't know why. It just happened to a few drivers. I don't know if it was a bit lucky in a way because I would have finished the race, I think, probably I have, the car last laps to fight for a win. So it was like it was -- I'm pretty happy with the finish here in the podium and the first time here, as well. So, yeah, it was overall a good result, good points for the team. Congratulations, of course, because we're one and two, and I owe it to my sponsors, as well.
MODERATOR: Thoughts you ran over debris perhaps with the car?
GUERRIERI: You mean because of the tire?
GUERRIERI: I don't think so. I asked the engineers because, you know, I'm also new let's say in this kind of situation. When I saw the cut tire, I said are you sure it's cut tire or kind of like even some oil around the top of the track that was stuck in there. He told me, 'Man, you have a cut tire so let's hope you don't restart again.' So it was wearing of the tire. In the end it worked out, let's say well because I don't know what would have happened if there was a restart, how I would have felt the car.
MODERATOR: Absolutely. Questions for our podium guys?
Q: Start with you, Esteban. You said you and Wade discussed trying to work with Josef to pull a gap on third place. How hard was that to do given the conditions, it was so cold and the tires getting up to temperature right away?
GUERRIERI: That's a good question because in the first restart -- sorry, the second restart, I was second and I kind of left a gap to Josef but tried to make a quick acceleration to get the tow on him but try to break the tow from the third. But as I was catching the big tow and running right behind him the first few laps, say the first lap, it felt pretty unstable, you know, and free in the rear. But I just kept the foot down. And then after that, you know, it got better but it was only one or two laps, you know. So it was quite on the limit. Good feeling, you know. But probably I don't know if it was because of the cold tires or because if I was having the cut in the tire.
GARCIA: I have to say I have exactly the same. It was like moving the rear and I seen like eight first, nine first we were struggling with the right rear tire. I didn't have that cut and I saw in the lap 25, something like that before the safety car, Pace Car came. I saw that he was struggling and I said, 'I don't know what was going to happen,' but, yeah, everyone I think we were struggling with the tires. I saw Stefan, he was a bit better. So we had a few laps, it was quite tough.
Q: I have a question to Esteban. I think you make all the European racing stuff, as I remember correctly, also Formula 3 Euro Series. How difficult is it to adapt to the oval racing and especially to the Indy Lights car?
GUERRIERI: It's a challenge, and you want to get first to the line, of course it's competition. So first of all you have to get ready yourself basically to be able to fight for a win. So I don't know, it's like a process you have to do. Of course, you learn from one day to another. I have to make my learning process is quite quick because we didn't have much of a run in the last few days, mostly yesterday. And then, you know, then I kind of trust the team, as well. I learn a lot from what they say to me. So I would say I learn a lot more out of the car than in the car. Then you need to have the trust in them to do what they tell you. Like if they say, 'Hey, guy, go in the first lap out and keep it flat and do this line or that line,' you have to be listening and then go and do it because you have no second chance. Otherwise if you don't do that, you just fall back. So, well, I did that, and from the other side of doing that I enjoy it. It's not that I am just doing it by force because it's something that I discover in the last few weeks running on ovals and it's quite an enjoyment, so I'm happy.
MODERATOR: Other questions?
Q: It's for both of you actually. Given the number of laps you've been unable to do here at Indy and oval racing coming up, how much have you learned from this race that you maybe can carry on to the next couple ovals?
GARCIA: I have to say that this oval is special because it's Indy and hasn't got a lot of banking. We have been testing and I tested in Homestead, private test after. We just did, altogether I think in Chicago and in Vegas, and this one is special. This is like a road course with a little bit of banking, fast corner but it's not with a lot of banking. I have enjoyed a lot this track because in Chicago we didn't do that much of a tow with the rest of the people, so at the next race I think it's also a really short track, they've told me. I've spoken with Hinchcliffe, and he's told me that in Milwaukee, the two best races in the season because it's like a really small track and it's like a big challenge, like two fast corners -- no, four fast corners in road course.
GUERRIERI: Yeah, basically kind of what he says. You know, like depends the track what you do in each track and now you go to a different track, you have to learn different things, you know. Hopefully the car feels good in every of them, in every of the tracks you go. And then just learning. Here even if we didn't do many laps, it's good to, like I said in the beginning, it's good to have the momentum on the race. Because it's different in testing. In testing someone close your line, you back off because you don't mind so much. Here you have to really be committed and obviously not to do any silly things. Even if we are a lot of rookies, which is probably more dangerous, but you have to try to do the job right and to stay in front. So that's basically it. Because I'm qualified, you know, we started like rank in positions but it's important I think to try to qualify good to keep it up there, you know, and try to stay in the pack.
Q: Gentlemen, fans see a race with crashes and lead changes and say, wow, that's exciting. But talk about how difficult it was for you guys, because so many yellows, you didn't get to race as much as you wanted to, right?
GUERRIERI: Yeah. What can I say? For me it was again the first time, you know, so probably wasn't as exciting as the fans. But I like it, but I was learning off the track from listening to my team. Try not to kill the tires so early, to stay in the front gap, in the front pack, sorry. Then in the end go for the win if you can. So that's what I was trying to do. It was really exciting to come from third, let's say, and keep the momentum and go around the outside and overtake two cars at 190 miles an hour. That's really cool. Then the safety cars you cannot do much, you know. It depends on what time of the race it happens. You have to try to be smart in the restarts, not to lose your draft and so on. But hopefully for the fans they had a good show. In the beginning because I know in the end they didn't. At least for a couple of laps we run full speed, they enjoyed it.
GARCIA: It was a bit -- he didn't say that, it was a bit crazy because we were a lot of rookies. We had a lot of accidents. Also, behind me there was a guy that had a big moment. Me, too, I almost crash in the one restart in the first corner. And it was, you could see it from this morning, that everyone was crazy trying to race each other. It was like the end of the world. Like 500 Indy but not in the Indy Lights in the IndyCar. It looked like that. So I don't know. Big crashes. I would like to don't have that in the rest of the races because even if I'm here and I'm in the podium, if a guy in front of me crashes, I can crash him. So I'm really happy, also, but we have to keep with the things that you asked about the crashes, and my teammate crashed. So a bit disappointing. I don't know, so many crashes; it shouldn't be like that.
Q: You said like the end of the world?
GARCIA: This morning. I was like if this is going to be the race because no one was backing up, I was with Stefan Wilson -- everyone was giving up.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Thanks, man.
GARCIA: Everyone was giving up like the end of the world. They felt like we're in Indy, we have to win even in the free practice. I don't know that's the reason. You are looking for a race but also for a championship. So I don't know.
Q: Everybody is more excited?
GARCIA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it was in this morning in the free practice. If it's in the race I can understand it, but if it's in the free practice, you don't have to try -- you can try to overtake in the outside, in the inside. If someone lets you pass, it's OK, but you don't have to race like it's the end of the world because you have the race and you can try that in the race. You have to try it, but the moment is the race, and that's what happened. After the people that were working hard in everything, and this morning, and this afternoon they crashed, like four people. So that's what you see in the morning.
MODERATOR: Victor and Esteban, we'll let you go. Thank you very much for your time here. Congratulations on a great race.
GARCIA: Thank you very much.
GUERRIERI: Thank you, sir.
MODERATOR: Josef, we had you in here for a press conference very early on in the beginning of a couple of weeks. You struck me as a not only talented but confident young man. The first thing we're going to do, and remind people where you're from.
NEWGARDEN: I'm from Nashville, Tennessee, originally.
MODERATOR: Nashville, Tennessee, absolutely. Came up through the ranks, and I don't know what ranks as a racing moment for you but you're the winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the 100th anniversary edition of the event.
NEWGARDEN: It's certainly the largest moment in my career. But this is a victory as much for the whole team. Certainly not the way I wanted to win it. But either way, we come here as a team and work so hard to prep four race cars. If I'm not going to be in Victory Lane, we've got to make sure one of them gets there. So overall it's a good day for the entire team and what they worked for. So I'm very happy with that fact. But certainly it wasn't nice to see all the cautions and all the people. I got a little concerned that last one that people could be hurt and anything like that. You never want to see that. You want to see green flag racing and people fighting hard.
But again, a great day for the team. I'm so elated for them, they worked so hard. Everyone works on everyone's car, it's not necessarily just my team, it's everyone and all the work that goes into it on all the cars. I'm very happy for them.
MODERATOR: Should be. Questions?
Q: I feel compelled to ask you if being Sam Schmidt, the owner, you have a reputation to uphold -- he's owned this race -- not on your watch. You don't want to drop the ball, right?
NEWGARDEN: This man knows how to get it done. He knows how to put the right people together, and that's a very good skill set of his. He can put the right people in the right rooms, get them working together and moving in the right direction. That's a very important thing. I think this year is almost a breakout year for him with what he has done with his IndyCar program. He certainly put a solid plan in place there. A lot of the guys on the Lights team have translated over to that on Townsend's car. They work as a unit and know how to get the job done. That's a very positive thing to know. It's great for me, I love being a part of the team that knows how to do that. It certainly bodes well for the future, I think. I would like to be here a long time. Sam is a great guy to drive for.
Q: Question concerning the -- I'm curious, what was told to you at the drivers' briefing, you had a drivers' briefing, I suppose -- and a very nasty accident. Normally the clerk of the course, as we call them in Europe, would tell you to avoid this. Do you have an explanation why some guys are risking so much and had all these accidents?
NEWGARDEN: I can't tell you that. I think you're seeing a lot of young kids here, you have 15 rookies in a field, and sometimes it can spell disaster and sometimes it can spell excitement, too. I don't like to see it; I wish it would have been green the whole race, especially at the end. It's not the most fun way to end a race. I'm sorry that happened. I'm sure these guys are going to learn a lot from that. That's why they're rookies, they're learning. It's not a fun thing to see, but hopefully there's a lot of lessons learned here and it's not going to happen much more this year.
Q: Tell us a little bit how the tires handled in the cold conditions. How difficult was it to build a gap and even keep your car under beneath you?
NEWGARDEN: Firestone does a good job getting us a tire every weekend. They know where we're at every weekend and what we need, and they provide us with the right equipment. It was going to be difficult with the curve ball of the weather we got. Normally it's a lot warmer for a race like this and certainly you don't have a lot of rain for two weeks washing all the rubber off the track like it's done. I think it put everyone in a difficult predicament this weekend, but certainly we might have gotten a little bit of help from the cautions for saving the tires. But they held up great; there was no issues at the end.
Q: Victor said it was like in practice it was like the end of the world, they were racing in practice like it was the end of the world. Did you notice it was a little crazy as he said, so you knew OK, this is Indy, everybody is a little hyped up.
NEWGARDEN: I think it goes back to you've got 15 rookies in the field. And also the predicament, it's been raining for two weeks. We didn't have the running time we were supposed to have. These guys still had a lot of things to do; they had a lot to learn. I think it put everyone in a tight spot, and they tried to go out in that practice session and learn as much as possible by running together.
Again bringing up the weather, when it's this cool and there's not that much grip on the track, it can cause packs. It's very difficult to get away. It's hotter, it's greasier, the cars start to fan out a bit more, which you've seen in years past. The weather didn't give us that opportunity to try and make it a little bit easier and separate everyone. So I think you were seeing a lot of things happen and a lot of factors to come into play for why things happened, why we had wrecks today and why we were so aggressive in practice.
MODERATOR: Other questions? I've got one. You began the year in fine fashion, and this is one goal and it's the biggest race of the year for the Firestone Indy Lights. But there's another goal: That's the championship, and this is another good step for you toward that.
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it is. We were talking about it before the race, and we spoke about it during the race, we're thinking championship points. That's what we keep telling ourselves is we've got to get championship points every weekend. I felt so bad for the guys in Long Beach with the incident that happened. We thought we had another win locked up; I certainly did. It was a mistake to have that mindset with five minutes to go. It was a learning lesson for myself and we've got to try and minimize that all year long. It's going to be very important to come into each and every weekend and maximize the results, whatever it is. If it's a third place, you tie that third place and take those points and move on into the next weekend. It's a long year. Still, this is only the fourth round, and we're going to see what we produce together.
MODERATOR: As a young man, where was your career pointed? Is this place where you were looking all along? Were you looking Formula One? Were you looking NASCAR? What was your mindset as a youngster?
NEWGARDEN: I would like to do everything. I think a couple guys have said that before. Maybe that sounds a little bit greedy. I'm just thankful to be in a race car. I see a lot of guys this year that are on the sidelines that haven't had quite the opportunities that I have had. It's unfortunate to see that, you would like to see everyone get a fair shot. Just to be in a car and in this type of situation where you have a good car, good team behind you and you have the opportunity to build as a driver, it's a very fortunate situation. So one hand, I'm just happy to be in a race car and working, and on the other hand I want a lot of things, I want to race in Formula One one day. It's been my ultimate goal. To race at a place like this, what guy would not attempt to win this race, the Indy 500. I'm certainly one of them. We'll see what happens. If we can win the championship this year, do really well, possibly we can get an IndyCar ride next year and do that for a couple years. We'll see, we'll see what happens. It's racing, it's very difficult to say where you're going to be going time after time because things changes so quickly, but we'll just have to see.
MODERATOR: Have you whispered this in your current owner's ear?
NEWGARDEN: I think he knows. I'm pretty sure he knows. If he doesn't know, that would be weird. Sam is a great guy. He's admirable; he's great to drive for. He's fun to be around. Everything about the guy is cool. So it's been a pleasure all year long, and I'm excited that there's still a long way to go so we can have some more fun times.
MODERATOR: Open it up again to any questions?
Q: When you came into Indy Lights was there any plan how long you want to stay just in case you win, speculation you win the championship in the very first year? Does it mean you make another year to learn or just going up the next step?
NEWGARDEN: That still goes into you've got to see what happens. Plans change very quickly. Certainly if we don't win the championship this year, then we'll have to see. Maybe there's a better opportunity in Europe next year or maybe I have the opportunity to stay here and focus on trying to win the championship for a second year. I don't know. If we don't win the championship, I'd like to stay here again. Working toward IndyCar is certainly our goal now, our current goal. So that's what we're trying to achieve. But we'll have to see. If we win the championship, then that adds new factors. So it's difficult --
NEWGARDEN: Yeah, absolutely. I raced in GP3 last year and British Formula Ford the year before, so I know a lot of European teams. So, yes, I do have European contacts.
Q: I thought Sam was coming in. When they see the spelling of your name, does someone ever mistake you, must be a foreign driver?
NEWGARDEN: They've asked me this a lot. I sort of let it out a little bit. I'm an American, but I'm also Danish. My mother is actually in the room here. She hails from Denmark. So this is why you see the spelling of my name. This is a little bit of my roots from Denmark. But I grew up here. My dad is from New York. So I got a little bit of flavor, but that's what America is all about. It's about having different cultures come together and it's a good thing. So I'm proud to be where I'm from and this is why you see the F on my name. Pretty much Mom.
MODERATOR: Pretty much Mom?
NEWGARDEN: Pretty much Mom, yeah.
MODERATOR: So you mentioned at the end of the event you don't want to win one this way, but come on, when that's coming on, you know it's in the bag now. You know all you have to do is get around and you want it.
NEWGARDEN: I was thinking things were going to break. I was starting to hear this whine in the back of the car like the past two restarts and wondering what the heck it was. It was fine in the restarts and at the end there where we were just running the laps down, I wasn't sure. I definitely started to get a little bit emotional because we were going to win this race. But at the same time it's difficult to win under those conditions. You want as a driver, you want to prove it under green flag conditions certainly. I think everyone feels that way. It feels much more like a victory. But we're going to take it any way we can. We worked hard for it and I think we deserve it.
Q: Question concerning your nationality. You just mentioned you have Danish roots. Shouldn't it be a good idea to run with a Danish license? There's not much very famous drivers in Denmark.
NEWGARDEN: I am from America; I've grown up here my whole life. So this is what I know. My mom moved over here when she was younger, and this is where I'm from. It's certainly not like I want to shy away from my Danish roots, but this is my country. So that's why I have the American flag on my car, and that's why it is what it is.
MODERATOR: Your mom is still young, by the way. (Laughter)
NEWGARDEN: She knows what I mean. I tell her I love her every day.
Q: The important thing is you don't have a southern accent from Nashville. You don't sound like Tennessee. I go there once a year for the NFL games, this guy doesn't sound like a Titans' fan to me. You probably are, but you don't sound like Nashville.
NEWGARDEN: A lot of people have said that, as well.
Q: You sound normal, that's what I mean. (Laughter)
NEWGARDEN: Right, right, typical. Thank you for that, by the way. Sorry, Nashville, if you're listening. You don't sound funny to me.
Q: You don't sound like a Dane, you don't sound like you're Tennessean.
NEWGARDEN: I think when I moved to England for a couple years, that helped, sort of cleaned me up maybe a little bit. Plus I don't think my mom ever wanted me to have a Nashville accent, country accent. So that's probably had a little bit to do with it. I don't know. You know, I'm an American, so it's all good.
MODERATOR: Where did you get the personality, from your mom or dad?
NEWGARDEN: Neither. (Laughter) I don't know what they were doing that night, but they came out with me.
MODERATOR: Well, so you're the winner, the 100th anniversary. How long will it take you to come down from this one?
NEWGARDEN: Right now we need to focus on the next race. Like I said, this is just another notch. Each weekend we have to be thinking points. We got a lucky result here in getting the win and maximum points. Let's move on to the next one and see what we can get there.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your time, Josef, appreciate it. We're going to bring Sam in in a minute or two. You're free to wander around, hang around, do whatever it is that floats your boat but you've certainly been very kind.
NEWGARDEN: Thanks so much, guys.
MODERATOR: We're going to bring some formality to this. Phillip Wilson said, remember this also, he said you guys own this race, and that's something you would probably like to continue to own.
SAM SCHMIDT: Absolutely. For years we weren't a really, you know -- what am I thinking? We weren't really a -- my cheeks hurt. We didn't have the opportunity the last 10 years that we have this year in IndyCar. So our guys on Indy Lights said put a tremendous amount of effort into this race and setup and rubbing on the cars and we go to the wind tunnel every winter. We put a lot of effort into it, and it's all about this race. You know, every year it's special to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the 100th anniversary is huge. As we said before, there will only be one of those. We really wanted to win this race, and I was disappointed the fans didn't get a Freedom 100 flag finish there. I don't know which one of them would have won, I don't know if Clauson would have made his way up to fight with them but it is truly special.
MODERATOR: One of the things it takes as you well know in this business as you moved to the IndyCar Series, and you need a guy that's the whole package. This guy seems like he has it all.
SCHMIDT: I watched Josef in Stars of Karting and at SCUSA and 14, 15, 16 years old, watched him go to Europe with Team USA Scholarship. I think that's a fantastic program because we all know the competition over there in the British Formula Ford's and Palmer Audis is huge. I think the last two-and-a-half years over there has taught him a tremendous amount, as you could see on the track today, and he's going to be a star.
MODERATOR: So you've been following this guy for some time.
SCHMIDT: That's my job.
MODERATOR: You did a good job of it. I know that we have a question here. He's got two questions.
Q: Sam, we saw in this race, particularly this race a lot of nasty accidents. Are you employing for your drivers in Indy Lights driver coaches to calm them down? And question No. 2, Indy Lights is a playing field for rookies who want to go up to IndyCar or maybe F1, wherever. What's the engineering side? Are you also employing in the Indy Lights series young engineers who want to learn the trade or are you putting experienced people on that side?
SCHMIDT: I've got to remember the first question. OK. Yes, absolutely. You know, we have in the last kind of 18 months established this Mazda Road to Indy and very proud of the fact that they've got the scholarships in place and champions are pretty much guaranteed a ride in the next level. But I think the one thing that's new at this level is the 200-mile per hour oval experience.
Today, I think if I went case by case, I could pretty much pick out what happened to some of those drivers. Whether it was picking up a little bit of push and turbulence, and when you get clear of that push, it tends to snap oversteer. Those are the things you've got to watch out for. Yes, we employed Wade Cunningham, who has won three times here in an Indy Lights car, for this entire process. And also -- sorry, I just drew a blank. But in answer to your question, absolutely, it's a critical part of the development here.
I think to some extent, I mean, that's what I think I bring to this team is that I drove the cars, I know what they feel like, and I spend a lot of time with the drivers before each race talking about strategy, talking about saving your tires, talking about all those things. And just trying to get them to not make the same mistakes I did. But we've got some very excellent spotters full season, and we invest in that heavily.
As far as the engineering, we actually have two apprentice engineers on our team right now and they're working with our full-time engineers. We employ our engineers year round as well as the rest of the staff. I think that's why we have the results we do here today.
MODERATOR: Other questions?
Q: Sam, so far this has been a great couple week and a half for you or so. Probably couldn't have gone any better. Obviously, if you win the race, that in itself is an incredible accomplishment, but then combined with what's already happened that's almost a clean sweep. Can you talk about the historical significance of that?
SCHMIDT: I am just, you know, I've been trying for the last three weeks to put this situation to words, and I am just still having extreme difficulty. You know, it's just been this, like breathing through a fire hose type of situation because we just bought the assets to the IndyCar team in March and, of course, that came with a phenomenal group of people. We've always got the Indy Lights expertise, but to have won three out of four Indy Lights races to year right now, to be top five in the points in the IndyCar Series, to roll in here and have the 77, the 99 be so incredibly quick out of the box, almost leading every day of practice, then both 77s get the pole and then win the race here today. The 100th anniversary means so much that it just kind of like multiplies everything by two. I just can't express it. I mean I feel truly blessed and give all the credit to the crews because the Indy Lights guys are working hard, the IndyCar guys are working hard, and I'm just the lucky beneficiary. So I can't describe it.
Q: With the winning today's race, do you think this will be a sign of good things to come for the weekend?
SCHMIDT: I certainly hope it is. I mean, I've been hoping and praying for that for three weeks. I would have actually given this one up on a silver platter to get Sunday. Now that we've got this one, I'm not giving anything up.
I was just out there in Victory Circle thinking I'll just stay for the next 48 hours and hopefully it comes back around, you know. But that race on Sunday is a lot more complicated than this one. I mean there's several pit stops and 33 excellent cars, closest field according to speed ever in the history. So definitely not taking anything for granted. We had a really good warm-up this morning with the Carburetion Day activities. Drivers are pumped, cars are fast. It's up to us to make the least amount of mistakes. I think that's what it comes down to.
Q: I'm sorry if I missed anything, Sam --
SCHMIDT: I'm sorry, I'm out of time. I've got to go. (Laughter)
Q: I was talking to Josef's mother, you've got to understand.
SCHMIDT: I'll give you that one. Unfortunately, he could be my kid, too. That's a problem.
Q: At 13 and he just shows up at go-kart? That doesn't happen, does it? That's a late start, isn't it?
SCHMIDT: There are definitely a lot of situations where the dads are living vicariously through their kids and should never be there in the first place. This is a situation where Josef drug his dad to the go-kart track, and the rest is history. I think he was a star from the beginning.
MODERATOR: Working the short-track world, I want to underscore that. That's absolutely correct. The motivation was his.
SCHMIDT: Absolutely, he drug his dad up there and he said, 'Hey, if I'm not fast, we can quit and go back to Tennessee and live our lives.' But he was fast right out of the box. Like I said, I think before you came in, I watched him race Star of Karting, watched him race SCUSA tour in Vegas. I go to the SCUSA race every November, and he's definitely a talent.
MODERATOR: Other questions? What do you take from the practice today in the morning? Tag seemed to be pretty happy about it, any way you slice it, you were at the top.
SCHMIDT: Exactly. I think there was still a little bit of tow factor most of what was going on there. But let's face it, next week is going to be 200 laps of towing. I think Tag is really, really pleased with the car, so is Townsend. That's what's been really great about this year, too is working in parallel, the 77, the 98 and 99 really doing everything together. So all three of them went out there with three completely different setups. Now we merge the information and 90 degrees take a stab at it.
MODERATOR: Any other thing for Sam? Last one, that's fine.
Q: Sam, just a question to understand the situation with your IndyCar team. Was this a planned decision to take, to buy the team or just it became quickly available? Or did you plan already to own an IndyCar team?
SCHMIDT: I think people, with our success here and success in Indy Lights, have been asking for years would I get back in the IndyCar Series full time, and I said absolutely - if we had the ability to run it at the caliber we run our Indy Lights team. That takes fantastic people, it takes good resources and basically Rob Edwards, Alan MacDonald, Brendon Cleave, Phil McRoberts, Donnie Oldenburg, all of those guys are fantastic, and obviously Alex got the job done, as well. I didn't have to reinvent the wheel, and we wouldn't be here at all if it wasn't for Joe Atkins, Bowers & Wilkins Speakers. So all of those things allowed me to do it at hyperspeed at the top level. So it's really about the quality of the guys and quality equipment that we were able to get.
Q: Pop quiz, Sam. How many times have you won this race?
Q: You knew that, huh?
SCHMIDT: Six out of eight.
Q: Six out of eight total?
SCHMIDT: 75 percent, we'll take it.
Q: Just checking, making sure you knew that.
SCHMIDT: Want to know how many laps we've led? No, just kidding.
MODERATOR: Congratulations, Sam.
SCHMIDT: Thank you.