Q&A with Jay Howard and Stefan Wilson
ZOD IndyCar Series driver Jay Howard and Firestone Indy Lights driver Stefan Wilson participated in a Q&A session to discuss the 2010 season and the return to oval racing this weekend at Chicagoland. Below are select quotes from their interview.
|Jay Howard will use boxing to train|
2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion Jay Howard will make his fourth IZOD IndyCar Series start this weekend in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway for Sarah Fisher Racing in the No. 66 Service Center car.
Howard started from the pole and finished third at the 1.5-mile racetrack during his 2006 Firestone Indy Lights championship season. Catching up with Howard, who last competed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 8.
Q. Part of your workout regimen includes boxing. What's that discipline like?
JAY HOWARD: "Karting is a great way to keep sharp for sure, although I find it works a different muscle group compared to the IndyCar. In karting, you use more of your body. Being strapped into the IndyCar, this really restricts your movement, penetrates the shoulder and arms a lot more than in a kart.
"One of the reasons I think boxing is such a great training tool for IndyCar is exactly what I just mentioned. It penetrates deep into the shoulder muscle and arms, especially with the additional conditioning exercises we do after an hour of boxing. I aim to be in the ring at least once a week with Dave Lewter (who is a former professional fighter) at minimum. I will ramp that up over the off-season to two times.
"Another huge benefit to boxing is the hand-eye coordination. Especially once you start getting tired, it's important to keep focus. Dave loves to hit me at any opportunity he gets."
Q. With Chicagoland being your final race of 2010, how would you assess it and what are your goals for 2011?
JAY HOWARD: "Chicago is the last race with SFR for the 2010 season, not necessarily the last race of the 2010 season. It has not been what we expected at all. I have a wonderful sponsor in Service Central and couldn't ask for more. They have been very supportive and believe in me, so I am very grateful to them. I hope the fans continue to help support our program by taking their cars to any of the four brands; Tire Kingdom, National Tire and Battery, Big O Tires and Merchants.
"From a performance side of things, I am still in shock over the Indianapolis 500. It's tough being in a small team competing against the big guns. On the bright side, I am very optimistic for the 2011 season with what I am working on."
Q. You're also working on wedding plans?
JAY HOWARD: "The date is Oct. 29, 2011. We actually will have (IRL Ministry director) Bob Hills marrying us in Indianapolis. My fiancée, Courtney Nicoson, is doing OK. She got in an accident during the Kansas race weekend. Both Courtney and I have become good friends with Bob. He was the first person to visit Courtney in the hospital at Kansas and made sure she was OK while I was still racing."
Stefan Wilson returns to the seat of his #28 Bryan Herta Autosport car after sitting out the final road course round of the Firestone Indy Lights season. Wilson sat down with indycar.com
Wilson, 20, is the younger brother of IZOD IndyCar Series race winner Justin Wilson has three top-five finishes in nine starts, including a fourth-place finish in his last race Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 8.
Q. You're were sixth in the championship before sitting out Infineon, but where do you see yourself finishing off and what do you have to do to get there?
STEFAN WILSON: It's going to be a tough end of season, but I feel realistically there's a good opportunity for us to get in the top five. We just need to keep consistent and obviously we've just got to try and finish well on the ovals, keep the car in one piece and hope we have no more mechanicals.
Q. The remaining races are on ovals and this year is the first time you raced on an oval and actually racing two and three wide.
STEFAN WILSON: It was actually a lot easier to do the race than it was in testing. When you're building up to the first time on an oval, you've not got a lot to think about because there's not a lot of driver input. Most of the time, you're flat, especially at places like Kentucky and Indy, so you've not got a lot to really concentrate on. You're doing that kind of speed and it feels fast and you're not putting a lot of driver input in, so you've got a lot of time to think in the car - perhaps too much time to think about it really.
But when you start racing, your concentration is way up because you're focused on trying to make every little bit and find time. You're just trying to advance your position and trying to catch the guy in front and trying to keep the guy behind you, and that actually focuses you better. It kind of made more sense because we were doing what I'm used to doing and that's racing.
Q. You obviously took to the ovals quite quickly, but do you have favorite types of circuits?
STEFAN WILSON: I liked Iowa. It was quite bumpy, so it was a bit more demanding, there was a bit more driver input than Indy, say. At Indy it was all down to how well your car was set up and how little drag it was producing. A lot of these teams have got higher budgets than us and have been able to spend a lot of time developing and it showed at Indy, but at Iowa where it's lower speed, lower terminal velocity, it's less dependent on how much drag your car's producing and more dependent on how much mechanical grip you've got. In Iowa we were fast all weekend and me and (Sebastian Saavedra) were very close.
We made the wrong call in qualifying and that dictated the race but it could just as easily have been me qualifying on pole and winning the race if we'd just made the right setup change. Seb did a great job and won the race and won the pole for the team, which was good, and it bodes well for the remaining ovals. The things that we learned at Iowa I think will translate to Kentucky and also Homestead. Chicago's very smooth so it won't necessarily apply there, but Kentucky - I'm looking forward to that one. We had a good test there before Indy and it's a place I feel confident at, and I hope that might be a strong oval for us.
I've never been a fan of ovals until this year and actually driving on them and I've actually really enjoyed it. It's like going back to the early days of karting where you've got the very small engine go-karts. On the big tracks you spend a lot of time wide open on the throttle so you get very very close racing and lots of slipstreaming and it produces quite fun overtaking, good fun racing, so I've really enjoyed my time on the ovals.