Q and A with EJ Viso on Andretti/HVM announcement
Earlier today, Andretti Autosport announced it has signed IZOD IndyCar Series veteran E.J. Viso to drive a fourth full-time IZOD IndyCar Series entry in 2013. Viso will drive the No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Chevrolet in his sixth season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Selected quotes from the interview are below.
Q. First off, congratulations on today's announcement. You have to be excited about joining a championship winning program at Andretti Autosport?
E.J. VISO: Yes, definitely. It's been a bit of a process putting all of this together. But today, I'm very excited and happy, and honored and proud that I counted with backing from my group. The sponsors, they come from my country, and they just pretty much merged together and created Team Venezuela, which later on created a partnership with Andretti Autosport.
Today is the day that we're announcing this, and I definitely have no words to thank each of the parties. Definitely, it's a very interesting and exciting day for me. I believe that I will be counting with every single ‑‑ with every single thing needed to have a successful 2013.
Q. Last year your three teammates, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti clicked really well and formed a chemistry that worked really well. How do you think you'll fit in with that dynamic that your teammates already have?
E.J. VISO: Well, I believe I'm just going to add a lot of things into that synergy that was already created in the last year. I like the three drivers and I think each one of them have their own forte. And obviously, Ryan winning the championship. That's a great momentum that the team has, that hopefully we can continue.
Q. The program also involves a partnership with HVM Racing, which is the team that brought you to the series as a rookie. Can you talk a little bit about working with Keith Wiggins and his group again?
E.J. VISO: Yeah, definitely. Keith is a person that I worked together with for two years. He has a great knowledge. He's been involved pretty much in every top category in the world, including Formula 1 and INDYCAR. And we've worked together those two years, and having him back together in the program is really nice. I like working with people that have the same passion that I do. We just are putting energy together, and I believe that this year is going to be a really good one.
Q. Tell us about who is going to call your races have you gotten that far? Tell me about the engineering.
E.J. VISO: Yeah, everything is happening pretty late. I don't want to use the word late, but all of this has just been put together. Anyways, my engineer's going to be Mike Cannon, which I worked with in 2008 and 2009. We had a lot of good moments. And I think we speak the same language and we're definitely very excited to be back together in this new organization.
Regarding who is going to be the one calling the races, that's going to be Paul Harcus. We call him Ziggy. And I think he has a good knowledge doing that, and I believe it's going to be a great combination together with the other three crews and all the more experienced drivers on this team. So I'm really looking forward to all of this team work.
Q. Can you talk about how difficult it was when you pursued a team of your own, not that this isn't a great opportunity, but how difficult it was when you went the other path?
E.J. VISO: Well, you know, more than difficult, it was frustrating. Because they're so, in every negotiation, in every aspect that you go through, there are always factors that are out of your hands, and some other people need to take a couple of decisions. Sometimes it's not only people, but companies. And probably the answer that we got from them was not quick enough.
So when I don't want to say I; I want to say we. We as Team Venezuela, when we let go of starting our own program as an independent program, and we definitely thought about what would be the best option then, and definitely where we ended up doing right now was what we considered was going to be the most beneficial partnership that we could find.
Q. Could you as Team Venezuela, could you have gotten an engine lease if you had secured everything else? Do you think you could have gotten the lease?
E.J. VISO: It's funny, because I think what is happening right now with Keith Wiggins, is exactly what we were in the talks of doing three or four months ago. So I think it was only another way of skinning the cat.
Anyways, the team that we were relying for the Leaders Circle was Keith's. So we were going to go with it. And on the other side, we had our plan B where we were requesting our own Leaders Circle (agreement), and definitely that answer didn't come as quick as we needed, so that's why we just took the conclusion that I just mentioned.