Kimberly Miller (IRL):
Thank you very much, and thank you to all the journalists who have
joined us today for the first teleconference of the 2003 season. We
would like to welcome today two drivers from the Indy Racing League
IndyCar Series, Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan. Late last year the
team announced the formation of Andretti Green Racing, which would
field three cars full time in the IndyCar Series in 2003. The three
drivers, Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti. Today we
have Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan with us, because they just
completed their first test in the new IndyCar Series equipment for
2003. They completed the test late last week at Homestead-Miami
Speedway where we will also have the season opener for the IndyCar
Series. Michael, let’s start with you. First of all, thank you for
taking the time to join us and welcome.
Michael Andretti: My pleasure. Thank you for having us.
K. Miller: Talk to us a little bit about the 2003 equipment. This was your first time back in an Indy Racing League car since the Indy 500 last year, but it is a completely different car for you, different engine, different chassis, so tell us how it felt.
M. Andretti: Extremely good, really happy with the changes that the IRL made. Comparing the old car to the new car it is a big difference. You know with the new gearbox that they have along with having the engine, the Honda engine being lower in the car, gave the care a lot better feel. It feels more like a race car is supposed to whereas the old IRL car had a bit of wallowy feeling in it where now I would compare the 2003 IRL car to say a CART car of the mid ’90s the way the car is felt. And to me that was when the formula of CART was the best for racing. So I think that bodes well for what it is going to happen this year I think in the series. I think it is going to be a really good package for racing.
K. Miller: Your team will be competing with the Dallara chassis and the Honda engines. Tony, this was your first time in a Dallara chassis. In the past you have ran with the G Force. Talk to us a little bit about your feelings on the chassis and engine.
Tony Kanaan: Well, it was a very good pleasure to be here and to be part of your first teleconference. So that tells us something. But that (inaudible) is obviously Michael in the first day and then set up the car as good as could be. So for me it was much easier to just get in and drive around. It definitely has a lot more down force than I felt last year with the G Force, but obviously we are expecting every year they are improving the car. The engine felt great. The Honda guys, I think, are doing a pretty good job for the amount of time that they have had. So feels good. I think obviously we still have a lot of work to do, but the first impression went actually really well. It was good. The car felt great.
K. Miller: And Michael, this was your first time to test as a team owner and driver. Talk to us of how that felt and what kind of thoughts go through your head as an owner and how that is different from as a driver?
M. Andretti: It is quite different, I have to say. Now when you go down there, your responsibilities are much different. When you are a driver, all you just really have to worry about is driving, and that is it. But now with so many other things that occupy your time, and you are concerned with things a lot differently than you normally, are and it was unique experience, but a good experience. I was very happy with it. I really enjoyed the way it went. It was fun even sitting around and watching Tony run the next day and things. So I am looking forward to it, looking forward to a new challenge. It was a good experience.
K. Miller: I am looking at the list of journalists, and we had a very large turnout for today’s call, so I would like to go ahead and move to the question-and-answer portion. Just a reminder to the media, before we get started, we do have a large number on hold so let’s just take one question and a follow-up the first time around. Once everybody has a chance to ask Michael and Tony a question then we will come back for a second round of questions. Also, as a reminder, we do a complete transcript of this call and it will be sent to you tomorrow morning to your e-mail and to your fax machines. Mario, we can go ahead and open up for question and answer please. Operator, are you with us?
M. Andretti: Does not look like it.
K. Miller: Well I think we must be having some technical difficulty. Operator, are you there? Can you hear me? I guess he is not there right now. We will wait just a minute to see if it comes through. While we are waiting, Tony, let’s go back to you for a minute. Having a chance to test at Miami with numerous other teams, well actually for Michael and Tony both, there were a lot of teams testing there. Does that give you a good opportunity to kind of see what other people are running and get a feel for what the competition is going to be like next year?
T. Kanaan: Well definitely, but again, it is still pretty early to say anything with everybody’s almost first test ever with the new car. So a lot of people are still getting used to the cars and still getting, just running around to see if everything works. So it is hard to say, “Oh, yes, we are the quickest all the time, so we are going to be the best when we get back there.” You know we still have several months before the season starts, and people have a lot of time to work on the cars. But definitely it is always good to have people with you and is running with you so you can gauge yourself. And obviously I guess between me and Mike that we decided to stop the test early because in comparison to everybody else we look pretty decent. And if there wasn’t anybody there we will never know if that was a good lap time or not. So definitely, it is, you know, users improved and then it cost them to say, “OK, we have a good starting point, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
K. Miller: Michael, what are your thoughts on the competition in 2003?
M. Andretti: Oh, I think it is going to be so, so tough. It could be the most competitive season in my career. You look at the teams and the level of professionalism in each team and the drivers, I think it is going to be a really competitive year, along with I think it is going to be a fun year. I think the cars are going to be fun to drive, and I think there is going to be a lot of passing and a lot of side-by-side racing, and I just think it is going to be a banner year for IndyCar (Series) racing.
K. Miller: I see on my computer screen here we may have the technical difficulties worked out. Operator, are you with us now?
M. Andretti: Maybe not.
Operator: Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. If you have a question, you will need to push the one on your touch-tone phone. You will hear an acknowledgement that you have been placed in queue. If your question has been answered and you wish to be removed from the queue, please press the pound sign. Your questions will be queued in the order that they are received. If you are using a speakerphone please pick up your handset before pressing the numbers. Once again, if there are any questions, please press the one on your touchtone phone. Thank you. We show a question from Mike Harris from Associated Press. Please state your question.
M. Harris: Looking forward to seeing you on track this year. Can you talk a little bit about, you said you like the idea of being an owner/driver. It felt like a unique experience. In the past some guys who have been owner/drivers have had problems with it in terms of trying to spread themselves too thin. How are you going to handle that and make sure that doesn’t happen to you so you can still concentrate on your race driving?
M. Andretti: I think that is a real challenge. And to be honest with you, I do not know yet. I was asked right after the test how I felt and at that point I felt like it is going to work OK. But then there is all the follow-up work that has to go into it and everything, and then you start seeing that is a lot of work, and it is taking away from my commitment of the driving. So that is something I have to weigh, and right now I am having problem with it in my mind, but I am working with it. And so I really have not made a decision yet what I am going to do the rest of the year from Indianapolis on because there is the rumor out there that I may retire after that. It is a possibility, but I still have not made a decision yet. But it is tough. It is different. I do not want to be out there driving if I cannot give it 110 percent. And that is what I have to weigh right now on whether I can do both, and I have not really decided yet if I can yet.
M. Harris: As a follow-up; what is going to make the decision whether you retire or continue as a driver?
M. Andretti: What is going to make the decision really is if I really feel I can do both effectively. I cannot have anything take away from my driving in any way. And if I feel like it is that is when I have to really look at it. So right now I am currently thinking through all those things, and I have to make a decision soon for the team. We are just weighing all those things right now.
M. Harris: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from John Sturbin from Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Please state your question.
J. Sturbin: Yes, for Michael. Michael, along the same lines I was wondering if you were committed to racing at Texas Motor Speedway, the race after Indy? That seems to be the cut-off point, unfortunately. You did not race there back in the CART days. You could not race there. I just wondered if you felt you had unfinished business there.
M. Andretti: Yes, well I think if I were to do the whole season obviously that would be the first race that I will do after Indy. But I really have not made a decision yet. I think the racing at Texas is great. I mean you looked at that last race the end of the year last year was just incredible, and I think the track makes for some great racing. And it is just a shame what happened there a couple years ago with CART because it was just one of those deals where technology was a little too far ahead with the speeds, and I think we found (Inaudible) driver. But I think the IRL is on it that they are not going to let the speeds get out of hand and it is going to be OK for us to have a good race there. So if I continue, obviously I will be down there. I would like to. I think the fans in Texas were great. They had a tough time there. But they were out there really supporting the event, and I know they come down there and really support the Indy cars as well. I am looking forward to getting down there.
J. Sturbin: Thanks much.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Bruce Lowitt from St. Petersburg, Florida. Please state your question.
B. Lowitt: Good morning. Sort of two parts. First of all, Michael, can you tell me if you, the IRL, is as strong now as CART was just before the split? And second of all, how much is racing at Indy and perhaps finally winning your first Indy 500? How much does that play into the switch from CART?
M. Andretti: To answer your question, I think IRL is getting there. I do not think open-wheel racing is still at the health that it was before the split. But I believe it is all going in the right direction in the IRL side. I really feel that that momentum’s there for this series to (Inaudible) to moon. I think you look at the level of competition now, you look at the racing that they have been putting on, and you can see the fan base is increasing, getting better and better. So I am hoping that we will get to the point where we were before the split and go beyond that because that is the goal, I think. And so that is what we are all going to work toward. As for me, is that the reason why I switched because I want to win Indy? Well, I want to win Indy, and if I would not have done the switch, I still would have done Indy. I want to win Indy real bad. I mean that is one of the things that we have not been able to achieve in my career, and so we have a lot of desire to do it.
B. Lowitt: When I
mentioned the IRL just before the split or CART just before the split,
I should say, IRL now has pretty much all the star power that CART
used to have just before that. Is that your assessment?
M. Andretti: Yes. That is absolutely my assessment along with one thing: They also have Indianapolis still. I think if you look at that, that is where a lot of momentum is as well as a lot of the sponsors have gone that way, along with manufacturer support. So there are so many things that are positive right now for the IRL.
B. Lowitt: Thank you very much. Good luck.
Operator: Thank you. Your next question comes from Mark Armijo from Arizona Republic. Please state your question.
M. Armijo: Michael, you do now want your ownership responsibilities to interfere with your driving responsibilities. Would you consider backing off your ownership responsibilities to continue driving or is…?
M. Andretti: My future in racing is ownership. So that is where my real commitment is going to be because I want to make this team one of the best teams out there, if not the best, and that is my goal. So that is where I am going to put my real effort. So if I cannot do that and drive at the same time, then that is where I am going to have a problem, and at that moment, the driving is the thing that I will probably give up only because I know that I am getting to the end there anyway. So that is where I am at.
M. Armijo: And one more thing. Do you have a test at Phoenix later on this month?
M. Andretti: Yes, we will be there February 7th and 8th, I believe.
M. Armijo: Oh, for the Open Test.
M. Andretti: For the Open Test.
M. Armijo: No private test before then?
M. Andretti: Nope.
M. Armijo: Thanks, Michael.
M. Andretti: Yes.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Tim Jeffries from Ticket. Please state your question. Mr. Jeffries?
T. Jeffries: Yes, I did not have a question.
Operator: Thank you. Once again, if you have a question please press the one on your touch-tone phone. Thank you. Our next question comes from Ron Martin from Focus on Racing. Please state your question.
R. Martin: Thanks very much. I will say good morning once again to Michael and direct my questions if I may to Tony. Tony, is it a different feeling having one of your team drivers and your owner being the same person?
T. Kanaan: Yes, I guess. Actually he is my teammate. We are on the same team. We both are going to drive the 7-11 car. It is different for sure, but we had a couple moments last year already after I signed the contract. We had an accident in the Miami race, so obviously I was always respect my teammates a lot and then my teammate being my boss means I have to respect him twice more. But we have a pretty good relationship to begin with, and then on the racetrack obviously you are never going to… It is not my type of prior to do anything stupid moves with anybody anyway, so I think we are looking for the best for the team. And I think if I can help Mike out, and I am having a bad day, and then I have to give him away or vice-versa, I think we have no problems with that. It is just great to be part of the team and it is great to have him with all his experience on my side. (Inaudible) is different. You have to think twice some of the times because people say, “Your teammate is always the first guy you wanted to
R. Martin: When you walked away from Homestead after the test did you feel that having Michael as both your teammate and your owner, because he was so involved with both cars that your side of the team was able to learn more about what to do with your car?
T. Kanaan: Well, I think we are all a whole team. We are not taking value out of it. But everybody is doing different kind of things, but obviously having two drivers, like me and Michael there, we both drove different days and we both help each other with feedbacks and then opinions and what to do with the car. It is always a big help, two heads think better than one. And with his experience we definitely have a big help for my first day, which was the second day that the team was there. And the racetrack, I guess we have not decided what we are going to do about debriefing, but we are going to try to do everybody together to help all the three cars. It is not that we want to benefit one or the other. One day when he will retire then, I will try to pull him on my side all the time.
R. Martin: And Michael, did he past the first test of the interview of the way you guys talk/think?
M. Andretti: Yes, he did very good. I am surprised. (Laughter)
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Chuck Givler from the Express Times. Please state your question.
C. Givler: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Mike, I would like to ask you, your father once was on what they called a super team, sort of a two-part question. What chances of this team really being considered a super team with the spotlight on them? And could you talk a little about what your father’s feeling is about this and what he is role might be or might not be?
M. Andretti: I feel we have super team. I think what is going to show in this team that is different than a lot of others, I think, is the chemistry that we have. I just feel very good about it, and it starts at the drivers. I think the relationship that the three of us, I think, is very good. I think we all are really close. We really have a lot of respect for each other. So I think that is going to help (Inaudible) throughout this whole team. And I think that is what is going to make this team really super. I mean I think we have so many good people on this team, and if we can get the chemistry and everybody not going against each other but working together as one team I think it is going to make this team really strong. I am really excited about that side of it. As for Dad, his feelings is I think he is very happy for me the way the team has come down, everything the way it has come down. Obviously, he has views on where he would like me to be. I think he would like me to be in CART, but I think he understands why I am in the IRL.
C. Givler: As a follow-up,
I have been on teams, and it is always the word that nobody gives
everything away to their teammate. That it really comes down to a… It
is just everybody…
M. Andretti: Well, I think Tony said it. You know like normally the first person you want to beat is your teammate. But I really feel within this team the relationship the three of us have, I believe we all want the best for each other. We are going to try to beat each other for sure, but I think we all also have a mutual respect for each other that we want the other one to do well, as well. Like I think all three of us would love to see a one-two-three finish. And probably in the end, we would not care which driver was number one. If we could do that, I think would just be awesome for the team. So I think that is the difference in what we have here, because I know Tony and Dario are very close, and I am close with Dario and Tony. I think it just really has a making for a really good deal.
C. Givler: Thank you. Good luck.
M. Andretti: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Curt Cavin from Indy Star. Please state your question.
C. Cavin: Guys, how can people who have been associated with the IRL have this notion that it has been kind of a warm-and-fuzzy nice, everybody-kind-of-get-along situation. And now with Toyota and Honda, there is some concern that that is going to dramatically change. That the spending habits are going to be so great by the two manufacturers that it is just going to totally upset that cute, warm and fuzzy little league that has been out there. You have not been involved with the IRL to a great extent in the past, but how do you think things are going to change positively or negatively?
M. Andretti: I think in that standpoint it may change a little bit. But I have to say that the philosophy of the IRL is a bit different than say the way CART has been run. I mean CART has been run by basically competitors, and I think when that was happening everybody had their own agenda. But I think having guys like Brian Barnhart running the show there, I think he gives it more of a feeling like it is more about the sportsmanship and things like that. And I think that is going to really help keep it that way. Is it going to stay exactly the way it is now? I say no. But I think it has a potential of not getting the way say CART became. (Inaudible) Formula One.
C. Cavin: And can one man, Brian, do you really think he can take on two manufacturers who have all the engineers at their disposal to work around the rules?
M. Andretti: Well, I think they definitely have a challenge there. But I think the other difference is they can make the call. Tony, George and Brian, if something they do not feel is right they do not have to go to a board, they do not have to go anywhere. They can make the call themselves, so they can control it in that way. And I think that is sort of the way NASCAR is run. Bill France can make the decision that – Chevy has an advantage here. They are not going to have that advantage. Now I do not think they are going to do it to that extent with the IRL, but they can do it with the manufacturers. They have the power that they can make the call and have more control than say the way it was set up in CART.
C. Cavin: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Steve Penstone from Radio Pennsylvania. Please state your question.
S. Penstone: Michael, good afternoon. I am wondering with your success on the road circuits, especially in Toronto; number one are you going to miss that? And number two, how much you are looking forward to returning to Nazareth?
M. Andretti: I am definitely going to miss road racing. That is something that we all are going to miss. But having said that I am hoping that somewhere in the future there will be road racing in the Indy Racing League. So that is what we are all hoping. But for right now we have the ovals, and we are going to make the best of it. Getting back to Nazareth, I am very happy, excited about doing that. That is something that I missed the last couple years and so I think it is going to be great that we are back in our hometown. For one of the races, I can sleep in my own bed, so that it will be nice.
K. Miller: As you’re talking about the different types of tracks that we run on; Tony, can you tell us what track you are most looking forward to or what type of track you prefer, whether it be a short track like Richmond or a superspeedway like Fontana?
T. Kanaan: Well it is tough for me to say because a track like Richmond, I have not been there, so I have no idea what it looks like, just on TV. I like superspeedways. Obviously, if you look in my past, the only race I won in CART was in the superspeedway. So I think I kind of like that kind of race, the 500-mile race is also (Inaudible). Indianapolis was great last year for me until up to one point. I think right now, I will maybe change my mind later on, but right now I kind of like the superspeedways better.
K. Miller: Thank you. Operator, we can go to the next question.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from John Zimmerman from Zimmerman Enterprises. Please state your question.
J. Zimmerman: Michael, if you were to retire, are you committed to a three-car team or would you go back to two?
M. Andretti: We would be committed to a three-car team.
K. Miller: We can take the next question, operator.
Operator: Your next question comes from Dean Burdette from WPXN Radio. Please state your question.
D. Burdette: Michael, you alluded to the fact that the races were close at IRL last year and really really (Inaudible). This year there will be more cars, more entries. Do you feel that qualifying may be a top thing on the agenda to finishing up front?
M. Andretti: I hope not because I think the formula, the rules the way they are, I am hoping that a car that did not qualify so well will still be able to get to the front if it is better than the other cars because it will be able to pass. I am hoping that that is the way it is because that is what makes for good racing is a guy that can come from the back and get to the front by passing cars. And I think formula is going to still allow that type of racing to happen. So I am hoping the track position at the beginning of the race is not going to decide the outcome.
D. Burdette: A follow-up to that question, from what testing has been done do you see that there is maybe one chassis in combination is better than another at this point?
M. Andretti: I think it is definitely too early to tell. We do not know what everybody is really doing yet. We can only just do what we know, and that is try to make progress with our own thing. And I think the Dallara chassis seems to be very good out of the box, and the Honda engine I was very impressed with, with the short period of time that they really had to get things going. I was really happy with how competitive it seemed to be already.
D. Burdette: Thank you very much.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Matt Shrum from Track Site Online. Please state your question.
M. Shrum: Yes, for Michael, I was going to ask you about what you thought about the Honda engine, because it appeared they got a little bit of a late start compared to Toyota and Chevy and how you think it is running. And are you running an Ilmor or are you having some support also from HPD?
M. Andretti: Well first of all, I think like I said, I was very impressed with the engine, with the progress that they have made. I know we did a lot of testing with Dan Wheldon at the end of the year, and each test they made progress, and they continue to do so at this test. And the engine just seems to be really running. We put thousands of miles on it already, and the performance fit. Not only reliability, but the performance seems to be there, as well, so real happy with that. As for us, we will be the HPD team.
M. Shrum: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Phil Thomas, (Inaudible) Racing. Please state your question.
P. Thomas: Kind of a two-part question for Michael. Late last year, 2002, it was in the press pretty much that you were kind of on the if you have enough sponsorship or not. Has that been resolved?
M. Andretti: Yes, I think we have done a pretty good job there. I am very happy with the support that we are getting, and we are hoping to put a big announcement on everything that we have together pretty soon.
P. Thomas: And my follow-up question is – When you bought the team did you get all the old CART equipment? And I know that has kind of been what is basing a lot of teams because they have to use last year’s chassis in CART.
M. Andretti: Actually, no. In the deal, Barry (Green) still owns most of it, and we own some of it. So he ended up, Barry ended up selling a lot of it to CART actually, like all the (Inaudible) and stuff.
P. Thomas: Thank you very much and a belated Happy New Year to both of you gentlemen.
M. Andretti: Thank you.
T. Kanaan: Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Bruce Lowitt from St. Petersburg, Florida. Please state your question. Mr. Lowitt, if you are on a speakerphone please pick up your handset. Once again, if you have a question please press the one on your touch-tone phone. Thank you. Our next question comes from Mike Harris from Associated Press. Please state your question.
M. Harris: Mike, you said that you would continue with a three-car team, you are committed to a three-car team even if you retire. Have you had your eye on anybody in particular to take your place if you do step out of the car?
M. Andretti: Yes, if I were to step out of the car, Dan Wheldon would take over my spot.
M. Harris: How did you make contact with Dan? Where did you know him from?
M. Andretti: Actually, Kim Green watched his whole career and was very impressed with him and did a lot of research on him. And if you look at his career, he has done a very good job. And then we did a test with him, and we were all very impressed with him with his feedback and his speed and just the way he handles himself. I think there is a kid that has a strong future, we all believe, and we want to get behind him. In our team, we want to also not only have the stars like we have with Dario and Tony, but we also want to have one young gun that we can hopefully bring up to, as well. We feel that Dan could be a real future guy in this series.
M. Harris: Thank you.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Chuck Givler from the Express Times. Please state your question.
C. Givler: Boy, I got around to the second one, Michael. Question, more of a statement and if you could respond to it. A lot of people think that you are a little overlooked in your career, and you were probably one of the most enduring and successful drivers in open-wheel racing in America for the last I would say two decades. To just leave without a … I am not suggesting that you have another Arrivederci Tour, too, or something. But is that something that maybe the fan should have? How does that fit into the thing?
M. Andretti: I do not know. I mean, it is something that we definitely have thought about that, and so I do not know. It is one of those things that for me, personally, I am one of those that does not like all the fanfare and things like that. But then again it would be nice to do something for the fans. So if I were to do it I guess I would still l… That is why I feel like I would have to make a decision soon so I can let my fans know what I am going to do. I do not want to just get to a point and find out that is not working and then just say I am not going to do it. So when I make my decision, I want to make it where I am not going to surprise anybody. I do not know if that answered your question or not.
C. Givler: No, I see where you are coming from. Thank you very much.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Dick Mittman from Indy Racing. Please state your question.
D. Mittman: Happy New Year.
M. Andretti: Happy New Year, Dick.
D. Mittman: I want to ask you, you know your Dad, Foyt and Big Al, they all drove in to their 50s, but it seems now drivers are, you will be 40. Eddie Cheever is getting close to saying only Indy. Is there a difference now? Is there more young talent coming up that is bringing on this reason to not go into your 50s?
M. Andretti: Absolutely. I mean, those days are gone. You can do it, but you are not going to be competitive. I mean it is so competitive out there nowadays. There are so many young kids out there that when they get to be 21 they have been racing for so long that they not only have the bravado and all that, but they also have the experience because they have been racing so long and have been well trained. It is just much different than it was 10, 15 years ago.
D. Mittman: Second question. Does your son do any racing or?
M. Andretti: Yes, he is doing real well. He is now going to be graduating from go-karts to cars, and we are going to put him into the Skip Barber program, and he is going to start racing that next year. So we are pretty excited for him. His all excited. It will be interesting to see how he does. I think he is going to do pretty well.
D. Mittman: Would you be like A.J.’s got his grandson, would you like to some day be the car owner?
M. Andretti: That would be a dream. I would love to get it to that point. It would just be unbelievable to have your son driving for you on your own team. That could very well happen. I mean, that could actually happen in the next four or five years if everything goes really well for him. But I am not going to put that pressure on him. We are just going to have to see how it goes, and the next big step is race cars instead of go-karts, and we are going to have probably a good idea next year on whether we feel that he has really what it takes to do it. I personally think he does, but we will have to wait and see.
Operator: Thank you. Our next follow-up question is from Curt Cavin. Please state your question.
C. Cavin: Clarification, Mike. You are going to have this announcement before the…
M. Andretti: Yes, I would like to make it before the start of season. I would like to have an announcement on what I am going to do.
C. Cavin: And will that coincide with this team announcement at the end of the month?
M. Andretti: Well, at the moment, the team announcement … Well, I would hope that I would have something to say by then. That would be nice. But the team announcement is the main reason at the moment for the team announcement is just to announce all our sponsors and to give everybody an idea what everything is going to look like. There may be a possibility … Let me put this way, if I make a decision, it will probably made by then. Put it that way.
C. Cavin: You really cleared that up.
M. Andretti: Did I?
C. Cavin: Yes.
M. Andretti: I want to know what I am going to do. I am really going through a lot of things in my mind right now, and I have to really decide what I want to do, and I have to do it sooner than later, and it will probably be by then. I definitely have an answer.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from John Sturbin from Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Please state your question.
J. Sturbin: Yes, Michael, to beat this into the ground further. All you are committed to right now then is the first four races through Indy, right?
M. Andretti: No, at the moment I committed to the whole year.
K. Miller: Operator, we just have time for a couple more questions, so if we could prompt one last time for journalists to queue in if they have a question.
Operator: No problem. Once again, if you have a question please press the one on your touch-tone phone. If you are on a speakerphone please pick up your handset before pressing the numbers. Thank you. Our next question comes from Ron Martin from Focus on Racing. Please state your question.
R. Martin: Michael, just a follow-up, and I guess the horse is going to get deader. If you decide … Are there any thoughts if you decide to race the full season of maybe putting Dan in Infiniti Pro Series to keep him in your stable?
M. Andretti: No, we are going to keep him in our stable. If he is not driving in terms of racing, he is going to be driving with testing because we did sign him to a testing agreement. So he is contracted to our team to do a lot of testing this year.
R. Martin: Great. That is all I needed. Thanks.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question, Dick Mittman from Indy Racing, please state your question.
D. Mittman: Question. Tony, you led 23 laps at Indy last year, and you have won (on) a superspeedway. How do you feel? Do you like the idea of going to an all-oval series, and do you think you can be a winner, a regular winner on the circuit?
K. Miller: Is Tony still with us?
T. Kanaan: Yes, can you hear me?
K. Miller: We can hear you now, go ahead.
T. Kanaan: Yes, definitely. I think Indianapolis is still … I still dream about that. I wake up at night sometimes thinking that I won that thing. Obviously, like Michael said, we put a pretty good team together, so I definitely feel that we are going to be really strong, and I am going to have a chance to win every race we go. So is every other driver, as well, because the series is so competitive. About the ovals, I do like the ovals a lot, but I am going to miss both courses, as well, and I wish one day we can go back on it. That is where I came from. Funny or not, I never won a road course race in CART. I led a lot of them, but I never could make it. The only race I won was in the superspeedway. I do like the ovals a lot, and I am going to get used to it, but I am going to miss the road courses, for sure.
D. Mittman: What did you learn about your experience at Indy last year?
T. Kanaan: You never win until the last lap.
M. Andretti: I could have told you that.
T. Kanaan: I watched you, Mike, in the past, too. He came much closer than I did. I think what I learned is like it is another level of racing. You say it is another 500-mile race. Yes, I do agree with that but the people, the atmosphere, it is something that I never experienced in my life. And when I woke up that day, and I walk into the track, and I saw the amount of people and the whole atmosphere is just completely different than I never experienced before. I learned that you have to be focused, and you have to have a good car and have a good sponsor.
D. Mittman: That helps. Thank you. Well done.
K. Miller: We have just two more questions. As soon as these two questions are over, we will conclude the call.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Curt Cavin. Please state your question.
C. Cavin: The test, there was almost everybody who is going to be pretty this year was there. Outside of your teammates was there a car … If both of you could answer. …a car that you were watching, you caught yourself watching the most? Was there one care that you were kind of most interested in how they were running?
M. Andretti: Well, obviously, you have to watch the Penske team. I think they are going to be a factor. There is a no question about that. And then you are watching obviously the Panther team because they have a great track record in it. But then there were others. You have to watch a guy like Kenny Brack and that team. And then you have the Ganassi team, as well. There is a long list. If you were stuck just watching one guy, you were not seeing the whole picture.
C. Cavin: Tony.
T. Kanaan: I am watching (Inaudible). I think that is the guy. No honestly, I think, like Mike said, there is going to be a lot of surprises. There are a lot of good drivers. But definitely, I look for the Penske and the Panther team because they have more experience, and obviously they have succeeded in the past. So those are the two teams that I am concentrating in the beginning. I might change my mind pretty soon.
C. Cavin: Thanks.
T. Kanaan: And actually, hopefully they will be watching us, as well.
Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Mike Harris. Please state your question.
M. Harris: Well, again, actually this is for Mike. Indy has been so important to you over the years, and if you did decide to retire at least as a full-time driver would you consider doing the kind of thing that Arie has been doing, just running Indy for the next couple years, or when you step out of the car is that the end of it?
M. Andretti: I personally feel that probably when … I am talking here, but I do not know for sure because you do not know how you are going to feel. But right now, the way I feel right now that if I do step out of the car, I will be stepping out of the car because I think being out of the car then and getting in just one race (per) year, I do not think you are going to be sharp enough to do yourself justice. And I think in some ways you can then end up setting yourself up for more of an embarrassment than anything. I would, most likely, the odds would be that I once I am out, I am out.
M. Harris: And if you do decide to continue and run the whole season, would you consider a running a fourth car for Dan at Indy?
M. Andretti: Yes, that is definitely being considered right now.
M. Harris: Thank you.
M. Andretti: Yes.
Operator: Thank you. At this time we show no further questions.
K. Miller: Thank you. I have a few announcements to make to the media, but before I do I would just like to thank Tony and Michael. Thank you both for taking time to join us and welcome to the Indy Racing League.
M. Andretti: Thank you. We are excited about it. I know I am.
T. Kanaan: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.
K. Miller: Thanks guys. To the journalists on the call, I would just like to give you a few reminders. We do have the new teleconference number that you used today is new for the season, 866-IRL-CONF. That is your new teleconference number for the year. Teleconference will continue every Tuesday at noon Eastern, and we will continue to send you media advisories to let you know who will be on the call. As I mentioned earlier, we do have a complete transcript of this call. You should receive it in your e-mail tomorrow. If you do not, feel free to give us a call at (317) 492-6579, and we look forward to seeing all of you at the Test in the West in early February and at the season opening Toyota Indy 300 for the Infiniti Pro Series and the IndyCar Series on March 2nd at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Thank you.
Go to our forums to discuss this article