Indy 500 Pole Day Press Conference

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe

1st – James Hinchcliffe
2nd – Josef Newgarden
3rd – Ryan Hunter-Reay
Sam Schmidt – Hinchcliffe Team Co-Owner
Rick Peterson – Hinchcliffe Team Co-Owner

Sunday, May 22, 2016

MODERATOR: One way or another, he's taking control of the press conference. (Laughter)

James, you know, we're looking at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, and obviously there's been a lot of discussion about history. And the history sometimes is boiled down to cars and chassis and downforce and speed and those sort of things. But the Indianapolis 500 is the fabric of America because of stories. This is one of the great stories. You have to be aware of that.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I mean, I try not to think about that. We still have a long race to get through. But I think one day I'll appreciate it a little bit more maybe than I'm letting myself today. It's crazy. I've said it already a hundred times just on the way over here, but it's incredible what a difference a year makes. It all starts with these two guys here, Rick Peterson and Sam Schmidt. They put together such an incredible organization. They were so, so behind me after what happened last year. They could not have been any more supportive. They built this incredible team of guys that went out and built three race cars good enough to start in the top ten of the 100th Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. It started from the top. These guys are great and all the crew guys have put all the hours working on those cars back in February. I mean, this is a huge point of pride for them. You know, 10 miles is one thing, 500 is another, we know that. We still have a lot of work to do. There's a lot of quick cars in the field.

But this is definitely a point of pride today for all the hard work the guys have done back at the shop, support from Arrow Electronics and Honda stepping up huge this year. I mean, what a difference a year makes in that case, too, right? They've done such an incredible job. That thing was a dream to drive. You have to hang it out here at Indy in qualifying. I know that, I've missed the pole twice by fractions. I kind of felt bad for Josef — not that bad for Josef. (Laughter)

Because I've been there before. But huge credit to him and to Ryan. I mean, that's a fun front row for sure. We have the best seat in the house for the biggest race in history.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]MODERATOR: The other story is perseverance. The story is often about the winners but there have been so many people who have come here and they've failed or they've tried or they've done the very best they can. And earlier today we had another story of perseverance from this guy right here who goes out and I think it was a 105 mile-per-hour average on this guy. He's been a winner in this series. You didn't give up and this guy didn't give up. You've got to be awfully proud of this team, Sam.

SAM SCHMIDT: Yes. (Laughter)

MODERATOR: That's more succinct than Josef, by the way. Go ahead.

SCHMIDT: I hired Hinch for the commentary. (Laughter)

It was an incredible day. I didn't think anything would get better than five years ago. That was the previous hundredth, I think. I had three cars in the top ten then and then to come out here today — you know, James was 17th on the no-tow sheet on Friday. But Oriol was up there. Mikhail was up there. And true team effort between here and there, like he mentioned earlier. I almost didn't drive that today because I was so amped up for the possibilities here tonight. But to be able to do the 105 average and hit 152 at the stripe was a personal goal for me ever since I was here last time in 2014, and that car, you know, drove flawlessly and it was because of a great team behind me.

James, he's kind of downplaying this thing. But I was there a year ago, and he was not nearly as pretty as he is right now, you know. (Laughter)

HINCHCLIFFE: And that's saying something because look at me now.

SCHMIDT: I think the term is "yellow." He's come back. He committed to it and you just never know, right? You can ask and you can do all the work and you absolutely never know until you've got to mash the gas, and he did it today. He did what nobody else could do today. So I think that is a huge story. I would like to have the better one next weekend as well, but that would make a movie for sure.

So all credit to him really. Rick and I are really, really blessed bystanders here because we have built an incredible organization of guys that some have been around a long time and some haven't been around very long at all. They really pulled together this week. Honda definitely stepped up big time, because they will tell you I was yelling in their ears all last year and right up until about a week ago that they better pull a rabbit out of the hat here because this is the biggest race in the world. By God, they did.

So, Art, I'm sorry. (Laughter)

Allen, I'm sorry. Steve Erickson, I'm sorry. But thank you very much, yeah.

MODERATOR: Yesterday when it came to the Fast Nine, someone made a conversation that perhaps we should extend this until the later hour as we did yesterday. And Hinch, I think, said something that was probably overlooked what was really, really important. His immediate response was, "No." His response was no, he said, "You don't understand how hard the guys in the shop and in the garage work, just what it takes." We all think of racing as glamor, but it's not glamor for those folks who are back there repairing cars and burning the midnight oil. I think, Rick, for you it matters not only to have that group, but you're surrounded by a couple of guys who are the ultimate fighters. This has to be a very proud moment for you as well.

RICK PETERSON: Yeah, it certainly is. It starts out with having a great partner to start with. I was very fortunate to hook up with Sam back in 2013. We do have a great team. We've got 50-some guys that don't get any of the glory but they're always working very, very hard. And today was just a great day. As soon as I knew we had three cars in the top ten, you know, pole was nice but we didn't need it but I'm really proud of James and our team for putting that car there.

Q: So, Sam, who's going to play you in the movie? (Laughter)

HINCHCLIFFE: I don't know, I think like Sam says, there's still one big thing to check off the box before we start talking about movie rights.

Q: How big an inspiration has Sam been for the last year for you? Because, I mean, he's the ultimate comeback in auto racing.

HINCHCLIFFE: He was one of the greatest assets to have with everything that happened last year, especially to my family, to my parents, because he had been through something like that. He kind of knew the story, he knew the score and I know that helped them a tremendous amount. Being able to talk to him about it personally helped me a tremendous amount. Then I stand in pit lane today and watch Sam do 152 miles an hour around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Frankly, what I did today pales in comparison. I was here two years ago when he went around there and did his first qualifying run in that car and there wasn't a dry eye on pit lane, my own included. Having a guy like that in your stable and being able to bounce things off him is great. I can't wait for next year when he makes it 175. (Laughter)

You're the one who said to me right before I went out, "Go get pole." (Laughter)

Q: James, four years ago you had some of Greg Moore's gloves with you when you went on your run back then. Did you have anything from him on you today when you made your run?

HINCHCLIFFE: No, it was all my own stuff today. That was obviously a very cool thing, very special deal. I still wear red gloves in honor of Greg. You can say anytime I get in the car there's kind of someone else with me there.

Q: Hinch, not only is this obviously Indy 500 pole but it's your first IndyCar pole as a whole since, I think, Indy Lights I want to say back in the day. How surreal is it that you achieved that as well?

HINCHCLIFFE: It's great. It was super-frustrating. It was always a bridesmaid, never a bride. I don't know how many front-row starts I had in different races. But here twice, obviously there was some heartbreak there in a couple of seasons. But it's crazy to get your first Verizon Pole Award here at this track, period, after what happened last year, period, and on the 100th Running of the race, period. I mean, it's just crazy. If I never won another pole, I almost wouldn't care — almost. (Laughter)

I would because I want to, I'm going to. But almost.

Q: James, yesterday and today both, looking from the outside, it looked like you made two absolutely perfect runs with — hit your marks perfectly, did the warmup lap perfectly, so the second lap was quicker than the first. Did it feel that way to you from inside the car? Because that's how it looked from the outside.

HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I mean it was a great run. The car was stellar. Al McDonald and Will Anderson and Brendan, all the guys on the stand, all the engineers did a really good job. I've got to thank my teammates a huge amounts as well. We worked really closely together all week, and then Oriol went out and practiced today, Mikhail and I didn't. We got a little bit of information off of Mikhail after his run. So I was really in the best seat in the house in that sense that I had information from both those guys, which helped tremendously. And huge congrats to Oriol to get fastest of the qualifiers from the day.

Out there, like I said, it was on the ragged edge. I was moving the ride jack every lap because it was getting a little bit freer and a little bit freer every lap, which is, like I said, is what you have to do to go fast and to get pole. So I'm just glad the thing stuck, the speed was there and lasted, and just a great feeling both runs.

Q: Hinch, since you're a Canadian, does this make up for none of the Canadian —

HINCHCLIFFE: Hockey teams. (Laughter)

Q: — teams making the playoffs? (Laughter)

HINCHCLIFFE: I knew where that was going. It's certainly better for me. You'll have to ask the rest of the sports fans in Canada if this makes up for it. I somewhat doubt it. Hockey is kind of a big deal back home. But hopefully it gives them something to cheer for since we don't have any teams in the playoffs.

Q: James, when you got out of the car you made a comment that your plan and your goal was to have a news story when you get here this year. The accident, it's hard to avoid talking about it, especially when you do something like you did today. But has there been a point in the last year where you reach, like, "I'm tired of talking about it," to get back to normalcy in what you do, leave it alone, drop it, let's just move on?

HINCHCLIFFE: Honestly? Yeah, definitely. But I get it. It was a big deal. It was a big deal to me, too. (Laughter)

And I understand that. And I really appreciated that people wanted to hear the story, wanted to tell the story for me. There was a lot of really, really nice pieces done, a lot of nice tributes done in that sense. But no, then you're coming back to this place and you want to focus on the here and now and not remember or focus on hitting the wall at 125 Gs.

So there was definitely a point where it's kind of like, "Hey, is there anything else you want to talk about? Let's lead with that and kind of see where we go from there." But we'll see. Hopefully this is the topic of conversation for the next week and a week from now we've got an even better story to tell.

Q: Hinch, the big story so far has been just how difficult the track conditions have been. Did you feel like there was a better advantage for you going last and kind of having a better idea of what's ahead or was that kind of just more stress for you saying, "Oh, man, I've got to go out there and get this pole now because I'm not going to have another chance at it"?

HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, it's a double-edged sword because you know what you have to beat, which is an advantage. But when it's a really quick time, it's a disadvantage because sometimes you get in your own head about whether or not you'll be able to get that kind of speed. Like I said, we didn't go out and practice. So it was tough to know exactly what we had. But technically the track's maybe hopefully cooling down a little bit. The weatherman claimed the wind was supposed to be dying down a little bit as the day went on. I'm not sure how much I believe him; I rarely do.

But for sure, that's the benefit of being quickest yesterday, right? Was getting to do that and getting to watch and seeing what the other guys had out there. So it was nice crossing the line and knowing exactly where we were going to start. I've been here before and ran fifth or something and had the quickest time until the last guy and then lost it. So it's way better that way to do your stressing out beforehand and then get it done and know where you're going to start.

Q: Hinch, can you allow yourself to think just what you mean to Canadian motorsports today?

HINCHCLIFFE: No. There will be plenty of time for that when I retire. Hopefully by that point I still mean something to Canadian motorsports. That's a TBD thing. (Laughter)

I try and keep very much in the present and not look too far outside a little bubble that we're working in because we have to focus. We have obviously a big task ahead of us, not just next week, the week after, the week after for the next three months. It's a long season, you know what I mean?

So we'll worry about that stuff later. It's nice to be able to give the fans back home, because there are a lot of motorsports fans in Canada, someone to root for.

Q: Rick, you're Canadian, what does it mean to Canadian motorsports?

HINCHCLIFFE: Maybe that should have been his question from the get-go.

PETERSON: It's pretty obvious when we go to Toronto all the time. James is a big thing in Canada. I bring James out to Calgary at least once a year. He's the biggest thing we have in motorsports right now out of Canada. He's the guy.

Q: Winding the tape back about two, three weeks, I remember some conversations that you had with the media about dome skids. So fast forward the tape back to today. How do you feel about the changes that they've made?

HINCHCLIFFE: If you talk to the guys over the last 48 hours, everyone will say this is probably the most difficult qualifying session they've ever had to do at Indy. What's changed? The windy conditions don't help, but we've had windy conditions here before. I think what made it tricky is the new aero regulations. Some would argue that's great. It was a bit harder, which is good in theory.

What's tough for the drivers is a really difficult qualifying run or a pretty smooth qualifying run is absolutely indecipherable on television. So when you're watching, it looks the same. It's no more spectacular outside of the car, but it is terrifying inside the car. So we don't mind working hard, we don't mind driving hard or making us do more. But, man, give us the credit for it because it is hair-raising out there. Some of the things you heard last night after guys like Dixon, guys like Newgarden saying how tough it was out there. It was the same across the board, and I think that's a large part of it. But it is what it is, it's the same for everybody. Obviously we did our best to maximize that.

We'll see how it works out in the race on Sunday. I hope we still have good close racing. From what we saw in practice, it should be still pretty decent as long as the track temps don't get too hot and we lose a bunch of grip. So we'll see. I mean, the feeling in the car, fundamentally I stick by what I said, but I understand why we did it. Safety comes first and so that's what we're doing.

MODERATOR: We'll take two more and we're going to wrap.

Q: Hinch, on that thought, the drivers, did the cream rise to the top today? Was this more about the driver than the car?

HINCHCLIFFE: Yes. (Laughter)

Obviously, Robin. I wasn't going to just say it, but since you did, that's exactly what I'm saying. (Laughter)

Q: When you see Will Power gets out of the car yesterday and said this is the way it should be. It was hard to drive, this is how it should be.

HINCHCLIFFE: I don't disagree. I don't disagree about that at all. I guess the issue I take with it is it's just so hard for people to understand what we're doing. Anybody can stand at a three-point line, miss nine out of ten shots at a basket and realize Steph Curry is really good at what he does. No one could watch anyone of those runs versus anyone else's runs and realize that there was really a difference. As an athlete, as a sportsman, it's tough. It's tough to kind of accept that. But it is what it is.

As Will said, I agree. We're not here to make it easy for everybody. I think this is the most competitive series on the planet, and I think we proved that again today with conditions as tough as they were, the times as close as they were, multiple manufacturers, three different teams on the front row. I mean, this is racing at its absolute best.

Q: So all the times you've qualified here, do you feel like today you had more to do with your success than you have before?

HINCHCLIFFE: I think we had to work a little harder, yeah. I think it would be a little bit more heads-up. Even things not related to the handling kind of threw me for a loop today. The gears that we had chosen, I think we were running a bit quicker than we expected, I had to make some decisions on the fly based on the shifting pattern, you know, the strategy we decided on beforehand. So you're adjusting tools a lot more than I think I ever have before.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Yeah, definitely I think the drivers played a bigger role than they have before. And I'm not just saying that because I'm here, right?

Q: Hinch, looking ahead to the race and how your car will perform with the changes that have been mandated for safety, there's been a week of practice. I know it's a different car for the race than it would be for qualifying. But has the team been able to find a way to compromise and get some of the mechanical grip back, for example, after having to raise — I understand you had to raise the ride height of the car to accommodate the dome skid? And did you get — I'm not sure what they call it but it's supposed to be something on the side pods to help make the aero under the car work?

HINCHCLIFFE: The sidewalls.

Q: The sidewalls, yes. Did they add those back?

HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, so that's been part of the rules package from the get-go, the extended sidewalls when we went to the dome skids. That helped tremendously for sure. As far as the race car goes, we've had a week to practice. You wish we had a week more just because you never totally satisfied. But the cars were quite a bit different at first. The setups had to change quite a bit, to be honest. There's a combination of a new tire here this year, the new aero rules. So there's a bunch of things I think were kind of throwing a lot of the guys for a little bit of a loop. That's why we would have like a little more practice. We but have more tomorrow, we have an hour on Carb Day.

So we'll keep working away at it. We made some big gains at the end of both Wednesday and Thursday. So we're understanding the tire a bit better, understanding the aero kit a bit better. Like I said, we've got a good starting spot. We have a good seat. We've got hopefully a little bit of clean air and I think that will help the cause.

MODERATOR: Sounds good. Congratulations. (Applause)

MODERATOR: There's so many emotions out there among you. Top three guys, Ryan Hunter-Reay joins us. Ryan, it looked like for three laps you were right there and then, man, it was just really close.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It was so close. Had a really good run. The car was the best we've had in qualifying in a long time. Just on rails those first few laps. I knew it would start to go loose as I went through the run. It started to where I couldn't feel the rear much.

Great run. That's all we had in it.

I'm super happy for Hinch, he's one of my really good friends. To be sitting in his hospital bed a year ago. I was there with him, his first Road America test. And I thought to myself, because I was asking my guys, I thought to myself, it's going to take him a day to get back in the mix. That's a big jump back in.

I remember asking him like two hours into the test, "How quick is Hinch?"

"You know, he's a tenth and a half quicker than us right now."

I was blown away. I couldn't believe right away he was back into it. That just shows the courage he has and how resilient you have to be. It's incredible. I don't think anybody can really describe almost losing your life out here on the same track and get back in and doing 240 into the corner and doing what he is doing. It is just incredible. Absolutely incredible. Very deserving pole winner.

Congratulations to Schmidt and the whole Schmidt team and obviously to James. That's an incredible story to do it, be the last car running.

I thought I had it. They were telling me P1, Lap Two you're P1, Lap Three, you're P1, it's going to be close. I was willing that car on.

It's great to have two Hondas in the front row, P1 and P3. Very good job by Honda, really stepped it up and threw a big punch here today. I'm just really happy to have DHL up front. You know, for the 100th running to be starting on the front row is a great spot.

MODERATOR: You've done it all. You've had days you've struggled here in qualifying and then at the end of the day you're in a position where you can win your second Indianapolis 500.

Hunter-Reay will start 3rd
Hunter-Reay will start 3rd

HUNTER-REAY: I've been to a couple Last Row parties, and I know how that goes. (Laughter)

Every year I'm not at one, I'm just so happy. It really helps when you have a good chance like it was here today. When you have a fast car at IMS, there's no better feeling in the world. It's funny, you can be 13th or 14th, even back to 25th. Nothing is right in the world when you're slow at IMS.

Then when you're fast, it's just you feel like you're on Cloud 9. You feel everything is right. That's how my whole world kind of revolves around that. Absolutely love this place. I hope we have a good race car. We'll be dialing it in tomorrow. We had a good race car in cooler conditions, but everything is going to change. This weekend has been incredibly stressful so I'm happy it's over and we're focusing on the race now.

Q: Ryan, you and Hinch were on the front row in — what? — 2012 I think it was.

HUNTER-REAY: Correct, yep.

Q: What do you remember about that, and does it help you guys have been in the spot before when you're starting the field?

HUNTER-REAY: Good memories. Obviously spent years as teammates together. That was a lot of fun then. So I'm sure this is just great, it's the 100th Running of the race, you know, to be on the front row. I thought I had the pole there for a second. But, you know, it's just the emotions are always so drastic here and that's what I love about this place. It's just there's so much invested emotionally, physically, financially in this whole effort. To have a shot at pole, that's all I can ask for. It was a good fight today, great show at the end there. To be that tight.

How much did Hinch get Newgarden by?

Q: Six hundredths.

HUNTER-REAY: No way? So I missed pole by less than a tenth of a mile an hour? I thought I was five hundredths of a mile off of Newgarden is what they told me. OK, jeez. That makes it worse. (Laughter)

Literally, a half of a gust of wind. You know, just a little bit of a gust can do it. It's such a long lap around here and you're going so fast, the smallest of condition changes can ruin or make a qualifying run. But obviously it was the three of us being so close in speeds. And they were all achieved differently, which is pretty cool.

Newgarden had that big, big lap and then he fell off drastically which is a completely different approach than, let's say, what I did, you know, try and be smooth and steady through it. I'm not sure where Hinch was on it, but obviously they nailed it.

Great to see the fan reception. I took my boy out to the wall for that last pass as he came by start-finish to finish it off. Hung him out kind of — not over the wall, parents. (Laughter)

But right there and just to hear the fans. That's what it's all about. That's what this place is all about. That's why it's so special. Where else in the world does qualifying actually matter? It's here.

Q: Ryan with the qualifying, it's kind of the sprint where the race is the marathon. It's four laps out here, putting a package together to go as fast as you can. Now you have to take five days to get ready in race trim. Lot of talk about different wheel guards, different packages, to try to be the fastest today. How much are you going to take into Race Day as far as stripping the car down or getting it tuned for next Sunday?

HUNTER-REAY: Tomorrow is a big day. Next Sunday is forecast to be hotter than we've had all month, which is not ideal. But it's going to favor someone. We're going to try a bunch of different packages tomorrow, try to get a variety of different reads on different downforces, combinations, things like that. Hopefully we'll be prepared for it.

I had a really good race car the whole week of practice and you never — you can only count on that race car in the same conditions in the same wind direction. When the wind changes and the conditions change, track temp comes up, you have to recalibrate everything. Everything is different.

Q: Two questions, Ryan.

HUNTER-REAY: I'm just glad I didn't have to sit there and watch the whole thing like you did. Sorry, Robin. I love that sweater.

Q: Thanks, brother.

When you think about Chevrolet's dominance in qualifying this year, won every race. Honda always was quick in practice and but Chevy always had something. Can you point? Is it better engines here? Is it better aero? Is it both? That's my first question.

HUNTER-REAY: I think, you know, HPD and the engine department has been doing their work. I think they did a good job. I think they did a very good job. P1 and P3. So they did excellent. I think there's, you know, and obviously we had a year to massage on this aero package and find what we need from it. It wasn't the most straightforward equation when we started with it. Now we have a bit more of an answer or now we only have 15 options going into qualifying instead of 35.

Q: Just for both of you guys, everybody has been saying let's make the cars tougher to drive. Will Power said yesterday this is as hard as it's ever been to drive around here. Your thoughts, both of you, on the cars here this weekend.

HUNTER-REAY: Crazy intense weekend. I mean stressful beyond belief. I'm glad it was only one attempt today. Well, I don't know if I am glad right now that it was one attempt today. It's been incredibly difficult the whole weekend. When the wind shifts and the conditions change — man, this is probably the trickiest conditions, other than that one time when I had that car it was eight miles an hour off the pace. That was worse. But this was pretty bad.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's been tough, you know. I was telling everybody yesterday in this room, I was watching Scott Dixon's run, and I was, like, you have no idea how stupid loose he is and how crazy it is driving that car. Some guys looked better and they were working just as hard. I wish it looked more spectacular. You saw some good stuff. Townsend's save this morning in Turn One was amazing, if anyone say that. I mean they have been difficult to drive. We've been running with more downforce than we have in years past. I think that's a lot to do with the floor. But we adjust.

Everyone has adjusted to that. They figured out how to make it work. It's been tricky to drive with the wind conditions and when the track heats up, I think it's been tougher to drive the cars than normal. The way they slide is a little bit more unpredictable now. I think in years past you're always on the edge here in qualifying, and they slide and that's hard to drive when they slide, but this year they were just sliding in a different way. It was almost unpredictable the way the car was sliding, and it made it tough to drive.

HUNTER-REAY: Like Josef said, the unfortunate thing about it is it doesn't look incredibly dramatic, but it's so dramatic in the car. Townsend mentioned to me yesterday in the Turn One, he was doing 242 miles and hour, and reacting to a car sliding through the corner like that, I wish it looked more dramatic because the whole time around — I think the whole lap I feel like I'm holding my breath.

Newgarden almost got pole
Newgarden almost got pole

NEWGARDEN: Every corner.

Q: Ryan, compare two years ago in the last four laps of that race and your feelings compared to, you know, what you've had to do and then sit there and wait and find out if you're going to win the pole or not.

HUNTER-REAY: This is a good stress, you know, the pole, like I mentioned. You haven't had to go through that — have you? — go to Last Row parties and stuff like that. I know what it's like to be on the outside looking in. In 2009 I was 34th and the gun went off as I left to go out and qualify. We made our way back in the field. That's a stress level that I can't even mention.

So this is a good stress. I don't think the two compare at all.

'14 was great, though. When you're in the car and you're doing what you do and you're doing your job, the adrenaline and everything takes over and you don't have to worry about it. It's when you have to sit here and watch. It's the worst.

Q: Ryan, you've won this race from the middle of the pack before. I mean today is great and you're in the front row but going forward to next Sunday, how much of the voice in the back of your head saying "Montoya is coming and Kanaan is coming" and guys that can win the race from five, ten spots back?

HUNTER-REAY: Absolutely, and they're coming for sure. I looked up some stats and I think the last five years, none of the winners have come from the top ten in qualifying. Hopefully we're going to break that streak this time.

If you have a good car in a 500-mile race, it's going to work its way to the front, for sure. It's a great place to start. The best thing about starting up front is that first stint when everybody's nerves are on edge and all that, you stay out of the beehive behind you back there where it can get a little messy.

Q: Josef, how stressful was the run considering yesterday you ran with the winglets on the back, had more downforce, and once you completed the run to wait for the last five or six guys?

NEWGARDEN: The run itself wasn't terribly bad. I thought we had the car pretty sorted this morning. It was a tough run. I mean it wasn't easy to drive the car but, you know, running around with a little bit more downforce today, it's been hotter. So it kept the speeds up somewhat.

But it was tough. It wasn't, you know, as on the edge as I think it could have been. We tried to make it that way. I think putting it on the ragged edge has not been as successful this weekend. So we tried to not do that.

But it was tough. It was difficult waiting. I was trying to remind myself it's not about — the pole is incredible. You want to win the pole. I wanted to win it so bad. I don't want to make it sound like I didn't want it. It was amazing. I was trying to remind myself we got to win the race, we got to figure out what we got to do to win the race. We've already done a great job getting in the Top Nine. Goal number one yesterday was doing that, and getting a good starting spot today was the second goal. Pole would have been the best of that, but we got the second best. So we'll make that work, I think.

It was a shame we couldn't get the pole, but you can't take anything away from James and Honda and his whole group and his team. They really are a stout operation. It's been a pleasure to compete with them and they did an amazing four laps, as did Ryan and, you know, we all had an equal opportunity to lay it down. They deserve everything they got today.

Q: If I would have written two weeks ago that the Andrettis would have had five cars among the fastest all week, somebody would have committed me. Andretti obviously not dead yet. Where did all this speed come from?

HUNTER-REAY: Not dead yet? (Laughter)

NEWGARDEN: That's harsh. (Laughter)

HUNTER-REAY: We had two bad races this year. Well, there was another that wasn't very good either. We're always strong when we come here, most of the time. At least we have a few cars out of our stable that are always very strong here. So the good thing is we have great race cars. You know, we have cars that are good in traffic. Like Josef said, that's all that matters.

Yeah, no, we're not dead yet. (Laughter)

NEWGARDEN: He's still breathing. I can see it. There's life.

Q: Josef, I saw Ed Carpenter hanging around you as you were about to make the final run. I wanted to ask you real quick, what did you learn from both Ed and JR in regards to the track conditions and how everything was going? Did they give you any advice or was that advice at all for your qualifying run?

NEWGARDEN: Oh, gosh. The whole week you're learning stuff from those guys. It's awesome when you have teammates that are just very talented, very skilled. We can get through a lot of work with three cars compared to one. You know, it's a massive help. All week in practice we're learning things, trying different things, we get to compare.

Today just Ed hanging around. He's won the pole here twice; he knows how to get it done. He's been in that spot. He knows what it's all about. I think for him he was keeping me calm and my head in the right place. He tells me the right things and just wants me to go and get on with it. But it's a huge help.

JR has been a huge asset for our team. I wish we got to work with him more throughout the year. Like I said, it's not even today, it's all week. Everything we do, they're very solid drivers, and I think we all complement each other in some way. So we get to learn so much more over a practice session, a qualifying session with everything that we do.

MODERATOR: We've got one more question. Hinch is on the way.

Q: Ryan, what advice can you give Josef about starting on the front row in the Indianapolis 500? His previous best start was in the third row.

HUNTER-REAY: What advice do I give to what?

He doesn't need any advice, trust me. He's been fast all week and that thing is hauling out there today.

What was up with that first lap?

NEWGARDEN: I don't know. I was actually really shocked when I saw it. (Laughter) I was on the damn limiter like in sixth gear going into One. You have to downshift to fifth for the back stretch, and it was still on the limiter going into Two. Where did that come from?

HUNTER-REAY: No advice. I would say take it easy pretty much the whole race. (Laughter)

NEWGARDEN: Pace myself?

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]HUNTER-REAY: Pace yourself. The best fuel saving is P13, P14. (Laughter)

NEWGARDEN: That's it. Tonight I'm going to go home and get a glass of milk and watch all Ryan's races and study his strategy.

HUNTER-REAY: Glass of milk?

NEWGARDEN: See what I can do to be like Ryan tomorrow — Sunday. (Laughter)

MODERATOR: Well, on that note, I had relative control until the very end. I feel pretty good about it.

Congratulations, guys. Thanks for coming in.

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