THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with our Verizon IndyCar Series practice day press conference. We're pleased to be joins by the drivers of CFH Racing, Luca Filippi and Josef Newgarden.
Josef, you went out in first practice earlier this morning. What did you do when the team learned you were third fastest?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think we had a very good first session, like Luca. The whole team, we rolled off the truck really well, which is important. IndyCar now, it's critical that you roll off pretty good. If you don't, it can be a tougher weekend to catch up.
The people that were good in the first session just keep getting better and better. We have a good base to work off of. It would have been better if we were 1-2. First practice, doesn't really mean anything. Hopefully we can roll that into tomorrow and be solid. It would be nice to get a good event for us.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]We've struggled a little bit over the last month and a half. Ever since May really we haven't been able to get back in our stride. I think we have a great performance, really good car, really good team. Luca and me should be good. We haven't hit our stride really. Hopefully it's going to be this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: You actually went out on the balcony of the CNN Tower at the very top I think last year. Toronto is a fun place to explore. You got in the middle of that.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it was a horrible deal. That was last year. I don't like heights. I really don't like heights, so I don't know why I did that.
We drive Indy cars. Especially at Indianapolis, you think about the speeds we run around there, what we do. That's not scary to me. Driving cars on a track, when you're on the ground, it's not freaky at all. But I hate heights. I don't really like heights at all.
That was really scary going up on the tower, and I don't want to do it again. I've gotten that out of the way. Yeah, just looking forward to driving the car now.
THE MODERATOR: Luca, does Toronto hold some fond memories for you making your first start here?
LUCA FILIPPI: I’ve raced here before. That's special to me because it's the very first race for me that I get here and I know how the circuit is. I actually raced here before. So instead of having to learn everything from the very beginning, I know what to expect from the car, what to expect from the circuit, and go from there.
Actually, was very good from the very beginning. Me and Josef, we had the opportunity to push and be at the top. That was important. Also the fact that we now I think found a very good baseline, very good setup for street courses. I think in Detroit we didn't show our performances, but I think we were competitive.
So far a very clean weekend. We came with a good car. I knew the circuit. So here we are. I just hope we can continue on this level. I think so. Especially if you have a wet session like today, it's very important to start very well from the very first one. You can't afford to lose time at all.
THE MODERATOR: Do you think Josef or somebody from the team might be able to entice you to go onto the CNN Tower? Are you afraid of heights as well?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Don't do it, Luca. Actually, you should, it's great.
LUCA FILIPPI: I bet it's great. Maybe Sunday night after a good result, I maybe go and enjoy the Toronto city from up there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q: You went up the elevator or the edge walk?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I did the edge walk. That is not cool.
It's weird 'cause you would think you're not really doing anything crazy, not like bungee jumping off of it, right? It's almost more freaky because you have to trust you can hang off this tower.
Again, I don't like heights, so it was not enjoyable. I didn't enjoy it at all. But cool experience, I guess, right? It's a fun deal. If you don't like heights, I don't recommend doing it.
Q: What do you think of Toronto in general?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Toronto's great. You know what's unfortunate, is this is one of the best cities we go to for having a great time, in the city, racing Indy cars. That's what INDYCAR is all about. You want to come to a great street course. A lot of heritage. You also want to enjoy the city you go to and the people.
I think Toronto is the best. I was out last night with a couple of my crew guys. They were talking about stories they had here in the past, how they used to love getting here earlier. They used to get in on a Wednesday night, have fun on a Wednesday night, not worry as much because it's an easier day Thursday. They would stay Sunday night and party it up and have a great night in Toronto.
We get in Thursday, we normally leave right after the race. Unless you win, then you probably stick around.
It's a great city. You can find really good food here, a lot of different flavors. People are nice here, very good IndyCar fans, passionate. It's a fantastic city to go racing in. It's very much an INDYCAR town that's one of the highlights.
THE MODERATOR: I know it's hard to think beyond the race right now. You're in the middle of a 10-week stretch of on-track activity, your first off weekend coming up this following weekend. What will both of you be doing for your first off weekend in quite a while?
LUCA FILIPPI: From my point of view, it's a bit different because I don't race ovals. It's going to be Ed Carpenter racing the 20 car for the oval races. After this race, my next one is in Mid-Ohio. I have some free time.
In between, there is the due date of my wife. We're expecting a little girl. It's going to be kind of exciting and entertaining July for us.
So, yeah, a lot of things to do. I'm looking forward to it.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't know. You know, geez, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm probably going to sleep. This is the weirdest thing to say. You get so mentally fatigued. It's not an exciting answer, but it's funny how drained you get after running a lot of weekends in a row. There's a lot of racing series that run even more than we do back-to-back.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Indy car (racing) is so mentally draining. There's something about this series, the cars, they're difficult to drive sometimes, under trying conditions. To get a weekend off is huge.
I think more so, really the crews are what need time off. They don't have maybe the mental strain, but physically they're just worn out. They really need a week off.
It's just going to be nice. I'll probably go home to Nashville see my family, relax a little bit.
Q: How has the track changed this year?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I heard someone said it was bumpier. I don't think it's any different. The only change they've made from years past, even last year, is Turn 5. They've moved the wall back. They put a big curb there on the apex of five, then an apex curb on (Turn 9). Other than that, the track is identical to years past. Hasn't changed at all.
Q: What would you say is the toughest part of the circuit?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Man, it's tough all over. The biggest thing about Toronto, it's different than other places. We race at Detroit, right? Detroit is all concrete. Detroit is grippy. It's got grippy concrete.
The concrete here in Toronto is terribly slippery, slippy. Yeah, that's a word, you can use it. The funny thing about Toronto, you have concrete patches on the apex of every corner. They're so slippery here that it's really difficult on each apex that has the concrete patch to get the car to work properly over it.
Luca and me and the engineers, we were having a big discussion about the concrete patches, how we can make the car better to work over the concrete. That's the trickiest part of this track, figuring out how to make the car work over that.
Generally you need to drive the car over the patch without doing anything. You want to carry a lot of speed over the patch. That's the trickiest part, in my opinion. It makes it really unique in my opinion.
LUCA FILIPPI: Same thing. That makes it very tricky from the driving point of view because actually you're braking in kind of a surface, when you turn it's another surface again, then you get on the concrete patch in the apex, so you lose grip. You expect to gain more grip at the end of the exit when you don't have the patch anymore. It's tricky.
Also from the setup point of view, you have to find a compromise between the slippery parts and the more grippy parts. There are some also a couple of corners where you just have some asphalt, which makes it a little bit more predictable and consistent.
Makes it very difficult for us driving and for the engineers to make a perfect setup.
Q: (Question regarding the fans and a rainy session, not having a show.)
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's really a team decision. I think the biggest thing is it looks like it's going to be clear tomorrow and Sunday. There's not a lot of point in going out and practicing in trickier conditions, possibly wrecking race cars.
I think more so for our team, we had a tough month of May. We lost two racecars. We've had a lot of crashed cars since.
To be honest, it's been hard on us. I think we're a little more cautious. I don't know why everyone else decided not to. Pretty much the same reason, though. There's no reason to go tear up a car.
If it looked like it would be raining all weekend, you'd have everybody out there for sure. We'd want to be out on the track learning.
We don't want to not run. It's not like we're scared of running in the wet, it's just a matter of priorities. Right now it looks like it's going to be sunny tomorrow and nice Sunday.
It's a shame for the fans, you're right. You don't want to be in the paddock when the fans are out there coming to see you.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, good luck this weekend.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Thank you.
LUCA FILIPPI: Thank you.