|From left, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay and Kanaan|
An interview with:
1st RYAN HUNTER-REAY
2nd JOSEF NEWGARDEN
3rd TONY KANAAN
THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with our Verizon IndyCar Series post race press conference. We are pleased to be joined by Josef Newgarden, our second-place finisher. We are also joined by our third-place finisher Tony Kanaan of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Josef, you tie your career-best finish here, and have your best finish of the season. Tell us about your race.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, it was nice to get a result finally, to be honest with you. You know, a little unorthodox way of getting it. Sometimes you have to make good calls to make that happen.
Right inside the top 10 all day, fought our way up there from 21st. We had to fight back from a qualifying issue. We had a really good car for the most part. I don't think we had a winning car tonight, but we were right in the back half of the top five, definitely right inside the top 10, running with the Andretti guys a lot.
Just really happy about the call we made. That was great. It was like a video game at the end pretty much. A little unfair almost, but it was fun.
I knew it was going to be interesting when I was lined up, Hunter-Reay 9th, Graham 10th, us 11th. You knew it was going to be an interesting end to the race. We just had to find the clean lanes and it really worked out well for us.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, fifth year in a row on podium here at Iowa Speedway. Tell us about your strong result.
TONY KANAAN: Strong result? Well, it was a good one. What can I say? We had a good day. I mean, we lead 247 laps out of 300. I think we showed them what we had. At the end there sometimes strategies and gambles play out. We got played. Fair enough.
I've won races like that, too. I lost today. It's just hard to take it. But I think to win races we got to run up front, and that's what we've been doing in the past three races. We just got to keep doing that. There's nothing I can do about it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Tony, you just said you led 247 laps. Looking back now, was it maybe not better to do it a little bit more slowly and not be so stressful for the tires?
TONY KANAAN: C'mon, there is no way. I was actually running slow. I'm not going to brag about it.
Q. Just the tire wear.
TONY KANAAN: You can't compare new tires to a 20-lap tire or 30-lap tire. I couldn't have done anything different unless I pitted like they did. To do that leading the race, it would have been the craziest move on earth to do it.
So, no, I could not.
Q. Josef, I guess you were maybe informed that Hunter-Reay was changing tires. Was your decision by the team independent or just you came in when you were informed?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, they made it pretty quick. That's what I wanted to do. Looking where we were, we were sitting about eighth right before that last restart. It was like, you know, we just do tires. There's no reason not to with being in eighth position.
Before I could even say anything, they said, We're going to pit for tires. I said, Perfect, that's a good call. They pretty much made it. As soon as they did it, I knew it was the right thing to do. I just didn't know how effective it was going to be.
It was crazy how effective new tires were compared to 30, 35-lap tires. I knew T.K. was running flat there at the end. New tires are so much faster. It was almost easy.
It was cool that it worked out. I didn't think it was going to be that good, but it ended up being incredibly good at the end.
Q. You stepped into a difficult situation with Ganassi this year having to replace somebody like Dario. You were talking about how it would take awhile for things to gel. Are you starting to feel like you're there now?
TONY KANAAN: Of course. I mean, you know, it always takes a little bit to get a bunch of guys to synchronize and work together with a big change like it was. The driver is definitely the most important piece that holds the whole team together.
So I feel comfortable now. They feel comfortable with me. I think I gained their trust. I think I proved we can win races.
We're slowly making big progresses, and I'm extremely comfortable there now. I hope I can give Chip his first win of the year so far because it hasn't been as good a year as we thought it was going to be.
Q. Tony, despite the disappointment the last two races, you have to feel you're a force again in this series. You have to leave here, as far as the competition that you're doing on the track, you're a force again.
TONY KANAAN: Oh, for sure. I always try to look at the positives. I mean, it's not going to do me any good to dwell on the strategy last week and the strategy this week.
We dominated the last two races. For one reason or the other, we didn't win. But to win a race, you got to be up front. That's what we've been doing.
Yeah, I mean, I'm not going to say I'm extremely happy about it, but I am extremely satisfied with the way we're doing things in the team. A win is around the corner, for sure.
We're going to Toronto, a race that Dixon dominated last year, both doubleheaders. We have high hopes there, trying to finish the season on a high note.
Q. Is it better going right to another race next week as opposed to having more time to think about something like tonight?
TONY KANAAN: Like I just said, by tomorrow morning, it's not that I don't care, but I try not to think about it.
I like we have another race next weekend. If we didn't, I was going to take a week off and go to the beach with my wife and do something else.
I think I've done everything I could today. We didn't leave anything on the table. For some circumstances, we didn't win.
So no, not really.
Q. Josef, going back to what we were talking about earlier today, getting better during the season, what does this run do for you and your confidence going forward?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, it's just nice to get a result, to be honest. I think there's other places where we've run stronger. We didn't have a bad car here this weekend. We actually had a really good car, I think. Qualifying didn't reflect what our car was capable of.
We made some errors with that, chose wrong on a couple directions to take, and it bit us. So we started 21st. It doesn't look very promising for the weekend. We fought our way into the top 10 tonight. I think we had a relatively good car to run up there.
So, you know, we definitely probably got more than we deserved tonight. But sometimes you just got to take that. It's nice for us because I think we've had other races where we should have definitely had more than what we got.
Luck is a part of it. Catching the breaks. Tonight we didn't have anything go wrong. Nothing went wrong. Everything went right for us tonight. We ended up with a podium finish. It's good for team morale. Everybody gets down when you're in a slump and results aren't going your way, even when you think they should be going your way, you have performance to show for it.
It's good for our guys. We got really good mechanics, good leadership, good management. If anything, I'm just happy for our group. Hopefully we can build momentum with this. That's really what you got to do. You got to try to take this and roll into it more positives.
Hopefully when we go to Toronto, we'll be a force there.
Q. Josef, after having the result at Pocono and here, would you say the team just has been able to jump up higher than what you were at the start of the season?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Not at all, no. Honestly we're not doing anything different. You really don't. Sometimes you catch the breaks and sometimes you don't.
Like I said, there was performances earlier in the year that were stronger than some of the mid-season performances. For whatever reason it didn't work out.
That's the way it goes. You don't do anything different. You just got to keep your head forward. Hopefully the breaks start falling your way. Tonight I think they fell our way for sure, absolutely. There's no denying it.
You just keep doing that. You keep positive. You keep focused. You keep doing everything that's in your control, keep trying to do things right. Hopefully they just keep coming your way. That's what we got to try and do.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we'll see you in Toronto.
We'll continue with our post race press conference. We are joined by our winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay. This is Ryan's 14th career win, his second win here at Iowa Speedway. Led the final two laps, but those were the ones that counted.
Ryan, take us through the final few laps.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: What a crazy day. That was unreal. We started off with a bang, went for it. Picked up like six spots from the start, turn one and two. Settled into a good rhythm. We were really good on the first two stints.
We had trouble on the track. We had trouble in pit lane. We had trouble all over the place. It wasn't going our way. We were constantly seventh, eighth, ninth. Just couldn't get anything to really go right, you know.
Then at the end Michael Andretti made a bold move there, a pretty bold call, to call me in and take stickers. I didn't think we'd have enough time because of the way things were panning out with Montoya's car and the wall. Credit to the safety team, they got that car cleaned up and we had just enough time to make it happen. We passed Tony coming to the white flag.
It was a lot of fun the last few laps, as I'm sure Newgarden told you. It was unreal. I hope I get to do that sometime again in my career, but I don't think I'll have 10 cars in front of me all on used tires and there I am on new.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Ryan.
Q. Did you restart 10th, 11th?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Sorry, I don't know. I think it was 10th. I was told I was 10th. I don't know if that's right.
THE MODERATOR: It was 10th.
Q. How many did you get the first couple on the restart?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don't know. It was a blur those first few laps because it was just picking a line, picking a line, slicing through them.
I think we got at least four of them on the first lap. I was surprised how quick Tony was, though, on used tires like that. He took a while to catch. I felt like I had to duck my head down just to catch up to him. He was pretty hooked up.
Q. Did you expect that pace on the final restart?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I was expecting the tires to be really, really good because we had a bunch of restarts. You understand how the tires kind of come in and fall off.
I didn't know how the tires would be performing on the cars in front of me, the used tires. I didn't know how bad that would be. Those guys were having a lot of push, understeer off the corners.
It was an exciting night. The tire degradation is like that so the racing is exciting. I think it made for a good show.
The gamble with that is when you do take new tires, you might not have enough time. Every track is different with how they come in, fall off. It was a pretty big gamble. Thanks to Michael Andretti for making it.
Q. Did you see Josef?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I didn't see him, no. I looked in my mirror after passing Tony, I didn't see anybody back there. I wasn't too worried. I saw Josef on the podium. He must have been pretty close to me because he's a new tire guy.
It was a wild last few laps and it was good to see Josef get a good result.
Q. Compare the frustration of the first 250 laps with being Superman in the last 10.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I mean, I was really frustrated at times. I've learned in the years of experience that I've had in the Verizon IndyCar Series that you just have to keep your head in it. No matter what, you have to charge hard and be ready for it. Whether it's a street circuit, short oval, races can turn. You have to put yourself in a position every time to take advantage of that, put yourself in a better position, get that car in front of you, whatever it is, just keep plugging away.
We made the right call and we had the car that could take it, so it was good.
Q. I guess you've proven this year in both the Indianapolis 500 and tonight it doesn't really matter where you start.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, thanks. It didn't matter where we started, especially those first few laps, we plugged away at it. I thought we had the car to win that first stint. I thought this is going to be great. You know, when a car is hooked up like that, you get a feeling at the beginning of a race that you might have a car worthy of winning.
I had that feeling. Then as the temperature came down, the car changed, things got complicated. Wasn't really going our way. But we made the right call. I was really aggressive on the restart, made it through there.
It was close passing T.K. coming to the white flag. But we definitely stole one tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, just speak a little bit to the strength of Andretti Autosport at this track. I asked Michael, and he said it was the power of the corn. Would you agree with that?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's the Honda power.
I don't know. We've just been historically good on short ovals. Tonight tells us we need to do a little bit of work. The record looks really good. We got a win out of it, making the right call. I drove really hard the last few laps.
But we're going to go back and do some homework for Milwaukee.
Q. You've talked about it several times, but can you explain the sensation of going by cars 20 miles an hour faster than them?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, you know that you have to keep your momentum up. If you crack the momentum at all, if you kill it from a guy coming down and getting in your line or something like that, then you're probably not going to have enough time to catch the leader, which was Tony at the time.
I had to be very careful of where I put the car and where I chose to take it, which lane I chose to put it in.
The biggest thing is the new tires were so good off the corners. I was able to duck down, stay on the bottom, just run the bottom. Everybody else was having too much understeer or push and they were coming up off that bottom. I was able to keep my foot flat in it. I was in sixth gear the whole way around the track the last bunch of laps. I hadn't been up there all night.
I don't want to say I was sitting there smiling in the car, but it was a lot of fun. I don't know how to describe it other than to me it felt like a video game because you're picking them off. Most of the time that doesn't happen like that.
It was just like warp speed. Cars were just flying by one after the other. We're going to the front. First you see 10 cars in front of you, then eight, then it's four, you see Tony closing up. I knew we had a shot at it, but that was pretty cool how it ended. I didn't think we'd have enough time.
Q. Concerning the short ovals. I was able to do a pace car lap today. For me it looks like going to the bottom line is much faster. What's the best way?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It depends on what your car is doing. This place, it changes a lot during a race. But running the bottom's a tighter radius so you're really abusing that right front tire. Running the higher line, that's a longer way around the track. It's more distance, but it saves the tires a little bit maybe.
It really depends on the car you have. I think tonight we saw a lot of different lines because everybody has a different balance, dealing with a different situation. My line was different than most anybody I ran around.
You're looking for that clear track to get air on the nose.
Q. Hot, humid, physical factor of this racetrack. Was it fatiguing?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: This place is always physical. It's as physical as a road or street course. The steering is heavy. This is the highest G loading we have in the series, four and a half Gs in the corners. It's crazy.
In the car the sensation is like you're coming down and doing a U-turn real quick. You can actually feel the car rotate. By the time you feel it, you're coming out of a corner. It's a strange feeling, you don't know if the rear is going to come around or not. It's just heavy. You can't breathe.
On the qualifying deal, I mentioned after that, I don't think I took a breath during the whole thing just because you're constantly turning. It's very intense.
The bumps make it intense as well. The car is moving around the whole time. It's a great oval. This place races like no other track in the world. It's very unique. It's definitely a staple of the Verizon IndyCar Series. It is a major part of our racing.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan Hunter-Reay is nominated for an ESPY coming up.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Good point. Thank you. Please vote. Up against Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. Scott and I share the nomination for INDYCAR. Because we won tonight, maybe you guys could give us a vote. That would be cool (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We'll see you in Toronto.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thank you.