IZOD IndyCar Series driver Katherine Legge participated in an INDYCAR conference call to discuss her return to the IZOD IndyCar Series at Sonoma. Legge, driver of the No. 6 TrueCar Dragon Racing Chevrolet, has made eight starts in her rookie season in the IZOD IndyCar Series with a best finish of 15th at Texas and Iowa. She will be making her first start at Sonoma later this month and joins Simona de Silvestro as female drivers entered in the race.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to today's IndyCar conference call. We will have two guests today, both of who are returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series in two weeks when the series resumes at Sonoma.
Later on we'll be joined by Sebastian Saavedra of Andretti Autosport, but first we're joined by Katherine Legge of Dragon Racing.
Katherine is a rookie in the IZOD IndyCar Series and will be returning to the series after a brief layoff at Sonoma. Katherine, how excited are you to get back in the car for the test at Sonoma next week?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Very excited. It was really disappointing when Sebastian and myself couldn't do all of the races each, if you like, like it was planned to run two cars for the full season. Yeah, I'm just really, really looking forward to getting back in the car.
It's been difficult. We're so grateful to Chevrolet because without them we'd be in a really bad place right now. They've been the knights in shining armor, if you want. They came to our rescue.
We're building, improving, and hopefully we can do the same at Sonoma and look forward to next year almost now. That's what we're working on already.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned you and Sebastian each had full-time efforts and then the team had to reduce to one car after Indy. You haven't been in a car for a road and street course since Brazil. How do you prepare yourself to get back in the road and street circuit mentality?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, that's a really, really good question because it's tough. I think it was Barber or Sao Paulo was my last race on a road or street course. Luckily we have the test there next week.
But I've just been training physically to get ready for it. I've been driving on the simulator. I've been watching YouTube videos. I asked the team to send me some data. I mean, I'm doing everything outside of the car that I can possibly do. There's no substitute for actually driving the car.
THE MODERATOR: We have seen you at numerous races supporting your fellow TrueCar Racing team members and Dragon Racing, of course. What does a driver do to fill time when you know you're not going to be driving but you want to be at the circuit?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, it's tough being at the track and not driving because obviously as a racer you just want to be out there, you want to be driving, you want to be competing. But they've kept me busy. They have me doing a lot of other things.
I've been trying to learn as much as I can outside the car for next year because Mid-Ohio, Edmonton, Toronto, they're all places that I think we're going back to, although I'm not entirely sure, so if I can learn anything now for next year, that's good.
Also we have to put on a united front because it's been a very difficult year for everybody in Dragon Racing. As I said, we also want to show how thankful we are to Chevrolet for picking up the pieces for us and helping us out so much because without them I wouldn't be talking to you right now, I'd be in a very different place.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up for questions for Katherine Legge.
Q. Can you walk us through how the Chevy engine showed up? Was it like they called you up and said, We have an engine? Was it a long-term project?
KATHERINE LEGGE: You know, I don't know all the ins-and-outs of what happened. Obviously that isn't part of my job description – fortunately for me. But I know that we were very much pursuing Chevrolet because going into Indy we were desperate to have a Chevy, and they were very gracious and let us both run Indy. I mean, with all the stress and strain that they're under as well, being the first year, having so many cars, everything else, they did us a huge favor. You can't underestimate the power of that.
Obviously, with Sonoma being such a big one for both myself and Sebastian sponsorship-wise, it's my home race with TrueCar. All the other girls are going to be there. Virgin has come onboard. We have lots of fun media stuff we're doing. On Sebastian's side there's the McAfee thing. And they're based there, as well. For us it's like the biggest race of the year.
I think, again, Chevy are just doing us a huge favor in stretching their own resources to help us out, which is just a testament to what kind of company they are really.
Q. I don't think you've driven Sonoma before, have you?
KATHERINE LEGGE: No, never.
Q. You've seen the improvements they've made. Do you have an opinion on whether that will help, hurt? What do you think of the track adjustments that are being made?
KATHERINE LEGGE: I really can't comment because I haven't driven on either. Well, I did about 20 laps of Sonoma back when Sebastian was testing there about a month ago. That was really just to kind of do a shake-down. So I can't really comment on how it's going to affect it racing-wise or anything like that.
But I have to believe that the powers that be know what they're doing and they've made the changes for the better. I don't think they would change it for the worst, or at least I hope they wouldn't. I think it will probably be a good thing.
Q. For you and Sebastian having made such strides having the Chevy on road and street courses, what are your realistic expectations given how deep the field is?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah, I don't have any expectations going into Sonoma. I will after the test there next week. After that I'll be able to form my own opinions.
I just need to be as close to Sebastian in times as I can because we're pretty much going to be driving the same setup with the same car because I don't have an engineer at the moment.
I think top 12 would be awesome, but I haven't been in the car for so long. A top 12 would be a really good result.
THE MODERATOR: Talk a little bit about the TrueCar initiative, the Women Empowered Initiative. I know it's something that you believe in, leading the rest of the girls up the ladder.
KATHERINE LEGGE: Absolutely. I think it's really a ground-breaking initiative that TrueCar is doing, supporting the six of us, endeavoring to get us the best equipment to succeed.
It's definitely very cool to have a family atmosphere towards it. We're helping each other out, speaking to each other. It's a process, and TrueCar understand that. I think TrueCar are very happy that we're on schedule with our improvements and our progress.
It's not going to happen overnight that all six of us are on the podium. But basically what they're doing is what they do in real life with the car business is the same they're doing in racing. I mean, they're giving people in real life the tools and information they need when they're buying a car because they realize that can be a scary experience walking into a dealership. They take that out of the equation and say, This is what everybody else paid, this is what we can offer you.
If you haven't been on their website, I would advise you to go on their website because it's very cool. Anybody buying a car should definitely do, because it takes the hassle out, so when you walk into a dealership you're doing the right thing and getting the right price for a car.
In racing they're doing the same thing. They're empowering us with the tools we need to succeed. Like I said, it's a process. We will succeed. It's going to take time. But, yeah, it's a very, very cool initiative.
When you think about it, I think somebody quoted me the other day saying 80% of all cars bought are influenced by women. 80% aren't bought by women, but what they mean by 'influenced' is your mom, sister, wife or daughter says, I like that one, or, I don't like this one as much as this one, yada, yada, yada.
It's foresight, if you like. It's so difficult to explain. I thought we'd have some female fans at the beginning of the year. I thought it's going to be really cool. It's going to be all about girl power. This is why they're doing it.
But actually I realized, everybody has a sister, mother, daughter, wife, what have you. So the guys actually get behind it, too, which is really cool.
So I think it's definitely way before its time, the program, and I'm very excited and proud to be a part of it.
Q. We can tell you're excited about being in the car for Sonoma. Any plans to be in the car after that race, as well?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Yeah. I'll definitely be driving Fontana, the last race of the year. And Baltimore at the moment is scheduled to be Sebastian. Unless anything changes, that's the plan.
Q. You talked about being at the track with Sebastian and not running, helping the team out, saying that was useful. Was it difficult, as well, watching them do the laps? How did you cope with that?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Oh, yeah, absolutely. It's brutal. It's really hard because you want to be out there. You want to be driving. You want to be competing. Yeah, especially when he's doing well, you think, That's a good car, I wish I could be driving that now. It's like Mid-Ohio. You kind of feel good for them, but it's frustrating more than anything.
But, like I said before, this year's been a lesson in patience for me and I've definitely grown as a person. You have to look at the bigger picture and realize the opportunities you've been given and how to make yourself the best you can possibly be moving forward.
Yeah, it's a battle inside of yourself emotionally. You just have to get control of that. I think I've done a remarkable job of it really.
Q. Do you think you'll have to calm yourself down before Sonoma, that you'll be too hyped up and freaked out?
KATHERINE LEGGE: No, I'm very calm and cool (laughter).
Q. Do you have any idea if both cars will be in TrueCar livery or is it going to be like Indy where it's your car, TrueCar, and Sebastian is in the McAfee, black and silver, what have you?
KATHERINE LEGGE: I have no idea. The only reason I would see they would both be in TrueCar, it's McAfee and TrueCar, because of the color it looks more TrueCar-y. The only reason I can see for that happening is they don't have time to repaint them, otherwise there would be absolutely no reason why.
Q. Going back to the TrueCar Women Empowered movement, one of your teammates Ashley got a very good result at Three Rivers this past weekend. What kind of advice are you offering her as one of her older and more experienced teammates?
KATHERINE LEGGE: I think Ashley is doing a remarkable job herself. We both share the same driver coach in Mike Zemicki. He's more in her ear than I am. She's doing the stuff outside of the car. She's very focused. She's looking at data. She's training hard.
I'm just there to help them. I'm not there on a daily basis like Mike. I'd say she probably gets more of a benefit out of Mike, for sure.
Q. Do they come to you for advice on and off the track?
KATHERINE LEGGE: Sometimes, yeah. I like it when they do because it makes me feel wanted. Sometimes just for a chat. Sometimes it's good to vent. Sometimes it's good to ask advice. Sometimes it's good to chit-chat about general stuff. I talk to some of them more than others. Just the nature of my racing, I don't know too much about the MX-5 Cup or the rallying that Marina and Emily do. I'm making an effort to find out and look into it. I can relate much more to Sherry, Ashley and Shannon than the other two because this is what I've known for the most part of my life. It's always been road racing, open-wheel orientated. That's what I know and that's what I feel comfortable giving advice on. I don't feel comfortable telling somebody what they should do or offering advice when I don't know myself.
THE MODERATOR: We thank Katherine for her time today and wish her and Dragon Racing the best of luck in a couple weeks at Sonoma.
KATHERINE LEGGE: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: We had hoped Sebastian Saavedra would be joining us, but it seems that he is issues dialing in from Colombia. We will try to schedule him for another time and apologize for any inconvenience this causes. With that we will wrap-up today's IndyCar conference call.