|Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrates with team owner Michael Andretti|
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post race press conference. We are pleased to be joined by Mike Conway. This is Mike's best finish of the season, and Mike's previous best finish of the season was seventh at Barber. This is also the team's best finish at Toronto. I believe it's the team's first podium since our very first race at Brazil.
Mike, congratulations on a great run. Big mover starting from 11th up to 3rd. Walk us through your race.
MIKE CONWAY: It was a good day. We started out kind of hanging in there. I could see the other guys were going off around me. Kind of hung in there, was picking off people. The car was really strong down into turn three. I could pretty much pass everybody without using the 'push to pass' too much.
The car felt good. Obviously we missed out with the safety car coming out right at the end of our stint. That was unfortunate. But I knew if we kept doing what we were doing, we would be able to work our way back up to the front.
A bit of the struggle on the middle stint in the beginning. I waited for the other guys' tires to go off and started picking off guys again. The guys did a great job in the pit stops. At the end, just kept on picking people off.
At the last restart, went inside of Charlie. We got a little bit close into turn one but we both made it through. Great to get a podium. Really happy.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. You just referenced going into the corner with Kimball. Did you make contact?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, a little bit. I knew it was getting a bit close. I was trying to back out of it as much as I could. I just touched his rear wheel. That kind of sent him a little bit sideways. Got through the corner.
Yeah, I couldn't quite see, that's why he was moving over on the inside.
Q. Mike, when you were being interviewed on television, they told you that Foyt wouldn't come to Victory Lane until you won. Is he a tough guy to work for? He's a gruff guy, rough guy. What's he really like to work for?
MIKE CONWAY: No, A.J. is great. He wants to win as much as everyone else. It's quite funny. That just makes me want to win even more. I mean, this podium is for A.J. today. Happy to get this result. Obviously we want to win and he does as well.
I've enjoyed my time. He's a great guy. Obviously he wants to win so he's very passionate and wants the best out of everybody. Yeah, that's just the way he is.
Q. Were you surprised that it looked like it was going to be an uneventful race as far as crashes, then all of a sudden it came back to rear up its head in the final restart?
MIKE CONWAY: I'm sorry?
Q. Just how this course that's known for its crashes…
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, no, definitely. I think right at the end, so many marbles offline there was no real chance to sweep. That made the restart even more difficult.
Normally you see a fair amount of safety cars in here. It was an all-out spin race for me. I was constantly busy trying to pass people. It was a tough race. I enjoyed every bit of it.
Q. The two races entering this weekend we saw how good Ryan Hunter-Reay was on the short ovals, now the street courses. How formidable do you see him?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, Ryan has done a fantastic job. Three wins in a row on different types of courses. It's fantastic. All credit to him.
Yeah, you know, he's definitely a contender for the championship. He's leading it now. Will had a bad one and Dario, too. He's definitely on a run. Got to try to slow him down a bit.
Q. How would you characterize the ending of this race? You won at Long Beach. What did you think of the restart at the end?
MIKE CONWAY: From my perspective I'd have liked to have raced it out. I felt like we could have passed a few more cars. There were only a few laps left. Obviously they couldn't get it all cleaned up in time.
Yeah, I would have liked to have had more laps, because that was our day. We were working our way up and passing people. But, you know, it doesn't always fall your way.
Pretty happy with what we achieved today.
Q. Do you think IndyCar should have green-white-checkered finishes?
MIKE CONWAY: I don't know. I mean, that's a tricky one. I think that's just going to cause more crashes and more expense for everybody if you did it like that. It's pretty tricky to do all that. With the amount of marbles we had, we would have had to swept for another four or five laps. It wouldn't have been good.
Q. What about the fans?
MIKE CONWAY: Obviously you always want to race it out and finish under green. But, you know, I watched that race at Daytona last night. That gets pretty messy. I know it's different racing for us.
It is really tight here. We saw last year on all the restarts there were accidents. I don't know. Unfortunately it does finish under yellow sometimes. That's just racing.
Q. Would you have liked to have seen a red flag, close the track, get the people that have crashed off, then have a restart? Would that be better?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I don't know. I don't think that would have been good because you're stopping a race to fight out for another lap. I don't know if it's the best thing to do, to be honest.
If we'd have finished under green obviously the fans would be happier, but I think they've had a pretty good day. It was great to see all the fans out today. I think there was lots of action all the way through the race. I don't know. It's a hard one.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to come in today. Congratulations on the podium.
MIKE CONWAY: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Charlie Kimball. This is a career-best finish in IndyCar for Charlie. He finished 25th last year in his only previous start in Toronto. Of note, it was an American 1-2 finish here on the podium. The last time we had that was the 2006 Indy 500.
Charlie, talk about getting this podium finish after coming back from that early race contact with your teammate.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I wasn't going to make the point it was an American 1-2 since we're in Canada.
You know, it was a long, fun day, to be honest. I love racing here because it's a great event. The fans are awesome. Mike pointed out how great the crowd was today. You can feel that in the car.
From the start we had a really good car, making spots up. I think we put our self in a good position setup-wise and strategy-wise. Qualifying I missed the top six by like a 10th, so we had a couple extra sets of tires to play with. That came into play towards the end of the race.
I made a move on Graham knowing we were pitting that lap hoping I could clear him and just help myself out a little bit getting into pit lane. Ended up not working out. Sort of bounced off the tire wall to be able to keep going.
The four guys that went by me, Oh, man, I'm going to have to pass those guys again.
We came into the pits, put new reds on, then the yellow fell our way with the pits being closed. It worked to our advantage, for sure. But we had the car to be able to run really competitive lap times and save enough fuel so the end of the race we were able to be super quick and make the mileage we needed.
A lot of credit has to go to the team. The whole Chip Ganassi Racing organization this weekend has been fast. I think we learned a lot from each other. At the end of the day the car was quick. We got a good result, a really good result. Chip said in the prerace meeting today that points are important. I'm disappointed not to come out with maximum points obviously, but second is a lot better than 13th, where we started, or even eighth where my previous career best was.
It's great to put the 83 car here in Canada on the podium, represent not just Americans, but also with Type I diabetes and diabetes around the world.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Mr. Bourdais didn't think quite so highly of that last incident. He was quoted saying that you didn't deserve a podium finish. Can you talk a little bit about what happened on that in turn one.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think everybody was in a bit of a tight spot there because they didn't sweep. We were all in the marbles coming through the last corner, at least those of us that tried to pair up and get offline, get next to the cars ahead of us.
Sebastien got a good run and followed Ryan to the outside. I used the draft and the overtake button, caught up, went down the inside, and Mike steamed up the inside of me. I didn't think there was room without using the pit lane for Mike to get up inside of me.
He made the move. When we got to the apex, he made contact with my side pod. Because I'd been forced to go through the marbles, I slid out, and Sebastien on the outside wasn't even wheel-to-wheel. It was to the point where he was starting to fall back behind me. I thought he was backing out of the move to set up for turn three.
I was reasonably surprised when he came around and he was still stopped there. I think that's more a function of the restart and trying to do a two-wide restart after such a long green run without working on the marbles.
I think race control and the drivers association need to discuss with five laps to go, trying to finish under green, maybe we go for a single file restart instead of sweeping two-wide, because that way we can have a race, give ourselves an opportunity to go racing. I don't think it's safe to ask the drivers to attempt a double-wide restart without sweeping the marbles.
I think that incident, both in turn one and three, was more a function of that than anything else.
Q. How do you measure the importance of this finish for your career?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think one of my favorite quotes is — somebody asked a team owner what his best race win was. He said, The next one. So today is important, yes. It's good for my confidence. It's good for the team's confidence. I think we're building both car and driver together, have the foundation built, now it's time to get the results.
But it's all about moving forward and learning from here rather than relying on this to continue to keep my career moving.
Second's good; a win's better.
Q. Charlie, I haven't been at the Ganassi team meetings. What is it going to be like to be the best guy in the stable for a week or two?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I'm not sure that I would call myself the best guy in the stable when I'm measuring up against champions like Dario and Scott. We're going to get to Edmonton and I'm still going to be learning from them.
In fact, I'm going to be looking through their data this weekend to see what I can learn coming back for next year.
We weren't quickest in all the practice. We didn't qualify on pole and we didn't win, so there's still improvements to be made.
I think it's going to feel good, don't get me wrong. It feels really good to have only been beaten by one guy. There's still one part of me that is really angry that I got beat by one guy, got this close to a win and finished second.
It's going to feel good. The fact that both Chip and Michael are big proponents of the expansion, championship-caliber racing management, stuck around to congratulate me, were so impressed with my lap times, fuel saving, doing what I needed to do when I needed to do it, meant a lot to me as an inexperienced driver.
Q. From a fellow diabetic, talk about the pressure you're under to run an IndyCar race, whether it's Indianapolis or Toronto.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think physically if I do my job in the gym training and preparation, anytime I get in the racecar it should be easier than the time I spend in the gym. That's a lot of credit to my trainers in Indy.
Dr. Peterson does a great job with my management team. Usually when I'm in the racecar, all I have to focus on is driving. The fact that I can do so well is living proof that diabetes doesn't have to be in your mind to do what you love.
As far as other racing pressure, I think I put more pressure on myself to get results than anyone else ever could. That will never change because that's the competitive personality I am.
Q. Let's be frank. You've had some of your critics questioning whether you've been deserving of this ride over the last year. Do you feel this is vindication for you?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think the modern racing driver is more than the guy that just gets in the car. It's an evolution of the last couple years. It takes more than driving to become an IndyCar driver.
Gone are the days when drivers show up Friday morning and go home Sunday night. We're all integral to our partnerships, commercially, motorsports. We're as much champions in the boardroom as we are on the racetrack.
I think the results on the racetrack, I've tried to follow Chip's lead. He has so much experience winning championships. Last year he sat me down and said, How many races have you done? I said, Five. He said, How many do you want to do? I said, Forever. You've done five. You want to do 500, you have a long ways to go.
Last year the focus was experience and laps and finishing races. This year is starting to build on that and get results in the second half of the season. We're starting to show that. Being in a position for the team and I to grow together is a lot of credit to Chip and Mike and Mitch Davis working together to collaborate into one four-car team.
Q. What does it mean for IndyCar and its fan base south of the border to have Ryan Hunter-Reay be on this roll and to have Americans finish 1-2 here?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think it's fantastic. I think I've always been a proponent that, yeah, being an American will help me in my younger career to get a drive.
Sure, I'll use it. At the end of the day I want to be beating the best if they're from Mars or America. At the end of the day it's about winning against the best. I think you're seeing that.
Ryan is on quite the roll. The fact that Graham finished second at Texas earlier this year, the American drivers are starting to show well. I think that's more an indication of us as drivers and less an indication of our nationality.
Having said that, I think it's great for the fan base. It's very much a North American championship. I'm going to enjoy rubbing it in Mr. Hinchcliffe's face that I finished second in his hometown because we're pretty good friends and train together. I might point out that my blue shoes worked really well for me today.
Q. Can you talk about the pass from fourth to second there.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It wasn't simple, no. I'd gotten a really good run out of turn one. I knew that Pagenaud and Kanaan were backing up to me. They were having to save more fuel than me. We were taking better care of the red tires. Both of them had been — Pagenaud for sure had been in Q2 in qualifying and had run a set of reds. He was on used reds. Kanaan was sort of slowing pace-wise saving fuel.
I got a really good run out of turn one. Thought of going to the overtake button. I only had 23 seconds left. I have to save it. If we have a shootout at the end of the race, I'm going to need it. We'll just settle in, let him burn his tires off, and run here and see what happens.
I could see him when he took the button. He's going for T.K. he got a really good run on Tony through the inside. Tony is king of the late breakers. The fact that Simon wasn't alongside when they went to the brakes means that Simon had to brake really late.
I braked as late as I could, and I thought that neither of them were going to make the corner. I turned in, hit the concrete patch, put my foot down, and my Honda drove past them. They were both locking wheels, knocking off each other trying to stay out of the wall. I just kind of ran it clean and got the thing spooled up.
Once I had clear air, the understeer I was fighting went away and my lap times could drop and I could hit a better fuel mileage. My engineer was telling me, You're getting what you need fuel mileage. You're catching Hunter-Reay. You don't have enough laps to go after him. You're four seconds ahead of the 77. Take care of the tires in case we got a restart.
That proved to be the case.
Q. How much has your awareness level gone up since your sponsor started doing the commercials?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It's been significant this year, I think. That's as much a growth of the partnership with the prime time commercials, the sort of traditional media work that I do, as well as just momentum building from last year. It's more significant now than it ever has been.
I'm very fortunate that I'm able to reach a broader audience with my message. That's important to me.
Tuesday I was in Orlando, Florida at children with diabetes doing a defensive driving course for young people with diabetes. The fact that I could get in a car and teach them how a professional driver with diabetes races with diabetes, teach them some tips and tricks for the road as far as avoiding incidents, being heads up, it's fortunate for me and very fulfilling at the same time.
THE MODERATOR: Charlie, thank you for joining us today. Congratulations on the first podium.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We are very pleased to be joined by today's winning team owner Michael Andretti. Your name is synonymous here at Toronto. Talk about getting the first win as a team owner.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: What can I say, I love Toronto. I think everybody knows that. It's been a great track to me as a driver. We struggled here a little bit from the owner's standpoint. It was great to finally get to Victory Lane.
Ryan did a fantastic drive. The team did great pit stops. The whole DHL team, couldn't ask for a better team for them.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
All today's top three drivers at some point in their career drove for Michael's team.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: That's pretty cool.
Q. Michael, in 1989, your first win here, tremendous feeling. Is there any similarity at all to today, your first win as an owner? And are there six more to come?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I hope so.
I don't know. It's always different as an owner and a driver. They're both really special in their way. As a driver there's more of that self-satisfaction. As an owner it's a great feeling, too. More the camaraderie of the people.
I feel happy for everybody on the team that has worked so hard. But it's great. I do hope there's more than six, because hopefully I can be an owner a lot longer than I was a driver.
Q. Three weeks ago Ryan wins at Milwaukee, they say he wins at Milwaukee. He wins at Iowa; he's great on the short tracks. Now it's three in a row. How formidable do you see him being in the championship?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think he's a real factor in the championship. He's really strong on these types of tracks as well. He doesn't have a weakness when he's driving. That's what you need to have as a driver. As a team owner, to have a driver like that, that's something we liked about Ryan, that we could be competitive on all types of tracks.
We're looking forward to the next how many races we have. I don't think there's a weak track for him.
Q. Michael, James Hinchcliffe came into this weekend with a lot of expectation locally. He had a disappointing weekend. Can you talk about that.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I feel bad for him because he was doing a helluva job. He was going to be a factor for the win watching the times he was running. They did a good strategy as well, and then his engine had a problem which was a shame.
It wasn't anything Ryan did wrong. I think he was driving a helluva race. The whole Go Daddy team is doing a good job with their strategy.
I thought we were looking at a really strong contender there. I was hoping for a shot at the 1-2. I mean, he just had bad luck, plain and simple.
Q. Michael, as a driver and as an owner you've seen streaks. What do you advise your driver who is probably on the hottest streak of his career how to handle it going into the next few races?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Don't do anything different than you've been doing the last three races. He's been late every Thursday for his engineering meeting, so he's got to plan on being late for the next one in Edmonton.
I don't think Ryan should do anything different. I don't think the team should do anything different. We should just continue to do our job. If everybody does their job, we should be okay. If there's no mistakes made the rest of the year, I think we have a good shot at winning the championship.
THE MODERATOR: Michael, thank you for taking the time.
We're pleased to be joined by today's race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. His previous best was third. This is the third consecutive win for Ryan. Today's win also puts him atop the championship points standings.
Ryan, when you were here on Friday, we asked you was the focus the race win or points? You seemed to accomplish both.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's great to be sitting here. Toronto is one of my favorite races, so this is a special one for sure. Three in a row is awesome. We're just concentrating on doing well, doing what we've been doing.
We've been good on street circuits in the past. It's nice to go from the ovals to a street course and be able to win on both. It shows that this team is capable of a lot. It's all about them. It's all about the car they give me and the job they do in the pits. Just how the whole team is working together, it's a real pleasure to be a part of.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. How important is it to you that Dario was on the pole?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's very important, because every time I've won Dario has been on the pole. I hope he gets a lot of poles this year.
Q. At what point did you know this was yours?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Right from the get-go when we slotted in. We were fifth or sixth. I knew I had a pretty good car. I was content with staying there for a little bit, saving fuel, waiting for the track to rubber-in a little bit.
We pit. All of a sudden the track started coming to us. We were going quicker than we were in the first stint by a lot. When we put on the Firestone reds at the end, we were really fast.
It's been nice. The last few times we led at the right times, at the end. Like the guys said, it sounds cliché, to jump into pit lane and have a flawless pit stop each time is instrumental to winning. Those guys just did an awesome job. The car was great. Chevy reliability. To win here in Canada with Chevrolet, it's great.
Certainly we're on a streak, but I see it more that we're reaching our capability in what we can do. I certainly hope there's a lot more to come. We just need to have a real strong end to the season like we did last year.
Q. You had a comfortable lead going into the final five laps, and all of a sudden the yellow comes out. You know there's going to be the restart. How antsy were you knowing what this course can do, knowing that the comfortable lead you had was going to be done?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Was a strange feeling it was leading. I'm eight laps in the lead and I couldn't see anybody ahead of me, nobody behind me. You're sitting there leading the race. It's a weird feeling because you're all by yourself, but you still have to push 110%.
I'm thinking 20 laps, 10 laps, still no yellow. There's no way this thing can go green the whole thing. Then, boom, the yellow comes out.
The worst thing about a restart when you're leading is getting the rubber accumulation, the marbles on the tires. That is the worst part. You're just trying to tiptoe around, keep the tires clean, and hope you don't step wrong on the first corner, because that's when the tires are at their worst and you could easily go offline picking up marbles. That could take you another lap to clean off tires.
We got through it and had a great restart. It was unfortunate to finish under yellow. I would have liked the fans to have seen a green finish, but that's Toronto. Turn three is Mayhem Corner, so…
Q. Hard to believe that just a few days after the 4th of July there's only five races left to the season and here you are in the lead. This is like the stretch drive here for the title. How do you prepare yourself for that?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I think, like Michael said, we keep doing what we're doing. We just won two races in a row. We came here and didn't do anything else. People weren't acting any different. We were having fun doing what we do.
Like I said, the team is really clicking together. We're all good friends. It's the right environment. We just keep doing that.
The only nerve-wracking part about the points bit, the championship chase, is that you don't want to come under anybody else's mistake. It's not so bad if you, yourself, take yourself out of the race. That's your own fault. If somebody just cleans you out, that's what you worry about most. But that's natural.
We're just going to keep doing what we're doing, nothing overcomplicated, and really enjoy it. If you're not enjoying it, you're not going to win, that's for sure.
Q. This three-race stretch is on very diverse tracks. To have won on all three, that's pretty impressive. Can you talk more about that, the personal satisfaction.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It is. You know, to win three races in a row is very special. It's a dream of mine. This is what I've always wanted since I was little, to be competing in the IndyCar Series, top-level team, winning back-to-back races, and being in a place for the championship. This is incredibly special for me. I'm appreciative of every lap that I get in this series because I love it.
You know, looking forward, with five races to go, like I said, we just need to really enjoy it. It's nice to have realized that we're in this position. And this is what I've always wanted, but now we have to take hold of it and go get it done.
To beat Will, Dario, Dixon, you know, a lot of these guys, it's just going to be really tough week in and week out to do it. It's going to take something special from us – maybe something even more special than we've already done.
The Milwaukee flat oval, Iowa oval, you come to a street circuit, and couldn't be any different. That's a testament to the team. We're versatile. Not only myself, but the team. You're only as good as your car. They have to give me the car to do it.
It is very satisfying for me to know that, boom, oval, oval. Last week people were starting to say, Isn't it weird that your past three races are wins on oval and you're supposed to be a road course guy? Then to get it at Toronto, it's nice, for sure.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not getting ahead of myself. The whole thing could change next weekend and we could be struggling.
Will Power said something before the season that he goes into every year feeling like he could possibly never win another race again. That's how I felt after the last win. Man, we really have to dig deep here to get another one of these. It is difficult to win it all up.
Q. Pretty good anniversary week. Getting back to the race, this race is known for cautions. You build up a big lead. How did you determine your fuel strategy? Did you fight with your engineer?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Usually at Toronto you are arguing. Today was smooth. Saved fuel in the beginning stint. Track wasn't quite rubbered in. Had a little imbalance. We pit. The yellow came out. That was definitely nice. They closed the pits after that.
That got Dario and Will, I believe. Isn't that right? I think that's what happened. Then we restarted third. We got Briscoe for second on the restart, and then settled in behind Simon. He pits, and I'm not sure what happened to him from there.
But I put my head down and I was just putting qualifying laps in. We stretched out a lead. From there, all good. It was a pretty docile Toronto event from my perspective.
Q. A few years ago people were wondering Ryan Hunter-Reay, a talented American driver who can't find a ride in open-wheel racing. You're here now. Does that bring a different dimension to being the championship leader?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, absolutely. I struggled to find a home really. I've been saying it in some interviews today. This is a team sport, it really is, in every way, as much as football, soccer, anything. It's a team sport. And to find continuity, to find a home, to work with the guys around you for two, three years in a row makes a massive difference.
I can see it now. That's why Dixon has been with Ganassi for so long for Franchitti; Helio has been with Penske for so long. It makes a difference. I'm enjoying that part of it now.
That makes me that much more appreciative to be in this position, to have a solid ride, and hopefully it will be for many more years to come. I don't know, but you have to drive like it's your last race, and I still do that way.
Q. You made comments in Victory Lane about finally finding a family atmosphere where you could let the talent come out. When you talk about it, you put a lot of credit on the team. How much of this success do you think is your chemistry with the team and how much is the chassis, the Chevy, they put under you?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's everything. To win one of these races everything has to come together. You have to be firing on all cylinders. Everything has to go right. You might even need a little luck along the way.
I have to give the engineering department a lot of credit at Andretti Autosport. They are given the opportunity from Michael, the team owner, to do what they're doing. Here we are making the results happen on track from their hard work.
It's really nice to see all that paying off. Hopefully we have more of that to come. That's why I keep saying about the team, the atmosphere within the team is the best I've seen it since I've been here. It's my third year here. Like I said, I really feel that atmosphere. It's a contract for me, too.
THE MODERATOR: We'll wrap things up with Ryan. Congratulations on another great victory.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thank you all. Appreciate it.