- 1st – Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing
- 2nd – Will Power, Team Penske
- 3rd – Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been joined by our race winner, Alex Palou, driver of the No. 10 Segi TV for Chip Ganassi Racing. New team, new sponsor, Alex, and your first career win. Go ahead and tell us how exciting your day was.
ALEX PALOU: Hey, everybody. I didn’t know what to say. It was an amazing weekend. It was a really exciting race, really exciting qualifying. So yeah, I don’t know what to say to be honest. Like I’m super, super proud of the team. The team did an amazing job, as you could see on qualifying.
We had three cars in the Fast Six, which it’s amazing. It was my first Fast Six, and today they just gave me the best car. I just had to do the obvious things right, as Chip likes to say, and we kept it simple. We went for a two-stop, we were able to manage our fuel mileage and our tires, so I’m just super, super happy.
THE MODERATOR: We saw Chip lean into the window and talk to you when you pulled into Victory Lane. Can you give us a little bit what he might have said to you? We know Chip likes winners.
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, so basically he was just super happy. He was saying, Congratulations, and he told me, Welcome to the winners. So I’m a winner now. But we’ve just got to keep it building and keep it winning.
It’s going to be tough, but we’re leading the championship, so it’s just amazing.
Q. Alex, was the original plan to do a two-stop race, or when Rossi and Pato hit the pits, did you guys just decide to wait and see what the deg was like on the Firestone reds?
ALEX PALOU: No, the first plan was to do a three-stop. I think to do a two-stop you had to go really, really slow just because of fuel mileage, but as we got two yellows, it was clear. Like as soon as the first yellow came I was already thinking on two stops. I was trying to save as much fuel as possible there.
To be honest, I saw that Rossi and Pato, they were not saving that much fuel. I was like wondering are they going to just not even try to do it or do they just know how to do it and not me. I was surprised that they didn’t go for a two-stop because I think it was fairly easy after the two yellows.
But hey, I didn’t call a two-stop. It was the team that they just told me, Now it’s a time to push. Do 15 more laps and this is the target for fuel mileage that you have to do.
So that’s what I did, and that’s — and it worked.
Q. I was wondering what you think of Romain’s adaptation to INDYCAR. You went through it yourself last year. How do you think he’s been doing so far not just in the race today, but in general?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I think he did amazing yesterday. He’s driving my car from last year — well, with my team. He did really good being P7 there, and I don’t know how he finished today, but yeah, so far, so good.
But he’s a guy that’s been doing single-seaters more than I’ve been walking, so it’s a guy that has plenty of experience, and he’s been doing it in the best level possible for a lot of years.
I kind of expected that.
Q. Let me see if I can get this right. So Montoya, Zanardi, Vasser, Dixon, Franchitti; you’ve done something that they didn’t. You won in your Ganassi debut. What does that feel like?
ALEX PALOU: Amazing. It feels amazing. I think those names you said, they won more than one time, and they won championships. They are 10 steps ahead of me. It’s just a start. It’s just the beginning. But for sure we couldn’t start better with Chip Ganassi Racing.
It means a lot, to be honest. Like winning a race in INDYCAR, it’s not easy. You can see in the past, people struggle, and yeah, last year I was struggling a lot to be up front.
INDYCAR is so competitive that you don’t know if next week — it’s just next week, like the car is going to be the same, I’m going to be the same, but you don’t know where we’re going to be.
We’ll try to do our best, but for sure at the moment I’m going to embrace the feeling of being a winner, and I’ll try to do it again.
I’ll try to learn from them. So far it’s been super good to have Dario, Scott, Jimmie, people that’s been winning championships for more than one time, and being able to talk to them for everything I want. It has helped me to be here today.
I’ll keep trying to learn as much as possible from them and just go for practice at St. Pete, go for qualifying, and go for the race, so we’ll try to do that.
Q. You mentioned Jimmie and Scott there. Between the two of them there’s 13 championships split between both of them. How has their knowledge been for you? In such a short period of time with racing for Chip, has it been very beneficial to have those champions, I guess, whispering in your ear a bit?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I’m sure — I’m in love with them. Like I’m in love with them. But I’m sure if you asked them, they are not going to say the same for me, because every time I see them I’m like, Hey, Scott, um, what did you do today, or how did you prepare that race or whatever, or how did you do the 2015 race?
And I’m the same with Jimmie. How do you keep up winning seven championships? How do you do it? So I think every time they see me around they are like, Oh, no, this guy again. But I’m enjoying it.
I try to learn everything from them.
I’ll tell you that I’ve never been around a champion like them until this year, and seeing how they work, you understand why they are able to win that much and to be able to win that much.
I was surprised when I saw Scott that’s been doing INDYCAR for, I don’t know, 20 years, and has been winning six championships that he was at the shop every time I was there.
So I was like, Man, this is not possible. Like if I see him every time it means that maybe he’s more. So I started going more and more, and he just works a lot.
Same goes for Jimmie, same goes for all the team. That was pushing me to be here now.
Q. Second Spaniard to win an INDYCAR race, 16 years after Oriol Servia. I wanted to ask you how you feel and how you perceive such an achievement for a driver who only a few years ago only had enough budget to race in GP3 and had INDYCAR as a distant future dream?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, thank you. Amazing, right, 16 years, second Spaniard? That’s amazing. I didn’t know that, and that’s good to know.
It’s just amazing, but I think it was part of the job, so when you are part of a big team and a successful team like Chip Ganassi, they give you all the tools. Like you have everything you need to win, and that’s why you see so many successful drivers.
So I just have to thank the team for giving me the opportunity and all the sponsors. It’s been amazing the road that we began single seaters. I went to Japan, spent time there, and my focus was to come here in U.S.
Last year I was struggling a bit, rookie year, pandemic going on, small team, didn’t know any track, but now we had this opportunity, and I think we started out strong, but we’ve got to keep it up.
Q. How were the last 20 laps inside the car, especially knowing that you had Will Power behind you?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, it was not easy, especially because I had some guys in front. I had lap cars, and I was trying not to get to think too much and go over the radio like, Come on, go away.
I know INDYCAR is like that. I think it’s good for the show. When you are leading it’s not fun, but when you are P2 or you are P3 it’s super fun. So I think it was fun, but I was like, Oh, man, please, go away.
The good thing is that I was not able to pass a lap car, so I think even if Will was just behind me, two tenths close to me, he was not able to pass me, either.
So yeah, I was trying to stay calm and the team was trying to keep me calm on the radio.
Q. I think you said that you’re in love with Scott; does that mean you’re in awe with him, like you’re the little brother who’s following him and learning from him?
ALEX PALOU: If I could, yeah, but I think his family wouldn’t be so happy about that. But I try. I try. To be honest, when he’s around, when we are around at the workshop and we are working, yeah, I try.
It’s the opportunity I have been given. I think not everybody has the opportunity to be a young driver and having a champion as your teammate, so I try.
Q. When you got this opportunity to join the Ganassi team, what did you think?
ALEX PALOU: I thought that it was 50 percent of my dream. One of the dreams was to come here to the U.S. once you are in the U.S. you want to be more and you want to be competitive, and to be competitive I wanted to be part of Chip.
I actually introduced myself to Chip at the Indy 500 because I wanted to be part of that team. I saw the spirit of the team, just because of the years I was following. And yeah, to be part of Chip Ganassi is 50 percent of another dream, which is to become a champion.
But it’s just 50 percent. I have to do the job now.
Q. So 50 percent was to join Ganassi and the other 50 percent is to be a champion?
ALEX PALOU: Of course.
Q. And how long did you think it would take to win a race?
ALEX PALOU: I thought it was going to be during this year because I saw that my pace was good, I was comfortable with the car, with the team. But you never know in INDYCAR if it’s going to come on the first race, on the last race, in the middle, or maybe the second year.
Like it’s not bad to not win a race. But yeah, I didn’t really expect to win a race the first weekend, but to be honest, when I saw my pace during free practice and qualifying, I was like, Man, we’ve got a shot.
This morning when I woke up I felt like I had lots of chances to win. We did it.
Q. In all this following around Scott, what do you learn the most?
ALEX PALOU: I learn that you’ve got to keep working as hard as possible every day, not only in the races, not only when you are struggling. You’ve got to go to work — maybe not tonight. Maybe tonight I can have a good fatty dinner because I like fatty dinner after win.
But tomorrow I have to go 8:00 a.m. and work and prepare St. Pete, because that’s what they do, that’s how you keep on working, and that’s what I’m going to do tomorrow.
Q. What kind of dinner did you say you like?
ALEX PALOU: So to be honest, I like fried chicken after a win or after a race. I don’t know what’s wrong with the drivers, but I think that 80 percent of the drivers will tell you that after a race we need something that is not good for our body, and that’s what I’m going to take tonight, if I can.
Q. Fried chicken?
ALEX PALOU: Fried chicken.
Q. Kentucky Fried Chicken?
ALEX PALOU: I don’t care. Fried chicken, whatever. And fries. Lots of fries.
Q. Alex, I was kind of curious, and I’ve got to give Rob Howden credit here. Back at Mid-Ohio last year you had told INDYCAR radio that you didn’t have budget for 2021. I’m kind of curious how the situation played out for you ending up at Ganassi and being able to pay it forward right out of the gate this year?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, that was true, and I didn’t really have strong talks with Chip at the moment, so that was completely — I was devastated by Mid-Ohio because we had a good chance to stay up front and we crashed on the first lap, so that was not good, and that’s not what I needed.
But Chip — and not only Chip, but all the team trusted in me, believed in me, and they gave me this opportunity, which is amazing. Like going from not knowing if you’re going to be around next year or not and then suddenly they give you the champion car, it’s like, wow, amazing.
Q. How long was that holding pattern for you just kind of not knowing what your future was going to be for this year?
ALEX PALOU: That normally goes from January to December, to be honest. It’s been like that all my life. But here in INDYCAR, it came earlier. The season starts, the preseason or post-season starts earlier, and I think just before St. Pete I knew that I was going to be driving the No. 10 this year.
Q. I asked Scott, he said, you come over and you’re always so upbeat and positive and this and that, and Scott says, He’s really just a nice guy. He says, We keep looking for bad things that we can find out about him and we can’t find anything. When you hear a guy like Scott Dixon describe you that way, what do you think?
ALEX PALOU: Wow, I didn’t know he felt like that, so that’s really cool. That’s amazing. I’m just in a happy place. I am racing cars in the U.S. I’m driving INDYCARs and I’m driving for the best team. They gave me the opportunity to be here talking with you guys and winning races, so that’s why I’m always smiling, always positive, and I’ll keep like that as long as I keep racing.
Q. Also this arrangement you had last year with Team Goh and Dale Coyne Racing. How important was that to get you where you are today? What did you learn in that season with Dale Coyne Racing and with Team Goh that’s really been a longtime supporter of yours?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, it was everything I needed. Like Team Goh and Delco, they were able to take me from Japan to the U.S. to INDYCAR, which is a crazy move, and they made it happen. They gave me the chance to show everybody what I could do or what I thought I could do, and to have the opportunity to drive with Chip Ganassi Racing today.
Yeah, I owe everything to Team Goh, to Delco, and to be honest, I’ve been to those places a lot of times in my life, like from the car team there was somebody that helped me to go to Europe, to the European Championships, and then to go to single seaters and then always there was somebody there to helped me to do the next step. I’ve been really lucky in life.
Q. I think it was back in March where you said that you believed that you would be able to score a win before Fernando Alonso and before Carlos Sainz. Congratulations on fulfilling that. I wanted to ask, if you had stuck to the three-stop strategy, did you feel that you had the pace in the car to beat O’Ward and Rossi if it had come down to one of those races where it’s just flat-out and it’s a three-stop strategy?
ALEX PALOU: You never know. You never know what could happen, but I think I was able just because when we started pushing, like when we were racing with them, I was saving fuel already, like I was hitting my numbers and I was just keeping my tires and saving fuel to be able to go for a two-stop.
I didn’t know they were not, so that’s why I was like, Man, they are pushing a lot and they had some more pace than me, but it was just that I was fuel saving and they were not.
So I thought maybe with Pato, I thought Pato was strong, so it would have been something with strategy that we could do to overtake him, and with Rossi I think we could have done something on track to overtake.
Q. Will was saying that it blew his mind that he assumed that you were so fast because you were on a three-stop strategy, as well. Clearly Ganassi has done its homework on road courses over the winter. Does this give you further encouragement for places like Road America, Mid-Ohio and those kinds of tracks?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, a hundred percent, a hundred percent. I think everybody could see from free practice that Chip Ganassi did an amazing job over the winter, especially on qualifying. Like qualifying we struggled — they struggled a lot last year, and suddenly first race and you put three cars in the Fast Six.
I think it’s going to be good also when we go back to Indy road course, to Mid-Ohio, to Road America, but you never know if you’re going to have such a good day yesterday. But we’ll try and we’ll work for that.
Q. Looking at Barber Motorsports Park, you’ve tested here before, never raced here. Are there any circuits that you’ve raced on around the world that give you a little bit of a reference like, oh, I’ve driven this track like this before, that you’ve been able to use to help you in your experience?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, it’s true that we never raced before, but it was good to be able to test here. And yeah, for sure, over the years with experience you go through so many tracks that when you go back you say, Hey, this Turn 1 is the same as Turn 5 in, I don’t know, in Budapest, for example.
For sure it helps, but Man, every track is different. Every day changes. Every lap changes because there’s more rubber, less rubber. So it was hard to keep up with those guys, but yeah, we did it.
Q. I know you spoke earlier in the off-season about feeling fairly confident that a win would at least be the target this year and would be possible, but after today’s result, getting it so early, how does this impact your interpretation of going for the championship this year? Do you think that’s a realistic and achievable goal for you, or is that setting your sights a little bit high based on one victory?
ALEX PALOU: Yeah, I think it’s a target for the 24 drivers or 28 drivers that are doing post-season. Yeah, it’s achievable. That’s the end target, but that’s not what I’m thinking now. I’m thinking about St. Pete, free practice, qualifying, and hopefully gets lots of points and hopefully be on the podium and hopefully win the race.
This championship is so long that you need to take it one race at a time, and yeah, maybe when it’s three races to go we can start talking about what’s really the championship or how is it going. But at the moment let’s focus on St. Pete, try to do the best result we can there. If we have a car to finish fifth, try to finish fourth, and that’s what we’re going to try to do all year.
THE MODERATOR: Alex, that’s it for you for this press conference. Congratulations on your first career win in the NTT INDYCAR Series. Really exciting day and we can’t wait to see you in St. Pete next week.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our second and third-place finishers today, Will Power from the No. 12 Team Penske Verizon, and No. 9 Scott Dixon from Chip Ganassi Racing who drives the PNC Bank car.
Thanks for joining us. We’ll start with Will. I know you had a lot of momentum going out of last season and you wanted to get off to a good start. Go ahead and talk about your day for us, please.
WILL POWER: Yeah, obviously went from a three stopper to a two stopper with all those yellows at the beginning, which I didn’t mind. I know we’re very good at getting fuel and lap time, but Alex pulled away extremely fast.
I was surprised. I actually thought he was on a three stopper. But I think he had a very good middle stint saving fuel, and we came out close to him.
I still had to save a bit of fuel at the end there, so in the last few laps I could use Push-to-Pass. Made a little mistake which made the gap not possible to close.
Very happy with the day, though. Really, really just wanted a solid start to the season, and that’s what we got here so far.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, obviously a wonderful podium finish for you and a great day for Chip Ganassi Racing with Alex Palou getting his first win. Go ahead and tell us about your day, as well.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was definitely a huge day for the team. So good to see the 10 not just back on the podium but winning a race. It’s been a lot of fun in the off-season. I think Alex has done a tremendous job. I think we had good pace.
It was just very tough once you were kind of in traffic and we even felt that once Will and I caught some lap traffic I think that middle stint we could have extended by probably another three laps, but because we caught that I think we just had to pit anyway to try and cover the 8 that was maybe trying to short pit us and jump on that situation.
Yeah, just, I don’t know, it was kind of a bit of a blah day for us. We kind of sat there, tried to make some moments on the 12 car and with Will, but we just couldn’t get close enough to pull it off and the speeds were so similar.
So congrats to everybody on the podium, and it’s great to be back in Alabama. It was great to be back on the podium for us. Hopefully we can move up a couple spots come next weekend.
Q. Scott, I guess you’ve tested with Alex so you have a little bit of an idea what he’s got; but Will, how familiar are you with Alex, and did you guys see or know that he had a win in him?
WILL POWER: Yeah. Yeah, I did, from last year, some of the pace he had at times and what he’d done in his previous series that he raced in. He was very, very good, a champion. It’s not really a big surprise. It actually makes Ganassi a much stronger team because they’ve got two guys now that can win races (indiscernible).
Q. I know you’ve tested with Alex; were you expecting him to win so soon?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, it’s hard to judge that, I think, just for the sheer fact that there’s so many great teams, especially when you get to the first few races, it’s hard to solidly know.
But yeah, his speed has been really good in preseason testing. We like a lot of similar things, the three of us, so it was good to see three CGR cars in the Fast Six. I’m not sure that’s ever happened for us, so that was really good for us.
But last year, I think, as Will commented, even his podium at Elkhart was a pretty big effort coming through the field and what he did there and some of the speeds you saw with the team in his first season and last season for any kind of rookie was very tough. You hardly got any kind of track time.
Yeah, he turned up strong and it was the first one of the season. You can’t start a season any better than that, and just feel real happy for him and the 10 car team, and it’s definitely going to be a hell of a fight.
Q. I’m also curious, Jimmie yesterday tweeted he wasn’t last in qualifying and he seemed really happy today after his race. Are these things that are small victories? They don’t seem like victories, but are they?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, absolutely. Again, I couldn’t think of anything more difficult than what he’s trying to accomplish. So I think some people said, Oh, you know, wait for judging anything until midway through the season, but I think you’ve got to wait until next season. I hope and I think the deal goes through next year.
But you know, as we see from my rookies, even from Alex last year, he didn’t get a win. It takes time to progress, and once you get some laps, and even this year with limited schedules that we have on track time and tires, it just becomes very hard.
You want to push, but then you also don’t want to crash the car. So it’s a very fine balance.
I don’t know, I think he finished in 18th or 19th. I saw he had a spin there. Without the spin I think he would have been a lot better off. You know, he beat five or six cars; that’s awesome.
Q. Alex seems to be so upbeat and so positive in addition to being fast. What is it really like working with him, because talking to him the other day and talking to him all last season, he just always seems to be very positive and upbeat.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, he’s actually one of those really nice guys. There has to be some underlying thing going on there somewhere. None of us have found it yet, but no, he’s a really nice person. His family — I’ve met his dad a few times now. Everyone is just super nice.
It’s great to see somebody that’s easy to work with. Some drivers that we all get to work with can be somewhat difficult, but he also is extremely willing and wanting to learn, asks a lot of questions, sends a lot of text messages to try and just do a better job.
He’s been a real pleasure to work with through these times, the same with Marcus throughout the season, obviously Jimmie, as well. Yeah, he’s just a super nice person.
Q. Do you think it helped him a little bit that there was so much attention placed on the other guy that’s the newcomer to the team, that he was able to just go about and do what he was supposed to do, to go out there with the 10 car and have a good season?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, maybe. But I think Alex is more of a kind of an under-the-radar type of person anyway. He’s not very in your face or anything like that. You know, he definitely has a pretty relaxed personality, and then I think just wants the results to speak for themselves. Jimmie has been working hard, harder than all of us, I think, and that’s a different dynamic all on its own, and maybe that does take a little bit of pressure off.
I also think when it’s a four car team as opposed to a two car team that takes a little bit of pressure off, as well.
Q. For Will, to save your Push-to-Pass for the end of the race, how were you able to do that, and how realistic — if you had been able to close the gap a little bit on Alex, how difficult would it have been to pass him?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it’s pretty tough once you get close to them to pass. He would have had to have made a mistake or got caught behind someone slow that made a mistake.
I had saved enough fuel to use Push-to-Pass for the last two laps, then I made a mistake in Turn 9 and that opened the gap up too much. I closed right up to him at the end.
Obviously it’s the last lap and he’s not going to take any risks, but yeah, he was solid all day. It’s very, very tough to even — when he was pushing, it was so tough to close the gap. Yeah, I was happy just to have a good start to the year. Obviously it’s only race one, but you know, obviously a win is always great. But compared to the way we started last season, this is nice.
Q. I wanted to ask how difficult it was to look after your red tires in that first stint and whether you think you would have had the same issues as O’Ward and Rossi appeared to have on the reds if you had gone after it and gone for a three-stop strategy.
WILL POWER: No, actually tires lasted the whole time for me. I could still pump out really fast laps at the end of the stint. They never went off. Reds never went off and the blacks never went off. They were just good. Yeah, I’m not sure if anyone else had issues, but that’s how it felt to me.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I thought the reds were really good. I spoke to Pato briefly, and he said like they were just trying to cover the 27, so I don’t think they were planning on doing that, and I don’t think their degradation was playing into — they I guess just thought everybody was going to switch after that three-stop strategy.
But yeah, I concur with Will that we had no real tire wear issues. We had some balance issues. It was definitely behind somebody or in traffic and maybe tire wear was up a little bit because of that. But yeah, tire wear was actually really good.
Q. I haven’t checked the Firestone report yet, but did you struggle to get fresh blacks up to temp? Because that was another thing that Pato seemed to struggle on, as well, like it took ages for the fresh blacks to come in.
SCOTT DIXON: Mine, not too bad. I think kind of by lap 2, like your first out lap was a little tough on just trying to get rotation. Seems like the rears came in really quick for us just trying to get the car turned. But after the first kind of out lap and in your first time, they seemed to be pretty good.
I don’t know what the other teams seemed to struggle with. We definitely caught the 10 car a lot I think on that last switchover or last pit stop sequence. So yeah, maybe some cars did struggle with that.
Q. Will, you touched on the start to the season and how you felt about that earlier, and I wanted to ask you a little bit more about that. Does this feel like kind of an emotional result for you? I know you’re always looking for a win, but you’ve talked so much about needing that real strong start to the season. How are you kind of feeling sitting here now knowing that you’ve at least got that first race out of the way and scored a strong result?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it’s just obviously satisfying to get a good start. Obviously it was a very calm day for me, and I’m calm about the season, to be honest. I’ve been around long enough to know how this ebbs and flows, and I think I’ve got a very good group of guys on my car this year.
I’m very happy with it. I think our stops are going to be really good all year. I think we’ve got the right combination to win another championship.
Yeah, just been calm, honestly, about the whole thing, and just trying to get the most out of every weekend and every situation we find ourselves in.
Q. Scott, nice to have another driver in the team who’s capable of winning a race, and I guess you had that with Felix a little bit in the past, but it’s probably been looking back to Dario the last time you had a regular winner in the team. Just wondered how you kind of interpret that because I guess for you, you want a strong teammate to help push the team forward and score points on a bad day, but at the same time Alex is taking points away from your championship today, so how do you kind of interpret that?
SCOTT DIXON: I think it’s fantastic. At points we did have with that — you know, with Felix and Marcus definitely had a strong start in qualifying. I don’t know what happened with them later in the race, but he had a really strong actual second stint. He closed like an eight-second gap on Will and I, but looks like he maybe had fuel issues toward the end there.
Yeah, you know, I think it’s great. It’s kind of pushed the team forward, as you saw. I think, in qualifying to have three Ganassi cars in the Fast Six was a big day for us. Obviously we’d have wanted that to be one, two, three, but we were definitely a lot closer than we were in the past.
I think it will drive the team forward. It’s great for team morale. It’s great for the 10 car group. Obviously we expanded a lot in the off-season with additional INDYCAR, also the Xfinity and then the Cadillac program.
It’s definitely been an interesting off-season, but this is huge for the team and hopefully that pumps everybody up.
Q. Scott, how much momentum does this give you guys as a team going forward to St. Pete but then also kind of further on in the season?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I hope so. I know Alex is going to be pretty pumped, so I think that will pull the whole team along. I think even when you have a bit of a bad day in that situation, that’s going to pump you up, as well, just because the team has done so well.
Obviously a very different circuit, very different tires. There’s a lot of different things that go into it. We’ll keep our head down, of course, for confidence and feeling good this is a huge weekend for us as a whole, but it doesn’t guarantee you anything.
You’ve got to work hard and put in the effort, and hopefully all of our cars will be strong come next week.
Q. Just a quick word on Jimmie for next week. Obviously he was with you guys in St. Pete last year. How do you think he’s going to perform on a street course for the first time?
SCOTT DIXON: It’s definitely going to be an eye opener for Jimmie. He’s spent a good amount of time on the (indiscernible)^ which is definitely going to help the transition somewhat.
But a lot of us, it’s more of like a commitment level that you kind of have to step outside the bounds a little bit to get the tire to work and then to get the confidence again, and it kind of just rolls into something.
So if you’re a bit timid, the car feels horrible and you never really get on top of it. You’ve got to be aggressive but confidently aggressive, and I think we’ve tried to do enough sort of prep work with Jimmie that will help him get into it.
Detroit will be definitely a lot more difficult I think just for the first street course because of the grip levels there. Hopefully it goes well, but I know he’s definitely put in the time and effort.
But again, you just get such limited track time these days with a couple of sessions and then you’re straight into qualifying, so hopefully it goes well for him.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Will, and good luck next week in St. Pete.
Q. I’m just going slightly off tangent for you, Scott. You’ll understand it. We’ve got effectively five Kiwis now up in the States in the greater INDYCAR Series with three in the Road to Indy, and as you know, I’m a trustee of the Motor Sport Academy down here, and these guys are seeing you very much as the guy to emulate and be one day.
I just wonder how that makes you feel as a New Zealander knowing we’re getting more and more Kiwis up to the States now? Those that can travel, of course.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it’s huge. I’ve been waiting 20 years to have a fellow Kiwi on the grid in INDYCAR, and that finally happened. Haven’t seen how Scott did this afternoon, but he’s done a tremendous job I think with fitting in and obviously with a great team.
But yeah, you know, I’ve caught up with Peter Vodanovich and then Hunter McElrea, and then I haven’t seen I think it’s Billy Frazer, I haven’t seen him.
But been trying to keep up to speed on how they’ve done in races. I know they had a lot of bad luck this weekend with sort of mechanical issues. I think Hunter did a pretty good job.
Yeah, it’s great. I think there’s definitely a lot of talent in New Zealand. A lot of it sort of goes straight to Australia, whether it’s Supercars or Porsche Cup or anything like that, but it’s great to sort of see them tracking back to the American side and using the Road to Indy, which hopefully one day all three of those guys in those categories can make it to INDYCAR.
Q. It’s important to come out of the box in good shape, isn’t it?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, absolutely. It would have been if we had one, two, three for the team or one two three four. Obviously good stuff for the 10 car. St. Pete’s will be interesting. Texas will be interesting. It was a track we didn’t test at where I think the rest of the field did.
So it’s a double-header, so could have a big swing potential in the points, but, yeah, I think the team is confident. I think we’ve covered a lot of areas I think in the off-season and tried to focus a little bit more, and the addition of Alex and Marcus sort of working on different parts of the program I think has really brought the team together, and we’re definitely working well.
It’s only one race, we’ll just have to see how the next few go.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Scott, for joining us.