Q and A with Chaves, Igdalsky and Hinchcliffe
First we'll start with Firestone Indy Lights driver Gabby Chaves of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Thanks for joining us. Gabby is currently third in the Firestone Indy Lights point standings and is 30 points behind his teammate, Sage Karam. Talk about the season so far, I know you've had six straight finishes in the top four but still looking for the first win. Are you happy with the way things have gone, so far.
GABBY CHAVES: I think so. I think we had a great start to the season and almost had the first win in St. Pete, we led about a quarter of the race and had an incident that took us out of the race.
But I think we've had a strong comeback and had four podiums in the last six races, so we are pretty happy but we won't be completely satisfied until we get that first win, which we are hoping for will be here in Pocono.
Q. I know the test day isn't until Friday, but what do you know about the track, and how do you prepare for a track like Pocono?
GABBY CHAVES: I've heard a lot of things. I know no one's been there and INDYCAR has not been there I think in over 20 years or so. So no one's really sure what to expect. But we think that it will be a very fast, highâ€‘speed track, kind of like IMS, averaging somewhere around 180 miles per lap, is kind of what we are thinking we'll be doing more or less.
So you know, speaking with my engineers and all the crew and everyone on the team, we might think that we might have another big finish like we did at Indianapolis with three or fourâ€‘wide finish.
Q. When you have not seen a track, do you just rely on what other people tell you? Is it something that you jump on a thing like iRacing or something just to see what the track looks like?
GABBY CHAVES: Yeah, absolutely, you have some resources you can use like the simulators in iRacing, and some of the IndyCar teams have some footage that they have tested there, you get and you use what you can to get yourself a step ahead of the competition.
But I think the biggest thing will be that test day on Friday. That's going to give us some track time and really get us going.
Q. I just wanted to get your impressions so far of the competition in Indy Lights. Obviously Indianapolis was a great finish and it seems looking at the points standings that everyone is fairly close. Just that, and also the opportunity - I know in Star Mazda, you got a chance to race with the IZOD IndyCar Series, but in Indy Lights, even more so, you get to be with those teams weekâ€‘in and weekâ€‘out, and how that impacts your experience in Indy Lights, as well.
GABBY CHAVES: Yeah, I think that's a very strong point that we have got to use to our advantage as Indy Lights driver. We are competing every weekend with IndyCar and all of the big teams, they are watching us out there.
You know, if you put on a good show and a strong performance, it's not long before you get the bigger teams interested in you as a driver, and hopefully you start getting your career set up for the big leagues.
Q. And then what are you looking â€‘â€‘ as we are entering the second half of the season, what races do you think will be your strongest? What are the ones that you kind of have your eye on as able to get you closer in the championship points standings?
GABBY CHAVES: Well, so far, I think we've had a very consistent championship, and I think we need to kind of step it up a little bit and maybe â€‘â€‘ I know that we get that risk going a little bit more to try to get some wins, because really I think at the end of the championship, the winner will be the guy who has the most wins. If you look at how the points are being awarded, there's a big gap from first to second in racing.
So what we need to do is we really need to step it up and try to start winning some races. I think we will be very strong in Pocono like we were in Indianapolis, and we just need to take it one race at a time. So for now we'll focus on Pocono, and after that on Toronto.
Q. Tell me your impressions of these oneâ€‘day shows, kind of like you had in Iowa, and even though you had that test day the day before, it is still kind of like a oneâ€‘day show in the fact that you practice, qualifying, race, all in the same day?
GABBY CHAVES: Sure, I don't mind it at all. As long as no one has an advantage over you, then everyone's competing with the same amount of practice and same conditions.
So it is a little bit tricky, because you have to get everything sorted out really quick after practice to get your car ready for qualifying, and you can't go out there and make a mistake and get your car, you know, wrecked before the race, because there is no time to fix it or anything.
So you've got to really be at the top of your game, and be really well in tune with your team and your car.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for your time today and wish you the best of luck this weekend at Pocono and for the rest of the season.
GABBY CHAVES: Thanks so much for having me and I'll see you guys there.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the president and CEO of Pocono Raceway, Brandon Igdalsky. Welcome to the call.
Q. Brandon this week we see the return of IndyCars to Pocono Raceway. I know there was a test there last week that's got a lot of people excited to go back to Pocono. So this week almost has to be like a kid at Christmastime and can't wait for Sunday.
BRANDON IGDALSKY: Yeah, it's definitely pretty exciting and obviously watching the teams out here last week testing, really got the motivation pumping and looking toward to a great race.
After watching what these cars were able to do at Indianapolis, looking for the next evolution of that, and hopefully we'll get more than 68 lane changes.
Q. I know the 2013 Pocono INDYCAR 400 is the second leg of the Fuzzy's Triple Crown. I know you've had the trophy going around the area on kind of a miniâ€‘tour, so you've had a chance to gauge the excitement in the community. Just how excited is Pennsylvania to host that second leg of the Fuzzy's Triple Crown?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: The fans are really excited. A lot of people around here remember Pocono before IndyCar, and we are seeing that with a lot of fans that are buying tickets and what they are telling us when they call. They are saying that, you know, my dad took me and now I'm bringing my dad and my kids.
There's definitely some excitement and a lot of people that grew up here in the Poconos and northeast Pennsylvania; that's what they remember about Pocono Raceway starting off when they were kids.
There's definitely a good buzz going on and people are excited. The staff around here, some have been here for over 24 years so they remember what it's like and we have a lot of new people that have no idea. It's going to be an exciting weekend for the fans and the staff and everybody in between.
Q. Just talk about some of the events, not only racing, but a fireworks show on July 6; there's a test day on July 4. Just talk about some of the events happening around the IndyCar race.
BRANDON IGDALSKY: We are going to open up our grandstands on Thursday free of charge for fans to come in and watch testing, get them excited about the event.
And on Saturday night, we typically do a fireworks show every Saturday for our infield guests, but given it's 4th of July weekends we are looking at ramping it up and doing a much bigger show than we typically do.
We will open up the infield for fans or just anybody to come in. It will be a $5 donation to our local fire department, and all the proceeds will go directly to them. You get to come in, hang out go, to our infield concert and block party area; so you can enjoy some good music and have a couple fun times with your friends and family. Got a whiffle ball field out there for the adults and kids to play on, a nice little fun bar out there and a lot of interactive games and watch some good bands. And then at 9:15 the fireworks will kickoff and fans can stay until everything shuts down around midnight.
Q. I wanted to ask you about Tony Kanaan coming in with the Triple Crown; is that something you're going to actively market and promote? And how cool would it be to see Tony come in and get that second stage won?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: Well, to answer your question about are we promoting it, I mean, I think what we did in the last couple of weeks kind of proved that we are behind the big Triple Crown. It's a big piece of us being back on the schedule.
We were part of the original Triple Crown, and a big piece of us coming back on the schedule was IndyCar bringing that back. You know, we are excited about it. Fuzzy's has been a great partner to work with on it. Fuzzy himself will be here for our race and will be hosting a dinner, charity dinner with him at the Blakeslee Inn on Friday night, a local restaurant.
It's been great. We had the trophy, we took the Triple Crown trophy, to about 15 or 20 different locus. We've had it in Philly, we've had it in Allentown just south of us, and all around our neighborhood here and different places and different sports events, a Yankees affiliate and Philadelphia Union and all kinds of fun places. It's definitely a great aspect to the weekend and adds that much more drama and it builds a story line within the race.
To see Tony do it, would be really cool. Obviously it's only ever been done one time, and Al Unser, the legendary Al Unser, was the one to pull it off. You think of all the years it ran and how few guys â€‘â€‘ how few guys had a chance to go for it; it's not an easy task, especially now with the competition is nowadays where anybody can really win any weekend.
It's exciting to see Tony do it, we hope he does and we hope he goes to California and can really add some excitement to the end of the season and what that race means for the series as a whole.
Q. In regards to how things got going, bringing IndyCar back, what did it take to get IndyCar coming back to Pocono?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: It literally took me being in the wrong place at the wrong time with Randy Bernard. I was in South Florida about a year ago for the St. Petersburg event, and I had not been to an IndyCar race in a long time and I was nearby and I gave the IndyCar folks a call and said, hey, I'm going to be in town, can you help me out with some tickets. And that was it.
I came over, some media members introduced me to Randy. We started chatting, and you know, it was kind of very informal at the time, but eight months later, we were going to contract and two months later after that, we were making the announcement.
It wasn't too hard once we committed to doing it. We put some time and energy last summer into doing a big fan study here locally. We hired a company that went out and talked to IndyCar fans and NASCAR fans and just motorsports fans in general, as well as nonâ€‘motorsports fans and we were pretty surprised by the overwhelming support that it looked like on paper we would have for the event.
And as we are getting closer to the event, we are seeing the fruits of those labors come to fruition and we are excited by the crowd we are going to have here and obviously Fourth of July weekend and a big weekend here in the Pocono mountains. It's a big vacation destination, and we have a lot of people that come into the area this week, so it's just one more thing for them to do on their vacation to the Poconos.
Q. Are you starting to see a lot of people coming in from the New York area, as a couple of years ago, this July 4 weekend was the Watkins Glen race; are you starting to see some of those folks filter in to Pocono, as well?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: We are seeing a good mix of people. Right now, being the first year, not really knowing what to expect and really not doing too big of a marketing campaign outside of our general area; New York is kind of a hard nut to crack.
We are seeing some New York fans, for sure, especially upstate New York. But the majority of the stuff we are seeing is from Eastern Pennsylvania, from Philly all the way up to the New York border and up the 80 corridor where we see a lot of our typical race fans come in.
We are seeing a lot of new fans come that have not been here before and a lot of 'old' new fans; people that have not been here since 1989 and they are calling, all excited that IndyCar is back.
The gentleman who bought the very first set of tickets when we made the announcement, I think it took him all of eight minutes to buy a set of tickets from when we made the announcement back in November. He was just one of those guys that he had not been here since 1989 and he is, I can tell you, very, very excited that IndyCar is back, and we are seeing that with a lot of our fans.
Q. We talked about this before, you said you're getting a lot of new fans; do you get a sense you're also getting some NASCAR fans who come to your races who are just curious about INDYCAR Racing?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: We definitely are. We have our Pocono fans, and one of the things I had said when we made the announcement back in November, if the stickâ€‘andâ€‘ball arenas can do it, 20, 30, 40, 80 whatever times a year, why can't a racetrack.
You have NASCAR fans, IndyCar fans and then just racing fans in general. Pennsylvania, as you know, has a fair share of racing fans and we are seeing that. When we had the original Firestone test back in April, I got a chance to walk around the grandstands and the talk to fans that were here, and a lot of them were just that, curious NASCAR fans, that I can tell you went down and bought tickets at the ticket office on the way out because they were pretty excited about.
We are seeing a nice mix of new fans, old fans, people that have not been to an IndyCar race ever before but they are NASCAR fans or just race fans and curious to see what it's all about and obviously to see the speeds these cars are going to be carrying down the front stretch. It's going to be a great show.
Q. Just to follow up, I forget, is this deal more than one year with IndyCar?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: Yeah, we announced it as a threeâ€‘year program.
Q. Just your thoughts on the challenges of pulling off three events, and I know you said basketball stadiums do 180 games and so forth, but for your staff, are there some challenges that you have seen so far that you didn't expect? Has it been easier than you expect? Can you give us a gauge of how things are going pulling off three races now and major races in an eightâ€‘week period?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: I can tell you that most of the staff was ready to kill me when we made the announcement.
But we have a good staff here. A lot of our key employees have been here 20, 30, 40 years. So there's the excitement level. I think we all enjoy the one month in the summer where we get to do nothing, which is now gone.
But at the same time, it was an easy transition and it wasn't too hard to turn around and get ready. It kind of actually keeps us all on our toes and we are a little more prepared, because it is just basically clean up, reset and reload coming off to do a NASCAR race, and then we'll just turn around next week and do the same thing and get ready for the next race.
It's been a lot easier than I anticipated. I figured it was going to be not too hard but it actually was a lot smoother than I thought, and you know, we got great staff here and hats off to them for being able to do what they do on a daily basis, but you know, throw a third race into the mix. It does kind of change things, but everybody has been great with it.
Q. As you've moved around the region, do you find some extra energy, because it has been 24 years, and it was such an important event to the Eastern Pennsylvania area; it was a sad departure when it did leave. Do you find some extra excitement, extra energy, as you move around?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: We do, and I've seen that with the fans when we are here. I've seen that with fans at different events, just talking to them.
And I've seen it around the industry. Not just on the IndyCar side of things, but also the NASCAR side. As I go to some of the short tracks around, people are just excited about the race coming back, period.
It is a heritage track for IndyCar. It's part of our heritage and obviously designed and build with the help of the friends out in Indianapolis that helped my grandfather years ago. There's definitely a sense of IndyCars coming home kind of a feeling around here, and you know, it's exciting to have them.
We are really looking forward to what the event is going to be, and honestly, I can't wait to drop that green flag on Sunday and see it all come together.
Q. Could you revisit the decision to go three years, and I assume that all three are guaranteed?
BRANDON IGDALSKY: I don't want to get into specifics of the contract. But three years just seemed like the right way to go. Kind of get the footing going underneath of it.
You know, I think you've got to almost do anything for three years to really gauge whether or not it works or not works, but from what we are seeing coming out here in year one, we are really excited about what the future is going to hold.
I was probably more excited after the Indianapolis race about what our race was going to hold, and after seeing what the guys were doing in testing and talking to some of the drivers when they were here, you know, it's going to be an unbelievable event and I'm really looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: Brandon, we thank you for your time and we'll see you this weekend at Pocono. We are now pleased to be joined by the driver of the No. 27 Go Daddy Chevrolet James Hinchcliffe. James, welcome to the call. James is fourth in the IZOD IndyCar Series after scoring his third win of 2013 at Iowa Speedway on June 23.
Q. You have three wins, has the season gone completely the way you would have drawn it up in the preseason?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Not even close, not even close. It's tough for anyone to have predicted that would be threeâ€‘time winners at the halfway point in the season, and having said that, with three wins, we are still only fourth in points, so we definitely have had some weekends that really didn't go to plan.
So it's really been this sort of upâ€‘andâ€‘down season and that's not what you predict or plan for coming into a year. But you know, at the same time, it's been great to see the speed of the Go Daddy car and the performance of the team as a whole has had, and hopefully we have found our footing again and had a good run of races in Texas and Milwaukee, and hopefully in Iowa we can keep that going.
Q. You were on the line when Brandon was talking; seems like Pocono is really excited for the return of IndyCar racing. I know you had a chance to be on track there last week. What are your impressions of the tricky triangle and what kind of race do you expect?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, we are equally as excited to go back there after the test, I can understand why they call it the tricky triangle. I really had no appreciation for what this place was like, even after watching it on TV and all the rest of it.
The track is so different and it makes it very difficult to set up an IndyCar there. But from the testing, I can assure you that we are going to have a great race. It's very fast. I think it's going to be a similar kind of show to Indianapolis, and another long race, 400 miles, I think that all the teams and drivers are very anxious and excited to get back there.
Q. And finally, not too took too far ahead but the home race of Toronto follows the Pocono event. Talk about going to Toronto and trying to get your first win in your hometown.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You know, I'm not going to hold my breath. That track and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it; it hates me.
We have gone there the last couple years in IndyCar and been quick, but random things have taken us out of the race, contact, mechanicals, whatever. Goes all the way back to my time in Atlantic and Indy Lights there. I hate to say it, but I'm going in there with very tempered expectations.
The big thing is for me is I love coming home and getting to race in front of the home crowd, it's unlike anything else. I am excited for that element of it and hopefully with the success we have had this year, we can give the Canadian fans something to cheer for, and I would love to come here and back that up with a strong performance for them. And we are certainly going to try to do that, but I've got some demons to overcome here before we do.
Q. You did your test at Pocono; what do you think it's going to take to win at that big oval?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It's going to take a lot. I mean, the track, like I said, is very difficult to set up for, with very fast entering turn one, very high banks.
Turn two is pretty straightforward for us. And turn three then, long and flat, you have to make a lot of compromises on setup; and also, I think the guy that really gets that compromise nailed down the best is going to be in a strong position.
But at the same time, with the kind of racing that we saw at Indianapolis and what we've seen in testing here, I don't think you're going to have anybody that's quick enough to just â€‘â€‘ even with a good car, put his foot down and run away with it. I think draft is going to be very big, so you're going to have to be very smart, time everything right, have good stops, and ultimately be in the front back heading into that final spin to be in with a shout for the win.
Q. You're going to have to do 400 miles, and then come to Toronto and do two races backâ€‘toâ€‘back in the middle of July; and you know what hometown is like in the middle of July. What do you do physically to prepare for that three in a row in a period of seven days?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I mean, it's a tremendous challenge for us, certainly. One of the biggest things is hydration. You know, as you said, Toronto in July, it's probably going to be a hot weekend and going to be draining for sure.
I know how I normally feel after Sunday here; and the fact that we are coming off a 400â€‘mile race the week before â€‘â€‘ you know, we have done a lot of physical training in the buildup to that. You don't want to do too much at this stage now. You don't want to wear yourself out. This is the period where you've done the hardest part of the work, and you're sort of recovering now and preparing more than anything. And it's going to come down to being well taken care of on the weekend, hydration, stretching when you need it, and just try to be smart about it.
Q. Turns 1 vs. Turn 3, which do you like better and which is more challenging for you?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, they are both challenging in their own right, just being so different.
When we were there at the test, we had incredibly high and gusty wind conditions, and with the exposure of turn three and without the banking to sort of help stabilize the car a bit, that was probably the bigger challenge for us.
But you know, I can certainly see come race weekend in a big pack, turn one, to do it flat is tough, man. That corner took me a while to figure out. TK and I were talking after the test; he was in the same situation.
It's a tricky little track. So we'll see when we go back for race weekend what the conditions are like, but I predict turn three to probably be the bigger challenge.
Q. Specifically what were you and TK talking about Turn 1?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, it's just such a unique corner for us to have a corner that's that sharp, with that high bank.
One of the other weird and unique things about it is the banking kicks in probably 200 yards before you actually start turning. So you feel like you're pulling out of the car before you actually get to the corner, which is big, as well. When you're coming towards it at the speed that we are in a bunch right there, you look like you're just heading into a wall. It's just so banked, so tight, and it's tough to get your head around getting an IndyCar through there at 220â€‘plus miles an hour.
Q. You talked a little earlier about how your season has not gone as maybe anybody could have predicted. Can you talk just a little bit about getting that first career win, and were you surprised that you've been able to â€‘â€‘ you know, two and three have kind of come as quickly as they have.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, well, you know, like I was talking about before, coming into the season, there was a lot of talk about that first win, and so for us as a team, to sort of knock that out of the way in the first race was a huge relief more than anything, and just allowed us to focus on doing the best job we could weekâ€‘in and weekâ€‘out, and not worry about swinging for the fence and trying to go for wins.
From there, the two subsequent wins have all been very different. In St. Pete, we took the lead on the last stint and sort controlled the race from there; we had a lot of pressure. Brazil, obviously, we only led in the last half of the front straight, and then Iowa, we led pretty much the whole thing start to finish.
So they have all been very different. And I think getting that first one out of the way, I know they say once you get the first one, they are easier after that. Well, you know, I want them to try it and tell me just how easy it is, because it really isn't.
And so to have now three wins in a series this competitive and a year as tight as we have seen it, it's incredible, and it just speaks volumes for what the team is doing; and to have three wins in the Go Daddy car at this stage is nuts and we might not get another one for a year or two years, who knows.
But we are certainly keeping our heads down and trying to keep doing what we are doing weekâ€‘in and weekâ€‘out, because clearly some things are working.
Q. Could you just talk a little about â€‘â€‘ I read a story about at Indianapolis that you wore Greg Moore's gloves. Can you talk about the influence that he had on your career and what prompted you to do that gesture?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You know, it's one of those sort of remarkable stories, because I only met Greg once, and I think that that highlights a lot of sort of the person that he was; and people who either met him briefly or never met him at all â€‘â€‘ what he did as a racing driver, and I was one of those people. Growing up, he was a guy I was cheering for ahead of everybody else and just really respected and really idolized him.
It's funny how touched I felt by the whole situation when he was killed, even though he was a guy I had met for ten minutes. He's always sort of stayed close in my mind.
And when the opportunity came up to take his gloves for a few laps around Indy, I was honored to have been asked to do that. And you know, I still â€‘â€‘ my helmet colors are somewhat attributed to Greg; the fact that I wear red gloves is a tribute to Greg, and he's been a very big influence in my life and my career, even through, like I said, only having met him the one time.
The glove deal at Indy was just a little way to maybe I guess pay him and his family back a little bit for the inspiration that he's given me over my career.
Q. And that was because he had never raced at Indianapolis; correct?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: That's correct, yeah. He never got a chance to race there, and for a guy who was as good on ovals as he was, that's really too bad. And the fact that he was stepping into that Penske car, which I think won the next three Indy 500s, it's tough to think about even now, because there's no doubt that we had not seen the best of Greg and he would have been a champion and probably a 500 winner maybe times over.
Q. Just wanted to get your thoughts on why Andretti Autosport has been so successful this year. What's the dynamic within the team itself? Seems like it might be very competitive just amongst you guys.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It is, but at the same time, we realize that working together is what puts us in position to be competing for the wins. If we start battling internally, we are going to be battling for fifth, seventh, tenth, because we are going to lose focus on making our cars the best that they can be.
And we have this tremendous chemistry right now that we work in absolute harmony Friday through Sunday morning, and then Sunday afternoon, it affords us the opportunity to take four good race cars and go out and thrash it out for the win.
You know, when you look at how competitive this season has been and how unpredictable it's been, to actually look at the numbers and see that Andretti Autosports has won half the races, it's absolutely incredible.
For us, obviously winning the championship last year with Ryan was huge. And the big sort of motivation over the winter was, we didn't want it to be a flash in the pan. We didn't want it to be a oneâ€‘andâ€‘done, and we didn't want people thinking that we were just going to kind of rest on our laurels and say, oh, we've got this, because we know how competitive it is.
And we have probably worked even harder last winter than we did the winter of 2012, because we knew what was out there and we knew who was coming for us.
Like I said, it's just a huge testament to the drivers, engineers, crews, everybody back at the shop, how everybody is working together as a team to be in the position that we are in.
Q. Michael being the leader, does he set the right tone, do you think for the seam team to succeed?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Michael, he's as competitive as a team owner as he was as a driver. Winning; that's why he got into this business. To have a guy like that running the show, he definitely puts us in the right frame of mind.
He appreciates as well as anyone how easy it is to lose one of these races or how easy it is to get thrown off your game a bit and get into a rut, and he's kind of a great leader and cheerleader in a sense in getting us in the right place and the right head space that we need to be in as a unit to be competitive across all four cars.
Q. I have a question that I recall hearing back on the telecast I think in the St. Pete race, that you became James Hinchcliffe 2.0, how do you change your mentality this season as compared to how you raced last year?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think I'm the same person, that's for sure. But every race you do, every lap you do, every corner you do, you learn something and you grow as a driver.
And you know, last year, obviously, my second year in the series, I learned an awful lot. But more than anything, I learned the areas I needed to improve in if I was going to be a winner at this level.
And having somebody like Ryan on the team and getting to watch how and he his engineer conduct themselves on a race weekend, and more specifically throughout a race, I learn an awful lot from them.
And coming into this season, there was a couple areas that I was very conscious and I knew as a driver that I had to improve on. I knew in terms of communication with the team that we could improve on and we sort of hit on all those points before St. Pete, and you know, I guess it worked.
But, you know, again, even with three wins now this season, there's still a lot of learning to do and there's a lot of growing to do as a team, and the continuity has been a huge part of it. And having Craig come on board in the engineering role has been a huge part of it. We just need to keep learning and keep growing and hopefully we can just keep being competitive each race.
Q. The race this weekend at Pocono, kind of NASCAR track, have you been watching race clips from the NASCAR races, as well as old IndyCar clips, to gauge how it goes in comparison to your test session recently?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You know, I watched a bunch of footage before we got to the test, and mostly from NASCAR, and I decided about the lap two that I was going to spend more time looking up old IndyCar footage, because it's just so different for us than it is for a stock car.
We learned an awful lot at the test obviously and got up to speed in a lot of ways, but there's definitely still something to be learned. I know the last race was back in the 80s, but the race craft and sort of how to pass, be passed, set things up, you can still learn a lot from those guise. A lot of talented drivers were in the field back then and it's going to be cool to see how it plays out for us, for sure.
Q. First of all, congratulations on your season this year. As far as your TV work, when you're on SPEED Center or Wind Tunnel, how much of that is scripted, how much is ad libbed, and what's the value of that to your sponsor, because you're wearing a suit, not a driver's suit.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, the shows are, I would say, 50/50, scripted/ad libbed. A lot of times you'll go up there with something scripted and one of us will screw something up and we will just have to start winging it from there or vice versa. Rick Allen and I have done that a couple of times together in our two shows together; it works out, and we cover each other very well, and that's the nature of live television. You sometimes are going off script, and sometimes just going off the seat of your pants there, and you always have to be adaptable, and I find that part of it a lot of fun.
In terms of value to sponsors, it's true, I'm not wearing branded clothing, but I would like to think that a lot of the people who are watching know who James Hinchcliffe is and what I drive, and you know, we are associated with Andretti Autosports and Go Daddy and Chevy and Firestone and all those people and usually see it at some point during the show, some clip of the latest IndyCar race, and the guys there are very good about giving me my shout out and all the rest of it.
It's more a way for me to get some more experience there, try to draw more fans towards IndyCar, and like I said, hopefully if they are watching that, they will pay attention to what James Hinchcliffe is and who we drive for.
Q. Is this going to be an ongoing thing for you this summer? Do you have more appearances scheduled?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I'm going to try to be there as much as possible. We have great relationship with the guys there at SPEED and they have been so kind to me for the opportunity and it really is a pleasure working. They make it so easy for somebody who is completely untrained in television and frankly has no right to be there, to get him to look like he knows what he's doing.
So, yeah, we are going to keep at it as long as we can and hopefully get a couple more good runs there.
THE MODERATOR: Seeing as we have no further questions for James, we will thank him for his time and wish him the best of luck this weekend at Pocono.
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