Barnhart, Briscoe, Carpenter - IRL teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: If you had to use one word to summarize this points race up to now, what word would you use? I mean, with you and Scott and Dario and Helio (Castroneves) sneaking in there, what word would you use? RYAN BRISCOE: ...

Continued from part 1

Q: If you had to use one word to summarize this points race up to now, what word would you use? I mean, with you and Scott and Dario and Helio (Castroneves) sneaking in there, what word would you use?

RYAN BRISCOE: Very tough. You're the journalist. I think you could probably come up with a better word for it than I can. I'm just trying to do my best to stay in front here.

Q: I was thinking intense.

RYAN BRISCOE: It's intense, all right. It's a good word to describe it. It's definitely intense and can get frustrating at times. And you look back on races and for me ones like Richmond where I only got 12 points there, I mean you think if I could have gotten top-5 or something, what the difference could be. But that's where you just need to keep looking ahead, keep your head down and you've got to finish these races and finish at the front and just stay focused.

Q: Brian, will there be a difference in the push-to-pass from the standpoint of its duration for this week? I think it was 12 seconds worth of a burst last week. It's hard to figure on Mid-Ohio where you need 12 seconds without getting on and off the throttle. I'm wondering, will there be a difference in its application this week?

BRIAN BARNHART: Not at this time. We'll leave it the same, 20 pushes for 12 seconds in duration. I think that's something we'll try and evaluate as we move forward with Honda. Do we adjust it the duration of it, track-dependent? Twelve seconds at a place like Kentucky is right at half a lap. Twelve seconds around Mid-Ohio is about a quarter of a lap or less.

So it's just something that we're going to try. And again, as Ryan mentioned, try and continue to develop and improve because it certainly is a good aspect to add to the event on the racetrack and give the drivers another aspect of the race to be thinking about and how to use it from a strategy point.

Q: I was going to ask Ryan about the progress and the development into a championship contender. But let me ask that of Brian, what you've seen in Ryan that's -- I know he's with a good team, that we know he's talented, as he showed even before but just the progress that he's made.

BRIAN BARNHART: It's been good with the diversity in the schedule we have to be able to contend for the championship, you've got to be able to compete on the largest variety of racetracks of any race circuit going.

And as you say, he's certainly got great resources behind him and a great team behind him. But his ability to compete on, I think as Milwaukee last year was his first short oval win with us in the series, and his ability to run short ovals and super speedways and roads and streets consistently and to be competitive on all those is what's developed him into that championship contender. He's done a great job.

It's interesting. He mentioned Richmond only getting 12 points. You go back Saturday night, and it's only a matter of inches of how close he was Saturday night to getting 12 points or less.

He went up into the gray in (Turn) 4 and did a pretty significant white wall up there that he's very fortunate. He mentioned again at Edmonton he had bent suspension there, probably from a pretty heavy white wall or going over one of the curbs.

It's one thing to do that at a place like Edmonton on an airport course. But it's another thing to go up and have a pretty significant white wall on the oval at Turn 4 at Kentucky. He's only a matter of inches of being out of the show that night and comes back to get a win and a photo finish with Ed. So it really -- it shows how fine the line is of competition. And it's going to be a fun championship to watch. We've got three drivers within 11 points. And 4th and 5th are still within I think 75 and 107. So I think it should be an exciting five races.

Q: Ryan, is there a place maybe or a type of track where you've made the biggest progress or at least you feel you've made the biggest progress in maybe the last year?

RYAN BRISCOE: Well, for me the biggest thing has been the oval racing, just gaining experience, doing laps. Understanding what it takes. And I still hadn't won a super Speedway race until last night. So it was a huge relief and a big moment for me.

But a lot of things. I think with experience overall, even on the street courses and road courses, being with Team Penske, it's been a great school for me. Aside from the resources, you look at Toronto, and I mean there were plenty of teams and drivers that had the speed there to go out and win that race, but at the end of the day, you saw Franchitti, myself, all on the podium and Dixon was right there in fourth.

It's a big package thing. Pit stops are important. On the team, having Rick Mears, having Roger in my ear, having Helio as a teammate, those are the sort of things that over the last two years I've just been really listening and learning and trying to get better every single weekend. So still lots to learn.

As Brian brought up, I almost went to the wall in Kentucky on Saturday night. And that was probably me just pushing it a little bit hard on cold pressures there on the restart.

And that's the kind of stuff I need to keep working on as I gain experience.

Q: Brian, I wanted to ask you a question about Barber, one of the new tracks being added to the schedule next year. One complaint the drivers had during the test session here was regarding ability to pass. Do you think that the red tire/black tires and the press-to-pass button will have an effect to correct that situation?

BRIAN BARNHART: I would certainly hope so. Because I think it is a challenge that isn't unique to any type of track, necessarily.

A lot of road courses and temporary circuits can fall into that track position is important at those. But I think it's more an aspect of how equal and how close and how deep our competition is within the field. Difficulty to pass, a lot comes to the fact that we've got such depth of field and such a quality in our teams. And when you get to a place like Barber or some of the other temporary circuits you get to, track position is vital to be in front of somebody.

So the one thing to keep in mind when they did the open test in March, no one had the red alternate tire, and we didn't have the push-to-pass overtake button from Honda. So those are tools that would be available when we go back to race that weren't there when we tested in March.

And I certainly hope, depending on the difference in terms of just sheer grip level and how much faster the reds are than the primary black, combined with how quickly they deteriorate and fall off can play a huge role in the strategy of the race and that combined with the overtake button hopefully will provide opportunities for a better show when we get back down there next year.

Q: Ryan, what do you think about the ability to pass at Barber?

RYAN BRISCOE: It's a challenging track. It's got to be one of the most beautiful tracks to drive around. It's very smooth, high speed corners and elevation changes. It's just an absolutely first-class racing track and a lot of fun to drive around. It probably lacks the long straight with a heavy braking zone.

But barring saying that, there's a corner in the middle of the track, the left hand, the hairpin. The corner that leads on to the straight prior to that is a very long right-hander. As tires go off, tires will be performing differently. And especially prime tire/option tire. That's a corner where if there's a difference in the tires, you'll see in that turn which will set up a passing move down into that hairpin. So I think we'll just have to wait and see.

It's going to be a track where track position is important. But if different teams at the front are playing different strategies on tires and stuff, it will certainly open it up to different passing zones and so on.

But it's a beautiful track. I know when we're there I heard talk that they're open to suggestions about modifying the track, but I think it's good we go there with the existing circuit. It's a beautiful circuit. Hopefully we put on a good show and we don't have to make changes.

But I think if anyone looks at building tracks in the future, you've got to look at long straights with heavy braking zones.

Q: Why do you think on that track the press-to-pass button might be best utilized?

RYAN BRISCOE: At Barber, exit at Turn 2 will be the best place. You want to use it where, going towards where you think the best passing will be. Whether it's to defend or attack.

You know, that's where you want to hit the button. And that's when you're in traffic. If you're not in traffic, I think -- unless you're going to use them -- you come to the final stage of the race, you want to hang on to them.

But that's going to be, I think, the one passing zone on that track and where we need to be using the button.

Q: Ryan, even though the changes that were made to the cars were to enhance competition, were sort of eagerly anticipated and got good reviews this weekend, from a selfish point of view, where you are at points and with the strong team you're on that's been producing very good results for you, is there any selfish part of you that just wishes that everyone could have stood with the status quo for just a couple more months?

RYAN BRISCOE: No. Look at the results. I thought it was great. And I think it might have gotten the Ganassi guys into a little bit of trouble Saturday night. I don't think they ran enough down force in the cars. When they got into traffic they started having trouble. And I think exactly what we're looking for from a package, between being able to run the right amount of down force or maybe getting a bit greedy and not running enough.

I think that's exactly what we were looking for. I've got to really thank Brian for taking the initiative halfway through a racing season to try to improve the series. I think it was a great move. And, you know, we saw Ed out there as well I think also prior to the changes and enabled him to come from mid-pack on the start, come through the field and be aggressive and make lots of passes.

So all in all I'm really happy about it. And anything that makes our racing more exciting is better for me.

Q: Seems like an odd perspective from someone whose job is to go out there and win and put everyone else behind them. You actually are concerned about the quality of the racing and not just if you're the guy on top of the podium?

RYAN BRISCOE: Well, I think it's helped me get to the top of the podium on top of everything else. So I'm not complaining.

Q: Brian, will these changes and tweaks that go well and everyone likes, do we assume they sort of go into the blueprint for the new car, or are these just sort of fixes and tweaks on the current car to get you to the new car, until you debut the new car?

BRIAN BARNHART: I think it's important to keep the philosophy of what worked and what improved us from Kansas and Texas not being what we had been accustomed to, to make these little tweaks. A couple aspects to that.

The one thing I'd like to point out is I wish people fully understood how fine a line it is between running earlier in the season like we did and what these changes are with those tools available and the choices to make it's only 300 pounds of downforce, efficient downforce as options to them through the combinations of the rear tire ramps, the side pot extensions and the wheel backing plates. The mandatory remover of the wickers was the only one that was required.

The other ones were their choices. And in the big picture that's really a small level and a small amount of adjustments that were given back to the teams, but as evidenced in the product on Saturday night, it made a huge difference. So it is very much a fine line and a balancing act in between them.

I think you'll see even more when we get to Chicagoland. I think it will be even tighter than we were at Kentucky, as hard as that might be to believe, I think it will be deeper through the field. Chicago has a little more banking on the racetrack, a little smoother racetrack. And just the nature of that track in itself, I think it will be another repeat and probably even more so from what we saw Saturday night.

So it is such a fine line in terms of the competition and the balance. And I agree with Ed's comment: It is very nice to give the teams choices to get a little bit, move a little bit further away from the spec aspect of it.

That to me is important to remember. And then for us, when we're designing the new car, to answer your question, we know what worked. And what worked was giving the teams tools and choices. And that concept or that philosophy needs to carry over in the new car.

Q: This is for Ed. Ed you were talking a while ago with Bruce Martin about the way you've changed, the way you've gotten better on road courses. I'm wondering, as you sit there, what do you still see other guys doing better? You understand what I'm saying? I would think you're out there always studying. I know you've had some help I think from Bryan Herta and some folks. But what do you still see places where you can so-called make up ground?

ED CARPENTER: Pretty much already make up ground, I've gotten better -- my race pace is much better to where it needs to be. The biggest part of where I'm lacking is the first part of the weekend, getting my car set up quicker so that I can just worry about improving my lap time from a driving standpoint. But it's really just the biggest place I'm still lacking just comes down to experience.

And we're in a situation with our team where the league's added resources and more time to go testing and we don't always have the ability to take advantage of that just from a budget point. So it really just comes down to track time. Especially when we're going to venues that I've never been to it makes it that much more challenging. So the biggest thing for me is the experience aspect and needing more track time.

Q: One last thing, you're sitting there Saturday night and your whole team's fired up. And you're pretty happy. But I would think on the other side you were so close to a victory. Has that haunted you a little bit over the last couple days how close you got? And can you get there again? I think you said after the race you feel like now you can win a race. Is that the biggest thing you got out of this more than anything else?

ED CARPENTER: I thought for a long time I could win a race. Having the result we did the other night just reaffirms that. When you look at the photos, people asked me if I was pumping my fist. I wasn't so much pumping my fist, I was kind of putting my hand on my face, saying: Man, we were so close.

So I wasn't just happy to finish second. I was definitely disappointed that we got so close and couldn't pull the win out of there. But I can't wait to get to Chicago and Miami, because I think we'll have a chance to repeat that performance.

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we are out of time today. I appreciate everybody taking the time to join us for today's call. FastScripts by ASAP Sports

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bryan Herta
Teams Team Penske , HART