IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: Indy500: Michael Andretti/Barry Green press conference excerpts

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "We're real happy with the way it went on Thursday with the race car. I think we have a car that's gonna be competitive. We're all excited and we just want to get this thing going. Hopefully, Mother Nature is going to cooperate...

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "We're real happy with the way it went on Thursday with the race car. I think we have a car that's gonna be competitive. We're all excited and we just want to get this thing going. Hopefully, Mother Nature is going to cooperate with us so we can get it done tomorrow. There's maybe a few more things I would have liked to try, but that's part of the problem. We didn't have all of the running. We were very lucky to have the Panther team running last week. They did a lot of work, a lot of things we wanted to try, they tried and it seemed to work as well, so when we got in the car on Thursday I was quite happy. There might have been one or two more things I would have liked to have done, but I gotta say that they did a good job. You always wonder when you get in the car, 'Is it going to be good?' and my first lap out I thought 'OK, good. We've got ourselves a race car here." We just tried a few more things; I think we improved it a little bit more. If conditions are better then it's actually gonna make the car be more comfortable to drive. I think there's gonna be a lot of guys wondering what they need to do with their set-up because tomorrow if it's cloudy like this, you're gonna have a lot more grip than normal. I think you're gonna have a lot more making last-second changes on the grid and we may be one of them. Indianapolis is very, very different on Race Day, especially for rookies. They have no clue what they're in store for especially the first few laps with all the turbulence they're going to experience out there. It's a bit of a shock. There's a lot of guys that are really good at running at running four laps by themselves in clean air, but there's only probably half the field that gonna be able to be strong in traffic all day long. I think that's when things get weeded out a little bit more, that's when the field becomes more of a 15 car field that you're racing against rather than 33."

Are you going to talk to rookie Jon Herb starting directly in front of you?

"If I see him at the driver's meeting. If I do see him, I'll just tell him we need to all take care of ourselves and not try to win it on the first lap and all of that stuff. And also try to tell him what the turbulence is gonna be like because it's just incredible the way the cars just fly all over the place from all the wind out there."

About starting in 21st

"It's no fun. The cars just get thrown all over the place from all the wind, and so it's tough. I think the whole thing is be hopeful that the first lap everybody gets through the first and second corner clean. If that happens then we should be OK."

About the chance of rain on Sunday

"It's beyond our control, and we have to deal with it. Everybody is in the same boat, and I think it affects us like it does everybody else here. For us, it will be tough because we go right to Milwaukee, so we'd sure like to get an extra day in there of a little rest. I think cosmetically the place is a lot different with the F1 thing and stuff that they've done here with the improvements they made. When you get down to it a lot of the basics are still here, you still have the yellow shirts, you still have track inspections every five minutes, so it's still the same old Indy. I think I appreciate it a lot more now than I every have. I think I took it for granted when we knew we were coming back here every year and not being here for five years you realize how big this event is and I appreciate it that much more now. The cars are a little bit different to drive; an IRL car has about 200-300 less horsepower. So when you make changes, you have to be very careful not to scrub off speed in the corner. If you get a little to much understeer or you scrub off a little bit too much speed, you don't have the horsepower to pull you out of it, and that's one of the things I learned during the week. That was the difference between my car on Saturday and one on Sunday. We just figured out how to get it through the corner a little nicer without scrubbing speed. The feel of the car is different because you have these engines that are very high CG (center of gravity). There's a lot of weight up high, and then you have the gearbox that goes out beyond the centerline of the rear wheels pretty far, and it's pretty heavy. So when you go into a corner, it's sort of a heavy feeling in the back end. When you turn in, there's like a delay and then the back end follows it, and then takes a set, which is quite different from the CART cars, which are very responsive. There are a little lazy in the way they respond. And you have to get used to that. You have to set up of that. Things are very different. Things that work on a CART car, most of them don't work on setting these cars up. And that was some of the problems we were having. That's where it worked out; Barry was very smart getting with a team like Panther who had the experience with these cars that kept us on track. We've still got to try to get to the front as quick as we can because this race is a lot about track position, especially near the end of the race. I think we'd like to put ourselves in a position were we can be up front. We're going to have to charge in the beginning to get there. But you never know with this race. You never know how yellows fall. You never know how strategies are going to be with pit stops. We're going be trying very hard from the beginning."

BARRY GREEN: "As you know we've joined forces with Panther Racing and I think the association has been a very, very good one. In fact the whole idea of joining forces with them was to minimize the impact on the CART program and I think we achieved that. I think we've made some even closer friends there. I've known John Barnes for a long, long time and raced against him and I'm really pleased with how the two teams have blended. We've got a handful of our guys involved but it's mostly people that are from Panther. They've prepared really good cars and I think it's been a good effort. We were perhaps a little confused last weekend with qualifying. Looking back I think we were a little to conservative knowing we had to do too much or do everything in one week. We concentrated on running in the heat of the day as opposed to at least finding out what the car was like in good conditions, meaning happy hour, because as it turned out, the track on qualifying day was in sort of happy hour condition, and we hadn't trimmed out quite enough for that. All the guys over the wall are regular guys on Michael's car in the CART events. Behind the wall are combination of our people and Panther's people. That was the plan going in. John Barnes had asked us if we could come with a few experienced pit crew guys that would really help, and, of course, I've got 75 people at Team Green, and I think we would've had 75 volunteers if I asked for it. We won here in '95 and haven't returned since then. I think the CART schedule is very busy and keeps us busy, but for any of the CART teams that live here in town it's worse being in Indianapolis and not involved in the Indy 500 than for the teams that aren't here in town. It's very hard, it's the talk of the town for a month, and it's very had being involved in the business and not being involved in this race. It's a special race. It's very challenging, the whole month, the way qualifying goes, the four laps, the four longest laps a I think that a driver would ever do. He's got to be perfect. And the average of four opposed to the best one is very challenging. To get in the field and for us to go through what we went through. Withdrawing a car on Sunday was a job for me. I've never done that before. To be in the race and then by handing a person a piece of paper, you're out of the race, at least temporarily and hoping we don't have any problems in the next four or five laps and that we can get back in the race was very, very challenging."

Difference between Champ cars and Indy Racing cars

"I think the cars are constructed almost the same. They're very similar in many areas. I don't think the preparation is anymore or any less on either of the cars. I think the biggest difference is the driver and how he feels."

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jon Herb , Michael Andretti , Barry Green , John Barnes
Teams Panther Racing