Michael Andretti, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan PAT SULLIVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. And this is a very important press conference with Andretti Green Racing. For...
Michael Andretti, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan
PAT SULLIVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. And this is a very important press conference with Andretti Green Racing. For starters, you know it's officially looming towards the month of May. We want to welcome, prepare for his 61st year at the microphone, Mr. Tom Carnegie in the front row. Tom, great to see you with us. (Applause)
Well, in front of you is the team that is the defending champion of the Indianapolis 500 and a team that is two-time defending Indy Racing League series champion. A team that won 12 races in 2005, a very tough act to follow. Much news, of course, we had an unveiling of a new sponsor, which is very important to this team. I can't think of anything that would make more noise than the driver lineup for this running of the Indianapolis 500. We'll turn things over for a few comments to Michael Andretti. Michael, first of all, welcome back to Indianapolis. We know you're very excited about the squad that you have assembled and probably pretty excited about the guy who's closest to me, as well. Tell us about your team and how you're prepared.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Thanks. It's great being here and back here, and it's nice to see they have a podium big enough for the team. (Laughter)
Very exciting times for us for sure here at Andretti Green Racing and me personally, obviously with everything that's going on. You know, first I think with the team that we have, it's just been a dream these last three years. You know, I think we're just adding to it. We brought on Marco, which for me personally is very exciting. I think it's been very good for the team, get new fresh blood in here, young blood for these guys to pick on. (Laughter)
And for the old man coming back, too, for Indy. I'm very excited about it.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's more fresh blood to pick on. (Laughter)
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: So very excited about it. That seems to be the keyword here. Can't wait to get going. Can't wait to get out on the racetrack again and see how it goes. I know everybody at, within the whole team is really ready to go.
SULLIVAN: Now, I think I have this right, and Al will correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that we'll see out tomorrow, we'll see Tony Kanaan, of course, the former series champion out in his No. 11 7-Eleven car. We'll see Dario out in the 27, and Bryan will be out in the No. 1 Jim Beam Vonage entry, I think that's correct.
We'll see Marco out on the rookie orientation program on May 7th and 8th. This is one of my favorites of the month so far, I believe on May 7th and 8th, we'll see Michael out completing his refresher test. (Laughter)
Have you turned any laps here, Michael, just out of curiosity?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I haven't here, I've turned laps, I've tested, done some refreshing at Phoenix and also down at Homestead. I was happy to report that it went very well. I was very happy. I was a little worried going into the first test at Phoenix, and nobody even wanted to be around me in the morning before that. I was pretty crabby. Then I ran the first few laps, and I felt really comfortable, like I never got out of it. So from then on, I've been a happy guy again.
SULLIVAN: Tony, looks like you adjusted the microphone there. I sense you have a comment about this.
TONY KANAAN: No, no, just getting ready. It took us half a day to go flat all the way around Phoenix, and it took Michael three laps after two years to go flat. I was thinking he could give us his refreshing days, test days for us, I think.
SULLIVAN: Marco, first of all, welcome. We're excited to have you official entrant in the Indianapolis 500. Your emotions right now, excited, scared? Where are they?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Scared. (Laughter)
No, I'm again excited. That does seem to be the word. I think we actually could have had two decent results the first couple races if I could have finished. But I think the team has done an awesome job so far, and I'm looking forward to Japan to hopefully finish. But it's going to be an awesome time just to do my first laps here, let alone with my father. But it was special when we ran at Homestead, but I think this place is just different. It just means a lot to me. You know, I grew up here and actually now I'm living here, it's become a home to me. It's going to be special.
SULLIVAN: The plan really here is to allow about 15, 20 minutes or so of questions from the floor and then these drivers will be available for one-on-ones, and we'll try to spread out through the room. If you would, please, we've got a couple of microphones running here. I'll start here with the first question and we'll open it up.
Q</I>: Michael, what if you have so much fun in May that you just can't get out of the car after that?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I have to get out of the car, unfortunately; they're going to make me. The team, we feel would be a little too much of a strain on the team to run five cars outside Indianapolis. We just feel we can't do it. That's one of the reasons why we didn't choose to do any of the races in the first three races.
Q</I>: Your team, Michael, is known for the camaraderie it's had and all the practical jokes everybody has played on each other. Now with the boss driving and the boss's son driving, Bryan, are you and Tony going to let him off of you or not?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I'm still hands off. He's not, though.
BRYAN HERTA: Mike keeps thinking he's off-limits.
FRANCHITTI: I don't know where he got that idea. (Laughter)
HERTA: That's the funniest joke so far. (Laughter)
And Marco knows, I think Marco knows he's not off-limits.
KANAAN: Everything starts in Japan as a team rule because then obviously the first race ever with us was Japan. So you just said you were looking forward to Japan and I have to say me, too.
HERTA: Tony and I stayed with Marco last night at his house --
KANAAN: Our house, what do you mean?
HERTA: Our other house here.
KANAAN: I have to say there's only two beds in the house, so you guys can guess who slept in the couch. (Laughter)
HERTA: So I'd left my razor on my bus, I got here this morning and I said, "Marco, can I borrow a razor?" And he looked at me like ^Ö (Laughter)
KANAAN: What kind of question is that?
HERTA: I had to go ask TK for one. (Laughter)
MARCO ANDRETTI: I thought we were waiting for Japan.
KANAAN: A warm-up.
Q</I>: I want to ask Michael one thing about the team chemistry. I don't think anybody in American racing has done a better job with a multi-car race team than Andretti Green does. What do you attribute that to?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think these guys up here, that's where it starts. They're the leaders of the team, really, and then the guys underneath each one of them, when they see they're getting along so well and they're working together so well, everybody else within each one of their teams takes on the philosophy. I think that's been the key, I really do, is the chemistry of the drivers.
Continued in part 2