IRL: Indy 500: Jenkins, Page, Goodyear press conference, part III

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript May 6, 2003 Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear Part 3 of 3 Q: Paul, could you speak to the significance of the possibility of there being less than 33 cars in this year's field? P.

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
May 6, 2003

Bob Jenkins, Paul Page and Scott Goodyear

Part 3 of 3

Q: Paul, could you speak to the significance of the possibility of there being less than 33 cars in this year's field?

P. Page: Yes, I can start by saying I do not believe it. I do not why. Well yes, I do know why there is a focus on that. It is because the league and the car driver combination at this moment do not forecast 33 cars on Saturday. And again, one of the things I always think is so cool at Indy is walking down the pits in the garage area and looking at all the guys with helmet bags and all the possibilities that are going to kick up there. And Bryan Herta just got announced yesterday, though it is really a replacement. Jimmy Kite bounces in on the 18 car. But just think of the list of names of people who are there, and once you get the first car in the field, if I am an owner, I am sitting there, I have my car qualified or my two cars qualified and I know that the Indy 500 pays so much, now I am going to look and the driver is going to look. So you have Jeff Ward, Memo Gidley, all of those guys are available, Alex Barron. I mean, all of them are sitting there and it is a fairly large group who are capable of qualifying cars and there are going to be cars there. No owner worth his salt is going to announce that prior to getting his cars in on Saturday, but I will tell you what, I am heading for the garage area as soon as qualifying is done on Saturday because the negotiations back there are going to be stupendous. And they are going to be 33 cars.

B. Jenkins: I think the question is 'where in the world did the media come up with the idea that there may not be (33 cars)?' Now, I may be all wrong about this, and if I am, believe me at the end of qualifying a week from Sunday I am going to apologize. But just because when we entered this month of May we had only 28 car and driver combinations does not mean that we are going to have less than 33 cars. There are 67 cars entered in this year's '500'. Yes, there will not be that many cars show up. There will certainly not be that many that pass technical inspection. But there will be enough cars to fill a 33 car field. Yes, right now there are 28 drivers that are listed as having a ride, but there are at least that many, if not more, that are there seeking a ride and those rides will come together as they always have in the past, especially as Paul said, when a primary car is qualified and even if the owner does not want to put in a second car, he is going to offer that car up for lease to somebody and somebody else is going to come along and say, 'okay, we will lease it for this particular driver'. Again, I will apologize profusely if I am wrong about this, but I just do not think that it is not going to be the way it is. We will see 33 cars and we will probably see two or three bumped, I think.

P. Page: And let me add that if it goes the way you are suggesting and there are not 33 going into Bump Day and there are not a lot of folks in line, there will be an 'ABC Sports Special' owned by Jenkins and Page and driven by Goodyear.

B. Jenkins: That is right.

Q: Bob, I drew that assumption simply because, tell me if I am wrong, that there were engines enough for 34 cars. Was I wrong? You say that you wonder where the media got the impression there would be a shortage of cars. And if I heard what I thought I heard said, that there are enough engines for 34 cars. Now I understand you might have three engines assigned to one car, but if you can only service 34 cars? Am I wrong?

B. Jenkins: Well, I do not know that you are necessarily wrong. I am just saying that the number that you have heard may be accurate or it may not be. And I just cannot see any way that there will not be another engine here or there found, or a way to service an engine if we do come up with 31 or 32 and need one more. I just do not see it being that way.

S. Goodyear: If I can add to that for a second. What generally happens when you are a team and you go into the event is you have so many engines allocated for the month and you basically want to make sure that your one driver or two drivers, or how many you have, get qualified on the first weekend. And then, once you have done that, you might have used one, maybe two engines throughout this week. You will have one in for a qualifying weekend. All those engines, once they are mileaged-out, then they get sent back to the engine manufacturer. So come Sunday, this weekend, once we have qualifying in and for the people that have made the field, they will then set one or maybe two engines aside for the week for getting ready for full tank runs and then they will have an engine sitting aside for basically the race itself. Now that all is said and done, each team, or car for each team, generally has six to eight engines and the bigger teams I am going to say probably have more than that in rotation. So what essentially happens after first qualifying weekend is that they are sitting there looking at the equipment they have, and realizing that they do not need all the engines they have, and then there is some spare chassis sitting around and I know the big premises has been put on the engines. But let me only assure you that I believe what is going to end up happening is that, for every team that has six to 10 engines, once they are qualified this weekend they are really only going to need three. And the other engines go back to rebuild, and as they start to trickle back into the garages through the month of May, because the turnaround time is generally anywhere from 2 to 4 days depending on how far they have to travel, then you end up with some engines sitting there and the teams have a different look on life and a different perspective, and they go 'okay great, now maybe we can actually put another car in,' because everybody wants to have a car in the event or an additional car or they will lease an engine out or maybe then Honda and Toyota, because those were the ones that are talking about, I guess, really along with Chevrolet, saying that all of sudden 'yes, we will have an engine now.' Well, we have just found an engine, or we have some coming available to us, so everybody in the garage area knows how the game is played and it will be a whole completely different game come Monday of next week.

P. Page: Never underestimate an IndyCar Series teams' ability to motivate itself and figure stuff out.

S. Goodyear: Absolutely. Because for every engine that goes out for the team that is all ready set, if it is getting loaned to a different team there is generally a deal that goes along with it that it is 'x amount' to start and if it finishes it might get a percentage of the prize money. So it is all about business and doors will be open come Monday after qualifying. There is no doubt about that.

Q: I do not know who wants to handle this, but I guess anyone is capable. I am wondering, how important do you feel this race is for Sam Hornish? He has been the IRL star the last two years but has really had a lackluster season. Chevrolet power, I guess, has a lot to do with that. But what do you think his mindset is, going in? I mean, is he writing off the season already and just looking at Indy to salvage it?

S. Goodyear: I guess I will start on that since my team is quiet on the other side of it. I think the most important thing that we have to be reminded of is that there have been new teams and drivers come in and has Sam Hornish lost any of his ability to drive a car? Absolutely not. Has he lost any of his desire? Absolutely not. Although we may not be able to follow him on the screen as much as we did last year because he was leading or putting on some fabulous moves, I think that now if you had a chance to watch him in practice as we do standing up in the television booth or any time he gets around traffic or through the race, I mean, Sam is still doing what Sam does best and that is drive a race car. And there is no doubt in my mind that the motivation has not gone from that team because I drove with those guys for three years, so I can tell you that the cast of characters that are over there right now, I mean they are not very happy about it but there is no doubt that they are working very diligently just to improve it from qualifying maybe 12th to eighth and finishing higher the next race. I mean, that is how they are driven over there, as most teams are. And I do not think Sam, although it might not be what he has from everything that I have read and some conversations with him, I mean he knows the reality of it. He knows the reality, that if you had a Toyota or a Honda, that he would be doing the same thing that he did last year and there would be people chasing him on the race track. And if you had to look at it, back to what I first said at the very outset, is that has he lost any of his desire or ability? Absolutely not. I still think that he is one of the top two or three guys, as far as talent and natural ability, in the series right now. It will be a very trying year for him. You look at it now and you say there might be just absolutely no way that he can win a race this year. But once we get off these real high-speed tracks, and maybe when you get to a place like Richmond, maybe the Sam Hornish that we know shines through. I mean, what he did there last year was truly remarkable. And Chevrolet is working along, everybody said they were down 40 or 50 horsepower at the beginning of the year, now everybody thinks they are down 20 or 25 and we will see what happens here. They have some new bits and pieces that are going on the cars and I guess we will see what happens. And do not forget, Indy is about speed, but there has been times when you have had horsepower and you cannot get around the turns. And just because the straights are five-eighths-of-a-mile long does not mean it is all about horsepower. It is all about strategy, timing and right pit stops and all the stuff that goes along with it. And maybe Sam has not made the best of the situation for the past two years and everybody is writing him off this year. This just might be the year that he comes across the finish line first. I will leave it up to my teammates now.

P. Page: No, you did a perfect job. You are the driver guy--

Q: Bob, you know, you and I we grew up with the Indy 500, the standard thing. Now there has been so much construction done, even back to when they moved the museum to the infield. Do you believe the changes in the facility overall has detracted the tradition or impacted it for the better?

B. Jenkins: Well, you have to remember that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909 and it survived 87 years and you cannot go through 87 years without making changes. There was that time six or eight or ten years ago when so many race tracks were being built and as they were being built they were built to be state-of-the-art. Beautiful facilities like Las Vegas and Texas and right on down the line. And you see this 87-year-old relic sitting here at Indianapolis you had do something to make it attractive for the fans and to keep up with the day, if you will. And I think that they have done a tremendous job at the Speedway, maintaining as much as heritage and maintaining as much tradition as they possibly can while continuing to update the facility itself. They have built a new area back of the Pagoda now that gets rid of those big temporary buildings that they used to have. They have opened that up to give the fans more of an area to come to eat in, to listen to bands play, to enjoy themselves if they want to turn their attention away from the Speedway. The 2½ mile oval has not been changed. It never will be changed. That is the Speedway. Everything else is just being updated because, hopefully, we can keep up with making the fan as comfortable as he is at any other race track in the United States.

Q: One quick follow-up. Scott, I hear you are going to take the IRL two-seater out and give Paul Page your best lap.

P. Page: Oh I would go for that.

S. Goodyear: You know Paul would go for that. But I hope that Paul is a better passenger than he is a navigator. Bob and I do have a little bit of laughing right now in that we always share a rental car when we go to race tracks and this is part of why I think the team works so well. And Paul has been designated to be the co-pilot in the front seat and give his directions and we do leave areas early just to make sure that we arrive on time.

P. Page: One little mistake guys, one little mistake.

S. Goodyear: No, I have actually have not been in an Indy-style car since the crash at Indy in May of 2001 and I do not miss it. As you guys are all probably well aware, I was retiring after 2000 with the exception of just going and doing Indy, and Indy of 2001 was a disappointment after the all umpteen miles testing with the Infiniti engine and had worked well with Eddie Cheever and the team and was prepared and I think we had a great race car that day. We just did not get very far. So it is was a shameful way to finish the last race, but at that point in time it was one race only and I am not missing it, so I am not sure that I am really destined to go sit in the two-seater. It must fire up some juices or something like that, then I will have to come home and explain it to my wife so that will not work.

P. Page: And it is bad enough in a rental car.

B. Jenkins: Just might add that Paul is a tremendous Civil War buff. He studies it. He knows it. He is very good. So we went to Richmond last year and we were all looking very much forward to seeing some historic sites. We are planning to tour around the city, but due to Paul's poor navigational skills, first of all, we only saw one or two things that we had set out to see and the thing that I wanted to see was the cemetery that is in Richmond that is equivalent to Arlington National Cemetery.

P. Page: You saw it.

B. Jenkins: We got there as it was closing and had to turn around and exit as soon as we got there.

P. Page: But were you in it? Did you not go in it?

B. Jenkins: For 15, 20 seconds, yes.

P. Page: Then you saw it. That is all I have to say.

S. Goodyear: The only reason we were in it is the man allowed us to go through the gate, do a U-turn to get back outside the gate before we locked it.

B. Jenkins: That is exactly right.

K. Johnson: Scott, another storyline at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year is Robby Gordon's attempt to pull the Indianapolis/Charlotte double. As a driver, I know you have not done a double involving Indianapolis, but you have driven some endurance races. What are some of the challenges that Robby has ahead of him as he tries this?

S. Goodyear: Well, obviously the big thing is the fitness level, the focus, the fatigue that comes through not just from being on the track, but obviously with the commute that goes between those two places. But Robby was a teammate of mine back in the Indy-style days and I mean he eats, breathes and sleeps motor racing. I think he is doing a great job as an open-wheel guy transferring himself into Winston Cup right now, and there is no doubt I think that he will be a contender if everything stays together for him and there are no mishaps along the way at the end of the '500'. And obviously he has come close, like I have a few times, and it just fuels the juices for him and I think that why he is coming back to do that right now is that he knows it is an opportunity. He has a good team with the Andretti Green team and he looks at this as an opportunity. And when you look at as that, and not as burden, I think that just helps your energy in getting yourself commuted from one point to another and do all the things that not only need to be done on race day but also the time leading up to it and the commute just to go testing and racing both with the Indy-style and with his stock car. So I give him credit for doing it. I thing that it is a great story line and if there is anybody out there that can do it, I think that he is the guy to do it and he just brushes it off. He does not take it as a burden when people ask him about all that. He just goes 'you know something, it is what I am going to do and I will it get done.' And I think that is the attitude you have to have.

P. Page: And he has to adjust to going that slow later in the day.

S. Goodyear: It is going to be different. It is narrow track over here, 230 miles an hour they will be doing top speed and it is a flat track. It is a completely different car. You get over there and they are definitely going slower, but you have many more hours and running underneath the lights over there, too. So you have basically, for lack of a better term, night and day difference on the situation that he is coming up to.

K. Johnson: Well there do not appear to be any more questions for Bob, Paul or Scott. So gentlemen, I certainly thank you for joining us today and we all look forward to your coverage at the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 for ABC Sports.

Part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Eddie Cheever , Jeff Ward , Scott Goodyear , Memo Gidley , Jimmy Kite , Bryan Herta , Alex Barron , Sam Hornis