IRL: Indy 500: Pace car driver Lance Armstong interview

AN INTERVIEW WITH 2006 INDIANAPOLIS 500 PACE CAR DRIVER LANCE ARMSTRONG INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 4, 2006 -- An interview with seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who was named April 4 as the driver of the 2006 Chevrolet ...

AN INTERVIEW WITH 2006 INDIANAPOLIS 500 PACE CAR DRIVER LANCE ARMSTRONG

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, April 4, 2006 -- An interview with seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who was named April 4 as the driver of the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Pace Car for the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28.

Armstrong, 34, from Austin, Texas, retired from competitive cycling after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France in 2005. He now focuses on the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which provides the practical information and tools people living with cancer need to live strong.

Q</I>: Your name will now not only be connected to the Tour but connected to the Indy 500. That's two very different world-class sporting events. How's it feel to add another medal to the chest?

LANCE ARMSTRONG: All I can say is that when we got the phone call to ask if I was interested in driving the Pace Car at Indy, it was a very short conversation. It was like: "Are you kidding? Of course." It is a huge honor and something that I am very excited to do. Hopefully I can not mess things up, if that's possible.

Q</I>: There are a lot of big names associated with the Indianapolis 500. Even Colin Powell was a Pace Car driver. What's it like to be in that kind of company?

ARMSTRONG: It is arguably one of the most famous sporting events in the world, and every year there can only be one guy to drive the Pace Car. For me to be selected and asked to come, it is a huge honor. To have the role and to come a year after a great man like Colin Powell is a big honor.

Q</I>: What else do you think your positive thoughts will be besides being nervous?

ARMSTRONG: It will be a rush driving around with 250,000 people there. In the opening laps is probably when they are the loudest they could be screaming for their favorite driver. You try to take all of that in. It will have been almost a year since I have heard that as a sportsman. It will be neat to get a little of that back.

Q</I>: Talk about driving it (Corvette Z06) over. What are your initial impressions of the car?

ARMSTRONG: It is always interesting the first time you get in a car. Obviously, the speed and the handling of it is different, and the different details of it. I mean, having the speedometer in the front windshield was something that I've never experienced before, and that took some getting used to. The power was there, and every red light was a temptation.

Q</I>: You drove a Z06 on the way over here. Which was easier to handle? Your bike or the Z06?

ARMSTRONG: I spent 20 years racing the bike professionally, so I've gotten used to that. Driving a high-powered vehicle like that is totally different. I'd have to pick the bike as easier to handle. It was a little tricky. I got three speeding tickets on the way over, so I'm looking at who to give those to so I get reimbursed.

Q</I>: If we broke into your garage, would we find any Chevys?

ARMSTRONG: You would find a Suburban outside the garage. My main car is a Chevy Suburban. For me, it is great because I can throw all my bikes in. I can throw my kids in, and it makes it easier to get around town.

Q</I>: Whether you're going wheel to wheel for 500 miles in an IndyCar or going wheel to wheel in 12 stages of the Tour de France, there are certain components of an athlete that make them successful. What do you think those are?

ARMSTRONG: I think when comparing cycling to other events like the Indy 500, sometimes in motorsports, people don't consider them to be athletes, but they are extremely fit. I know a lot of drivers that spend a lot of time on the bike and a lot of time in the gym, and I can tell you they are athletes.

Q</I>: This is not only a great opportunity for you but for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Talk about how pleased you are to get additional exposure for your worldwide foundation.

ARMSTRONG: You know, all of these opportunities are great for us. They are great for me as an athlete. They are great for me as a philanthropist; they're great for the Foundation. It is just another opportunity to say, "Hey America, or to the world that cancer should be a national priority, a global priority." It (cancer) is something that I think we've grown accustomed to and used to, and that has to change in this country. This is another chance for me to stand up as a cancer survivor and say: "I'm here; I won seven Tours. I'm driving the Pace Car at Indy, and oh, by the way, this country has to do more for the fight on cancer."

***

Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, the 90th running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.

Ticket prices start at just $20.

-ims

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