Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript July 27, 2004 Alex Barron MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. IndyCar Series driver Alex Barron, who is the defending champion of the Michigan Indy 400...
Indy Racing League
July 27, 2004
MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. IndyCar Series driver Alex Barron, who is the defending champion of the Michigan Indy 400 joins us from the Red Bull Cheever Racing garage, actually in Indianapolis. Alex, thanks for calling in today.
ALEX BARRON: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Q: Alex finished seventh over the weekend in Milwaukee after starting 15th. He's also the defending champion of the Michigan Indy 400. First, Alex, tell us about a long day at Milwaukee, what kind of a day challenge it is to put in 225 laps at Milwaukee.
ALEX BARRON: I think it was definitely a bit different race than most of the IRL races, the track being so flat. We were constantly trying to search for grip with the car, just as every other team was. I think racing there in the past in the other series played a part in just trying to be changing your lines around the track. I think you do that more there than you do anywhere else. We just made some adjustments for the car after warm-up.
We had a solid car all day. We didn't quite have enough to run with the top three guys, but I think at the end of the day we were pretty happy with our result.
Q: Did you feel it change a lot, even from the Friday practice session, did the lines and such change all weekend?
ALEX BARRON: Yeah, it changed considerably. That track is very temperamental as far as heat goes. Turns, especially three and four, there's a black patch of asphalt that they cut out and put in there. It changes a lot with the temperature outside. If the sun comes out, you seem to lose quite a bit of grip. We were chasing that all weekend.
The cars that seemed to find the most grip, front and rear, seemed to run up in the front pretty much all day.
Q: The Pro Series guys talked about how slick it was in (Turn) 4. Is that where you felt it more than anywhere else?
ALEX BARRON: It seemed like halfway through three and four, all the way to the exit of four, the balance of the car, if you had a little bit too much front grip and the rear wasn't able to accomplish what the front was doing, a lot of people were getting into trouble.
Q: Can you talk about your thoughts heading into Michigan as you attempt to defend that title.
ALEX BARRON: Well, I'm very excited to go there. We're going to try some new things with Chevrolet. I know at Red Bull Cheever Racing we're doing everything we can here at the shop to prep ourselves to go there with a good car. We tested there. Things went really well. We're very excited. Winning there last year, I think to go there and try to run in the front pretty much all weekend is our goal for sure.
Q: Michigan is really such an important race to Chevrolet because of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit. Do you feel as a Chevrolet driver maybe a little extra pressure heading into that racetrack this weekend?
ALEX BARRON: No, not at all. I think we just got to go about it like the other races. I think having had tests there, we know somewhat of an idea of what we need to do to make the car mechanically get around the track. We got a good baseline. I'm sure, depending on the weather, you'll have to adjust accordingly, but that track, you're going to be flat out pretty much the whole race. Whoever can make the car the most efficient is going to run in the front.
MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions from the media.
Q: When you go to a racetrack like Michigan where you know you can run flat out, where normally you have two or three racing grooves that you can deal with, as a driver, is that something you look forward to?
ALEX BARRON: Well, I do. I think the format's a little bit different this year than it was last year with the power being dropped and going from three and a half to three liters. The power band is quite different.
But on the tracks that you're wide open and you have the speed in order to run in front, I think strategically that's a fun game to play. Especially if you're running around the guys that are quick week in and week out, there's a lot of trust going on there. You swap places pretty often, usually every lap or every other lap.
Q: Given the fact that Honda has shown so much power this season, do you feel in the Chevrolet that you guys got a lot of work to do for Michigan?
ALEX BARRON: Well, I think we're struggling a little bit right now. But I know that they're working very hard, and we're going to try some things this weekend. Obviously, Honda is stretched out a little bit. We're playing a little bit of catch-up. It changes quite a bit.
I'm not sure where we're going to be at when they he we show up there. We're definitely going to have some things to try and hopefully we can close the gap up. Going to Michigan and testing, going back there with a good car, if we get some more power, I think we'll be pretty competitive.
Q: Confidence-wise, having won on that racetrack, does that make -- what is the emotion there?
ALEX BARRON: I think there's a little more publicity for the team, myself as a driver, going in there, which helps everything. But at the end of the day, you have to do what you did the year previous, and that is just keep your head down and keep your focus on making the race car go fast. A lot of what went on for us there last year we had a lot of good stops at the end of the race. Things like that you got to focus on within the team.
Q: Are you more of a fan of those big sweeping bigger superspeedways or a place like Milwaukee where you're really fighting it all day?
ALEX BARRON: I think it just depends on where you're at with the speed of the car. If you're struggling to find speed, usually you're going to want to run the shorter circuits. Any time you have to lift off the throttle, you can make up some of it. It kind of brings everybody closer together. But somewhere where you go just flat out all day, at least a majority of the day, the speed of the car plays a big part in that.
Again, it just depends on where you're at. I'm sure that the teams that have been running in the front here lately are looking forward to Michigan because of where they're at speed-wise. But we're supposed to try some things and we'll see where we're at. Obviously, we'll know first thing on Friday.
Q: You're in Indianapolis now for a while. You haven't been home for a bit?
ALEX BARRON: I've been here in Indy, secondary residence, since pretty much March, April. Come to the shop every day and work with the guys. Engineering staff and myself, we're working really hard on trying to further the development of the car.
It's very strategic on how it's done. I think a lot of the teams that are running in front right now, they have a lot of outside development programs that have furthered that as far as being efficient with aero and mechanical things on the car. Today in the IRL the amount of testing that you can do, I think that plays a big part in how you actually show speed on the track.
Q: As far as the year has gone, you spending a lot of time at the shop, how has Eddie been to be around?
ALEX BARRON: Fantastic. Actually I was just at lunch. He showed up with some friends of his, colleagues that he had lunch with. Atmosphere is very good. I know he wants very badly to win races. That's my goal, obviously, too. I think the relationship's very strong. You're not going to find anybody that's going to push their team harder than Eddie. I mean, he's always on top of it. He has a big understanding. He's been in this business for a long time.
Q: Do you see Chevrolet going back to Ford and Cosworth again for help?
ALEX BARRON: As a team and a driver, I'm part of that development. Obviously, our stuff, a lot of it comes from the UK here at Speedway, and some in Torrance, Calif. It's hard to say where they're going to go in the future. I know what they're doing now. I know there's some bright things coming. I think Chevrolet is going to make a step in the right direction this weekend.
You never know exactly where you're at until you go out in the first session on Friday.
Q: As far as being on a big track like Michigan where basically you're cruising at one speed and stuff, do you ever kind of get lulled into la-la land going around and around or is it as exciting as it is racing on a short track like Phoenix or Nazareth or Milwaukee?
ALEX BARRON: I think the mind-set is definitely different. But at the end of the race, you want to just put yourself in a position, if you can, to try to win. You're always trying to move yourself around to be in the draft or when to overtake in a place like Michigan because you're usually flat out all around the circuit if you have a good car. I think that's what makes it so exciting, because there's so many lead changes.
See also: Paul Dana