IRL: Kanaan and Andretti press conference, Part I

Indy Racing League March 25, 2003 Tony Kanaan, Michael Andretti Part 1 of 3 Operator: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Indy Racing League Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later...

Indy Racing League
March 25, 2003

Tony Kanaan, Michael Andretti

Part 1 of 3

Operator: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Indy Racing League Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Kent Johnson. Mr. Johnson, you may begin.

K. Johnson: Thank you again, Mary, and we certainly welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, March 25th. Today we will take a look back at this past weekend's events at Phoenix International Raceway, those being the Phoenix 100 for the Infiniti Pro Series as well as the Purex Dial Indy 200 for the IndyCar Series. Joining us today will be IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Michael Andretti.

Johnson: Tony drives the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Andretti Green Racing, and this past weekend at the Purex Dial Indy 200 he recorded his second consecutive MBNA Pole Award and went on to claim his first career IndyCar Series victory. And he currently stands atop the IndyCar Series point standings. His teammate Michael Andretti drives the No. 7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone and is co-owner of Andretti Green Racing. Michael started fifth this past weekend and led 23 laps before being involved in a late-race incident, which relegated him to 13th in the final standings. Again guys, thanks for joining us today. Tony, lets start with a question for you. You have built a reputation over your career of being a very fast driver and posting back-to-back pole positions in this year's first two events certainly backs that up. But it has to be a great feeling to have recorded a victory just two races into the 2003 season.

T. Kanaan: Definitely. I think, like you said, I have a reputation being as a fast driver but looked like at the end of last year. Thank God only Michael realized that and ended up hiring me for his team. I mean, I feel great, not only because of the wins but obviously the amount of work that we had put on into the team -- Michael, myself, Dario and all the guys at the shop. The guys are looking for sponsors. The whole Andretti Green Racing group and obviously it has been great to me and not so great for Michael Andretti so far. They have been running strong but not being able to actually accomplish what we want, which is 1, 2, 3. But we are nowhere close and whatever I can do to help them, which I do not think they need help, but I will do and I am extremely happy, and I am just trying to keep myself with the same attitude to go to the next race. It is really early so, yes, I did accomplish what I was looking for so far, but there is still a long ways to go.

Johnson: Now, Tony, continuing with that very thought, a race victory brings a great deal of emotions. How did you feel when you saw Michael come up and join you on the victory podium this past Sunday?

Kanaan: I felt very grateful actually because I wanted to give Michael and the whole 7-Eleven team that win, the first win of the team. I had that in my mind, and I probably had the feeling that Michael would give that to the team, which will be great as well but it could be me. I will be happy to be part of history and Andretti Green Racing. I felt very honored. Like I said, Michael deposit on me a lot of confidence and brought back on me a lot of things that I was not feeling anymore about racing just because of a lot of disappointments and probably not enough support from people around me that over the years I was kind of getting tired not to racing and then obviously I had always same the attitude. But I only realized when I joined Andretti Green Racing and got to work with Michael Andretti, and that brought a lot of things back that I thought-- You know it is day by day that you do not realize and when it comes back you say, "Oh, I had lost that." It is the confidence. It is how bad you want to win and how bad you want to work and have your teammate doing well, as well. I have to say that it is obviously a lot of work between myself and the team, but I need to thank Michael for all the credit that he has been giving to me and the all opportunity for sure I will never forget.

Johnson: Michael, turning to you, over the past two events we have heard Tony give a lot of credit to you for what you have done bringing this team together. In your position as an owner/driver you no doubt juggle various team responsibilities throughout the week when you are at the track, but come race day how do you maintain your focus simply on what you have to accomplish without worrying about your other two cars or can you?

M. Andretti: You cannot, and that is one of the reasons why I am retiring. I feel like my driving, it is mostly when I am out of the car, suffers where I do not feel like I give the engineers all the time that I need as a driver and I feel that that is a big -- The ownership thing is a big distraction, so from that standpoint it has been tough, and I think I can do it and handle it through Indy. If I want to make a year of that, I think it would really start to, my driving would start to suffer. That is why we have made the decision we have, but having said that I just have to compliment Tony. I mean he has given me a little more credit than I deserve. I think that it really comes down to the chemistry of all of us together. I think that is what is making this work and Tony's talent. Tony has shown what he has. He is very quick, and I always knew he could race well, too. It is just he has not had the chance, and I am glad this team has come together the way it has for him. I think Tony is going to win a lot of races for us, and he is definitely a big part of the future of Andretti Green Racing, along with Dario (Franchitti). And also having Dan (Wheldon), another rookie come on is going to be really good, but it is just been a dream so far, and Tony's really helped fulfill the dream by giving us our first win.

Johnson: Now Michael, looking back from your perspective this past Sunday, what can you tell us about the roller coaster of emotions you had to have gone through going from leading laps to having your race come to an end with a pretty heavy impact and then having Tony celebrate a win in victory lane?

Andretti: It was a weird day. We started off with a car that I thought was capable of winning because it felt so good. All I needed was track position and then I lost, I got clipped, my front wing clipped by, I think, Scheckter it was and then Buddy. Not Buddy but Jaques Lazier really took care of the rest of it by hitting my right front tire as well, and that pretty much messed up the rest of my day. And then having to battle there with Gil in the end, basically I was limping around, and I knew that he was going to get me. And then for whatever reason, I do not know what exactly happened, but we ended up in the wall and hurt a bit and really hurt when I looked down and looked at the car. It was like -- "Oh, this is going to be expensive." But I have to say, the whole time I was watching Tony's race. I was watching their strategy, and I thought they did a good thing by pitting in Lap 90, and I knew if Tony had track position that he would win the race because I know the car that he had. It was pretty identical to mine, and Tony did exactly that. Helio give him a good go. They ran side-by-side, and Tony never lifted and did what he needed to do. To watch the finish of the race and a place where I did not want to watch, in the medical room, but it just made up for all the bad stuff that happened that day. I was so happy. It was such a great feeling. It felt like I won the race.

Johnson: Now I would like to open the forum for questions from our media. Please keep in mind, we have two speakers, Tony and Michael, so I ask that you please address which driver the question is for.

Q: The events of the past week are kind of interesting here. What I wanted to do was ask you about since want to be killed in action is from the Easton area; what are you telling your son about this whole business? And how are you and your family holding up in this business here?

Andretti: Obviously, our prayers and wishes go out to everybody over there that is over there protecting our country. It is a tough situation for all of us. I think we all share the same feelings. It was sort of strange to read the newspaper the next day about the person that was killed, and he was just from down the road from where I live. So it hits home even a little more. But war is a tough thing, terrible thing, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and hopefully it will be over quick, and they will be able to restore peace over there and fulfill the goals that they needed to fulfill. But in the meantime, it is just tough on all of us. As I said, all our prayers go out to everybody involved.

Q: Michael, I assume you have seen the replays of that awful-looking crash. Do you still concur with your thoughts of how it may have occurred and what happened in it?

Andretti: Yes, actually more so after seeing it. Pretty much what happened, what I thought happened happened. I mean Gil (de Ferran), as I turned in, I had to start to turn in, and Gil was sort of turning to the right while I was having to start to turn the left, and that is where we locked. I do not know if he misjudged or what on the corner. Yes, I mean my feelings are still the same on the incident.

Part II

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Jaques Lazier