IRL: Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan press conference, part III

IRL press conference with Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan Part 3 of 3 Q: Mike, you said that you would continue with a three-car team, you are committed to a three-car team even if you retire. Have you had your eye on anybody in particular...

IRL press conference with Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan

Part 3 of 3

Q: Mike, you said that you would continue with a three-car team, you are committed to a three-car team even if you retire. Have you had your eye on anybody in particular to take your place if you do step out of the car?

Andretti: Yes, if I were to step out of the car, Dan Wheldon would take over my spot.

Q: How did you make contact with Dan? Where did you know him from?

Andretti: Actually, Kim Green watched his whole career and was very impressed with him and did a lot of research on him. And if you look at his career, he has done a very good job. And then we did a test with him, and we were all very impressed with him with his feedback and his speed and just the way he handles himself. I think there is a kid that has a strong future, we all believe, and we want to get behind him. In our team, we want to also not only have the stars like we have with Dario and Tony, but we also want to have one young gun that we can hopefully bring up to, as well. We feel that Dan could be a real future guy in this series.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Boy, I got around to the second one, Michael. Question, more of a statement and if you could respond to it. A lot of people think that you are a little overlooked in your career, and you were probably one of the most enduring and successful drivers in open-wheel racing in America for the last I would say two decades. To just leave without a -- I am not suggesting that you have another Arrivederci Tour, too, or something. But is that something that maybe the fan should have? How does that fit into the thing?

Andretti: I do not know. I mean, it is something that we definitely have thought about that, and so I do not know. It is one of those things that for me, personally, I am one of those that does not like all the fanfare and things like that. But then again it would be nice to do something for the fans. So if I were to do it I guess I would stil l-- That is why I feel like I would have to make a decision soon so I can let my fans know what I am going to do. I do not want to just get to a point and find out that is not working and then just say I am not going to do it. So when I make my decision, I want to make it where I am not going to surprise anybody. I do not know if that answered your question or not.

Q: No, I see where you are coming from. Thank you very much.

Q: Happy New Year.

Andretti: Happy New Year, Dick.

Q: I want to ask you, you know your Dad, Foyt and Big Al, they all drove in to their 50s, but it seems now drivers are, you will be 40. Eddie Cheever is getting close to saying only Indy. Is there a difference now? Is there more young talent coming up that is bringing on this reason to not go into your 50s?

Andretti: Absolutely. I mean, those days are gone. You can do it, but you are not going to be competitive. I mean it is so competitive out there nowadays. There are so many young kids out there that when they get to be 21 they have been racing for so long that they not only have the bravado and all that, but they also have the experience because they have been racing so long and have been well trained. It is just much different than it was 10, 15 years ago.

Q: Second question. Does your son do any racing or?

Andretti: Yes, he is doing real well. He is now going to be graduating from go-karts to cars, and we are going to put him into the Skip Barber program, and he is going to start racing that next year. So we are pretty excited for him. His all excited. It will be interesting to see how he does. I think he is going to do pretty well.

Q: Would you be like A.J.'s got his grandson, would you like to some day be the car owner?

Andretti: That would be a dream. I would love to get it to that point. It would just be unbelievable to have your son driving for you on your own team. That could very well happen. I mean, that could actually happen in the next four or five years if everything goes really well for him. But I am not going to put that pressure on him. We are just going to have to see how it goes, and the next big step is race cars instead of go-karts, and we are going to have probably a good idea next year on whether we feel that he has really what it takes to do it. I personally think he does, but we will have to wait and see.

Q: Clarification, Mike. You are going to have this announcement before the--

Andretti: Yes, I would like to make it before the start of season. I would like to have an announcement on what I am going to do.

Q: And will that coincide with this team announcement at the end of the month?

Andretti: Well, at the moment, the team announcement -- Well, I would hope that I would have something to say by then. That would be nice. But the team announcement is the main reason at the moment for the team announcement is just to announce all our sponsors and to give everybody an idea what everything is going to look like. There may be a possibility -- Let me put this way, if I make a decision, it will probably made by then. Put it that way.

Q: You really cleared that up.

Andretti: Did I?

Q: Yes.

Andretti: I want to know what I am going to do. I am really going through a lot of things in my mind right now, and I have to really decide what I want to do, and I have to do it sooner than later, and it will probably be by then. I definitely have an answer.

Q: Yes, Michael, to beat this into the ground further. All you are committed to right now then is the first four races through Indy, right?

Andretti: No, at the moment I committed to the whole year.

Q: Michael, just a follow-up, and I guess the horse is going to get deader. If you decide -- Are there any thoughts if you decide to race the full season of maybe putting Dan in Infiniti Pro Series to keep him in your stable?

Andretti: No, we are going to keep him in our stable. If he is not driving in terms of racing, he is going to be driving with testing because we did sign him to a testing agreement. So he is contracted to our team to do a lot of testing this year.

Q: Great. That is all I needed. Thanks.

Q: Question. Tony, you led 23 laps at Indy last year, and you have won (on) a superspeedway. How do you feel? Do you like the idea of going to an all-oval series, and do you think you can be a winner, a regular winner on the circuit?

Miller: Is Tony still with us?

Kanaan: Yes, can you hear me?

Miller: We can hear you now, go ahead.

Kanaan: Yes, definitely. I think Indianapolis is still -- I still dream about that. I wake up at night sometimes thinking that I won that thing. Obviously, like Michael said, we put a pretty good team together, so I definitely feel that we are going to be really strong, and I am going to have a chance to win every race we go. So is every other driver, as well, because the series is so competitive. About the ovals, I do like the ovals a lot, but I am going to miss both courses, as well, and I wish one day we can go back on it. That is where I came from. Funny or not, I never won a road course race in CART. I led a lot of them, but I never could make it. The only race I won was in the superspeedway. I do like the ovals a lot, and I am going to get used to it, but I am going to miss the road courses, for sure.

Q: What did you learn about your experience at Indy last year?

Kanaan: You never win until the last lap.

Andretti: I could have told you that.

Kanaan: I watched you, Mike, in the past, too. He came much closer than I did. I think what I learned is like it is another level of racing. You say it is another 500-mile race. Yes, I do agree with that but the people, the atmosphere, it is something that I never experienced in my life. And when I woke up that day, and I walk into the track, and I saw the amount of people and the whole atmosphere is just completely different than I never experienced before. I learned that you have to be focused, and you have to have a good car and have a good sponsor.

Q: That helps. Thank you. Well done.

Miller: We have just two more questions. As soon as these two questions are over, we will conclude the call.

Q: The test, there was almost everybody who is going to be pretty this year was there. Outside of your teammates was there a car -- If both of you could answer. --a car that you were watching, you caught yourself watching the most? Was there one care that you were kind of most interested in how they were running?

Andretti: Well, obviously, you have to watch the Penske team. I think they are going to be a factor. There is a no question about that. And then you are watching obviously the Panther team because they have a great track record in it. But then there were others. You have to watch a guy like Kenny Brack and that team. And then you have the Ganassi team, as well. There is a long list. If you were stuck just watching one guy, you were not seeing the whole picture.

Q: Tony.

Kanaan: I am watching (Inaudible). I think that is the guy. No honestly, I think, like Mike said, there is going to be a lot of surprises. There are a lot of good drivers. But definitely, I look for the Penske and the Panther team because they have more experience, and obviously they have succeeded in the past. So those are the two teams that I am concentrating in the beginning. I might change my mind pretty soon.

Q: Thanks.

Kanaan: And actually, hopefully they will be watching us, as well.

Q: Well, again, actually this is for Mike. Indy has been so important to you over the years, and if you did decide to retire at least as a full-time driver would you consider doing the kind of thing that Arie has been doing, just running Indy for the next couple years, or when you step out of the car is that the end of it?

Andretti: I personally feel that probably when -- I am talking here, but I do not know for sure because you do not know how you are going to feel. But right now, the way I feel right now that if I do step out of the car, I will be stepping out of the car because I think being out of the car then and getting in just one race (per) year, I do not think you are going to be sharp enough to do yourself justice. And I think in some ways you can then end up setting yourself up for more of an embarrassment than anything. I would, most likely, the odds would be that I once I am out, I am out.

Q: And if you do decide to continue and run the whole season, would you consider a running a fourth car for Dan at Indy?

Andretti: Yes, that is definitely being considered right now.

Q: Thank you.

Andretti: Yes.

Miller: I would just like to thank Tony and Michael. Thank you both for taking time to join us and welcome to the Indy Racing League.

Andretti: Thank you. We are excited about it. I know I am.

Kanaan: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.

Miller: Thanks guys and we look forward to seeing all of you at the Test in the West in early February and at the season opening Toyota Indy 300 for the Infiniti Pro Series and the IndyCar Series on March 2nd at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Thank you.

Part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Skip Barber , Kim Green