FUTABA FREEDOM 100 PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Marco Andretti, Al Unser
MARCO ANDRETTI: "I don't think words can describe how I'm feeling. I basically grew up here one month out of the year, every year. Just last year, I was legal to get in the pits. Now that I'm able to do some laps on this track is amazing. It's going to be a lot of fun. It's going to be new to me because it's my first oval race. That will be all different. That's the only reason the nerves are a little uneven. I don't know what to expect. In these cars, you're fine by yourself, but when you get in traffic, it moves around a little more, and I'm not used to that."
Q: About advice from his grandfather or father
MA: "They pretty much only help at the track. Dad (Michael Andretti) is pretty much cut and dry because he's flat out with his team. Nono (Mario Andretti) is in the debrief room, and he's in the middle of it all. He wants to know every detail, and he helps us out a lot. He gives me little pointers here and there, but only if I have questions."
Q: About how well Andretti and Unser know each other:
MA: "We have pretty much charted each others progress coming up because obviously you want to know how he's doing. We just met -- We've met, but we just started hanging out together the last month or two. Hopefully we continue."
Q: Do you consider yourself rivals?:
MA: "Good rivals."
Q: When do graduate from high school?:
MA: "June 5 is my school's graduation. I don't know if I can be there yet. I passed. I'm working on it. I took all my exams last week because I had Mid-Ohio and then this, so I missed the last two weeks of school. My school is in school all week. I'm done with high school right now."
Q: How comfortable are you on track?:
MA: "My third lap out (during test), I was flat. That was with a lot of downforce, but we just started trimming out. To be honest, it came no problem. That's just the thing my grandfather and my dad want to keep in my mind that this place can bite you. You have to respect this place. They said, and I don't know how much this is going to be true in our cars, they said that the track will be totally differ ent that it was at the test. It's much warmer now, so there will be less downforce, and it will be greasier."
Q: What's your favorite Indy memory?:
MA: "I just remember being at the Speedway Motel and listening to the announcer say my dad and grandfather's names. I know we have a lot of bad memories here. I wasn't around for the '69 victory."
Q: About the Andretti curse:
MA: "I think it's definitely on their mind. They never bring it up because of that reason. They don't want to think about it. A lot of bad luck. Eleven laps to go and three or four times he could have won this thing. Who knows?"
Q: Was there any pressure to join the family business?:
MA: "I think there was pressure when I started, big time. I did it to myself. I went in it because I felt I had to do it. What I needed to do to know I didn't have to do it was quit. That's what I did. (My family) supported me quitting, so that told me they would support whatever. Then I couldn't deal with not being in a racecar, so I came back."
Q: About running in the Liberty Challenge on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course:
MA: "I've been to one. I came to the F1 race last year. The cars are amazing. It's pretty awesome that we get to run with both series (IndyCar Series and F1). Coming the straightway backward is pretty cool. It's an awesome track. A lot of fun. A lot of different kinds of corners. A slow infield and wide open on the oval. It's lots of fun."
Q: What would make your dad happier, one of his drivers winning the Indianapolis 500 or you winning on Friday?:
MA: "You'd have to ask him. I don't know. He'd be happy both ways."
Q: About being a road course racer adjusting to the oval:
MA: "I'm in the same boat as him (Wade Cunningham). This is my first time racing on an oval. At the test a couple of weeks ago, it was my first time driving on a oval. Definitely in the same boat as him. As I said, it came fairly quickly, but the race is going to be different than going by yourself."
Q: When do you expect to be in the Indianapolis 500:
MA: "(I'd like to be here next year), but there's no rush. I'm 18 years old. I don't think we need to be here next year, but the earlier you get here, the more you get there. When you get there, I want to run up front. I don't want to be in the race to finish in the top 10. That's what I tell myself. Any race I enter I want to win, so if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it right."
Q: What does Indianapolis mean to you?
AU: "Words really can't describe it. Marco (Andretti) brought it up that when he was just old enough to get in the pits; I remember being put into a real big Simpson bag and snuck into the garage area, which I'm probably not allowed to tell but -- Marco's right, when we get out there by ourselves it's fine, but when we get everybody else out there, cars are going to move around a lot. We're going to have a good race. I've got a good race car underneath me."
Q: Any thoughts passed along from fathers or grandfathers?:
AU: "My father's actually in Albuquerque. My sister Cody is graduating from high school tomorrow, so congratulations to her. But I also have my grandfather here. We get little pointers and stuff, but ultimately I'm the only one in the car, and they're not going to turn the steering wheel or feel any of the car movements, so it comes down to what we can do."
Q: Your names will forever be linked as long as you're racing in the same series, against one another. How well have you guys known each other in the past, and how often do you interact with one another?:
AU: "As far as previous to this year, we really didn't know each other. We knew of each other; we always followed each other's careers. Definitely, the one month out of the year we were here at the same time being kids, but there's a large break in there during our adolescence where we didn't know each other. But now that we're in the same series, we're here on the same days. We've definitely gotten a lot of interaction, gotten to know each other. As far as off the track, we went to dinner in St. Pete together. We hang out just like any other two guys do."
Q: Do you consider yourselves rivals?:
AU: "I consider it a family rivalry, but between Marco and me, it's really not a rivalry. It's more the Andretti-Unser thing."
Q: As much time as you guys have spent here, growing up, what's your favorite memory?:
AU: "Definitely '92 Indy victory, when my dad won. Beating out Scott Goodyear, having the closest finish. The motorhomes used to be where the hospitality is. I remember running down, trying to get into the pits and somebody grabbing me and putting me on their shoulders, and handing me up to what was Victory Circle."
Q: Was there any pressure to join the family business? Were there thoughts of doing something else?:
AU: "There wasn't really any pressure. I was always told I could do whatever I wanted to do. I had a little interest in marine biology and some sciences, and that's kind of why I stopped racing in my younger years. I stopped when I was about 11, and I didn't start racing again until I was about 15 or 16 after I had gotten my driver's license and a couple of tickets. I had an itch I needed to scratch, and I found it on the racetrack."
Q: In three weeks you'll be back to run on the road course during the United States Grand Prix weekend; the Pro Series is the only series that gets to run on both the oval and road course. Thought on that?:
AU: "I'm excited about coming back. During our test, they hadn't ground the surface yet, so it was really slippery going into what would be Turn 1. Going backward down the front stretch was pretty crazy. I'm really excited to come back. I've never been to an F1 race so that's one thing I'm really looking forward to is watching the F1 cars."
Q: You've got family tradition and the tradition of ovals in America. How difficult do you think it is for someone like Wade Cunningham to come in this series and go into an oval like Indy? Is it more terrifying for him than you?:
AU: "I'm Wade's teammate so I get to interact with him the most. It's my belief a racetrack is a racetrack, whether it's an oval -- this place is not like the traditional oval. You're going down the main stretch, and you've got a 90-degree turn. Usually when you're at an oval it's a nice, big sweeper that turns you around. But I don't think it's that (much more) difficult. You're in a race car; the same movements are going to happen. You're either going to push or be loose or something. If there's any pressure added to Wade to perform on a n oval, it's what he puts on himself."
Q: When do you expect to be here in the IRL IndyCar Series cars?:
AU: "I'd like to be here next year. I'm glad Arie (Luyendyk Jr.) went out there. Kind of sucks that he didn't get to qualify. If I could put together a deal next year, I would."