An interview with <B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B> INDIANAPOLIS (July 16, 2002) - What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART Toyota Atlantic Championship competitor Ryan ...
An interview with <B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>
INDIANAPOLIS (July 16, 2002) - What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART Toyota Atlantic Championship competitor Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Merrill Cain: Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for joining us on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with CART public relations. We have a great lineup on tap for the call today featuring two of our champions following last weekend's CART FedEx Championship Series event in Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport. In just a minute we'll hear from Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of the top young names in open-wheel racing who won his third CART Toyota Atlantic race of the season last weekend. But leading off in the teleconference today we welcome in Patrick Carpentier of the Player's/Forsythe Racing team.
We now welcome in Ryan Hunter-Reay of the CART Toyota Atlantic series. Ryan is a 21-year-old driver from Boca Raton, Florida, who drives for Hylton Motorsports.
After competing in the Barber Dodge Pro Series the last two seasons, Ryan made the climb up the CART ladder system to the Toyota Atlantic cars this year. It's been a pretty smooth transition. He has earned three wins, three pole positions and five top five finishes in the season's first eight races. He established a new Atlantics qualifying record in winning the pole for last Sunday's race in Cleveland. He beat Jon Fogarty and Luis Diaz of Dorricott Racing to get the checkered flag for his third win of the year which elevates him to second place in the points standings, just eight points behind series leader Michael Valiante.
Thanks for taking time to talk with us this afternoon. We know you're testing today. We appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to talk with us.
How is the test going?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: The test is going great. Thanks for having me on today. I definitely would make time for this. We're out here at Blackhawk about an hour outside of Chicago. We're just testing a bunch for the rest of our street circuit races at Three Rivers and in Denver. We need to be prepared for those two. We're just getting a lot of stuff done here today. It's going well.
Merrill Cain: We'll open it up for questions for you.
Q: When you look at this series, what do you expect to get out of it?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Well, basically the Formula Atlantic Series, if not the most, it's one of the most competitive years Atlantic has ever had. It's just as competitive as the British F3 or any of the other top competitive open-wheel series in the country, or in the world. So that's what I basically want to get out of it. I want stiff competition, a team environment like I do with Hylton Motorsports. The team really believes in me. I know how a team feels when it clicks, when everything goes right.
We're racing every weekend against teams like Lynx Racing and Dorricott, DSTP, all these top teams. The competition is right there. That's what makes a driver really good is when you go week-in and week-out competing against these types of teams.
Q: How does it help your career, I know it does, to know that you have all the CART FedEx Championship Series teams there, the owners are watching you, other drivers are watching you, even the sponsors are watching you?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Absolutely. I hope a trend starts and comes into play here with the Champ Car teams start picking up drivers out of the Atlantic series because it hasn't been that big yet. Townsend Bell is the first one to get a legitimate ride out of a ladder series in quite a while. I just hope this continues.
I hope that CART Champ Car team owners do take notice of what talent is in this series and pick from it.
Q: With that said, do you find yourself pulling for Townsend? If he does well, is it good for the rest of you?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Yeah, you'd think so, but I don't know. I have mixed feelings on that. I want to beat Townsend as much as I want to beat anybody else. So I'm not pushing for him at all.
In one case, he's kind of representing a ladder series driver, American drivers out of the ladder series. In that way I am pushing for him. It hasn't done much good yet. I guess there are some problems there. I don't know which way it's going to go. I just hope the other CART team owners don't see that and think, "Oh, well, we can't give anybody a shot now."
Q: When you came with the Hylton team, was there any one bad habit that you had that they had to purge you of, "Don't do that anymore"? Do you think something along that line has contributed to your success so far this year?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Well, to put my finger on one exact thing, I can't do that. Coming out of the slower Barber Dodge cars, they were heavier, the revs were a lot lower. I found right in the beginning that I was hitting the rev limit a lot in these cars because they wind so high at 10,000 rpm. Whereas, in the Barber Dodge car it's a lot slower. In the beginning, that took a while to get used to. My engineer Kyle [Brannam] really helped me out with that and everything. Things like that, just the transition from the car.
Actually, I'm having the time of my life driving these cars. I can't wait to get into a FedEx Champ Car.
Q: Do they work a lot on your race craft or have you carved that with the Skip Barber when you get here? Is it all part of the evolutionary process?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: I just think racing karts since I was 10, 11 years old has done all the race craft for me. I've had over 1500 race starts so far. That has really crafted my skill there. But the team has helped me a lot just adapting to Atlantic Car. It suits my driving style. A light, fast car really suits my driving style.
Q: When you're looking for the course of things, to graduate into Champ Cars and get into CART as part of the development program, part of that development is making sure if you have to go out to find the funding to do that, you have the sponsorship requirements to make that all happen. Do you do that on your own or do you have people that can help you with that?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Well, I have people that help me, and I do a lot of it on my own. My dad and I sometimes work as a team just trying to find opportunities for me. I work on it all the time. That's my job pretty much when I'm not on the track. It's just working on finding opportunities, connections, everything like that.
We have a new partnership with autobytel this year. Hopefully that will be a long and growing experience. We won our first race with them at Chicago starting from sixth place. It's just a great bunch of people. They really want success like we do. We can maybe grow on that. In other areas, I will not stop. Every day I'll be searching for that.
Q: This year is obviously more than you expected. What more do you expect out of it? Do you think you can pull out the championship?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Well, we started off with a bad luck in Mexico, Long Beach and then Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, we were 20 laps from winning. We'd have another 20 points in the bag. We'd be leading the championship right now. We had an engine blow. All things considered, that's racing, things like that happen. We're leading all the categories, most laps lead, most victories, most pole positions and the prize money. We just need to get on top of the most important thing, which is the points now. And I'm absolutely determined to do it. The Hylton team is as determined to do it. We expect all the best.
Q: What are your plans, if any, for next year? Are you going to do another season in Atlantics or are you looking to move up next year?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: I'm definitely looking to move up. Exactly where, I can't say yet. I don't know yet. I'm working on a bunch of different avenues. But I'm definitely working on that and I definitely want to move up next season.
Q: When you start the season off, you have a bit of bad luck, obviously the first thing you want to do when you have a bad race is throwing something against the transporter wall. What do you do to get yourself back on an even track?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: That's a good question. When you face adversity like that, when a lot of focus and pressure is on you like that, things happen, things just aren't going your way and that's the time when you really are at your best if you can just pull out of that and keep a positive mind about it.
And the biggest thing is you have to have confidence in yourself. That's really what it comes down to. The team has confidence in itself and I have confidence in my driving. The number one thing that happens to a lot of drivers is the confidence goes out the window and they start second-guessing themselves about a lot of things. That hasn't happened. I think that's had a lot to do with our quick pullout of that string of bad luck.
Merrill Cain: Your next event in the Toyota Atlantic Series is in Three Rivers, August 2nd through the 4th. I don't believe you ever competed at that course. It's a course that many drivers in this series really look forward to because of the support of the local fans and also the great racing that takes place there. What are you looking forward to as you head to Three Rivers?
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Absolutely. I haven't been to a track that has Formula Atlantics as pretty much the main race there. It will be really neat to see. Most importantly it's going to be a tight street circuit. I love that. A lot of karters succeed there. It's supposed to be a karting type of track. I look forward to that. I really love street circuits. I love racing between the walls like that with low grip. We're testing here in Blackhawk because it's similar to that, very bumpy, low grip and very narrow. I'm just looking forward to it. I can't wait. I can't wait to get to the rest of them honestly. Road America, Denver and Montreal. They all sound great.
Merrill Cain: We're very much looking forward to seeing you compete the rest of the season. You've done a great job so far this year. We expect you'll continue as you pursue the championship here in the Toyota Atlantic Series. Thanks for taking a few minutes to join us today.
<B>Ryan Hunter-Reay</B>: Thanks for having me on.
Merrill Cain: The next time we'll see Ryan on track along with the Hylton Motorsports team will be at Three Rivers the weekend of August 2nd to the 4th. We'd like to thank both Ryan Hunter-Reay and Patrick Carpentier for joining us on today's teleconference.
A quick reminder the next CART FedEx Championship Series event will take place the weekend of June 26th through the 28th at the Molson Indy Vancouver. The Champ Cars taking a much needed break before heading back into action that weekend in Vancouver. Thanks to all who participated in today's call and have a very pleasant afternoon.