Indy 500: ESPN on ABC teleconference, part 3

Continued from part 2 Q: Scott, we haven't really talked much about Ganassi. Here they've got the defending series stamp and race champ and they bring in Dario who won the previous race and championships. Can you talk about what makes Chip ...

Continued from part 2

Q: Scott, we haven't really talked much about Ganassi. Here they've got the defending series stamp and race champ and they bring in Dario who won the previous race and championships. Can you talk about what makes Chip Ganassi kind of at the top of their game right now?

SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think you mentioned that. I think if you asked Scott Dixon and probably even Dario, but more so Scott Dixon, he's very happy to go and fly underneath the radar screen. It's sort of if you had to look between a guy like Helio and Dixon, I think for sure Helio thrives off of it. Scott is now to a point where he used to tolerate it before. He's looking like now he maybe enjoys the attention. But certainly not a guy that goes out looking for it. So I think he's learning to live with it. But they have somewhat been quiet, but let me tell you, I know just speaking from the Ganassi guys it hurts they're not on pole. They expected to have a good shot at it with the two top drivers, and obviously they got a satellite team with Alex Lloyd, really another Ganassi car, and I think Alex did a great job this year because he's not really been in a car really for a year and he's running out their third car, as you will.

And overall I think that team is going to be obviously in contention as everybody believes they will be. But I would say that Dixon is very smart race driver. They call him the Ice Man. He's got that nickname for quite some time. A driver that will continue to just calculate where he is on the racetrack. They've got great people in the pit lane, obviously, to turn around and help them run a great race.

And spoke to Mike Hall in length last week in his motor home for over an hour, and an individual that just really thinks this race out. He could have been back in the office, but the team is in the garage working on the cars. There's no traffic activity. There's nobody around. He's just in his motor home just sort of calculating what they need to do and very well thought out about what they think they will have to do to win the race, and he believes that if they're around at the end they will have a chance to win it. But he's very quick to point out that Penske's cars and a few others are also going to be in the hunt.

But this race this year might be a little different than the past. I think you've got really the young guns coming on through in Briscoe arriving now here again with Penske. It's going to be interesting to see if everybody uses their head and they're all around at the end or if they really want to be leading right now, can't wait, and they are overaggressive which might cause them to make a mistake. It will play out of one of two ways: A great shootout at the end or they've all shot themselves before the end.

Q: How does Dario fit in with this team?

SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think he's fitting in very well in speaking with some of the guys, they say that he's a guy that really is so focused, adds a lot to the team. Don't forget, he's been wearing the Target suit now reallyb^0x0011- this is starting his second year, because he spent a year over in NASCAR. He's been around the group and I think he's happy to be back to something he's molded to. He's a race car driver. He went over and raced over in NASCAR, but I'm not sure that the body armor fit very well. Here, you know, he grew up in open wheel cars. He's got the seat molded to his body and I think this is where he's most comfortable.

Q: We were talking about how the merger is complete, been a year old and all of that. But I'm wondering with the economy the way it is and all of that, what do you think the circuit has to do now to be successful here in the near future?

EDDIE CHEEVER: I think racingb^0x0011- actually, I know racing is an integral part of all the sports entertainment business in the states all around the world. The economic problems that we're going through in this country are no different really than what's happening everywhere else. So it will be necessary to lower costs. They're continuously trying to do that anyways. But there's a series of things that will have to occur. And I'm sure they can with the right forethought into them make the sport stronger than it was in the past. But I don't see anything at all that has had a negative effect on this year's race or the one we'll see on Sunday. But this sport like every other sport is not immune to what happens in the economy.

Q: Eddie, following up on what you just said. How important is it for, you know, Danica and Helio, the two biggest faces of the sport, to make a nice showing on Sunday for the viewers to see that and maybe keep going, keep watching?

EDDIE CHEEVER: We obviouslyb^0x0011- I mean from the perspective of being in the TV booth, it is our job to talk about what is happening on the racetrack and to try to make the experience of watching this incredible show clear and better to understand. And a lot of people that turn on the television have lived through Helio Castroneves's experience with Dancing With the Stars and his wins, and Danica obviously being the first really truly successful woman race car driver, they're attracted to the race for those reasons. But if you were to talk to all the race car drivers or the 33, the other 31 that are in the race, they couldn't care less about Helio Castroneves or Danica Patrick; all they want to do is win the Indy 500.

Is it important they have a good showing? Of course it is. They're athletes. But from a purely racing perspective, their popularity does not translate into them having more opportunities at winning the race.

There are a good handful of drivers that can do well here. I speak as a father that has a daughter. My daughter is always asking me how Danica Patrick is doing, and that's the first question I have to answer. So I understand where your question is coming from. But there are many other drivers that are every bit as ambitious and there are many teams that will do everything they can to make sure they're the ones that come out of the 500 the new champions.

Q: A lot has been made during the qualifying coverage of the lack of innovation at Indy these days, back to the days of the Novi and the turbine car and all the innovation, it's been pretty much a spec series, and I know there's plans in the years to come from different engines and different engine manufacturers. Do you think that will breathe some more life back into Indy and the IRL?

SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think the thing that we have to think about right now is that the league has done a great job in bringing a rules package together that has allowed us to have I think one of the closest fields that we've had in many years at the Indianapolis 500 this year. And because the rules are in place, for instance, even a simple thing for making one common length of suspension this year at 122 inches whereas last year they could use 118, 120, 122. The league is doing some cost-cutting measures which I think are then taking away some of the options for the larger teams with the larger budgets to find some areas to improve their car that would not be available to the teams that are in the middle or in the back end of the pack.

And I think that's why you see scenarios, for instance, like even Newman/Haas/Lanigan coming and putting Graham on the inside of Row 2 and K.V. with Mario Moraes, putting him on Row 3 and having the opportunity to do that sort of stuff. When I think about that, I think about Luczo-Dragon with Raphael Matos as Row 4 or 5. So they're bringing the middle closer to the front and allowing the group in the back to get closer to the middle, if you will, and I think we're seeing that.

And with that I think it's giving you strong races and strong results. Now, there's no doubt that it's a lack of innovation and all the cars sound the same. They all look the same, and I think for all the diehard that we have that it's disappointing to them. But I've said this, and it's no disrespect to them, but I've said this many times before, they're not living it and breathing it and they're not the ones having to write the checks for it.

So if we went down the path that we used to before and there was never any control over it, we would have six wheel cars here all wheel drive cars here. We'd have budgets like Formula 1 and we know what they're going through or have been through in the last couple of years. And their costs are skyrocketing.

There needs to be, in my opinion, some innovation. And I hope with what you're talking about, with the new rules coming on board, they say now 2012, and I'll be honest to say I've not heard much of it in the last three months since the economy has gotten real bad if there's even been continuous meetings with the automobile manufacturers.

But maybe when that happens, whether it's '12 or a little bit shortly thereafter, we do start to have some different engine tones, some new innovations coming out, and maybe a few races where some of the cars are a little bit stronger on street courses than the engine manufacturers and maybe the next race you go to one engine manufacturer off a better package on a one-mile oval and high-speed ovals maybe it could be somebody different.

That way we'll change up everything that's going on. But as far as the finishing order of drivers are concerned with teams, but the other thing that happens with that also is then the teams and the manufacturers start to spend a lot of money to catch up to the other group.

And I have seen this before, and I'll take you back to the IMSA days, because I was with the Jaguar factory years and years ago and Eddie was doing the stuff over in Europe with Jaguar is that when the manufacturers decide to pull out, the series dies.

We're seeing that a little bit like that with the American Le Mans Series where Audi and Porsche have pulled out and the car counts are down. What happens is you've driven out all the medium or local drivers, if you will, the medium-sized teams, because they couldn't compete.

So if we let the innovation go rampant, you'll go through larger swings high to low than what we have right now, which a lot of people say it's the boring middle, if you will, with no innovation.

Who knows the right chemistry for all that? I'm not really sure. But I was there in the IMSA days when Jaguar pulled out and Toyota pulled out and Nissan pulled out and in the space of six months from one announcement to another announcement to another IMSA died.

EDDIE CHEEVER: I'd like to follow up with that. I agree with what Scott said. What we have gained with it being a spec series is the cars and circuits have never been safer than they are now. Everybody needs to remember that we are running laps top speeds at sometimes close to 230 miles an hour. Having hit the walls at that speed, I know what it means to not be covered by a very safe car.

So it's true the cars are spec, but they're getting a lot safer. And if you counted how many cars finished the races now, it's unbelievable. Unless you make a mistake mechanically, they're almost bulletproof.

But I'd like to pick up on one thing you said. The IndyCar Series as a whole is going to have a golden opportunity here to make changes that could affect the automotive industry going forward the next three years. They've done that in the past. So there's a golden opportunity in these economic problems that we have right now.

So then to come up with some new solutions that could really have a big effect on everything, on the cars we run tomorrow and the cars that will be developed on engines, on everything. They just have to make sure they make the right decisions.

SCOTT GOODYEAR: If I may add to Eddie's excellent point, I think it's safe to say you'll not see a V-8 engine in the series when they come out with the new engine package whether it's 2012 or the year after. You'll probably be seeing a four- or a six-cylinder engine with turbo charge attached to them. So to follow up with what Eddie is saying, there's no doubt there's going to be a big difference going forward here with even just changing the current power plant that we have.

-credit: espn

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Mario Moraes , Danica Patrick