IRL: Buddy Rice, Tomas Scheckter press conference, Part II

Indy Racing League March 11, 2004 Buddy Rice and Tomas Scheckter Part 2 of 2 Q: Hi. Buddy, last year you had the most, well let's say the quickest engine in the field and this year you are running with a Chevrolet that doesn't seem to...

Indy Racing League
March 11, 2004

Buddy Rice and Tomas Scheckter

Part 2 of 2

Q: Hi. Buddy, last year you had the most, well let's say the quickest engine in the field and this year you are running with a Chevrolet that doesn't seem to quite have it. What does that do for your emotions and for your focus on success?

B. Rice: From last year to this year obviously there are a lot of changes happening. And I think right now what we need to first make sure that we have sorted out is our chassis and obviously we did not do a very good job of that actually at Homestead. So we need to work on that and keep striving on that. And I think that not only is our team but Chevy and Menard engines are also working quite hard to make sure that they have the best and most powerful engines to meet up with the other manufacturers. And I think right now, I think that obviously the Chevy is not as bad as what is being maybe portrayed at times because I mean obviously it qualified quite well. We have had decent runs and things. We just have to get the whole package working together and keep working forward to try to--

Q: Can I give a follow-up here. You have lost Bernard Dudot who has gone back to Renault. How much of a change is that going to be for Mernard Cheever Technology?

B. Rice: I think we are just going to have to wait and see. Because with everything the way it was just coming together and stuff I think Dudot was a lot of help for what we did last year and what happened with the Infiniti engines and what has happened so far with our engine program and where it was going. It was a big help. We are just going to have to bring other people in, and we will make sure that that spot gets filled. We have another very, very strong person in here, and Dudot is obviously off to something that he thinks is a little bit better for him. So that is where is going and that is what you need to do is make sure you keep moving forward. Is it a bit of a hurt to us? Yes, a little bit. But I think we fill it with another real solid person, and we will just keep on going.

Q: Tomas, I am wondering, you have a unique position in that you have been able to be with two different teams in the IRL. I am wondering, other than any potential personality conflict the difference as you see in Cheever's team and in Ganassi's team and how they do things?

T. Scheckter: Well I do not think it is right for me to start comparing team-to-team. But I can just say that I am happy where I am. I am happy with the leadership of my team now. I feel comfortable where I am. I am just learning this new team and learning the engineering side. I think it would be unfair just to compare like that. Yes, me and Eddie had our problems, and we split up. I think he is happier that I am doing what I am doing, and I am happier doing what I am doing. I think he has a great driver in Buddy Rice, and I wish him all the success.

Q: I am going to push this a little bit. Is there a difference in how they approach the racing season?

T. Scheckter: It was different. I really signed my deal very late with Eddie, and it was a big rush. It was actually not even with Eddie, it was with the Formula One, TWR. This time I have had a lot of time to prepare so I have seen everything a little bit more in the way it is run. All I can say is that I am just happy. I am happy where I am. I am happy to be with Target. I am happy to be with Ganassi.

Q: Good luck to you.

T. Scheckter: Thank you.

Q: It is for Buddy. Buddy, how do you feel for the rest of the season? I know it is pretty early, but do you feel pretty positive or do you think it is going to take a lot of hard (Inaudible)?

B. Rice: We have some work ahead of us still that we need to sort out. But I think that you will see here hopefully in the next little bit that we will be definitely more competitive. We are not going to let what happened last weekend at Homestead happen again. That is not our plan. We hope that does not happen anymore. I think you will see, by the time we get to Phoenix we will be sorted out a lot better and then we will just keep driving forward. I mean obviously we have some work to do ahead of us and there are a lot of strong teams out there and strong combinations so we need to be up at that caliber and right now we are not. We are looking to get to that caliber, so I think in the next little bit here we will be all right. We know it is somewhat of a building year this year with all the changes that have been made and things like that. But we are going to see how it goes. But I think it is a pretty positive outlook. Hopefully by the time we get to the 500 we will be right where we want to be and we can try to maintain that. (Inaudible)-- will be in a solid points contention as we get down the stretch here in the season.

Q: As a follow-up; do you see anybody that is maybe a stronger contender than anyone else?

B. Rice: Well it is just the first race. I think you will start seeing who are the solid contenders by the time you get a little bit further down the road. Because just one race doesn't mean who is going to be where they are at for the rest of the season. You need to compile a couple of races and see who is actually constantly at the front and then who has constant speed and not having problems and then you can start picking who are going to be the contenders up front.

Q: Tomas, last year you were driving, your car owner and boss was right out on the track with you. This year you do not have to worry about that. Is there a different feeling in that situation?

T. Scheckter: Mentally it makes me feel a little bit more comfortable and also I do not get people shouting on the radio for me to stay back behind him, which is a good thing. But I am more relaxed in the car. I am more, just more free flowing, more driving. I think it is definitely going to improve my driving. I mean the first half of the race at Homestead we were flying and unfortunately we could not keep that pace the whole way through, but I think that is a sign of things to come, especially down at Phoenix.

Q: There was a lot of controversy during the year. Do you feel this year a less and more settled situation?

T. Scheckter: Yes, more settled. But you know it feels so long ago now I am really just focused on what I have to do now and making sure that the car is right and working on my finesse. That is all I am concerned about. Really last year is out of my mind. I have learned what I have had to learn from last year. I will make sure that I have made the changes for this year that I am going to do a good job. I have a great team behind me, and I just need to focus on winning races. And I suppose I am so into this year that last year does not even really bother me anymore.

Q: Tomas, you have the G Force chassis and obviously your teammate did a great job with it and so did you and especially in the middle of the race. Do you think that there is less of a window for setup on the G Force as opposed to the Dallara?

T. Scheckter: We have a great set of engineers, very intelligent people that are working very hard. Even at G Force they are working flat out, and I know that they have had their wind tunnel on for weeks in a row all night long. And I think we need to carry on doing that. I think we had a good race at Homestead but we still need to carry on pushing development because for sure Dallara is going to be as well. I think yes there is a certain bracket that the G Force works well in but I think I have more than enough good engineering capabilities to make sure that the car is within that bracket.

Q: This is for Buddy. I was just wondering how different it is this year. You have the deal going with Menard and your (Inaudible) holding with them all the time, I assume. And what did each team bring to this partnership?

B. Rice: Driving with Red Bull Cheever Racing we are our own separate identity, as well as Team Menard is their own identity. But what we are doing is working a two-car effort, obviously. Eddie and John go way back so they have a lot there. And they think by putting the two teams together and their efforts together that they would be more like a two-car team and then what that would do is help both teams to try to move forward. Both teams are putting a lot into it, and I think it is all going work out here well in the future. It is just going to take a little bit to get everyone up to speed and on the same page and making sure that we are all together. And I think that it has been going quite well lately, especially all the information that we have been swapping back and forth and how that has been going. So I think here in the next little bit everything will just start kind of completely jellying real well and we will have real competitive cars.

Q: Do you think your setup will work well along with Jaques? I mean do you guys like the same kind of car?

B. Rice: Yes, I mean I think we drive very similar cars, and I think you have to make sure that even if you drive similar cars does not mean it is the same car and you just have to make sure you work with your engineer to get the car exactly how you like it. I mean obviously if you get a fast car and need to make some minor adjustments to it to suit your style a little bit more or whatever but you do that. But I mean I think when you have a fast car on an oval it is pretty fast, you just have to kind of make minor adjustments to make it comfortable for you.

Q: Buddy, so you are working with the Menard group there, and you kind of consider it like a two-car team. Does that mean that you are sharing things with Jaques (Lazier) after sessions and stuff so that you can work together or once you get on the racetrack aren't you just like Scott and Tomas would be fighting to get to the front?

B. Rice: I think it is. We are fighting to get the front. I mean, you work all the way up to that point and then, you know, as a group and then once you get to the race-- I mean, yes you still want to work together, but it is no different. I mean, I think especially in open-wheel racing you cannot just sit out there and plan on two guys going and working together to drive to the front or whatever. You can try and make that happen all you want. I have never really seen it happen. It is too hard. So I mean basically everybody is just going to go out and needs to do their own business. And obviously everyone is out there to win so that is what it is going to take. If there are two guys that are from the same team in the top three and fighting for it, I mean the only thing you can ask is that they give respect toward each other and make sure they give each other just a little bit more room so they do not crash out together or whatever. But other than that you cannot really to say team up and try to work together, yes, it is not going to really happen out there. But yes, after each sessions and when we are all debriefing and stuff, yes, we do work together and do we swap information. That is what we are trying to accomplish.

Part I


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Buddy Rice