IRL: Danica Patrick pre-season teleconference, part 1

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript Wednesday, February 20, 2008 An interview with Danica Patrick MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guest today is ...

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
An interview with Danica Patrick

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guest today is IndyCar Series driver, Danica Patrick. Good afternoon, Danica.


MODERATOR: Danica is preparing for her fourth season in the IndyCar Series, and her second driving the No. 7 Motorola car for Andretti Green Racing. Last year she finished a career-best seventh in points while recording four top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes. Her best finish came at the Raceway at Belle Isle where she finished second.

First of all, before we talk too much racing, it's been kind of a long off-season, Danica. We know you've been busy with Super Bowl commercials, the Swimsuit Issue. How much time have you been able to spend racing, whether that be testing the IndyCar Series car, or do you do some other things like karting and other sorts of driving to kind of stay in the game?

DANICA PATRICK: As far as staying in the game and getting going and staying sharp and fit, I don't drive anything else. I test as much as they'll ask me and let me. But you know, that's fairly limited in and of itself. We have so many drivers on our team that it gets spread out.

And so I did a few tests in the off-season, which is good, and all that went well. Some different stuff than normal for me. So it was really good. You know, it's a change from the year before where I was held to a contract until December, and then only got one test day before anything official started. So it was like I was starting so raw with the team that this is going to be much different for me.

But as far as keeping busy, other than that as far as staying fit I definitely stay physically fit and stay strong throughout. I never stop working out. Because I have things like swimsuit issue stuff to do and commercials and print advertising, and there's always a reason to stay looking good.

So that keeps me busy in the off-season.

You know, some of the stuff that we do in the off-season is groundwork for the future, and some stuff that will play out later on. You know, it's an investment of your time. But other things are things that pay off and put you in front of either the second-highest rated show in history or, you know, the biggest-selling magazine of the year. So those things do pan out and do show right away.

Between Danica racing, the business and the brand, and keeping the sponsors and everybody else happy for the immediate time, I stay pretty busy.

MODERATOR: As you mentioned, testing is very limited in the off-season. Tell us a little bit - with the next two weeks us being at Homestead and then Sebring how much you're looking forward to being back in the car on a regular basis? But also what are the important things that need to be accomplished at the upcoming tests, both from an individual standpoint and also as a team?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, you know, as far as getting ready for the year, the most important things are, well, something important that you can't really do necessarily at the test is hope that your off-season R&D that's been done at the shop and by the engineers works and pays off and gives you an edge. If not, then you need to work hard to try to find other ways to go faster because everybody's working in the off-season to find speed.

That, and then just as a driver, pushing yourself really hard to get into that uncomfortable zone where you get comfortable for the season, because you put yourself in so many predicaments when it comes to race time that are not always the best and the easiest, that you need to get there early.

You need to really, I think for me, the beginning of this season I really feel like I'm becoming some sort of an old person in racing. Like four years, this is my fourth year. So I'm going into this one instead of some of the others saying, look, if I want a shot at winning championships, everything, you've got to get out of the box fast. You have to go hard early and get some good results in. You know, don't be too complacent.

You know, you have to finish. Because those DNFs at the beginning of the season will come back to haunt you later. But you really need to make sure you get good finishes.

MODERATOR: Last season, had you two front row starts, two top-five finishes on the road courses. As we head into 2008, do you see yourself as a stronger racer on the ovals or on the road courses?

DANICA PATRICK: Probably both. I mean, I think that last year on the road courses I drastically improved from the beginning to the middle of the season, and that was due to the fact that I had great teammates to lean on and a good engineer that helped dial the car in for me.

But then the same thing happened on the ovals because of them, too. I think I was probably a little bit better off to start with on the ovals than the road courses. But I think that means that I'm just that much further along and that much closer to winning once and so on on the ovals.

I feel like on the road courses it's going to be a little bit more work to do before I feel as strong as I do on the ovals. But, again, I still had some good things happen there. So I think I have a better shot at winning on the ovals. But I think the level of increased confidence and results will come really equally.

Q: First of all, Dario said at Daytona he expects you're going to win your first race this season. Secondly, on the swimsuit issue, do you expect to get any criticism on that?

DANICA PATRICK: As far as your first question, sounded more like a statement, didn't it? Dario (Franchitti) is a great guy. I guess I never thought in my career I'd be toe-to-toe with him at any point and earn those kinds of respectful and honoring words from a guy like Dario Franchitti. He's a great friend and a great guy. I think that I'll hope that his words are more of a statement than a question or anything.

Then as far as your other question about the swimsuit issue, you know, I think, I guess I would ask are you criticizing it or have you heard about anything? Because, to me, the swimsuit issue is beautiful. It's women looking beautiful. They do a tasteful job.

I am one of a long line of celebrities that have been in that magazine. You know, it's the biggest issue of the year for magazines. So I am completely honored to be in it. I had a great time. Everybody was very respectful and did a great job of putting together that magazine. I think it's one of the best swimsuit issues I've ever seen. So it was beautiful.

Q: I agree with you that the SI thing looks great. And I have to admit I laughed pretty hard at the GoDaddy commercials.

DANICA PATRICK: Good. It was meant to make people laugh.

Q: Well, good. It succeeded with me, anyway. But it was pretty edgy. What's the line? What would you not do and where is the line between sort of promotion and distraction?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I think that the line for me is my line of how I feel. If I get into a situation that I feel uncomfortable in, if you get that gut feeling of, 'Yeah, this isn't right,' or you feel self-conscious or embarrassed, that's where I draw the line. So I would never do anything that I feel uncomfortable in.

I've had situations where if a photo, somebody wants to take a photo a certain way, I'll say, 'Look, I'm not real happy with this idea. But, take a Polaroid. Let me look at it and see what I think.' Then I can look for myself to see what it looks like as well. So I take very many precautions to make sure that I feel comfortable in every situation, and then I can never really be embarrassed.

It doesn't matter what people say. I've respected my own line. I haven't crossed it. So, for me, I think that swimsuit issue is probably, obviously, about as far as I'd go with as little clothes. But I have a hard time with never saying never, because I think that that can come to bite you later on. But let's just say I'm pretty happy with that line right there.

Q: Do you see a correlation between the fact that we're -- the series has lost two champions and two Indy 500 winners. And the fact that all the promotion lately is about a guy who dances and a girl who wears a swimsuit?

DANICA PATRICK: No, those are great things. I think that as I was saying earlier in the call, let's take Helio (Castroneves) for instance. A lot of people do that show. Twenty million people watch it, which is great. And the things that I've done, 97 million people watched the Super Bowl. And the swimsuit issue sells more copies than any other issue of the year. So I think those are amazing things for the Indy Racing League to have as far as marketing tools and personalities.

I've always known that the IndyCar Series has great potential for personalities and interests within the media. So I think it's just great that it's showing now. You know, I think it's great for everybody.

Q: One sort of topical racing related question, what is your take on these open wheel reunification talks and how it could affect your racing?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I would imagine I'm probably speaking for many people when we say it's about time. You know it's been a tough process for everybody. It's been disappointing for a lot of people. I think it's distracted and taken away a lot of good sponsors that were discouraged by the split. So I hope this is like a new birth of sponsorship and interests.

I've always said that fans need something easy. Fans need something simple that's easy to understand. When you try to explain it - which, trust me, I barely understood it initially about the two series and everything - it's crap. It makes it difficult. So this is going to make everything so much easier.

We're going to get great races put together. We're going to have all the best events put into one series, and more drivers, and that always makes for more passing, more excitement, more interest. So it's a win, win, win, win situation.

Q: Besides the swimsuit issue and your business and the Super Bowl ads, did you do anything fun during the break? Did you get any vacation time?

DANICA PATRICK: I did go on vacation, actually. My husband and myself and another couple, we took a trip back to Fiji. We went there for our honeymoon, so we went back there to a different place. We had met a couple of really nice people at a charity event that let us stay at their house. So not an all-bad situation. So we had a nice time.

We've been fairly busy. We've had sort of probably two different times during the off-season where we've had maybe a week to 10 days of pretty slow. But that's nice. It helps you get refreshed and get energized and want to get back to work. Because, you know, there's nothing worse than waking up and not having anything to do and no reason for the day. It's like, 'Oh, I guess I'll workout today for four hours because I've got nothing else to do.' So, yep, we had a good time.

Q: With the season coming up, are there any particular goals you've set for yourself?

DANICA PATRICK: I'm consistent on this one. I don't set any goals that I have to achieve or do, and I guess if I had to say one it would be win. But I'm not very much different than every other driver out there and that is their goal as well. Then follow that up by, win with the words 'as many times as you can.' I wouldn't think I'm much different than any other driver out there.

Q: With the second season with Andretti Green, do you feel a lot more comfortable with the team now since you've been through it once before?

DANICA PATRICK: I do. This is the most excited I've been going into a season, most comfortable I've felt. This year I feel like excitement is sort of maybe number one to nervousness. Where normally every other year I was more nervous than anything. So I'm really excited about it.

I feel confident as a driver. I feel like I've really come into my own and feel like I'm able to really push those limits to where I need to be. And I'm just really excited.

Q: With Sam Hornish leaving the series this year that, leaves you and Marco (Andretti) as the most significant American drivers of substance. Does that add any pressure to you this year?

DANICA PATRICK: No, no, I didn't even know that until you mentioned it. I think we have so many. I guess it's hard for me to really look at it like American drivers, because there's a bunch of us. I guess if there were only a couple you'd feel that pressure, excitement to be kind of someone that the home team would cheer for, hopefully.

But not really, you know. I think for me I look at every competitor as being one in their own - a competitor in the IndyCar Series, regardless of their background and where they're from. I guess you kind of forget all the accents after a while. So, no, I don't feel anything for that.

Q: With the talks on unification, do you feel all the drivers are eager for that to finally happen? Do you think it would be a smooth process?

DANICA PATRICK: I would think all the drivers and probably the owners and the series owners are probably excited. I think there's been a long string of years that have been financial burdens, probably, for those who own the series and trying to keep them going.

So will it be an easy transition? Absolutely not. It's going to be probably difficult, it's probably going to be a little messy. Probably going to be a little bit of that transition of what is going where? Who is doing what? What are the new rules?

But from my standpoint, I think that the IndyCar Series has kind of prevailed as the successful series that's really made a difference and really come through and brought the fans out.

I think that probably most people recognize that. So I don't see a lot of things changing as far as the people that are in the IndyCar Series and the people that exist there.

So it will probably be tougher for the drivers and teams coming over from the other series just because it's going to be, you know, they're going to be walking into our series. But I think it's the best thing that we can possibly do.

I think there are so many people that believe it's long overdue. I'm one of them. I've been working really hard since I came to the IndyCar Series to make it bigger, better than ever. And this is one of the things that I had always hoped that would happen so I'm glad to be a part of it.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Danica Patrick , Sam Hornis