MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "It's a little disappointing. The uphill battle started with a flat tire. Had to go all the way to the back of the field. Fought our way back up to the front, and then had that problem on the pit stop where Penske came out in...
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "It's a little disappointing. The uphill battle started with a flat tire. Had to go all the way to the back of the field. Fought our way back up to the front, and then had that problem on the pit stop where Penske came out in front of Tony Stewart, and we all locked up. I locked up right in the back of him, and it broke my wing. Then the lucky part of the race for us was that yellow coming out. Otherwise, we were going to be in big trouble. So then we took advantage of the yellow. Changed the wing. Went back at it. We were back up front again. And the last pit stop we made two mistakes, one was mine, one was the team. They put stickers on, and I asked for more front wing. The combination of the two made me really loose in the last stint. And so I really couldn't fight there in the end. The car was as loose as it had been all day, which is a shame, because if it would have been as good as it was mid-race, or even early race, we had something for him I really think, because they weren't doing anything special there in the end. So it was quite disappointing.
Michael when you went in and then they brought out the red flag for rain, were you thinking about here comes the luck again?
"There for a while when I was in the lead and it was raining I'm thinking, hey maybe things are going to turn. Then they started saying no it's not going to rain. I'm not no. So then we pitted and then it started to rain heavier. I'm like, here we go, but then it turned out all right. Then when the red flag came out, we had just pitted and gone in the back of the field. So it was just, you know, I thought maybe we're going to be in trouble, but they kept telling. Anyway, on the radar it looked pretty good. So our weather man in the pits did a pretty good job today. I can say that."
CART drivers swept the top-six. What are your thoughts on that?
"I don't know. We raced the IRL guys all day as well. I think just luck was against them I think. You know I think a lot of them had trouble. I think (Mark) Dismore had trouble and few others. So you know, we were all mixing it up together. The end result was six guys on top from CART, but throughout the whole race it was a mixture there going on."
At the end there it seems you had trouble to get around Dismore. He was running just as hard as you were.
"That was a little busy pining. I was hoping he'd let me by because he was a lap down. I got loose behind him once then the other guys went by me. Then it just screwed everything up. Then I was in really big trouble, but so you know just the way it goes."
Michael can you comment on the conditions the first 15, 16 laps with three accidents?
"It was weird. I didn't have any trouble with cold tires or anything like that. I don't know what the deal was. A lot of guys crashing, but my thing was just trying to make it through all of them. I had some real close ones today, one with Sarah Fisher really close. One with Sam when he spun I thought I'm done. But Al (Unser Jr.), I went left. Al went right. Al got caught in it. Then there were some others in front of me. I don't remember who they were. It was an eventful day, and you know we made it through all of them, except for one when we got a puncture. That's someone that really messed up a lot of the race."
Is this going to be an annual trip for you?
"I don't know. We'll see. There's a good chance we'll be back next year. So hopefully next year we'll be a little better prepared. I'm sure everyone else will as well. I learned a lot about these racecars and everything, which hopefully can help me next year. But having said that, I think we had a pretty good racecar today. It was as good as anybody's. Just there in the end if we hadn't taken on stickers, and if I wouldn't have put more front wing in, I think we would have fought it out hard with the Penske boys. What I want to know is why Penske came back the same time I did."
There near the end Sam Hornish actually went around you as you were trying to make your run?
"Yeah, I don't know why did he it. It took more of my air away. I'm like what was that all about. Then he waived me by again. I don't know. He wanted to show he was quicker than me I guess."
Do you think that this is going to make CART want to have more drivers come over after the success that CART has had the past two years?
"I think you're going to see it. I'm not sure it's the success of the CART guys. I think it's just because we're here. I think the sponsors from the others guys that are aren't here are going to start putting pressure and all that. I see more and more of this happening."
You said earlier in the month that you felt like anything short of a win was really kind of a waste. Do you still feel that way?
"It's a little bit disappointing here. Yeah, I'm disappointed. You know, third is nice and great and stuff, but that's not why we were here."
You've been working out for a while. This is your first 500 mile race since you've gotten yourself in the shape that you're in. How are you feeling physically?
"I'm good. That was no problem. I felt good. Really, this isn't a really physical race. I felt good mentally and physically."
Can you elaborate on what happened in the pits that time when Helio pulled out, and you rammed into Stewart. Tell me your version of it?
"My version was we're going out of the pits and all of a sudden a red and white car went straight out in front of all of us. It was a big pile up, and they locked them up. I just happened to be the one that got the worse of it, because I was at the end of the pile. I didn't see it as much as the other guys. They saw more what was going on, and so it was really disappointing."
Did it feel like the old days the old Indy 500 for you?
"Yeah, it did. It was fun. The way the cars felt and everything. The way the traffic was. The way the track conditions were. Everything. It felt like old times."
Talk about the period of time when you were pressuring Ray. Was that sort of a rain driven or just that you felt you had the car for him?
"Well, a little of both but mostly rain driven. If there was no threat of rain at that point, I would have coasted behind him and try to save fuel. I saw the clouds coming. I was pushing him as hard as I could. We were able to push him into a mistake. He hit the wall coming off of (Turn) 3, and I was able to get back."
What's your impression of Helio?
"This guy is a fence climber, an extraordinaire."
What's been your impression of him last couple years or so?
"Helio's done a great job. He is a quick driver. He showed it when he was with the Hogan team. You know he is good, and you know getting a good talent together with a team like Penske is a tough combination."
Will you be leaning on Barry Green now to come back here with a full Team Green effort?
"I'm not sure if I'm going to have to lean on him too hard. I think he has got the fever now, and I think he is going to want to come back here. It just gives us more time. We started this whole deal, you know, there was no Team Motorola for CART. Even in November. So you know, we had to take that on, and it would have been too much to take on two new teams at one time. That's why we did the deal with Panther. It worked out great with Panther. They were awesome to work with. If it wasn't for them giving us some direction, we would have been in trouble. We really learned a lot from them. I think if we do come back here next year with our own deal, that helped us a lot."
During the red it seemed as if Mario was chewing your ear pretty good. Giving you a lot of weather advise. What was he saying there with 50 laps to go?
"I don't know. I didn't hear him. Was he talking? I never heard him. If he was talking, he was talking to himself, I guess."
I'm not sure what the official count was. I think Michael added either 16 or 17 laps to his total. He started today at 382, so it's either 398 or 399 now laps led here at Indianapolis. It was 12 from the all time list.
"We didn't get that lap number 200 that's the only one I'm caring about."
One green flag lap completed in the first 23 laps. Were you thinking this was '92 all over again?
"Yeah, a little bit because of the way the weather was cold, crashes all that, and yeah it felt a little bit like that. I was hoping it wouldn't be that way. I'm hoping everybody got safe through all the accidents I don't know. I saw the one with Sarah Fisher. That was ugly. I don't know who it was that got pinned up beside the wall. Was it Scott? Shoot. That's a bummer. He had nowhere to go."
You expressed some concerns about Jon Herb's performance. How did he do?
"I don't know. I never saw him after the first turn. I never saw him. Did he make it through the race? Did he finish?"