IRL: Kanaan and Andretti press conference, Part II

Indy Racing League March 25, 2003 Tony Kanaan, Michael Andretti Part 2 of 3 Q: The first one Michael, and then Tony the same thing. You are going to Motegi, Michael could you totally describe what a lap is like on that racetrack? A lot of...

Indy Racing League
March 25, 2003

Tony Kanaan, Michael Andretti

Part 2 of 3

Q: The first one Michael, and then Tony the same thing. You are going to Motegi, Michael could you totally describe what a lap is like on that racetrack? A lot of us over here are not familiar with it and how you would drive a lap over there?

Andretti: How would I drive a lap? Hopefully fast, that would be the plan. It is a little different of a track. Basically you have, in terms of setting your car up it comes down to really one corner and that is turns, one corner, but we call it two corners, 3 and 4. If you can get through 3 and 4 well, then it carries your momentum all the way around because it is pretty much easily flat through the next corner, which is 1 and 2. It comes down to that and with it being that way it makes for very close racing and also qualifying. At times it will be very close because of that. It is exciting. It is different. It is a neat track. You have to, you may even have to downshift going into-- I am not sure yet, but with these cars like we had to with the CART car you actually had to downshift going into 3 and 4, which was a unique thing as well. It is a neat track. I enjoy it. It is challenging and it is always good for racing too because you can pass there.

Q: Now you won there in 2000 right?

Andretti: Right.

Kanaan: Well I think Michael said the most. I think it is a very, very challenging racetrack. You guys are seeing it is fast, but one corner has a banking, which is 3 and 4 that Michael mentioned, and then 1 and 2 it is easy flat. In my opinion I think in qualifying we probably going to go nearly to go flat I hope. Last year with the CART car I was really close to do it, and I think Bruno will start on the pole. He maybe did it, but it is a very challenging sport and race for us, for Honda and we are going to try to do our best. Michael had success there in the past. It was close last year of winning so (Inaudible) fighter so we have a pretty good chance. Let's try to do our best over there.

Q: It is for Michael. Michael, with the young drivers that you are seeing coming out of the Infiniti Series, as a driver are you leaving the IndyCar Series in good hands? And as an owner do you like the young crop that you see coming up?

Andretti: Well, I think so. I think the Infiniti Pro Series is a good training ground, for sure, for the cars that we are driving. You always watching and paying attention to what is going on because, especially now as an owner, because you always want to be watching the new talent come along. We are no different. That is what we watch, and the Infiniti Pro Series is definitely one area that I believe you are going to get a lot of new talent.

Q: My first question is for Tony. Tony, you mentioned earlier in the interview that you gave thanks and appreciation to Michael for realizing that you are a fast driver. I am reminded of when you came up through the CART series and you started with Steve Horne and Tasman; do you compare what Michael saw to what Steve saw that gave you your first shot in racing in America?

Kanaan: I think so. I mean Steve obviously knew a little bit more because I had won a championship for him in Indy Lights. But after that I came in as a young gun in the CART series, and obviously the years go by, you are not the rookie anymore and then you do not perform as well for a lot of reasons, and people have a tendency to judge you. In Michael's prospect, he can speak better about that, but we had close races before, and as a driver you understand better. It is not better than a driver to judge another race car driver. You cannot judge from outside. So Michael probably knew the equipment that I had, and where I was racing, and who I was racing for and understand the facts and analyze all the situations I had, and then realized that maybe I did have the talent and the results were not coming because something would always happen. It was a really good decision that he took, especially for me. I got the job that I want, and hopefully I can give all that back to him.

Q: I guess you do see that as a good decision, don't you, Michael?

Andretti: Absolutely. There was no question in my mind, and I knew Tony had the talent, and I just watched him have one bad break after another, and it was not always the team's fault. It was just bad luck. I knew that he had the talent and that he can do it. He just needed the breaks. I was hoping that it was going to come, and it came really quick, which was awesome.

Q: Michael, when a driver wins a race it is an accumulation of working hard with the team, working hard to keep the driver in physical shape in order to make it the entire race. So when an owner wins, and it is something you and I have talked about that you are responsible now for some 90 people, plus however many people you've added lately. It is a totally different thing. Is the feeling of standing victory podium as an owner different than standing on the podium as a driver?

Andretti: It was a lot more similar than I thought it would be. It felt really good. It was a feeling of accomplishment and that is the feeling you feel as a driver. Maybe there is different ways of getting that accomplishment, but in the end it is still the same. I felt really good. And I think part of it is too that I just was so happy for Tony himself. We get along so well, and I think that helps as well that we have that sort of personal relationship, too. I think that made it even more special to me, as I would feel that way if Dario won because I have that same feeling for Dario, too. That has made it special. Maybe I will not always have that as owner with other drivers but with the situation we have right now it is quite unique, and I think we all get along so well and we are all sincerely happy for each other. I mean Dario is one of the first guys in victory lane to congratulate Tony, for instance. That is special in a team to have that. I have been saying all along that that is what is making this team different from other teams, and I think in a lot of ways making it more successful because of that.

Q: Michael, we received a note from your office this morning regarding your search for photos around America, and I guess around the world, kind of to chronicle your career. Talk about that for a moment.

Andretti: Yes, it is going to be a neat little thing that we are doing. You always have fans send neat things and old photos. But it is neat to see these people that have followed you for so many years, and it is really a special feeling. And I thought, well actually it was not my idea but it was one of the people that work for me came up with the idea; why don't we have the fans go out and go through their archives of photos, and let's put them all together and display them? I thought that I was a neat idea and so it is going to be a pretty neat thing, I think.

Q: Yes, Mike King with the IMS Radio Network. Mike, first off congratulations on the team getting the win. We were impressed during the broadcast, after talking to Kim (Green) and finding out that the handling on the car was as bad as it was, we were impressed that you were able to manhandle that thing and stay in the top five. How bad was it handling throughout most of the race after the initial contact?

Andretti: It was pretty bad. I just had a huge understeer, and I was trying to make as many adjustments in the cockpit as I could and had to the weight jacker totally to the left and things like that. I was just hanging on for dear life. That is why, I felt very helpless when Gil was behind me. I knew it was only a matter of time that he was going to get by me. We fought tough all day and just hung in there, and I thought we were going to get a good result considering that, but unfortunately it was not meant to happen.

Q: Given that and the fact that you knew had Gil back here when you saw him coming underneath you what was the initial thought?

Andretti: Initial thought was -- "OK, I am going to take it in deep but he is probably going to get me." And I thought everything was cool. It is something that I have done thousands of times before, that same move. I just felt like I must of just misjudged it a little bit because I thought I gave him a lot of room, and when I looked at it I did give him room. It was a little weird feeling to find myself into the wall because I thought everything was normal, and it was going to be just a normal pass because Gil is an awesome race car driver, and I was surprised that that happened. But those things will happen. I mean this is racing. We are racing close to 200 mph and racing inches from each other, and sometimes you miss it a little bit.

Q: Given the fact that it was such a big hit and you are laying there or they are examining you in the Infield Care Center when the race ends; did you ever think for a second -- I think I will just bypass the victory lane celebration? We saw you come out on the scooter; were you up instantly and start out there?

Andretti: Absolutely. I mean I was watching it and I was like -- Come on, I want to get out of here. I want to finish this race. Hurry up and release me-type thing because I knew Tony was in a good position, and I felt he was going to win it if bad luck did not strike. So I wanted to get there to see it and soon as they said, "You can go." I ran out the door. That was what was on my mind the whole time I was in there.

Part III


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Steve Horne