Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor April 21, 2004 Mark Taylor , No. 2 Panther Racing MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. The Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program is scheduled for Monday,...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor
April 21, 2004
Mark Taylor , No. 2 Panther Racing
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. The Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program is scheduled for Monday, April 26. We have two participants joining us on today's call. Red Bull Cheever Racing driver Ed Carpenter will join us at the top of the call, followed by Mark Taylor, who will drive the Panther Racing/Menards/Johns Manville entry in this year's Indianapolis 500. We'd like to welcome IndyCar Series rookie Mark Taylor, 17th in the series points championship and second in the Rookie of the Year standing, trailing Kosuke Matsuura. In his three IndyCar Series starts, Taylor has a best finish of 12th at Phoenix last month. Taylor had a good run going last weekend in Japan, but made contact with the Turn 2 wall on lap 168. He was running sixth at the time. Mark, thanks very much for joining us.
MARK TAYLOR: That's OK. Thank you.
Q: Obviously, coming off a Menards Infiniti Pro Series championship last year, a strong run in last year's Freedom 100, where you finished third, you've got to feel good going into next week's ROP.
MARK TAYLOR: Absolutely. It will be great fun to be able to get out there for the first time. With the new engine package, as well, with the way the cars are working this year, with less downforce, it's going to be a real experience out there. Obviously, from the experience that we had last year racing around there, maybe we'll have a small advantage, but it's going to be a big step up compared from the Infiniti cars to the Indy cars.
Q: I'll ask you the same question I asked Ed. Have you spent any time in an IndyCar Series car at the Speedway?
MARK TAYLOR: No. We were just there to watch the tests a couple weeks ago with the new 3.0-liter engines out there. I haven't actually had time to get in the car and go around. It will be the first time on Monday.
Q: Going into it, what are your thoughts about how much different the car will feel? Do you think it will be a lot different than last year's Freedom 100?
MARK TAYLOR: I expect it will be. It's going to be a lot quicker going into Turn 1 and Turn 3, especially. It's a tricky track in every car that you drive around there. We'll see what the weather conditions are going to be like on Monday. It's going to be just a question of getting out on track, spending as much time out there. It's a good point in the year because we haven't had much time out on the track at the moment for rookies. Normally in previous years, you'd have more opportunities to get out on track. This whole month of May will be great for us to be able to get the time in the car and get it working well.
Q: You totally dominated the Pro Series last year. You had a great run going at Japan. Obviously, you can hang with these guys. What really are your realistic goals heading into May?
MARK TAYLOR: I don't know. It's going to be a tough race. We're going to be hoping to be up at the front. From how Japan went, I was learning very early on in the weekend, but we came through on qualifying, on the race day and we were up the front. Hopefully it's going to be the same in Indianapolis. I can see the car is going to work extremely well. Panther makes sure the Menards car is working extremely well out there. I expect nothing less in Indianapolis. It's going to be a very long race, and one that the car is going to need to work well all the way through.
Q: Mark, coming from England, what does the Indy 500 mean to you?
MARK TAYLOR: I mean, it's one of the biggest races in the whole world. As far as attendance-wise, I think it's the biggest sporting event in the world. It's just amazing to see that number of fans assembled in one place. It's going to be a huge month for me, the first 500, a great opportunity to go out there and showcase my talents. It hasn't been a stellar performance so far the beginning of the year, but it's gradually getting there. With more and more time in the car hopefully I'll get in May I'll be able to really do well in the 500. It's a race that I'm looking forward to.
Q: In the States, a lot of young drivers reach a point very early in their life when they watch the Indy 500, they go to an Indy 500, they say, "That's where I want to be someday." Can you remember when, growing up in England, that hit you; that someday you'd like to be in the Indy 500?
MARK TAYLOR: It's mainly focused on Formula One in England. It would be difficult to say a precise time when the Indianapolis 500 was a big race for me. It's more focused on, say, Monaco or the British Grand Prix to do well at. That's where you focus your career on. There's probably a point where I was doing Formula 3, kind of broadening your horizons, as it were, to look at what else is there to do other than Formula One, to see the great abilities that other drivers have throughout the world. The Indianapolis 500 is definitely the race when you look at the different nationalities that race in it, the standard of drivers that come to it, and the number of drivers that are involved in it, it is definitely the race to win because of that. Because of the number of cars that are involved, because of how difficult it is just to qualify for it, it makes it a stellar event.
Q: Speaking of Formula One, of course this weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the death of (Aryton) Senna. Your thoughts of Senna and what he meant to you?
MARK TAYLOR: He was a great driver, the best driver that I certainly watched and that I can remember throughout the whole of motor racing. He was a big hero of mine. I can remember watching Formula One races. Just in qualifying as well in the races, he stood head and shoulders above the rest. Just a superb driver with a great mental attitude as well as great reflexes. He could do anything with any car. I think a driver that everyone looked up to.
Q: When you think back to the weekend that that happened, do you remember what you were doing, what went through your mind?
MARK TAYLOR: I can remember I missed the Grand Prix. I wasn't actually watching it. I can't remember what I was doing at the time. It was a huge shock when I heard the news. It's just one of those tragic moments in motorsport that you wish would never happen.
MODERATOR: Just a footnote. The Indianapolis 500 is the world's largest one-day sporting event. Let's go ahead and continue questions.
Q: Mark, there have been quite a few drivers from the United Kingdom who have come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Is there one in particular whose career you remember here for his success at the Speedway or even an entrant, for that matter?
MARK TAYLOR: Well, they all did so well over here. I'm fairly young. Nigel Mansell is probably the most recent one that I would have focused on over here and noticed how well he had done over here. It's very big news over in England whenever someone comes over here and does well. For him to come over here, he didn't win the race, but he was very quick, very unfortunate not to, I think. He's one that I probably focused on as far as my lifetime was concerned, and, of course, there were many before who exceeded his opportunity over here. There are many English drivers. I hope to add my name to them who did well over here.
Q: You're obviously going to be trying to take Rookie of the Year honors this year. Beyond that, is there a goal besides the usual of doing well, finishing up front? Do you have any set goals beyond Rookie of the Year?
MARK TAYLOR: I mean, you need your luck at the 500. I think whoever wins it will have to have their fair portion of luck. It's extremely tough this year. The competition is extremely high. The toughest competition probably for a number of years now, I feel. To get into the top five would be a major achievement, of course. If the luck is with me, I think we can do better than that. I will be looking for a top-five performance.
Q: Is there anything that you feel you could have done better in the first three races at this point?
MARK TAYLOR: Well, as it's a rookie year, you always want more time in the car. I feel if I'd had the opportunity to maybe have a few more tests before the first race, I think I could have ironed out maybe some of the mistakes I did through the race or prior to that in the weekend. At this point, I'm just getting more comfortable in the car. I think the finish at Phoenix, although it was disappointing where we did finish, it was good to get the time in the car. I was just getting more and more comfortable in it. I think that's what you saw in Japan. I was just able to learn a new track in the two days that we had to learn it and go out there in the race and really push hard and overtake, get the car really working well for me. It was just unfortunate the way that Japan finished. We were very close to the end. We were on the lead lap. I think the whole team did extremely well. The Menards Johns Manville crew did extremely good pit stops for me, therefore we were running in the top five for part of the race. I think we were sixth when we crashed out. But still, it was very close to the end. A very good finish, if we had finished. It's just building on that, making sure that I keep my confidence up, make sure that I can feel what's going on with the race car. I think Indianapolis is extremely important to make sure that in the length of those runs the car doesn't change too much, and continue driving it hard, make sure I can overtake people.
Q: How did you like working with Tom Sneva last week? Will he be continuing with you?
MARK TAYLOR: He did a great job. I was surprised how well he was able to fit in up there. It's a very tough job to do. I'm glad to say he's going to continue on for the rest of the year. He's got a lot of experience. He's good friends with Pancho (Carter). He's able to help. They're able to talk together, just get some ideas off each other. Hopefully he'll be able to continue helping me through the whole year.
Q: He did help you a lot last weekend?
MARK TAYLOR: Absolutely. Any spotter helps the driver as much as possible. He's the eyes from above and can see what's going on. There were some very tricky moments in the race where you were trying to fight for position; you're trying to overtake lap cars. He's able to tell me what's going on kind of just maybe a few places ahead which I can't see. Or if there's a yellow that's going to come out in a moment, if maybe the car ahead which I'm trying to overtake for position could get caught up with lap traffic, that's an important part of it. Timing my moves, he can see maybe if I'm timing it a little wrong just to help me out to try and get the move made before we go into the corner.
Q: Mark, thanks very much for joining us today. We will see you Monday at ROP. Thanks again.
MARK TAYLOR: Great, thank you.