IRL: Michael Andretti, Tony Kanaan press conference, part II

IRL press conference with Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan Part 2 of 3 Q: Thanks very much. I will say good morning once again to Michael and direct my questions if I may to Tony. Tony, is it a different feeling having one of your team...

IRL press conference with Michael Andretti and Tony Kanaan

Part 2 of 3

Q: Thanks very much. I will say good morning once again to Michael and direct my questions if I may to Tony. Tony, is it a different feeling having one of your team drivers and your owner being the same person?

Kanaan: Yes, I guess. Actually he is my teammate. We are on the same team. We both are going to drive the 7-11 car. It is different for sure, but we had a couple moments last year already after I signed the contract. We had an accident in the Miami race, so obviously I was always respect my teammates a lot and then my teammate being my boss means I have to respect him twice more. But we have a pretty good relationship to begin with, and then on the racetrack obviously you are never going to-- It is not my type of prior to do anything stupid moves with anybody anyway, so I think we are looking for the best for the team. And I think if I can help Mike out, and I am having a bad day, and then I have to give him away or vice-versa, I think we have no problems with that. It is just great to be part of the team and it is great to have him with all his experience on my side. (Inaudible) is different. You have to think twice some of the times because people say, "Your teammate is always the first guy you wanted to beat." I do not think that way all the time. I think that he has to beat everybody. But it is definitely different. I am getting used to it. I think by the end of the (Inaudible), the beginning of the season will be probably normal to me.

Q: When you walked away from Homestead after the test did you feel that having Michael as both your teammate and your owner, because he was so involved with both cars that your side of the team was able to learn more about what to do with your car?

Kanaan: Well, I think we are all a whole team. We are not taking value out of it. But everybody is doing different kind of things, but obviously having two drivers, like me and Michael there, we both drove different days and we both help each other with feedbacks and then opinions and what to do with the car. It is always a big help, two heads think better than one. And with his experience we definitely have a big help for my first day, which was the second day that the team was there. And the racetrack, I guess we have not decided what we are going to do about debriefing, but we are going to try to do everybody together to help all the three cars. It is not that we want to benefit one or the other. One day when he will retire then, I will try to pull him on my side all the time.

Q: And Michael, did he past the first test of the interview of the way you guys talk/think?

Andretti: Yes, he did very good. I am surprised. (Laughter)

Q: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Mike, I would like to ask you, your father once was on what they called a super team, sort of a two-part question. What chances of this team really being considered a super team with the spotlight on them? And could you talk a little about what your father's feeling is about this and what he is role might be or might not be?

Andretti: I feel we have super team. I think what is going to show in this team that is different than a lot of others, I think, is the chemistry that we have. I just feel very good about it, and it starts at the drivers. I think the relationship that the three of us, I think, is very good. I think we all are really close. We really have a lot of respect for each other. So I think that is going to help (Inaudible) throughout this whole team. And I think that is what is going to make this team really super. I mean I think we have so many good people on this team, and if we can get the chemistry and everybody not going against each other but working together as one team I think it is going to make this team really strong. I am really excited about that side of it. As for Dad, his feelings is I think he is very happy for me the way the team has come down, everything the way it has come down. Obviously, he has views on where he would like me to be. I think he would like me to be in CART, but I think he understands why I am in the IRL, and he respects that. As for his role with the team right now, I do not know. I personally would really like to have him more involved with my team, and I am hoping that in the future we will be able to do that.

Q: As a follow-up, I have been on teams, and it is always the word that nobody gives everything away to their teammate. That it really comes down to a-- It is just everybody--

Andretti: Well, I think Tony said it. You know like normally the first person you want to beat is your teammate. But I really feel within this team the relationship the three of us have, I believe we all want the best for each other. We are going to try to beat each other for sure, but I think we all also have a mutual respect for each other that we want the other one to do well, as well. Like I think all three of us would love to see a one-two-three finish. And probably in the end, we would not care which driver was number one. If we could do that, I think would just be awesome for the team. So I think that is the difference in what we have here, because I know Tony and Dario are very close, and I am close with Dario and Tony. I think it just really has a making for a really good deal.

Q: Thank you. Good luck.

Andretti: Thanks.

Q: Guys, how can people who have been associated with the IRL have this notion that it has been kind of a warm-and-fuzzy nice, everybody-kind-of-get-along situation. And now with Toyota and Honda, there is some concern that that is going to dramatically change. That the spending habits are going to be so great by the two manufacturers that it is just going to totally upset that cute, warm and fuzzy little league that has been out there. You have not been involved with the IRL to a great extent in the past, but how do you think things are going to change positively or negatively?

Andretti: I think in that standpoint it may change a little bit. But I have to say that the philosophy of the IRL is a bit different than say the way CART has been run. I mean CART has been run by basically competitors, and I think when that was happening everybody had their own agenda. But I think having guys like Brian Barnhart running the show there, I think he gives it more of a feeling like it is more about the sportsmanship and things like that. And I think that is going to really help keep it that way. Is it going to stay exactly the way it is now? I say no. But I think it has a potential of not getting the way say CART became. (Inaudible) Formula One.

Q: And can one man, Brian, do you really think he can take on two manufacturers who have all the engineers at their disposal to work around the rules?

Andretti: Well, I think they definitely have a challenge there. But I think the other difference is they can make the call. Tony, George and Brian, if something they do not feel is right they do not have to go to a board, they do not have to go anywhere. They can make the call themselves, so they can control it in that way. And I think that is sort of the way NASCAR is run. Bill France can make the decision that -- Chevy has an advantage here. They are not going to have that advantage. Now I do not think they are going to do it to that extent with the IRL, but they can do it with the manufacturers. They have the power that they can make the call and have more control than say the way it was set up in CART.

Q: Thanks.

Q: Michael, good afternoon. I am wondering with your success on the road circuits, especially in Toronto; number one are you going to miss that? And number two, how much you are looking forward to returning to Nazareth?

Andretti: I am definitely going to miss road racing. That is something that we all are going to miss. But having said that I am hoping that somewhere in the future there will be road racing in the Indy Racing League. So that is what we are all hoping. But for right now we have the ovals, and we are going to make the best of it. Getting back to Nazareth, I am very happy, excited about doing that. That is something that I missed the last couple years and so I think it is going to be great that we are back in our hometown. For one of the races, I can sleep in my own bed, so that it will be nice.

Miller: As you're talking about the different types of tracks that we run on; Tony, can you tell us what track you are most looking forward to or what type of track you prefer, whether it be a short track like Richmond or a superspeedway like Fontana?

Kanaan: Well it is tough for me to say because a track like Richmond, I have not been there, so I have no idea what it looks like, just on TV. I like superspeedways. Obviously, if you look in my past, the only race I won in CART was in the superspeedway. So I think I kind of like that kind of race, the 500-mile race is also (Inaudible). Indianapolis was great last year for me until up to one point. I think right now, I will maybe change my mind later on, but right now I kind of like the superspeedways better.

Miller: Thank you. Operator, we can go to the next question.

Q: Michael, if you were to retire, are you committed to a three-car team or would you go back to two?

Andretti: We would be committed to a three-car team.

Miller: We can take the next question, operator.

Q: Michael, you alluded to the fact that the races were close at IRL last year and really really (Inaudible). This year there will be more cars, more entries. Do you feel that qualifying may be a top thing on the agenda to finishing up front?

Andretti: I hope not because I think the formula, the rules the way they are, I am hoping that a car that did not qualify so well will still be able to get to the front if it is better than the other cars because it will be able to pass. I am hoping that that is the way it is because that is what makes for good racing is a guy that can come from the back and get to the front by passing cars. And I think formula is going to still allow that type of racing to happen. So I am hoping the track position at the beginning of the race is not going to decide the outcome.

Q: A follow-up to that question, from what testing has been done do you see that there is maybe one chassis in combination is better than another at this point?

Andretti: I think it is definitely too early to tell. We do not know what everybody is really doing yet. We can only just do what we know, and that is try to make progress with our own thing. And I think the Dallara chassis seems to be very good out of the box, and the Honda engine I was very impressed with, with the short period of time that they really had to get things going. I was really happy with how competitive it seemed to be already.

Q: Thank you very much.

Q: Yes, for Michael, I was going to ask you about what you thought about the Honda engine, because it appeared they got a little bit of a late start compared to Toyota and Chevy and how you think it is running. And are you running an Ilmor or are you having some support also from HPD?

Andretti: Well first of all, I think like I said, I was very impressed with the engine, with the progress that they have made. I know we did a lot of testing with Dan Wheldon at the end of the year, and each test they made progress, and they continue to do so at this test. And the engine just seems to be really running. We put thousands of miles on it already, and the performance fit. Not only reliability, but the performance seems to be there, as well, so real happy with that. As for us, we will be the HPD team.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Kind of a two-part question for Michael. Late last year, 2002, it was in the press pretty much that you were kind of on the if you have enough sponsorship or not. Has that been resolved?

Andretti: Yes, I think we have done a pretty good job there. I am very happy with the support that we are getting, and we are hoping to put a big announcement on everything that we have together pretty soon.

Q: And my follow-up question is -- When you bought the team did you get all the old CART equipment? And I know that has kind of been what is basing a lot of teams because they have to use last year's chassis in CART.

Andretti: Actually, no. In the deal, Barry (Green) still owns most of it, and we own some of it. So he ended up, Barry ended up selling a lot of it to CART actually, like all the (Inaudible) and stuff.

Q: Thank you very much and a belated Happy New Year to both of you gentlemen.

Andretti: Thank you.

Kanaan: Thanks.

Part III

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Brian Barnhart