Patrick - IRL teleconference, part 1 2009-06-16

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript Tuesday, June 16, 2009 An interview with Danica Patrick MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guest this afternoon is ...

Indy Racing League Teleconference Transcript
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An interview with Danica Patrick

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guest this afternoon is Danica Patrick. Hi, Danica.

DANICA PATRICK: Hi.

MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us. She's in her fifth season in the IndyCar Series, and her third driving the No. 7 Boost Mobile/Motorola entry for Andretti Green Racing. She ranks fifth in points as the IndyCar Series prepares for racing on four consecutive weekends. And she's one of three drivers with four top-five finishes in the season's first six races.

So Danica, first of all, congratulations on a strong start to the season. That stretch of four consecutive top-five finishes came on a very diverse set of tracks, and really kind of the first stretch like that in your IndyCar Series career.

Can you give us your perspective on the start of the season, and what it means to be able to put together a string of consistent finishes like that?

DANICA PATRICK: As we say each year, it's always nice to start the season off well. It always seems to get to the end of the season when you're counting your every point. So it's nice when it starts out well. It would have been even nicer if we finished at St. Petersburg, and we would have been looking much better in the points. Everyone has their DNF's on the year. Since then we've been doing well, having a lot of fun, and having success.

MODERATOR: Now we've got four consecutive races coming up. If you would, tell us about each of those tracks, and how you've done in the past, and what it will take to continue finishing up at the front?

DANICA PATRICK: We have Iowa coming up this weekend. It's been OK there. It's tough to race there. It used to be a tough place to pass because everyone was just running the bottom, and the long way around was the long way around, and you couldn't make up enough ground.

In the last year, you could pass a little bit better on the outside. The car did go off a little bit, and you could pick up some understeer or something like that and it would make it a little easier to pass. But still the high line is a long way around there. It's more of a traditional line than in recent times. So qualifying is really important.

Then we go to Richmond, and it's sort of the same thing. It's difficult to pass at Richmond, even more so really than Iowa I would say.

But we had a little bit of side-by-side racing last year because there were more cars and we took up more space on the track. Again, it's going to really, really lend to qualifying well and then just staying up there. So I would say qualifying is going to be important the next two weekends.

Then we go to the Glen. And the Glen is a place where I haven't traditionally done well. We were testing up there last week. The tests went well, and we've made improvements and will continue to make improvements, so I think I'm looking forward to the Glen more so.

I really enjoy the permanent road courses we've gone to in the past couple of years. They seem to be more of my strong suit on the road courses. Then we go to Toronto. A place that is back on the schedule for us that is really exciting. Canadian fans are fantastic fans. They love their racing. They're very educated.

It's also a place that my boss, Mr. Andretti has done very well at, and being on my car, that's nice. I look forward to going back there, but I haven't been there in a big car. The last time I was there, I was in Atlantic, so I'm sure it will be quite different.

Q: Talk about your good start to the year? And the big question is this is your contract year that you're doing better than you ever have it gives you a lot of leverage in a position. Have you given any specific instruction to the folks at IMG about what you want to do in 2010?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, we've definitely had many conversations about what I'm looking for and my goals, and so, we've had a lot of those conversations, but really, it's kind of about collecting information at this point and seeing what our options are, and then we'll talk deeper after that. But at this point in time it's about collecting the information.

Q: So reports this week that you're into heavy negotiations with Ganassi's NASCAR team, any concrete fact behind that story?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, we'll definitely be looking at on our options. They are one of the top three teams in the IndyCar Series. But then again, I'm also driving for one of those top three teams in the IndyCar Series. So it's going to have to be a really good option for me as a driver and as a brand to expand beyond, because I already drive for a great team. So we'll just have to see.

Q: Touching back on the consistency a bit, you've got to be pleased with that. But at the same time, is it somewhat frustrating that being up front in that front group hasn't led to more opportunities to lead and really challenge for a win? Outside of running top five?

DANICA PATRICK: I'm sorry, what is your question?

Q: I'm just wondering if you're feeling good, obviously, about the consistency to start the season. But how much nicer would it fill to be challenging a little more for the win in more of these races?

DANICA PATRICK: That's my job as a driver, and I feel if we can keep continuing and keep competing where we're at right now, those opportunities will present themselves more frequently. So, we'll be hoping for that situation every time we go out on the track.

The problem is there are a lot of other drivers that are working for that, too.

Q: We were just at the Brickyard talking to Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon about tire wear. You hit on this earlier that last year at Iowa was a pretty good show. It just seems the tires are so good that maybe that's one of the reasons it's been so hard to pass this year. You got any thoughts on that?

DANICA PATRICK: I think the times that we've had the most amount of interesting racing and exciting racing and ultimately passing is when you have to do things like look after your tires a little bit more. I was able to capitalize on some of that in Milwaukee. That track is very tough on the tires. So, yeah. I think whenever the tires do go off, it creates more of those opportunities. So that might be a good alternative to making the racing better seeming as we're all so close now.

Q: I wanted to touch on basically how good you've been on the road courses this year, too, and actually through the last couple of years. I'm just wondering do you attribute some of that to the move to the paddle shifter? How much has that helped you keep both hands on the wheel, so to speak. And how you've stepped up that part of your game?

DANICA PATRICK: It has gone better. Most of it has come from just the experience and getting used to the cars - getting on top of the car a little more and having it be mine instead of the car driving me a little bit, which is what I think it was in the beginning. It was really about getting used to the size and speed and everything. So I definitely feel like I'm more in control of it. Did it take longer than I wanted it to? Yeah. But I think we're finally getting it now.

Other than that, the car has been basically the same. We have the paddle shifters now, but the funny thing was I don't know what it is, but I was fortunate my hands were unblistered and good, and I was strong enough to do it. You never know. I think it's helping all of us to some degree, but I was OK before. So I think it's been just getting used to the car.

Q: From a strength standpoint you would think that if you had any kind of situation where you weren't matching the boys strength-wise, it would show up at the end of the races. But it seems you've been stout at the end of the road courses, even Mid-Ohio and places like that.

Have you found a different workout regimen that's helped you in that regard? Is it just an evolution a little bit?

DANICA PATRICK: I think most of it is evolution. But as years go on, I fine tune and find ways to be stronger and have more control. At the end of the day, the only thing that's happened with the car is it's gotten heavier for me. I really think it's just getting used to it. We have so little control over things in racing. The one thing I have control over is my physical strength and ability, so it is something I take seriously.

Q: Do you find more joy in turning a quick lap at like a Mid-Ohio than you do at Iowa where you're going this week? Do you know what I mean? As a driver?

DANICA PATRICK: Oh, yes. You have a million times more joy turning a good lap on a road course than an oval. The oval is the real challenge, and the art form to it is the racing.

On the road courses, you're racing against yourself most of the time. And on the ovals you're racing against everyone else. So I look forward to getting to some road courses and having those moments.

Q: Back to what you were being asked a while ago about the interest and stuff. Have you found that this is a tough economic times right now for a lot of people and lot of teams and stuff. Have you found there to be more interest than expected in you from wherever it is you're looking? Have you been surprised by that? Has it been what you thought it would be or has it been less?

DANICA PATRICK: As a driver and as a brand, I can only hope that people will be talking about me. Yeah, I'm always very flattered whenever I'm brought up in conversation or brought up in the newspapers. A friend of ours said that because he was at the grocery store overhearing a couple people talking about IndyCar and NASCAR, so to be in those conversations are very flattering. It's all good news. Hopefully we can keep our heads down and figure it out and make a good decision.

Q: Go back to your conversations you were discussing with your agent and stuff. You mentioned goals. What kind of goals do you have in mind? Do you care about sharing those at all?

DANICA PATRICK: I think the most important thing for me is to put myself in a situation where I can win as many races as possible and run up front and be in that competitive situation. That's the most important thing. Because at the end of the day, usually the best press comes when I'm doing things on track. That's really the most important thing for me as a driver. So that's where the ultimate focus is going to go.

Then aside from that and after that there has to be thoughts, to the brand side of the situation, and being able to make the most of myself as an athlete and as an endorser of products and things like that and gaining exposure so that in due time I'm able to explore other things outside of racing maybe even. So, all of that comes afterwards. The most important thing is kicking butt out there.

Q: Following up on economics in NASCAR country being devastated by the bad economy. How much of that trickles down to the IndyCar Series? How much are you feeling it?

DANICA PATRICK: I have to say that we've stood up pretty well. We've lost some cars from last year, but then again it was so fresh and new with the merging of the series. So, I do think that it's been pretty good for us. Knock on wood. We've stood up to it. In my particular situation, it was awesome to have -- we got Boost to come along and be a partner with Motorola on the car, so that's a growth from last year for us. So, I'm optimistic.

I think all the things going on in IndyCar it's positive, and moving in a forward motion.

Q: Is there anything you have to cut back on at all or anything you're noticing missing recently?

DANICA PATRICK: There have been some things that have been done along the way that have been noticed a little. We have less sets of tires on a race weekend or things like that that are trying to reduce costs by reducing the engine miles and in turn then having to have less engine builds and stuff like that. So there have been those kinds of things starting on track at the Indy 500 and having two less days during that month. So there have been some things that have happened.

But I wouldn't say it's been - it hasn't killed us or anything. It's just little things I notice. Eight sets of tires versus nine, what do we do? It would be nice to have them. But then again, I'm a driver, and I would say that, wouldn't I?

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kasey Kahne , Danica Patrick