Patrick - IRL teleconference, part 2 2009-06-16

Continued from part 1 Q: I'm not sure I've read anywhere where Andretti Green has made a new contract offer to you. I wonder if they have. Also, the fact that you're having such a solid season, and you enjoy working with Michael does that kind...

Continued from part 1

Q: I'm not sure I've read anywhere where Andretti Green has made a new contract offer to you. I wonder if they have. Also, the fact that you're having such a solid season, and you enjoy working with Michael does that kind of give AGR, like the leader in the clubhouse status with anything that's going on right now?

DANICA PATRICK: I think we're working towards some things together. But, it's been a great situation this year with Mike (Andretti), and with my new engineer, Eddie (Jones). The crew has been having a great time. We've been getting along. It's the same crew from last year, basically.

So it's just been a really -- we're all working together and most importantly having a good time at it. So, I think that whenever you're in a situation where you're doing well, it's always very attractive, and you don't want to lose that. So we'll just have to see where that goes.

Q: At Texas, there was a lot of post-race talk about how the racing there was not up to par with previous years. Did you agree that the racing there, you couldn't pass, you couldn't use the high line, or was that sour grapes from guys that couldn't catch Helio (Castroneves)?

DANICA PATRICK: There was some passing, but I think as time goes on and we get closer and closer and one more year with the same car, and just developing the smallest little things, I think it does get tougher and tougher. There is less difference in speed. In years past, there was different aero packages that you could upgrade to and buy and stuff like that. Now it's just everybody's got the same thing.

So I mean, as a driver I've been on the good side of things before where you've got the right car and the right engine. I long for those days again where you had an upper hand on a chunk of the field. But on the other hand, it's the most competitive and toughest racing, I think, in a long time because we are so close and because every last thing is so critical.

So, at the end of the day, it would be nice to have some different options and have some difference in speed or, at least someone has bottom end and someone has top end, somebody has good fuel, and somebody has speed, something like that.

But it's the way of the world right now, and the economy, and it's the option that we have. So we're all making the most of it, and trying to also put on as good of a show for the crowd as possible.

Q: As somebody who is a hot commodity in racing and is going to have your pick in opportunities next year, when looking at the NASCAR possibility, how much does your struggle with what Sam (Hornish Jr.) has had and Dario's (Franchitti) been through, how much does that weigh how you look at that?

DANICA PATRICK: I think it's something to take notice of. I think what it shows is it is difficult. You do need as much help as possible. But as credit to them, they haven't been driving for the best teams in NASCAR either. So how can you really hold them accountable for not doing extremely well in the very beginning when they just don't have the resources.

Now they're getting the hang of it. And Sam's (Hornish Jr.) doing much better, and Juan's (Pablo Montoya) doing better. I think that things are moving -- they're doing better overall. But, they don't drive for Hendrick or Roush or any of the top teams. So I think it's a tough one.

Q: Well, there is talk that at least one of those teams would be very interested in talking to you. Is that the kind of opportunity in NASCAR that might kind of bring you over that way?

DANICA PATRICK: As I said earlier, for me the most important thing is performing and having the ability and having the resources to get there faster. So, yeah, when it's a top team calling, it makes it more attractive.

Q: IndyCar drivers, open-wheel racers in general, it seems like whenever they get near the top, they immediately become the object of speculation that they're going to go to NASCAR. Is that just a fact of life because NASCAR's still kind of king? Or how do you look at that?

DANICA PATRICK: I think one thing is as drivers is we like to challenge ourselves. If we've done something well, can we do the next thing well? So I think it's the opportunity to show your ability.

But NASCAR has so many viewers and so many partners. There are just lots of options both inside and outside the car. So there's reasons, and it looks like fun. There are 40-odd guys that do it every year. I'm not sure how many the number is this year. But, obviously, it's a good time. Oval racing is always fun. It's you racing against everyone else, it's very competitive.

It's kind of like the Indy 500 every weekend. That's a lot of fun as a driver to be part of something important, and something people want to watch.

Q: Would you say how many other NASCAR teams have been involved in discussions about the future, how many have you heard from?

DANICA PATRICK: I'm not sure. That's not for me to handle. That's what I leave up to my agents, and as they tell me, which is the best thing, 'All I have to do is go out there and perform and they'll take care of the rest,' so that's what I'm going to do.

Q: There was a report this past weekend -- I know you've aligned yourself with IMG, and there was a report that George Pine is the president of IMG, of course, and former chief operating officer of NASCAR. And this report intimated that he may be trying to push you in that direction. I guess, two-part question, are you close with George, and is he maybe pushing you a little bit towards considering NASCAR?

DANICA PATRICK: I've spoken to him before, but I don't think anyone's trying to push me. They really want to just know what my thoughts are and what I want to do. At this point, I just want to know what my options are. So that's the point at which we're at right now is just collecting data and figuring out what our options really are - who is really serious.

So, that's just the point we're at.

Q: You've talked a lot about your brand during this call and other stories I've read this year. No matter where you go, no matter what decision you make on your future, is that brand going to change at all? Are you looking at changing the direction of sponsors or endorsement opportunities that you align with?

DANICA PATRICK: I think that's something that with IMG we've taken a much harder look at. We do a whole thing where you collect all the information about what things have happened in your career and what sort of roads you can take. I think we're going to streamline things a little bit more and be a little bit more specific and poignant on the things that we're looking towards that attribute to the brand and elevate the brand. So, no, I don't think it's going to change, but it will probably get a little bit more clear.

Q: I'll confess I'm a follower. I know you tweeted earlier today, you did yoga for the first time in two months.

DANICA PATRICK: Is that bad if I'm still in my yoga gear right now? (Laughing)

Q: The obvious question is are you seeking some sort of solace or comfort as you arrive at crossroads in your future career?

DANICA PATRICK: I think that the one important thing that they stress so much in yoga that really does -- it's really life and that's breath. In moments of stress, you need to remind yourself to breathe a little bit. So if I can take the sort of competitive angle that a lot of times I can take into things and try to at least train myself to listen to my body a little bit more and breathe a few extra times, I think that's probably a good thing.

Q: I'm just wondering, you mentioned earlier that you've been to Toronto before in Atlantic a couple of times. I guess with the race not being there last year, the switch to the new series, there's a whole bunch of things going on. Lot of new stuff for that race this year. Just wondering can you talk about what you think will happen on that track? How much opportunity there will be for passing? How the cars will be? And do you guys as drivers have to do a little extra that weekend to give it a bump to get that spirit back?

DANICA PATRICK: Well since my team is running the race, usually a little extra does come into play for Andretti Green drivers, but as St. Petersburg is the other track. But how fantastic that your team is that engaged and interested in the series moving forward and picking up some awesome races like Toronto and stuff like that.

I've been there in Atlantics. It changes a little when you get going faster. Usually the passing zones are less. You just get to point A and point B that much quicker. But the real passing zone is really going to be down the front straight into Turn 1, probably, depending on how well your car turns through those high speed esses. And then on to the back straight, and into the slow hairpin into the back straight. Now that's a remedy for disaster because there are walls all around and nowhere to go. But, that's street racing.

So as normal, it's going to be important to qualify up front and/or have a good strategy.

Q: Do you think fans will notice any difference? IRL cars are made for ovals and not going to be as quick. Do you think fans will notice or care?

DANICA PATRICK: Oh, no. Our cars are fast, and they're great. They're not that much different. Are you comparing to the Champ Cars?

Q: Yes

DANICA PATRICK: I don't think you're going to notice the difference. The sound might be a little bit different. But at the end of the day, I barely notice the difference, so I highly doubt that people that don't drive the cars will notice too much. But I don't know, maybe they will. I hope they like it better.

Q: Just talk about Toronto and how important do you think it is to the IRL with the new merged series having a solid race there?

DANICA PATRICK: I think that it doesn't really matter where it's at. I think every race that the IndyCar Series goes to and performs at, we need to put on a great show. We need to expand our fan base and give everyone something that they're excited about come next year. So that's something that we work on every weekend.

The drivers do the best that we can to make as many passes as possible and make it entertaining. So hopefully it's a really great show and everybody in Toronto is really excited that the IndyCar Series is back.

Q: In regard to your contract, do you have a timeline for when you plan to make an announcement? By that I mean, is it your desire to wait until the IndyCar Series season is over, and that would take us to mid-October before you publicly announce anything? Or do you have something in else in mind?

DANICA PATRICK: My general answer would be that I hope I have a good Christmas and know what I'm doing for next year. That would be worst-case scenario. But at the end of the day, I want to do well this year. I want to do well in the series, I want to finish as high as possible, I want to win as many races as I can, so I don't want to do anything that would take away from that being able to happen. So to be open very about anything to that point would be foolish. That's for after the season, and we'll worry about it then, and deal with that then

Q: So, in other words, it's after the season?

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, and there might be even some legal things. I have to look at the contract. But I'm not sure when I can actually say what I'm going to do. But I don't want to even worry about it until the seasons over anyway.

Q: You've made several references to brand. What, in your eyes, is your brand?

DANICA PATRICK: My brand is determined, it's feminine and hopefully - I feel awkward talking about myself like this - but it's something beautiful, something fast, something interesting and exciting and something inspiring and something iconic and something that's doing things that's never been done before. Those are all things that I would hope would describe my brand and that we are going to move down the path on showing through the people that we work with and the things that we do and the way we do them.

-credit: irl

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