Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript July 15, 2003 Mark Taylor K. Johnson: We welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, July 15th. Today we visit with IRL Infiniti Pro series driver and currents...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
July 15, 2003
K. Johnson: We welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, July 15th. Today we visit with IRL Infiniti Pro series driver and currents points leader Mark Taylor. Mark Taylor, drives the No. 4 Fulmar Panther Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. He earned his third victory of the season at the Aventis Racing For Kids 100, July 6th at Kansas Speedway, and it was his first victory since sweeping the first two races of the season back in March in the entry fielded by two-time IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing. Mark, welcome and thanks for joining us today.
M. Taylor: Thank you.
K. Johnson: Looking towards this weekends Cleanevent 100 at Nashville Superspeedway, it represents the halfway point on the 2003 Infiniti Pro Series schedule. You are the current points leader, give us your assessment of your season this far.
M. Taylor: We had a great season as you say, winning the first two races out of two. We had a little dip during May at Indianapolis, but when you can look back at the first five races and say I finished in the top five in every race, it just makes me want to thank you to everybody at Panther Racing. They have worked extremely hard to make sure that the car was as quick as possible, and as reliable as possible, and we showed that with these first five races and hopefully we will carry that into the second-half of the season.
K. Johnson: You mentioned a little bit about Panther Racing and the car. This is your initial season in oval track racing. You have had to encounter some sort of a learning curve, but you appear to have adapted to a new car, new tracks and a new team rather well.
M. Taylor: While we have been out testing a little bit, the only place that we didn't test at was Pike's Peak, and I think that showed a little bit because it was quite a tough schedule and we just struggled to be comfortable with the track. But when I got comfortable with a track, I can look at the crew and tell them exactly what's going on around me, and the great guys at Panther Racing are able to set up the car. You can't really complain, you can learn a lot, extremely quickly, and it makes it almost easy for you to drive the car.
K. Johnson: You mentioned Pancho Carter, who spots for you. He is one of the great oval track veterans. Tell us about your working relationship with him.
M. Taylor: It's extremely good. Of course, he works with Sam and so I get the feedback from that, as well. He explains to me how Sam feels in the car and how he drives the car, and he tries to transfer it over to me so that I can learn from Sam as much as possible. It's very difficult to really understand the viewpoint that he has, but he explains it very well to me, and at Kansas it was definitely his win. He showed me through the crowd and he was able to put me out front.
K. Johnson: And in that victory at Kansas, you drove from the back of the pack through the field to take the checkered flag. But your battle with Ed Carpenter over the last 10 or 15 laps was definitely one of the highlights of the season. Is side-by-side racing something relatively new for you? And, obviously it takes a lot of trust in your fellow competitors.
M. Taylor: Absolutely. In no other former racing that I have done so far has been quite like that. I was actually on the outside of him. I was coming down straight on to his front wheel and trying to get as close as possible, and I was almost smiling in my helmet. It was a great feeling and something that I hope to repeat. The way that Ed drives is unbelievable, and just to be able to have that much trust in somebody else lying side by side like that is just a very special feeling.
K. Johnson: That couldn't have been the first time in your racing career that you have raced side by side, but for the length of time you were there, you mentioned it was exhilarating. How do you prepare for that kind of racing?
M. Taylor: Well, it's very tough. In no other form of racing that I have been in have I been not able to overtake quite as easily. I have been side by side by with people. But you tend to go into a corner or coming out of a corner in a very brief time, so you try not to be as close to them as that, but in this form of racing you have to work the other driver and work the other car and see where his difficulties are in the track, and try and make sure that you can gain from that, and it's a completely different form of racing and something that I am still learning and trying to get used to and I hope to learn and improve through the year.
K. Johnson: Of all the new challenges you have encountered this year, has there been any one a particular challenge that has posed a particularly large hurdle for you?
M. Taylor: It's all very challenging, and that's what makes it enjoyable. I just love being able to get the car every time, at the moment, and hopefully I will in future, as well. It's just a real enjoyment to be able to drive the Fulmar Panther car, and it's just one of those things that, every time you go into weekends and you know that it's going to be a really good car and really enjoyable race.
Q: Mark, let's talk about before the race and then on the radio. What kind of advice do you get from Pancho?
M. Taylor: Well, he tries to allow me to drive my own race. It was obvious from before the race that everyone was worried that I might get tangled up in either somebody else's accident because there are so many cars out there, or almost cause an accident by just staying too close to other cars. But everyone said to be very careful over the first five to 10 laps, let everybody run into their positions and be comfortable with the car, and then you can work your way through there. If you feel that you have the car to win the race, then go forward. But if you don't, then try and work to the best position you can, and remember to think of the championship as well. So, as far as the race is concerned, he was able to tell me who to go with, who is having difficulty out there, and who would be tough to pass and not have to really work hard at trying to pass, and he was a big help with the incidents that I had out there, say with Thiago. I knew that he was on the steering a lot and I gave him more room than I was giving somebody else, not because of his driving, but because of the way that I knew that his car was handling from what Pancho said.
Q: Are you used to that kind of during-the-race coaching, or another set eyes, or is this kind of new thinking for you?
M. Taylor: Completely new. I am used to almost being out there own my own. It's quite a strange feeling. One of the things that I really enjoy is just being in that car, and the feeling that you're all alone out there and it will all depend on you, but having somebody out there makes it a little bit easy to understand at this early stage in my racing career. From a man of experience, he can really make me understand what is going on out there.
Q: Well, you have touched on something about race car drivers -- they tend to and this is not a criticism because I race myself, but it's me against the world, I am the guy that has got to pull this race out, and I am wondering how big a shift that is to have such a great team behind you and then having to listen to all their advice and then have the confidence to go with that advice?
M. Taylor: I have been lucky to be with many great teams, and you know how much work is going on behind the scenes. It's one thing that I make sure that I understand. You can never thank these guys enough. They race with 100% effort into you, whether you start at back or front. They always seem to believe in you, which is great feeling, and you feel like they have done their part. They have worked as hard as they can, so you must feel like you need to repay them in some way. As far as oval racing is concerned, it's very important to have a great car, and you have to make sure that the setup is good, otherwise it does not matter how good you are or the team is. If the car is not quite right, you are not going to be able to win the race and that is what you try and do, just make sure the car is as good as possible so you do have an opportunity to win the race.
Q: Is that setup more important on an oval than it is in road racing?
M. Taylor: Absolutely. Ten times a hundred times more important. On the circuit, you are able to maybe flip the car a little bit more, and if you are struggling you can cope with it a lot easier. But on an oval, having the wall that close to you and having that many cars with you, you have to be able to trust what your car is going to be doing, and if anything is off you can really feel it and your times really show it.
Q: All right. Hey, good luck to you, thanks very much.
M. Taylor: Thank you.
Q: Hi, Mark. Who is your chief mechanic and engineer and how well have you come to communicate with them?
M. Taylor: Chris Griffith is my chief mechanic and Brent Harvey is my engineer and they both have a lot of experience. Brent worked with Thomas last year, so he was able to bring that over. He has a lot of success, even though the result didn't show it. Thomas was extremely quick, and I think Thomas would agree that was partly to Brent, as well, because he knows how to set up a car very quickly and it gains the advantage when you don't have that much time to set the car before a race. Chris has a huge amount of experience, as everybody probably knows. Just an unbelievable guy and we are really friendly and he made me feel at home when I came over here, and is great guy to be with.
Q: The Panther team has some other guys on the mechanical side and engineering side from England. Does that help you in that you have some countrymen there?
M. Taylor: Everybody is very friendly, they make you feel like home and it almost doesn't matter where you come from. I'm in the family now, and everyone is working towards one goal and that is to win the championship. So you can really feel that, and you get a lot of confidence from that.
Q: Is there a chance that towards the end of the season you might try an IndyCar Series car in one of the races?
M. Taylor: It is difficult to say. It probably isn't looking the way at the moment. They have had their own difficulties in the IndyCar Series. So, they are working on that very hard at the moment and all I can say is I hope that I will get a chance to drive in the IndyCar Series, and hopefully I will be able to get a chance to race at the end of year, but my main focus is on doing well in the Infiniti Pro Series and being able to get to drive next year in the IndyCar Series. That's what I am working on at the moment.
Q: What about the race coming up this weekend. What do you know about the track and so forth?
M. Taylor: It will be very tough. The time of day will be important. We are not sure how the cars will react to that time of day and with the concrete. It's the first race I have ever been on concrete, and we were able to test on that and it very well. But, it was very windy, so we'll have to wait and see how it goes. It could be a very close race.
Q: All right, thank you.
M. Taylor: Thank you.
K. Johnson: As the points leader and as you approach the mid-point of the season this weekend, what is your focus? Are you just driving to gain points and win the championship, or are you driving to win races?
M. Taylor: I don't think you can drive to win a championship in this series. If I was getting a third or fourth every race, then I could win the championship if he didn't win every race. You cannot look for that every weekend, to just finish the race. You don't get anywhere by not finishing the race. That is how I felt from the beginning of the series, just going in every weekend, making sure the car is good as possible, and you do as well as possible. You won't win every race, you just have to cope with the ones that maybe the car or you are struggling with the track and just do as well as possible. That is what I have done thus far and will do in the future.
K. Johnson: Well, Mark thanks again for joining us this morning and best of luck this weekend at Nashville.
M. Taylor: Thank you.