INDY RACING LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 7, 2013Eastern Indiana Sports
ARNI SRIBHEN: Welcome to today's IndyCar conference call. We're pleased to be joined by IZOD IndyCar Series driver, E.J. Viso, who was earlier today was announced as a driver for Andretti Autosport. E.J. will drive the No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA Chevrolet, and is entering his sixth season in the IZOD IndyCar Series. He recorded a career best finish of third at Iowa in 2010, and had 16 Top 10 finishes and has led 52 laps in his IZOD IndyCar Series career. E.J., thanks for joining us today. E.J. VISO: Thank you. Thank you, everyone for being on the call. ARNI SRIBHEN: First off, congratulations on today's announcement. You have to be excited about joining a championship winning program at Andretti Autosport? E.J. VISO: Yeah, definitely. It's been a bit of a process putting all of this together. But today I'm very excited and happy, and honored and pride that I counted with backing from my group. The sponsors they come from my country, and they just pretty much merge together and created Team Venezuela, which later on created a partnership with Andretti Autosport. Today is the day that we're announcing this, and I definitely have no words to thank each of the parties. Definitely, it's a very interesting and exciting day for me. I believe that I will be counting with every single?? with every single thing needed to have a successful 2013. ARNI SRIBHEN: Last year your three teammates, Ryan Hunter?Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti clicked really well and formed a chemistry that worked really well. How do you think you'll fit in with that dynamic that your teammates already have? E.J. VISO: Well, I believe I'm just going to add a lot of things into that synergy that was already created in the last year. I like the three drivers, and I think each one of them have their own forte. And, obviously, Ryan winning the championship that's a great momentum that the team has that hopefully we can continue. ARNI SRIBHEN: And the program also involves a partnership with HVM racing, which is the team that brought you to the series as a rookie. Can you talk a little bit about working with Keith Wiggins and his group again? E.J. VISO: Yeah, definitely. Keith is a person that I worked together with for two years. He has a great knowledge. He's been involved pretty much in every top category in the world, including Formula 1, IndyCar. And we've worked together those three years, and having him back together in the program is really nice. I like working with people that have the same passion that I do. We just are putting energy together, and I believe that this year is going to be a really good one.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the Team Venezuela program? I know that you had started a program called Team Viso Venezuela to support younger drivers. Is that sort of what you're doing or are you just racing for your country now? E.J. VISO: Yeah. Team Viso, Team Viso Venezuela is what has been pretty much on the radar in the last year and a half. It was a great thing that I promoted back home, trying to pretty much return my country a lot of the things that my country has given me. I believe that giving back support to younger talents and growing in the sport into the professional career was probably my target, and that's what I did accomplish last year. I fully backed up five drivers which proudly did a great job, and I think I'm giving them some momentum to keep their career going. Team Venezuela has nothing to do with that. It's pretty much the energy put together from all my sponsors into one, and logo to say it somehow into one name, is to add the first?? to involve the first team or partnership with another team into the IndyCar core in our history. So it's a bit different, even if they sound similar. But Team Viso, that's still running, and my target is to have those kids pretty soon running with me in the Team Venezuela and hopefully in the IndyCar.
Q. Tell us about who is going to call your races have you gotten that far? Tell me about the engineering. E.J. VISO: Yeah, everything is happening pretty late. I don't want to use the word late, but all of this has just put together. Anyways, my engineer's going to be Mike Cannon, which I worked with in 2008 and 2009. We had a lot of good moments. And I think we speak the same language and we're definitely very excited to be back together in this new organization. Regarding who is going to be the one calling the races, that's going to be Paul Harcus. We call him Ziggy. And I think he has a good knowledge doing that, and I believe it's going to be a great combination together with the other three crews and all the more experienced drivers on this team. So I'm really looking forward to all of this team work.
Q. Can you talk about how difficult it was when you pursued a team of your own, not that this isn't a great opportunity, but how difficult it was when you went the other path? E.J. VISO: Well, you know, more than difficult, it was frustrating. Because they're so, in every negotiation, in every aspect that you go through, there are always factors that are out of your hands, and some other people need to take a couple of decisions. Sometimes it's not only people, but by companies. And probably the answer that we got from them was not quick enough. So when I don't want to say I; I want to say we. We as Team Venezuela, when we let go of starting our own program as an independent program, and we definitely thought about what would be the best option then, and definitely where we ended up doing right now was what we considered was going to be the most beneficial partnership that we could find.
Q. Could you as Team Venezuela, could you have gotten an engine lease if you had secured everything else? Do you think you could have gotten the lease? E.J. VISO: It's funny, because I think what is happening right now with Keith Wiggins, is exactly what he was in the talks of doing three or four months ago. So I think it was only another way of how skinning the cat. Anyways, the team that we were relying for the leader circle was Keith. So we were going to go with it. And on the other side, we had our plan B where we were requesting our own leaders circle, and definitely that answer didn't come as quick as we needed, so that's why we just took the conclusion that I just mentioned.
Q. First of all, congratulations on this opportunity. E.J. VISO: Thank you very much. Q. You're going to be joining the reigning series champion, and you're going to be working with a noted engineer in Mike Cannon. I just wanted to ask you about what your expectations are for this venture? Do you feel like you guys can contend for wins out of the box? Do you feel like you can find improved results with Andretti and HVM here? E.J. VISO: Well, I definitely think so, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I believe that we're going to be counting with everything that is needed. Obviously, every beginning is tough, but we need to try to put all the puzzles together as fast as we can, and there are going to be a lot of parties, new people in my crew, and I do have a lot of trust. And Andretti Autosport is going to be putting the best into my program, and for that, trying to achieve what we really know that we can. Because I've done it in the past and in other categories and in other years. They obviously just did it last year with Ryan and Marco and James.
Q. Will Keith have much involvement in the day?to?day running of the car or is he pretty much just involved in the leadership side of things? E.J. VISO: Can you repeat that? I didn't understand.
Q. Will Keith Wiggins be involved much on a day?to?day basis with running the car? E.J. VISO: He's going to be involved. Anyways, we're going to be pretty much fully relying on Andretti auto sport, but he will be bringing some factors into the game. Definitely Keith has a good knowledge in racing and a good experience in IndyCar. So, yes, I think we're going to be pretty much unifying energies and forces. Yeah, we are looking forward to having Keith in the program.