INDYCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 31, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to today's IndyCar conference call. We're pleased to be joined today by the two drivers who share the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka for Ed Carpenter Racing. Later we'll be joined by Sebastien Bourdais.
First we'll start with Ed Carpenter and Mike Conway. Welcome to the call.
Mike, you're the most recent winner in the series at Toronto. Your second win of the season. I know you had a chance to test last week at Mid-Ohio. What do you expect from the No. 20 team for the weekend?
MIKE CONWAY: Actually it was a good weekend. It was good that we had a test day before the race, really gave us a chance to get through a good program that the engineers wanted to get through.
We stuck with that all day. By the end of it, we had the car pretty dialed in. We were running in the top five all day. So, yeah, I was pretty happy with how the test went.
I'm looking forward to getting back out on track with the car we ended up with. Looking forward to the weekend ahead.
THE MODERATOR: Ed, obviously not driving this weekend, but owner of Ed Carpenter Racing. The team has won three races in 2014. I'd assume the pairing with Mike Conway has worked well for you and the team. Is it something you'd like to continue doing in the future?
ED CARPENTER: Absolutely. It's been a good year. I think to have three wins on the year, it's hard not to be happy with that.
I feel like as the year has gone on, we're all getting used to this arrangement, getting to know Mike more, just the whole thing gets better and better all the time.
As far as running this type of program where we're splitting a car between Mike and myself, it's the best scenario.
THE MODERATOR: I know two drivers with one car, it might be a little different than running multiple cars. I know you did that at Indy. Does having two drivers for the team set the stage for some expansion for your team?
ED CARPENTER: I mean, we would like to expand. I think we've talked about that in 2012 when we started the team, that's something we would like to do.
But there's always a lot of variables with that, getting to that point. Hopefully we get there. We're working hard to be able to expand. We'll just have to wait and see what the future holds.
THE MODERATOR: There's four races left. The No. 20 is sixth in the entrant points. Each of you have two starts left. Mike, what kind of goals do you have for Mid-Ohio and Sonoma?
MIKE CONWAY: I'm looking forward to getting some good results. I want to finish the road course program off strongly. I know we really kind of found some things at the Mid-Ohio test. I think we can look forward to hopefully a couple good weekends.
I want to finish well. Looking forward to Ed kicking some butt on the two ovals as well, so it should be fun.
THE MODERATOR: Ed, the last two ovals of the year, Milwaukee and Fontana, you've had good success on in the past. Are you looking forward to getting the helmet back on?
ED CARPENTER: Always looking forward to that time. As much as anything, just looking to capitalize on the last four races, end the season on a high note.
At this point hopefully four top fives. If we can do that, we'll be in a good position to be in the top five in entrants, which I'll be happy with.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up for questions from the media.
Q. Ed, how does the calculation for the investment to on-track assets get affected by having two successful drivers on one car and one master sponsor?
ED CARPENTER: It's really not much different. There's a couple little things that we change in the cockpit, steering column, seat. At the end of the day, there really hasn't been any extra change. Maybe a couple more people travel here or there. At the end of the day there's really no noticeable effect on our overall budget.
Q. Mike, you have a unique opportunity and are making the most of it by being able to be a specialist. As a team there will be no driver championship. How can IndyCar further recognize the special contribution to a one-car, two-driver team?
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I mean, obviously very thankful for the opportunity this year, being able to share the program with Ed. Yeah, it's been working out great for us.
Yeah, no, I think we don't need anything extra really. I think the way it works with the entrants points is good for us. We knew it was going to be that way anyway coming into the season.
No, I'm just enjoying doing all the road course racing, watching Ed on the ovals.
Yeah, I think it's a really good pairing, working out well. I definitely see we can work more in the off-season, we'll definitely be able to come back stronger next year. So it's a really good thing.
Q. It strikes me since this seems to be working out so well, more interested people wouldn't be doing much the same thing.
ED CARPENTER: I think it works for us just from what our strengths are. I wouldn't mind racing more. But in Mike's case, there's not a lot of drivers in the series that are willing and happy to be in this situation, only running one type of circuit.
I don't know if you'll see more people do it or not. I feel like we're kind of a unique pairing that works well for us, but maybe isn't what would work well for other people.
Q. I like hearing you'd like to put this forward for the next several years to come.
ED CARPENTER: Absolutely.
MIKE CONWAY: Yes.
Q. Ed, what is the most challenging for you about being an owner/driver?
ED CARPENTER: I think just the time management of it. My weekends are very different if it's a weekend I'm driving versus just being ownership. Managing my time depending on what my role is that given weekend.
But it really hasn't been that bad as I've gotten used to it. It's just a time management thing, knowing what to focus on, especially when I'm out of the car and Mike is in the car, figuring out how I can be the most help to the team and to Mike and the engineers, when to speak up, when to sit back and be quiet, let everyone do their job.
Q. Mike, are there any unique challenges or advantages maybe to not driving every race?
MIKE CONWAY: No, I mean, I've been asked this before, if there's any disadvantage not being in the car when there's ovals in between. To be honest, doing the best I can when I'm in the car and on the circuit. I enjoy driving. Yeah, let Ed take care of what he's good at.
Yeah, I feel pretty straight into it whenever I get back into the car. It works for me. Yeah, but may be different for other people.
Q. About the testing, I know the way the season has gone, there haven't been many windows opening for testing. From an oval standpoint or even the road and street standpoint, how difficult is it to get into testing mode when the season has gone on the way it has?
ED CARPENTER: The schedule has been so condensed, we haven't had many breaks. When we have, we've been testing.
As a driver, it's really fun. You want to be in the car all the time. It's harder on the team. You have to get back to the shop and regroup.
There's pluses and minuses to it. At the end of the day as drivers, we want to be in the car as much as we can, so fine with us.
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I mean, it's hard to try loads of different things in a race, if you're trying to look for different things in different areas. It makes things harder to do things in races. It would be nice to get a few more testings.
With the way the schedule is, it's been pretty tough for everybody. But making the most of all the time available to us, all the guys have been flat out, working as hard as they can. It's great to get the results, as well. Puts an extra spring in the guys' steps.
Always competitive as a driver. But, yeah, it has its positives and negatives.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you both for your time. Wish you the best of luck this week at Mid-Ohio.
MIKE CONWAY: Thank you.
ED CARPENTER: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Sebastien Bourdais, which became the sixth different Verizon IndyCar Series team to win this year.
Sebastien, congratulations on the win in Toronto. Now we're going to some tracks where you've been successful in the past in the next few weeks. Do you feel like you're positioned to take the team back to Victory Lane before the season is over?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I sure hope so. It's great to finally get a podium. It's always better when you're on top.
But, you know, we went from no podiums, no poles to scoring both in one race weekend. It was pretty sweet and definitely all the guys have done a really good job. It's starting to pay off.
We've been knocking at the door since the beginning of the season. Hopefully we can get a couple more good results until the end of the season.
THE MODERATOR: Knowing that you're going to be back with the team for next season, not driving for I guess a job next year, does that give you more confidence in going to places like Sonoma and Milwaukee, Mid-Ohio?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it's peace of mind, for sure. It's also very important because we know we're building something for next year. It's a two-year deal. Hopefully it can last longer than that and we can be a force to be reckoned with in the future seasons.
Really it's great that right now we feel like every time we go somewhere, we try to do the best job we can, but we also try to prepare next year in a way that we always keep trying things.
Hopefully we're building a database that will help us be more consistent next year.
THE MODERATOR: Of the four tracks that are left, Fontana, Milwaukee, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, is there one you're looking forward to racing at more than any other?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, not really. I mean, it's four tracks that I really like. Like you said, I've enjoyed some success there. Mid-Ohio is a big challenge. It's always very, very tight. A lot of the weekend is determined on how good the qualifying session goes.
Then after that really it's all about getting the car dialed in for Milwaukee where I've had everything, the worst car and the best car, have been terrible, have won the race. It's a great challenge.
Then Sonoma, I've been pretty fast in the past. We enjoyed a really interesting test in the winter over there.
Obviously we qualified on the second row last year in Fontana and after a very good race.
Looking forward to the end of the season, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Sebastien Bourdais.
Q. Now that you've won in a DW12, can you characterize any of the differences that you are seeing with this car over what you used to drive?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's a very different car. It requires a very different setup from what I was used to back in the days of Champ Car. It's something that was true as soon as I joined IndyCar.
I think some of it is because the tires have changed a little bit in construction and things. Some of it is as well because we had a bit more downforce and power in Champ Car.
Every car has a different setup and different way of driving. But, you know, in terms of pure lap times, it's actually very close and feels very enjoyable. From my days in Champ Car, obviously we were still a split series. There were some strong teams in IndyCar and some very strong teams in Champ Car. Now the density in the field is extremely high between the drivers. There's no bad teams. It's only good, talented teams, filled with good people. That just makes it a great challenge to be consistently running at the front.
Q. Do you notice any differences in the durability of the chassis?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The chassis or the suspension?
Q. The chassis. Does it seem to be as strong or stronger than what you were used to?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, tough to compare. I thankfully didn't have big, bad crashes in Champ Car, so I can't quite compare the two. They've done a fine job at designing a good, strong chassis. It's definitely a good addition that came with the DW12 with the extended under wing which helps make sure we didn't interlock wheels. That's a big help. You see a lot of side-by-side contacts which used to go real wrong, but now I guess it saves us from ourselves.
Q. Sebastien, I remember talking to you at the go-kart race before the St. Pete street race at the beginning of the season. I was wondering, what off-track activities satisfy you most? What off-track activities do you think benefit you the most?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Benefits me the most is kayaking, that's for sure. It's a lot of endurance from the upper body. That's the best representation of what we do behind the wheel.
What I like the most, go-karting I guess (laughter).
Q. Does a lot of that transfer? So many young guys coming up start out in go-karts.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I mean, for sure, you develop skill and feel more than anything. The driving techniques are very different. You just do not transfer anything in go-karts. You only have for the most part really powerful rear brakes. Nowadays, some at the front, but nowhere near what a car is actually doing.
So it's very different, but I think if you're capable of finding limits in the go-kart, optimizing your driving style to whatever chassis you're using, there's a good chance you'll be able to carry that over and make it successful in car racing.
Q. Having that all important win this year, what's that like when you haven't had a win in a while? Does it tend to linger a little bit longer, the euphoria of that big win?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Not really because, as you see, we had to refocus right away and get ready for the second race. There was no celebration, no time to think too much about it. We didn't exactly have a repeat on race two, starting from 10th.
Probably would have finished in the top five if Sato didn't take us out. But at the end of the day it was a bit of a different day, mixed emotions going from Cloud 9 obviously back to reality where obviously nothing's solid and concrete.
You can have the best weekend of your career and follow it up by a pretty average race. That's why it's so difficult to have any kind of domination in the series because it's really the density of the field that makes it very difficult to week in, week out, race after race, just be consistently at the front.
Q. Is it difficult to go, as you said, from Cloud 9 to reality? Is that the kind of series you like to compete in or would you want something where there's a guy who is the dominant guy every week?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I mean, when you're the one dominating, it's awesome (laughter).
You know, I think for the fans, to show how competitive a series it is, you definitely want the series having multiple different winners, to show that every weekend you got to prove yourself all over again and keep working really hard if you want to stay on top.
No, I think it's the way it should be, for sure.
Q. I know you were fairly instrumental in bringing along Simon Pagenaud to racing in America. How is it to be able to share some time and wins together?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't make the choice for him. But when he decided to give a shot to racing in the U.S. I spent quite a bit of time trying to guide him and help him get the best deal possible back with Derrick Walker in the day. I was helping him out the best I could. At some point he didn't need me anymore. Obviously he's made a career for himself, and a great one.
I'm just really happy that obviously we've been teammates at Peugeot and enjoyed a great deal of success over there, both founds ourselves in IndyCar about the same time. It's working out pretty good. It shows that there is a lot of great talent in French auto racing. That's a great thing.
For me, we're friends. We both enjoy some decent success in IndyCar. It's a cool way to spend your life.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Sebastien, for your time. We wish you the best of luck at Mid-Ohio this weekend.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thanks, guys.
THE MODERATOR: That will wrap-up today's IndyCar conference call. Thank you.