INDYCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 31, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by Marco Andretti, who has just completed his first day of practice here at the Detroit Grand Prix.
Marco, your best finish here was sixth last year in 2013. What are your thoughts on practice today?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It's a complete waste for me. I mean, we had brake problems in practice two. Practice one, we tried a little experiment, didn't work out. We weren't able to reset with what we thought was going to be a good setup because we had brake issues the entire practice two.
Very unfortunate because that's 50% of our practice for the weekend. A little bit of a deficit for tomorrow. We'll see what we have on the reds in the morning. That's all we can do.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the experience of the Indianapolis 500 and how you continue with the momentum here at Detroit.
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think any other racetrack it would be awesome. But Indy we fell short again, so a little bit of a disappointment there. We probably should have been more aggressive with the aero package at the end of the race. We lost some track position the last stop. So it's actually a good thing we didn't.
We were there. I guess we should just hopefully keep coming back and having shots at it. Hopefully my number is picked one day there.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Marco.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCO ANDRETTI: Same for everybody, yeah. My routine, I'll sleep till 11:00 (laughter).
No, I don't mind getting up early.
Q. Is it the track here that is tough on equipment or you just didn't have things sorted out today?
MARCO ANDRETTI: We just tried a new set of brakes that were just god-awful, to be honest. We couldn't get them working. Obviously it takes way too much time to change up all the brakes. So we were stuck with that.
We wasted a session.
Q. For the casual race fan, can you describe the difference between the Indy 500 and the Detroit Grand Prix in terms of setup?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It's like baseball and basketball. I mean, that's the thing about the IndyCar Series, is the diversity. I mean, it's so different. We run at totally different places in our whole schedule.
I don't know where to start, to be honest. It's a lot bumpier. Running up and down the gears a lot more. We're in second gear instead of fifth and sixth. One is an oval, and one is a very bumpy challenging street circuit. Different discipline. Very difficult to compare really.
Q. (No microphone.)
MARCO ANDRETTI: I found the initial resurface was a bit green, a bit down on grip to start. But it's coming in.
But as far as any new bumps or anything like that, nothing really. It was always bumpy.
Q. I wasn't in Indy, but I heard you were pretty mad on Sunday, kind of stormed off because you felt like you had an opportunity there that you didn't take advantage of.
MARCO ANDRETTI: No. It was just really dicey at the end of the race. I had a go on Ryan. We both almost crashed in turn three.
But, you know, I caught myself. I did a role reversal in my head and said I would have done the same thing because it's the Indy 500.
Heat-of-the-moment thing. He's a deserving winner. He was up there so he did something right.
Q. 20 straight days at Indianapolis, most of the days in the car. 13 straight races in 14 weeks. Talk about the intensity of the schedule.
MARCO ANDRETTI: I feel for the crew guys because I get to go home for three days. I'm still working out, still working. But those guys are extremely busy, especially when we're changing different oval and road course trim.
For me, I don't drive a racecar every day.
Q. When did you have a chance to talk with Ryan? You looked like you were pretty satisfied with everything at the banquet.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, first time I got to see him was at the banquet. I wasn't exactly alongside of him, but I was there enough to where I need a little bit more teammate room.
At the same time if I would have passed him there, his hopes were dashed. He did something right, like I said. There's nothing that we can do.
I was more angry at the fact that I didn't win the race. I was trying so hard. Like I said, he did the right thing for him.
THE MODERATOR: Marco, this is the first doubleheader event of the Verizon IndyCar Series. Talk about that challenge.
MARCO ANDRETTI: It's especially tough coming off almost a month of oval trim because it's so hard to get proper workouts in, be properly fit for a doubleheader. I mean, I was trying to go running as much as I could. But the schedule in the month of May is so strenuous, it's hard to really stay with it.
This week leading up to the race, I was beating myself up pretty good. I'm not even fully recovered yet. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be up to the task. Should be.
THE MODERATOR: Marco, thank you for coming in.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with Mike Conway. Mike finished second fastest in today's combined practices. He won race one in 2013.
Mike, obviously very successful at this track here. Coming back it seems like you've been able to pick up where you left off.
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, seems that way. Obviously couldn't do that without a good car from Ed Carpenter Racing. I think we picked up where we left off at Long Beach. Seemed to be a good base to start with here.
Haven't touched it much. All credit to the team.
I do love this place. It's a lot of fun. Each lap gets your attention, that's for sure. Non-stop action around here. Yeah, pretty happy so far. Obviously a bit different tomorrow with the reds and stuff.
THE MODERATOR: Any significant changes you noticed? I believe last year it was actually warmer than it was today. Anything different about the track that you noticed?
MIKE CONWAY: No, not really. To start with, I thought there was more grip than there was last year. Felt pretty hooked up to start with. Just some curve changes down in three and seven were really the biggest things. Opened up seven a lot more now. Entry speed is a lot quicker than last year. Maybe a bit of time gained there.
I don't know. Just the grip laid down, I suppose, helped us out too.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE CONWAY: No, I mean, no ambitions to be out there really at all. I felt like I was a bit out of the loop, a bit of a spare part.
It's still good to be there, a great place to be, the Speedway, especially when the 500 is on. Good to see Ed doing so well. A shame it didn't end too well. But they ran well all month. I think they'll be a threat on all the ovals coming up.
But, yeah, still good to be there.
Q. Mike, two different years, two different teams, but still showing success. What do you bring as a driver to be successful at a track that you like?
MIKE CONWAY: Just tried to bring as much back from last year as I could this year. The car rolled out. As soon as I went out on pit lane I felt like the car had a lot of grip. Small input in terms of setup from where we started back in Sebring.
We've been trying to push the car as much as possible, developing things, dampers. We come to this point where we can roll out and be in the top six, which is where you always want to be. It's always where you want to be, especially with the doubleheaders.
All credit to the team though. They've been working hard, flat out. Late night last night. Non-stop, big effort from the boys. They've been flat out for the last eight, nine weeks. They're still pushing all the time. They're so competitive. It's good.
Q. How much more is left in the car? What is your favorite passing place here?
MIKE CONWAY: We started on new tires. Didn't get to run a second set in the first practice. We did run a second set in this practice, but didn't get a time out of it with the yellows. Hopefully more time to be had. Little tweaks to the car, I don't want to change it too much. Always a risk.
But, yeah, I think it should be pretty quick tomorrow on the reds. It's going to be, I don't know, 76 or something.
And passing, down into three. Get a good run through one and two, car is pretty hooked up through there. Down into seven as well. That's always harder because you sweep over to the right anyway to approach the corner. You can make your car a bit wider than it needs to be sometimes.
Q. What do you like about this track? It seems to be made to order for you.
MIKE CONWAY: Yeah, I don't know. It's a real challenge around this place. Every lap, as I said, gets your attention. Very bumpy, very challenging. There's some corners that have got a lot of grip. Sometimes you go into corners and you're like, Oh, am I going to make it? You come through it.
It's always like that around here really. Just because of the bumps, quick change of direction, it's a lot of fun.
Q. It seems like watching the cars in general, they look like they're sliding, then at the last second the driver catches it. Is that part of the problem with the bumps? Do you expect problems during the race?
MIKE CONWAY: I wouldn't expect any problems. You can easily get caught out here, cold tires, restarts, stuff like that. You've got to keep your wits about you.
It's all part and parcel of the circuit, the way the bumps are. You can get your car set afterwards. That's the biggest thing with the dampers, getting the thing to catch afterwards. A lot of corners, you're going in, the car is very neutral on entry, then you catch the bumps. You got to make sure you're going to make the corner, then get out.
Even on a quick lap around here, you seem to have quite a few slides. Most circuits don't seem to get as much as that. But it's fun though.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE CONWAY: Simon is standing next to me. I can't say too much. I don't want to give him any secrets (laughter).
But Simon was bloody quick around here last year, too.
SIMON PAGENAUD: I'm glad you're sweating actually. I was worried when I got out of my car, then I saw you sweating.
Q. (No microphone.)
MIKE CONWAY: I don't know. I think it's being comfortable with letting the car slide on you. If you don't like a car loose on entry or sliding around, if you drive it in too much, you'll get a lot of understeer around here. That's something you don't want.
True or not?
SIMON PAGENAUD: I feel the same actually. Going from tarmac to concrete, the car just slides. If you don't let it slide, if you don't trust it, you can't produce lap times.
I think that's what he does really well. He seems really good at running the car really, really loose on entry. That's what I heard, actually.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, we'll let you go. Thank you for joining us.
We'll introduce our fastest in practice today, Simon Pagenaud, also the winner of race two in 2013.
Simon, your impressions of the track and how it compares to last year when you won here at Belle Isle.
SIMON PAGENAUD: It's a great track. I love it. The Penske organization always does a great job. I think it's becoming an interesting track in terms of racing, not just qualifying, but there's some good places for passing, turn three, turn seven.
It's very enjoyable. It's breathtaking after being two weeks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You really get your handful. I have to say, it's certainly hard work.
It's a lot of fun. You just push yourself as hard as you can and try to do a good lap.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Simon.
Q. Do you feel the track changed due to weather? Can you feel the differences from last year?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Like I just said, I think we're coming from IMS. Here it's quite bumpy due to weather. Every year it's the same: you come here, the first two practices it feels really bumpy.
It's actually really fun. You have to turn the car on entry. It's a bit like downhill skiing. It's quite enjoyable. It's like dancing with the car. I don't know, Helio can do that actually (laughter).
But, yeah, it feels like it's bumpier every year. I think it's just the nature of the schedule for us.
Q. Can you reflect a bit back on what last year's win was like and how it might have changed your confidence.
SIMON PAGENAUD: For sure, it was certainly a big moment, a big day for us. Since that day we've been competitive almost everywhere. The team just found what the car needed to be competitive on street circuits and road courses as well.
Since then it's been a lot easier for me to be on top of my game because the car hasn't changed much and I've just improved my driving every time I go to another track.
I think this is actually a place where last year we really switched gears. It's been enjoyable since then, for sure.
Q. You seem like a Jekyl and Hyde sort of character: very nice guy, but on the track no one goes harder than you. Do you feel you're that sort of character? What sort of man are you?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Wow, never been asked that question. It's actually interesting.
I would agree with you. I think I'm just myself outside the racecar. I enjoy people. I enjoy relationships. I'm someone that I like to treat people the way they treat me. I'm a nice guy, I guess, outside the racecar.
When I put my helmet on, it's a different story. It's competition. I've been raised in a competitive environment. I've always had this in the back of my mind, you know, the desire to be stronger, to keep pushing. I've always had that. That's one of my characteristics.
One day somebody called me a fox because when I grab, I never release. That's certainly the kind of person I am. Once I get it, I won't release it.
THE MODERATOR: Simon, good luck this weekend.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Thank you.