INDY CAR RACING MEDIA CONFERENCE
Topics: Indy Racing League
April 18, 1995
BOB ANDREW: Welcome, everyone, to today's teleconference from rainy and cold Detroit, Michigan. Hope you all have better weather than we have here. We are very happy to have with us today Paul Tracy who is at his home in Phoenix and also Michael Knight from Newman Haas racing. Before we do get started, I do want to remind everyone again to use your mute buttons when you are not asking a question. We do have several radio folks on the line who would like to get some broadcast quality recordings, so if everyone would please use their mute buttons and keep background noise to a minute, we would be appreciative. Mike Knight again of Newman Haas racing has a few points to make about Paul Tracy and the upcoming weekend race, the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix at Nazareth.
MIKE KNIGHT: First of all, our thanks to Bob Andrew and the IndyCar organization for the opportunity to participate today and from a personal standpoint, it is entirely worthwhile to do the conference call just to be able to hear Angelique's voice from Detroit and taking the time to join us today. I did want to make a few points on behalf of Kmart and Budweiser and Newman Haas Racing. We appreciate everybody's time today. And as I think everyone is aware who is on the line, Paul Tracy comes into this weekend's race as the defending winner of the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, but of course, many things have changed since his victory a year ago since he is now with Newman Haas. Paul comes into the race this weekend as one of four drivers to win in 4 different IndyCar races this year. He was the winner in Surfers Paradise, Australia, in March, in his second outing for Newman Haas Racing. And combined with his fourth place finish in Phoenix, he currently has 32 points and is fourth in the PPG Cup standings just two points behind Al Unser, Jr. and just six points behind Mauricio Gugelmin. Paul has competed in 51 IndyCar races in his career and has finished in the top 3 in 21 of those, which means that he has been on the podium in 41 percent of his IndyCar starts. A couple of other notes: Three weeks ago Paul moved into his new home with his family in Paradise Valley, Arizona, coming from Toronto, his previous home. And also I think it is appropriate to review briefly last year's Bosch Grand Prix since Paul did win and put it in the context of a fairly remarkable one-month period in Paul's life. The previous weekend, to the Bosch race last year was the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America, Paul basically dominated that race, still driving obviously for the Penske team, and fell out with some engine problems fairly late in the race after having dominated that event. Two days later, his second child, his son, Conrad was born, the following weekend was his dominant victory, leading 192 of the 200 laps at Nazareth. The following weekend he was the guest of the World Champion Benetton team at the Grand Prix in Estoril and a few days after the Grand Prix did a test at the invitation of Benetton, his first ever test in a Formula I car and came within 7/10 of a second of Gehard Berger's pole time in the Ferrari the previous weekend at Estoril. The following week was the final IndyCar race of the season at Laguna Seca Raceway in which Paul won and led start to finish and then of course, a week later, it was officially announced that he would be joining Newman Haas Racing and the Kmart Budweiser Lola, as a teammate to Michael Andretti in the Kmart Havoline Lola. So the victory at Nazareth last year was not only his first ever IndyCar victory on an oval, but came in a fairly remarkable period in Paul's life and career. So, with all of that as background, let me just say again on behalf of Newman Haas and Kmart and Budweiser we would like to thank everybody for taking time to join us today. Some of you maybe aware at the Long Beach race two weeks ago or a week and a half ago it was officially announced that Budweiser is now the official beer of IndyCar Racing. We appreciate that extra level of support from Budweiser, and I will turn it back to Bob Andrew to conduct the teleconference and I will just say that at the conclusion if everyone needs to reach me with any follow-up questions or any other needs, I will be available at the 602-661-5240 number. Thank you, Bob.
BOB ANDREW: Thank you, Mike. I would like to remind everyone that Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix from Nazareth will be shown on CBS television on Sunday afternoon beginning at one o'clock eastern time. So be sure to tune in if you are not going to be in Nazareth. Let us go ahead and start the teleconference with Paul. Let us take it out to Nazareth, first of all, Paul Reinhart do you have a question for Paul?
Q. Paul, nice to have you on the line. I'd like you to tell us a little bit about how the deal came down with Newman Haas, after having such a great year with Penske; then to move over to this -- exactly what was the timeframe of that?
PAUL TRACY: Well, having known the team was going to go back down to two cars, there were a lot of rumors in the winter of '94, so I had a feeling that I had a pretty strong inclinician that the team was going to cut back to two cars and after about the first few races, it wasn't too hard to guess who was going to be the guy that they were going to cut back who was going to be the guy to go, so I was -- put the feelers out and I started talking with Carl right about just after Australia, we started talking about doing something and we talked during the middle of the season; then when I knew for sure that I wasn't going to be there, then, you know, we started putting everything in place.
Q. Now that you have five races before Indy, does it matter? Is it good, bad are you indifferent to that or what is your feelings on that?
PAUL TRACY: It doesn't really matter to me. I think a little bit more races before Indy kind of gets the season rolling along a little bit further and can establish some points and not go into Indy thinking "this is a do or die weekend if we don't come out of Indianapolis with some points we are in trouble," so the points is pretty tight right now. Everybody is bunched up real tight, so if you don't finish there, it is not as critical as, I guess, it would be right after the start of the season when everybody is tense and uptight about getting points.
Q. Could you draw some comparisons between the Penske team and the Newman Haas team.
PAUL TRACY: Really not a lot of difference. The main differences are there that Penske has a lot more people simply because he built his own engines and his own car, but I think the level of commitment from the team owners is just as intense. We have, you know, great sponsorship packages with the Kmart Budweiser and I think the level of commitment from the mechanics is second to none. You know, the -- really the only difference is that Carl is a factory team. He has the factory Ford Cosworth deal and he has the factory Lola car which really basically he doesn't build his own equipment, but he gets the first choice of everything.
Q. When you were with the Penske team you were the test driver. Are you getting enough testing time with Newman Haas?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, we do quite a lot of testing. In fact, I raced this weekend; then I leave straight after Nazareth and test in Milwaukee and as we speak, Michael is testing in Mid-Ohio right now and right again after during the month of May we are going to go over to Elkhart for a couple of days, so we are doing quite a lot of testing. We did quite a lot over the winter; that is why we have been -- the team has been much more competitive this year.
Q. In that same vein, talk about the working relationship in testing and also in race weekend between you and Michael.
PAUL TRACY: I think it has been real good. Better than I have thought it was going to be, so I am actually quite pleasantly surprised. I didn't think at first that Michael and I would have a tough time getting along together, but you know, we seemed to hit it off pretty well. Our setups are pretty similar so we can get along with the same setup and I think it has really showed in the performance of the team. We did a lot of testing over the winter; put both of our inputs into it very heavily, and I think it showed in qualifying and in practice this year; we haven't got the results, I think, that we are deserving of, but I think definitely we are always the top three or four.
Q. It's easy for us to sit out here and say yours and Michael's driving styles are the same, but from where you sit, do you think that you and Michael had the same type of driving styles?
PAUL TRACY: Well, you know, we are similar. Our setups are very close to each other. It comes down to -- we like the same basic type of springs and shock setups and finetuning bit, the little tweaks here and tweaks there are a little apart from each other but the basic setup is pretty much the same, which is good.
Q. Much of the testing you did at Nazareth with Penske was at Nazareth. Could you talk a little bit about the track and how the fact that it has three distinct corners and what challenges it presents?
PAUL TRACY: It is probably one of the tougher ovals that we go to because it is a little strange to setup for. It is a technical track, you three one-bank turns; one real flat turn and the other one that kind of runs downhill on the exit, on turn 2, so it is a tough track to setup for. I feel good going into the weekend because, again, I have done so much testing there with Penske and I have done thousands of laps around the place, so I know the track like the back of my hand and I think that will help on the weekend.
Q. Question about the Indianapolis 500. You are moving along in your career now; one of the top drivers. Are you beginning to feel driven to win the Indy 500? Most drivers think that that is the career maker.
PAUL TRACY: I think so. Sure, I'd love to win that race, but it takes sometime, you know, it is not just one where you just up and win it. It is -- Michael is still -- he is still trying to win it and he has been in IndyCar for twelve years, so I am not expecting to go into the month of May, you know, you really got to sit back a little bit; just kind of let things happen and not be overanxious there about trying to, you know, like at a road course or somewhere elsewhere, you can really push the car hard. It is just -- you got to just let what happens and just try to set up the car the best you can, but it is a race that I want to win, but you got to wait for your turn, I guess, and when the day is right.
Q. About third way through the season right now. If you could, what has been the pluses and minuses for your team so far?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think the pluses of the team, we have been really really competitive. Both of Michael and I have been at the front, you know, the top of the time sheets every session that we have been out and, you know, I guess the minuses are that our results aren't indicative of how our performance has been on the track. I think the car has been excellent, but I have made a couple of mistakes and so has Michael, and when we are running at the front and we just don't have the results that the team deserves, so we got to work on that over the next few races; hopefully we can be right at the top of the point sheet.
Q. Can you describe how low you were at the Miami and how high you were at the Australian?
PAUL TRACY: I was pretty low in Miami. It wasn't a good weekend; not the weekend I was hoping for. I was hoping to get off to a good start and you know, after dominating the last half of the season, last year, I wanted to start off the year and dominate the first race and just -- it was a combination, I guess, of everything that I had some problems with the car, with the breaks, and I didn't like the track that much, so I was pushing real hard to try every time I did a decent time, it was really, you know, I was driving over the edge of the car, so it wasn't a good weekend, but to come back in Miami two weeks later and really drive smart. I didn't have the fastest car on the track, but I weighted things out; I was in a position to win, so again it is one of those situations where if we are there at the end of the race, we are more than likely be in the top 3.
Q. How does someone like yourself, again one of the top drivers in the circuit, how do you deal with the weekend like Miami, you go away and think about it awhile or do you just go onto the next race? What is your mental preparation for that?
PAUL TRACY: Sometimes it is hard. It is one of those things. I am pretty good about forgetting about what happened. At least, a couple of hours after the race, sure, I am pissed off for a few hours and I stew about it, but it slips away pretty easily for me. Some guys stew on for weeks on end. I came back from Miami and I rode on the plane with Don Cordone, he was down there. I sat beside him; he goes, man, how do you just forget about that stuff? He says, I would be pissed off for about a month after that. I said, well, you know, you can't change what happens, such and such. You just start concentrating on the next race.
Q. How does it feel now that you know, when you were with the Penske team and you come to Indianapolis, you knew that they were expecting a lot out of the first two drivers and now, you are coming as kind of an equal with Michael. Are you going to have a different approach, attitudewise and motivationwise?
PAUL TRACY: I don't think there is any -- I feel my motivation is there. Again, but I don't want to get overmotivated going into Indy. I think that has been my downfall a couple of times. Last year going into qualifying there the day before, I was set up ready for qualifying; I went out to do a run and really pushed hard and the end result was I had a spin and hit the wall, so, you know, I think my motivation is there, but we just got to have a good month and set the car up real well. I think we have got a great package with the car. I have been very impressed with how we ran at Phoenix and I know Michael had a test at Nazareth and the car felt real good. So, I think, going into Indy, I think we have got a good car and a real strong package. I think we have got a good chance at doing well.
Q. Could you talk about the Penske domination last season and how you have gone about -- your team has gone about closing that?
PAUL TRACY: I think we worked very hard over the winter. We did a lot of testing. We didn't overtest ourselves to where we were running around in circles all over the place. We knew once we did our first test, we had a really good car. And so we scheduled out our test to every time we would go to test we had some pieces to test. New wings or some new suspension stuff, or, you know, something different on the car to test instead of just going out there and doing laps and laps and laps, and going around in circles. That is sometimes when you just get confused about things. We really mapped out our testing schedule and tried a lot of different stuff on the car and have come up with a really good package. But, again, we are still, even right now, we are still developing. We try -- we unveiled a new front wing at Phoenix, which has worked very well for us. Long Beach, we had another -- a new rear wing that we got on Saturday afternoon, which bumped -- which was a big help which the car was a lot better - put me and Michael on the front row. So I think you know, we are still developing right now as we go along. We have got some new stuff that we are going to get ready for Indy.
Q. Talk about the new Ford Cosworth engine that we have seen at a couple of the races.
PAUL TRACY: I think it is real good. It spins the RPMs higher. It makes more horsepower. Supposed to be better more powerful, and it is basically a motor that is geared towards running at Indy, but we have been running it to try to get miles on it at Phoenix and at Long Beach and we will run it again in practice. We haven't raced it yet. I think Ganassi has raced it. We are not prepared to race it as of yet until we know how reliable it is, and you know, we are going to run it all through the month of May and then hopefully, we will feel it is going to be ready for the race.
Q. Last year a lot of credit was given to Rick Mears for helping come along and mature as a driver which in a lot of ways, I think, resulted in your dominance with the latter half of the season. Talk about not having a guy like Rick Mears on your team; someone who can work as a driver, advisor has affected you this year and is there anyone in the Newman Haas organization who has kind of assumed that type of role?
PAUL TRACY: No, there really hasn't. I think it is time that for me, you know, at that time I think I needed somebody like Rick to give me a hand. I learned a lot from him. I think now is the time when I have had two years of IndyCar and a full season - this is my third, it is time I could stretch my wings out and try to do things myself and set the car up myself. I had a great stint at Penske. I learned a lot about how to set up a car and how to get the most out of a car and I think I have tried to take inasmuch as I can, and I guess -- just I guess, just try to, in a way, you can't have somebody hold your hand all your life; you got to get out on your own after awhile.
Q. Do you have any long range plans at this point to return to F-1?
PAUL TRACY: Well, it something that I'd like to do. But you know, again, the timing has to be right. And the opportunity I think is there to go over to Formula I for me anyway, and it has just got to be again the timing has got to be right, and with a competitive team. I am with a great team right now, and I wouldn't want to jeopardize that to go to a non-winning F-1 team. I have got to be involved with a good team.
Q. Paul, when you ended up as the odd man out at Penske at the end of last season, did you have any feeling that, geez, you know, what do I have to do to get any respect or did you just kind of accept it as purely a business decision?
PAUL TRACY: I accepted it as a business decision. Again, I learned a lot at Penske and another thing I learned is racing is a business; it is not all just fun, and the money wasn't there to run three cars, and I understand that and somebody had to go and, obviously, my name didn't hold the same value as Unser or Emerson Fittipaldi, so it was easy to see who was going to go; that is why I started getting my business end of it together; that is how I came up with the deal with Carl, but you know, there is no bad feelings there. It is just strictly business, I guess.
Q. Paul, you said you did not have the fastest car at Surfers Paradise. Did you have the fastest car at the end of the race at Nazareth or was there other factors that really played out there in that race?
PAUL TRACY: Last year?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I think I had the fastest car, I think I know that I had the fastest car at the beginning and I was catching Al and then after the first pitstop, Al seemed to be quicker than me because I came up to lap him and once we got out of traffic, he pulled away from me and basically came back around, but then after the last pitstop my car was good, I made a change and you know, Al was running second and I pulled out an 8 second lead on him. So I think throughout the whole day, I think, I had the fastest car - just at certain points of the race, Al was a little quicker, but the end result was good.
Q. Paul, in Australia you made a decision to have a very patient race and it paid off, but in Long Beach, I guess, you may have forced things a little bit an it didn't pay-off. Is it difficult to find a balance between those two and do you think you will be able to get that?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I guess it is something I am still trying to learn. I am still -- it is still either hit-or-miss, you know, it is one of those things. I just got passed by Al. I thought I was quicker than Michael because he pulled out a little bit at the start a couple of seconds; then I caught him and then Al was -- seemed to be running really quick, and you know, he got by me; then I caught some traffic right in the hairpin and that bogged me down and I didn't get off the turn and I didn't want to give up another position because I knew that a place like Long Beach is so hard to pass, you know, if you give up the position, it is pretty tough to get it back and I was just trying not to give up that position; tried to, you know, force it a little bit and I am sure that after seeing the tape, Al put the move on Gil de Ferran at the same stop, I am sure he was pretty wise to what was going to happen, he didn't give me any room, and squeezed me over and the end result, we both ended up in the tires. I guess most disappointing there was sitting there in the tires, and one of the car officials came and said the car was damaged and that I couldn't get a tow back to the pits and after getting out of the car, it only had a flat tire, the wings were okay, and all I needed was a push-start and I could have got it back to the pits and picked up some points, but they didn't want to give either of us the opportunity. Told us to get out of the car.
Q. What about that situation for future reference?
PAUL TRACY: I got together with Carl. We wrote a little letter to Wally Dallenbach -- I can't see the front of the car because I am sitting so low in the car, so you really got to trust your corner workers and the safety people and their decision and you hope that their decision is going to be right, but when they make a call and it is not right, then it is frustrating because, you know, sponsors pay a lot of money to have the cars on the track and to be visible and, you know, regardless of -- if you are not in a point position, I'd still want to be out there trying to get some points, so that was frustrating.
Q. How impressive was it to lead 192 out of 200 laps last year at Nazareth and do you think that anybody will be able to do that this year?
PAUL TRACY: I think it is going to be pretty tough, you know, the way the race went at Phoenix, I think that gave kind a show to what is going to happen, I think, on all the ovals. Last year we had dominant car with Penske, both myself, Al and Emerson were four laps up on the next guy, so it is not that way anymore. I think it is going to be tough race to win. Strategy is going to be key. Judging by the way Phoenix went, I think there was 11 or 12 different leaders and it is going to be a tough race to win.
Q. Do Phoenix or Nazareth give you a better indication of how you will do at Indy as far as setups and everything, I mean --
PAUL TRACY: I don't really think either of them really give me an indication. I think maybe a little bit of indication during the race if your car goes loose or if you have some handling problems; come up with some ideas going into Indy, but the setups are so different. We put different suspension on the car; different body work on the car; different wings. It is a totally different car, so it is -- really the setup is not even remotely the same.
Q. A lot of drivers including Roberto Guerrero say his record at Indy is probably going to be broken this year. Do you feel you are one of those that capable of doing that?
PAUL TRACY: Hard to say. I guess it all depends on the weather conditions. You hear a lot -- I have been hearing a lot of times from the Buick cars but I think it is going to be pretty tough as it stands to outqualify. The Buicks are good and they get their car right, I think it is going to be tough to beat them in qualifying just simply because of the horsepower difference, but I think in the race, we have got a good package. Qualifying, it is important and you know, it is important to be up there on the front of the grid, but the most important thing is having a good car for the race day and being consistent all day.
Q. Had you a chance to drive one of those incredibly dominant Penske's last year, what is the difference between that car and what you are driving now; is there that big of a difference?
PAUL TRACY: Driving the Penske and driving last year's Lola, '94 car, that was a huge difference. After I drove the '94 Lola the first time, that the team asked me, what I thought of the car. I said I don't think very much of it, and you know, we made a lot of improvements. I gave my input and Michael gave his input from the Reynard. When we got the car at the first test instantly, after a five-lap run, I said this car is good and, you know, we have been working on it ever since. I think it is pretty equal to the Penske or even better. Probably the '95 Penske is a little bit better than last year's car or else they wouldn't be running the thing and we seem to be a little bit better.
Q. How important, at least, mentally, was it to you to see that when you gave your input for the first time with the Newman Haas team some changes were made that made the car better?
PAUL TRACY: Well, it was real encouraging. That is one thing, you know, that is important. You can have all the computers in the world, but the drivers got to be comfortable driving the car. The computer can tell you, well, you can go this fast, but if you are not comfortable doing it in the car, then you are not going to be able to do it, so the engineers have been very good at Newman Haas and at Lola with both the input that I give; they listen, and they want to try to make the car better and, you know, feel better for the driver to drive because ultimately, to get the most out of the car, the driver has got to be comfortable.
Q. Were there situations last year when you felt you couldn't be all that you wanted to be in regard to winning with 2 more high profile teammates?
PAUL TRACY: No. You know, I felt I had all the opportunity to win races that both Emerson and Al had. There wasn't any pieces that, you know, on the cars that were any different from each other, but you know, I felt I had every opportunity to win as much as both of them, and I won more races than Emerson, and was second to Al with race wins and -- but, you know, I felt that the team was run pretty equally and that was one of the things that I stressed with Carl before we did our deal. It has got to be equal footing. If you want to get the most out of both drivers; then you got to give them the same equipment.
Q. How frustrating is it for you, I mean, considering as you see said it earlier, this is only your third full season. Leading into the year you had 30 percent of the laps led. As Michael pointed out earlier 41 percent of podium finishes and nine wins in two full seasons to have to spend time, you know, people seem to remember the mistakes along the way more so than the nine wins. Does that frustrate you and how do you get beyond that?
PAUL TRACY: Sometimes it is frustrating. People always want to bring up, well, you crashed at this race, or that race, but they forget about the wins, so I guess it is just one of those things you got to go along with until it dies down. I am just trying to go every weekend and try to win every weekend and it is just something I guess you got to live with.
Q. How much of a factor or do you think it is a factor the fact that you did not have any off-season input with the Penske team as far as testing is concerned, and the fact that they struggled so much at the beginning of the year?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I don't know. I am not involved with the team, so I don't know what their -- what the problem with the car is, and I think I feel we had a better car than Al at Long Beach, but you know, it is pretty tough to beat Al there - pretty dominant driver. I think with any car he would win there. He almost won with the Galmer there so that goes to show you how good he is there. Overall, I think we still have a better car than the Penske's and I think we will get through these next few ovals and I think we got three ovals in a row and I think we have got a good car and, you know, hopefully, after we get through this stint, I think it will really put, I guess, the season into balance.
Q. How do you see the Championship unfolding? What do you have to do to win it?
PAUL TRACY: I guess, you know, the way to win this championship right now, the way it is looking, is to finish every weekend. That is what I am trying to do and, you know, luckily, you know, I have got two races I finished out of four and luckily everybody else that is in the points besides Pruett has, you know, basically had the same -- dropped out of at least two of the races and you know, that has really kept the points real close and Pruett is really the only guy that has finished in the top five, I think, every time out and that is why he is leading, you know. Give you an example he was 8 with 3 laps or 5 laps to go at Long Beach and then all of a sudden everybody dropped out and he ended up on the podium. He was there at the end of the race, that is what counts.
Q. Do you see yourself kind of slowing down a little bit or taking a little bit off the importance of winning in order to make sure you improve that finishing record you have got or --
PAUL TRACY: I think so. I want to -- I know I am going to run good at Nazareth and Milwaukee I feel comfortable with those two races about how I feel about going into them, but you know, I still haven't finished the race at Indy and that is one thing I want to come out of there with, with points, and top 6 or 7 finish, just to get that finish. I have run second at Michigan in '92 and that is the only 500 mile race that I finished. I either blown up or (inaudible) I want to get through the race and have a good finish.
Q. Michigan has been resurfaced. Is there any kind of thought in the back of your mind that it might be just too fast this year?
PAUL TRACY: No, you know, everybody was running around in Australia saying, "what are we going to do about Michigan; what are we going to do about Michigan." They were saying last year, what are we going to do about Michigan, it is too rough, it is, you know, they never thought about, oh, well, if we pave it is going to be too fast and they complained about how rough it was and now that it is smooth, we haven't even driven on it everybody is saying. (LOST PAUL TRACY'S LINE).
BOB ANDREW: I would say this week at Nazareth, IndyCar will announce -- are we still there -- we will announce some new regulations for the Marlboro 500 at Michigan. Kirk Russell, our director of competition, will be available in a question and answer session at Nazareth. For those people not able to attend Nazareth, we will have that information available to you on Marlboro Racing News and via fax and later in the mail. Is Paul with us yet?
Q. You came out of the Indy Lights with enjoying Penske as a test driver. What are your thoughts on Greg Moore, your countryman, and the job he is doing so far?
PAUL TRACY: I think he has done pretty well. I have watched the first few races. He has really done a good job. He is also had the luck on his side which is what it takes to win championships. He had, I guess, a header break in Miami and the race ended early, and ran into some -- I guess some problems. I guess he got passed it at Long Beach and the guy spun off when he passed him so he hasn't been dominant but he has won the first three races and that is what is key to winning championships. He has had the luck on his side. Looks likes he is going to be the guy to win the Championship this year and I guess the big question is, will he be able to pick up an IndyCar ride at his age.
Q. Do you think he will?
PAUL TRACY: Hard to say. It is pretty tough to break into an IndyCar deal without getting really being there the right place at the right time and I think I guess the only problem is that the series is pretty full with a lot of really good drivers and I was pretty lucky at the time when I joined up with Penske to get hooked into as a test driver, but guys like those guys out there like Didier, Tagys and Mike Groff, who are really good drivers and have struggled to break in, simply because they just haven't been at the right spot at the right time, but guys like myself and Brian Herta really, you know, been there at the right time and the right opportunity has come up.
Q. Follow-up on your point there. Seems like a lot of the guys are coming into the series now are coming with money, not to diminish talent, but certainly a new crop of drivers have been very impressive. But how much of a factor a guy, as he develops his career, looking at the business and developing a network of marketing opportunities inasmuch as his driving skill, how much is -- how much of that is going to play into it in the future.
PAUL TRACY: I think it is a big issue, but for me, for myself and I think for Bryan, we didn't have a lot of sponsorship. We basically were running off our parents. My father put up all the money that it cost for us to go racing and I think that is how Bryan has basically ran and we didn't have any big sponsors to bring us into IndyCar Racing which would have been nice, but the opportunity wasn't there. So we basically had to -- lucky for me that I was at the right place at the right time.
Q. Paul, all your experience in Nazareth, winning there last year, did you learn anything new about the track? Do you see it any differently?
PAUL TRACY: I have seen it so many times it always looks the same every time I go back there. It is -- I guess the only thing that is going to be different this year, the weather, it could be hit-or-miss. I guess basically the same as at the end of the year, kind of the same type of weather patterns, could be cooler or could be warmer, but for me, I have done so many laps around the place, I know it so well, it will be good in any type of weather conditions.
Q. Follow-up to that question, you have stated you have run 10,000 plus laps there and, of course, you have run there in Indy Lights cars. As you know, we host many other series whether it is Modifiers or Grand Nationals, we have run IROC (International Race of Champions) races and, of course, the big IndyCar races, and a lot of drivers sometimes comment on the fact that it is important to get through one part of the track versus the other. Is there any particular corner or turn that you feel is more important to get through?
PAUL TRACY: Every turn is important. The kink on the front straight-a-way for IndyCars is really not even a turn, it is flatout, it is fairly easy, but turn two and turn three are so much different from each other, you can get the car perfect say in 1 or in 2, but have it be off a little bit in 3 and, you know, it is really -- it is tough to balance the car there to get the car perfect at every turn, and you know, I guess it is a compromise track. You could be good at in turn 2 and be a little off in turn 3 or you could have it right in 3 and a little off in 2 because the track, both the corners are so different from each other.
Q. Follow up on that. Would this be a track that you had -- it would be more of a neutral setting than any other place that you would run?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, pretty much. It is not -- you definitely don't want to be loose, but it is a lot more like a road course where you can run the car real tight. The end result is you never want to go loose with IndyCar because they get so hard to drive, they just scare the death out of you,.
BOB ANDREW: Take a few more questions for Paul. Angelique, are you still on the line? Do you have a question? She not with us. Let us just ask a couple of more questions and let us wrap up.
Q. You alluded earlier to the job Pruett has done to lead the points race. Does that surprise you given the fact that he is on the new Firestone tires that have not been so consistent?
PAUL TRACY: I think -- really hasn't surprised me. I guess in a way, it has surprised me, but it really hasn't because they have really done their homework. He was won the Transam Championship last year. He was a real good IndyCar driver when he was running IndyCars, and you know, he did a full year of testing and they have really, really, you know, done all their homework. I think they have got a good consistent tire and you know, I think they have just done -- they have picked up the ball and ran with it and you got to applaud them for it.
Q. Paul, you referred to the series of 3 oval races. I got the impression you feel you might score more points after that; is that right, or --
PAUL TRACY: No. I think both Nazareth and Milwaukee I run real good at them, so I topped a win at Nazareth and a third at Milwaukee last year, so I am looking for real good finishes in these next couple of races. I think that is going to set the tone for the rest of the year and I think we got to get through these next three races. I think the points will really start to spread out over these next three races. I think it is real important to score in these next three to be in contention after Milwaukee or else you could be looking at being in trouble.
Q. Is the Lola even better on a road circuit?
PAUL TRACY: I think it is. I think it is pretty good car everywhere. And you know, I think we have really done a lot of testing at Phoenix, and got had a good car there. You know, I think we have got a good car basically for every track. We haven't been on a natural road circuit, but we have done a lot of testing at Seabring and the car has been real competitive. I think we have got a pretty good handle on what it likes and doesn't like.
Q. Paul, when you talk about having to find the right balance between being too aggressive and not aggressive enough at Nazareth, what does that mean?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I guess, you know, it is one of those tracks where if you get held up behind a guy or you are a little bit too cautious about getting around the lap cars, you can get lapped there in about 6, 7 laps, so you definitely got to -- you got to be careful, but also you got to make quick work of all the lap cars or else you can lose so much time. It takes 19 seconds to get around the track; you can lose 10 or 12 seconds in about, you know, four, five laps and you know, I guess the key is, you know, I guess get in a rhythm; just try not to slow down or get too aggressive, just try to get in a rhythm and pick your way through the cars as quickly as you can, but also as careful as you can.
Q. In hearing you speak this afternoon, you do tend to talk about the points. A lot of drivers, they just say we go out and race and let the points take care of themselves. It sounds like you are pretty mindful of where you are at in the championship and in the process of looking towards the end of the year and maybe winning your first championship?
PAUL TRACY: Well, that is definitely what I want to do, and you know, been really thinking about the points and we could have come out of, I think, Long Beach with at least a second or a third place finish and I could have used those points, but you know, we still got a long way to go in the Championship and I guess really focusing on these next three races, this is where, I think, where you can really capitalize. If you can just get a good car at each weekend and finish in the top four, five and you can really, you know, boost the whole team and boost your points a lot; don't have to go through the middle of the year to try to catchup. So these next few races, I think, are going to be key.
BOB ANDREW: Thank you very much, Paul. We appreciate you taking the time today. Mike Knight, do you have any points you want to add or points of clarification that need to be made?
MIKE KNIGHT: I want to say thanks for everybody's time. If you need any follow-up information please call me; we certainly want to thank Paul for his time.
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