CART Media Conference
MERRILL CAIN: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining us on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with CART public relations. We have a great lineup on tap for the call today featuring two of our champions following last weekend's CART FedEx Championship Series event in Cleveland at Burke Lakefront Airport. In just a minute we'll hear from Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of the top young names in open-wheel racing who won his third CART Toyota Atlantic race of the season last weekend. But leading off in the teleconference today we welcome in Patrick Carpentier of the Player's/Forsythe Racing team. Pat, thanks for joining us on today's call and congratulations on Sunday's win.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Thanks for having me today. It was a great day Sunday.
MERRILL CAIN: It sure was. Patrick qualified second for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by US Bank and he took advantage of some great pit stops in a nearly perfect car to capture his second career win in CART. It's his first win on a road or street course. He also ended the reign of four straight wins by Cristiano da Matta. The win vaulted Patrick into a fourth place tie in the season standings and he's now tied with Michel Jourdain, Jr. with 62 points heading into the next CART FedEx Championship Series event, the Molson Indy Vancouver in Pat's home country of Canada, that comes on July 28. Let's open it up for questions for Patrick.
Q. You were telling us on the weekend that you were going to start talking to some other people. Have you had any of those conversations yet regarding next season?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, we're talking to a few people actually. Alan, my agent has talked to a few people on the phone. We already started talking for next season. So it's pretty good actually. We're talking in a couple of series and also in CART and IRL. So we'll see what's going to happen. But for sure I'd like to be with Players because it's a family for me and I've been with them for five years. I just love the races and stuff like that. If we could stay there for next year, that would be fantastic.
Q. Have you had any further conversations since the big win on Sunday with the Player's people?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No, not with Player's actually. No, not with the Player's team. I think we're going to talk maybe later this week, see what's going to happen.
Q. The Player's people have always said the drivers were the number three on the list of priorities, that's why they're not in any great hurry to rush you into signing. There was no disrespect towards you. Can you see the other two problems, I presume the other two are your engineers and crew, and the Reynard chassis versus the Lola chassis for next season. Can you talk about that?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I know Jerry wants to keep the Reynard chassis for the next season. Personally I think the Reynard chassis is a very good chassis on a road course, like we had at Cleveland and we had at Mid-Ohio, Laguna Seca, Portland, Alex qualified pretty decently. I think it's when we get to a street circuit where actually the racetrack is a little bit more slippery. We have to run the chassis a little bit higher because obviously we run a little bit softer. Because of that, the Reynard seems to be producing a lot less downforce than the Lola when it's higher above the ground. So on a regular road course, we can lower the car much more. The Reynard is producing a lot more downforce that way. So I think it's a very good car then. We'll see what's going to happen. Maybe they're going to find a couple more things on the Reynard that makes it equal everywhere with the Lola. But that's a team decision first. Before we talk about that, I'll just see if I'm with Team Player's next year or not. I think next year is going to be a very good team also.
Q. You're happy with your crew the way it is now, the engineers?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah. My engineers, I'm pretty happy, with the tools we had and what happens, I think if I talk about Michael and Eric, one of my engineers also, Bruce, they do a good job. When you have a weekend like Toronto, that's the only thing that I was very disappointed, when you -- we had so many problems. Every season at the beginning of the year we seem to have problems for the first seven or eight races, then it seems to start going well. But that's what -- if you want to win championships, that's where you need to be strong, and that's what I think Team Player's wanted to look at as to why we had so many problems early on.
Q. It seemed like your contract with Player's always comes down to the last minute before you renew. Is that kind of frustrating to go through the second half of the season kind of unsure what's going on?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No, actually right now I'm not -- I was a bit stressed before Toronto, but right now I think we got a couple of options that we can go to and different things that we're looking at. So I'm not as stressed as I was before. For sure I would like to be with them, but we'll see what happens. I would love to be with them if they want to have me drive for them, but I just don't want to force my way in. So I'm going to let them decide whatever they want to decide for the coming season. But I think this year, honestly, a lot of drivers' contracts are up and a lot of guys are in a similar situation as I am. With the economy being a little bit tougher at the moment, usually the first sports that get touched by a rough economy is auto racing because it's more expensive, whether it's CART, IRL or NASCAR. I think all the series lost a couple of teams, even Formula 1 right now, soon they're going to end up with 18 cars, which is what we have in the CART series. So it's just -- I'd say it's just a couple years that are going to be tough for the racing and the drivers.
Q. Winning on a road course, you have been I think unfairly identified by some in the past as a bit of an oval specialist. Six of your previous eight podiums came on ovals. How much satisfaction do you derive from finally getting that first road course win?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: It is, it's funny because the first one was -- the first victory, it came on oval at Michigan last year. It was more of a relief. This one is more of a contentment, I don't know how to say that, but just satisfaction. I'm really happy because I think if everything is right like Team Player's did this weekend, Ford-Cosworth, Player's, everybody had it right. My engine was as strong at the end as it was at the beginning. We had absolutely no problems all weekend, and that's what you need to win races because it's so competitive. I'm just happy. I want to win on a road course and I want to do that for a long time. This weekend we ran -- we were able to run a fast pace and win a race. For sure Cristiano was a bit faster at the beginning, and they had car problems. At least we were also very fast. No, for me it proves a point. I'm very happy because in Formula Atlantic, whether it was street or ovals, we could win pretty much all the races. It's good. It's satisfying for me, it really is.
Q. Two years ago there was a lot of stories flying around that Player's wanted to replace you with Paul Tracy. You were struggling that season. I think all these stories got you down. Two years later ironically you're at a career high, all these same stories are resurfacing. How are you coping with it this time?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Actually, I took -- I don't know. I decide that it didn't matter. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen, that's the end of it. Every year, because most of the time I only sign one-year contracts, I can have some reason -- I'm starting to like better to sign just for one year. But every year I'm in the stories and stuff like that. It's the same thing, that I'm going to be replaced or not. Actually, I'm in pretty good terms with the Player's people. I talk to them. I'm supposed to go have lunch with them this week. I'm not sure I'm going to talk about contract and what's going to happen. I think I'm just going to let them decide and not force it. I think I got a couple other things that I can do. Actually, I feel I'm at a crossroads in my career, my life, and maybe I'll just -- we'll see what I'm going to choose and what they're going to choose. If we're together next year, I think we can have a fantastic season. But we'll see what's going to happen. I'm kind of getting used to it, though, because every year it's a little bit the same story.
Q. I read you're going to sail up and down the St. Lawrence, is that correct?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I'm going to go actually Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Baja gave me a nice boat. It's a speed boat. I'm going to go on it and just ride the St. Lawrence River, just enjoy.
Q. Be careful. You have a history of accidents.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: At least this one doesn't have any wheels, so should be okay (laughter).
Q. Your lunch with Player's, that's going to be when, midweek?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, it's just a lunch to see them and say hi, just to talk about the weekend, Vancouver, stuff like that. It's going to be most likely Wednesday or Friday -- Wednesday or Thursday, depending when I'm going to leave with the boat.
Q. Will Adam attend that lunch?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Not necessarily because it's not a lunch to talk about my things for next year. It's just a lunch as friends because I've been with them for five years. I'll just go see them. Actually, I use their gym at their offices. They have one of the nicest gyms. I'll just stop there, train, say hi.
Q. Do you get sort of personally involved in these negotiations?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I usually get involved in the first one. I go see the team for the first one with Alan. After that I just let Alan do it because I just want to focus on the driving part.
Q. You say you have two other options.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I got a couple other options. I don't want to talk about it now. It's better at the moment with the situation of everything that's happening. I think it's better to just let the time go a little bit and wait a little bit later in the season to make decision.
Q. The other options, do they include the IRL as well as CART?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, it's both places that we're looking at.
Q. I read that you said your chances of staying with Player's are 50/50. What are your chances of staying in CART?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: CART is a nice series. I really like the series. I think it's nice to have the street, the road and the ovals, the different circuits, travel around the world and stuff like that. At the moment, I don't know. I've enjoyed my time tremendously in that series. We'll see what's going to happen next year.
Q. You wouldn't put a percentage factor on your chances of remaining in CART?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No.
Q. Something goofy always seems to happen to you guys. Did you worry something would go wrong by the end of the Cleveland race?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, actually I was the one who almost went wrong. Like I told my guys, they said, "When did you think you were going to win?" I said, "I thought we had a good chance." But often in the last lap or last five laps something happened and we could not win it. This time it's almost -- I decided like five laps from the end, I decide to slow down and just make sure the car was going to finish the race and everything, because it was a tough race, it was a long race, it was tough on all the cars. I decided to slow down, and for some reason I lost my concentration a little bit. I almost went off the track four laps to go by myself. After that, I decide to accelerate again a little bit. And for the last lap, if I was going to slow down, I was going to really slow down and short shift of the gears, just make sure I make it to the start/finish line. Until I crossed that thing, I was not sure it was going to happen.
Q. Does all this contract talk take some shine off that victory for you at all, is it irritating?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No. It doesn't matter. I think it's part of the business. I think it's part of anything you do. Especially in auto racing contracts are renewed every year or every two years. I think it doesn't matter to me actually. At the moment, I'm pretty happy of the job that Team Player's did this weekend, what we did. I enjoy working with the people that are directly involved with me on my team. We'll just finish the season and see how it goes. No, for me this victory was more of a personal victory, and I'm just really happy. I just drive for myself and drive to win, and for the team. No, it doesn't matter to me. I think it's part of the business.
Q. Do you think your win has sort of given you some leverage with your talks with other teams and with Player's?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't. I don't know. I just know that every race I fight pretty hard and I try very hard to win. Since I've been with Team Player's, actually they kind of brought me up into the world of auto racing. I had a lot of stuff to learn. I'd say at first I was a bit not naive, but I didn't know a lot of things and I didn't know how hard you had to work to be at the front in that series. That series is so competitive. 3/10ths of a second I think was six or seven positions this weekend, or eight positions. It's extremely tough, especially on a road course where you don't normally see that. I've just learned so much with that team that I'm very thankful for what they did. I feel at the moment we're pretty close to being ready to challenge for the championship. So we'll see what's going to happen.
Q. In general, what do you think the future holds for you?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I think I'm going to be racing. I want to be racing for the next six, eight years. I think I'm going to do that. I've had a lot of success on some tracks, and I think that's what it's going to be. But I just don't know where I'm going to be. I just really enjoy racing. I think I'm going to be doing that for the next six, eight years. But I cannot tell you where I'm going to be or what I'm going to do exactly at the moment.
Q. You think you're going to sign later on in the season?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, for sure. It might not be that late in the season, though. I think it's pretty soon.
Q. I know over the years while you remain even keel, when you achieve a personal goal such as last week you tend to really psych yourself up. When you crossed that finish line Sunday, what was going on with Patrick Carpentier?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Just happiness. Last year I'd say I needed the win to get some relief. This year I wanted to win for, one, permanent satisfaction; and, two, for the guys. Some of my best friends are the team mechanics and the guys I have on my team. They work so hard all the time. Since the beginning of the year, they've been giving me a really fast pit stop. They did that again this weekend. For the first time, we can give them a car and the tools and a smooth weekend to go with the work they've been doing. So with a fast car, a good strategy, we backed up their fast pit stop and finally won a race on a road course. Actually, that's what I was most happy about for the guys.
Q. While you work for the guys, personal satisfaction, is that what motivates you?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, for sure. For me it seems like the bigger the challenge, the more I come out and perform, if there's more demand and more stress, if I need to perform. I remember in Formula Atlantic, we had a race I finish in top three or we didn't have the money to continue racing. We ended up finishing in third place in that race, moved ahead. I just like sometimes to go against the odds and just prove we can always do it. For me that was good satisfaction.
Q. I find it interesting in listening to the other questions, in your mind are we in the media making more out of these contract talks than what you see as a personal thing? It's almost like we're looking for a ghost and you're just trying to do your business.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah. Sometime I think we started talking about it in the newspaper a little bit, and I think it's our mistake a little bit. It just goes on and on and on, and then that becomes the main subject. Like you said, that's what's happening every year. That's what's happening with more than half the field in CART or whatever series that you have. The guys have to renegotiate. The team these days seems to go more with maybe one- or two-year contract instead of a long-term contract. Everybody has to go through the same thing. The team has to look at things. You look at Team KOOL Green, they're going through the same thing at the moment, a lot of stuff. I think it's just part of the business and normal. I think it just gets out of hand. Sometimes it's a bit sad because things gets said. Like if I would have said I don't want to see Player's, I'm mad at Player's, this and that, and it's not really what I say, it's not what I'm thinking. Like I'm going to have lunch with the guys. We had fun after the race. We didn't even talk about that. I know they have a lot of stuff they need to look at, and we'll just see what happens. I think also it's a business choice. If they pick me up, it's because business-wise, marketability, it works for them. If they don't, then it doesn't work for them. Maybe it works for some other thing. Sometimes it's just a business deal and nothing personal.
Q. I remember three or four years ago you were talking about music. You said you really like to work out and play your drums with Elvis music. Do you still do that?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Actually, I do (laughter). It's funny, because that's what I told my wife, because I'm in Canada now. My house is in Las Vegas. But I said, "Oh, man, I miss the music studio. We should find a place where we can do some karaoke and stuff like that." Yeah, I really love that. I still do that.
Q. (Question and answer in French.)
MERRILL CAIN: Could you give us an overview for those who don't speak French.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: He said, When did you know you were going to win the race? I said it was not until I crossed the start/finish. He said, You gave a sign for the last pit stop to your crew, what was that all about? I said, just like thank you and saying things were looking good because they had a very fast pit stop on the last one. That's what I did. After that, that was pretty much about it. We talked about the race basically.
Q. Part of your possibility in looking at your future, you mentioned the word NASCAR in there. I know some NASCAR discussions have been going on with Paul Tracy. It's discussion, doesn't take much to pick up a phone and talk. I was trying to remember how much stock car racing experience you might have and how much Paul might have. Is that a realistic avenue for you to explore?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I think it might be in the future, but at the moment I don't think the discussion on that side are really extremely serious. For sure if it would become, I would be very happy about it and see where it takes us. No, not at the moment. I don't have a lot of experience in closed-wheel cars. I tried a few in Canada, but that's basically it. We'll see what's going to happen. At the moment I think I'm going to stick more to open-wheel racing.
Q. Tag, he is still trying to ascertain and grab that first CART win. He has come unbelievably close. You went through quite a long time before you grabbed your first CART win. Has he talked to you about how you get around this period where it's got to be so difficult knowing you have the team and the equipment and talent to win, but you haven't yet? Must weigh heavy on his mind. Has he talked to you about it?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No. Actually, we don't talk about that. Once we're on the track and things that concern racing and stuff, we kind of do our own thing. We try to -- we're really good friends outside the racetrack. For sure, on the track we always try to beat one another, get victories for us and for the team and everything. No, actually we haven't talked about that.
Q. With tobacco sponsorship in Canada being against the law as of October 2003, does that have any effect on the speed or lack of speed, urgency to get your deal done with Player's? Do you think that's working on their side of what they may want to do?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I don't know exactly. Sometime I heard that they might be able to keep going, sometime they might not. I don't know what's going to happen on that side. No, we'll see what it is. I think we're going to start talking with them most likely fairly soon. We're going to talk to different people, too. We'll see what it is. But I don't think for them it changes very much for next year. I think they're going to keep doing what they do now and try to win a lot of races. I know they really want to have a championship before they run out of racing. They deserve it. Man, they spend a lot of money into it to try to make this thing work. That was good for them this weekend. Hopefully they can have a championship.
Q. In years past you haven't always seemed to be relaxed at this time of the season. You seem more relaxed this time. Is the pressure less from the team and from the Canadian fans than you've had in the past or does the win really help?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: The win help. I think the pressure is more. The weekend in Toronto was so difficult. I think that was one of the toughest weekend for me and the team, everybody actually. Nothing seems to be going our way. I know it's really important for them because it was in Canada. Then we came to Cleveland, and I never thought we'd come out of it by winning that race. Every practice, every session went really well. No mistakes were made. Ford-Cosworth put out a good engine. My engineer gave me good changes all the time. It was just almost a perfect weekend, and that's what we needed to pump up the guys. But, no, I don't know. This year I'm more detached from it than I was in the past. In the past I was wanted it so much. Sometimes it seems like the more you want something, the further away it gets from you or from your grasp. Sometimes when you just stop wanting it, boom, it finally happens. After Toronto, I just said, "Whatever happens is going to happen. If it does, it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't." I just keep working extremely hard and try to find any way I can to make it happen. But just wanting it maybe a little bit less, just going around, made it happen.
Q. Heading off to Vancouver, do you think some of that pressure is going to return because you're back in Canada or can you maintain this relaxed but beneficial attitude?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, it's tough. Sometimes it's tough to maintain. I think we all have a tendency to get really involved in it and just go to the same pattern again. But for sure I'm going to work hard to maintain that. I think it takes a bit of pressure away from me to have that victory before going into Vancouver for sure.
Q. Last year you and Tag were pretty strong in Vancouver. How much of that setup and tactics can you bring into this year?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Oh, it's different. This year with the traction control, a lot of stuff has changed. It's very different. A lot of things we tried last year have not worked pretty much everywhere we went to. No, it's going to be different. We just need a smooth weekend, no problems, so we can set the car up and find our way to the top like we did at Cleveland. Tag had a fantastic weekend. I think he should have won that race last year. Unfortunately, he had ran into some problems. But this year hopefully we get a little bit better luck. Maybe we don't have to qualify as well, but if we finish and get a bit better luck, we can win the thing.
Q. Looking about a month down the road, CART is heading for the first time into Montreal. You're one of the few drivers in the series that does have knowledge of that track. Talk about how you feel going in there. The fans there are going to go nuts when CART arrives.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I think they're going to love it. I'm so happy that they're going to have the opportunity to see that series and these cars. I think it's a great show. It's kind of a festival every time. Like the Toronto Indy, we got so many activities and promotions, they changed tires, pit stop, so many things, the whole week leading into the race. I think they're going to enjoy that. It's different. They're going to be able to look at the cars, the transporters, be close to us, walk through the pits, things like that, which they haven't seen for the last 10 years in Formula 1. I think there's good sides to it. It's going to be great. For sure for us it's a bit more pressure. Want to do well, it's hometown. We'd like to win that race. If everything goes well in the weekend, I think it's going to be a fantastic weekend. To be at the front there would be great.
Q. I was looking at the transcript of the post race press conference. You made a quip to something Paul said, saying you and Paul were going to form your own team. You could always call it Team Cool. Have you had any serious thoughts on that?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No. It's funny because everybody kept talking about the contract and the things. Paul is in the same situation as I am. At the end I said, "Oh, let's just start a rumor, me and Paul are starting a team together for next year." That's how it started.
MERRILL CAIN: We appreciate you joining us today, Pat, on today's CART media teleconference. We know you're going to take a few days off before heading to Vancouver. Enjoy your few days and thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to us.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Thanks, guys.
MERRILL CAIN: We now welcome in Ryan Hunter-Reay of the CART Toyota Atlantic series. Ryan is a 21-year-old driver from Boca Raton, Florida, who drives for Hylton Motorsports. After competing in the Barber Dodge Pro Series the last two seasons, Ryan made the climb up the CART ladder system to the Toyota Atlantic cars this year. It's been a pretty smooth transition. He has earned three wins, three pole positions and five top five finishes in the season's first eight races. He established a new Atlantics qualifying record in winning the pole for last Sunday's race in Cleveland. He beat Jon Fogarty and Luis Diaz of Dorricott Racing to get the checkered flag for his third win of the year which elevates him to second place in the points standing, just eight points behind series leader Michael Valiante. Thanks for taking time to talk with us this afternoon. We know you're testing today. We appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to talk with us. How is the test going?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: The test is going great. Thanks for having me on today. I definitely would make time for this. We're out here at Blackhawk about an hour outside of Chicago. We're just testing a bunch for the rest of our street circuit races at Three Rivers in Denver. We need to be prepared for those two. We're just getting a lot of stuff done here today. It's going well.
MERRILL CAIN: We'll open it up for questions for you.
Q. When you look at this series, what you expect to get out of it, what do you expect to get out of it?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, basically the Formula Atlantic Series, if not the most, it's one of the most competitive years Atlantic has ever had. It's just as competitive as the British F3 or any of the other top competitive open-wheel series in the country, in the world. So, you know, that's what I basically want to get out of it. I want stiff competition, a team environment like I do with Hylton Motorsports. The team really believes in me. Just getting that whole -- now I know how a team feels when it clicks, when everything goes right. We're racing every weekend against teams like Lynx Racing and Dorricott, DSTP, all these top teams. The competition is right there. That's what makes a driver really good is when you go week-in and week-out competing against these types of teams.
Q. How does it help your career, I know it does, to know that you have all the CART FedEx Championship Series teams there, the owners are watching you, other drivers are watching you, even the sponsors are watching you?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, absolutely. I hope a trend starts -- you know, comes into play here with the Champ car teams start picking up drivers out of the Atlantic series and everything because it hasn't been that big yet. You know, Townsend Bell is the first one to get a legitimate ride out of a ladder series in quite a while. I just hope this continues. I hope that CART Champ car team owners do take a notice of what talent is in this series and pick from it.
Q. With that said, do you find yourself pulling for Townsend? If he does well, it's good for the rest of you.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, you'd think so, maybe. I don't know. I have mixed feelings on that. I want to beat Townsend as much as I want to beat anybody else. So I'm not pushing for him at all. You know, in one case, he's kind of representing a ladder series driver, American drivers out of the ladder series. In that way I kind of am pushing for him. It hasn't done much good yet. I guess there's some problems there. I don't know which way it's going to go. I just hope the other CART team owners don't see that and think, "Oh, well, we can't give anybody a shot now."
Q. When you came with the Hylton team, was there any one bad habit that you had that they had to purge you of, "Don't do that anymore"? Do you think something along that line has contributed to your success so far this year?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, to put my finger on one exact thing, I can't do that. Coming out of the slower Barber Dodge cars, they were heavier, the revs were a lot lower. I found right in the beginning that I was hitting the ref limit a lot in these cars because they wind so high at the 10,000 rpms. Whereas in the Barber Dodge car, it's a lot slower. In the beginning, that took a while to get used to. My engineer Kyle really helped me out with that and everything. Things like that, just the transition from the car. Actually, (inaudible) Big O car again, I'm having the time of my life driving these cars. I can't wait to get into a FedEx Champ car.
Q. Do they work a lot on your race craft or have you carved that with the Skip Barber when you get here? Is it all part of the evolutionary process?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I just think racing karts since I was 10, 11 years old has done all the race craft for me. I've had over 1500 race starts so far. That has really, you know, crafted my skill there. But just adapting to Atlantic car, the team has helped me a lot. It suits my driving style. Light, fast car really suits my driving style.
Q. When you're looking for the course of things, to graduate into Champ cars and get into CART as part of the development program, part of that development is making sure if you have to go out to find the funding to do that, you have the sponsorship requirements to make that all happen. Do you do that on your own or do you have people that can help you with that?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, I have people that help me, and I do a lot of it on my own. My dad and I sometimes work as a team just trying to find opportunities for me. You know, I work on it all the time. That's my job pretty much when I'm not on the track. It's just working on finding opportunities, connections, everything like that. We have a new partnership with auto by tell this year. Hopefully that will be a long and growing experience. We won our first race with them at Chicago starting from sixth place. It's just a great bunch of people. They really want success like we do. We can maybe grow on that. Other areas. I will not stop. Every day I'll be searching for that.
Q. This year is obviously more than you expected. What more do you expect out of it? Do you think you can pull out the championship?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, we started off with a bad luck, you know, Mexico, Long Beach, then Milwaukee. Milwaukee, we were 20 laps from winning. We'd have another 20 points in the bag. We'd be leading the championship right now. We had an engine blow. All things considered, that's racing, things like that happen. We're leading all the categories, most laps lead, most victories, most pole positions, the prize money. We just need to get on top of the most important thing, which is the points now. And I'm absolutely determined to do it. The Hylton team is as determined to do it. You know, we expect all the best.
Q. What are your plans, if any, for next year? Are you going to do another season in Atlantics or are you looking to move up next year?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I'm definitely looking to move up. Exactly where, I can't say yet. I don't know yet. I'm working on a bunch of different avenues. But I'm definitely working on that and I definitely want to move up next season.
Q. Certainly a lot of young guns in the ladder system trying to push you up and out, too. We'll see you in Vancouver.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thank you very much.
Q. When you start the season off, you have a bit of bad luck, obviously the first thing you want to do when you have a bad race is throwing something against the transporter wall. What do you do to get yourself back on an even track?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: That's a good question. When you face adversity like that, when a lot of focus and pressure is on you like that, things happen, things just aren't going your way, that's the time when you really are at your best if you can just pull out of that, keep a positive mind about it. And the biggest thing is you have to have confidence in yourself. That's really what it comes down to. The team has confidence in itself and I have confidence in my driving. The number one thing that happens to a lot of drivers is the confidence goes out the window and they start second-guessing themselves about a lot of things. That hasn't happened. I think that's had a lot to do with our quick pullout of that string of bad luck.
MERRILL CAIN: Your next event in the Toyota Atlantic Series is in Three Rivers, August 2nd through the 4th, that weekend. I don't believe you ever competed at that course. It's a course that many drivers in this series really look forward to because of the support of the local fans and also the great racing that takes place there. What are you looking forward to as you head to Three Rivers?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Absolutely. I haven't been to a track that has Formula Atlantics as pretty much the main race there. Really neat to see. Most importantly it's going to be a tight street circuit. I love that. A lot of karters succeed there. It's supposed to be a karting type of track. I look forward to that. I really love street circuits. I love racing between the walls like that with low grip. We're testing here in Blackhawk because it's similar to that, very bumpy, low grip and very narrow. I'm just looking forward to it. I can't wait. I can't wait to get to the rest of them honestly, Road America, and Denver, Montreal. All sounds great.
MERRILL CAIN: Very much looking forward to seeing you compete the rest of the season. You've done a great job so far this year. We expect you'll continue as you pursue the championship here in the Toyota Atlantic Series. Thanks for taking a few minutes to join us today.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thanks for having me on.
MERRILL CAIN: The next time we'll see Ryan on track along with the Hylton Motorsports team will be at Three Rivers the weekend of August 2nd to the 4th. We'd like to thank both Ryan Hunter-Reay and Patrick Carpentier for joining us on today's teleconference. A quick reminder the next CART FedEx Championship Series event will take place the weekend of June 26th through the 28 at the Molson Indy Vancouver. The Champ cars taking a much needed break before heading back into action that weekend in Vancouver. Thanks to all who participated in today's call and have a very pleasant afternoon.
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