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Indy Racing League Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Racing League

Indy Racing League Media Conference

Scott Dixon
Chris Festa
Danica Patrick
June 21, 2005


CHRIS FESTA: Based on my experience, I decided to go out and brake light which paid off for me. I was able to pick up a couple of positions behind the start and follow behind Simmons and Cunningham for the next 15 laps.

THE MODERATOR: For about half of the race, you mentioned you were behind Jeff, he went out on lap 13 with some engine problems, but I understand that at least for a while in the race, he was spraying some oil which affected you. How early did that happen, and then how did you manage to drive through that?

CHRIS FESTA: That started happening through about lap three I guess. He started spraying oil all over my car and visor, and I ran out of -- inaudible -- at about two laps, and there was oil on my advisor the rest of the time we were out there, I really could not see very well, but I had to deal with it a little bit. I cracked my visor open just a little bit and peeked out through there and just dealt with it the rest of the race.

THE MODERATOR: Once you moved into third, once Simmons was out of there, did you ever get close you have to Cunningham where you thought you might be able to make a move on him through second place.

CHRIS FESTA: Through the infield section I was right up on him. I was riding a little bit more downforce than he was and so my car would be better through all of the junk in the middle of the track, but then once we got on to the front straightaway where it was really long, he was able to pull me down the straightaway all the way, so I was never really close enough to make a move on him.

THE MODERATOR: The Sam Schmidt team won the championship last year, has been very competitive again this year, Travis Gregg second in the points, Jaime Camara is third, you're fourth. What's the camaraderie like between the three of you?

CHRIS FESTA: Oh, all three of us get along very well. I mean, off the track, all three of us are really good friends. After the weekend is over and we want to go out and have some fun, all three of us go out together. We always have a great time. Then once we put our helmets on and get in the car, we want beat each other as much as we want to beat anybody else. We just want to race each other cleanly.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about Sam, this is your first year working with him, what types of things have you been able to learn from him so far?

CHRIS FESTA: Every weekend basically before every session we get in the car, Sam sits all three of us down and he goes over things with us, his experience on that track and if he has not been to that track before like the road courses he gives us his perspective. If he thinks we should be patient or get aggressive early, he gives us that kind of thing and he tells us to basically just be smart out there and don't do anything stupid.

THE MODERATOR: The Pro Series has about a month off until we go down to Nashville on July 16, how are you going to keep yourself busy during the downtime?

CHRIS FESTA: Our team is planning to have a couple of tests coming up in the near future. And when I'm not in the car I'll be spending most of my time in the gym just trying to stay fit and keep myself as healthy as I can, so when I get back in the car, I haven't lost anything.

Q. One important question for you, and that is, you come from a very, very heavy-duty road racing background. How much of a challenge has it been for you to change your style or have you had to change your style to adapt to oval racing?

CHRIS FESTA: I haven't had to change it too much. I've had to change a little bit how I like to set up my car for ovals only. On the road courses, I like my car to be a little tighter in the rear so I can rotate around and have a better shot coming out of the corner, but that doesn't work as well for the ovals. So we have to set it up to be a little more stable in the rear for the old track because a little bit of a loose car on an oval is not what you really want. That's probably the only change we've had to make.

Q. And you haven't had to change anything from your perspective; what about patience, because on an oval, that's the most important thing, or so they tell me.

CHRIS FESTA: I've had to be a little bit more patient and I've picked my places a little bit more careful because at higher speeds thing can happen much faster and be more severe. But other than that, you know I try to keep my aggression level up, just be a little bit smarter with the choices I make.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks a lot for taking some time to join us today and we appreciate that. Good luck the rest of the season. We are joined now by Indy Car Series driver Scott Dixon. Scott drives the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Panos Toyota Firestone in the Indy Car Series. He's coming off an 11th place finish at Texas back in 2-003, he led all 206 laps at Richmond for his third career win and last year he finished eighth at Richmond. Scott, as a place that you've won at, I would guess that Richmond is a special place for you, do you get a little more excited when you go to Richmond than some other places?

SCOTT DIXON: For sure, not only that we've won there, but I think it's just such a unique circuit from what we race on week-to-week. It's so short and it's a lot of fun and luckily enough we get to test Toyota and things like that which helps us for the race weekend. It's always a great place to go back to. Last year we didn't have the best of times but still walked away with an eighth and see if we can better that.

THE MODERATOR: You touched briefly on Toyota, and the manufacturers tested at Richmond last Friday. Tell us more about how that went and what kind of an advantage, or does it give you an edge on the competition as you come into the race?

SCOTT DIXON: I think it definitely helps. We had a test scheduled there two weeks early and got rained out both days and thought it was a must that we needed to get back before the race, and oddly there was a day after Watkins Glen we had good weather, did a lot of laps and got a lot out of the stuff out of the way that you can't normally get to come race weekend and things like that. We feel we should have been a little quicker. Penske were very strong out of the box and throughout the day, so we've got a little bit to gain before we come back this week, but all in all, walked away with three cars and plenty of information.

THE MODERATOR: Your best qualifying effort this year came at Phoenix which is the one-mile oval; Richmond, three quarters of a mile. Do shorter tracks like Richmond and Phoenix help you guys make up any gap in horsepower that there might be?

SCOTT DIXON: It does help a lot. I think going to the shorter tracks, because it is a little harder to get the actual laps flat-out, Phoenix for all three laps I think for qualifying, and you know, Richmond will be a little more difficult this year because all of the cars actually have more power than what they did last year with the initial three-litre. And the track grip has gone down a little bit because it's not sealing a little more. So it was definitely on the edge and a couple people at the test I think got actual flat laps out of it. So it should be pretty exciting. For us it will make it a little easier for qualifying.

THE MODERATOR: Tomas Scheckter won at Texas two weeks ago, his first win since 2002. Obviously you're kind of in a similar situation with that last win being your win at Richmond for you in 2003. When you see a guy like Tomas come through with a win, and he's been through a lot, early exits in races for a lot of various reasons, does it lift the spirits of yourself and other drivers who are in that same situation of a little bit of a drought?

SCOTT DIXON: Well, Tomas is probably definitely the extreme of that situation. You think you've got it back -- inaudible -- run, something not to be too proud of, and in that situation, for Tomas it was great to see. If I don't win, he's probably the next guy I want to win. He had a lot of chances in 2003 where he should have won races and strange things happened. I was very happy for him. As far as myself and other drivers, we go every weekend trying to turn it around. It has not been that way for quite some time now, and our team is definitely pushing pretty hard and we have to try to turn this thing around pretty soon.

Q. What was it like going to Richmond the first time, just so bizarre from anything else you guys race, is it a tough track to get a handle on?

SCOTT DIXON: It can be. You know, you definitely have to have a pretty good car there to go fast, and I think we've -- you know, myself, every time I've been there, I've had a pretty good chance at going fast. You know, as I've always said, when I first walked up there, I thought it was a go-kart track because it was so short and so small. It's definitely a lot of fun and the last sort of year, this year I think with the new seal and the track is so fast, it's got so much grip, and you would never think that you would ever get flat around there, but you definitely can and definitely makes it interesting. It's definitely one that stands out over a lot of the ovals that we go to through the season.

Q. Your first couple of laps, was it hard to get adjusted to it? Is it a hard track for somebody to drive particularly who is used to road racing and has never seen anything like that before?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think it's more similar to a short road course. It's probably the closest thing you get to with an oval, because -- well, the first year we were there, with the 3.5, it was a lot quicker and even had to downchange and brake, some guys braked, and others didn't. But I think the whole sort of technical side of trying to make the car a lot better and making changes like setting up the road course I think is actually, you've done a lot of road course racing, it's not that happened to adapt because it's not flat-out racing. The first couple of laps, for sure, definitely are a lot different from anything else, and you know I think a lot of guys the first couple of runs get a bit dizzy.

Q. I'd like just a quick question on Ryan Briscoe, after a bit of a slow start, but put in a fantastic performance at Indy?

SCOTT DIXON: He did a great job. It's unfortunate he slipped down that lap or two at the start because he was pretty strong at the end, but Ryan has had a bit of a rough start to the year, but definitely the tests that we've had at these road courses he's been doing pretty good. It's just difficult for anybody coming in from road course racing to the style of the IRL because it is quite frantic, and you see it every time with everybody that joins even myself and Darren the year before, it all happens pretty quick out there.

Q. The feeling of Chip Ganassi Racing must be a pretty good one with a rarely young team.

SCOTT DIXON: Sure, all of us get on extremely good. We come from similar backgrounds and the way that we've struggled with money and had to go through junior formulas and a lot of the racing background has been the same. So it's great, and both of the other two are always fun and we usually hang out a bit during the week and things like that. I think that team IRL is pretty good at the moment considering we haven't had the finishes we wanted.

Q. And off motorsport a little bit, you would have been really proud of your fellow countryman Michael Campbell winning the U.S. open?

SCOTT DIXON: That's pretty big, I need to track him down and give him a call actually and see if I can give me a few -- show me a few things with the golf clubs, because I struggle with those.

Q. Earlier this year, you guys, the team had purchased a large chassis and I think it might have been in Miami, what's the status of that project; if that's dead, is there any other secret projects you want to discuss?

SCOTT DIXON: Probably not. Actually, I'm not sure what's going on with the whole Dalara project. I believe we still have one, and I don't know, there's always talk of bringing one to my side of the team or maybe one of the other guys. But it was a shame we didn't really get to run it at Japan because that was the whole sort of deal was trying to get some miles on it in race conditions. I know we struggled to get it up to speed as such for Indy, and our plan was to run at least one of them for Indy, but I think we had to shoot back because we had a lot more confidence in it, and it's pretty hard to catch up on other teams that have had a chassis for three years. And you've seen it with Penske before try to change and run the G-force and really only successfully run it once and obviously coming up with a win. Yeah, not too sure what's happening on that project.

Q. You talked about the morale was pretty good all things considered, but earlier you were talking about you just really needed to turn it around pretty soon. Is there starting to get -- I guess pressure at Ganassi is always high. Do you sense that there might be even greater sense or a little bit more, maybe unstability as we move into the second half of the season?

SCOTT DIXON: It's hard to say. You know, I haven't been in a situation with this team before, you know, obviously been in a situation with other teams, but I think they are handling it pretty well and surprisingly Chip is extremely relaxed. You know, after the Texas race, he was kind of happy with what we did, fighting for 11th and 12th is not what we go out there to do, but he has not been hammering on it as much lately, which I don't know if that means he knows there's something going through the pipeline or if there's some changes going on. I don't really know what to make of it.

Q. Is all the, I don't want to say blame, because we don't do that publicly certainly, but do you think it's all tied to the Toyota program?

SCOTT DIXON: I think that initially, it put us in a bit of a tailspin. You know, you can never blame it totally on them for sure. You know, I think we have done things, I've done things, that have had to, you know, good finishes in the past. I think there are a few key things that we need to work out. I think mechanically we need to get the car a bit up, air dynamically I think we are perfect. We've got a lot of little different things to try to get together and I know that we're working extremely hard on them and yeah, as I said, try to turn it around and get some results at the end of the season.

Q. Were the Penske guys flat during the test, is that what you were saying?

SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was pretty quick and I believe they were flat.

Q. Talk about Richmond and being in the cockpit of that car, because there is so much that's going on in a short period of time, just how busy are you?

SCOTT DIXON: Well I think when you're doing a lap by yourself, it's extremely busy. This year we didn't seem to be at the test changing year, and in the race there's so much going on because you're racing with other guys. The track is so short, you are buzzing around there so fast and you're doing a lap under 16 seconds is pretty weird. So there's a lot going on and a lot of the times you don't get to think too much, you sort of have to go along with your natural instinct and keep pushing as hard as you can. It definitely, you know, just feels like you never stop turning and it's quite weird.

Q. I have to ask you, Formula 1, this past Sunday, your thoughts?

SCOTT DIXON: I feel bad for a lot of the guys there, I poke to a lot of them after the race Sunday night. I think they were in a bit of a sticky situation. There's nothing you could really do about it. I don't know if it was the best way -- the best way to handle it they with they did. I think they probably should have done something different, but I haven't really got much to say or don't feel that anything I say has got much to do with it.

Q. Knowing the way the politics at Formula 1 have been building over the last couple of years, was something like this do you think something that you could conceive, something major could happen?

SCOTT DIXON: No. I think Formula 1 has always been very special in the way -- politically it's been different from any other series and even involved with teams and things like that. It's massively political over there. I don't think anybody would have thought there would have been one single thing to put harm on it or this is really going to put any harm on it. I don't really think there's one thing that's going to stand out. This one does because it was such a big -- for one weekend, but who is to say that in a couple of weeks everybody is going to feel better.

THE MODERATOR: Scott, that's all the questions we've got for you this afternoon. Thanks a lot for joining us. Good luck this weekend. We are joined now by Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 16 Panos/Honda for Rahal Letterman Racing. Thanks for calling us today. Danica qualified in the top four in three consecutive races, finished fourth in two of the last three races including the Indianapolis 500. She currently leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings and is tenth overall in the Indy Car Series points standings. We're going to Richmond this weekend, Danica, which is a three-quarter of a mile track and the shortest track we race on, new to you, pretty much like all of the circuits we go to, pretty much do to you? Have your teammates at this point given you any specific advice heading to Richmond?

DANICA PATRICK: No. Just that it's a tough race. You know, this is probably going to be one of the toughest races of the year, I would imagine.

THE MODERATOR: A lot of people say, obviously, you're driving almost 200 miles, and with the short track, it's really turning constantly, a lot more mental fatigue and a lot more G-forces constantly on you. Do you adjust your training routine, anything new or special that you do to get ready?

DANICA PATRICK: Add a couple of pounds to the weights. (Laughing). I don't really know exactly what you can do except stay consistent with what you're doing, and making sure that you are working out all the time.

THE MODERATOR: Let's take some questions for Danica.

Q. We know that you are were a high school cheerleader and I wanted to ask what you could tell teenage girls about pursuing a dream that is traditionally not female dominated?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I think first off, I will say, this that you have to love what you do because that's the only way -- that's the only way that you follow through with what needs to be done to make it, you know, your career and be successful at it. It's not easy getting to the top, and that's why not everyone does, and that's why I think unless you love it, you won't have the longevity that you need it do it.

Q. Certainly Texas and Richmond are different kinds of races. A month ago if I would have said which were you looking forward to least, which would you have said?

DANICA PATRICK: Between the two of them?

Q. Yeah.

DANICA PATRICK: Richmond, just by what I've heard. Everybody, I mean, even when I went to Indianapolis and I was talking to Gil de Ferran, I was like, "Hey what's your advice?" He was like, "Well, I'd like to say that it's okay, but it's hard." So, you know, I'm just going into it with that mind frame and hopefully it's better than what I think.

Q. Yeah, it's probably not.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah.

Q. After you left the Speedway last week on Friday, Bernie Ecclestone made some comments that were not very positive for a female in pursuit of her dream as you talked about with the previous question. What kind of reaction did you have? You surely saw what he had to say about females on SportsCenter and everywhere else the last couple of days.

DANICA PATRICK: He did call me on the phone and he told me those things, and I was like, you know -- I don't know. I just didn't make sense of it. I was surprised I guess somebody would say that to me. And the days after when it actually came out in the press, you know, people were asking me, you know, "What do you think of that?" I was like, "You know what he told me, he said that on the phone." I can't believe that he would say it to me over the phone, not to my face but directly to me. I was a bit confused. But, you know, some of the conversation was positive and complimentary, so, you know, I don't really know what though think about it.

Q. So to clarify, he called you before Friday?

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, he called me before that came out.

Q. And then he was all positive on the phone call?

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Well, I don't think he was -- just to clarify, because I was one of the three journalists standing there, he complimented you to start with, and then I think he was speaking more about his own feelings about females.

DANICA PATRICK: I don't know if he was talking about, you know, someone else or the majority or what, I'm not really sure. Or, maybe that's his real feeling. If that's the case, then you know, doesn't really matter because I'm racing in the Indy Racing League.

Q. Going back to Richmond, what do you expect will be the toughest adjustment for you? Is it going to be the lateral G-forces everybody talks about in the corner? Is it going to getting used to be in traffic for 50 laps or the 15-second laps? What's going to be the toughest part?

DANICA PATRICK: I don't think any of those one in itself is something that I'm going to be overwhelmed by. I think it's going to be everything all at once: Short track, always traffic, fast track. It's going to be, you know, it's just going to be tough from all kinds of different angles. So I think the fact that it all kind of comes to a head at one track will make it the hardest.

Q. How much oval experience would you say you've had in your career?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, you've seen it.

Q. So it's fair to say that this kind of place is completely new to you?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I raced at Milwaukee and Phoenix, Phoenix early in the year and Milwaukee Mile in Atlantic, but definitely talks longer to get around Milwaukee in an Atlantic car.

Q. Some guys when they come to Richmond for the first time they try to go the video game route to maybe try to get a feel for what it's like. Have you tried to do any of that before coming here?

DANICA PATRICK: No. I'm not really into video games, and I don't -- you know, it's less than a mile, so if I can't get that down in the to the practice session and understand what it's all about, I think that, you know, the benefit from being at a track before is feeling it and knowing how the track feels. It's pretty hard to feel what a car is like with control buttons.

Q. What do you think is the best advice you've gotten about it so far from teammates or other competitors? Is there anything that one person has told you that anything has stuck out really going in here?

DANICA PATRICK: I think what's encouraging is once your car is hooked up, it's kind of fun. You get around that quick, and you just throw it in the corner, and, you know, it can be really fun if you're hooked up. I think that's the most encouraging and the best advice I've heard. But it's difficult for them to tell me exactly what the track is like, when, you know, I have nothing to start from. I'm not like, hey, is there a little bump in one. I have no questions really because I don't -- I don't really -- all I can ask is what's it like, what should I expect.

Q. The folks at IRI are banking on walk-up attendance, the "Danica factor" they are calling it. Do you feel a burden with your rising popularity?

DANICA PATRICK: No. I think that I can only do what I can do -- and you know, it's hard. If anyone thinks they can do a better job, if anyone is going to talk, you know, and say that I -- you know, I need to do better to drive attendance, well, try it, it's hard. I know that considering being a rookie and my limited oval experience, I think that, you know, it's been going pretty well so far. We've made an impact and that's all great, but for me the most important thing is performing, and nobody wants to win more than I do, and that's just the bottom line. I don't feel -- I don't feel like I have to do anything.

Q. Do you feel pressure just because it feels like there's added obligations and responsibilities? I don't know if your people are trying to do a good job of managing that and not overschedule you for appearances and sponsor commitments and things like that?

DANICA PATRICK: Absolutely. Well, I don't feel pressure, but they are doing a very good job of managing it and making sure the racing comes first. That's when the stories come and that's when the story develops is when the successes come and the wins come and things like that. It's going to take time. You know, it took a lot of drivers, you know, more than a year for sure to win a race, and you know, I'm just learning myself. So I don't -- I really don't feel any pressure from any direction, because like I said, I put more pressure on myself because I want to win more than anyone else wants me to, I'm sure.

Q. I'd like to look forward a week and talk about Kansas a little bit it. Seems to be a much more straightforward oval than what you've had your last couple of races and a track your teammates have done pretty well, with them placing first and second last year. Is Kansas a date you have circled on your calendar?

DANICA PATRICK: Actually, yeah, you know, I think any of the tracks that they qualified on pole last year and performed well at are tracks that I'm excited for. So, yeah, definitely.

Q. Is it a place where you think might fit your style and maybe get that first win?

DANICA PATRICK: I think it's a track that obviously is suiting to our cars, and the fact that we seem to have a good setup and we're fast at. I think that when your car is right, a track is just a track, but it's just a matter of getting it right for that track.

Q. I'm picking up on the comments you said earlier about adding a couple of pounds to the weights before Richmond. Can you break down what your weightlifting schedule is during the course of a race week?

DANICA PATRICK: Every other day, and I do cardio work. I do an hour of cardio every day and I do an hour of lifting every other day.

Q. Has your schedule been altered since Indianapolis because of appearances and whatnot?

DANICA PATRICK: It's been, you know, I've made it a priority. It's not always a lot of fun to go into dirty gyms at hotels a lot of times but you do it. I think that is the most important thing. It's not necessarily about you know, going too crazy, and making, you know, going for the big bulk-up or anything like that. I think it's just a matter of not taking that many days off, and I haven't. I think in the last, since, you know, really since Motegi has been pretty good. I've really only taken a couple of days off since Motegi, so it's been consistent.

Q. Do you concentrate or Monday upper body, lower body or how do you distribute what your program is?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I'm marrying a physical therapist and that helps, so he's certified in all those different areas and he kind of helps me out. So it's mainly upper body because that's what's important: Core, neck, shoulder, lats, back, chest, all those things.

Q. You tested at Watkins Glen, wondering what you thought of the track and what parts did you like, what parts you might not like so much?

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, I thought Watkins Glen was fun. I liked that track. It's a rhythm track it seems like, and I think that, you know, I definitely wasn't tapping the speed charts, that's for sure but my teammates got going fast after lunch. They made some good changes, positive changes and I just stayed the same. So, you know, I think that that is encouraging and that's all that matters. Nobody wins awards for practice sessions, but I think come race time we should all be pretty close and hopefully we'll have a good setup.

Q. Do you feel any feelings, like everybody is a rookie at the Glen, so it's the one place you have an even playing field?

DANICA PATRICK: No, I don't think that at all actually. I think that I have very limited experience in a big car with big horsepower on a road course, where, you know, a lot of the guys have come from doing, whether it was Indy Lights or Champ Car or whatever it may be, European racing. So they have a lot more time in the big-engine cars where I don't. I still think I'm a rookie out and in tough situations and in situations that I haven't had to deal with before, it's still going to be there, the learning curve. Hopefully as a team we pull through and we go out there and go fast and that's what's important.

Q. One last thing, please don't take it the wrong way, just wondering, you were at the movie premiere and that's about NASCAR. Was anybody confused about what you drove or something like that because it's a whole different series.

DANICA PATRICK: No, actually, everybody seemed to kind of know what I was doing. Everybody seemed to know my name. At least they were screaming it. So, no, I think that the coverage of me and of Indy Car Racing has been good enough that it's reached a lot of different people. Lindsay Lohan knew when I was and was excited to meet me, and there's really no bigger star than her right now.

Q. Talk a moment if you would about Bobby Rahal, you've known Bobby for a long time, and we've watched him bring young drivers up before. How has he kept you even-keeled and being able to accept everything that's come along?

DANICA PATRICK: What other young drivers has he brought along?

Q. Well, he dealt with a lot of young drivers, when he was at Champ Car.

DANICA PATRICK: Like with Bryan Herta and stuff? Sorry. I'm getting a history lesson right now.

Q. Even if they weren't with his team, he would go and talk with them and give them advice?

DANICA PATRICK: He's been really helpful for a lot of people's career, just trying to help get rides and stuff. So you were asking me about how I've dealt with it and what kind of help he's given me.

Q. Because the times that I've seen him around you, even after a race, it just seems like he's very supportive, but very even-keeled with you.

DANICA PATRICK: No, he's been very, very supportive and so nice and there when the times are tough. When it's critical and when we're pushing very hard, definitely Indianapolis with some of that. He's good for advice and just calm words, but just not just calm words that, whatever you do, it's okay, but words of encouragement, too, like, "Come on, go out there and get after it, because that's what we came here to do." He's been very beneficial.

Q. And the other thing is: You touched on it a moment ago, about women in motorsports. Even dealing with NASCAR press conferences that I got to and what-have-you, your name is always brought up when they are talking about people like Erin Crocker and what have you coming up in the sport. As a rookie, as someone trying to learn their trade it seems as though a lot of pressure, in my opinion, is being put on you to open doors for other women. How do you feel about that?

DANICA PATRICK: I didn't actually know any of that until -- I think I was reading an article and I think Erin Crocker was being interviewed and they said that she's had a lot more interviews since Indy and that's the first I've heard about it, I don't know. I don't know if girls are getting more interviews and I don't know if they are getting more attention. I think that the first time it became apparent was when I took a little trip and I was in a remote city and looked at the newspaper at this resort and, you know, I wasn't looking for myself, promise you that, and the sports page, I open it up and right on the front is said, you know, "Looking for Canada or whatever." And I was like, holy crap, and it was about other girls in NASCAR and stuff. So I really say it time and time again, but I don't feel any pressure to do anything other than drive the race car to the best of my ability. That's it. I think that if I do that that everything else will come.

Q. Is it a bit unfair to ask a rookie to carry a load like that?

DANICA PATRICK: I don't know. I mean, it's fine with me because I don't let it -- it doesn't get to me. You know, it doesn't make me feel like I have to do something. The only thing I hope in the process of all this and of me learning and of me having great races, and, you know, mediocre races is the fact that I want -- I hope that IRL and I hope that Indy Car Racing stays in the headlines. I hope that it isn't only dependent on me. I want -- I want all the winners and all of the people who are doing great things to make headlines, because, you know, the bottom line is, is that throughout the season, you know, from here on out, I'm just not going to be -- I'm probably not going to win every single race. So, you know, I just wish that I -- I hope that everyone else gets the same recognition or at least some recognition for doing great things and for winning races along the way. I just hope people don't stray away because all of a sudden my story gets, you know, is just on the same, stagnant, not going anywhere. I hope that just because I have some okay race, you know, that people don't get -- people don't stray away.

Q. Couple of questions in regards to the Formula 1. Did you have a chance to take a walk around the paddock and meet any of the drivers?

DANICA PATRICK: Well, I was pretty busy, you know, from the time I got there mid-morning until when I left for my flight, I was pretty much just doing media stuff and pictures and I was doing some ride and drives around the track and I was busy. I did the photo op with the BAR drivers, Kasato (ph) and Justin Buton (ph). I do know a few of the drivers just from when I used to live in England and from the European kind of days of my career, but I didn't, you know, cruise around and say hi to everyone though.

Q. Is Formula 1 a dream?

DANICA PATRICK: It's definitely what I thought my goal when I was living in England just with the overwhelming amount of interest and participation in Formula 1 in England, that was the way, that what was what you did when you were there. When I came back to the States, I couldn't be any happier. I was just so thrilled to be around my friends and family again and have their support, and even if they are just there, it seems to feel good and help me. I love the team that I drive for, I like -- I like Americans, I definitely am pleased with where I'm at. But, you know, once upon a team, it was what I thought I was going to do.

Q. With the situation obviously what happened on the weekend in the Indy Speedway, would that change your mind in regards to going to Formula 1 now that you really are the darling, I suppose, of Indy?

DANICA PATRICK: You mean with the loss or the lack of poor anticipation?

Q. Yeah, the lack of a participation that caused a bit of a fiasco and a bit of controversy?

DANICA PATRICK: I think it's tough, it's tough for fans to grasp why somebody can't just make some alterations and let the race happen. I don't know the details of everything, but you know, it's just a shame because Formula 1 is something that I think was beginning to get a little bit popular. People were aware of Formula 1 and they knew of the race in Indy, and, I think, you know, it's just a shame. I don't know what that's going to do to the participation and the people coming to the stands and the races at the Grand Prix. I can only imagine it will probably be hurtful.

Q. Your racing performance at Indy, do you think it would gain you so much worldwide attention?

DANICA PATRICK: Probably not, no. But I guess, you know, when I come back and think about the months and think about the things that we were doing and what kind of speeds we were doing and being the fastest on two different occasions and being so close for being on pole, you know, to winning the race, that's pretty damned good for any rookie. So considering that, you know, it's a pretty good story, along with everything else that I am.

Q. Going back to what you were talking about, I know that you said that you don't feel any pressure to do anything but drive the car and drive well, but what about the whole perception of just you being a role model for a lot of young girls, and they see or have heard that you posed for FHM in the skimpy black leather outfit and even Lindsay Lohan, people see her and she's really sexy, so how do you deal with some of the what may be fall out from that?

DANICA PATRICK: You know, I have to say that when I did FHM, it was a very positive experience and overwhelming amount of, you know, acceptance by people. There was only a few people here and there that had negative things to say, and the negative things were, "She needs to do well before she goes out and promotes herself like that in such a large magazine and everything." I think that all that did was go, hey, you know, I sure hope that when I go do the big stuff that I do well. I think it's gone pretty well for us so far, and I don't regret it at all. It was presented to us as being one of the futures in their 20-page section of their magazine, and I had no idea what the dress attire was going to be ramping up to this. I know I sure worked out a lot before the event, but you know, I didn't know any was going to be in my race suit or not. I had no idea how many pages it was going to be. It turned out to be great. It drew some attention from sponsors and I think it's definitely served its purpose very well from a media and recognition standpoint. I'm not embarrassed by the photos. I think that, you know, it makes me out to be sort of a, you know, a tough sort of leather chick, but I'm not really exactly like that. It's just sort of how the story was written and how I was portrayed in it. But I wasn't ever wearing anything less than a bathing suit, so you know, we see that on beach.

Q. Following up, there's been articles written about women in the sport and especially attractive women, do you ever feel that, yes, you've done a lot definitely in your sport and just where you are, but looks, how do looks play into it? Do you feel like you get more attention because you're attractive?

DANICA PATRICK: I'm sure it helps. I'm sure it helps. If somebody was going to write an article, they might want a picture more frequently than if I didn't take good photos or didn't have reasonable photos. I have no idea where it increases, but I'm sure overall, I mean, you know, I'm sure it does help. You know, I can't -- I promise that when I go to the racetrack, I don't wear makeup, I just comb my hair in the morning, I let it dry, you know, I am sweaty, I have worked hard and that's just what I look like where I can't really control that. But in professional photos, it is brought out as much as possible, and I think that that's just one of the tools that I'm able, and I have the -- I'm fortunate enough to have the ability to use. So, I will use that in the most wise way possible.

THE MODERATOR: That's all the time we have this afternoon with Danica. Thank you all for participating. Danica, thank you again for taking some time to join us and best of luck this weekend.



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