Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
MIKE KING: We'll go ahead and start with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and their driver Roger Yasukawa. We have Robbie Buhl and Dennis Reinbold, the owners of Dreyer & Reinbold racing, and their new driver Roger Yasukawa. Roger will be driving the No. 24 Honda-powered, is it Panoz or Dallara? It is a Dallara. Roger, first and foremost, this is literally for him the first laps turned on a road course of any type. The team made an awful lot of headway between day one and day two. Still not as fast as some of the other teams that did some advanced testing, but how do you feel about the first couple days?
ROGER YASUKAWA: I feel pretty good. I think, you know, looking at the time charts, we are certainly probably a day or two behind most of other guys. But we certainly made some progress. Unfortunately, the last part of yesterday we missed out with a couple of mechanical stuff. But otherwise I think the important thing is we know we're making progress and we know what we want. It was the first time for the team, but also I haven't been road course for the last three years. I certainly had some to pick up, as well. But anyhow, hopefully we'll do more testing before St. Petersburg and hopefully we'll be right where we need to be.
ROBBIE BUHL: Keep in mind, for this time, that was our first time on a road course. Where we ended up yesterday, you want to talk about it being on the clock, we're a lot further ahead than when Team Green came down here and tested for the first time. That's where we were in terms of our learning curve. We're really happy with what we accomplished that first day. We'd just like some more time.
MIKE KING: Quickly, to let everyone know, Roger, you had two starts last year. You ran Twin Ring Motegi and Indianapolis. I believe you were 11th at Motegi and eighth at the 500. Right? 10th? Given the fact you were not in the car a lot, you still had two pretty solid finishes. But now joining a new team, give me some idea for where you're placing goals for 2005?
ROGER YASUKAWA: Well, I mean, I think, first of all, first half of the season we just need to concentrate on trying to finish every race in the Top 10. I have to be in Top 10 all the time. I think if I do so, I could position myself at the end of the race perhaps to finish in the top five, if not to win the race. I think I've done that when I ran for Fernandez last part of the season. I was finishing in the Top 10 almost every race. I look at it as that's what I'm capable of doing as we speak right now and that's what I need to do. As we go on and as we get to know each other, then I think we start to push more, hopefully challenge for top five every single race. But I think the important thing this year, for all of us, is to learn and then grow together. But we're not looking at is at we're just going to go around and try to finish a race. We definitely need to be competitive. We're looking good in terms of that.
MIKE KING: Dennis, if we could get comments. We don't need to rehash 2004 too much. Obviously, it was not what you had hoped for. You changed engines. You were a Chevy team. Now you're a Honda-powered team. I think there's a noticeable spring in the step of your guys down there. There's a bit more renewed confidence. Dennis, could you talk a little bit about the team's psyche heading into the 2005 season?
DENNIS REINBOLD: Well, I think everybody on our team is more excited right now than I've ever seen them. You're right, there's a spring in the step of everybody at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing because of a lot of things. We've had a lot of changes. We have a new driver, a new motor. We've never been on a road course before. A lot of challenges ahead of us. A couple weeks ago when we announced that Roger would be joining us as our driver, we were on separate continents. It's kind of good to get everybody together here in a press event. But we're excited about where we're going with our team. We've got a lot of things. We have a lot of very high goals. We've set out some objectives of what we want to accomplish to be a top-tier team. We know we have a lot of work to get there, frankly. We're working at it on a daily basis, Robbie and myself are. We were very excited to get Roger. We talked with the Honda people a lot last year and wanted to become a Honda team. We're very excited about that opportunity and looking forward to it. We're very impressed with just the help in the last few weeks of getting the engines in the cars and things like that, the professionalism and everything of the Honda people. It's been a very nice thing for us, and very helpful for our team. So we're excited to be a Honda team now. Having Roger with his past associations with Honda and good working relationship there, I think the puzzle is fitting together really, really nicely. It's up to Robbie and I to continue to grow our team. We've added several people in the off-season. We're very excited about that. Frankly, last year we were a little understaffed in the engineering department and we've addressed that need and that issue. We have some other goals that we want to attain financially in terms of our sponsorship and support we get there. As we grow, we have a plan for the growth. So far we're very happy with the progression of that plan. We're not done. I don't know if you ever get finished with a plan in this business. You measure it little steps at a time. This year with some of the changes we've made, a lot of those progressions are measured -- very measurable and easy to see. That really gives us a spring in the step like you mentioned before.
MIKE KING: Robbie, you have the ability, unique perspective, being able to look at this from both sides of the fence as team owner and driver, having just stepped out of the car less than a year ago. How well did this team work in just those first two days of the road course test? Clearly you made up a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. You sound like you're happy with what the guys were able to do.
ROBBIE BUHL: I am. Just to follow up what Dennis was saying, when we finished last year, we felt we were -- we needed some more help from the engineering part. We have Len Pascas (ph) we just hired who actually was with our team when we started back in 2000, and Leon Goodfriend, who actually was part of the Menards effort when I was back there in '97/'98. Those guys have been two key components that we've just added to what we already had from last year. You can never have too many guys working together to improve your product, as competitive as things are. The relationship of all of us has been great. I actually have worked with Roger, I was actually one of his instructors and driving coaches back in the Barber Dodge days. I guess that dates me a little bit. That's why I'm not driving any more, right (laughter)? I'm really going to transition a little bit more towards being a driving coach and extra set of eyes for Roger, as well coming back to our engineering guys back in pit lane. For me, I enjoy doing that. Roger's feedback is excellent in terms of telling us what's happening with the race car. I'm just another person that can hear that and maybe use some different words to describe it our guys to translate it to get the car to work better for him. All those energies and synergies of all those personalities for the first two days has been great. But myself spending a lot of time with Roger, going out and watching on the corners, talking to him about what he's trying to get from the race car, how we improve that, has been fun.
MIKE KING: Roger, give us an idea for what type of goal you're setting for yourself. Clearly Dennis and Robbie can speak to the team goals, but for yourself personally, after being here full-time in 2003, narrowly missing out on Rookie-of-the-Year award, then only running two races last year, I'm sure you're coming back pretty hungry. What do you expect of yourself in 2005?
ROGER YASUKAWA: As every racing driver, everybody needs to push at their limit. Obviously, like what you said right now, I was out of the car for a long time. Obviously I'm hungry to do well. I certainly think that I need to prove what I'm capable of doing. I think, most importantly, what I was lacking last two years was on the aggressiveness side. You certainly can't be too aggressive on oval racing. But, you know, I think last two years I took it as, "Okay, this is my experience year." But I think this year, apart from growing with the team, I certainly think when it comes down to racing on the last 15 or 20 laps, when it most counts, I certainly need to be more aggressive All in all, like I said earlier, I think finishing every race in the Top 10 is the most important thing. If you can do that or if you can position yourself, you certainly have a good chance of winning the race. That's my goal, to be up there all the time, don't leave anything on the table.
MIKE KING: Robbie, Dennis, let's get the response from you on the same question. Where do you place team goals? Where is the bar set for 2005?
ROBBIE BUHL: Like Roger said, I mean, you know, we want to be finishing in the Top 10, and you want to gain that confidence and that momentum of always finishing up in the Top 10. If you're doing that day in and day out, session after session, the opportunities to finish in the top five and be on the podium and win races is going to come. You got to be there day in and day out. You're not going to come into this series, as competitive as it is, and just say we're going to go out and win a race tomorrow. You need to gain that confidence and momentum. And that just comes with good, consistent finishes. I'm right in line with what Roger said.
MIKE KING: Dennis?
DENNIS REINBOLD: Same thing. We talk about things like that a lot. We don't dwell on them because what we really try to do is kind of keep our head down and work hard so that we can get to the point where we can win races. That's the ultimate goal. We have 17 races, and winning a few of those would be tremendous. In the meantime, to get there, before we win those or if we don't win those, then we have to work on the Top 10, then we have to work on the top five. Consistency. We've achieved a great deal of consistency over the last year or two with our team. We have good stability within our team. We're trying to put the pieces together that we can win races. So if you work backwards, if you start from some point in the past and work toward the ultimate goal of winning races, that's where we're focused. We're on that journey or on that mission. So we're working hard on that.
MIKE KING: Let's go ahead and break it down to one-on-ones. Congratulations on the association. Looking forward to seeing you guys on the oval tomorrow.
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