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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

Marco Andretti
Mario Andretti
Michael Andretti
Dario Franchitti
December 20, 2005


TIM HARMS: Good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you joining us for the Indy Racing League teleconference. We're joined by three guests today who are members of Andretti Green Racing, co-owner Michael Andretti and drivers Dario Franchitti and Marco Andretti.

Earlier today, the team announced that Marco will drive the fourth AGR car this season, the seat vacated by 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon. The team also announced that Michael Andretti will be coming out of his retirement to compete side by side with Marco in May at the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. They also announced that Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta will be back as teammates to Tony Kanaan. And finally they also announced that the team will field two cars in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2006.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us today. Congratulations on all those exciting announcements.

Michael, let me start with a couple questions for you. First, obviously tell us the decision, how it came about, to put Marco in the IndyCar Series. Secondly, your own decision to come back and compete in the 500 for the 15th time.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's a little bit of a story. It goes back to Marco, what he was accomplishing for the first part of this year. He I think was impressing us race in and race out. So we started to think, you know, as a team that maybe we should try to get him a test in one of the bigger cars, one of the IndyCars and see how he does.

We were able to get him in the car in Michigan the day after the race. He went out and did a fantastic job for the team. He was right on pace right away, had great feedback. The team was impressed with him. At that point we thought, all right, let's explore the possibility of seeing if we can maybe do a fifth car. At that point we felt like we were going to keep everything intact the way it was.

We took about two months to do a little research to see if we felt like the team could handle it with the infrastructure we had, everything like that, to run five cars for a full season. The report came back, and we felt like, no, we really can't handle it, that it was going to be too much of a strain on the whole team as a whole and it might not be good for the team. At that point we thought, we got to figure out a different direction for Marco to try to get him more experience and hopefully move him into the bigger cars in '07.

All this time we were negotiating with Dan. We thought all along that he was going to be with us. Then we got word in Fontana that he decided he wants to go and try something different. At that point, it obviously opened it back up to we need another driver. We made ourselves a short list of drivers. Marco was obviously on it.

Also at that point is when I started thinking maybe I would want to come back because it would sure be cool, if Marco does get the nod, if he is the guy for the seat, if I didn't take this opportunity to do it, to race alongside of him, I probably would never get it because I wouldn't be able to be competitive I think if I stayed out of the car another year. At that point is when I decided I would like to try to make it happen, if we could make it happen to have Marco in the fourth seat.

That's basically the way it came about. We were fortunate enough to get it to come out the way it did. Jim Beam and Vonage came on board and really helped make it happen for us. The rest is history with what we've announced. I for one am very, very excited. The initial motivation for me to come back was to race with Marco. But now that I'm in it, my focus has changed. I'm very focused on trying to win the race.

We are not taking this lightly. We are putting together a winning effort we feel. To run my car, Barry Green is going to run my car, and engineering is going to be done by Tony Cicale. I think right there it shows the seriousness of this effort. Just as a driver now I'm very focused on wanting to do it. I'm very excited about doing it with Marco, as well. I think he's going to do a very good job for the team.

Part of the philosophy of this team has been that we always wanted to have a younger guy that we can have in the team and try to bring him up and get him experience through the help of three great guys that are in this team and that have a tremendous amount of experience. Dario and Bryan and Tony are just perfect for this. I'm so excited for Marco to have this opportunity to work with them. It's almost like he has his three big brothers there.

For me, I'm excited. I know Marco is excited. I think it's just going to be great for our team as a whole. I think we are putting together a very strong team.

I think Dario is going to be very difficult to beat for the championship, in my opinion, this year, as well as Tony. Bryan has a lot of fire in his belly. He's going to be able to not just be test driver this year, he's going to be able to really focus on trying to win races. We're really excited as a team.

TIM HARMS: You announced the addition of the Pro Series team. With the change to all teams going to Honda, kind of an equalization of the entire field, how important are those extra test days you'll be able to earn?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think they're priceless. That's why we're doing it. That's the main motivation to do what we're doing. Also by doing that, I think we're supporting the series as a whole. I think it's very important that teams like ours support the farm system. That's where you get all your young talent. It's not just your driving talent, but your mechanics and everything.

I think it's important that we have that. But teams like ours needed an incentive to do it. That's a great incentive. I hope now that we're doing it, other teams are going to be like, shoot, we have to do this, too, otherwise we're going to fall behind those guys. I think it's a great thing that the IRL is doing. I think so far, if nobody does it, it's going to be really good for us. I assume other teams are going to have to look at doing it, which I think is going to be good for the IRL as a whole.

TIM HARMS: Marco, congratulations on the announcement today. This is obviously a very big step for you in your career as you move into the IndyCar Series. Your dad mentioned you did well at the test in Michigan. You've only raced on two ovals before in the Pro Series last year. Tell us about the adjustments you expect as you move into not only the bigger, more powerful cars, but also into a series that has 11 ovals.

MARCO ANDRETTI: I think, to be honest with you, I still have a better shot than any other rookie. That's only for one reason, because of my three teammates, how much I can learn from them. Yeah, I don't have the oval experience, but to me that's something you can learn. What better way to learn, you know? You can learn it so fast with three great teammates. They're the best in the business. I think that's what it comes down to, just how quickly you can learn how to do this. Every rookie has to make a jump. To me I think I can't be any better off.

TIM HARMS: Dario, a little bit of a change just in the fact that your 27 car will feature different sponsors, the Klein Tools and Jim Beam next year. Part of the reason I think AGR has kind of dominated the IndyCar Series the last couple years was due to the team chemistry that you had for the four drivers. Can you tell us a little about what might change with Dan moving on and Marco coming in.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Obviously, I'm excited to be back at Andretti Green Racing. Klein Tools and Jim Beam have both been sponsors of my car for a number of years. To change the colors off the car, that's pretty exciting. I get the impression I'll be heading up the pit lane into the wrong car a couple of times. Have to make sure I get in the right car.

As far as the chemistry, I think it's one of those things that the team is stronger I think than any one person. We did I think have a great relationship with the four drivers last year. Marco was also a part of that, though. He's been around. He's been coming to races, watching what's going on, drives the IPS car. He's really been around as well. I think we'll have a very good relationship. I don't see much change. I think we're all coming into it with the correct attitude, which is important. I think we'll have fun and hopefully we'll be successful, as well.

TIM HARMS: Let's go ahead and open up the call to questions for our three guests.

Q. Michael, could you talk about the decision for Dan to leave, was that a blow to you guys? Who else were you considering? Why ultimately did you opt to go with Marco?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: The negotiating with Dan was going on for like three months. All the way up until the day he told us he wasn't going to be there, he was telling us he was going to be there. He was very adamant that that's where he wanted to be.

We were starting to get the feeling, "If you want to be here, why aren't you signing the contract?" Finally we said, "If you want to be here, sign it, we go on. If not, we need to look at something different." Dan said, "Well, I'm not ready to sign it." That was a little bit of a shock to us. We were quite surprised. But we respected what he wanted to do, his plans. So we decided, okay, we need to look at our plans.

I'm not going to mention the other drivers. There was about five of them on the list.

Q. Does that include Marco?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yes, it included Marco. We talked to many. We didn't just basically say we're putting Marco in the car. We sat back and thought about what is best for our team. One of the things is we wanted another rookie. We really weren't talking to any other rookies. There were no others that we really felt like fit the mould. We knew what we had with Marco. It's a known quantity. That was a big thing.

Yeah, he's my son. Yeah, he's getting the opportunity because he's my son. But he's here in that seat because we feel that he can do a good job for AGR. That's why he's there.

Q. Marco, when the news came down that Dan was not going to be back with AGR, what was going through your mind? I assume you maybe saw the opportunity opening up for you and maybe selfishly you were hoping you would get that I assume. Am I correct?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, it was the best news I ever heard. That's for sure. Like I said, it was a shock to me at first that he was not coming back. But right away I thought, oh, man, I hope this is good for me. Right after that dad said, okay, we can start working on this. For a while, it looked like I was going to IPS. To be honest, I didn't know if I wanted to do that. I never really wanted to repeat a step in my career, even though it wouldn't be repeating because of my lack of oval experience. Here I am. I mean, like I said, it was the best thing he could have told me.

Q. Michael, when Dan won the race last year, you went in there as an owner, did you realize that this is great and everything, but it's not quite what it was cracked up to be? How much did that play into it?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: You know, to be honest with you, when Dan won that race, he was very happy, very content. I was psyched to be there. I really didn't think about it in that way, I really didn't. I really felt like there's not really a chance that I would really want to get back into a race car. I really didn't. When it looked like the way Marco's deal was moving, that it was moving so fast, there's actually a possibility he could be out there next year, I felt like, you know what, I can still be competitive and still do this right.

Like I said before, I got the initial drive to say, all right, I'm going to be able to drive with Marco. It's something I know if I don't could it, I'll regret it the rest of my life. But once I made that decision, I mean, there was no turning -- I mean, then all of a sudden I became very focused. It's like, I want to win this race now. That's become my main attention.

The other thing I wanted to mention is, you talked about the hazing. I said in the press conference that just because Marco is my son doesn't mean that they have to be careful with him. He gets treated like everybody else. Marco is going to have a tough year. I think the racing is going to be the easiest part for him. I think the hazing part is going to be the most difficult for the year.

Q. Marco, last year you were around enough to see Danica mania. Are you ready for that kind of thing? Are you ready for Marco mania? You're going to be the center of attention. Can you talk about handling that, how your dad and grandfather prepare you to handle that kind of attention.

MARCO ANDRETTI: For me, you know, it's part of it. At my age, it's not about avoiding it, it's about getting all the exposure I can. I think that's what I need to do. Like I said, it's part of the game. It's not about handling it, because I'm used to it. I look at it as a good way, to be honest. I think, you know, I'm just going to go to each race and do what I love to do, go through the motions with that.

Like I said, I need that right now. I need the exposure. It's not about avoiding it. To me, I've been doing it my whole life, so nothing's changed.

Q. Marco, have you ever competed against your dad like in video games or go-karts? What was the outcome like?

MARCO ANDRETTI: To be honest with you, we never competed in much. I got him out to play tennis the other day, but that's about it. We never drove on the same racetrack or anything. This is a dream come true for me. I've always hoped that this would happen. For a while, I didn't think it was gonna. You know, things change, it fell in place.

Q. Never even did any video games or anything like that?

MARCO ANDRETTI: No, not really.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Tell him who won in tennis.

MARCO ANDRETTI: I won the first one.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: What about the second one (laughter)?

Q. When you were out here before, you talked about how the AGR team has been like family to you, big brothers. How have they welcomed you so far to the team?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I mean, like big brothers pretty much. I know I have a lot ahead of me, as dad was saying before. I think if I get through this year, I'll get through anything, like Dario was telling me earlier.

I'm prepared for what's ahead of me. I think they're going to be there to help me with anything they can on the track. I don't know about off (laughter).

Q. Dario, what are your expectations for this season since you're being pointed out as the favorite by everybody? How do you expect Marco to perform in his rookie year?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think the expectations are no different than any other year. I think we have the equipment here to do the job. We had the equipment to do the job in 2005, as well. We had some pretty terrible luck. We made a couple mistakes, whether I made them, and also the team made them.

My job is to go out there and keep the pace that we had in the 2005 season, not make any mistakes. The team have upped their game, as well. If we do that, we're looking in good shape.

As far as how Marco is going to perform, I think he'll be just fine. I think what he said earlier, we can help. As far as driving, it's going to be no problem. He's going to be able to get in the car and drive quickly straightaway. Some other things, maybe some car setup, when things get difficult, we'll be there to help. It's a good position for Marco to be in.

Having three teammates - four, including his dad at Indy - I'm sure he's going to make the most of it and he's going to be up the front fighting hard. Not too hard, I hope, though.

Q. Dario, what advice, now that Marco is on the line, would you give him as far as the main thing he should look for in his debut season?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I can't think of anything sensible to say at this point. I think Marco, he's smart, he's very smart, and he's going to pay attention, watch and learn, as he did a lot last year. He'll do that. That combined with the way he drives the race car, he'll have a great time on the track.

Off the track, I would say to be prepared for anything because, as Dan found out, the practical jokes get pretty interesting that first year.

Q. Despite your teammate winning the Indy 500, I know how close the team was, winning the championship, have there been some quiet moments during the off-season where some disappointment has crept into your mind in saying, "Why couldn't that be me?"

DARIO FRANCHITTI: There was disappointment during the season. I think that anybody that watched the Pikes Peak race on television would have seen just how disappointed I was at that point. I knew this year we had the pace to challenge for the championship. It was all the more frustrating because we didn't, because we were up front having fastest laps, leading races, to have these things go wrong. I put my hand up certainly to Japan as a mistake I made and Sonoma when I spun in qualifying. As I say, there were some mistakes also made by the team. Everybody is fully aware of that.

We sat down and we've thought, okay, how are we going to improve things for next year. We hope to put those changes into place as far as just everybody upping their game. That really is it.

Q. Was it one of those conversations such as Tony Stewart had with his team in NASCAR and everybody sat down and almost had group therapy? Did you guys do that? Does that give you more hope for this year? What is it that would give you more confidence for 2006?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I had a lot of confidence in the team. I believe here at AGR we have the people and the equipment to get the job done. As I said, we just need to up our game specifically. It's probably the difference between 98% and 100%. As I said, there's definitely an element of luck involved. Our luck pretty much sucked in the 2005 season. Hopefully we'll gain a bit of that as well. I'm out there for one reason: to go out there and win races. If we win enough of those, maybe a championship will follow.

It's going to be difficult certainly with everybody running the Honda engine now. It's going to be that much closer.

Q. Marco, do you feel pressure, do you feel people are going to be looking to you to be sort of one of the guys to try and rebuild this series? You said you were going to embrace the hype. Do you feel pressure? Are you going to invite this and maybe you're going to be one of the guys that will help sort of rejuvenate the hype around the IRL and the series?

MARCO ANDRETTI: I mean, I sure hope so. Again, I'm just going out to do my thing. That's going to follow. I would be excited if that's going to help the series. I can only do my thing and the rest will follow.

Q. Michael, can you address that?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think the motivation for Marco to be out there and all that is for him to go out and do his thing and try to win races and make himself as competitive as he can be. Hopefully some of the fall-out that will come out of that is, because of who he is, hopefully he will get attention, hopefully he will get the results on the racetrack, that it will hopefully then help the series. Just like that's what we're all doing here. That's what AGR does. Everything we do we do for AGR, but a lot of stuff we do is helping the series. I think me running Indianapolis, my motivation isn't there to help Indianapolis, but if it does help it, great. Those are all just positives that come along with it.

Q. Michael, you talked about how initially you were content as an owner and you didn't really think you were going to get back into a race car. Is the passion that you have for this still there for driving or for winning the Indianapolis 500?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Good question. I really believe that it's more for winning the Indy 500. Would I be excited to do the whole year? I don't think I'd be as pumped. I'm excited to get myself ready for that one race and have one go at it because that's something I feel I've missed in my career. Now I have another shot at trying to get it again. Now in doing that, it's gotten me, I've got to say, thoroughly pumped and excited. That's what it's about. I don't think it's more the passion of the driving, because it's really not the driving that I miss. Now that I have this opportunity to do it again, I'm going to do it as best I can, and I'm getting excited. That's my passion for winning that race.

Q. Was it after the Dan Wheldon decision or after it appeared that Marco was going to maybe get this ride? When did you decide that you have a shot to do it?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It was probably, I don't know -- it was probably a couple days after the thing with Dan. It was actually race day at Fontana that I came and I addressed it with Kim and Kevin, said, "Hey, think about this." I threw it out there. Kim, as funny as he is, two nights before, he was almost begging me to do it. Then when I told him that I was thinking about doing it, he's like, "We can't do that. You don't want to do it." I think his motivation was to see if I was doing it for the right reason, if I had the passion and really wanted to do it.

I think when I laid out my case, the more I talked about it, the more I thought about it, I wasn't sleeping any more, I was like, you know what, I'm really getting psyched. This is really what I want to do. I'm ready. I want to do it. It was right around that time. It was like a couple days after where I really in my mind said, okay, let's really see if it's possible to make this happen.

Q. Can you think back to what it was like racing against your dad and how it might be to race against your son?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean, it's going to be different, for sure. Racing against my dad, he was a living legend and all that. I viewed it different than it will be with my son. Like Marco, I won't know say put me in the category of racing legend with dad, but I think it's going to be a weird moment for him to see me on the track with him, for sure. For me it's going to be weird, too, but in a different way. It's going to be maybe more a nurturing type weird, where before it wasn't that way.

Q. Michael, are you surprised by how quickly you really did get pumped up to do this? You were pretty much at peace with your decision when you walked away from this.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's surprises the heck out of me, I got to tell you. The more I talk about it, the more excited I get. I really didn't think that I had those feelings. It's funny, once you change your mind and change your focus, how all of a sudden, if you really tell yourself, you know what, I'm going to go for it, it's allowing all these other emotions to come out and really this is what I want to do.

I'm pretty excited the way I feel about it because I don't want people to think that I'm just doing it just to say, okay, I drove with my son. That's not what this is about. I mean, I think that was my initial motivation to get me to thinking about it. And then after I thought about it, then what really made this happen and really getting me in the race car is the fact that I'm really pumped about going out there and winning it, trying to win it.

Q. Dario, excluding your teammates, who do you think are the favorites for the championship next year?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think you can just look down the entry list. I think it's going to be so competitive and close that it's difficult to pull out individuals. I think you just got to look -- I think there's, you know, four or five top teams. Any one of the drivers in those teams could definitely challenge for the championship obviously. Our motivation at AGR is to make sure it's one of our drivers. I'm going to be pushing as hard as I can to stake my claim to the championship.

It's a long season. It's 14 hard races. I think right now it's pretty open.

Q. Marco, tell us about your excitement level, nervousness level for the ovals.

MARCO ANDRETTI: I mean, I don't know, I guess it's a little bit of the unknown. I don't have a lot of experience. A lot of it comes down to if your car is going to work or not. I need to learn race craft, for sure. I think if the car will allow you to do it, I think I might be able to do it.

A lot of it, again, I can't stress enough how big my teammates are going to come into play about car setup because that's one thing as a rookie I'm going to need to learn, is what I need in a race car, not just a qualifying car, not just to go out and practice, but to make it good at the end of the race. That's going to be a big part of it.

Q. Michael, when you see those big packs of cars running at places like Texas, your son is going to be out there, does that excite you or scare you?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It scares me, just like it scares me when I see my three other friends out there. It's a scary thing. It's a scary sport. Let's not hide any of it, it's dangerous out there.

Having said that, I mean, it would be pretty hypocritical to say, "You know what, Marco, you can't go drive those things because they're too dangerous. Dario, Tony, it's okay for you." No. I mean, it's part of the game. It's part of the game since day one. It will always be there.

Yeah, I'm going to be nervous, just like I always am. Maybe even a little extra because, you know, it's different when it's your blood out there. Having said that, I'm going to be nervous, but I'm going to be very excited. I think it's just an exciting moment for our family, I really do, and this team.

Q. Michael, you said Barry is going to manage the team at Indy. Tony Cicale is going to be your engineer.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Correct.

Q. Does that mean Marco will not have any access to Tony as he does all last year?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: There's total access to everybody in this team. There's no hidden things. We're all going to be in the same room, especially at Indianapolis. We all debrief in the same room. We all work together. I think that's the other value, to be honest with you, of having Tony, is that he's going to be able to -- I know he's already been talking to the everybody that's going to work with Marco about what he knows, what he has learned about Marco, as well as I got to tell that you Peter Gibbons is already talking to him about me. It's just the way it is.

We are all accessible. Tony is going to be totally accessible to Marco.

Q. Is he going to come out on weekends other than Indy?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah. We're going to do some testing. He's going to be doing that, coming to that. Knowing Tony, I'm sure he'll come to a race or two just to see what it's like before that.

Q. Who is going to be the engineer on Marco's team then?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Eddie.

Q. Sounds like a good fit.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: It's great. Eddie has experience with dealing with somebody who has just come into the sport, like he did with Dan. He did a tremendous job with Dan. I think that's going to be good that he can work with Marco in the same way that he did such a good job.

Q. What are you doing to prepare for the month of May?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I've been hitting it pretty hard. I've been really working out hard, eating right, doing all the stuff that I used to do. I'm getting there. I'm about halfway to the shape where I want to be. But I've been doing it now for a couple months. I think come race time, I'm definitely going to be there. We're going to be doing testing. Hopefully in January it's going to start. We're working mid month hopefully to get us out there and get me some seat time again because it's going to take some time to get the dust off.

Q. Can you talk at all about your Infiniti Pro Series team.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: We're very excited that we're going to be doing a joint venture with Sam Schmidt who I think is a tremendous guy. I think he runs a really nice operation. He knows these cars. We're going to put a first class effort out there.

Our driver lineup is going to be Jonathan Klein, who I think did a really pretty good job in Mazda. I think he's going to be pretty tough, to be honest, on the ovals. Then Jaime Camara who was with Sam this year and won some races. I think Jaime could be a real threat for the championship this year. I think we're putting together a real first class effort there.

Q. Michael, could you talk about your thoughts and feelings as you're rolling to a stop in the '03 500, knowing it was the last time you were going to get out there? What were you thinking?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: To be honest with you, when I got out of that car, the goal was in my career, when it was coming down to the end, to retire knowing I could win my last race, trying not to be too greedy. When I got out of that car, I got out of that car knowing I could have won that race. Really in my mind, there's no way I was going to lose that race. We had a very good race car that day. I dropped out in the lead. From that standpoint, I actually had a satisfying feeling. Obviously, a little empty, a little disappointed because we didn't win it.

At that point I thought, well, maybe it just never was meant to be. Now my mind is changing. Maybe it still is meant to be. Maybe it's meant to be in a scenario like this.

Q. A lot of drivers obsess over the 500. Winning it as an owner, did that ease your obsession at all?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: You know, I never was obsessed with the 500, but I started to become near the end. It was like, gee, what is it with this place? I think winning it last year definitely helped. I think it felt like finally the monkey's off the back. Finally, I'm going to be going there the month of May saying, "What about the curse," blah blah blah. That was a good feeling. It's going to be nice going there and now everybody will say, "You were cursed as a driver."

Anyway, it was still just a great feeling winning it.

Q. You mentioned you had Vonage on board. Is that in addition to XM or replacing XM?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: No, XM is a hundred percent sponsor on Bryan Herta's car.

Q. Vonage is going to go where?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: On my car. The Jim Beam Vonage car.

Q. How about discussions with your father? In the press we were hearing Mario was pressing doing more roadwork.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I don't know where all that comes from. Dad was here at the press conference today, very active in it. He's very supportive of what is going on. I think there's a lot of rumor stuff flying around. He never said that he didn't think it was a good idea. Would he have liked to have seen Marco go a different route? Maybe a little bit because his heart's a little bit different. Having said that, he totally backs and understands the decision here. This is a great opportunity for any driver, let alone a young driver like Marco.

Q. We were concerned.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: People like to turn it around. It's funny how you hear some of these rumors. It's like, where does this stuff come from?

Q. On the Infiniti Pro Series, you said it's a joint venture with Sam. Is this going to be additional cars that Sam is going to work with you or you're going to take two of his cars?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I'm not sure. I think he may be adding another car, too. I'm not a hundred percent sure. I think he's working on some things. I can't really comment. You would have to ask Sam on that.

Q. Michael, with the Indy 500, you're going to have a lot of non-IRL fans turning in just because it's another father-son duel. How much of that is weighing on your shoulders to bring a positive light and spin on to IRL in general for these non-fans?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it's great. I hope so. I mean, you look at what Danica did for it. Believe me, Danica's motivation was not to do that. Her motivation is still to go out there and win races and do the best she can. In doing that, with what her position was and everything, she brought a lot of extra things to it which I think were just a bonus for everybody involved. If that happens in any way with me and Marco doing this thing, great, fantastic. That's music to our ears. I hope it happens.

TIM HARMS: Thanks a lot, everyone, for participating today. We appreciate it. Michael, Marco, Dario, thanks for taking the time to join us. We wish you the best of luck in 2006.

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