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IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

Michael Andretti
Helio Castroneves
Danica Patrick
Dan Wheldon
September 11, 2005


JOLIET, ILLINOIS

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Danica Patrick. A sixth-place finish today for Danica, her seventh top 10 of the season. Danica, tell us about your day.

DANICA PATRICK: I finally led the first lap from pole, so I was happy about that. But, you know, when I did get passed, it was just a matter of a train of cars, having momentum going by. I mean, that stuff happens all the time. I was kind of alone on the bottom. I dropped back. The car had some oversteer in it, so it was just correcting that. Once I corrected that, I got comfortable and kind of stuck there again. You know, kind of inched my way through the field the rest of the race. Dropped back, came forward again. Team did great pit stops, for sure. I hand it to Firestone and the construction of the tire because I ran two full stints on those tires at the end. For the last restart, which I did not know, I thought I heard "green." My earpieces weren't completely clear all day. What I thought was green wasn't. I don't blame myself. I'm not mad at myself for it. I mean, if somebody else is sitting in fourth trying to go for a win, you thought you heard "green," you'd probably go, too. I was just being proactive, and that's what happened. I apologize for anything, any kind of repercussions that happened from that. I let Scheckter go and did what I was told. Like I said, the tires were very, very old. I was just trying to hang on at the end. I really couldn't run on the bottom because I had so much oversteer, I was afraid I was going to spin it into the wall if I ran down low. I just kind of crossed my fingers and hoped it would hang on.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. Tony's comments, where he called you an idiot, are these guys ready for you to beat them?

DANICA PATRICK: I mean, I don't know. I'll honestly say there's a lot of times -- there were plenty of people today that I thought were driving like idiots. It's because, you know, they're driving in air that isn't good or they're trying to make a hole for themselves and go by. I mean, every race there's somebody that you think is driving like an idiot because you can't get by 'em or they're moving all over the place, trying to pass somebody. He can have his opinion. Especially right after the race, emotions are running high. That's your opinion. You know, I'm not mad at him. I think he's a great guy. I think he's a great racer. I'm not mad. I hope I can see him so I can figure out what I supposedly had done. But I was just trying to run a lot of times towards the end especially in a place where my car was comfortable. Like I said, I had so much oversteer, I couldn't run low. I was just trying to find a groove that worked for me. I definitely know there were a couple of times on the restarts where I was just kind of hung out to dry a few times in a row, just dropped back, tried to find a place on the track to run. It's just like I said, a bunch of cars all over the place. When turbulence is going on, maybe you get understeer, you lift really big, or maybe somebody chucks up on the bottom, you got to go up high. All kind of stuff happened out there. It's chaotic. That was a lot of racing out there. That was a lot. I hope it was a good show. I definitely know that I was running in traffic the whole time. I hope it was good for everybody.

Q. You said you had to go up high. Do you think at any time that may have pinched anybody down further onto the track? Also there was a time midway through the race where Herta put you off onto the apron on the frontstretch.

DANICA PATRICK: Sure, exactly, stuff like that happens. He might not have even known I was there. I'm not sure. I know when I'm hearing in my ear like, "Outside, outside, inside, outside." If your earpiece doesn't come through clear for a second, all of a sudden you don't know if you have an inside and an outside. There are so many situations out there that come up that you don't know. Again, I don't think that he would risk flipping the car down the front straight by turning into me and me staying there. I really don't think he's that kind of driver. I don't think anybody is. Nobody wants to crash. I mean, I think there were some guys that definitely knew how to cut your wind and knew how to move you around a little bit. It happened a few times. I'm not going to name names because, you know, I might do it to somebody down the road, too. You're fighting tooth and nail for every position. We were just today extra racy out there. I think as the season winds on, people get more comfortable with each other, they know your characteristics and your personality out there. You push the limit.

Q. What did you think when you drove through that debris field of Briscoe and saw the pieces of cars sitting there?

DANICA PATRICK: Wow, I kind of looked at it, knew they could probably see it on the radio. I was going to come on the radio and say, "This is a mess." I'm sure I drove over stuff. But it's a good thing it came at a spot that we all, you know, probably all were going to pit a few laps later or 20 laps later anyway. You know, that was a big accident. As I knew we were going to go red, I had concern for Ryan Briscoe and the drivers in the incident. I had seen his car. All I was doing was hoping and praying he was okay. No matter what's happened in the last couple races with him and I, gosh, I wish nothing bad on him. I was just glad to hear he was fine. And the safety crew did a great job, as always. The cars are becoming safer and safer. That was a horrible accident. There was an engine here, a wheel there, a cockpit there. I'm going to give credit to the team and to the series and everything that goes into making this safe because we are racing fast.

Q. Was there ever a point down the stretch last 25 or so laps where you thought you were in position to win? Can you describe a bit as to the decision not to change the tire. How much did it affect your car down the stretch?

DANICA PATRICK: You know, I definitely thought that there was a chance to win, mostly when it went yellow and we bunched up. I mean, nobody wants to have a whole bunch of cars behind them because I was free and clear, I had nobody behind me. I'm sitting fourth. If everything would have gone right, the car would have stayed settled and everything, there was potential to move up from there. I definitely thought that there was a chance. But I looked at that yellow flag as like, This is great, this is positive, because all of a sudden I'm like 20 feet away from the lead as opposed to 200 or 400 feet or whatever it would be. You know, I was looking optimistic. Nevertheless, even no matter what happened at the end and everything, I think it was a great race. I think that all the drivers did a great job. As far as the tires go, yeah, it played a part. I was kind of moving all over the place at the end. Definitely had some oversteer. I was maxed out on all my utensils in the car to try to make it go the right direction. Yeah, but, I mean, let's face it, that was two stints on a set of tires. That's phenomenal. That's a great job. Firestones held up. Tire didn't blow. There's still rubber left. It's good.

THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you very much for joining us. We are joined by our second-place finisher Helio Castroneves. Helio, tell us about your day.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: What a day. Well, we started back there, we were able to make some moves. I could not run low. Unfortunately, the car was kind of twitchy. Several of the other guys were in the same scenario, so that was kind of hard. You're trying to make some moves, and unfortunately you have three-wides. Probably half part of the race, we were already racing like towards to the end. But on the pit stops, great strategy to come in that time. Suddenly it was fantastic for us to jump in second. On the last yellow, obviously as soon as we started, Danica, she move inside a little bit early, but she did a great job to lifting back again, to not have any trouble with the officials. Other than that, I was just trying to follow Dan, make sure I was right behind him. My car keeps like moving up. The rear, it keeps moving. I'm like, Man, this is going to be tough to hold on. Towards to the end, when I saw Sam coming, he tried to make a move. I tried to take advantage of the momentum. Put me side by side with Dan, but just not enough. I tell you, if we would be like NASCAR, have bumpers, I'm sure I would have won the race right now. But, unfortunately, this is not NASCAR. Again, it was a great finish I do. It was a mixed feeling. You know, when finish the race, I'm like kind of upset I finish second. Then I'm like, I'm kind of happy to be second. I mean, you know, it was very weird feelings. In the end of the day, especially after Sonoma, we were having trouble finishing, completed only 20 laps, second today was fantastic. Again, I mean, thank God I believe nothing happened to Ryan Briscoe. Again, I guess there is more things happening in the world than just this race. Thank God everybody is being really supportive.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up to questions.

Q. With the way the last couple of laps went, if this race had lasted a lap or two longer, do you think you could have got him? How did you feel it was going as you approached the finish?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, in fact, I kind of -- I believe they said it was the last lap, but I was just kind of really trying to get the draft, the side draft. Have to say, the IROC taught me something with the side drafts. I'm like really trying to get so close, but at the same time Sam trying to pass. We were trying to push. I didn't know which way he was going. Again, I really thought the finish line was a little bit ahead of me. I said, It's there, it's there. They said, The race it over. Really? It would have been exciting, one more lap. Again, it was exciting enough to everyone.

Q. It's September 11th. The significance of racing on this date after what happened four years ago. You were there when Zanardi had his accident. Do you ever think about this date when you got up this morning?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I didn't thinking about it this morning. No doubt about when you saw Ryan's accident, you saw engine and car in half, things like that, it did remind actually. In that time, I was just wishing my prayers hopefully nothing happened. Plus was right at the beginning of the race. I tried to keep looking away, to see if I would run over something. Like I said, it's a tough day. It was a great, entertaining day, for sure, for people that lost a lot of things, especially in the hurricane. It's a lot of thing happen, like I said, in the world. A lot of people have been supportive, which is very nice. We definitely provided entertainment for those people.

Q. Your buddy Tony Kanaan was frustrated with Danica. Did you see anything out there today that led you to think she was doing anything she shouldn't?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: No. I have been honest, I raced quite a lot with her. She's learning very quick, these type of ovals. Especially being a rookie, she's been very using a lot of knowledge. I don't know what happened. Obviously, something happened. It happened to me many times today. I had to back off. I was yelling at people, people upset. But when you race close like that, it's hard. It's very hard. Especially 20 laps or 10 laps to go, it's part of the game. I haven't seen anything.

Q. A day like this would probably be considered a cool spring day in Brazil. Do you feel you're best adapted for these hot and humid conditions?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I tell you, Miami is still pretty darn hot. It's pretty comfortable right now. Yes, it does help. Not only us, but tires, cars, I guess mechanics when they're standing out there with the helmet and things. From now on I believe it's just going to get better.

Q. The schedule is not out yet, but we're likely to end here next year and decide the championship. Are you prepared to decide a championship by point 0133 of a second?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I kind of missed your question.

Q. Next year, 2006, we're probably going to finish the season here.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Is that right? I'm sorry, I didn't know. My guys, they don't provide the calendar until everything is official, but go ahead.

THE MODERATOR: It's not official.

Q. We'll end the season at a big drafting oval like this. Is that fair?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, it's pretty much like Texas last year or two years ago, it's been decided. I lost the championship like basically the last lap, yeah, by a nose. If I would have had Tony Kanaan's nose, I probably would have won that race. It's just one of those things. It create more excitement for the championship, for the fans, for everyone. Race like this, it's tough. It's dangerous, yes. But if people respect each other, it can provide a great race.

Q. I came in and watched some of the in-car camera work. When you're running side by side, nose to tail, does the car buffet that much? How quickly can you look to the side and see the guy moving your way and react?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: You see, that's what happened. A lot of people sometimes say, Why he's shoving? Why he's moving? When you are right behind a car, you have four cars, for example, the guy is inside, when he's turning to the corner, some drivers just keep moving in like full throttle, the cars start moving up. What happens, this guy, sometimes he look, even the spotter is saying inside. He moves down, moves back again. You need to be really close behind the guy because otherwise the clean air comes right in front of you and you lose speed, then you have to go back again. Most of the times when you approach the corner so close to another guy, the front keeps like really light. There is no problem. It's just like, okay, I turn early or back off. That's what happen. A lot of guys keep turning, the car goes straight, moves, wobbles, people start getting crazy. In the last lap, you go for it. But when you're like halfway or beginning of the race, doing things like that, it definitely creates a scenario for an accident. And does happen, accidents. As long as everybody keep giving one or two inches at the least, you're fine. The spotters play a big factor on that. Sometimes you have a blind spot. When you move in, if the spotter doesn't say inside or something, you think the guy is not there, and that crash happen.

Q. The Andretti Green team has been very strong in the championship. Is there any discussion within the team for Team Penske to try and beat them, Honda versus Toyota? When you're out there on the track, can you sense whether Sam's car is stronger than your car? Was there any discussion within the team?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. In fact, right after qualifying, we -- I put Sam's setup again, like happen in Kentucky. Basically we are sharing information. When both cars finish in the front, like finish today, does look like the championship, it's going very -- definitely going towards Dan. I'm not being pessimist, but I'm being a realistic. Watkins Glen and Fontana, Fontana especially, seems to favor the Andretti Green guys, but Watkins Glen, we might have a shot. Hopefully we finish both cars Marlboro Team Penske in the top five. Fantastic finish for us. Let's going to see what happens next year.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Helio. We are now joined by our race winner Dan Wheldon. Dan comes out of this race, heading into Watkins Glen, 102 points up in our points lead. Today's race was the eighth closest finish in league history. The margin of victory here at Chicagoland Speedway, the third closest -- three of the top 10 closest finishes in league history has happened here at Chicagoland. Dan, tell us about your day.

DAN WHELDON: Well, I think it was a supreme effort by everybody at Andretti Green Racing. These superspeedways are very, very competitive. I think certainly the IndyCar Series, I got told off for saying it, somebody said that I'm an IndyCar Series fan, I just keep saying that all the time, but it truly is very, very difficult to race in because of the competition level. I think you could see it today when the two Penskes were working together to try to get me at the line. I knew I had a very fast race car when I was leading, but I did make a mistake today and forgot to push the pit lane speed button. Sorry, boss. I cost myself with the pit lane speed violation, so I had to go to the back. At that point the car was pretty difficult in traffic. With the aggressive setup we chose, it meant I would be quick up front, but in traffic I was going to struggle. I got through into the top 10 pretty quick. But then the others are so quick also that it was difficult to move up. Once in the lead, the car was very, very good. Obviously, for you guys it might not seem a big deal, but when you have a strong engine on a superspeedway, it makes your life much, much easier. You could definitely see I had some good power today. I think all in all, it was a very, very good day. It's not often that you can dominate like we did. I'll take it, there's no doubt about it. This is a fun place to race. I guess it's fun when you win. I should say it sucks when you come second. I felt that at Kansas. It was a very, very good day. Chicago is one of my favorite cities, so tonight is going to be big.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. You set quite a number of goals for yourself this year. Indianapolis was one of them. You won there. You've been going for the championship here. Obviously a step closer. Also the single-season win record, which you broke today. You had been tied with Sam. Talk about that single-season win record, if you would.

DAN WHELDON: I must say my primary goal coming into the season was to win the Indianapolis 500. When you achieve that, you then have to set yourself another goal. My goal after that was obviously to win the championship. Then we continued to win races. That record that Sam Hornish has gotten, obviously he's a very, very talented driver, is going to be around a long time, so I wanted to try to beat that. There's a lot of people that are capable of the same thing. But to me that means a lot. To win a championship and win a lot of races in the season is pretty special. I would say this. I mean, if it came down to it and I was told that I could win the championship with no victories or come second in the championship with 10, that's the kind of guy I am. I much prefer to win a lot. It's difficult in this series, certainly in this day and age. To have won six, it's a very proud moment for me certainly. Winning Indy was very special to me. But to win six races is something I'll look back on and think, That was a strong season.

THE MODERATOR: Michael, your comments on today and the season to date.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, today was just amazing. I think hats off to the AGR guys, especially in the Klein Tool, Jim Beam pit. They did a good job by bringing Dan in there, topping him off. He basically was able to run full rich there for a bit, which was where he was able to stretch out his lead. When he came out, he had a good lead. It was nice padding he had there. I think that gave him the track position he needed. Then his car was strong enough there to hold them off at the end after that last caution. I think their strategy did a great job. Pit stops obviously were really good. Dan did an awesome job. Dan drove like a champion again, as he has all year long. It was a great day for all of us. Having Dan win six, I think we have 10 now this year, it's just an incredible year, a dream season for us. Hopefully we'll never wake up from this dream.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Dan, you said you're an IndyCar Series fan. Does that mean you're about to be resigned?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I'll definitely be in the IndyCar Series. He's got to keep paying me some more, though (laughter). There's a story that he told Dario maybe four or five years ago. That story's biting him in the ass right now.

Q. Does that mean you're about to be resigned or you're about to resign?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think we're getting pretty close. It's just stuff between lawyers now that seems to take forever. I think they like it taking forever because they can bill is more.

Q. Michael, would you put this season that you're having on par or above what Penske Racing did in '94 when Al Unser, Jr. won eight and they won 12 of the 16 races?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think we're on par with it, for sure. Maybe if we can win 12, then we can say it's good or even better. But they dominated that year. They finished 1-2-3 in the championship. That was their dream season, for sure. This is ours. It's hard to compare them exactly, but I'm quite satisfied. I don't have to outdo theirs. I'm really happy with what we have.

Q. Dan, perspective here. The first time you came back around and saw Briscoe's accident, talk about how much this day could teeter if the news were any different.

DAN WHELDON: You know, I mean, it's tough. I guess from a weekend perspective with Hurricane Katrina, this big the fourth year since 9/11, I think everybody's thoughts and prayers are with those people. Certainly that does affect you. It certainly affects me. When you see an accident like that, it's not the nicest feeling at all. I asked if he was okay. I came in a bit late to hear you, and I assume he's continuing to be okay, which goes to show you, I have to say, that the safety with which the cars are made. To tell you the truth, it looked very, very bad. I mean, he's Australian, so he's built tough, I know that much. It's tough. It's not nice to think about, to tell you the truth. But I think a lot of us will certainly stop by and see if we can see him later on this evening.

Q. Michael, what did you see in Dan when you hired him? Why did you hire him? You would like to have a season like this, but I don't think you could have envisioned it.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Actually, you know, the guy that gets the credit that actually discovered Dan was Kim Green. He watched him through Atlantics and Indy Lights. Dan did very well in the series. He was very good on the ovals. He won both the oval championships in both those series. At that point, this was an all-oval series. We were looking for a young hot shoe that we thought could take over after I got out of the car at Indianapolis. We gave Dan a test. He did an incredible job. He didn't put a wheel wrong. He did I think almost a thousand miles, was fast, good feedback. After that he hired him. We haven't looked back. One of the best decisions we made with this team.

Q. Dan, your first IndyCar test was here at Chicagoland. Is there a special affinity you have for this track? You run great as a team. At the end of the race you have the two Penskes right behind you moving up. Do you have to fight a team harder at the end of a race because the team is together?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, no, it's always difficult. To tell you the truth, whenever I'm on the track, Tony is either in front of me or behind me. It seems like I'm the same for him. It was kind of strange not having anybody to push you. I mean, everybody is sensible enough out there to know that two cars, if they run very close to one another, Tony and I actually did it to the Penskes earlier on in the weekend, they're sensible enough to know you can pass like that. I mean, no matter how quick somebody is, if you have two cars running in line, very, very close to one another, you can pick up speed doing that. That's what they did. This was my first test in an IndyCar, and it's one of those places where you can get up to speed obviously pretty quickly in the car and it gives you an idea of what it feels like to run at high speed for a long period of time. The one thing it doesn't allow for is the shorter ovals perhaps teach you more how to drive the car. This is a good initiation. I think obviously Marco did hit at Michigan. I think that's a good place. Hopefully we'll see him at some of the shorter ovals soon. He's somebody we'll have to keep behind us real soon.

Q. In what way have you seen your success lead to more attention, recognition, marketing possibilities?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I've been at more red carpet parties I think this year than perhaps normal. No, I think obviously wining the Indianapolis 500, it's the biggest race in the world. It's a race, you could be in the middle of the Sahara Desert, and if you told that person you were the Indianapolis 500 champion, they'd understand exactly who and what you were. I think that is the biggest thing. I'm certainly very respectful of that race and understand the history and heritage there, enjoy that part of it. I'm a full member of the British Racing Drivers Club in England, and that event to them is as big as Monaco, the Formula One race. I think that goes to show you with guys that are very knowledgeable about the history of motor racing, how big that race is. I think that goes the same for everybody. Plus I've been hanging out with Danica a little bit, and that always gets you noticed.

Q. Dario was concerned when he drove by, the repairs to the fence, about the fence repairs. Was there any question that the repair was sufficient to keep racing?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: To be honest with you, I can't answer that. I didn't really see it. I don't know if Dan can.

DAN WHELDON: No, I think Mr. Barnhart is stern enough and strong enough to know, for him to give out orders, they will be followed. I'm sure if he was satisfied with it, it would be fine. To be fair, in the short time that they had to repair it, they did a good job. It was pretty bad when I saw it. I was surprised.

Q. As the 500 winner, you're on the road a lot, are people starting to recognize you when you come through an airport? Are you getting the recognition I think you should get?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I think so. As the year has progressed, certainly more and more people have started to notice. I think that's not just because of the results I've had. I think that's a recognition the series is getting and is deserved of. I think there's still things that we can do to improve. But right now with the momentum that we keep gaining, and Danica doing well, it's helped my recognition because I'm leading the championship. I've won a lot of races, and primarily won the Indianapolis 500. I think that's the biggest thing. Fortunately, through that, you get some great endorsement deals. There's stuff that can be had through that recognition. The self-satisfaction of winning these races is the thing that does the best for me. Winning Indy was truly special.

Q. You have somewhat of a good luck charm with your parents. Are you going to keep them around for the last two races?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I hope so. Certainly nice to have them here in town. They're over there. I don't get to see them too much, so it's enjoyable. I've got to make sure they come for the special ones. I'm going to make sure they come to Indy next year and all the other big races.

Q. Dan, you mentioned the pit speed violation. When you had to go to the back, what was going through your mind? Were you thinking had you a chance then?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I absolutely knew I had a chance. The superspeedways, with the cars we have at Andretti Green Racing you can get to the front pretty quick. I was confident of that. It was kind of a silly mistake. I forgot to push the pit lane speed button. I didn't think they would catch me because it was -- I didn't have it on for just such a short period of time, and they caught me. I couldn't believe that. The technical staff in the IndyCar Series, it sucks (laughter).

Q. With your Indianapolis win and continued success, have your teammates lightened up on you at all? They were hiding your uniform the first year. Is it getting any better?

DAN WHELDON: No. I think Dario wants to hurt my wallet now because he thinks I should throw a big party for everybody, which I'm sure I'll do. Certainly it's unbelievable, with the success that I've had, they remain just the same people towards me. They continue to help me. Tony at Sonoma followed me and saw something that I wasn't doing particularly well, and he thought I could gain some time by changing. He was absolutely right. It made 2/10ths of a second, which is pretty significant on a road course. The pranks have essentially calmed down. I think as the series gets more competitive, we've had to channel some extra focus on trying to push the team forward. But they've been very, very good. We have a lot of fun together. That's something that's important to me in motorsport. If I'm not having fun, I'm not really interested in doing it. If I'm not having fun, I need to go somewhere else and do something else. We continue to have a lot of fun.

Q. The points thing is funny, to officially clinch the championship, you have to drive a practice lap at Watkins Glen. Are you going to celebrate like a champion tonight, hand gliding planned?

DAN WHELDON: I'm going to celebrate like a race winner, but not like a champion. Until it's done, then I'm not champion. You know, certainly if that is the case, I'm not sure exactly what is the case in terms of what I have to do at Watkins Glen. If it's just a practice lap, that practice lap is going to be the slowest lap I've ever taken in history. Don't expect me to set a flyer on the first one. I'm going to tell them not to even put the tire warmers on.

Q. Dan, you reference history a good deal when you're talking about what has happened to you. What does this mean as an Englishman to come to the United States and do what hasn't happened in a long time? I don't think there's ever been one as dominant as you. What does this mean in terms of England, what home is going to say about this?

DAN WHELDON: Nigel Mansell was pretty good, right (laughter)?

Q. He was, but he never did this.

DAN WHELDON: I mean, no matter what series you're racing in, if you're winning a lot, it's very, very good. But certainly I think through me being successful, it's opened up many people's eyes in Europe. I mean, the respect that people show over there towards racing in America just continues to grow. There's no doubt about it. I would say from a spectator's standpoint, I think they much more enjoy the league I'm in in comparison to some of the others out there, because you don't see overtaking in Europe, and that's what you get here. Like I said, the British Racing Drivers Club, they're very much people that enjoy racing across the globe. I think they're very respectful from the fact that I'm doing well. I've got to continue to maintain this winning thing. You can be forgotten pretty quick. I have to make sure I can keep going as much as I can right now.

Q. Do you think it will lead to younger English or European drivers, because of your lead here, to perhaps a door opening to more of those guys coming this direction?

DAN WHELDON: Absolutely. I know there's been two or three guys that have already inquired I think about trying to do Watkins Glen in the Infiniti Pro Series. I think, obviously that track is very good. It's one of my favorites. Spa Francorchamps was my favorite. That could be as good if not better. I didn't do many laps in the test we did there, so I'm looking forward to going back. Certainly you'll see more young guys come back and do the Pro Series, but they're scared of his son right now, so that's putting some of them off (laughter).

Q. Michael, your career was obviously stellar. You have a team that has guys that are doing very well. How much input do you have? Do you give them some of your knowledge of how to drive a track and what to do or do you stand back and applaud them?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: That's what I do. I mean, you know, they're professionals. They don't need me to tell them how to drive a race car; they already know. That's why we hired them. I'm always here if there's any questions on anything. There is some experience I have and there are times when I can help a little bit. But really it's them. They're the ones that get it done. I think them being able to relate to their team owner in this way is good because, you know, there's not a lot of team owners that actually understand what's going on out there. That's one thing I can do when they come to me with a problem or whatever. I think that's one thing that seems to work out really well between the five of us.

DAN WHELDON: He's a much bigger influence than he makes out, let me tell you. Brownie points (laughter).

Q. A car that you're familiar with, do you have solutions that you can tell them, "Take a look at this"?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: There are times when I see something. On tracks like this, I don't think there's a whole lot I can offer. On some of the smaller ovals and things, I think sometimes I can see some things that I've done in the past that have worked, and then I try to pass that knowledge on. They take it and they either throw it away or use it. That's what I try to do.

THE MODERATOR: Dan, Mike, congratulations. We'll see you in Watkins Glen.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Thank you.

DAN WHELDON: Thank you.



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