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Indy Pro Series: Road Runner 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Road Runner 100

Indy Pro Series: Road Runner 100

Jonathan Klein
Mike Potekhen
June 2, 2007


MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

THE MODERATOR: We have Mike Potekhen on your right, Jonathan Klein on your left. We'll start with Mike. The event got off to a rough start. Did you see any of that crazy stuff going on there at the start off of turn two?
MIKE POTEKHEN: Not really. I could see some smoke in my mirrors. Spotter said 'yellow, yellow' right off the bat. Wasn't till we came around the second time that we could really see what was going on.
Unfortunately it's another start for the Pro Series races that goes yellow right away. Hopefully we'll get one of these races where maybe we can go flag to flag.
After that, it was a pretty clean race. We had a real good car. Just tried to keep my nose clean and pace myself the best I could. In all honesty, Alex had a really fast car. I don't know that I had anything for him. He just kind of left us in the dust.
THE MODERATOR: Mike scores his best finish of the season at third. You were a winner here last year in Star Mazda competition at the Milwaukee Mile. Talk about that, what you were able to bring from that to today's event?
MIKE POTEKHEN: I think helped us a little bit, just more as a driver, from my standpoint, just to be comfortable with the track. But other than that, the cars are completely different. They handle different. They're on different tires. They have more power. It's been a bit of a learning curve for me in these cars.
You know, we're coming around. The team, I drove for the same team last year, so we've had all the same guys move up, but it's a new car for everybody.
I think it's a real good showing for our I guess fifth race of the year to be on the second step of the podium. We had a pole last weekend, my teammate did, I qualified third. The team is really coming together. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. It was nice to come to Milwaukee and dodge the rain today.
THE MODERATOR: Jonathan Klein finishes third, is a Long Grove, Illinois driver, not too far from the Milwaukie Mile, matches his best run of the season of third. You almost got him there with a couple laps to go, coming down to the checkered. Talk about that, if you will.
JONATHAN KLEIN: Yeah, you know, I saw there's not going to be a point in Mike and I going wheel to wheel for 90 laps all race long, so I kind of just slotted in and those guys took off and I looked after my tires. You know, it paid off last year, so I knew to do the same thing this year, which was good. I think if we had another lap or two, it could have been second. But 'coulda, woulda, shoulda'.
THE MODERATOR: Close to home. Lot of family and friends up in the stands?
JONATHAN KLEIN: Yup. For the first time I've had all my best friends from high school come. So that was fun to have them watching. I know they enjoyed it.
THE MODERATOR: I'll open it up to questions.

Q. Mike, about the tires, are they hard on the start?
MIKE POTEKHEN: Not so much. Everybody has the same tire, so it doesn't really matter. The new tire, the sticker tire's a little bit better. This place really didn't seem to be too hard on tires. We ran just as quick at the end of the race as we did at the beginning. Same thing in all the testing we did here. I haven't really found any issues here with the tire. In fact, they've been a real good tire for us. No issue there at all.
I think a lot of it is guys just getting anxious, trying to make too much happen on the first corner. If everybody would settle down a little bit, get into the groove, obviously Jonathan and I showed that. He was at one point probably half a straight or half a lap behind me. You get a yellow at the end of the race, he saves his tires, he actually had a little bit for me.
I think guys just need to settle down and realize it's a long season, it's a long race. These races are a hundred miles long. You're not going to impress an IndyCar team by crashing out in the first corner. It happened to me last weekend. To be honest with you, it's getting frustrating. I wish everybody would just chill out and we could have some really good racing this year.

Q. Mike, was that restart as good as you could have hoped for, to get past Alex?
MIKE POTEKHEN: It was a shame he was between us. But Joey did a great job. He gave me all the room he could. He stayed as close as he could to Lloyd at the start there. But unfortunately when there's a car between you and there's that much of a gap, really my only chance of getting by Alex was to try to get a good run on him, pass him down into one, then just stay in front of him.
He did all he could. That was definitely my best shot. I got by Joey right away, moved up behind Alex. Just really sitting behind him like, that the cars were understeering, my car at least was understeering a little bit off of three and four. And running in his dirty air, I didn't have anything for him. I had to run the low line to stay close. He was able to run the high line, which paid off. His tires weren't working as hard as mine were, and after three or four laps, there was nothing I could do, so...

Q. With Alex's start, do you look at this is getting old or as a challenge?
MIKE POTEKHEN: I look at it as an opportunity. The first guy to go out and beat him is going to be up there as well. Those guys have been doing it for five years. Alex is a great driver. He's real clean. He goes out there and does a good job, doesn't make mistakes.
You know, it's obviously a little bit frustrating when a guy goes out there and wins every race when you want to go. But I think the first couple guys to beat him, it's an opportunity more than anything.
JONATHAN KLEIN: Yeah, I'm probably a little more frustrated than Mike. I'm tired of it, to be honest. But I'm not going to take anything at all away from the team and from Alex. Like Mike said, he's an outstanding driver. The team has got it going on.
You know, when I say I'm extremely frustrated, it's the situation, it's not at them. Can't take anything away from them. It just means that everyone else has to step it up. That's what it's going to take. Last year was the most competitive season to date. Now this year the game has been stepped up again. It's up to us drivers and the teams to really pull together and start making progress.

Q. Mike, do you feel like your team and the development cycle is where they should be at this point?
MIKE POTEKHEN: I'm really happy with the guys. They've done an awesome job. We didn't get our cars till about three weeks before the first race down in Homestead. The guys have just been flat out. Obviously we would have liked to have gotten more of a head start. For me personally I would have liked to be where we are now at the start of the year.
But with all things considered, yeah, I'm really proud of the guys. I'm real happy with where we're at. I'm in a great situation. The guys are all behind me. The team, I've been able to move up from the past series with the same team, which a lot of times is hard to do. So from that aspect, it's given me the group and continuity I guess with the guys I was working with.
I think the tough part is when you go to a new team, you don't know the guys, really not everybody is working well together. In any professional sport, that's 90% of it, is just getting a good group of guys together that work well together.
But in answer to your question, I'm very happy with the guys. You always wish you were doing better. But no complaints. We were top three last weekend and a second this weekend. So I'm real happy.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much.

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