Indy Pro Series: Carneros 100 & Valley of the Moon 100
Topics: Carneros 100, Valley of the Moon 100
August 25, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by race winner and 2007 Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd and his team owner Sam Schmidt.
Today's win for Alex is eighth in 14 races. He also has four other podium finishes this season. If you could talk about your day out there today and securing the championship.
ALEX LLOYD: It's been a pretty good day for sure. We started on second, and I knew from last year starting on second in race one that it's crucial to get into that lead in the beginning because there is really no way you can overtake on this track.
I really came into the race with no thought to the championship. I thought about winning this race and winning this race only. I knew if I won this race, mathematically nobody else was going to be able to win the championship. We went in with the ambition of winning the race.
When you have a championship year like we've had with so many wins and great races, especially at the start of the year, you've got to finish it by winning the race. That was the way we wanted to win this championship, and what a great way it's been to win today, win at my favorite track. I've been lucky to have a lot of success here, and I always have a lot of family here, I had a lot of family last year and I've got even more this year here who have traveled from all over the world to come here.
It's just a great feeling to have won the championship for Sam Schmidt, who -- great thanks to Sam for putting me in the car at the beginning of this year, and all our sponsors, Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems, it's just been a really unbelievable year. We've won the championship, we've won Indy, we won everything that we started off wanting to win this year, and I think we've done it in better fashion than we have even imagined possible. It's just been a great time. I've thoroughly enjoyed this year, and to be honest I don't want it to end.
THE MODERATOR: Sam, how about you? Your third championship in six Indy Pro Series seasons.
SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah, driving up here from Vegas, had a nice ten-hour drive to think about things, and I'm thinking, maybe I'll just retire this year and call it a day because it doesn't get any better than this. It's been really a dream to work with Alex and his family all year long.
We sat down last August or September in Chicago and just had a bit of a chat, and I kind of knew from that point on that I wanted to get him in the car. We had a test in October, and that sealed it because he's just really phenomenal. He hasn't put a wheel wrong all year.
He lives, eats and breathes this profession, which you have to do at this level now. So it's been nice having somebody a little smaller in the car from a weight perspective and all that. He works at it really hard, and he definitely deserves to be at the next level next year.
Q. A follow-up on that, how do you view this as stepping up to the next level?
ALEX LLOYD: Well, for sure I think looking at it from the beginning point of the year, knowing what I'm going to have to do to try and elevate myself up, I think I've done everything that I set out to do, and I've done everything I think I can do possible at this point.
You know, I was lucky enough to get my first IndyCar start with Chip Ganassi Racing a week ago, and that went great. And now obviously I'm racing in the Grand Am this weekend for them. I'm just going to keep pushing, keep doing everything I can, keep trying to win races and keep working hard fitness-wise, everything like that, to try to keep myself at the top position so that if and when rides become available at the end of the year I'm the first person they think of.
At the moment we've got a lot of interest, which is great. We'll just have to wait and see what happens, who goes where at the end of the year and see if there's a space for me. But as far as I'm concerned, I've done all I can this year, and I'm only just going to keep working harder and harder to try and accomplish the ultimate goal of winning the Indy 500, which since I moved over to America has been my only ambition.
I grew up with Formula 1 as an ambition until I saw the 500 for the first time in person, and then all those F-1 dreams went out the window, and this is where I want to be. I want to be in IndyCar racing and I want to win the 500.
Q. Sam, you've seen a lot of drivers in your day. How does Alex rate, and what do you think about his potential success?
SAM SCHMIDT: Well, obviously right at the top because back when I was driving, I mean, I think there were -- you know, I would say less qualifications, but everything has become so elevated the last few years. You watch who's at the top of this level of racing, at IndyCar level, and you just have to devote your whole life to it. Clearly that's what Alex has been doing his whole life and his family. This is everything to them.
So you really have to just live, eat and breathe it. I think there's a lot of guys out there with talent, but it takes more than that now. I think you've seen that all year. Whether it's working in the car, which he obviously has a talent to do that, but also outside of the car with our sponsors and the media folks and everything else, I think he's just done a fantastic all-around job.
Q. With Alex's success and obviously moving up and the sponsor you have, does that throw you back (inaudible)?
SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah, I mean, I think this time of year it always gets brought up, do you want to have an IndyCar team again. We did it in 2001 and 2002, and I thought we kind of overachieved for the money that we had. But then to come to this level and really have the money to do it right at this level, we'd have to have the money to do it right at that level.
Obviously there's a chemistry there between Alex and Tim, and we'd certainly investigate that. It's just -- it takes so much money to do it right, and if we were to go back to the IRL we'd want to be able to compete on a level playing field with some of the top teams over there.
We're perfectly happy doing what we're doing. Obviously it takes a lot of effort for me to come to the racetrack, and I want to have a chance to sit on pole and win every time, just like Alex does. With that situation, the only negative at this level is the fact that we've got to kind of reinvent the wheel every year. But it's a challenge, and we've been pretty good at it. So if that's what the cards are dealt to us, we'll deal with it next year.
Q. Do you gt any particular satisfaction beating all these IndyCar affiliated teams?
SAM SCHMIDT: Absolutely. Totally, I mean, that was it. We pushed really hard to help build the IPS Series, and we've been there since the start. We've ran a minimum of two cars in every Indy Pro Series race that's been competed. So this year, funny, because this time last year we were talking to Mike Hull and thinking about doing something together, they go off and do their own deal.
When we go to the first race at Homestead and Chris Festa sits on the pole, and we're thinking, geez, maybe we shouldn't have built this series up so much because we didn't sit on pole. But to have the Andretti Green, Rahal, Ganassi influence in the series has been great for the series, but there's also a huge amount of satisfaction for our crew guys and our team to be able to beat them, as well.
Q. You've been in this series pretty much since the inception. Is Alex the best driver you've ever seen race in this series?
SAM SCHMIDT: I'd have to say that clearly Alex is the best all-around package. There's a lot of talented people in the paddock, but as I said before, it takes so much more nowadays to do it, and he clearly is heads above the rest.
Q. Alex, tell us about that move on the first lap when you went around Richard Antinucci. You really surprised him with that pass.
ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, I knew that was the only place I could do it. That was the only place for the whole race really without him making a mistake that I could get through. So for me I was really concentrating on that start.
The other great thing is we had great gear ratios. We had I think a better gear ratio than him, which allowed me to pull up alongside him by the time we got to the flag stand. From then on it's a matter of keeping your footing round the outside, and on this track if you can get far enough ahead along the outside, then that's the best place to be because then you're on the inside for turn two.
And that's what I did. We really got a good runout to that last corner. I think he was trying to catch me off guard with where he went, but having raced here last year, I really knew where he was going to go and what the -- and being second on the grid last year, the mistake I made that didn't get me into the first corner first cost me the race and we finished second. So I knew what to expect and what to do to make sure we got this race won.
So yeah, it probably caught him by surprise a little bit, but that's just the only time you can do it. You've got one chance in the race, and if you're going to win that race you've got to make it happen right then.
Q. He said he's going to change his gearing for tomorrow.
ALEX LLOYD: Well, there you go. He's obviously learned from that, as well.
Q. You should come back and do this again tomorrow.
ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, I'm starting eighth, so that's going to be really interesting. With the championship wrapped up, we can just go all out. Sam doesn't have to worry, I'll keep his car in one piece and we'll go for the win for sure.
It's a great track where I think in the morning it's going to be very slippery like it was last year, and that means you can really catch some people off guard and push from the beginning and make some places. So I'm going to be giving it everything we've got and hopefully we can put on a bit of a show.
Q. Your career path crossed with Lewis Hamilton. Do you ever look at what he's doing and sit there and think, I can do better than that?
ALEX LLOYD: No, I look at what I'm doing and say I'm glad that I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm on the right steps to achieve my goal of winning the Indy 500.
I have no interest in Formula 1 right now, and I don't believe I ever will have. For me I want to keep racing here in America for as long as I can race.
He's done a great job, and I fully respect what he's done. We've been great friends growing up and for a long time, and he's been by far the hardest competitor I've ever raced against. We've never actually been teammates for more than a couple of days' testing when we've driven the same car. But he's a great guy and a great competitor and I'm glad he's doing what he's doing, but hopefully I can do the same thing on the other side of the pond.
Q. How much time did you spend with him the last two seasons?
ALEX LLOYD: Only a little bit. We saw him just after the second race that we did, on the morning of his race. It's so difficult, it's so busy for us with the double-header and obviously they're in a completely separate paddock from us that's all cordoned off. It's very difficult to catch up. Yeah, we managed to catch up a little bit then, and the time before that I had seen him was his surprise 21st birthday, which was nearly a couple years back now, so it had been a little while.
Q. What do you think is going to be more exciting, this or the arrival of your first child?
ALEX LLOYD: Joint, because it's the arrival of the first child while being Indy Pro Series champion and having won all these races. It's been a great year. I mean, there's so much great things that have happened. I thought a lot of great things had happened last year in terms of getting a full-time ride last year and winning races and buying our first house and all those things and getting married, all the things that happen to you that are really special, and this year it's just been even better.
Sam was on the verge of being able not to fly out for this race. The doctor was a little bit, like, it's in your own hands. So I'm very happy that she managed to make it out here because if she was at home, it probably wouldn't be quite as sweet a victory. It's been quite a year, but we've got a few more races to go so we'll see if we can keep pushing and get a few more wins.
Q. Is the money going to buy a lot of baby gifts?
ALEX LLOYD: I don't think any amount of money can pay for all the stuff you need for a child. If we can get Pampers on board, that would be great (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and congratulations on the championship.
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