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IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indianapolis 500

IZOD IndyCar Series: Indianapolis 500

Buddy Rice
Will Power
May 21, 2011


Q. You're with a great team with great success, and the record shows that.
BUDDY RICE: Yeah, when we unloaded I think we had such a good car, I knew that the speed was there, it was just trying to get enough time with the way the weather was breaking and the way the tire allocation was going to work out. Obviously I think the weather helped us a little bit. I think that obviously if the weather was a little bit different, I think we could have probably had a little bit better car for qualifying.
But both Panther cars with myself and JR with the National Guard car were quick all week, so I think we both had shots of getting in there. We just missed a little bit with the gear and the weather.

Q. Will is also dressed to roll here. Will, you got into the final nine. I know you're used to contending for a pole position. Just tell us about the day, the conditions, et cetera.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, that car was solid all day. You know, and I was pretty trimmed out, so I don't know what else I could have done. We just didn't have the speed. But happy to be on the second row. I mean, as far as the team today, we didn't do that well. We were probably a little bit surprised. But it's a long race, and yeah, congratulations to Alex Tagliani. He deserves that. He's a very good driver, and I'm very happy for him.
Yeah, you know, not much else to say. We were solid in every run. We had two runs, that was it.

Q. Buddy, you look at Will's car and you see Verizon plastered all over the side pod. Your car doesn't have anything on the side pod. How are you guys able to -- first off, what kind of budget do you have and how are you able to put out this kind of performance with the limited amount of resources you've got compared to a team like Penske?
BUDDY RICE: Well, I think a lot of credit needs to be given to John Barnes and his organization at Panther Racing. I think their track record speaks for itself. They finished second here the last three years, so I think with that, that's where really all the credit goes to.
I don't know if I would say they have limited resources. John has been doing this a long time, and I think he decided he wanted to run a second car, and that's really where the decision came down to. That's what John thought was best for the team, and that's where we're at right now. But limited resources, I don't think so. I mean, if you look at what Panther has done in the past, obviously the bar gets set high with both Penske and Ganassi. That's what everybody looks at. But as you can see, I think that everybody has had these cars for so long, everybody is creeping up and there's only so much you can keep going on the same car, so it's allowing everybody to catch up. We did it in '04 with Rahal and we weren't one of the top teams, sat on the pole and won. It's no different than what I did in '09 when we won the 24 Hours At Daytona. It's the same thing, same kind of teams. So it can be done, you just have to put everything together and make it all happen.

Q. Buddy, I don't think we've seen you around for a few years, and I'm just wondering how hard was it for you to just jump back in the car and get up to speed, because it seems like you just didn't have any laps being here.
BUDDY RICE: Well, I don't think -- I didn't have a bad result in '08 when I left, and now I think once again there needs to be a lot of credit given to Panther Racing and their oval program. Because the car is so good, it allows me to come in, get right up to speed, get comfortable and get right back in the swing of things. It's not like I've just been sitting at home doing nothing; I've been racing GrandAm, I've won the 24 Hours At Daytona since I left and been doing stuff like that. I just haven't been here.
And the reason that hasn't happened is just because the right opportunity and situation hasn't been able to present itself and completely come together. There's been a lot of opportunities and a lot of different things going on, but it just never happened. But I'm grateful to be back. I'm glad I'm here for the centennial and I've been given another shot at winning another one.

Q. For Will and Buddy, what was it like seeing Ryan have a tough day, and then Helio didn't quite measure up to what your car was and what did you talk about afterwards? Did you have a chance to analyze it?
WILL POWER: No, we haven't. I felt very bad for Ryan. He just got called out there in one of the practices. As soon as you have a crash around this place it's very difficult to get your confidence stroke back, and you're not in a primary car, you're in a T-car, which is never quite as bad. So definitely a bad day for him. And I think if Helio had another run, chances are he might have made it in the top nine. But I have to say, yeah, we were all probably caught a little bit unawares that the competition was -- had become a lot tougher. We're hoping our race cars are good.

Q. Buddy, I'd just like to have you look back just for a minute on the year that you won because I had a great seat for that looking straight down at that pass you made after the rain delay, and I don't remember, did you say you did touch the wall or scrape the inside wall? Any thoughts on that?
BUDDY RICE: No, I'd do it again. It's the Indy 500.

Q. And last thing, weren't you a baseball player?
BUDDY RICE: I did play ball, yes.

Q. How does it compare hitting a home run with winning the Indy 500?
BUDDY RICE: Do you see the size of me? Do you think I hit many home runs? Do you see the guys that are hitting home runs now? Josh Hamilton is like 6'6", 250. I'm about the size of one of his legs. (Laughter.)

Q. What was the change to the track conditions from earlier today when you first went out and qualified and then when you went in the fast nine?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it was actually better when we went out the second time because there was no wind and it was probably maybe a little bit warmer so that helps the car's speed. So it was just, yeah, a little nicer to drive.

Q. One of the other journalists told me that ten of the top 24 today were one-offs, basically non-series regulars. Are we going to be seeing a return to a day when people are able to come and go between series? And the other question is, like I think we've kind of alluded to, how would one even get prepared? My understanding is to do this every week is the way to go, and to jump right in as you've done, Buddy, is remarkable.
BUDDY RICE: I think there's twofold to this. One, most of the regulars, myself, Wheldon, raced multiple years here and also have won. Townsend Bell has ran here quite a bit. I know some of the other guys haven't done it as much. I think that's one of the big things. We've been here; we know what to expect and it's nothing new.
Number two, everybody has had these cars for so long and they've been in the same car in the series, so for someone to leave and then try to come back is not a major difference. You're getting back in the same car. I don't think you'll see a whole lot of one-offs next year. I think you'll see it's much more difficult to do that, the resources, and I don't think the data will be there for anybody to do that. I think you'll see most of it will be guys running full-time.
Now, with that said, I think you'll see some one-offs, but it'll get back to what it was before. The guys that drive and run the cars full-time will have the edge for sure, especially for the first few years.

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