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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

Tony Kanaan
Sam Schmidt
September 21, 2004

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us on today's Indy Racing League teleconference. As the season winds down, the championship stories begin to take shape, we have two guests on today's call that are extremely close to securing Indy Racing League titles. Joining us to open the call, Infiniti Pro Series owner Sam Schmidt. Sam is the owner of a two-car team, one of which is a sure bet to claim the Pro Series title. Sam's driver, Thiago Medeiros, needs only to start the race at California Speedway next weekend to claim the championship. 2004 will mark Sam's first championship and will also cap an incredible year for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Sam entered the season without a single victory in 38 starts as a team owner, but entering the race next weekend at California, he has recorded five victories and seven pole positions. Sam, thanks for joining us today.

SAM SCHMIDT: No problem.

THE MODERATOR: You've had a very memorable year. Can you give us your thoughts as you're on the verge of winning a Pro Series championship?

SAM SCHMIDT: Well, sure. It's just been an absolutely fantastic ride. As many owners will tell you in motorsports - and drivers for that matter - it's kind of all about the people. This year, obviously it's something we would have liked to have accomplished a couple years ago, possibly in the IRL 2001, 2002. It's extremely competitive out there. I guess I've been learning slowly as an owner. We made a few personnel changes over the winter last winter, and kind of just laid it all on the line so to speak. It does take a lot of energy for me to travel and to manage the team and everything else. Just kind of came to the decision that if we weren't winning races, competing for the championship, it almost wasn't worth doing. We made some good changes. Of course, Thiago is a heck of a driver. To me, the program has finally been what it needs to be, with the proper level of testing, just the right people in place. Everything's gone remarkably smooth.

THE MODERATOR: You had a lot of success with a lot of drivers this season. Can you talk about the success of the team with every driver you've had in the car this year?

SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah. I think to some extent, this formula, it's basically a spec car, it's clearly a spec tire and a spec engine. We don't deal with different engine manufacturers like you do in the IRL. It does kind of highlight what the team's able to develop before you even get to the track as far as performance. There's no replacing seat time, as well. If you have a little bit of time pre-season to test with your driver, get the communication going, it really helps your program. We were able to do that early on and got a pretty good head start on everybody.

THE MODERATOR: Can you give us your thoughts on the recent success Travis Gregg has shown in the No. 5 car.

SAM SCHMIDT: Travis is a clear example of what the series was created for, just growing up in go-karts, last couple years racing non-wing Sprint cars. Prior to that, he has some Formula Atlantic experience. He's got a variety of experience in different types of cars. I think that's what I really enjoy about being an owner in this series is that when these drivers come in, as far as ovals at 190 miles an hour, they've basically got a clean sheet of paper. I can work with them about the transition from what they were doing before to this type of racing. I think that's one thing that was lacking when I was in the IRL because in theory, if somebody's driving there, they should be fairly well-advanced in their oval experience, et cetera. I enjoy getting the drivers from Formula Ford, from Formula 2000, from go-karts, from Sprint cars. I just enjoy that whole process of bringing them up. We obviously had a quick car with Thiago. We basically put the same setup on the car for Travis. He drove it. It worked out pretty good.

THE MODERATOR: We'll now open up the call to questions.

Q. With all the success that you've had this year and in past years in the Infiniti Pro Series, other than the Indy 500, you haven't really stepped back into the IndyCar Series. Can we see something like that in the future?

SAM SCHMIDT: Well, quite frankly now that we've got what I would consider a really good program in the Infiniti Pro Series, you wouldn't want to go back to the IRL on a full-time basis unless you could do duplicate that type of program there. And that's really difficult right now. We continue to look for sponsorship, whether it be for the Infiniti Pro Series or whether it be for the IRL or just the 500. It's just really tough out there. You've got to have -- you've got to be tied to a manufacturer. That helps a lot. It's kind of like do you want to be really good at this or just marginally existing over there, that's kind of what it comes down to. And I think we don't. Now that we've been winning races, it makes it a lot easier to get up and do it in the morning. And, frankly, I've begun to focus a lot more on the foundation, kind of how the team ties to the foundation. As far as the foundation, we just got a really good CEO that's just come on board. We're really looking to take that to the next level and make it more of a national organization. There's kind of a lot going on there which of course ties in with racing. This year alone, even with just the Infiniti Pro Series, I was on the road 140 days this year. The IRL would probably add another 40 to 50 days on the schedule. It just gets a little crazy. Certainly there is a passion and a place in my heart for the Indy 500. I really think, you know, from a sponsor standpoint as far as return, et cetera, that's still just running the month of May is a pretty attractive thing.

Q. What about your drivers for next year? Will you see Travis full-time next year and what about Thiago? Seems to be the history of Menards Infiniti Pro Series that when they win the championship, they move on to the IndyCar Series.

SAM SCHMIDT: That's a good question. I mean, clearly the only negative I've been able to find about being an owner in the Infiniti Pro Series is that if you do a really, really good job, you have to do it all over again next year, kind of start from scratch. There's no continuity as far as the driver. Since we've been involved with that series from the very start, I think we've got a really good book of information to where really when somebody comes in, the only variable is the driver. We've got a lot of data we can compare to from this year to last year. That's really why Travis was able to get in and just go, just be able to match Thiago's data and go. We're working with Travis right now, trying to find a budget, which is no different than anybody else. It's clearly our goal as a team to find the sponsorship and be able to just be a driver search or whatever, put whatever driver we want in the car and not have to have them bring any money whatsoever, whether it be from a sponsorship or whatever. We're working towards that. We're not there yet. But certainly Travis is definitely high on the list of somebody we'd really like to run next year.

Q. How does it affect the sponsorship process and search when you have a championship to sell them?

SAM SCHMIDT: As long as I've been in racing, it's phenomenal the difference that it makes when you're winning races and you're running at the front, getting poles. I mean, the last race at Chicago, it was the fourth time in our existence as a team that we had the entire front row. It's one of those weird things that I think is synonymous with racing, where when you do well, a lot of things go your way. People want to give you things. People want to let you try their products, et cetera, et cetera, whereas the guys in the back are work are just as hard, if not harder, but they're struggling to find the money and struggling to find the stuff. This is definitely the position we wanted to be in ever since we started a team. I'm just hoping that we're able to attract some team sponsorship and some driver sponsorship and really bring some more cars to the series and make it what it should be.

Q. Can you give us a sense of how that works? Do you make a series of cold calls? Do you think about who might have an interest in auto racing, related products, people you seek out to pitch to become sponsors?

SAM SCHMIDT: I will say that it's probably the toughest thing I've ever done in my life, trying to find dollars for motorsports. But we really find we have kind of the best success getting in the door and talking to people that have never been involved in motorsports before. There are so many companies out there in our economy that are kind of emerging and trying to put out new products. Maybe it's an entirely new company with a new idea. We try to look to those. Let's face it, the Pennzoils of the world have been doing motorsports for 30, 40, 50 years. You're not going to tell them what advantage you have or whatever. If you're fortunate enough to attract them, it helps having the championship, et cetera. But you really just got to work your Rolodex, you got to work contacts that you have. We actually have never had any luck whatsoever from cold calls. It's really just somebody knows the president or CEO of this company, somebody is excited about racing. You look at the Centrix situation. Their CEO appreciated racing and cars, et cetera. I think through his lead, Centrix has gotten heavily involved in motorsports now. But I think it really is related to his passion. I'm sure he's now figured out a way to justify it. But you have to have something there that ties somebody in.

Q. Have you thought about the impact you have as a role model to other Americans dealing with disabilities to see somebody winning one of the elite auto racing series in the US and maybe what that could do for your foundation?

SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah, I guess I don't really think about it that way. I mean, yes, I get a lot of e-mails. We have a Day At the Races program where we bring out people from local rehab centers to the track after they've been injured to show them they don't have to go home and be a couch potato or be a burden on society for the rest of their life. Unless you're on a ventilator, you're not any worse off than me. It can be done. I get a lot of e-mails in response to that how it motivates people and gives them an incentive to learn a trade or go out and do something after they've been paralyzed. But really that wasn't the start of it. The start of it was I feel like if we go 10 years down the road, they create a procedure or something that would fix my situation, I wouldn't want to be laying around and not be able to take advantage of it. I think race car drivers generally are pretty motivated people, are the type that get out there and keep themselves in shape, et cetera. So my brain hasn't changed. I still got to keep busy and keep focused and have something to do. I just couldn't just check out after this happened. I mean, I had to find a way to fix it. That's really what we're trying to do. If we can take several hundred thousand people with us, that's great.

Q. You always seem to have a good competitive team with any driver. Will you be doing road courses the same as IRL next year?

SAM SCHMIDT: Yes. We've been guaranteed the same three races that the IRL has on their schedule, which is Watkins Glen, Sears Point and the St. Pete road course, which is awesome, because I personally raced at all those tracks when I was a driver myself in road racing. I'm looking forward to that. There are even some rumors about a fourth race, but I guess we'll find out when they announce the schedule.

Q. Are your cars changeable to the road course pretty easy?

SAM SCHMIDT: Yeah, I think they're a little easier than the IRL cars because our cars started life as a Dallara F-3 car. They made some changes for very specific oval racing. To go back is not that difficult. They are testing the cars with a road course package I think tomorrow or the next day at Homestead. Really, it's just the internals of the gearbox, some suspension pieces, the axle shaft. It's a pretty minimal changeover compared to the IRL anyway.

Q. What was it that you saw in Travis Gregg before all of us saw him qualify and race so well in his two appearances to date? The guy hasn't really done any kind of pavement racing to speak of.

SAM SCHMIDT: Well, frankly, I don't want to pat ourselves too far on the back. But we have a program where three times a year we bring out drivers and give them kind of an orientation at Kentucky. I think now that we've done that for well over 35 drivers, you can kind of see pretty quick who the guys are that kind of take to it like a fish to water and who the ones are that struggle a little more. Travis is one of probably a handful of drivers that just took to it, had a really good feel for the car, good feedback, just kind of gelled with everybody. From that point he decided to take it to the next level. He's a good kid. He's good looking. Perfect image of what the IRL would like to have involved in the series. Just kind of take it from there.

Q. This race coming up next weekend in California is a bit of a homecoming from you, as you're a graduate of Pepperdine. Do you have many friends in the area you're expecting to come out?

SAM SCHMIDT: Yes. Unfortunately, my phone is burning for tickets, so I got to scrounge up a bunch of passes when I get there. I was actually born in Nebraska, but moved to California when I was two, spent basically my whole life in the San Fernando Valley. As you said, went to Pepperdine. Got a ton of friends down there. Got to go down probably Tuesday or Wednesday and start seeing people all week.

THE MODERATOR: Sam, thank you so much for joining us today and good luck next weekend.

SAM SCHMIDT: Not a problem. Hopefully we can keep our fingers crossed and everybody make it out there safe on their flights, clinch the championship on Friday. That would be nice.

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by IndyCar Series points leader Tony Kanaan. Tony enters next weekend's race at California Speedway with a 75-point lead over teammate Dan Wheldon. If Tony finishes fourth or better at California, he will clinch the series championship with one race remaining. He currently holds an amazing streak of 13 straight races with a top five finish. Tony, thank you for joining us today.

TONY KANAAN: You're welcome.

THE MODERATOR: I know you don't want to jinx yourself by talking about the championship but you have to feel fairly confident heading into the final two races with a 75-point lead. Can you talk about maybe the incredible consistency this year with 13 straight top five finishes.

TONY KANAAN: You know, looking back to last year, I think we kind of looking to see what we could done better. I think the only thing we could have done better last year was win more races. That's what we tried to do. This year, so far we succeed. Like you said, I don't want to talk about the championship yet, but I have confidence that I can do really well. I don't want to break the streak of 13. I want to make maybe 15 top five finishes. I think if I finish in the top five one more time, the championship, it's ours. Again, I'm still going to Fontana with the mentality I went to Chicago, which is let's do our thing and do our best and we'll collect the result at the end.

THE MODERATOR: Do you feel you've reaped the benefits this year of being part of a four-car team?

TONY KANAAN: Oh, for sure. I think the organization we have, at the beginning of the year people actually started to doubt us, say, "Actually, they can actually make it worse instead of better." I think we proved to everybody that it's a big advantage if you know how to work with your teammates. I keep saying again and again, we have such a great relationship that it's helping us all. I think that's why we've been doing so well. Having four cars, you have four different changes to make. When drivers work closely the way we do to make the car better every session, so we can go four more times than a single-car team and twice more than a two-car team. So it's definitely a big advantage.

THE MODERATOR: Can you give us your thoughts on the new qualifying procedures for the Indianapolis 500?

TONY KANAAN: To be honest with you, I read about it. I couldn't understand a lot. I saw that they going to qualify the first 11 cars on the first day, first week, then 11 -- I don't know really. I just think I don't care. I think it's good for the fans. I think it's going to be exciting, but I'm going to try to qualify on the pole day. That's all that counts for us. I would say it's going to make more exciting, for sure. All we care is about we won the pole day.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Honda has their own guy doing a lot of research on aerodynamics for the chassis. How important has that been and how much of that actually has filtered down to the teams this year? Is that what has made the Honda car so competitive?

TONY KANAAN: Say again about the aero package.

Q. I heard Honda has their own guy working on their own aerodynamics.

TONY KANAAN: The wind tunnel program.

Q. How much of that has filtered down to you guys already and how much success has it had?

TONY KANAAN: It's been helping us a lot, for sure. Especially, we have two different chassis manufacturers. As much advantage as we can get, the better it is. We do have every single piece of information they find. That's on Honda's own interest to make the car better, beside the engine. It's pretty amazing a manufacturer like Honda, instead of just worry about the engines, they worry about our aero program, too. It's a big help. I think they prove with the results how much effort they putting into it and how much work they did to get in the point we are. We get a hundred percent information all the time, anything that comes out of the wind tunnel program, because they work really close to our engineers, too, we get it. If they find something today and they can build for tomorrow, we'll have it for tomorrow.

Q. There's no secret that Honda has been pretty dominant this year. Was there a point in the season when you knew that the Honda package was this much better than the other two packages out there?

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I would say it started pretty early, which is good, I think. I went to Phoenix before we went to Motegi. I had the possibility to try the latest 3.5 and the last 3.5 liter engine they made. And I felt it was great. I knew we had a very good possibility to win Motegi. But right after that, I was concerned just because, "We going to go to the 3.0 liter. How we going to do it?" We showed up in Indy. I didn't do the test. They had a test before the month of May. I didn't do it. But I heard from my teammates that we had something really good. It was already good from the beginning and there was more coming. When they gave to us before the pole day, I knew if we could keep up the way it was, we would have a great year. Every since basically they've been dominating. It's been awesome. So I would say from before Motegi and then with the first phase of the 3.5, the last 3.5-liter engine, and then from Indy on, I knew it. I didn't expect us to dominate all the races, but I knew we had more than a lot of people. So I was pretty confident.

Q. Is there any way to describe why the engine package is so dominant this year over the other two guys?

TONY KANAAN: Why? Honda people very smart. They know how to make things. The only reason why I think we definitely showed a lot more this year than last year because we had more time to work in the engine. Honda came in. Need to understand, they came in pretty late in the IRL program last year, which Toyota was working on his engines for a year before that already. So that's why they had the biggest advantage. Honda was brand-new. We try to keep it as competitive as we could last year. And this year they got their stuff together just understanding more and knowing what they can make it better. It was just a matter of the success of Honda, just goes down to a very, very good group of people working really hard to get one goal, which is win. That's what they did.

Q. You were talking about how close the team works together, how big of an advantage that is. But when it comes down to this point in the season where you're going for the championship, is there anything that you withhold that might benefit Dan?


Q. Yes.

TONY KANAAN: You're asking if I can help Dan to finish second?

Q. Is there anything you don't tell Dan?

TONY KANAAN: No, not at all. Not at all. Hey, you guys can see. One thing nobody can say is we're having team orders because, you know, I could have won the championship right after Nazareth if they had called Dan in Pikes Peak and Nazareth to let me finish ahead of him, which it didn't happen. The last race I could have finished second. Could have called Bryan and asked Bryan to let me by. Didn't happen. We're racing. There is nothing I am going to hide from my teammates just because we're fighting for the championship. I think it's a matter of my principles first, and the team's as well. It's different sponsors that we need to represent. You know, in my mind, to be honest with you, I want to win in a fair situation. I don't want anybody to give it to me. I want to get it because I'm capable to get it. I know I am. I know my team is. This point I really think I'm in a very comfortable position in comparison to Dan because I have everything he has and he has everything I have. Basically we are in the same boat. It's just going to be a matter who gets it right. Actually, he needs to catch up a lot more than I do. I would say we've been working as close as we did before. There is nothing to keep us to telling each other things. The friendship, it's best it's ever been. We spend a lot of time together. So it's going to be a matter of what he can do to catch me and what can I do to run away from him.

Q. Do you take it easy to get the championship or do you go all out for the victory in the race?

TONY KANAAN: Well, I'm going for the victory. But obviously I'm not that stupid to throw it away just because I see the situation of winning the race. If I feel I have the car to do it, I will. If you watch the last four races, the people, they keep talking about the championship, but I keep racing for the win, I keep racing for the finish. But obviously in the back of my mind, I always try to evaluate how good is my car and how much I need to save the car to win or if I don't have a car to win to finish wherever position I feel I have the car to do it. That's the way I'm racing right now.

Q. You were talking about not withholding information from Dan. Those of us who have covered open-wheel racing around the world know that's a very unusual situation that has developed at Andretti Green, the way you work so close together and work as one unit. How soon after you joined the team did you realize you had walked into something like that, and do you agree with me?

TONY KANAAN: First of all, I do agree with you completely. I think even myself, I race in Europe, I race here. I have pretty good teammates. I mean, good in the sense of good race car drivers and also good people to work with. I had Helio in '97, I had Zanardi in 2001. But I never had this, what I have with these guys. I think it's unique because, like you said, in Europe, the first guy you hate is your teammate because he's the first guy you want to beat because they have exactly the same equipment. But I don't think that happens in our team. I think I realized that from the beginning because the team, it was built originally already with good guys to work with. I mean, it started with myself, Dario and Michael. Me and Dario, there was no -- we always been very good friends. People knew that from the beginning, so we knew it was going to work. Michael was obviously retiring, but it was a guy that, you know, he was our boss, and it was very easy to work with as long as you get to know him well. Dan just fit into the program really. I think he had a chance to analyze the way we had the relationship over the winter. He just clicked in right away. Later on, Dario gets hurt, Bryan comes in. It was a moment I felt, Well, we changing too many things here. Michael's retiring, Bryan is hopping in. All of a sudden I found myself from the original team by myself, like by myself from the original staff. But we had this thing going so well, that everybody fit in. Dario came back. Bryan fit in right away, Dan as well. We had a beautiful thing going. I swear, I don't think I will never have a thing like this again so we going to try to make this last as long as we can.

Q. After the Nazareth race you were talking about how much you wanted to see Bryan in Victory Lane, because you've all been multiple winners. How disappointing was it to see him come so close?

TONY KANAAN: I tell you, I was probably more disappointed than he was. I knew I didn't have a chance to win so I was trying to do everything I could to help him, if I could. But, obviously, AJ was very hooked up, too. It was disappointing. I mean, it was definitely a time that I was like, "Man, Jesus." But this is racing. I mean, still have two races to go. I still think he can do it.

Q. How much do you look forward to a place like California? Is this a track that guys look forward to racing on?

TONY KANAAN: I do. That's the first oval, first superspeedway I ever drove. It's a fun track. It's wide. A lot of places to pass. It's the place that I won my championship in '97. There's a lot of memories there. Fontana has a special place in my heart. A lot of good things that happened there before. A couple bad things, too, but that's racing. I would say it's fun. I love it. I think Honda's almost hometown. I love enjoy to go to California, but especially the race in Fontana. I love the superspeedways. If you ask me, I would say I will go to Fontana any time.

Q. You talked about when you know you have a good car. How soon in a race or how late in a race can you tell if you've got the car to do it?

TONY KANAAN: I would say it goes by phases. Obviously, the beginning of the race you realize you might have the car and you might not. But then some people make changes during the pit stops, and all of a sudden they come back to you. I would say in the middle of the race you kind of evaluate everybody. Whoever had a chance to make it better would make it better after the last stop, then you go for it. I would say you need to divide the race in maybe two pieces: the beginning and then after the last stop. I would say the reality is after the last stop, that's when you realize what really you have in your hands to be able to win a race or not.

Q. Of the races that you have left, any track you feel more comfortable at?

TONY KANAAN: Oh, they're both superspeedways. I would say because I won Texas in the beginning of the year, I would say I feel more comfortable, more confident in Texas. But hopefully Fontana, I finished there third last year, but that's just numbers. You never know, it change from year to year. Hopefully Fontana will be a good place for us too. I would say Texas I feel more confident because I won a race there before in the beginning of the year.

Q. Talking about California Speedway, the memories that it has for you, you were racing against a teammate in '97. Here you are doing it again. How much is this de'ja vu for you?

TONY KANAAN: I knew you were going to ask that (laughter). It's unbelievable. I mean, eight years later.

Q. Things come around.

TONY KANAAN: Almost the same spot I was in '97, apart from it's not the last race, and apart from instead of having 12 points ahead, I have 75. But it's the same place. I remember walking into Fontana in my '97 Indy Lights on Sunday morning, walk into the track. I said, "I won't get out of here today without a championship in my hand." Special place. For sure it's a de'ja vu thinking what I had with Helio. Hopefully, it won't be as painful. People that followed, I blew a tire, had to come in and make a pit stop, which is not very common in Indy Lights, because we don't make stops. Hopefully will be easier. But definitely a lot of things. We have two weeks to think about between races, almost three. For sure reminds me a lot of good things. Going to be a good feeling.

Q. Is it a long time to wait between races at this point after you've been doing three in a rows?

TONY KANAAN: After you do like three races in a row, you like, "Okay, I need a break." But then you do one race, have to wait for three weeks, it's definitely painful. As human beings, we always complaining about it. I would say it's good and bad. I'm anxious to be able to do what I have on my mind, which is trying to win this championship. At the same time, it's good to take some time off. I definitely enjoy my time off back home, especially people that know that I live in Florida, so I didn't have too many time off preparing for hurricanes and stuff. But it's been a good workout. At least I was home to try to take care of the house, the dog and the wife when all the hurricane came.

Q. Did you go back to Brazil or just deal with Ivan?

TONY KANAAN: No, I deal with him. I just close the windows and stay at home and wait for him. Thank God, didn't pass here. Unfortunately, I have some friends up in West Palm Beach, in places that the house got damaged. What can you do? We can't control the nature. But I was here. I was here the whole time.

Q. Speak about the loss of Nazareth, not going back there to race again, with next year starting racing again back to the road courses.

TONY KANAAN: On the Nazareth thing, I mean, I'm sad to see it go because such a beautiful place to race, as a racetrack. Good place, challenging, the races are very competitive. But we race for the fans. If they don't show up to watch us, there's no point in racing. That I think was the biggest issue down in Nazareth. But, you know, I think I told some of my guys, "We should make the last race everywhere," because I never saw so many people in my life at that Nazareth race just because they said it was the last one. We need to draw good crowds, and we're not doing it. They try for so many years over there, and somehow people wouldn't show up. We need to find places that people would go. I'm sad to see it go. I think we replace with some road courses that I have to admit I'm very happy about it. My background, I'm a road course kind of guy. I'm very excited about it. I think we're going to enjoy a lot. Hopefully back turning left and right will make me enjoy even more my job than I am right now.

Q. Did you and Helio have anything wagered on the championship before the season started?

TONY KANAAN: What? I'm sorry?

Q. Did you make any sort of bet?

TONY KANAAN: No, not really. I think Cristiano was the guy I used to make bets all the time. But, no, we didn't. We obviously knew the possibility that we both had, but we never really. We made fun with each other, but it wasn't really never had a bet. I'll try make one with him right now.

Q. What about your teammates, any kind of wager?

TONY KANAAN: My teammates, I didn't have time to think about the bets because I was thinking about the pranks all the time. We didn't make any bets. For sure if you guys follow us the whole year, we made Dan's life very miserable sometimes. So did Dario when he cut my bicycle in half. But no bets. This year, actually I don't know why, probably we got caught in too much work and trying to put so many pranks on Dan that I forget about the bets. Good thing. You just we mind me on something. I might do some bets by now in the end of the year.

Q. Dan told us about the hair.

TONY KANAAN: I forgot about that. There was a bet with Dan. He lost his hair. It wasn't very fair because if you guys know what happened, we went to Michael's lake house. They had this quads to race, this little track. Dan says, "You want to race?" As an Englishman, he didn't understand too much about quads. My quad was a 450. His was a 250. I said, "Yeah, yeah, let's race. Whoever wins gets a haircut." Obviously, I don't have a lot to lose because my hair is pretty short. With 200 ccs more than his, obviously I won. Even cut the course. He didn't realize. He got a free haircut. I forgot about that.

Q. A report out this week that Cristiano will not go back to Formula 1. He said it himself. He is looking back stateside. How would you like to race against him again?

TONY KANAAN: Oh, I would love to. One of my best friends. I miss him a ton just as a race car driver, as a competitor, but especially as a friend. But Cristiano is taking a lot of time off right now. He's been through a hard time. I definitely think was really unfair what they did to him. But that's a friend's opinion. When you like somebody like I like Cristiano, it's tough not to be mad with the people that did it. What makes me happy, they're not doing any better after they fire him either, so they should be looking around and scratching their heads. But Cristiano, I don't know what he's going to do. I think if he comes here, will be a pleasure. I enjoy the guy. I would love to see him back to America. But right now, I spoke to him a couple days ago, he just riding his bicycle right now, trying to beat the hell out of me when I get back to Brazil to work out with him. He's thinking on his options, but I would love to see him back.

Q. Any triathalons planned in the near future?

TONY KANAAN: Yes. There is one in Disneyworld. Let's see how Fontana goes, then I can concentrate on my triathlon. I definitely going to do San Diego, next year, beginning of the year. But right now I'm just focusing on try to get this championship. Obviously still working out a lot. I went to Aspen last week for five days training on the mountains with Carmichael where Lance used to train. Training ready hard, but with one goal right now, which is the championship. I'll definitely do a lot more triathalons. Maybe one at the end of this year.

THE MODERATOR: We wish you the best at California.

TONY KANAAN: Thank you.

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