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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

Marco Andretti
Tony Kanaan
January 31, 2007

Q. Talk about how you felt to get back in the car.
MARCO ANDRETTI: I'm still learning how to drive the thing again. It's been way too long for me. I thought I could just bounce right back like riding a bike, but it's not that easy. So still struggling with that, but a couple more runs we'll be back to normal, and we can just start working on car setup again. But as for the track, I've raced a 24-hour course but not this one. Actually on the first lap I was going to go on the 24-hour course and forgot the left.
I don't know, still learning, still learning the track a little bit. That's my excuse.

Q. Tony, how about you, your day out there, a lot of difference from when we were back here back in September?
TONY KANAAN: Actually the track, the grip level I think was pretty much the same, probably a little bit different, just because of the 24-hour. But like Marco said, he hasn't driven me and he forgot, but I'm getting old, so I completely forgot since September, as well, so I was rusty at the beginning of the day. But we had a pretty good morning. I think we run as much laps as all the top 5 guys, so trying to help the team to get back on track.

Q. Marco, this question is for you, you've run go-karts here before. What do you remember about your go-kart experience and do you think you'd ever come back here and race go-karts here at Daytona?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I don't remember much. I didn't know I raced go-karts here. I'm sure I did. It all blends into one. It's all a blur for me. I don't know, I'll drive anything with a motor and tires for sure.

Q. Question to Marco, in the long-term, is Formula 1 an option for you, and if so, will you get any advice from your father and grandfather?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Always getting advice from them. I don't know, yeah, in the future for sure. I'm forcing myself not to think about it or else I'll lose focus on my main goal, and that's to get a 500 and hopefully a championship. I don't think it would be fair to me or my team to even think that far because then it just sort of takes me out of contention this year because that means my mind isn't 110 percent in it, which is what you need.

Q. Marco, we see a lot of second- and third-generation drivers in Motorsports. How much do you think racing talent can be inherited, and how much of it is just growing up around the support? And I also wanted to ask Tony if some of the non-Penske and Ganassi teams can close the gap on them this year.
MARCO ANDRETTI: I say, first of all, you have to be born with it. It cannot be taught. There's a lot to learn once you're born with it. But no, that's definitely the number one thing.
TONY KANAAN: Would say no, that would mean that I'm giving up on the championship, so yes, we are working very hard to close the gap, and I think the lap times this morning show that a little bit.
That's all we can do. I think after dominating two years in a row the way we did, we kind of got behind a little bit. I'm pretty confident that we'll be competitive again this year.

Q. What's the good thing about this course for testing?
TONY KANAAN: I think as a road course type of course, it's good for probably like Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen, the places that we go, not like a street course like St. Petersburg or Detroit. I think the most important thing, I think, for all the drivers is to get back in the car. So the course has a lot of runoff areas, some points are a bit difficult, a bit dangerous, but I think it's a good place to be. The name says everything. I mean, once I walk into this place, and September was my first time ever here, and I was pretty impressed. Again, last night when I walked in again, it always gives you that.
The track is nice. It's another test track, although unfortunately we don't race here, but I don't have any complaints. I think it's good to be back in the car so the track is always going to look good for us.

Q. Question for Tony: What are the things you try to accomplish during testing, and secondly, would you like to see a race here?
TONY KANAAN: Well, during tests, I mean, we make plans all winter, and we do tests in wind tunnels and the shaker rigs and we try simulations in the computer. Basically we put all this stuff together and we pick the best out of everything and then we come here to prove it. That's the good thing about testing. So we try to accomplish it to make sure that the work that we did in-house simulating things will prove itself at the track, so that means we're on the right path.
About the race, I think a lot of things need to come together for that to happen, but why not? I think you're asking a road course guy if he wants to ask for a road course, so the answer would be yes, I would like to see a race here, not taking any race out of the calendar, but if we could add another one.

Q. Toward the end of last season there was a little bit of uncertainty with Dario's status. From the two of you, talk about having him back again.
TONY KANAAN: For the tenth year in a row he's back on the team. That's Dario. Every year he pulls as long as he can. For me and Marco, I think it was really important because of the departure of Brian, and Danica came in, so it's going to take a little bit for us to adjust and her to get adapted to each other. So we're having three out of the four guys last year knew it was going to help on that matter. Dario is a very important driver for us as far as helping us in the setup, and sometimes he took us out of the hole big-time. I think me and Marco pushed really hard to have him back, and then he wanted to be back. But that's just Dario; he will do that every year just to pretend that he's not coming back, so we kind of keep calling him and begging him to come back. He likes the attention. We're happy to have him back.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Same thing. It was a big bummer to lose Brian because I've learned so much from all three of them, but Brian, of course, as well. And I'm not ready to be No. 2 guy on this team yet. It was good that he came back. Now I can still learn from the best.

Q. If you could take a fan first in a single car ride and then in a pack on a Daytona track, how would you explain to them what they would expect out of the ride?
MARCO ANDRETTI: I think our cars are different than NASCAR on this track. On the oval, I don't know. Road course, yeah, I'd love to give anybody just an outlet just to have them experience what it feels like.
TONY KANAAN: Think you're talking about the road course, right, not the oval? On a single lap I would give them to Marco because he can get a hell of a lot of excitement out of the fans.
In a pack here would be a bit different. I don't think they would be very impressed about running side by side because when you talk about Daytona, people think we see big packs like we do in Michigan and all those big tracks. But the excitement would definitely be there. I don't think a fan would have his eyes open for the whole lap. I'll bet you once he gets to the bus stop he would definitely close his eyes. I would say they would have a blast.

Q. On a serious note, who's the guy on the team or girl on the team that does the sort of things that Brian had to do from a development standpoint? Who has to do some of that, or is it everybody now?
TONY KANAAN: Well, now, I think it's being put over, spread over -- at the beginning of the year, for the three guys, and then like Marco said, maybe more towards myself and Dario just because of the experience. It's not talent, it's nothing; it's just by the time that we have on the seat is a lot more than Marco and her. I would say it got shifted a little bit between myself and Dario right now, and then slowly Marco is definitely helping us in all the areas, as well. Unfortunately Danica hasn't run yet today. Once it gets running will try to take something out of her, too

Q. T. K., if you could talk about the development of Hornish on the road courses, he has come a long way, probably more so than anybody in the driver field today?
TONY KANAAN: I agree, but he probably drove 10,000 miles more than any other driver here, too, with his fake -- whatever car you want to call it there, that they go everywhere.
When you have talent and you're born with talent, I think you just need development, and the guy has talent, there is no doubt. He's a very capable race car driver. It was unfair to him when we went to road courses at first because we all had so much experience and he didn't, so he had to catch up.
I think that's all he did. That's why Penske got him in every car he could possibly drive on a road course, and he became as good as us now.
I had no doubt at one point he was going to step up, and just because of testing it's been so restricted, they had to find another way. I think he came a long ways, definitely more than anybody else.

Q. Marco, can you give me just your thoughts on being here at Daytona and maybe some of the Andretti family history here racing?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, obviously it's very special to come back to such a great place, a well-known place, rather, a lot of family history, mostly with the 24-hours and stuff like that.
Yeah, I mean, it seems like with my father and grandfather, I get that everywhere I go. But of course it's great to come back.

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