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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

A.J. Foyt IV
Jonathan Klein
August 15, 2007

THE MODERATOR: Right now we have Indy Pro Series driver Jonathan Klein. This is his second season in the Indy Pro Series. Last year he finished 4 points shy of the title; he had five top-ten finishes in 12 starts. He has recorded six top-ten in 11 starts and is returning to races in Chicagoland after missing Kentucky. You got banged up during a practice session at mid-Ohio. How are you feeling?

JONATHAN KLEIN: I'm starting to get back to normal. First three weeks or so after the accident I-- it was pretty painful. Didn't really realize it during the weekend, because I kept getting shots in my butt cheeks to take the pain away, and it did a good job, masked the pain.
I had an MRI done, and I had did have two broken vertebras -- not bad, but bad enough to where it wasn't a good idea for me to race at Kentucky because of what might happen. So I'm back at it and excited for Sonoma.

THE MODERATOR: Glad to have you back. As you said, at Infineon last year you finished fourth and third there, double header. Three of your top ten finishes this year have been on road courses. Do you think you'll be up front this year?
JONATHAN KLEIN: Yeah, I think so. It's a new team, and we're improving every race weekend. I think we have progress to make if we want to run right at the front of the pack, but I think we'll have a top--five car there, and I'm not too worried about what's going to happen.
THE MODERATOR: As you mentioned, your running this year with Team Moore Racing. That team came together shortly before the start of the season, and your deal came together before the second race. How is that going this year?

JONATHAN KLEIN: It's been good. The guys on the team are great, I get on well with everybody, and Mark Moore is an excellent manager/owner/engineer, and he and I work well together.
We started off behind everyone else, and we struggled, being a new team and starting after the first race, but I'm proud to be part of the team, and I have the experience from last year, what it takes to run up front and finish well, so I hope that, you know, working with Mark and the rest of the team I hope I can help raise their game, and next year they can be the team to beat in '08.

Q. You kinda got put on to the ovals suddenly when Tom Wood got hurt. What's that been like, kind of thrown into the fire like that?

JONATHAN KLEIN: It's been okay. I think our road course car is a bit stronger than our oval car, but that goes back to the team being new, and that's part of the teething process. As far as me getting right back into the ovals, it was no big deal. I enjoy them a lot, and I think I'm a strong oval driver.
It is unfortunate how that deal came about with Tom getting injured in a testing accident, but I can't thank Tom and Mark enough for helping me out and getting me on the ovals.

Q. You mentioned a minute ago on the road courses you have expectations of a top-five finish. When you're doing an oval, what's your personal expectation? Are you thinking you're going to run that well on the ovals as well, or do you temper your expectations in that regard?

JONATHAN KLEIN: I understand in the ovals we're not going to be running up with Alex Lloyd or Wade or Mutoh; they've had time to develop their oval cars and rub on their cars, and we've just been this year Team Moore getting into the swing of things with a start-up team, and that's just the way it goes.
All the tools are there. We just need to start putting it together, and I think we will at Chicagoland.

Q. Do you foresee yourself with Team Moore again next year, you guys making a good run, oval to road courses?
JONATHAN KLEIN: I think we have a good rapport, and we'll have to see what the future brings.

Q. It seems to be tough for you guys in the Pro Series to move up in the IRL this year. Think there may be a chance next year, or is that a tight situation?

JONATHAN KLEIN: It's a tough call. Alex Lloyd would be the first guy to move up. He's an outstanding driver, he's good with the media and a nice personality. He's not the kind of guy that you love to beat. Obviously you want to beat him, but when you get beat by him, you don't get so frustrated about it, because he's a good guy, and he's fun, and he's very respectful.
So I have a lot of respect for Alex, and he's a good guy to contend with. As far as moving up, it's going to be tough for anyone, just because of the lack of availability of a seat. The drivers in the IndyCar Series have established careers and contracts that keep-- make it hard for us up-and-coming drivers to move up. But the IndyCar Series and the Indy Pro Series are working hard at making opportunities, and I have faith in them that they'll make something happen.

THE MODERATOR: Jonathan, the last race is Chicagoland, it's close to your home in Long Grove. Just wondering how you feel about the end of the season on a track so close to friends and family?

JONATHAN KLEIN: It's going to be fun. I'm going to have a lot of supporters out there. Last year I showed well, made a boo-boo in qualifying and just missed pole to Jay, and I went out there and me and Wade pretty much duked it out.
So I know how to lead the race there, and it's a fun track, a track that bodes well for exciting racing and big packs, so it's definitely going to be probably one of the most exciting races of the season although hopefully not as exciting as Homestead.
Jonathan, I thank you. Appreciate your time and good luck in the rest of the season.

JONATHAN KLEIN: Thank for having me. See you in California.
THE MODERATOR: We have IndyCar Series driver A.J. Foyt with us. A.J. is in his fourth season since winning the Indy Pro Series championship in season two. He competed two seasons for his grandfather before making a move to the Andretti Green last year, and this year driving the No. 22 car for Vision Racing.
He's earned a career best, third place finish last week in Kentucky, leading 13 laps of that race. Congratulations on the great run at Kentucky. If you could recap that race for us, starting 10th and moving up in the field and finishing third, love to hear about it.

A.J. FOYT IV: It was definitely a great race for that whole team, and the whole weekend was good, not only for my car but my other teammates also. We started 10th and ran in 8th place all day long, and I had two pit stops, and my guys were able to get me up in the lead with about 12 laps to go, and Tony Kanaan had a strong car weekend long and was able to get by me, and Scott Dixon was able to get by me, and I hung in there to finish third, and it was a good weekend for us.
THE MODERATOR: An all-around weekend for the team. Next two races are on road courses, Infineon and Belle Isle. Your best finish on a road course is 13th. What's the next step for you as you see breaking into the top ten?

A.J. FOYT IV: We just got to California today, so we're going to test at Sonoma right now, and I think that's what it's going to take is getting more laps and more experience on the road courses. I can see myself getting better and more comfortable, and it's just going to take more and more laps.
Hopefully we'll learn a lot tomorrow during our test and be able to come back here and try and get a top ten on one of these road courses.

Q. That was a great finish. That probably perked you up a bit, didn't it?
A.J. FOYT IV: Yeah, it really did.

Q. A podium finish?

A.J. FOYT IV: Yeah, it really not only perks me up but the whole team, and gets everybody excited about the rest of the year and so on.
My guys, like I said, they did an excellent job to get me up there in the pits to be able to contend for the win like that, and it gives everybody on the team motivation so we can finish up this year strong.

Q. Seems like your whole team has gotten better all year long.
A.J. FOYT IV: Yeah, not only my car but Ed's and Tom's car. We've done what we could and made small changes among the team to do what we can to get all of us up there to get a win for Vision Racing, and the changes that we've made have been good, so hopefully we have three races left to try to get a victory.

Q. Talk a little bit about the resurgence of Tony Kanaan. He won the last couple of races. Do you consider him the favorite at Sonoma?
A.J. FOYT IV: He won here last year, right?

Q. Marco won last year.
A.J. FOYT IV: He won two years ago. Obviously he's on a roll right now, and I definitely wouldn't consider him an underdog this weekend, so I would say him and Dario and Dixon are probably the favorites to be up there.

Q. Can you talk about the mental demands of driving on a road course as opposed to an oval?
A.J. FOYT IV: Actually some road courses are harder than others when it comes to the physical aspect. I've never been on Sonoma before, but I've heard it's pretty tough. Mid-Ohio was a little tough, and that's when the training and exercise comes into play for us. We do it all year long, so it shouldn't be too bad, hopefully.

Q. When Tony was in San Francisco last week he mentioned that for a few years things were pretty quiet on the IndyCar Series, as far as everybody got along and nobody was-- there was no real clashes. This year there seems to be more acrimony. Do you see that as well? Do you think it's good for the sport?

A.J. FOYT IV: Yeah, I think it's really good for the sport. All of us are competitive and going the speeds that we go, and racing as close as we do to each other, things are going to happen on the track to make you upset with one another.
But when it all comes down to it, everybody respects each other on the racetrack.

Q. Congratulations on your third place down at Kentucky. I noticed in the stands there were a lot of fans that were cheering you on. Do you have some connection to Kentucky that makes you special to those folks?
A.J. FOYT IV: I was actually born in Louisville, so that may help a little bit. I lived there until I was, like, eight years old. My dad was a horse trainer there, so I still have a lot of friends there, so maybe that's what it was.

Q. I wanted to ask you something about some of the driver conduct. Of course it's been widely publicized that Brian Barnhardt in the driver's meeting before the Kentucky race essentially either said -- or didn't say, actually -- that everyone was on probation.
You were there. What was the tenor of that meeting? Can you talk about that a little bit? Do you feel like if he said that, was it something that was said in a formal way that, yeah, this is-- "I'm going to crack down on you guys," or was it just him trying to get a point across to you guys?

A.J. FOYT IV: It's true, he was pretty upset after the Michigan race and pretty much did say all drivers were on probation until the end of the year, and I don't think there was dirty racing in Kentucky to sit anybody out.
There were a few mistakes people made that caused some big crashes, but I don't think they were intentional like some of the racing that was going on in Michigan.

Q. Do you foresee we will see more black flags coming out in the last few races of the season, or maybe the guys having to sit for a race?
A.J. FOYT IV: I see, you know, maybe him being a little more strict with people jumping the starts and people blocking and stuff like that. I think we all know here that we can't do that stuff. I think more the most part you'll see clean racing and people doing what they're supposed to do.

Q. Can you talk Indy Pro Series with me?
A.J. FOYT IV: Yeah.

Q. Since you came up through the Pro Series and you drive with a teammate who came up with the Pro Series, there are a lot of young guys that are looking to make the jump this year.
One of the criticisms that I've heard this year about the Pro Series is that it doesn't necessarily translate to what you need to know to drive an IndyCar. Last night Larry Curry said going from the mono shocks to the others was important, and he said he would like to see the Pro Series run on the same tires as IndyCars.
Since you're one of the field that made the jump successfully, what do you think about that? Is it a good way to prepare for IndyCar?

A.J. FOYT IV: You know, I think it is in some ways and it isn't in some ways. The Indy Pro Series you're definitely not going as fast, but you're still racing close with each other, and you get to race on some of the same tracks. But the difference between the IndyCars is you're going so much faster, and you have pit stops and so much more engineering involved with the IndyCars that you have to know to help the team get your car better.
So it's definitely a big jump; it's not a small jump, and it's something that took me a while to get used to, also. I think there is still some good drivers in the Pro Series that can make the jump; it's going to be a little tough for them at the start.

Q. Who have you seen at the Pro Series level that's particularly impressed you?
A.J. FOYT IV: I'd consider Alex Lloyd; he's won a lot of races this year. I don't know the guy, but it seems like he must be pretty good, and also Wade Cunningham seems to do pretty good, also.

Q. As an IndyCar driver, if Vision had an Indy Pro Series driver, and that driver could come back and tell you the track is doing this or that, is that the kind of feedback that you would find helpful?
A.J. FOYT IV: I don't know if it's possible for a Pro Series driver to come tell an IndyCar driver how the track is or what the grip level is, because the cars are so much more different when it comes to aerodynamics and stuff like that.

Q. What do you do to prepare yourself for each race as you step into the cockpit and ride that Porsche through the turns?

A.J. FOYT IV: You know, it just takes concentration and a lot of mental work also to stay focused a whole, long race. It can be really fun and exciting, and if your car is not that good, it can be not so fun at times.
But it's a heck of an experience, and I'm thankful for the opportunity I got to be driving for Vision Racing this year.

Q. What kind of things do you go through with your body preparation? We always here about the G force on the body.
A.J. FOYT IV: You train a lot, obviously, to keep your heart rate up. You can't really do anything for the Gs, but you have to get your body in good shape where it doesn't affect it so much. That's why you hear talk with the guys about training a lot, and 90% of us have personal trainers that get us ready for the races.

Q. What kind of things do you prepare for these races as far as personal training?
A.J. FOYT IV: A lot of field work, even like what a football player would do, running a lot, bunch of body weight training, also doing some weight training, but also like just a lot of running. Whatever you do to keep your heart rate up for the whole hour of your workout is what we go through.

Q. How did you keep your spirits up, how did the team keep their spirits up, during the first couple of years when things weren't going so good and leading into last week's race? And you must have felt the hard work paid off?

A.J. FOYT IV: I think we knew at the beginning of the year that it was going to take time to get exactly where we needed to be. We showed a bunch of promise in a few of the races, but we just never got it all done, all put together in one race.
I think we all kept our confidence up, and we all knew what we were possibly doing, so it finally paid off for us and put a whole weekend together and came out with a good finish.

THE MODERATOR: A.J., thanks again for joining us today, and good luck at Sonoma.

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