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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

J.K. Vernay
October 2, 2010

THE MODERATOR: We'll get things started with our 2010 Firestone Indy Lights champion, J.K. Vernay. Just a few notes on J.K.'s season. It is his first competing in Firestone Indy Lights, and he is the fifth driver to win the championship in their rookie season. J.K. scored five win this is year, including his very first start this year on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. J.K., talk about the first year in Indy Lights coming out here, winning your first race and now capping it off with a championship?
J.K. VERNAY: Well, it was a great start for me and in this championship to start with a win. For a rookie, it's always great for the team, for the confidence for the driver. And, yes, we won the two first race, so we took a really good start, after we did another podium.
I mean, all the season we did great work with my team, and we were able to win five more race after St. Pete. So it's just a great season with five wins, nine podiums. After a win, we manage for the championship, we were able to do it.
So, it's great. It's just difficult for a competitive driver to ride and finish always in fifth place. It's always difficult to celebrate it. But anyway, we did 12 really good race, and that is the most important.
I'm a rookie in this series, I'm a rookie in America, and I don't think that another driver did it. So I'm just proud about the work that we did together. And also I was able to improve myself as a driver to learn quickly all the things, because it's so different compared to Europe. The car is different, the tire's different, the racing is different.
So just it's a good year, and now we have to be focused on next year to go to IndyCar, to find a good deal for IndyCar Series and that's all. I will be the happiest guy in the world if I go there.
THE MODERATOR: Did you feel really going into this race knowing all you had to do was essentially start it to win the championship? Was the pressure really off going into this weekend?
J.K. VERNAY: I mean, the last two races I just tried to manage a good chance. I finished fourth and third, and I was really safe on track. On this race I ride with the spirit to win it.
I had no pressure, I just had to take the start so it's nothing. I mean, it's nothing, it's less pressure than if you have to win it to win the title.
So, no, just a stay out of trouble, and we were not able to resolve it when you are five or six miles if there is another car with a problem somewhere. I still have to learn on the oval, but did a few podiums. So I know I can be quick on the oval. We just didn't find the solution.
But it's a part of the Motorsports. Sometimes you can have trouble. And it was a bad race for us, but we did also ten really beautiful races, and I'm really proud of that.

Q. J.K., tell us about the different challenges of the circuits you had to compete on this year? You had to run road and street circuits this year?
J.K. VERNAY: I love street circuit because, I don't know, I was always quick in Europe. I finished second in the World Championship in Macao. It was one of the most difficult tracks in the world.
So I have just a lot of pressure, and I have a lot of confidence on street course. I'm just happy to race on it. So it was a not a big deal for me to arrive. But it's always important to win the race, but it can be easier in front, I mean.
After the oval, I have to learn everything. And my first experience in Indy was great. Not to make any trouble, but I was able to overtake. I was in the back, and I restarted last and come back first.
The first experience was great. I was confident, I was able to overtake by the outside. It was really fun, a lot of adrenaline, lot of sensation. I like it.
After I finish third, I'm still learning every lap even if I was 15 one lap down today, I was still learning. It's a good experience for next year. I mean, it's my goal. I know that I can be quick on the road course, and in Indy Light, I hope I will be quick in IndyCar.
But I have a lot to learn on the oval. And that's why I'm learning every lap. I try to learn as soon and as quickly as possible.

Q. Do you feel well trained to move up, and who have you talked to teamwise?
J.K. VERNAY: Well, speaking with a few teams I mean, it's difficult to say. I'm optimistic. I would be optimistic when I would sign my contract. But I prefer to say nothing before.
Yeah, I think I have the maturity to go to IndyCar. I did F3 in Europe, it's a great level. I know on the road course I have the potential to be quick. After on the oval I have to learn, but I know that I can be quick.
I don't think I'm stupid. And my engineer give me advice, I understand it. I just have to work with good people and I will learn, I think.

Q. If things didn't come together for you to run in IndyCar, would you be happy to run a second year in Firestone Indy Lights?
J.K. VERNAY: I mean, I won this championship for first year for a rookie, so I think I -- I mean, I won it already. So for me I'm not saying I'm not going to be there again or to be here again in Indy Lights. My goal is to go to IndyCar, honestly.
It's not the goal, it's the target. The target is to go to IndyCar Series next year, and not go to Indy Lights after. You never know what can happen. But I'm not focused on that.

Q. It seem that's ones who have come in and won the title the first time out, the second one is the hard one to win and get more experience on the racetracks because the cars are a lot quicker. Obviously you have the talent, but if the opportunity didn't present itself, and somebody said I'll give you a car and run Indy Lights again, and it's a good one, would you be willing to take it and run a second year?
J.K. VERNAY: I mean, you never know. For sure, maybe I would be in Indy Lights. You never know what can happen during the winter. But it's not really my goal. I think I'm ready for IndyCar, and we'll try everything to go to the next step. But if I have to do another year for any reasons, I will do it.
THE MODERATOR: That concludes today's post race press conferences. Congratulations on the 2010 championship.

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