HOW IS THE CAR SO FAR?
“We were really tight to start second practice and we made a lot of improvements there. I think that is what helped us get going so well in qualifying trim. We just didn’t make improvements during qualifying. I think we have a lot to go off of and I’m proud of everyone for working so hard. It’s a lot to cram in, a lot of changes that we crammed in those couple of hours, but I think they are going to pay off.”
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM BEING HERE THE LAST TIME?
“I mean I think in general it really just has more to do with being familiar with the car, familiar with the track itself which I’ve raced here a lot now or plenty of times to feel comfortable with the track. All of it helps and all of it helps a lot more in the beginning. It’s just that learning curve in the beginning. Beyond that it really just has to do with how the car feels. If the car feels good you are going to move up. If it doesn’t then you are going to have to work on it.”
EXCITED ABOUT MARK MARTIN BEING A PART OF THE TEAM?
“Yeah, I’ve known Mark for a long time. He’s a really nice guy and he’s really interested in helping. That is good. Shoot he can fit in my car so maybe someday he will drive my car too. I always like getting other drivers feedback.”
GREG ZIPADELLI SAID THERE MIGHT BE A CHANCE YOU HAVE THREE TEAMMATES NEXT YEAR. LOOKING BACK AT YOUR TIME AT ANDRETTI HOW VALUABLE IS IT HAVING AS MANY TEAMMATES AS POSSIBLE?
“Well if it does work out that there are four of us on the team next year then I’m excited. I always like having more people to look at as far as their styles. There are more engineers there are more crew chiefs and more people around to develop things. For me I think it’s a great thing.”
YOU TALK ABOUT JUST TRYING TO TAKE EVERYTHING THAT COMES YOUR WAY. IS THIS THE HARDEST PLACE TO KIND OF KEEP COMPOSURE AND KEEP YOUR COOL?
“I think it can be frustrating, but there is a certain element that it does become single file and there is really nowhere for anyone to go. A lot of times where it might seem like the person right in front of you is holding you up it’s because the person in front of him is holding him up. The restarts are going to be important and that has been the case all year. That has been the most important time to make passes. Whenever you are running really close to people it always gives them a lot more of an opportunity to lay on you and that is the kind of stuff that gets you a little fired up.”
HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO THROWING YOUR HELMET LAST YEAR WHEN THE REGAN (SMITH) THING HAPPENED?
“(Laughs) No I don’t think I get enough helmets to throw them. I never think of that, but I do think of the fact that I want another driver to see if I’m angry. I think I made that at least mildly clear.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT KURT (BUSCH) POSSIBLY COMING OVER, WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE TEAM AND HELP YOU AS WELL?
“Well I mean if like I said if I have four teammates or if there are four of us next year then I just answered it. I would like that. I would like to be able to learn from other drivers no matter who they are. If it just happens to be Kurt then he is a fantastic driver and he gets up on the wheel and I feel like there would be a lot that all of us could learn.”
HAVE YOU SPENT TIME WITH KURT (BUSCH) PERSONALLY AWAY FROM THE TRACK?
“Shoot the only driver I spend a lot of time with personally is Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.). We spend so much time at the track together, but I have known Kurt for a long time. Shoot it goes all the way back to when he drove an IndyCar at Sebring I believe. He drove a Rahal Letterman car and I was there watching that day. I’ve always really liked him and got along really well with him. We’ve never had any problems on the track at all so we have a good working relationship for sure.”
THERE WAS A REPORT THIS WEEK THAT MICHAEL ANDRETTI IS TALKING TO JUAN (PABLO MONTOYA) ABOUT POSSIBLY GOING OVER THERE. WHAT KIND OF A FIT WOULD JUAN BE WITH THE ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT GROUP?
“I don’t know. I think it all depends on who you end up having to work with and what your obligations are with the team. Things always feel like they are going really well if you are running well. If you are running well it will all be great.”
TONY (STEWART) APPARENTLY HAS THE ABILITY TO TALK ON THE RADIO FROM HIS HOME. DID HE SAY ANYTHING TO YOU IN PRACTICE?
“Tony (Stewart) was trying to talk on the radio, but I couldn’t hear him. I could hear him key up, so I’m happy for him for that because the poor guy is laid up for such a long time. He barely can move around, so I’m glad that he’s able to get interactive with us and gosh technology huh it’s pretty awesome.”
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO TALK TO HIM A LITTLE MORE THIS WEEK?
“I went and saw him this week again and he is progressively getting better you know. We were joking about how he has to go to the hospital to get a check-up and how the ambulance comes, and they bring him out on a stretcher. Poor guy. But he was in good spirits and he was definitely of the mindset that he needs to do it right, and do rehab right. You know, they hope that he can be back in January. And if he does, he is like, ‘I don’t need to be back any sooner, so let’s just do this right’, and I think that is the right attitude. So I think he is in a really good place……as good of a place that you can be with many incisions in your leg.”
DO YOU MISS TONY BEING AT THE RACE TRACK?
“It hasn’t been that long that he hasn’t been here. So I think that in general he is a great driver, we have similar styles and similar feels with the car, and he plays a really good cheerleader. I think the team has done a really good job of keeping their cool and being up for any of the challenges. I never felt like the team has been disrupted by other drivers coming into the 14 car, so I feel like they are all doing a really good job. That comes with putting good people in. So, I just miss it because he is a great driver and he is the leader of this team.”
HOW DIFFERENT FOR YOU IS THE TIRE TEST IN PHOENIX AS OPPOSED TO THE TEAM TEST AT RICHMOND?
“Well, I have only done one tire test and it was at Daytona. You do get a fair amount of time to work on the car, but there is definitely dedicated time to running different sets of tires and things like that. Even though it’s not a full test for the team to run through the changes, any time is good time for me in developing a good relationship with Goodyear. Just having a hand in picking a tire is a big benefit. You are always going to pick one that you feel you run the best with. So I think that is good or at least being able to have a feel for it so you know what is coming when they choose a certain kind of tire. Honestly sometimes maybe the most interesting tire isn’t the most consistent one; it’s the one that goes off the most. It’s all good for me; track time is good for me. Only running a couple times at Phoenix in a Cup car, I think it’s really good for me to run somewhere like that.”
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A TIRE THAT YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE WITH OR ARE YOU TRYING TO KEEP IN MIND EVERYBODY ELSE OR IS THAT NOT YOUR JOB THAT IS GOODYEAR’S JOB?
“I think you keep in mind how it feels for you and then how you think it will make the race run. Those are the two factors. I don’t know how other people’s cars run with certain tires so you can’t go off of that. You really just need to sort of feel out what is best for you and then decide. Ultimately Goodyear is going to make the choice. A lot of it is just running that green tire and seeing how the regular tire runs to the green tire so we can transition over to that and getting miles on it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing a full run to see how the tire degrades make sure there are no issues. Giving feedback is really the core of it.”
YOU GOT A GIFT AT NEW HAMPSHIRE FROM BRUTON SMITH. CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT?
“Bruton has given me now two pairs of shoes which is now one more than Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.). (Laughs) I’m just kidding.”
RICKY’S WERE BOOTS THOUGH…
“That’s true he has got way more of an upper hand with the boots. He has got him beat never mind, just heels he doesn’t. Anyway they were Jimmy Choo’s this time and they are very fancy, very dressy. I haven’t found the right occasion for them. I thought I was going to wear them during the ESPY’s but it didn’t match my dress right. I will find a home for them I promise you that.”
WHAT BRAND OF SHOE’S WERE THE FIRST ONE’S?
“The first ones were Y. Jaiselle’s. Yeah, they were very comfortable and I have worn them lots. Sometimes it’s just good to be a girl.”