2013 IICS Toyota GP of Long Beach Q&A with Team Owner Michael AndrettiPress Release
MICHAEL ANDRETTI, OWNER OF ANDRETT AUTOSPORT THAT FIELDS FOUR CARS IN IZOD INDYCAR SERIES FOR DRIVERS RYAN HUNTER-REAY, MARCO ANDRETTI, JAMES HINCHCLIFFE AND E.J. VISO, met with members of the media at Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy.
TALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM BEHIND THE TEAM RIGHT NOW: “It’s really doing great. We really focused on building on the momentum that we were able to get last year with the championship. At the end of the year, when we sat down and looked at it, we were pretty excited because we felt that there was still a lot of room for improvement within the team. I think we’ve made a lot of great changes over the winter affecting the results we are getting now. We’re pretty excited about it. I think one of the goals was to get all four cars competitive, more competitive. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) was the guy that seemed to stand out the most last year. So, we wanted to get more consistency with the other guys. I think we’ve improved there, and hopefully we can continue to improve that.”
TALK ABOUT THE PROGRESS YOU HAVE SEEN WITH YOUR INDY LIGHTS DRIVERS: “I’m really excited about them. They are doing a great job, both of them. Carlos (Munoz) if you watched him throughout the year last year he just got better and better and better. You just knew it at the end of the year that he is going to be a major title contender for this year. He is not letting us down, he has been quickest everywhere. Really should have won the first race. He had a problem with getting that penalty, but dominated the last race. We are excited about it. I think he has got a good shot at it. We had our first test with him in an Indy car at Texas and did an awesome job. I think he is going to turn a lot of heads when we get to Indianapolis this year. Zach (Veach) I’m really proud of. That kid just keeps getting better and better as well. He doesn’t have a ton of experience, but he just keeps working at it and getting better and better. I think our goal is to try to get him in the top three this year and hopefully win the championship with him next year and get him in an Indy car as well. Sort of do the same program that we are doing with Carlos. That is our goal if we can get it done.”
BACK AT BARBER IT ULTIMATELY DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE THERE WERE NO MORE YELLOWS, BUT I’M WONDERING HOW YOU FELT ABOUT JAMES HINCHCLIFFE JUST GETTING LEFT OUT THERE ON THE TRACK?
“Unfortunately, it’s just part of it. There is no way that they should throw a yellow just because a car is stuck on the track. That is just bad luck. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately you know what they say that is racing right?”
“I don’t know it may have taken more than one more lap. Just to help one guy, you have to worry about the big picture of the show. I don’t blame them for what they did.”
YOU HAVE A FOUR CAR TEAM PLUS YOUR INDY LIGHTS TEAMS. IN THIS ECONOMY A LOT OF TEAMS ARE HURTING TO GET SPONSORSHIP WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TO GETTING ALL THE SPONSORS AND GROWING YOU TEAM IN THIS ENVIRONMENT?
“Honestly, it’s just hard work. It’s not easy. It’s really difficult out there right now. One thing we haven’t let up on whatever we do if we are cutting budgets or whatever we are not cutting it on the R&D side. You have to be winning races. If you win race that helps a lot. That is one thing. Also, I think you have to look at the people we have within the team that are out there doing a job of selling and stuff. I think we have the best people in the business. We are very creative in everything we do. Not one sponsor is the same the way we do their program. You have to really listen to them and see if you can detail a program for them. It’s a tough complicated thing to do, but I think we do a pretty good job with it.”
SO MUCH OF THIS RACE ALWAYS SEEMS TO HINGE ON TURN ONE ON THE START AND THE RESTARTS. DO YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT THAT IN TERMS OF HOW YOU APPROACH IT OR IS EVERY DRIVER JUST DEAL WITH IT DEPENDING ON WHERE HE IS AT ON HIS OWN?
“Yeah, pretty much. Every track has got some things like that. You have to be careful. You know that it’s important to get a good start and get that pass in turn one because it is difficult to pass here. But then again, you don’t want to throw your race away taking too much of a risk. It’s a bit of a balance and it’s something that you just do as a driver spur of the moment. You just take it the way you feel it is. Some guys are more aggressive than others and they get away with it or they don’t. It’s just part of it. We try to tell our guys big picture. It’s all about points, but also I don’t want to say don’t go for it either because you have to go for it if you are going to win this championship. There is no sitting back and letting it come to you either.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT GETTING ALL FOUR CARS COMPETITIVE AGAIN MARCO (ANDRETTI) I THINK IS HAVING THE BEST START OF HIS CAREER. I KNOW IT’S ONLY BEEN TWO RACES BUT HE IS COMING PRETTY FAR IN THE FIELD EACH WEEK. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET HIM ALL THE WAY THERE TO VICTORY LANE?
“I think he has just got to continue to do what he is doing. He is really focused. He is really working hard. He is in the truck just studying all the data between all the cars and all the drivers. Just trying to see where he is weak and trying to improve that area and that is how you are going to do it. That is how all these guys do it. It’s no secret. It’s just a lot of hard work especially now because you are talking about hundredths of a second not even tenths of a second anymore. He is doing a good job. I think you can just see the progression. He knows he is not there yet, but I think he has definitely improved a lot. He has gotten himself halfway there. I think as the year goes on if he continues to work on it the way he is working on it I think he is going to be winning some races.”
I THINK YOU WERE LOOKING AT THE FT. LAUDERDALE RACE AS A PROMOTER IF YOU WERE CAN YOU GIVE US AN UPDATE ON THAT?
“We are looking at a lot of different things. We did do some searching down there. It’s still a long way off if it were to happen. We are not giving up on it, but there is still a lot of work to be done there. We are also looking at some other deals that I can’t talk about, but hopefully if they were to come about it would be really pretty exciting things. We are always out there looking for new venues.”
MARK MILES MADE A COMMENT THIS WEEK IT WAS BASED ON THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP RECOMMENDATION OF STARTING THE SEASON EARLY AND POSSIBLY ENDING IT AT INDY ON THE ROAD COURSE. WHAT IS YOUR FEELINGS ON THAT?
“It’s a tough one. I think they have done some research and they think it could be fairly successful. They know better than me. If they feel that you know I’m there to support whatever we think we can do to make the series better. I’m okay with it. I think if you talk about tradition I think there has been a lot of tradition broken there anyway. I think we cannot forget that our core fans are in that area. If we can draw say 100,000 for that race that would be huge. That could end up being our second biggest race of the year. If those sort of things are possible then why not do it. As for starting the season earlier I think that is smart because there are so many nice areas that you can start. I think you can start the season in February. I think in terms of competition on TV I think it is a lot better. You are not up against football. I think also though, we always talk about football. I think that is a bit of a cop out in some ways because I can’t say that some of our ratings are any better this time of year than they are later in the year. I don’t know if I agree with that 100 percent. I do think having a six month off season is not good, but I mean say if they were able to do a mini-series in that six months, say an international series I would be all for that. I think that would be awesome, which I know they have been talking about things like that. That to me would be something that I think all the teams would get behind.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE LONG BEACH MEMORY?
“That is a tough one because I have had great memories here. It probably has to be my first win. The first win is always special. The way we won it was great. Al (Unser) Jr. made us work for that really hard there. We just went at it good old fashion racing. I would say probably the first one.”
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT WE WILL EVER SEE ROAD AMERICA ON THE SCHEDULE AGAIN?
“I don’t know. I’m not the one to ask. I love Road America. I’m all for it if it can make sense financially for everybody including Road America. I think it would be great. It’s just one of the nicest race tracks not only in the United States, but in the world. I know there is not a driver out there that wouldn’t love to be racing there. There is not a team owner that wouldn’t want to be up there. We are all for it if it could make sense financially.”
CAN YOU GIVE US A SNEAK PEAK AT SOME PLANS THAT ARE IN THE WORKS FOR THE MILWAUKEE INDYFEST?
“It’s going really well. We are going to be adding another race. We are going to have the Mazda’s there, the Pro Mazda Series, which I think is going to be great. They always do a nice job on the ovals. We are going to really focus again like we did last year on the festival atmosphere so the infield is going to hopefully be jumping like it was last year. We are going to be adding hopefully some more new things and exciting things for people to do. We are working on the band situation which I think we will be announcing in a couple of weeks and some other exciting things. We are excited about it. It’s nice to have a little time to prepare and hopefully we will be a little bit better prepared than we were last year.”
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Article Tags: Andretti Autosport, FIL, Firestone, Firestone Indy Lights, IICS, IndyCar, IZOD, IZOD IndyCar Series, Long Beach (CA), Michael Andretti, Streets of Long Beach, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach