INDY RACING LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 19, 2005
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us. We're joined by Bryan Herta from Andretti Green Racing and Ryan Briscoe from Target Chip Ganassi. Bryan, let's start with you. Tell us about your day.
BRYAN HERTA: I'm still smiling. It was laps as I would have liked, but still felt great to get on the road course. The car worked really well. I think there's still some things we'd like to improve on the car, but it's early days and it just felt good to turn right again.
THE MODERATOR: From your road course experience, obviously this being the first official IndyCar Series road test, what do you think about the IndyCar cars on the road course?
BRYAN HERTA: I have to say I was pretty surprised in a good way. Dario had already tested and had told me the car was nice and fun to drive. I have to say that it was a lot more nimble, and the brakes were a lot better than I thought they'd be. I think there's still, like I said, a lot of improvement that's going to come as we learn about the car, too. I know there's more speed in the package.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, tell us about your first official day in an IndyCar Series car.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I had a good day. With the team, we got through our full program. We tested a lot of stuff on the car. You know, it was really going quite well. It's a great way to be here. It's a great way to start the season. It doesn't really mean much. But it means we are looking good to start with.
THE MODERATOR: Same question I asked Bryan in terms of the IndyCar Series car and its abilities on the road course compared to what you've done the last couple years. How did the car react, did you think?
RYAN BRISCOE: It's quite good actually. I mean, for a car that's never raced on a circuit before, it's doing quite well. I think we've got a lot to gain still. Still a lot of improvement to put on the car. But as a start point, it's really good. It's responsive to setup changes. It's easy to get a good balance. And, yeah, I mean, we've got a lot of work to do, but it's looking good.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for either driver.
Q. The series has some pretty stringent rules about what you can do and can't do with the brakes. Are you comfortable you have enough brakes the way they mandated it?
BRYAN HERTA: Interesting. Yeah, we think so. We think definitely it's one of the areas that we're really putting a lot of focus on right now, you know, just learning there's some different pad options, master cylinders we can change to affect the feeling of the brakes. They seem to work quite well. It's just I think more a matter of getting the brakes to feel the way each driver wants them to feel. You know, everybody has their own little tweaks on how they like to run those.
Q. Ryan, can you tell me where and how many days you have tested prior to coming here, please?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, last November I had my first test with Chip Ganassi Racing, that was at Phoenix Firebird Circuit. We went to the PIR oval. In December we had a one-day test for TRD at Sebring. Phoenix, I did three days total.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else you could tell us about your day, Bryan. Looked like you gained considerable time this afternoon compared to this morning.
BRYAN HERTA: Literally I got three outings in today. We had some various issues that we were trying to fight off. You know, I didn't get through my entire test program, unfortunately, today so we've got a lot of extra work to try to do tomorrow. The good news is I've got plenty of tires for it, too. Just start first thing in the morning. I did the least laps I think today so I'll try and do the most tomorrow.
Q. About the tire warmers, you could almost see when they were going out this afternoon and do a few flyers with the fast laps. It was about 62, 63 degrees here today. Did you try with warm tires, Bryan?
BRYAN HERTA: I did run the tire warmers. You know, for me it's sort of a new thing to run the tire warmers and for our team, too, to get used to it. For me, it was good to feel the difference. This guy, he's pretty much never been without tire warmers in a big car. He's coming from the other side. I don't know if you ran without tire warmers.
RYAN BRISCOE: We ran tire warmers at the end of the session. I think the rules are going to be that the qualifying is going to be one (inaudible) with tire warmers. We're trying to practice with that.
THE MODERATOR: That rule is going to be road courses only, with the tire warmers. You had the fast lap of the day, Ryan, last lap, very last lap of the day. Was that just coincidence or?
RYAN BRISCOE: I think the track was getting better all day. We put new tires on at the end of the day. Obviously, it was going to be the time to do my best personal lap of the day. My (inaudible) I've gotten the most out of them because of problems we had with the car and (inaudible) flags. It was obvious that that was going to be my better lap.
Q. It seemed like Scott and Darren were changing cars throughout the day. Did you go into their cars or did somebody else assess your cars?
RYAN BRISCOE: They had different setups. We all have different setups in the cars. Their driving positions are quite similar. It's quite easy for them to swap cars and just get different opinions from each other's cars to see what the feedback is. It's a bit difficult for me because my position is difficult. Probably got a bit complicated having three drivers in three cars.
Q. Both of you as drivers have different chassis and different engines. I realize this is the first day and everybody is just finding their way out on the road course. Can you tell if one chassis has more downforce, how you compare? You must look at the other guys and see how fast they're doing.
BRYAN HERTA: I think it's difficult to draw too many conclusions off the first test day because I don't think everybody showed everything they have quite yet. At this point it seemed pretty evenly matched. I mean, at different points there were Dallaras, Toyotas, Hondas, Chevy up top at one point, too. I think everybody sort of had their moment in the sun.
Q. Bryan, how much have the engines improved since you first started running on a road course at the end of last year?
BRYAN HERTA: This is the first time I've driven an IRL IndyCar on a road course. I think after talking to Dario, he did a couple of tests at the end of the year and at the start of this year. You know, straightaway we were pretty pleasantly surprised by how good the Honda was. There weren't any real major issues getting up to speed on the road course. Now it seems like we're just into the mode of incremental improvements, just trying to find the sweet spot on the car. The engine is the same. On the ovals, we all know pretty much where we want to run these cars now, but there's a lot of areas for exploration right now on the road course. I think everybody is just trying to find what it takes to go fast.
Q. How much does a course like this help you set up for St. Pete?
RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know anything about St. Pete.
BRYAN HERTA: I think ultimately it's a lot different types of corners than what we'll see at St. Pete or a street course, even Watkins Glen or Sears Point, for that matter. But in the beginning stages of the road course testing, I think it's a good place, it's hard on brakes, so it's really good to focus on brake work. It's got some different types of corners, some slow corners and some medium stuff. You know, I think it will help us, but ultimately we're not going to go with this exact setup when we go to St. Pete. We'll adjust it.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. Appreciate your time.
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