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INDY RACING LEAGUE MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 19, 2008
TIM HARMS: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have several guests joining us today. Starting the call with us today is Indy Pro Series Driver Richard Antonucci. Later in the call we'll be joined by Marty Reed, Scott Goodyear and Charlie Morgan to talk about the ESPN ABC broadcast this year. Finally we'll be joined by Dale Coyne, Bruno Junqueira, and Mario Moraes. Good afternoon, Richard.
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Good afternoon, how are you?
Q. Doing well. Richard's coming back for his second season in the Indy Pro Series. Last year he contested the nine road course events driving for his uncle, Eddie Cheever, Junior. He won races at Mid Ohio and Infineon, and he won the pole at Infineon. This year he'll be driving the Number 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Welcome back to the Indy Pro Series. Tell us about the opportunity to join a powerhouse team like Sam Schmidt Motorsports?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: : Well, thanks, first of all for having me here today. I think it is a great opportunity. You know, you could put a "pat on the shoulder" and kind of good recognition for the strong efforts and, you know, good work that was taking place last season on a partÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½time schedule. So whatever we did the last season in this field got us up or got myself up to a very good drive and a great opportunity to shine and hopefully make the next step, which is IndyCar Racing. It's a good step and a good chance so far.
Q. You've had a couple of chances to test with the team. How are you adapting to the team and getting along with those guys?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Well, the team and the guys, you know, the staff in general is run excellently. Great people, very dedicated. They're winners in the sense that they're used to winning, but it's also just a mental status. The people are very dedicated and sharp. It's just contagious to work with people like that.
I consider myself someone who is hard on myself, and I hold certain goals as well. So I think we match quite well. And perhaps I'm a bit green on the ovals though. I've never had a race under my belt, so I'm going to be a rookie in every effect, you know, for ovals.
But, you know, in terms of the championship, it's nine road course races, eight ovals. It's a very complete package. I can't wait to get underway and burn and do as well as I can.
Q. You touched on the ovals that was kind of my next question. What are some of the things you think you need to learn about racing on the ovals?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Everything. I know a certain type of oval. I've never raced on a short oval nor have I ever tested on a Super Speedway. Homestead is the main track. And my rookie test that was taken place last autumn in Kansas right outside Kentucky. Those are two very similar tracks. So I need to get used to the two of the three other types of ovals.
I need to get used to drafting, which is a big thing when you're racing. There are certain tracks that you can flat out with any car with any setÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½up will be flat out. So we'll have a very close field, and drafting will be what separates the men from the boys.
Q. Last year Alex Lloyd who drove the Number 7 car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, phenomenal year. One of the keys was getting off to a fast start. He won the first five races. How important is it to get off to a quick start?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: It's always very important. I'm not going to say it's the end of the world, because I don't want to dig myself a grave before we start. But you've seen comebacks in the past. You've also seen people start very strongly. I think it was a question, a case of certain circumstances as well. I saw those races on video. Those could have easily been performance, podium performances rather than dominant victories that they looked like on articles.
You have guys like Cunningham who joined quite late in the day and stuff like that. But still, to get off to a good start is definitely motivating. It kind of breaks everyone else's momentum as well while you're doing that. So it is definitely the key. It's one of the keys let's say. Not fundamental, but if you can do that, why not?
Q. Can you compare the present challenges that you're looking at to past challenges?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Sure. Well, the ovals are going to be the biggest thing, because it's a completely different style of racing. Turning left all day is very different than anything else I've done so far. You know, mixed road courses, speed courses. And the Indy Pro Series is a heavier car than a Formula 3 car, and it's much less balanced ideally for a road course. You can tell it has reinforcements on the front and rear of the car. Very heavy gear box and engine.
So it's quite tricky to drive on a road course, and it finds its feet really on an oval. I say where I am new, I have a car that's built for that. But where I'm used to driving, I have a car that's a little trickier to drive. It's not naturally made for a road course.
So it's give and take. It's quite different. The biggest difference and biggest challenge is driving on oval racing for the first time.
Q. Focus is so important in this sport do you acquire that on the track, do you think, or do you bring it along with you as a race car driver?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Well, I always try to keep myself humble and my feet on the ground. I tell myself, you never know, a guy driving a white van might be the most talented guy out there but he doesn't get a chance. So I think dedication and a lot of hard work is what has gotten me any good results if I've had any.
So I definitely need to focus and try my best. But when you do relax sometimes, it comes all together better. So a mixture between concentration and not being overstressed out or overfocused on something. It has to come quite naturally, I would say.
Q. How much is your uncle fed into all of this? Is he giving you some advice and all of that?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: My uncle's always there for advice. He's very good on super speedways in my opinion. So it's always good advice. To be honest with you, I've been quite busy with my team and working on their indications and their feedback. And I haven't had time to rub off any regarding this new season.
So last year it was a very ever present advice and constant counseling and stuff. But now at this stage in 2008 with my new team, not right now, no.
Q. How did it all come about with you getting on such a power house team?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Well, hopefully I'd like to believe that it came about due to my last results of the last season, you know. The last few races we won two out of the last three. The other was a second place. We were finished in the top four in all the last four races.
You know, we are qualified that car, and started beating that car. I passed it a couple of times over the last few races. So I think the owner of that team who has pride and knows what his car's worth probably thought, hey, well, we don't want to be racing against this guy if he does a full season next year or something like that.
But that's a better question to ask Sam Schmidt, actually. I just know I put my head down and tried to do my best with last year's package, and then I got a call over the autumn.
Q. Considering you mentioned yourself that you're a little green on the ovals, first off, did you and your team have any specific goals in mind for the Homestead test last month? And did you feel like you accomplished those?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: Well, I'd say the Homestead test, you know, even with rookies in the past, like take Jay Howard, they were probably fastest right away. So what I would say is we struggled and you could put it down to me in the most case. I have no problem with that, because we all kind of struggled as a team if you look at all four cars where almost consecutively down in the midÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½pack of the field. But the important thing is to work, get some laps under our belt, gel, and then probably not show all our cards.
You don't get any points like Sam Schmidt said, and the money starts coming next weekend, not now. So we had to work, we had a certain amount of things on our check list, certain objectives. We obtained some. Struggled more with others. Went back as a team, had meetings, and I think we can only bounce back.
Q. From both a physical and mental standpoint, did anything jump out at you by running on this oval test?
RICHARD ANTONUCCI: No. I have done two half days previously, so I am quite green on ovals. I've never done a full day until that other day. But physically, I wouldn't say it's more demanding than a road course event. Probably less. Less bumps. Smoother you get into the flow. And you have to train your body for rightÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½hand GÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½loads, due to the leftÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½hand corners. So that's all I say.
When you prepare well, you try your best. I'd like to believe I'm ready to take on both disciplines.
Q. Richard, thank you for joining us this afternoon.
TIM HARMS: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined now by Marty Reed and Scott Goodyear from ESPN and ABC. And also Charlie Morgan, the President of IMS Productions. Good afternoon, gentlemen.
ESPN and ABC is celebrating its 13th year of IndyCar Series coverage in 2008, as well as the 44th year of Indianapolis 500 coverage. The entire schedule will be broadcast in high definition, including an onÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½board camera that can provide a rotating 360ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½degree view. Marty returns for his third season in the playÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½byÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½play role, while Scott Goodyear is back for his eighth season in broadcasting, following a career that included 11 Indianapolis 500's. And Charlie is in his first full year as president of IMS Production.
Marty, you and Scott have worked together for three years now, but even more so this year, the entire pit crew remains the same as well. How does that familiarity lend itself to a better broadcast?
MARTY REED: I think it's the same as any other team, no matter what sport you're talking about. I see a lot of correlations between what we do with what our race teams do. Everybody plays a key role. You know, our crew chief is our producer, and then it takes 60 people to put us all on the air.
Having the same crew, especially the familiarity with the teams and now with the unification, that's going to help in that process as well, because we can really focus. In fact, I'm in Sebring as we speak. In fact, sitting here with Bruno Junqueira, and Mario Moraes and Dale Coyne, because they'll be coming on right after this.
And it's given us an opportunity to focus in on these guys, because we already know the core nucleus group that has held over from last year.
Q. The biggest change then really is the addition to HD. How do you think that will affect the telecast?
MARTY REED: Scott and I are going to look a lot uglier, that's for sure (laughing). It picks out every flaw that you have in high definition. But for the viewer at home, it's going to be spectacular. Especially the onÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½boards in high def, and this new 360, Scott and I got a chance to see it down at the Homestead test, and, Scott, you can accentuate on it. It's going to be a great look.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I think the neat thing for me after so many years of driving all different types of cars, we now have an opportunity to take the viewer at home to see the complete pass. Not only from the rearview camera on the gear box when somebody's starting to set up a pass in a draft and then swings to the outside of the car, then we go to the camera on top of the roll hoop. Then sometimes we have to cutaway and bring on another camera just sort of see the completion of that pass.
The nice thing about this right now being a 360 is you get that opportunity then to see the setÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½up, the initial part of the pass, and then follow through, and all the way through to the front when the driver passes. A competitor, if that's what the director decides to do with it.
I think for me, that is going to be exciting because it lets people at home really get a feel of what the driver is in the cockpit and what he's feeling. Whether it's the driver being passed, the driver doing the passing. So that is very exciting. Then to have it in HD just to certainly bring out the color and excitement of it, I'm very excited for both of those.
Q. Yes, Scott, and Marty kind of hinted at this part, too. You've got several new drivers coming into the series this year. From your perspective as a former driver, what is the most important thing that they can do as they get assimilated with the new season and new package for them?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: Well, I think all the drivers would tell you the same thing: A race car is a race car. And if you can drive in a race car, you can sit in something else and get familiar with it very quickly.
Just before this call, Marty called me and we were having a discussion about some of the cars out at Sebring just today that bring over teams from the Champ Car World Series, explaining the times that they're doing. Very quickly they're getting very close to the times that the IndyCar guys from the IRL were turning just a week or so at Sebring.
I think what we're going to see very quickly is very talented drivers on both sides of this line, and very great teams. Obviously, when you have teams coming over that have the depth that they have and they'll be running in CART. I was back in the CART days. I started running back in cart in 1990. So I've lived through all that, seen the great teams that are there. Went through the split and I was on the IRL side.
And if you look at it and combine it now, I'm excited because I think everybody's going to have a shot at winning all of these races here very shortly.
I've listened to and spoken to some of the other drivers and Tony Kanaan said it great a week or so ago, he said don't be fooled, guys by everybody saying we're going to have to be a little long. Get caught up on what have you. There are some very good drivers, very good teams over there. Because he was also back in the CART day. I think that we're in for a great surprise.
It may not show up at Miami. It may not show up so much so at St. Pete's, though I think we'll be closer. But by the time the season wears on, we'll be back to the way we were before with great racing going on, open wheel racing in this country.
Q. Charlie, let's get some input from you as well. To make the switch to HD, there's been a lot of behind the scenes work. And IMS Productions has been very much involved in that. Take us through some of the steps and maybe really the investment that needed to be made that will facilitate this change for 2008?
CHARLIE MORGAN: It really is a team effort, Tim. We think that IndyCar Racing is about speed and technology. And what we're trying to do is sort of harness the latest technology to really be able to demonstrate and bring that speed home to the viewer, wherever they're watching.
It involves our partners at ABC/ESPN, it involves all of our suppliers. For instance, it's BSI, Peter Larson and his group that developed that inÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½car camera that you're hearing Scott and Marty and others talk about, and it is spectacular. The views from it. We were looking at some video, again, out of the Homestead test the other day.
As Scott said, you feel like you're in the cockpit of that car. To the point where you can literally see the LED telemetry on the steering wheel. People may not even have known that existed, now you can see it on your television at home.
But it's a brandÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½new, built from scratch, stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ofÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½theÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½art HD production truck that will be on site. It is those inÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½car cameras. It's fiber instead of copper at the tracks to deliver that signal. It's replacing and rebuilding, really, our world headquarters studios back in Indianapolis to be able to then process and deliver that programming all in HD. Every single thing you see will be in HD this year.
TIM HARMS: I think every viewer's going to love to see all that, the changes, and have you guys back in the booth as well, Marty and Scott. Let's open for questions.
Q. Charlie, I'm very interested in how the high definition works. Do you actually then change out all your cameras to special cameras? And you mentioned about the fiber optics. Does that mean that the tracks that are prewired, that all of that has to be changed? What is kind of the cost involved in all of that?
CHARLIE MORGAN: I think we're probably afraid to add up those numbers and give you a final total. But it is safe to say that the answer to your question in, is it everything, yes, it is all new cameras. It is putting fiber down where there had been copper. It is, essentially, rebuilding the infrastructure to be able to deliver that.
Certainly it is very easy to get that number well north of $10 million before you even maybe get to some of those onÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½site changes that will have to take place. So it is a significant investment to be able to bring the full season of IndyCar Racing in HD this year.
Q. I've seen some HD productions in the past so, it does make everything look so much better. So I'm excited about this. You said you had to do a whole new production truck, so, in other words, the previous technology you're not using that anymore?
CHARLIE MORGAN: That's right. I mean, there are certain behind the scenes pieces of equipment that we will be able to repurpose and use. But in every aspect, including audio, it takes a new investment in equipment to be able to be delivering this at sort of stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ofÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½theÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½art content.
And you're right, it is a visually noticeable difference. And I think it will be exceptionally noticeable in our sport where speed is so important. You know, a golf game moves at one speed, a basketball game at another. But our race is moving at 200 miles an hour plus, I think, really making that top to bottom investment will be very, very obvious to the viewer when they watch this year.
Q. Charlie, will we see more inÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½car cameras this year? What's the count going to be, or is that on a perÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½race basis?
CHARLIE MORGAN: It is on a perÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½race basis. But here's what I would tell you, I'm guessing you'll see them used more because just like everybody else with new toys, we all like demonstrating our new technology toys. Like I said, the images are so striking.
And as Scott mentioned earlier, what you'll be able to see on a pass or even in a pit stop with that 360ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½degree nonstop turn you could literally watch a portion of each pit member's activity as well. I would anticipate you'll be seeing images from those with some greater regularity.
Q. You've all got a vast amount of experience here, what changes in racing and coverage over the years have been most influential, do you think to the popularity of Motorsports before the HD technology arrived?
MARTY REED: Personally for me onÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½board cameras were the most significant improvement. Because for the first time the viewer actually got a sense of what it's like to be in the cockpit of a race car. And with all deference to gopher cam, what was then called tread cam back in the early '90s, because they developed it at ORP. And all the crew cams and everything else that came along with it.
The smaller the equipment got, the more angles we were able to give fans and to allow them to be a part of going over the wall as they're watching the Jack man or the tire changer or whoever it might be working on the car.
SCOTT GOODYEAR: I would agree. I think the neatest thing for me previously as a driver as Marty says, it takes the people in the cockpit. Whether it's the cameras that are on the gear box that we talked about earlier on. But the neat thing for me is the shifter cam and the brake cam and that shows the foot well.
All of the things the people at home don't have a full understanding of what goes on inside the cockpit. It's hopefully letting those folks at home know the drivers are very active, very busy sitting inside the cockpit. Hence, they're really an athlete. Lot of people seem to think they're just sitting on their tuft driving around on the race course.
I always say they're athletes. Your heart rate's going at 160 or 180 beats per minute for two and a half or three and a half hours at Indy, for instance, and there are no timeouts. There are no move it back five yards or anything like that. It's a very, very difficult sport both mentally and physically. And I think those cameras help bring that out.
Q. Scott, as a former driver, can you speak to a bit of the changes that are going on in the cars? Are there any paddle shifters? And I guess it's sort of a power steering, but what kind of difference is that going to make?
SCOTT GOODYEAR: First off from a safety aspect, Marty mentioned the Gopher Cam coming out in openÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½wheel racing maybe first. But I think that the safety side of things that the sport has done, Tony George at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has done with the safer barrier. They need to make sure they get credit for that. And everything within the car itself. I think everybody down at the Indy Racing League, led by Brian Barnhart and group, is the safety.
The side intrusion panels that they've implemented that are mandatory on all the cars are going from the pedal bulkhead back to the engine ball being head to make the cars stronger, the cockpits of the car stronger for racing, especially on ovals, I think it is interest.
With that you talk about driver fatigue. You don't have to go ahead and shift the car with a regular lever, any further. Yes, it is nice for the drivers and they get to use the paddle shifters and we love new technology, much like Charlie was talking about with the television things. Drivers love it, mechanics love it.
But the other side of that, too, and this is the biggest thing for the Indy Racing League, it just takes hardware from out from inside the cockpit. That if there is a crash, there are less things that can hurt and damage a driver on the inside of the cockpit with the removal of the shift lever, and shift linkage and what have you.
So I think that is a major thing. I'm not so sure there is as much of a power steering system as we know it on our road car. But more of a variable rate rack that is basically on these cars that the steering becomes easier as the wheel pinion on the tooth basically starts to get into a higher ratio and makes it just a little bit easier for the drivers to steer through the turns.
It's a different feel, there is no doubt than just having a 6ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½tooth pinion or 7ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½tooth or 8ÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½tooth pinion, it is a combination of what drivers want today. A lot of drivers like it and find it valuable. Some say they can't notice a difference. Maybe your Tony Kanaan's don't necessarily need it. People that are very strong. But some of the other drivers might find it of value. Especially when we get to road courses that are very tough to drive.
Q. Thank you for taking the time to join us and giving us your input and thoughts as we look forward to 2008. See you in a week as we get things started.
TIM HARMS: We are joined by Dale Coyne, Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I'll give you a brief introduction.
Dale Coyne Racing which has competed in Champ Car since 1984. He is joining the IndyCar Series in 2008, fielding cars 18 and 19 for Bruno and Mario respectively. Bruno has a wealth of open-wheel experience, including 101 Champ Car starts and four Indianapolis 500's. Mario has competed in British and South American F3 the past three seasons.
Dale, let's start with you. Thank you for joining us. Your team has made it down to Sebring. No easy task given the situation in the last couple of weeks and on to the track for a few laps so far today with just three weeks since the announcement. Tell us what it's been like the last couple of weeks getting ready for today and for the season?
DALE COYNE: It's been very busy. I'm glad you were ten minutes late because I got to take a tenÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½minute nap. The guys have worked great. They've worked really long hours. In the last couple of days we're working three shifts a day, and those guys are pulling a triple. So it's been really great for what they've done to get here.
I know some teams didn't make it here, and I know they're working hard, too. But it's hats off to all those guys for everything that they've done the last few days and continue to do to get ready to at least get some shake down on the car here, and a little more experience for Homestead.
Q. You're bringing in a veteran and a rookie to drive for you in 2008. Tell us a little about your driver combination.
DALE COYNE: We're excited about it. It's a lot of things that I enjoy. With Bruno last year we had a great year with three consecutive podiums and finished seventh in the championship, and the knowledge and experience that he brings on oval racing, he's done a great job on ovals from the first one he stepped on several years ago.
So we're excited about that and what that can be. Also excited about Mario. We've run a lot of rookies at the Indy 500, and I've always enjoyed the challenge of running a rookie there. Going out on the corners and watching them, and kind of getting them to move along and do the right things and take the right line. I think between Bruno and myself have been through, it will make Mario's trip through the month of May a lot smoother.
Q. Bruno, first of all, welcome to the IndyCar Series. You actually raced with Dale last year, so this is your second season with the team. Is it easier to make the transition to a new series, new car with a familiar team?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Oh, yeah, for sure. I know the team very well, and that helps trying to learn about a car. Dale was very nice to hire a couple of new people on the team that have IndyCar experience. So I think that's going to help as well.
As Dale said, the team made a good job to get the car running today and running a few laps. And I hope we can put more miles today and tomorrow to be ready for Homestead.
Q. You mentioned you've got a few laps under your belt today. Obviously, it's been a few years since you've been in an IndyCar Series car. The car has obviously changed since the last time you drove it. What do you expect the learning process to be like? What kind of expectations do you expect for yourself for the season?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's very different expectations. I'm a driver that last time there was Indy 500 I leaded laps and was fighting for the win. So that is pretty much what I'm used to. But every time I go to race weekend I want to win.
But I know there's great competition on IndyCar teams. They have those cars for five years. And just got the car two weeks ago I cannot expect that. So my expectation for the first few races is to finish the races and trying to be on the lead lap on the ovals and the road course, that would be great.
Indy is a very special place for me. I love that place. I know my way around, and I hope we've got a little bit better result.
Q. Mario, tell us about moving up from not only road courses but a mix of ovals in the IndyCar Series?
MARIO MORAES: For me it's totally different. Was quite a big step for me from Champ Car tests to now in the race league first of all I've never been on an oval before. So it's going to be a totally different experience for me. And try to learn best what I can do this next week in Homestead for the test and for the race.
Q. Bruno and Dale both mentioned the Indianapolis 500. Is that a race that you grew up kind of watching from a distance and saying to yourself, boy, I'd love to race in the Indianapolis 500 some day?
MARIO MORAES: Yeah, for sure, everybody, one day before I was watching the race, and everybody think, oh, one day they're racing, and this day's coming. So I am excited.
TIM HARMS: Let's take questions.
Q. My question is for Dale Coyne. Good afternoon to everyone. Dale, I know that they're matching a lot of the Champ Car teams up with the IRL teams. Which team are you matched up with?
DALE COYNE: We're matched up with Andretti Green Racing. The second car that we got was Marco Andretti, the car that he's been tested. They've been helpful on lots of fronts. We appreciate their help along the way it's going to be a good experience.
Q. This unification is what everybody's wanted for a long time. And it finally cups together, and hopefully, we'll have one bang up year as far as that goes. Congratulations to Bruno and to Mario as well. And Dale, you have a good season, we'll catch up with you at the track.
DALE COYNE: Thank you very much.
Q. Dale, first of all, have you brought in any people with IRL experience? How has that helped?
DALE COYNE: Yeah, we have. We've run into a couple of people on the cars recently for engineering and the shop standpoint. And that's helpful. It's helpful that we have a long history of running ovals. Before this split and even after that, CART continued to run quite a few ovals and we did decent jobs on those. So that knowledge is still there.
It was always good, again running rookies, because you understand ovals are about feel. And the drivers are not comfortable in the car. You're going to make the car comfortable for them no matter what. So I think all that together is good.
It's still the technical side of the car, the development, the drag it is a big effort in these cars, and we're running stock parts. So the trick that we've got to come up with is still a process to get through. So that will hold us back a little bit and we're going to work through that as fast as we can.
Q. You're midwest guys. How excited are you to getting back to Indy with an IRL team now and with a veteran of that race?
DALE COYNE: I'm very excited about that. We think about what scenarios might happen down there and where we might be running and what you can do. It is a long race. You know, you see guys like Villeneuve be laps down and come back and win it. And people that were running in 5th through 10th win that race. So there are lots of things that can happen there. We're excited about that.
And, you know, we're excited about getting back to Chicagoland Speedway. A track that I was involved with heavily. And home track in many senses for me. So I'm excited about that.
Q. This question is for Bruno, of course, you have the most experience in the cockpit. I would like to ask you to compare what it's like for a driver to go from the car you were in last year, the Panoz to the Dallara. Does it feel different from a driver's standpoint? And I think the car has the paddle shift as well this year that's new.
Q. Yeah, both cars they have the paddle shift. One car has a engine, and the other one has power scheme. A power scheme a little bit smoother. But I think both cars are really good driving. I drive them both. At the end of the day, I have to drive as fast as possible.
You know, I love racing, and no matter what car I drive, I'll enjoy. I think it's now it's going to be a competition. The drivers you've raced in the past when you were young, and even the first year that I was in America when I raced against them, like Tony and Vito, so it's going to be very exciting.
Q. I know you've had limited time with cars. What is your first impression with the Dallara Honda setÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½up?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes, I already two options. I did one option with the brakes and to stall the car. Now I did like a five or six laps run up to speed. The car felt good. Unfortunately, I had a problem on the drop gear, so the gears were way too long. I was running fifth gear. I changed that.
The Honda engine feels very powerful especially out on the corner we've had here in Sebring. So I think we're going to run trouble free. I'm quite happy. The balance of the car was good straightaway. And that time is not that far from what we're expecting to do. So I'm quite happy with that.
Q. Dale, how did you first come across Mario Moraes, and what exactly jumped out at you about him during the time you got to know him, so to speak?
DALE COYNE: Well, actually Bruno had brought him up. Being fellow Brazilians he was aware of Mario and what he was doing down there. They were interested in doing a test. So we did a test here at Sebring last December. And he was surprisingly quick.
I mean, if you look at his resume, he doesn't have high horsepower experience. But he has the fast corners are the easiest thing for him, and just getting used to the weight of the car, came along very quickly. He was very competitive there. Though we brought him back for spring training, we've got more to measure him against. The first two days he was in the top two thirds or top half of the field.
All in all we were pretty pleased with what we saw in the first two tests. The decision was made after that to go and run the Champ Car season. Then when the merger came, we sat down and had a heart to heart, discussed it, and it's even more of a challenge because now we're going to take him to Homestead for his first oval race. It's going to be his first night race. And his first race over 200 miles an hour.
So it's going to be a challenge for him. But we'll get through that, and use it as a good experience. And really all the focus with both of these guys is kind of get experience, and learn about the car, and be more prepared for the month of May at Indy.
Q. Mario, Dale mentioned a few challenges you'll have to face coming up. For you, what will be the key top just kind of keeping your head on straight and just kind of going with the flow with all of these challenges rolling around you?
MARIO MORAES: Actually, the biggest difference for me was the size of the cars. The engine was much more horsepower. I think about the walls, it's very, very difficult. I've never been on an oval before, so I don't know how it's going to be.
Q. Dale, as a team owner, do you believe the ability to adjust and adapt are prime skills for drivers and teams? Is there a best way to assist them with the major changes like the merger of Champ and IndyCar?
DALE COYNE: At the end of the day, it's an openÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½wheel race car. It's a little bit different, but you thought the Panoz was a little bit different last year. Our biggest challenge is being prepared. We came here last year with the Panoz. We had more time to be prepared. In fact when we came here our first session, we were the fastest car of the session.
Here we get here, and we're waiting for FedEx boxes to show up on the first day and to finish the car. And that's a challenge, and we knew that and that's fine. But it's certainly more of a challenge right now just being prepared.
The car is still a race car. The way you drive a car is still the way you drive a car. So I don't think any of that really changes. The technology in this car is a little different. The right height control, and certain things that the other cars have, this car doesn't have. So we have to adapt to that.
But we used to run cars like that, so we know those things.
The challenge is still the same in driving the car is still the same philosophy.
TIM HARMS: Thank you for taking the time out to join us. I know it's time to get back on track this afternoon, get some more laps in, so we appreciate that. Good luck as you complete the transition and start competing in 2008.
DALE COYNE: Just in closing, I'd like to say that we're happy with the merger. We're happy that openÃƒÂ¢Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½wheel racing can get back to where it needs to be. I think we've all taken a hiccup in the last year on every side, and hat's off that those guys were able to put that together.
It works better commercially. We'll have another press conference next Friday as we announce a new sponsor into the sport. We're excited about that. And things like that would not be happening unless this merger happened.
We all need to work hard, there is work to do, and everybody knows it to take this sport where it needs to go. We're pleased that we're all on the right track, and the same track.
TIM HARMS: Thanks, Dale, appreciate it. Good luck.
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