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HONDA RACING TEAM MEDIA CONFERENCE


May 9, 2014


Marco Andretti

James Hinchcliffe

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Carlos Munoz


THE MODERATOR:  We are pleased to be joined by all four of the Andretti Autosport drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series. 
Ryan, we'll go ahead and start with you.  You won the race here in 2010 and you started second in the last three of four races here.  So qualifying is obviously very important for you. 
Just how important is qualifying here at Long Beach? 
RYAN HUNTER‑RAEY:¬† It is, it's huge.¬† It's great to be back at Long Beach, though.¬† This is one of our favorite of events of the season.¬† Like any circuit, you need to qualify well to have a good shot at it.¬† It's really‑‑ it really just falls under the street circuit tempo that way.¬† We are always trying to get up front, and especially with the standing start, I think it will be important.¬†
THE MODERATOR:  Marco, you have a best finish of sixth here at Long Beach in 2009, and obviously your family history here is well noted.  Does that family tie make this track more special for you? 
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Yeah, absolutely.  This is on my wish list for sure.  This is a big race for me, probably second to Indianapolis that I want to win. 
My dad and I were talking about it on the way here about how cool it would be to have three generations win on one track.  So definitely not pleased with my Long Beach record so far.  I had a fun race last year from the back.
But you know, like Ryan said, qualifying is important, and we caught an unfortunate penalty last year, so I had to start 25th, and I think I ended up sixth or seventh.  I think hopefully we can advance to the Firestone Fast Six and try to get the job done from there. 
THE MODERATOR:  James Hinchcliffe, best finish of third here in 2012.  Fastest in the first pack today and same thing a year ago.  How do you translate that speed over to qualifying and IN the race? 
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:¬† I wish I knew.¬† No, I mean, it's‑‑ the biggest thing about these street circuits is just trying to stay ahead of the track.¬† It's one thing to be quick in the first practice, but the track evolves, heat evolves, setup, and stay kind of one step ahead of it, and that's maybe something that we haven't been awesome at in years past.
So you know, we just missed the Fast Six last year, but you know, the United Fiber and Data car was quick this morning and hopefully we can, like I said, stay ahead of things and put ourselves to be in position there for qualifying tomorrow. 
THE MODERATOR:  Carlos Munoz in his first full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series won the Indy Lights race here last year from the pole position.  Does that win help boost your confidence going into your first Verizon IndyCar Series race here? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  Yeah, I've been quick here in the past and the first session was totally different from the Indy Lights car, different to the feel in this car.  So that's something new, like braking and how the bumps, the car is going to react compared to the Indy Lights. 
But the Indy Lights helped me a lot, especially I know the circuit already and I know the bumps, and yeah, I feel a little bit more confident. 

Q.  There's a lot of collective changes going on in the series this year, and what are your thoughts on some of them and how will it boost the series? 
MARCO ANDRETTI:  Yeah, I mean, there's a lot of things, I think obviously from our standpoint, we look at it, you know, how are we going to adapt and try to basically just, I don't know, adapt is the word.  I mean, there's nothing you can really do besides that. 
But as far as how it's going to boost the series, I mean, Verizon, it goes without saying, I mean, like my grandfather treated, Verizon is our new favorite word, besides Snapple, of course.  
Having a title sponsor like that with a background like that and a budget like that, it's definitely important to help drive‑‑ they have the money to bring us hopefully where we need to be.¬†
As far as all the rule changes and stuff like that, that one is up to the fans.  I mean, it really is.  I don't have any comment on it. 
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  I think Marco nailed it in terms of the rule changes on the competition side, that all remains to be seen.  You'd like to think that's going to boost the series, or else we are changing things for no reason. 
But there's no doubt that the single biggest thing is Verizon coming on board and you've got a sponsor that not only has the resources and wherewithal to do it; they clearly have the passion for IndyCar Racing.  They have been here for a bunch of years now as a team sponsor; and now to take over the series and be in a position to really, you know, bring us to that next level.  I think that they are the company to do it, and that's going to boost the series tremendously, irregardless of anything else we are changing. 
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:¬† Yeah, Verizon IndyCar Series‑‑ the big thing about the points situation, though, is maybe one thing that stays the same is that you have to score as many points as possible, came to that conclusion.¬†
But there's more of an emphasis on the 500‑mile races and on the doubleheaders, so we need to look at those and like Marco said, adapt and try to be as strong as we can when it comes to those races.¬†
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:¬† It sucks for us because the short track ovals stay exactly the same‑‑
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:¬† That's what we are waiting for, the double points at Milwaukee and Iowa.¬†
CARLOS MUNOZ:¬† What they said, I don't have much to add.¬† I think the series ‑‑ to make it better, we can't do anything, we can't change anything the series.¬† Maybe some positive things they change for us.¬† But for us, I don't we can't change anything so it's good.
Like what they said, Verizon, I think it's really good for the IndyCar Series, maybe not for this year but for the future, for next generation.  But, yeah, not much to add to what they said. 

Q.  Do you think this will connect with the fans, all of the changes? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  That's the goal.  We don't know. 
RYAN HUNTER‑RAEY:¬† Verizon, absolutely, brings more eyes to the sport.¬† It's all about if you initiate the proper marketing.¬† That's what we have been doing.¬†
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:¬† The racing's fine.¬† The points were fine.¬† Everything was fine.¬† It's just not enough people‑‑ so with Verizon, not only with them being a title sponsor and what they will do with advertising and all the rest of it, but the technology they want to bring to the sport and the connectivity they are going to bring to the fans I think is going to improve that.
The rest of the stuff, it might or might not.  It was almost irrelevant.  The only thing that matters is now that we have a partner who has the ability to bring us to that next level. 
RYAN HUNTER‑RAEY:¬† I need to get a Verizon phone.¬† AT&T's coverage is horrible here.¬† (Laughter).

Q.  Ryan, it looked like you had an interesting moment at the end of practice there at the end of turn nine, I think it was. 
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:¬† Fully on the blocks‑‑ that was basically‑‑ inaudible‑‑ yeah, just pushed it there and almost lost.¬† It really pushing the car hard through that area.¬† Yeah, I got beyond‑‑ I mean, almost beyond‑‑
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:¬† Transfer ‑‑ that's what you were doing there ‑‑ inaudible.

Q.¬† You have an extremely long off‑season coming up, I know it's way ahead, but have you thought about what you're going to do as far as staying in shape and getting ready for the following season?¬†
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: ¬†Snowshoeing.¬† It's an incredible work out, more than people think.¬† And cold weather training is actually very good for the body‑‑ (indiscernible/simultaneous speakers) (Laughter).

Q.  Are any of you guys going to test the Formula E car? 
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:¬† Marco put his name on the list like every other‑‑ put his name on it.¬† We need to get it first, is probably the first step.¬† I'd like to.¬†
RYAN HUNTER‑RAEY:¬† We're all interested where that goes.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  If it's got four wheels and an engine, I'll take it for a spin. 

Q.  This is not really related to you guys, but Gene Haas got a proved today by the FIA for a U.S. Formula1 team.  Do any of you think that that's something that will actually happen?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  Doesn't have a great track record so far.  The few data points that we have to go off of don't necessarily point the right direction, but who knows.
MARCO ANDRETTI:¬† Gene Haas‑‑ I'd say that's the like list chance of it happening.¬†
RYAN HUNTER‑RAEY:¬† I would agree.¬†

Q.  Do you know any drivers who would be interested in driving that car? 
MARCO ANDRETTI:  I don't know any of those. 

Q.¬† Carlos said he would‑‑
MARCO ANDRETTI:  He's not American. 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  I'm not American. 

Q.  Speaking of Formula1, this race is locked in for three more years but there's a group that wants to bring Formula1 here.  Are you concerned or do you feel that when the city council looks at both sides, that this is the best value? 
MARCO ANDRETTI:  They are supposed to go to Jersey, too. 
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:¬† You mean on this layout‑‑ Formula1 would never work.
MARCO ANDRETTI:¬† No, the amount of money that it would take to make this approved ‑‑ and then the sanctioning fee on top of that, it would make for‑‑ I don't really see‑‑ if it would further bankrupt California.¬†
I'd be sad if we lost this race. 

Q.  Ryan? 
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY:¬† It's an IndyCar race and that's what the glory days where and we're heading back there.¬† The crowds, on Friday, this race is the best I think I've ever seen.¬† Just getting here, we couldn't find a way through the crowd on a Friday.¬†
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:  You didn't take your chopper?  (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR:  Good luck in practice today. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports



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