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October 19, 2013

Gabby Chaves

Anne Fornoro

A.J. Foyt

Sage Karam

Michael Knight

Carlos Munoz

Sam Schmidt


THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get started with today's Firestone Indy Lights post-race press conference.  We're pleased to be joined by Gabby Chaves, who finished second in today's race and second in the championship standings. 
Gabby, great race out there.  Talk about today's race. 
GABBY CHAVES:  It was a hard race I think from the beginning.  I had to try to get to the lead.  I never had enough speed to get around Carlos.  I could always get alongside him, but I could never get in front of him. 
I did what I could with what I had.  Still a great result, I think.  Probably come back next year to win the championship. 
THE MODERATOR:  You're a rookie in Indy Lights.  At the beginning of the season, did you think you would be here vying for a championship? 
GABBY CHAVES:  That was always my objective.  Being a rookie or not, wherever you go race, you have to have the mentality you have to go out to win races and fight for the title. 
Being a rookie and being in this position in the last race, it's a good thing.  But I knew I had the team that was going to back me up to give me a car to win and fight for a title.  I think I've come a long way since I started my career in open-wheel racing. 
I knew it was going to be a good championship and we took it to the last race. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Gabby. 

Q.  You tried to go inside.  Looked like Carlos wasn't going to let you, was he? 
GABBY CHAVES:  I only had one clear opportunity where I had the inside line.  Carlos moved over a little bit quick on me.  I had to back off of it. 
But after that, you know, I never really had any other opportunities.  I tried going around the outside many times.  I never had enough speed to actually get ahead of him before the next corner. 

Q.  I saw a couple times you got alongside him, tried to keep him down there.  Were you having trouble staying down there yourself? 
GABBY CHAVES:  Yeah, I was trying to hold him down, see if he could scrub off some speed.  I was having trouble myself with my car staying down there as well.  I just had a bit too much understeer. 
I did what I could with the tools I had in the cockpit to try to settle the front of the car.  Just the wear of the tires didn't play in our favor. 

Q.  I know you're disappointed today, but how soon will you be able to look back on this season and be proud of what you've accomplished? 
GABBY CHAVES:  I mean, I think either way, when you have race wins, when you're fighting for a title, you can never complain.  Sometimes it's going to go your way; sometimes it's not going to go your way. 
This year we had our ups and downs.  We had a very consistent year where we proved that we're definitely a title contender.  We got a driver and a team to win races, to fight for the title.  I think that's the main goal. 
You can never be upset with a second place in the championship.  I just went out there to win the race, and that's what I've got to keep doing every race. 

Q.  You just mentioned a minute ago that you're coming back next year.  Is your deal with Sam set for 2014?
GABBY CHAVES:  No, nothing's set yet.  Obviously I would have loved to get the scholarship and move up to IndyCar, but that's still not off the table.  We have to analyze our options. 
I think with Juan Pablo Montoya coming back to IndyCar, it's going to be a big thing for Colombia.  There's going to be a lot of interest.  Nothing is off the table yet. 
THE MODERATOR:  Gabby, congratulations on a great season and a great race today. 
GABBY CHAVES:  Thank you. 
THE MODERATOR:  We are now joined by the winner of today's race, Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport. 
Carlos, talk about today's race. 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  That was a really nice race for me and Gabby.  I knew I couldn't let him the inside line because I was feeling really comfortable out there, even though I know the tires was degrading more the inside line. 
Yeah, I used all my tools I had there.  I was really clever.  I knew he was struggling with the tires in the end.  I think it was three laps to go, two laps to go, I knew he was going up, so I went up to try to take him away a little bit.  I was clever doing that.  That's where I make the gap and I win. 
THE MODERATOR:  You're going to be in a unique position today.  You'll do the IndyCar race tonight.  Talk about doing double duty tonight. 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  It's going to be tough.  It's different than Indianapolis.  Never was really like between IndyCar and Indy Lights.  Yesterday was tough for me in the Indy Lights to go back to the IndyCar for the last practice to change the mentality, because everything is go much quicker. 
Going to be tough race.  I starting 13th, I think.  So, yeah, is going to be a long race.  My main goal is to finish that race. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions for Carlos. 

Q.  You talked about the difficulty of the transition.  What is the hardest part?  Is it the speed of the IndyCar is so much greater? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  The speeds are much more higher and also it's really tough now in IndyCar with the aero kit.  All the Indy drivers complain about it.  It's tough.  You don't enjoy as much as you enjoy the Indy Lights for sure. 
The lines are completely different.  You go really in the top line in the IndyCar just to try to be like for the best of the car.  That's been a struggle a little bit.  As I say, when I went from the Indy Lights to the IndyCar, everything was much faster.  It's going to be a long race.  Hopefully I will get up to speed after a few laps. 

Q.  Does the Lights experience help you moving to IndyCar?  Is that a good transition from one to the other? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  Yeah, you learn everything, the main keys, from the Indy Lights that you need in IndyCar.  You learn a lot, like how to find clean air, how to go the lines.  It's like a really good school for the driver who want to move up to IndyCar. 
The rest of that, you use the same driving style.  You have to think about the clean air and everything, so it helps you a lot.  I think Indy Lights is a great school to move up. 

Q.  You compared the Lights with the big cars.  How different is the line around here?  There's lots of seams all across here.  Are you having to run across them more in the little cars compared to the big ones? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  Yeah, in the Indy Lights, when first I heard the IndyCar drivers complain about the seams, I think, Why they complain about it?  In Indy Lights, you don't feel that.  You maintain low, do all the lines you want, flat.  It's completely different. 
IndyCar you really feel everything, every little bump, everything.  If you go this lap really low, next lap higher, it change a lot.  In Indy Lights, everything is softer.  You enjoy much more racing, no, because you have to think about the car, but in the IndyCar you have to think maybe I will crash.  You are really fighting with it. 

Q.  What are your plans for 2014? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  My plans are clear.  I really want to move up.  I think I have done quite good this year to move up.  That's my main goal, no, to do a full ride next year in the IndyCar, to learn as much as possible.  I had a great opportunity in Indianapolis to run, and Toronto, and this race now. 
It was great, all these opportunities, to learn as much as I can for next year and do the best job that I can. 

Q.  I wanted to ask about your season as a whole.  Today it was someone else having tire troubles trying to get around you.  I look back to Iowa where your front right was virtually blown through.  What have you learned from this year?  Up until Indy, it looked like this was going to be your year, you were just going to walk it.  Then unlucky circumstances, to say the least. 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  I think we struggle a lot halfway through the season with the bumpy tracks, like Toronto, lot of changes.  In the beginning, me and Hawksworth were close from each other.  Everybody else was behind us, 4/10ths, 5/10ths.  Then in a couple races, Jake was like faster than everybody else was.  I think they improve a little bit. 
In Iowa, what happened with the left front tire, we were there testing one day before the race, maybe was the tire, no?  But yesterday I was not happy with the car in the practice.  I knew I have to change something.  Was too much understeer.  I could do 50 laps with this car understeering. 
My engineer, my team did a great job overnight.  We changed quite a lot the car.  I use all my tools through the race.  Also that help me to maintain the tires. 

Q.  Do you feel the compliment when teams come calling you to drive their car at the last second, like Toronto and here? 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  Is great that they call me, no?  Is never nice in the last moment, because you have nothing to prepare the IndyCar.  They been testing here at Fontana a month ago.  That helps a lot.  I was in New Orleans filming a film with the IndyCar.  Everything is new for me.  It's totally different, the IndyCar.  I haven't had the time to really work it and to prepare it.  In Toronto also I didn't have the opportunity to prepare anything. 
But it's a great opportunity for me that they call me last minute.  I doing my job.  Is great, you know.  Is like a satisfaction for me. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll wrap things up with Carlos.  Congratulations on the victory and a great season. 
CARLOS MUNOZ:  Thank you very much. 
THE MODERATOR:  We have a very special announcement we're getting ready to make.  I'd like to turn it over to Michael Knight. 
MICHAEL KNIGHT:  In an age of hype and exaggeration, two simple sentences stand as unchallenged fact:  James P. Chapman was a great man and a legend in the public relations business, not just racing PR, because as I'll explain here over the next couple of minutes, Jim was involved in a wide variety of PR activities. 
Jim lived the great American life, which was filled with interesting and successful experiences.  That life and that career is to be admired and respected.  His unmatched professional skills set the standard for everyone in the PR business, and thus are to be strived to emulate. 
So once a year we honor Jim's memory and his legacy with the presentation of the Jim Chapman Award For Excellence in Motorsports Public Relations. 
Jim was my closest friend and he had a profound influence on my life and career.  His life story is too vast to fully explain in the few minutes available to me, but I would encourage you to read the news release distributed at the end of this announcement. 
Jim began his professional life working for southern newspapers, and his newspaper career end up at the New York Times.  He served in the Air Force during World War II.  He entered the PR business in 1946 as Ford's regional director of PR, based in Detroit. 
While there, he hired Babe Ruth to be Ford's ambassador for its sponsorship of American Legion Junior Baseball.  Jim and the Babe became close friends.  As a matter of fact, Jim was one of only three friends at Babe Ruth's bedside when he died in 1948. 
Jim was there in his role as Babe Ruth's friend.  But then he went to the lobby of Memorial Hospital in New York City, and as a professional, announced Babe's death to the media who had kept and around-the-clock vigil in the hospital's lobby. 
Jim was also heavily involved in financial public relations which he once called 'my favorite form of PR.' 
In 1951, Jim had his first involvement in auto racing.  His client was Detroit's 250th birthday celebration.  Jim teamed with Bill France, Sr. to promote a 250-lap race at the Detroit fairgrounds. 
In 1967, Jim first became involved in IndyCar racing with his client Ozzie Olson who sponsored Dan Gurney's team.  As Dan once said, Jim practically invented most of what is now considered routine sponsor PR work. 
Jim, amongst many other things, held an open house in Ozzie's hotel suite in Indianapolis prior to the 500, where among his many guests over the years were Hollywood legend John Wayne and even original Mercury 7 astronaut Scott Carpenter, who just died here a week or so ago. 
Jim also organized Ozzie Olson Olsonite Corporation sponsorship of the Driver of the Year award, annually hosting a luncheon at New York's 21 Club.  The event was considered so prestigious that the heads of all the major U.S. sanctioning organizations would routinely attend no matter what series the Driver of the Year regularly competed in.  That was the level of respect they had for Jim and for the award. 
Jim's greatest professional acclaim came from 1981 to 1992 as director of racing for the CART series sponsor PPG Industries.  Jim was instrumental in raising PPG's sponsorship from $250,000 to $3.75 million at the time of his retirement. 
Jim created many activities that benefited CART and the series.  He created the all-female PPG Pace Car Driving Team and had editors days where he brought business and feature writers to the track for lunch, interviews and PPG pace car rides, amongst many other innovations. 
In 1982, Jim negotiated a landmark sponsorship with then Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joe Cloutier which made the Indy 500 a points event in the PPG IndyCar World Series.  PPG not only contributed money to the prize fund but later became sponsor of the $100,000 pole award and the victory trophy in the early years of the Brickyard 400. 
At that time when many PR people have trouble getting their drivers to cooperate, Al Unser, Jr. once said, When Jim Chapman says jump, we drivers say, How high? 
At the end of his career, IndyCar Racing Magazine named Jim IndyCar racing's most influential man of the 1980s and wrote that he turned a PR assignment into an art form. 
Even after he retired, Jim accepted Mario Andretti's personal request that he serve as honorary chairman at his retirement tour. 
Jim was involved in much more than business and auto racing.  He was very involved in the community and served as president or director of more than 30 Michigan or Detroit area charities or civic organizations.  He received vast recognition for his accomplishments, including the keys to the city of Long Beach and the state of Indiana's highest honor. 
Jim died in 1996 at age 80, ironically of throat cancer, just like Babe Ruth. 
The bottom line to Jim's personal career and success was that he knew that one-on-one relationships with the media were important in good times and essential in bad times.  He knew that even as technology evolved, nothing, absolutely nothing, could replace a conversation, the sound of the human voice, a handshake, a look in the eye, and the pat on the back. 
All of us, whether we're in public relations or the media, in an age of email, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook, should remember that example from Jim's life. 
The Jim Chapman Award was created in 1991 by media and publicists working in the CART series.  Since 2004, PR reps from all forms of motorsports have been eligible for consideration.  The winner each year is determined by a vote of a blue panel media selection committee, all of whom knew Jim Chapman, so they are the best to decide the winner. 
The award is authorized by the Chapman family.  I have the honor of serving as the award rights-holder and chairman of the selection committee. 
The bottom line for the Jim Chapman Award is simply this, and I say this in all sincerity to this year's winner as I do every year:  The true honor of this award is not the plaque you're going to receive, the true honor is that you'll forever have your name associated with that of the great James P. Chapman. 
On behalf of the Chapman family and the selection committee, I have the great honor of announcing that the 2013 recipient of the Jim Chapman Award For Excellence in Motorsports Public Relations is Anne Fornoro. 
Anne, let me read the plaque.  It says, Jim Chapman Award presented to Anne Fornoro in recognition of her career-long excellence in motorsports public relations.  Anne honors the standard and spirit of the great Mr. Chapman, a true legend.  This is extra special because Anne knew Jim, Jim liked and respected Anne. 
Anne, congratulations and enjoy the moment. 
ANNE FORNORO:  Thank you very much. 
Well, I am very touched and honored by this award.  I'm usually not in the spotlight.  Anybody who knows me knows that I like to stay out of the spotlight.  But this means quite a bit to me because of who Jim was and because of the past award winners, every one of whom I respect and most of whom I know personally. 
Michael didn't say this, but he was the first recipient of the Jim Chapman Award, and he set the standard for PR reps not only in IndyCar racing but in motorsports in general.  So thank you very much. 
I think one reason why I won this award is because of who I've worked with for so long, A.J.  He has put me through my paces.  But I've learned so much having worked with him.  It's just been a terrific adventure and a wonderful, wonderful experience.  I wouldn't trade anything for it. 
A.J. FOYT:  She's had to put up with a hell of a lot of crap with me.  Congratulations, Anne.  No one deserves it more than you. 
THE MODERATOR:  Now we are extremely pleased to be joined by our 2013 Firestone Indy Lights champion, Sage Karam.  He started last place today after an engine change to finish third. 
Sage, talk about getting this great accomplishment. 
SAGE KARAM:  Yeah, I went two straight years in the Star Mazda Division to not get a championship.  I got fifth my first year, third my second. 
Coming to the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team, I knew I had the car to obtain a championship.  So I embraced the challenge to get it to the front. 
We started out better than we expected knowing that I only had about a day and a half, two days of testing in the car before St. Pete.  I don't think I was actually fully prepared, but we still ended up pulling a podium out in that race.  Just keep my nose clean, did what I had to do. 
We started out the season pretty good.  I got my first win at Milwaukee, followed it back up with a win at Iowa.  I ended up taking the championship lead. 
I was feeling really good in the middle of the season there, and then I kind of relaxed.  You can't relax in this sport, that's for sure.  I made mistakes.  I had two really bad weekends in a row at Toronto and Mid-Ohio.  I got sixth and eighth.  We fell back to third in the championship, over 30 some points back.  Almost looked like our championship was over. 
But we kept fighting.  We gave it our all.  At Baltimore we ended up getting second, got our first street race win at Houston a couple weeks later, then we came here and knew what we had to do, and did that. 
So pleased to have won the championship, especially being a part of this whole thing with Sam and Firestone, knowing it's their last race in Indy Lights, to be the last to win the Firestone Firehawk Cup is great. 
THE MODERATOR:  We're also joined by Sam Schmidt. 
Sam, what a special season, a great championship, being able to take the top two spots of the year. 
SAM SCHMIDT:  First of all, coming in today was quite a relief knowing he already got it, just like last year.  Sage is definitely a deserving champion.  We've had quite a few excellent drivers come through our program over the last 11 years. 
I think the key to our success and Sage's success is the continuity of personnel, engineers and equipment, getting the cars to the finish line.  Certainly I wouldn't be here today, Sage wouldn't be here today without our good friend Chris Griffiths who passed away a few years ago and hired most of the guys on the team, trained them.  So that's a great feeling. 
Also the support from Michael Fux and Comfort Revolution, Sage wouldn't be here without that either.  Thanks to him. 
On our side, Lucas Oil, the sponsor, MAVTV, we wouldn't have the caliber program we have without them.  They are dedicated to open-wheel racing, so we sincerely appreciate that. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up to questions for Sam and Sage. 

Q.  Sage, let's start with the important one.  Are you going to move up? 
SAGE KARAM:  I don't know.  My management team and my sponsor, they pretty much didn't tell me anything before the race.  They said, Don't worry about it, we'll do our job, you do yours, go win the title.  We won it.  The first thing they said after the race to me was, We'll talk tonight. 
So I don't know (laughter).  I'm hoping.  Let's hope.  I'm sure you'll see me on the grid for a few races.  I got a $1 million scholarship, so I think that's enough to put us on a grid for a few races, maybe the 500.  Hopefully a full season, that would be nice. 

Q.  Sam, you somehow find racecar drivers of championship caliber.  What is your secret? 
SAM SCHMIDT:  Just an incredible support system.  My dad said a long time ago, Surround yourself with good people.  From my personal support staff, Mira back there has been there 12, 13 years now.  Most people aren't married that long in today's society. 
To the team, a lot of credit to Chris Griffiths.  Michael Crawford, who started the team, was there for our first championship. 
One thing that hasn't been brought out, the last two seasons, every driver on our team has won a race, and every driver I think this year led the points championship at one time.  It's not like we have one dominating car and driver.  They're all extremely good.  They work together.  That's a critical element to our team. 
Drivers need to live in Indy, work out, be in our simulator on a regular basis, need to be with the engineers.  I think that all helps.  All three of these guys were rookies this year.  Formidable challenge.  It really scared me that we would lose the championship because they were all so good. 
At the end of the day we had to sort between the two of us.  An owner can't ask for anything other than coming to the final race like this. 

Q.  The $1 million scholarship, what does it mean? 
SAM SCHMIDT:  We were able to work that to our advantage a couple years ago with Josef Newgarden.  He's done a phenomenal job in the IndyCar Series, thanks to Sarah Fisher for taking that risk.  Last year with Tristan Vautier.  It was close. 
We really wanted a second car with our team.  It was really close to not happening.  But because of the scholarship, that kind of pushed us over the edge to be able to do it. 
Unlike any other series in the world, I believe this is the only series where you truly graduate based on your talent, not based on your money.  Even NASCAR.  If you're the Truck champion, you're not guaranteed a ride.  Even if your K&N West, you're not guaranteed a ride. 
IndyCar is a little more challenging because of the budget required.  The last two guys have done it and a couple before that.  So it's working.  It's certainly not working in Europe. 
Dan Anderson, the series, Jason, the owners, are all pushing us trying to get us to a 16, 18 number next year.  Next year when the new car is coming out, you're going to see the old days of Indy Lights with 23 to 25 cars. 
SAGE KARAM:  Sam nailed it on the head there.  The $1 million makes it so much easier to go to Sam now and say, I think I saw a third IndyCar sitting in the back of the shop there.  Let's maybe put it out, put it on jacks, get some seats in it. 
I don't know, the Mazda Road to Indy Program gives you that great opportunity to move up.  Like he said, it really showcases talent, not money. 

Q.  You were Pro Mazda before.  Did that help you get to this point? 
SAGE KARAM:  I think every step in the ladder prepared me for what I needed for the next. 
Obviously there were new challenges at every ladder, the Lights being one of the most challenging.  This car is a difficult car to drive.  It's definitely one of the hardest cars I've ever driven in my life.  I had to learn a lot. 
I almost completely had to put a different - I don't know how to say it really - but change the technique on how I drove.  I was doing a few things I shouldn't have been doing.  I think the lack of off-season testing I had was the main reason that I had some of these problems early in the season.  But we worked them out.  Great team, great engineers.  They fixed me up good. 

Q.  Sam, over the last years you had European drivers as well.  Do you have a network in Europe that informs you who is good and not good? 
SAM SCHMIDT:  I might have to kill you if I give it to you (laughter). 
I'm kind of everywhere.  You'll see me at (indiscernible) in November, which is one of the world's largest karting events, and I parade the Pro Mazda F 2000 paddock.  I begin the process of talking to kids and their parents when they're 14 years old. 
To the Europe thing, the answer to your question is absolutely, yes.  There's a half a dozen to 10 guys over there that I can call and legitimately transparently ask them, Did this guy get it from having the greatest car on the circuit, some competitive advantage, or did he actually win it. 
Perfect example is Josef Newgarden.  I watched him race here for three or four years, watched him get the scholarship in GP3.  Made a call and asked, Is he as good as we think he is?  They said, Absolutely.  At that point you go to bat with the parents and you try to put together the resources to make it happen. 
It's one of my 14 full-time jobs, yes. 

Q.  Sage, you told me you lived in Nazareth across from the Andretti family.  How much did those neighbors help your racing career? 
SAGE KARAM:  Yeah, Michael got my career started really.  Started me off in USF2000.  Got a championship with them.  Then did two years in Star Mazda with them.  Can't thank them enough for having the faith in me, getting my career started. 
I guess this goes back to a few questions ago about Sam's team and stuff.  He does a great job reaching out to drivers.  But the main thing really is the drivers want to go to Sam.  Sam has an incredible track record.  I think, what is it, four in a row now.  I remember last year he had four cars full-time and not one mechanical failure.  That was one of the most appealing things. 
The track record is great, but the no mechanical failures with four cars was just as impressive.  So he does a great job of talking to us.  But every driver that comes out of Pro Mazda that's going to come to Lights, Sam Schmidt is the first name you probably want to go to. 

Q.  You're a high school student, right? 
SAGE KARAM:  Yes, senior. 

Q.  You're going to school during the week, racing on weekends.  Do your classmates understand what you're doing on the weekends? 
SAGE KARAM:  I'm doing cyber school now because I've missed so many days of school.  It was almost like I had summer the whole year.  It was crazy. 
It was hard.  Yeah, no, everyone at Nazareth High School, they know what I do.  It's completely different from what anybody else does there.  I said it when I was little kind of joking around, but being quite serious, everyone kind of laughed at me.  I want to be in the Indy 500 my senior year of high school.  Nobody really believed me.  They kind of laughed about it. 
But we just won the championship and next May I'll still be a senior in high school.  So we'll see.  Hopefully we can make the step up.  That would be a pretty cool story, I think. 
THE MODERATOR:  We'll wrap things up.  Sage and Sam, congratulations on a great season and a championship.  Very well done. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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