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INDYCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 11, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to today's IndyCar media teleconference. We're pleased to be joined today by Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden of CFH Racing. Ed and Josef, welcome to the call.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Great to be here.
ED CARPENTER: Good afternoon.
THE MODERATOR: All right. The next race on the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 23rd. Josef, you're one of ten drivers still eligible for the Series title. Does your standing in the championship change the way you and the No. 67 Chevrolet team will approach the 500 miles at the Tricky Triangle?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, I don't think so. I think our goal, at least for me, every time I show up on the racetrack is to maximize the result, whatever we're capable of doing in a weekend. If we've got a winning car, I think we try and secure first place, and if we're a fifth place car for the weekend we try and get no worse than fifth.
So whether you're in the championship or not, I think we try and do that every weekend. The easiest thing for us is we'll go with the same game plan and hopefully have winning race cars, which I think we will, and compete for victories.
THE MODERATOR: You've mentioned competing for victories: You've won on a road course and street course this year. You've won a pole and a short oval and finished second at Iowa. What would a 500‑mile race win mean to you and your team, especially if it was your first oval win?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, it would be great, for sure, to get a win on an oval. I think we've had some solid performances with the whole team at CFH Racing. Iowa was a real strong point for us along with Milwaukee, and I think we've both had really good race cars at Fontana too with the whole team. We didn't have the greatest month of May. I think we made the most of it, and getting a couple top 10s is really good for the whole group.
So we were all pleased with that. But I think we're all hungry to get a victory on an oval. So either Ed or myself, it would be great for the whole team if we can pull that off.
THE MODERATOR: Ed, Pocono will be your final appearance for the season in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet. I know you've won season‑ending races before. So how important is it for you to end this season on a high and before you hand the car back to Luca Filippi for Sonoma?
ED CARPENTER: It's always important. You always want to finish the year strong. It makes the off‑season a little less painful if you go out with a strong performance. Furthermore, on the 20 car and especially when I've been driving, we really haven't gotten the results we'd hoped for this year. So it's our last chance to kind of right that wrong and go out with a little momentum for the off‑season.
As the year has gone on the team has been getting stronger and stronger on all circuits, especially ovals. As the year has gone on we've really kind of figured out what was ailing us at the beginning of the year and the month of May. So I'm excited to get another shot at Pocono, a 500‑miler. Like Josef said, we had good cars at Fontana and it just didn't play out. We both ended up crashing in the same accident which is never good. But Pocono, the last oval of the year, the last 500‑miler, it's definitely a big race for us.
THE MODERATOR: I know you'll be in a car tomorrow at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a test day for the team. What can you learn about your car at Indianapolis that can help you and/or Josef for Pocono?
ED CARPENTER: I think as Josef and I both mentioned, Indy wasn't the best month for us. Since we left May and the Indy 500, I think we have a pretty good understanding of what was holding us back, so to speak, during the month. So it gives us an opportunity to go and validate that and get some confidence back from where we weren't good in May.
Pocono and Indy do have some strong similarities for at least part of the track. So I think it will just cement our confidence going into Pocono that we're on the right track again and have a good game plan going into Pocono. At the same time do some work for Firestone which is always fun to be part of that prospect and help them to continue delivering a good product.
Q. For both gentlemen, obviously, I'm in Philadelphia and Pocono is not far from us. There have been some great races over the years at Pocono. There is a lot of tradition there. I'm curious what both of you think about racing there and do you really feel Pocono should be on the schedule? Is it important to be on the IndyCar schedule?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think from my perspective I think Pocono is a huge IndyCar track, not just for heritage but also for what it showcases IndyCars can do. I mean the great thing about IndyCar Racing is all season long is we're very diverse. I think we're the most diverse championship on the planet with the types of racetracks that we race on.
And Pocono, I think, is probably one of the most diverse ovals you can get. You can't get much of a different racetrack in the world with the way turn one is with pretty good banking and then a completely flat turn three. So it's a very hard track to manage from a set‑up standpoint.
I think it fits IndyCar Racing perfectly, so it really is probably a marquee event for us that has to be on the calendar, I would say.
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I would agree. Growing up around the sport and being involved with it most of my life I was fully aware of the track and its history with IndyCar. My dad worked there when he was young, right after they had built the track. I wasn't sure we would ever get a chance to race there, so when they brought Pocono back to IndyCar and put it on the schedule, it's something that I was really excited about.
Like Josef said, it's a really challenging track and fun track to drive on. I think the racing has gotten better there each year that we've gone back as everyone figured it out more and learned more about what it takes to be successful there. I think we'll see even better racing this year with the new aero kits that IndyCar unveiled this year.
So I hope the race stays on the schedule for a long time and just adds to the storied history of Pocono Raceway and IndyCar.
Q. Just a question for Ed, having won in IndyCar as a driver, how does it feel to then go on and win as a team owner?
ED CARPENTER: It's a whole lot of fun either way. It's hard to win in the IndyCar Series beating Penskes, Ganassis, Andretti and Schmidts, all the great teams you have. So anytime you're a part of a win, whether it's behind the wheel or as a team member, it's exciting.
Winning as a driver, it's different. When you're in the car and you're working so hard for it, and when you get that accomplishment and the time you have alone in the car before you get to victory circle you just kind of savor it and relish in it. I think that's what sets it apart. But the overall joy and sense of accomplishment is the same either way.
Q. I just wondered how would you sum up the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series for your team?
ED CARPENTER: Could you repeat that? I didn't understand.
Q. How would you sum up your season so far?
ED CARPENTER: How would I grade it?
ED CARPENTER: I would probably say B‑minus to a C‑plus. There have been some real high points. It's been a great year with Josef winning the pole two races and having a chance at others. If I was just grading on those performances, I would give us an A.
But early on in the season through Indy, I weight the grading based on Indy, and we underperformed there and didn't meet my expectations and we were a little inconsistent early in the year. So I would say our GPA is rising, but we started off the year a little too slow.
Q. Josef, obviously, it's been a breakout season for you. I just wanted to see if there was anything you've noticed in your career and your life that's changed now that you're a race winner?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, I don't think anything's probably changed. I think confidence goes up as a driver and I think team confidence goes up. We had a lot of confidence before this year, probably both sides of the operation with Sarah Fisher Hartman's side and also on Ed's side. And now coming together it's been an interesting process taking two teams and merging them and trying to get on the same page and build confidence with one group, and I think we've been able to do that throughout the year more and more. Each race we've come off of I feel like we get stronger as a group and we get more confident as a group.
I think we've just got a very high ceiling and we've not really reached that point. So just feeling good about things. If anything's changed, just feeling better and better each race and each victory has helped improve that case, so hopefully we can continue to do that. Because, like I said, I think we still have a lot of room to go. We haven't even reached the ceiling yet.
Q. Ed, you've obviously known Josef for a long time, regardless of the fact that he just started working together this year, but how rewarding is it to know that his career has really blossomed under your flag and under your direction?
ED CARPENTER: It's fun to have success. I think I've kept a close eye on Josef having driven for Sarah in 2011 and he started with the team in 2012. So I kind of kept an eye on him. We had similar relationships. He worked with an engineer I worked with for a long time, and I think from that we developed a relationship early. But to have the year that we've had and have Josef achieve some firsts in the IndyCar Series, it's been fun. It was something that we talked about in the off‑season and when we merged teams going into this year. We talked about goals and things we thought we were capable as a team and he was capable of as a driver.
So to be able to accomplish those things together and to accomplish first together, it's always something that you'll remember for a long time and special to be a part of.
Q. Motorsports is obviously mostly on‑the‑job training, but do you think that veteran drivers share much experience with the younger drivers and did the younger drivers often seek the advice of veterans?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I can speak from the younger driver side. It's funny, this is my fourth year in IndyCar Racing, and it's amazing the difference you get between year 1 and year 4. I feel like a veteran of this sport. I feel like I've had a lot of seat time under me. You just learn so much throughout the process. There is for sure a difference between having years of seat time within the sport and not having much at all being a first‑year guy or something.
Even for me as a guy going into my fourth year, it's been nice for me to have someone like Ed as a teammate. I didn't have a teammate for the first three years of my IndyCar career and just having a teammate is great, but then also having someone like Ed who has been able to help me improve my craft on ovals and draw some experiences that he's seen in the past and just the way he looks at things. Not just when we're racing on ovals, but I think on road and street courses too, he helps keep me in check as a driver. Because, you know, regardless of where we race together, he's going to be able to give me a better perspective on things and not just rely on me to look at it for myself.
So I think Ed's a really good outlet for me, and as someone that's been in the sport, he's been able to see it a little different and give me a different opinion on what I'm doing. So, for sure, there is something to be said about experience, and for me to have access to that has been really good this year.
Q. Ed your take on that?
ED CARPENTER: I think it depends. I mean, given different situations, sometimes you have reasons to help a younger guy or not. If it's giving a guy advice that you think is going to benefit the good of all and safety issues, I think you go out of your way to have discussions if the conversation is to help performance, you generally try to keep that to your team.
As far as young guys listening, I think as a guy that's been around it for a long time now, you see guys like Josef that are really per perceptive and committed to getting better and take feedback and criticism really seriously. And you get other young guys that think they have it all figured out and aren't going to listen to some old guys. It just depends on the personality and how they approach the sport.
Q. Is it essential, do you think, that younger drivers observe the veterans on the track?
ED CARPENTER: I think it's the wise thing to do if you're trying to learn as much as you can, but everybody has their own way of doing things.
Q. For Josef, you look at the past two years at Pocono and you've got a couple of top 10 finishes there. What's it been about the track maybe that's maybe suited your driving style or something that you've been able to pick up pretty quickly there in the first two years of Pocono?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, Pocono, as we've talked about on the call, it's a really interesting track. It's so different than anywhere else we really race. But there are similarities to other tracks. I always think turn one of Pocono, you know everyone views it differently, but I always thought it was somewhat like Indianapolis. It's a much different shape. The banking is not quite the same with the way it forms to the corner, but I think of it like Indy.
Then you have a Milwaukee style corner in turn three where it's just completely flat like Milwaukee would be and a little bit more of an open radius. So you're mixing two different worlds there.
I always felt like we'd be very good at Indianapolis over the last three years. We've just never had a good run at Indianapolis. We never had a good 500. And then looking at the turn two side, we've always been good at Milwaukee. I thought we always had good speed there.
So, for me, you're mixing two worlds that I was comfortable with. I like Indy and I like Milwaukee, and if you get those two mixes within the Pocono track there is no real telling what recipe there is. We've been pretty decent there, but I think we've had good cars.
I've always worked with good engineers and I always get good race cars underneath me. We've been able to get a top 5 there and a top 10, so we've been in the mix. I think we've had speed to challenge for a win there. Our goal this year is to go and try to move that needle up a little bit. We've been in the top 5s and been in the top 10s. So it will be nice to get in the top three and hopefully maybe win the race this year.
Q. Ed, you earlier said your dad used to work at the track. What did he do there when the track first opened?
ED CARPENTER: He came from Indianapolis, and when they built Pocono the family leaned on Tony Hulman and some of their expertise from Indianapolis and the types of asphalts. So my dad and Tony, he spent a summer up there kind of working and helping out around the facilities. I'm not sure exactly what he did, but I know he was there for one summer early on.
Q. So did you go there as a child and watch races when they had IndyCar?
ED CARPENTER: No, my first visit was actually when they did the press conference to announce IndyCar was coming back. So I just always watched on TV as a kid.
Q. Can you give a little more, I guess, reason for your optimism for finishing the season strong? I mean, what was the challenge on your side of the program so far this season?
ED CARPENTER: I guess speaking mostly about Indianapolis on the oval side of things, those are the courses that we started biggest on in terms of got a win early at Barber, but on the speedway program we just didn't have their car sorted out where it needed to be on the aero kit side of things. We didn't get our arms around it quick enough to be as successful as we'd hoped, and we feel like we kind of filled in the blanks of what went in this thing from Indy and have been able to turn that into much better cars and cars that work the way we expect them to. At other places like Indianapolis, we were kind of scratching our heads too much.
So can't go into the exact specifics of what we figured out, but just definitely confident, the whole group's confident that we've put that behind us and we'll be in the mix where we should be at Pocono.
Q. Talked about getting a little validation for those things you've learned. Would it be fair to say that that's about as bad a month of May as you've had?
ED CARPENTER: Hands down. I thought I'd had some bad Mays in years past, but I don't think it's really anything compared to this year's month of May as far as not meeting expectations.
Q. Ed, since testing is so limited especially in season, what can you kind of gain from a one‑day test at IMS? Is it a team's decision to test or did you work with the series and Firestone to determine that you would test tomorrow?
ED CARPENTER: Well, the rules in IndyCar now, there is not much in‑season testing but in years past when they were tire testing it was just the team tire testing that were the only ones allowed to test. That can be a disadvantage if you're never chosen to do tire testing.
So they changed the rules and anytime there is a tire test, each team has the ability to send one car. So anytime as a team you get the chance to test at the Speedway, it's a no‑brainer. It's the biggest race on the schedule every year, and especially coming off the month of May this year where we didn't have it together, to be able to get a chance to go back and verify what we think we were doing wrong, it's an opportunity that you can't pass up.
Then on the flip side, to be able to have a chance to work with Firestone a little bit and be a part of their process and help work towards the future tires is a fun thing to do, and hopefully we'll do some work for them as well.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports