INDYCAR - Drivers share their thoughts as race day approaches

Polesitter Simon Pagenaud

The field for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 met with media during the buildup to the race, sharing their thoughts about a variety of topics as they prepare for the The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. 

Driver: Simon Pagenaud (polesitter)

Theme: On bouncing back after a rough year

What he said: Pagenaud credited hard work in the off season with his teammates and crew for his return to competitive form. “This year’s been awesome. From day one, in Sebring testing, I felt like we were right back where we need to be.”

Driver: Ed Carpenter (middle of front row)

Theme: Small but mighty

What he said: Carpenter said he didn’t feel like his is a small team, not an underdog. “I don’t feel like we’re an underdog. We haven’t been around as long, we might not have as many people…part of that is just a function of we are just an IndyCar team. Penske, Ganassi, Andretti — they operate in otherseries. Pound for pound, I think we’re right where we need to be.”

Driver: Sebastien Bourdais (inside of row 3)

Theme: A good car is conditional at Indy

What he said: Sebastien talked about never really trusting a good setup from day to day at Indianapolis. When conditions change, “everything is different. That’s the nature of the beast, that’s the Indy 500, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job.”

Driver: Josef Newgarden (middle of row 3)

Theme: A steady approach to prepping for the race

What he said: Josef says his car is pretty good for the race. “It’s about trying to peak at the right time. Race day’s the time to peak. I think we’ve slowly gotten there with the car — we’ve crept up on it and not tried to rush anything. The big deal was getting in the show.”

Driver: Marco Andretti (inside of row 4)

Theme: Get the balance right

What he said: “Firestone does a great job, there’s not a lot of tire degradation, so that makes it where you can get the setup pretty aggressive. You still have to have a comfortable car under you, you still have to carry throttle, whether your car itself is fast or not. I think carrying throttle always helps in this race and you’re always going to go forward if you’re able to do that, have a good, comfortable balance.”

Driver: James Davison (outside of row 5)

Theme: Going the full distance

What he said: “Finishing is the most important thing for me this year,” Davison said. “I haven’t finished three in a row…whether it’s your fault or not, sooner or later you’ve got to get results to keep interest in your brand.”

Driver: Tony Kanaan (inside of row 6)

Theme: Lots of practice time isn’t always good

What he said: Kanaan addressing the long practice period leading up to the race. “You can get really confused. You’ve got so many hours of practice that we don’t usually have during the year, anywhere, that it’s easy to get confused. For me, this is my 18th time here, I don’t get desperate and don’t get extremely happy. You just try to keep it cool. The most important thing is to qualify and then be in the top five with 20 laps to go in the race.”

Driver: Graham Rahal (middle of row 6)

Theme: Elusive Indy

What he said: The fact thatRahal hasn’t won the 500 yet is on his mind. “This place is so elusive that, when it’s your opportunity, you’ve got to take advantage of it. When you’re a kid, you don’t think about things like that, but now that I’m 30 and this is my 12th (500 race), you start to think about that. This place is elusive and hard to (win) and every opportunity you get here, you have to make the most of it. For me, God know how many more there are.”

Driver: Charlie Kimball (middle of row 7)

Theme: All alone in the field

What he said: Kimball is driving the only Carlin entry to qualify, and while he is grateful for the full support of the rest of the team, he feels terrible for fellow drivers Max Chilton and Pato O’Ward. “I’m still heartbroken for them. I can’t even imagine the pain that not just they feel, but the mechanics and crew…they put just as much work and effort in.”

Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay (inside of row 8)

Theme: Traffic

What he said: “Any time we’ve had a good Indy 500 here,we’ve done really well in traffic. It’s about being fast in the corners. It’s the best feeling you can have as a driver, knowing that you have a fighting chance to win that race.”

Driver: Zach Veach (inside of row 10)

Theme: A simple strategy

What he said: On what it takes to contend for the Indy 500 win: “Just deliver the car to lap 150 and that’s when the race really begins.”

Driver: Pippa Mann (outside of row 10)

Theme: Playing it smart

What she said: When running in practice, “we have no interest in getting a big tow. We’ve got one car, we’re not going to take any risks, we’re going to be real smart, and we’re going to go about our business and be faster. I think when you pull out the no-tow time sheets from every single day, you’ll see that’s exactly what we did.”

Bash Beard

Long-time IndyCar fan, more recent IndyCar blogger/photographer.

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Volume 2019, Issue 5, Posted 4:08 PM, 05.24.2019