Would you hope to add that second car as soon as next year?
Yes. We've been hunting for sponsors all season together with a company that works with our commercial side. They've been working hard, I've been working hard, trying to find the companies who have the same objectives as us and who see an IndyCar team as a good fit for them. It's hard to put a percentage on where we are with it. I feel like we're making progress, but until the contract is signed, you never know how far off you were at any given time before that, if you see what I mean…
And would you have one car entirely sponsored by Fuzzy's and one entirely sponsored by the other company, like Sam Schmidt does, or would you spread the budget and branding?
Probably separate. I mean, we have the ability to sell at a few races for my car, too, for certain markets. We just haven't done a good enough job of capitalizing on that.
How secure is the sponsorship with Fuzzy's, going forward?
Our original deal was for three years, so that's up for renewal at the end of next season, and I don't have any reason to believe that situation has changed. I mean, you never fully know. When you've been in racing for as long as some of us have, when you get toward the end of every season, there's an insecure part of you that wonders about these things. That's what you do in the off-season, right? You worry. But seriously, yeah, I believe everything's good there.
I assume driver choice for the second seat is one of the least important things to nail down, in a way, because there are so many good ones available.
Yeah, exactly. There are a lot of guys right now who don't have secure futures: Oriol [Servia], JR [Hildebrand], Ryan Briscoe and I bet there are more names that will emerge as we get into the off-season. So let's see what we get for sponsorship because ultimately, you want to add someone who's a good fit from all aspects. But yeah, there are already options out there who I think would be a good fit with our team.
Do you currently feel like just a team owner in name and finances, or do you also find time to get your hands dirty in the managerial side, too?
Hmm…yes and no. When we're at the racetrack, rarely does anything happen where I have to take a team owner-style mentality. I really try to just focus on what I need to be doing as a driver and putting that first always. Back at the shop, I know everything that's going on and make myself part of the group decisions, but at the same time, we've got a great group of people – managers and department heads – who do a great job, and I'm not a micro-manager by any means. Derrick [Walker, ECR's team manager in 2012] helped us build a really good team and structure, we've got good people; the best thing to do is let them get on and do their jobs.
So as the only owner-driver out there, when you're turning into corners do you ever find yourself thinking, “If I go off here, I'm going to bust the front wing which costs X amount of dollars?”
Ha! No, you can check with Tim [Broyles] our team manager but I don't know that I've ever actually asked the costs of parts. Well…actually, that's not quite true: when we crashed in qualifying at Indianapolis, I did ask for the total cost because I knew we'd torn up a lot of stuff. But you have to accept that at some point it's going to happen, so we have some numbers in the budget for crash damage and I see our budget projections and I know we're within what we'd set aside for potential accidents. So that means it's not something I have to think about when I'm out on track, which is good!
How do you feel about the schedule? Would you like to see more ovals? Did you enjoy having Pocono added this year, for example?
Yeah, Pocono was great: that is a fun track, and there was a good crowd, too. I think Brandon and Nick Igdalsky [who run Pocono] do a great job; they have a great thing going there, so I hope that was the start of something long-term with IndyCar.
Certainly I'd like to see more ovals, to get more of a balance to the schedule. There are so many good racetracks we don't go to, so I'd like to see them return, but at the same time, we're all running our own little businesses and we need to do what's successful for IndyCar, because IndyCar needs to be successful for the teams to be successful. It's a balancing act, but I'd like to get the schedule closer than we are currently to having 50 percent ovals, 50 percent road and street courses. Actually, we aren't that far from where we were a year or two ago in terms of venues, but the double-headers are skewing it more from a points perspective…
So how about a double-header at Iowa or in the future, maybe Phoenix?
Yeah, that would be cool. I mean, we all worry about if you tear a car up there, it would be harder to recover. Detroit, for instance, we tore up a lot of stuff but for the most part it was just wings, so that requires unbolting and bolting on new ones. Whereas, have a crash at Phoenix and you're replacing a lot more than just wings! That's why an oval double-header hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean we should rule it out, either. With this car and the quality of the drivers and teams in our series right now, the attrition rate on ovals is much lower than it used to be; fewer accidents, fewer mistakes, fewer equipment failures.
Finally, the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are in your blood, in your family's bloodline. What are your thoughts on the IndyCar Series probably racing on the IMS road course in the Month of May?
I don't have a problem with racing on the IMS road course, but….I don't really know how I feel about racing there on opening weekend for the 500. If I had to give an answer one way or the other, I'm not in favor. I do understand what both IMS and IndyCar are trying to do from a business perspective, but from the traditionalist side, the habits of a lifetime, and how I think the Month of May should be, then no, I don't like the idea.
And I don't think there's a driver out there who'll feel normal driving the road course on opening weekend of the Month of May. We'll be racing there but our heads will be someplace else.