Q: Both of you obviously are on a very happy high right now, but just a comment. I think as the week unfolds you'll come to understand how many other people who followed your week, how many of those you made happy and how many people will end up being just cheered up by what you both have done.
AT: Yeah, I realize a bit. I tried to be available as much as possible in the garage to the fans. Like I said before, the one thing that also makes me very happy is that I'll be able to get rid of some beers that I have in the bus because Joe Atkins from Bowers likes to drink his beers, and with the pole we'll get rid of the beers. But also, all the people that for some reason, are a little bit tired of the domination of the Penskes and the Ganassis, everyone that came and cheered for us and bet on us, I'm happy that we didn't make them lose money.
Q: Last year you kind of surprised everyone when you made the Fast Nine, and this year you repeated it and now claimed the pole. Talk about the difference between last year and this year and how you went through that.
AT: Well, you know, it's my third time here at Indy. The first year I went through a big roller coaster, as well, came out with the Rookie of the Year. But it was not easy. I had bad luck and luck to be back in the field at the end, but I felt the pain of this musical chair and pulling out of line and not wanting to risk, and we paid the price at the end. And then last year I was on the other side of the fence. We were very strong from the beginning.
But this year I think is just – how important it is for a team to continue on what they built. You know, it's not very easy to be a one-car team on the weekends. Normally we don't have the luxury to have people like Dan Wheldon and Townsend Bell to come and look at data and work together and improve bit by bit when it's getting so competitive. And that's why teams like Ganassi and Penske have multiple cars, because they feel like it's an advantage.
So this year I think it's just because we have been strong last year and over the winter, the crew and the engineering group built on it with very little change aerodynamically in the car and in the tires, it shows the potential that this team has. When we're in the window and we unload fast, I think we're pretty much on the top. But it's difficult when we unload and we're not in the window; being a one-car team at road courses we're struggling a bit because we're throwing the dice. But here I think it's a good place to show that the team is very, very strong.
Q: Sam, obviously today is a very special day for you and Alex, and I'm sure one of the lowest points in your life was probably when you had your accident in 2000. Could you just talk about where today rates in your life?
SS: Yeah, I've definitely had some roller coasters in my life, just – where does that rate? It's for sure near the top. First and foremost, my wife and my kids are the most important thing in my life, so seeing some of their accomplishments and seeing how they've grown up to be spectacular kids is really good. I'm sure it has nothing to do with me. But that's really special.
And leading the race here in '99 myself was really a special moment, and both Arie and I still feel like we should have won that race, but we didn't. So there's always just this burning desire to come back and finish what's unfinished. So this is– and then you've got the Indy Lights program. We've won five out of seven races here, which is spectacular, knock on wood, but it still doesn't fill the void of winning the best against the best.
This is one huge step forward, and, like Alex said, we knew coming in that it was fast, but as several people have seen over the years here, lots of funny things happen here – there's races within races. You've got to get through every practice. You've got to get through every day, and we had our spins with the rain this month, just all of these roller coasters this month.
From a racing perspective and an accomplishment perspective for the team, for Alex, for myself, this is right up there.