Q: It strikes me that Chevy seems to have a fuel mileage advantage. This is obviously a fuel mileage race. Is that going to play into your favor? Does that affect the way the strategy is going to work on Sunday?
JH: It's tough to say because we haven't really seen what people's fuel mileage is yet at this track. Certainly there was proof that we had the upper hand in that area over the first few races on road and street courses. The way the engines operate, the power level we're at, there's a lot of different elements involved here at Indianapolis. That's not going to be something we can really assess until the race starts.
I think that goes into what I said early about having to be flexible. We're going to be learning a lot about what each car and each team has in their back pocket as the race unfolds. Up to this point, Chevy has been tremendous to work with, done a tremendous job, not only all month, but over the first four races of the season.
We're going to keep our heads down, and if we find ourselves in a position where we're making better mileage, that's going to be big in this race. It often turns into a fuel mileage race.
Q: When you're sitting in the middle of the front row looking down that straightaway, do you have any idea what is going to be going through your mind or do you have time to think?
JH: I'm going to be looking left and thinking, "Damn, I wish I was there" (laughter).
No, it's great to be able to have a clear view into Turn 1. The biggest thing is to just try to forget it's the Indy 500 and try to treat it like any other race, put the visor down and get on with the job.
Q: You're on the front row of the grid for the biggest race of the season. From a mindset standpoint, do you feel any more pressure here or are you able to handle it as you would any other race on the calendar?
JH: I think honestly that's one of the big tricks of Indianapolis – you really have to try to treat it like any other race. Because at the end of the day, this is not only the biggest race on our schedule, it's the biggest race in the world. As soon as you start thinking about that and appreciating that fact before you get in the racecar, I think it really puts your head in a different place. That's not necessarily the place you want to be.
It's not the way I want to approach my race on Sunday. I want to get on with the job we've been doing as a team and try to continue that momentum.
Q: What do you see as the key for you to win the 500?
JH: Again, I just think it's going to be about, you know, adapting, being flexible with your strategy, adjusting the car as the track changes. Although we haven't had rain while we were running, we did have a big downpour on Sunday night. Some of the rubber will be washed away now. We have an Indy Lights race before us. We have this Carb Day. We'll have the hottest day we've had all month on Sunday.
Setups are going to be a little bit of a shot in the dark because you don't have, you know, decades worth of data to rely on and go back to and try and nail this setup as perfectly as possible. It's going to be about compromise and it's going to be about adaptation.
Q: About the qualifying procedure. Under the old method in the month of May, you would be sitting on pole today. Do you think there needs to be any tweaks to the qualifying procedure?
JH: You know what, as I said earlier, racing drivers love thinking that we go racing for us. We don't. I think the format we have now is incredibly exciting. If it had been the old format, pole would have been set at 2:00 in the afternoon and everybody would have sat around and nobody would have been able to challenge.
As it was, we had a thrilling duel for the pole that came down to the closest margin in history. It would have been tragic to rob fans of that show. I come out on the lesser end of that, which is still second place.
I quite like the shootout format, the fact we have multiple runs at it. I think it adds a new element of excitement to it. At the end of the day we're here to put on a show.
Q: You, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti seem to follow in a team of drivers that have great chemistry together. What do you think is the key to y'all having the unity you have?
JH: Well, honestly the first conversation I ever had with Michael and everybody at Andretti Autosport, their whole key to building a good race team is starting with good drivers that have good chemistry. It's something they've achieved in the past and something that they feel was maybe missing a little bit the last few seasons.
When they first called me, they really wanted to get to know me a little bit better and see if I would fit in well. You could have the best driving credentials in the world or you could be backed by the biggest sponsor on the planet. If you're not going to be able to work well with the people on the team, it really is all for nothing.
I've always said racing is not about engines, tires, racecars, it's about people, and the right group of people will be successful, period. I think in Marco, Ryan and myself, you have three drivers who are young, hungry, very motivated to put in the effort, to work as hard as possible to get this team back up to championship contenders.
The personalities are close enough off track. We're all good friends. I think that allows us to work so much better together as a group. We push each other so hard. When you're in a situation like that, it's hard to not see success because all the right elements are there for it to happen.
I don't think there's one specific thing that you can point out that leads to that chemistry working the way it does. It really is the combination of all the people on the team, all the drivers working together, and like I said, all of us pushing together to improve week in and week out.