Q: There's a lot of events that go on before the 500, from sponsor dinners, autograph sessions, a lot of time between now and the race. I think you're even hosting the fashion show. How do you balance the time between the sponsor appearances and getting the job done on track?
JH: Yeah, there's no doubt it's a fine line and a careful balance. But with the format here at Indy, having qualifying wrapped up on Sunday, not have to be on track again until Friday, and only for an hour at that, it's almost good they keep us busy. It takes your mind off the race a little bit.
We've been at the track for so long. We pounded around so many laps in practice, it is actually important to disconnect a little bit and let yourself recharge and regroup for tackling a 500-mile race.
It takes a huge amount of cooperation from the team. We have a tremendous PR staff. Ryann Rigsby helps take care of me, she's the best in the business. She makes sure I'm at as many appearances as I can be at, and appreciate at the end of the day we have to go out there and do a good job on Sunday.
Like I said, it's nice to get away from the racetrack a couple days, do some media stuff, some appearances, then when it's time, when it comes to Sunday, it's all racing, it's all business.
Q: There seems to be a lot of fan interest in the idea that some driver might try to race both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in NASCAR. Every year there seems to be speculation about who might try to do that, Ironman kind of test. Do you think that's a thing that's good for both series? Do you think perhaps one day you might see yourself trying that?
JH: I'll never say never to anything. Obviously to do that, it would have to be the right situation on the other side of things to feel that you're competitive and prepared. To just show up to the Coca-Cola 600, assume you're going to do well, is a pretty bold move.
I'm a competitive person. I wouldn't want to do that unless I'd been prepared properly and felt like I could manage it.
It's a cool challenge. Every driver likes challenges. That's why we do this. We're all competitive. We want to prove that we're the best. But it is a big ask. I certainly am not against anyone else doing it. I'm definitely glad if anyone were to do it, they race against us first when they're fresh and we're not the secondary one on that. I know how tired you are after doing even. Well, for me, it was the Indy 250 last year, and even then I was tired. So I can only imagine after 500 miles, then have only a few hours' break and do other six. It's a daunting task.
But like i said, if the situation is right, if I felt I could be competitive in both series, I'd do it. I'm certainly hoping other people would be doing it, as well.
Q: Aside from the weather and where you're starting, what are some of the differences for yourself in terms of the experience?
JH: The biggest difference is really just the weather. We've been on track every single day, whereas last year we have so many rain days, so much downtime, it actually made the month feel a lot longer.
Here we almost feel like we're running out of time. You're always working, on track, debriefing, always on top of everything. But I think knowing what's coming day to day is a good advantage. I think you can mentally prepare a lot better just knowing what Community Day is like, knowing what Carb Day is like, knowing what race morning is like.
Last year these were all new experiences. People try to tell you, you can see on a PR schedule where you're going to be, but some of these things are unique experiences. Until you actually go through them, you don't know what to expect. More than anything, I feel mentally more prepared having had the experience of the month last year.