Q: Shortly after Ryan Briscoe won the pole, Penske said Andretti Autosport established itself as the team to beat. What does it feel like when a guy that has won this race as many times as him has already kind of pegged you, Andretti Autosport, as the guys that he's going to be up there fighting with on Sunday?
JH: I think that makes him a very perceptive person. If you look at how all our cars have been running, it's clear this team has done a complete 180 from what happened here last year. They were so hurt from last year, they were dedicated to make sure it never happened again. To see Andretti Autosport cars second, third, and fourth on the grid, I think it says a lot about the hard work that's been going on the last six months in the shop to get these cars ready for Indy.
I think you should ask that question to Michael, because that's a tremendous point of pride as a team owner when a guy as successful as Roger Penske says your team is the one to keep your eye on.
At the end of the day, Roger has won this race a lot of times. He knows how to do it from the front, the back, the middle. You really can't count out anybody on Sunday because of the nature of this race.
Q: We saw how fast your car was on Saturday. How comfortable are you with it in race trim?
JH: When we stopped doing race trim before getting into the qualifying mode, we put a car away on Wednesday that I was very, very happy with. On Sunday, the track had changed quite a bit. The weather was a little bit closer to how it's going to be on race day. We were a little less happy.
There's still a little work to do on Carb Day. We obviously had some time to think about it, have had some time to really pour over the data. Another drawback about not having down days, we haven't been able to sift through all the data quite as thoroughly as we would have liked.
I certainly wasn't as happy on Sunday as I was last Wednesday. But I'm very, very confident that we'll be able to put something together that's going to be a competitive racecar.
Q: I was wondering how you feel with regards to your car package this year compared to last year and how much more you feel there is to come from both yourself as a driver and also in terms of the car during the rest of the season.
JH: Well, certainly, I mean, it's a strong package. The car, when we first got it, it actually didn't really suit me. It wasn't my favorite thing to drive. Between the work that Dallara has done, obviously a lot of work from the team, a tremendous amount of work from Chevrolet, as well, now I and everybody at Andretti Autosport has a competitive package. The car is much more suited me than it was when we first got out there. Again, it's a huge testament to all the hard work of everybody back at the shop.I mean, I didn't have a ton of experience in the old car. But certainly the situation that I'm in in general, just with the car and the team and everybody, is a big step forward from last year.
The experience plays into a part of that. Again, just the infrastructure at Andretti Autosport, the resources they have, it's a tremendous position to be in. I think there's definitely more confidence in the experience and the atmosphere that we've got. Hopefully this just translates to get results for the rest of the year.
Q: One of the highlights of your year is the red gloves. Can you talk about that a little bit? We know how it happened. Yourself personally, how do you feel about that, being able to do that? Any plans for them to be in your car for the race?
JH: It was a very emotional thing for me, because Greg [Moore]'s my hero. More than anything, to have been approached by somebody who knew him very well and was very good friends with him and his family to do that, it was beyond an honor. To have even been considered worthy of being able to take his gloves around for a couple laps at the Speedway was a very, very touching thing. I'm incredibly grateful I got to do that.
Yeah, it's just one of the coolest things I've had the chance to do. That will be a hard thing to top. It's certainly something I'll remember for a long time.
In terms of where the gloves go for now, I think they did their job in qualifying. He helped me get a good run and a starting spot. We'll leave it at that. We'll leave the record intact. He's had his qualifying runs now. He's in the race as far as I'm concerned. I think that's a good place to leave it.
Q: You mentioned this is your second time around at Indy, how you've learned from last year what to expect, how things work. What is race morning for you like at Indy and how do you go about preparing for a race like that? Do you ever get a moment to kind of stop and appreciate what it is you're doing?
JH: Well, in terms of preparation on race morning, the team's very good that we have no commitments that aren't racing related on Sunday. There's no quick sponsor appearances, no meet-and-greets, things like that. They let you get to business.
As I said before, it's a function of trying to treat it like any other race weekend. You go, you'll talk to the engineers, your teammates. Me being me, I try and keep it as light as possible. Still tell jokes, hang out with the family a little bit before the start of the race like I would anywhere else.
Yeah, it's very easy to get lost in the moment. And I think one of the few moments that we get to sort of appreciate where we are and what we're doing is driver introductions when you walk up over the wall and see the stands completely full for the first time all month.
You're here all month, and you see them, and there's some people in them some days, Pole Day there's some people, but there's nothing like race day. Almost to the same extent, once we get strapped in the cars, do the warm-up laps, three by three, which you don't do anywhere else, you really appreciate you're at Indy.
You go on the whole track and you see these formerly gray, barren grandstands seething with life, color and movement. It's a very surreal experience. It gives this track a feeling that it's alive and you're right in the heart of it. You're by yourself at that point. All the press is done. There's nothing else you can do but get on and drive. You just take that moment and enjoy it.
Q: We know you're an intense driver with a lighthearted personality. Do you think your personality is a key to your success on the track?
JH: I don't know. I think in the car I'm a very different person than I am out of the car. I try very hard. I worked very hard for a long time to separate those two. There were times where I was probably too lighthearted in the car when I was younger, and there were times when I was too serious out of the car.
Trying to find that balance has been a key to some of my success, just knowing when to flip that switch. If you're in the lighthearted mode all the time, you're not taking the racing serious enough. If you're too serious all the time, you burn out easily, you don't appreciate where you are, what you're able to do.
I think having that careful balance is a very important part of what keeps me loving the sport so much.