Starting position matters less at Indy than anywhere, because it's a long race, and starting 16th like we did in 2005 didn't bother me. It made it hugely entertaining, actually. I had won a lot of races coming into the Month of May that year, and I had huge confidence. My engineer and I were just nailing it. Even when we made decisions that weren't correct, they somehow turned out to be the right decisions to make! It was crazy. We were phenomenally quick for the first part of that month, and so were my teammates: we just seemed to have a ton of speed.
Honda has always been fabulous to me, and they're such a great group to be part of. If you have a problem, they're always very open-minded. They don't just give you one direct answer; everyone in that group put their knowledge and experience together and they'll try and help you by offering you different alternatives. So when we changed engines for qualifying, and we were slow, I knew it wasn't the engine. We just couldn't figure it out. I went out on qualifying day and I was 2mph off what I had done before. It was 2:30 p.m. and my engineer said, “That's it, I can't figure it out – we're done for the day.” And then I just lost it. Absolutely lost it. I was yelling, "I am not getting out of this racecar until we've figured out the problem. The car is quick, the engine's good, you're doing a good job, I'm doing a good job – there's something that we haven't thought of and I'm not going into race week with a slow car.” He was still saying, “Get out,” and I said, "I will sit in this car until 6 o'clock, I swear I will.”
This went back and forth, but he could tell in my voice I was serious. So everyone put their heads together and we basically figured out what was wrong. It wouldn't have been quite good enough for pole; it would have put me second on the grid. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to get in line to prove it, so we were qualified 16th but, from that quick lap, I knew we would be good for the race. It felt so strong and comfortable, I wasn't bothered we were down in 16th. In some ways, because it was the first tough experience I had at Andretti Green and we'd got our heads together and figured it out, that put more positive energy through the No. 26 group than if it had all gone smooth.
So, sure enough, come race week, the car was phenomenal, I could put it anywhere I wanted. I worked on the race setup because I knew I was starting low, so the way the car handled in traffic just became more and more refined. And John Anderson, well, he was just superb; I miss him so much. I just knew between him, Eddie Jones and the boys on the car that we were going to have a phenomenal race and we did it.