Q: Obviously, this week the rain's been a factor. What have you been doing to kill time?
“Signing stuff, signing stacks of hero cards and photos. You know, there's just not much you can do, really. I mean, you know, there's not been that much track activity, so there's not even that much to talk about when it comes to the car, either. So, what did I do yesterday? Worked out. You can work out a little bit longer when there's nothing to do. I don't know, organize the bus, throw old stuff away, all that stuff that you can do like what you would do at your own house.
“But it's disappointing because, you know, this is kind of what I was hoping wouldn't happen with the month, is that rain would be a factor – because it's much more impactful since there's lost track time. But I'm sure everybody will get up to speed and it will fast-forward the programs, and maybe some top speeds will be sacrificed and maybe some comfortable cars will be sacrificed to just extra downforce. But I'm sure we'll make it work.”
Q: A lot of people talk about how at a normal IndyCar race, you practice for an hour and a half, then you go out and qualify and then you run the race – but this isn't a normal IndyCar race. Do you think more thought probably should have gone into the fact that this format only works in a perfect weather situation?
“Yeah. I don't know. I mean, I'm sure that there were some logical reasons to shorten up the month, like money. And maybe – I don't feel the trade-off, because I don't own a team, but maybe it is worth the trade-off to the team owners. There are a lot of entries, so maybe that's why we have so many car entries as well. I mean, think about it – in years past you'd see 90 percent, 95 percent of the field out there the first week, and then you'd see cars that planned on starting on the second week, probably for the money reason, obviously. So maybe that's why we have so many entries to start with.
“But, yeah, I just hope that it doesn't take away from the racing, because the longer we have to make the cars better for all situations, the closer we can run to each other out there on the track and inevitably the better the racing is. So hopefully it doesn't take away from that.”
Q: Saturday trying to make that first nine in qualifying, do you sort of sandbag early to not show your strength, or do you go all-out? Is it a different philosophy?
“I don't think anyone really knows exactly how it's going to shake out, except we know when the track is the quickest due to humidity and ambient temperature and stuff. As cool as it can be and as good for horsepower, which is important around here, the beginning and the end of the day are usually the best. So, I imagine there will be no sandbagging whatsoever; it's the Indy 500. You never know what you're going to be up against on the next round.
“I actually view the first run to be probably one of the most important to getting into the top nine, just because it will be cooler. I mean, you can lose a mile an hour at least just in conditions. You work your butt off to find a couple of tenths a mile an hour with setup and things like that. So I think that first run is going to be really important.”
Q: We saw the old video of you as a little kid talking about the Indy 500. You've had a lot of different things going on in your life since then, a lot of different endeavors, but is the Indy 500 still that one thing, that ultimate goal? If so, how do you approach it, knowing it just comes around once a year despite everything you have going on?
“I said on the way out of the track yesterday – I had somewhere to go – ‘If only there was an Indianapolis series, we could race like tons of time here,' but I guess then it would dilute it all. So, that's the excitement, that you're only here the one time, and it is the biggest race of the year. It's the biggest race in the world to me. And it still is. As I said when I was 13 or 14, or however old I was in that video, when I said that the only thing, only trophy missing from this room is the Indianapolis 500 trophy, that's still true.”
Q: We can remember times on qualifying day that you wanted to go back out again. I've talked to a couple of people this week who said they wished that that decision was still in their hands. Do you like it better this way having it not in your hands, having to go back out there again?
“I didn't see what was wrong with it before, so I don't know. I'm not going to criticize it until I've done it, but there was nothing wrong with it before. It was exciting. I mean, last year was the first year I ever re-qualified, and I had runs two times and I was in line and I think I would have been the last car to run, and where was I? Eighth or seventh, I can't even remember where I qualified. But I just remembered that I thought I had a shot at getting up into the top few positions and, you know, maybe a pole. But, shoot, being in the front row is fantastic. I just remember getting pulled out of line because…I don't know why. You have to ask somebody else why I got pulled out of line.
“I was ready to go, so that was exciting. Disappointing for me, but exciting for the fans. Part of the game is that there are cars that shouldn't be in line that are in line. So you have to take into account those cars. You know, it's going to just be like normal qualifying shootout-kind of stuff with the top nine.
“I don't know…I mean, you can go from 10th to the top five positions pretty easily at the end of the day if you fix your car up or if you didn't have a good run on the first run. So, I don't know.”