Tony Kanaan says he spent several hours on Saturday night encouraging his Andretti Autosport teammate Danica Patrick to change her approach after her disappointing Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
Patrick was critical of her car following the qualifying run that left her a career-best 23rd on the Indy grid, but was booed by some fans in the grandstand when she said the poor performance was "not my fault" and described the car's handling as "scary." She later said she had been shocked by the crowd's response.
Kanaan, who only just made the field on Bump Day yesterday following two crashes, believes Patrick regretted her comments and urged her to be more positive and constructive about her tough season so far.
"Sometimes the quick assessment, it's made under the heat of the moment, without people thinking. Sometimes it's made to cover some problems that you have," he said. "I think she realized what she did. And we sometimes say things that we don't want to say and we regret.
"I think my best advice to her, which I said to her [on Saturday], is you've got to learn from the tough times and the same guys that she finished fifth in the championship last year and won her first race with, they're still there. And in racing besides having the good setup and a good car, I believe that your attitude counts a lot.
"And she definitely needs to change her attitude. Not against the public or the fans or in herself. She's not happy herself right now. And I can understand that. I can relate to that, because I've been there. I had a terrible year last year. But the best advice I said to her: 'Look, start having fun again.' When you wake up in the morning in your bus, and you can't wait to go to the racetrack and see your guys, it's the best feeling. But when you wake up in the morning and say, 'My God, I've got to drive a racecar again,' that's not good."
Kanaan was full of praise for his team having gotten into the race on the back row of the grid despite a massive accident during Pole Day qualifying and another crash in morning practice yesterday.
"I'm not here to judge anything, but I would never throw my team down," he said. "Those are the guys who stayed here until 2 in the morning yesterday. They were here 7 in the morning and at 9.30, they're rebuilding another one. So I believe that it's easy to blame people. Instead of wasting your time blaming somebody, just go work, go to work and make it better. That's my opinion.
"I don't believe somebody who wakes up in the morning and says, 'Today I'm going to make the No. 11 car slower because I don't like Tony.' That doesn't happen. We have very capable people. The team, it's one of the most winning teams in IndyCar. So we're not lacking anything. We're behind and we're going to work for it."