This month's questions are answered by general manager and technical director Rob Edwards, driver Bruno Junqueira, and team owner Andre Azzi. Sorry we coudn't get Alex Tagliani's answers this time, but he was a bit busy this week!
Your car number and sponsorship struck me when I took my 9-year-old daughter to the track last week. What a nice surprise. I grew up in the shadows of the Speedway. My father co-founded a business in the '60s whose original store front was located at 1432 Main Street. (It is still in business in Speedway but in another location). The business was called B & W Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning. The co-owner's son and I were best buddies and began racing quarter midgets at an early age. So our car sponsors: B & W. My car number: 77!
My family and I will be rooting for your team this year. I still live in Speedway. My 11- year son (Alexander) who has autism will be rooting for Alex Tagliani since they have a "cool first name". Best of luck to you all.Bill Weiss
This is a question for Rob: I know how hard you have worked pulling that team together, I know how good the staff and driver(s) are, etc. But seriously, are you surprised at how quick you have been at Indy? Even Mr. Penske regarded you as a threat (although I had to wonder if he was also winding up Chip by NOT mentioning Dario and Dixon as threats to Helio!) Anyway, good luck on Sunday. Here's hoping you can be Indy's first surprise winners for decades!
Rob E. replies: Thank you so much for the kind comments Andrew. For sure we are pleased and excited about how practice and qualifying have gone for this year's race. It is the result of a lot of hard work by every one of our employees and to be able to qualify amongst the Penske and Ganassi cars is just reward for them. I hope that same work ethic will get us the results we aspire to on Sunday.
Bruno: first of all, congratulations on doing what real racecar drivers do – get in, mash the gas and do your job. You showed up a lot of overrated teams and drivers. What I wondered is how do you get your head back in the open-wheel game after driving stock cars in Brazil and not driving an Indy car since qualifying at Indy last year?
Good luck on Sunday!
Bruno J replies: Thanks Chris. When I was Going out of the pits in third gear, I went full throttle and though I was in a rocketship!! It accelerates so fast and was so close to the ground! Having not been in a single-seaters for a year, it felt very strange, but with my experience in Indy, within three laps I was flat out and up to speed!
Mr Edwards: congratulations to you all. My question is simple: will you run Alex and Bruno on different strategies on Sunday? Is Bruno fast (FAZZT!) enough and far enough forward so that you can make progress in the early stages and follow the leader's pit stop strategy? Or will you have to “roll the dice” as they say?
Rob E. replies: For Alex and Bruno, the goal for the first 400 miles will be to stay on the lead lap (with the leaders), Steve, and work on tuning the balance of the car to the conditions of the day. Good pit stops and taking advantage of “yellows” will be part of that strategy. Over the last 100 miles we will decide the best strategy for each driver given their position at that time.
This is a message to Mr. Azzi. Can you believe how good your team is? Did you think it would be so easy to run with the Big Boys in your first year!? As someone who has tried to run a team before (only in Formula Ford), trying to match the big established teams was damn hard, took all my money and I had to quit after four years. What is your magic secret? (I'm not jealous but I am amazed!)
Andre A. replies: Antony, at first glance I'm as amazed as you! When I took the time to think about your question, then I'm not so surprised. Since the beginning, the team has had great chemistry! That's the key. There is no “I” in this team, everyone is working as hard as possible for one great goal. It hasn't been easy to run with the “big boys,” you should see all the work that goes on behind the scenes. It's still David against Goliath, but we won't give up…there's still 500 miles to go!
So it's the last 25 laps of Indy: Alex and Bruno are running 1-2. Do you give them team orders to hold position? And whose call is that?
Rob E replies: Since that would be my call, Shane, I will answer your question! Even as well as the event has gone for us, I would be amazed to be in that position given the strength of the Penske and Ganassi teams. My “orders” to both Alex & Bruno are to respect each other for the full 500 miles and to remember they are on the same team and need to work together.
Thank you for your entries, and apologies if yours wasn't one of the ones included. Keep sending your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will publish the best of them next month.