Q: Dan, in your career, have you ever raced a wrecked car to the finish line before or seen it happen?
WHELDON: No, I don't think so. I don't think so. So, no, probably not. I wasn't really racing. I mean, it was hard for him to keep up with me when he's got two wheels on his wagon.
Q: You have been through a lot together from being teammates in one of the biggest teams in the series to winning the race with a one-off team. Through all that, how has your friendship evolved and where does this rank in all those things?
WHELDON: Who said we were friends (smiling)? He's sacking me at midnight tonight.
HERTA: When Dan came to Andretti, or actually when I came to Andretti, Dan was already there. But he was the kid, the rook. I actually came in, kind of the old guy, the experienced guy. Then we had T.K., obviously, Dario came back after he'd been hurt. It became kind of the Four Musketeers.
We had a lot of fun together on and off the track. We had an opportunity, the four of us got together for dinner about a week ago. Literally we laughed till our sides hurt just reminiscing about those times.
So there was a bond that formed between the four of us during those years that will never change. It wasn't the reason that I brought Dan to the team or asked him to drive for us, not because he's my buddy. It's because he's, flat out, the best guy there is around this place. That is the reason we hired Dan Wheldon.
Our friendship is our friendship, and that will never change. But, obviously, this has been another bonding experience. It serves to bring us closer. Someday when we're old guys laying on the beach, we can still talk about this.
WHELDON: I agree with Bryan. He's been a great friend, always has been. With him being my boss now, it's not different because the amount of respect that, you know, I think Dario, myself and Tony always had for him. He was the unsung hero at Andretti Green. He was doing a lot of development for us, allowing us to go win races.
When he was allowed to race, he normally kicked our butts. It was nice when they put him back to work again.
What I like about Bryan is just his honesty. You can see he has this way of creating a very good atmosphere, which he probably doesn't even know that he does. But it's one of those that's fun to be in. He knows when you have to work. It's a pleasure to drive for somebody like these two guys sitting up here because they do create a good environment, but they're very dedicated to winning this.
One thing I'll tell you this about this guy is he will not do anything that is not going to be successful. If it's not going to be successful, he will have no part of it whatsoever. That's a true talent. I think, like you say, when you look at the people working in the organization, you can see that, too.
Q: Dan, do you think it will be difficult to sort of gear down mentally and emotionally on Tuesday, transitioning back into being a domestic man of leisure?
WHELDON: I'm sure I'll be back to changing diapers by tomorrow. My wife might let me off tomorrow morning, but tomorrow afternoon. The St. Pete twins, it would be great to take another Baby Borg back there.
It's one of those things that's difficult. I really feel I have the talent to be in a full-time seat. With all due respect, I like this team, I'm fed up with changing teams back and forth. I'd like to stay in one place and stay there for the rest of my career. But it is what it is, and I don't want to get frustrated at the things I can't control. It will actually give me more satisfaction while I'm sitting on the beach with my wife that I have a second Indianapolis 500.
People shouldn't forget what a great job my wife has done. It's very easy for you guys to just think that you can come back and win, but it's not the case. There's times where you do doubt yourself a little bit. Through all of this, she's been incredibly supportive, and she understands that this is all I've ever done. Racing is all I've ever done. She knows that racing creates the personality in me that she loves. So she was desperate to get me back out the house and in a racecar.
It's good to deliver for her, my two boys, my family back home, too.