Q: You go back 20, 30 years over the history of IndyCar racing, Villeneuve, Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani, there's been a popular driver from Canada. How important is it to not only have a driver that is popular in Canada but one that is very competitive for this series because those events up there seem to be popular?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it's very important. Canada is such an important market for our series. We have such great fans up there, passionate fans. It's great to have a strong Canadian driver I think in our series. It's even better for us to have him on our race team because I think there's a potential for sponsorship growth, as well.
So, yeah, that's quite an important element and we're excited about that side of it with having James.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: As Michael touched on, the fans in Canada are phenomenal. They love open-wheel racing, IndyCar racing. I grew up going to the races in Toronto. I think I've been to all but two of them in my life. It's a great market for the series. For me, it's great to be here and be a part of that. Hopefully we can keep Canada interested and having the Canadian fan base to grow with some of the things we have planned. I really like it.
Q: Go Daddy seems to put most of its promotional efforts into Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels. Are there possibilities for them to use some of that exposure on you?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think Go Daddy has some ideas and plans moving forward. It's been mentioned there might be some campaigning using myself and the Go Daddy brand.
What's so cool about working with this company is you've seen what they've done with Danica and Jillian. Those are two very visible public figures. If we have another driver in IndyCar who can sort of reach that level, that would be great for the sport as a whole.
Q: Michael, what can you tell us about your test program you've been able to do with the new car, how much you're planning to run before the start of the season? Will all three drivers get a crack at it?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: We have a pretty aggressive test program, for sure. We were in every one of the tests, involved with every one of the tests so far with Chevrolet. I think we've learned a lot through them. It's been good for us. It helps us going with our own cars.
We start actually on Saturday at West Palm Beach. We're on the track for the first time with our own car. The guys have been working extra hours to get the things prepared. We're ready. We have a lot of days booked before the start of the year. We're flat-out on it.
Q: Can you tell us roughly how many days you're hoping to get in?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I honestly don't have the number in front of me. I don't have the schedule. Quite a few. We're going to be out there every week, for sure.
Q: All three drivers will run a little bit, at least?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah. I think this weekend we have two days scheduled for Ryan, then we have another two days for Marco, then I think the following week James gets in it for the first time. Yeah, we're going to have all three in it. Right now we only have one car. I think we get the next car next week. Then instead of doing one-car tests, we'll start doing two-car tests. Then we'll start using multiple drivers at the tests.
Q: With the schedule heavily weighted toward road and street courses, how do the two of you see this changing, if it's going to change at all, the nature and perception of the series?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I know Randy [Bernard, IndyCar CEO] is trying real hard to get other ovals involved and stuff. I think this year we'll probably end up with five ovals. I think the following year we'll probably have another one or two back on.
I don't think we want to get it too far out of whack. I know Randy doesn't want to. I don't think any of us do. We definitely do want ovals on the schedule. Unfortunately, things are tough out there. Times are tough for promoters. But we'll get through it. I just don't ever see us being a totally road course-oriented series. I think we'll always have ovals in it. I think it's important.
I think one of the things that we have that is unique to our series to any other in the world is the versatility that you need to have, not only in the drivers but in the teams and everything, to be able to go to every type of racetrack. I think it's important for us to keep that.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I echo those sentiments. It's part of what is so appealing about IndyCars. It's the mix they've had in the schedule. I think it's very important.
I think the fans like it. I can tell you that most of the drivers like it, as well. It's unfortunate that I think we're down to four right now. As Michael said, there's a chance for maybe five this year moving forward. At the end of the day, they've got to make sense for the series from a fan and driver point of view, an economic point of view. We're sort of exploring other options right now.
I think it's an important part of IndyCar's identity and we need to make sure we maintain that.