Q. Ryan, would you remind us all how you operate when it rains. In other words, you run in the rain, but basically only in a light rain. If visibility or whatnot gets too severe, the race officials can stop everything. If it's like a light rain which we may have, at least for practice, do you switch to rain tires and go as far as you can?
RHR: In practice, yeah. I mean, we basically look at the weather forecast for the weekend and we determine the sessions that really matter such as qualifying and the race, are they going to be in the wet? Saturday's qualifying could potentially be in the wet. We'll probably run on Friday to practice for a potential wet qualifying.
Like you said, it comes down to standing water. It's really not how heavy it's raining, it's just the quality of the drainage. If there's major standing puddles, these Firestone rain tires do an amazing job at displacing water, but if there's deep puddles, you can only do so much at 200 miles an hour.
We'll look at the safety of it. I can assure you that with the California-type rain, which is that consistent light rain, we'll be running on Friday, so no problems there. We ran at Barber in a pretty heavy rain because that track really drains well. The limiting factor is standing water.
Q. Ryan, Andretti Autosport seems to be stronger than they have been for a while. What do you attribute that to?
RHR: Well, as a team, it's been working very hard on this new car, making the most of it while it's still new. That's really where you feel like you can strike while the iron's hot. It's important to take advantage of the development phase of the car. It depends on who gets it right.
At times we've gotten it right. So hopefully it continues in that direction. Still a lot of racing to go, a lot of different tracks coming at us. We have a lot of curve balls in our future.
Yeah, so far it's pretty promising for Andretti Autosport.
Q. You've been racing street, road races. When it comes to Indianapolis, how do you think your cars are going to be?
RHR: I haven't driven on an oval in this car yet other than a few demo laps in Las Vegas last year. From what I hear, we're really going to have to work on the cars to get the speed out of them while keeping a balance in the car, keeping handling balance in the car.
I also hear there's a potential chance that these cars can be more affected by the draft, which can create some better racing scenarios.
It would probably be better to ask some of the guys that were in the car at the Indy test, I wasn't one of them, but I'm sure looking forward to it.
Q. Ryan, you mentioned that the competition this year is just so tight. How do you feel it compares to last year's level of competition?
RHR: I feel it's very similar to last year's level of competition. We're all blown away by how tight the lap times have been at the road courses, how tough qualifying had been. We thought there would be a bigger discrepancy between teams and drivers just trying to figure out the new car. It's been massively competitive, very, very, very small margins to get it all right.
You know, you can ask these guys like Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, who have been in it since CART and IndyCar since its heyday. They would say it's as tough as it's ever been, if not more.
Got to get it all right in order to have success, that's for sure.
Q. Your team owner has had a lot of success as a driver in Long Beach. Do you think that success has kind of rubbed off on the team or what does he do to help you since you guys won the last two races out there?
RHR: Michael, what does he have, four or five wins?
Q. I think four.
RHR: I absolutely think that winning presence has pushed our team. It's certainly pushed me. Michael is there for the drivers anytime you have a question for him. He's not going to shove any advice in your face necessarily, but if you want to go ask him how he's done it, he'll tell you, he'll be happy to help out. That's great to have an owner that has not only won from inside the car but outside as well. Certainly gives a great perspective.
He knows what he wants out of the team and he pushes his drivers and his engineers to get it from the car.
Q. What would it be like for you to win this weekend? Obviously you have a passion out there in Long Beach. Getting your first win in the No. 28, how great would that be for you and your family?
RHR: Yeah, the win in 2010 was so special for so many reasons, and with my mom recently passing away, it was a massive win. But to win here again, this race is so special to me, I feel like I really have something at this track. I enjoy it. I have gone well here. I feel like I can reach that extra couple percent to pull it out. This really is a home race for me.
But, yeah, I really want to get a win for DHL and SunDrop, and with 28 on the car, representing 28 million people worldwide fighting cancer, it would be a huge moment in my career. We'll definitely be putting in 110% to make it happen.
Q. Obviously this is a very special track for you because of the personal connections and your race win. The phrase that I'm hearing from a lot of the drivers is it's ‘the Indy 500 of street races'. Do you feel that's an accurate description of the atmosphere?
RHR: Absolutely. The energy about the Long Beach Grand Prix is like no other. It really is. You can feel it on Friday. You can feel it on Thursday even, setup day. This is the road street course event of the season. It has the most history. When you look at the winner's list, which I'm honored to be on, if you look at the winner's list over the years, it's the best names in open-wheel racing, the top names in IndyCar.
This is a big one. This is the one if you're turning right you want to win.