Q. I'm sure every company, every organization has different philosophies as to how they approach things, but do you think there's a lot of similarities between you guys and that's why you've emerged as the powerhouses of the series?
TIM CINDRIC: Well, I think that people in our position are always trying to benchmark how other organizations are run. I know that I'm constantly learning from others in similar positions, and I think every place has its niche. Some look at certain things as important and others don't. But once it gets to the racetrack, in terms of the amount of preparation and the way in which I think we operate at the racetrack, it's very similar.
But I think that anyone at the top is benchmarking the other organizations, and those at the top are typically competing for not only space on the racetrack but space in terms of sponsors and in terms of their image, and it really depends on what their owner is looking for overall. I mean, Roger is one of these guys that's always come and run a very – I guess you would call it a button‑down organization. That's the way he's always looked at it, and there's other very successful organizations that don't look at that as nearly as important as he does, but that's his brand and his image going forward.
So I think there's differences on those fronts, but I think when it comes down to how your people and your drivers are looked after, I think we're continuing to be kind of students of how that's achieved.
MIKE HULL: We push the same buttons, we just do it differently. And I think the personality of who we are as a race team, whether it be Mr. Penske's organization or Mr. Ganassi's organization, the culture and the personality are defined by the owner. That's very clear at least for us.
And I think as time goes on, it becomes more clear for people that look at motor racing, no matter what their vocational situation might be. We're a reflection of Chip Ganassi at Ganassi Racing. We're a reflection of trying to get the most out of today. That's really important for us as a group, as an organization and as a defined culture.
I think that then drives us to understand how it is internally that we need to work to win versus organizations like Penske Racing, because Penske Racing has always defined what's important about IndyCar racing, and that's winning. Winning is the most important thing, and it's all about today's effort, and hopefully we can measure up as time goes on. We'll all look back eventually and see how it worked out.
Q. There's been a lot of different things tried this year to increase interest, a lot of different marketing ideas and a lot of different efforts plugged into making the season finale a showcase event. I am wondering, looking back on the year, what you thought worked and what you thought didn't work, and maybe that's in regard to how it affected racing.
TIM CINDRIC: I'm trying to go back and think about the changes that have changed between 2010 and 2011, and the discussion about the double-file restarts is one that has continued to evolve throughout the season. I think it's added to it. I think you're always going to have those that feel that it's a positive thing; those that feel like it's a negative thing. And sometimes it depends on how your fate is determined.
I think as an organization, we probably lost more points and more spots because of it than we gained. But the real focus should be on how to continue to have an unpredictable scenario, because I think that's what fans are after or what people like to watch. They don't like to watch something that's predictable.
Racing over the years has evolved to where the unpredictable nature of the sport had a lot to do with reliability. It had a lot to do with being the fastest versus being the one that's there at the finish. And over time, especially with the fact that we've had this equipment for so long, that part of, I guess, the mystique suffered a bit, and I think you'll see some of that come back again next year with the new cars and the engines and working some of the bugs out and the competition that's going to exist among the engine manufacturers is going to breed things to be pushed to the end again.
You know, I certainly think that it's something that throughout the year continued to evolve in terms of the procedures relative to our cars. Beyond that, I think one of the biggest differences really wasn't a rule, but I think Mike touched on it – the overall car count this year relative to really any years in recent IndyCar history that I can recall. It comes into play on pit lane with how big your pits are and how congested things are, and what your overall odds are for cautions during a race and that type of thing. So I think that's had as big an effect on the racing as maybe some of the rule changes have.
MIKE HULL: We work really, really so hard in the trenches of IndyCar racing that it's hard to sometimes look above where we are to look out there. Our reliance upon where [IndyCar CEO] Randy Bernard is working hard to push us is paramount to where we're going for the future.
What we've found, I think, this year is the fact that we have good promoters at some of the racetracks where we race. We reflect back on where that promotional value probably needs to drive us going forward, and it's not necessarily where the hard-core passionate, driven IndyCar fans have necessarily been in the past. It's more about where we're going to find and utilize and incorporate fans for the future.
If we look back on the events we've had this year, the best events over three days have been at some of the new racetracks where we've raced. Those are the fans that we need to utilize for the future. I think that's where it's at. The Baltimore event was extremely, extremely good because over three days we had people coming up to us that wanted to learn about IndyCar racing. That's really exciting. And for us that's where we need to go.
The double‑file restarts were all about trying to capture a television audience, whereas at the same time we need to push on the ratings, which aren't really very good generally where we go. You know, that's like the elephant in the room. I don't know if we need to talk about that or not. But the reality is the events where we can get ourselves in front of a lot of people in a hurry, in urban areas, will probably drive this sport in the short‑term to try to get us back to where we used to be in the long‑term. That for us is extremely important – trying to capture people who are very directly involved. Social media is pretty important for us going forward. We're not tapped into that market very well. We need to be there for the future. There is not – truly is not, in my opinion anyway – a racing organization either on two or four wheels in any format today that's attacked that audience very well. I would hope that with Randy's direction, we can be the first to do that.
I think IndyCar has a bright future. What Tim and I both saw at Mid-Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week is the future of IndyCar racing, and that being the test of a 2012 car driven by two of the three engine manufacturers that are going to be committed to the series going forward. That's what we need to push, is the fact that we're moving back in the right direction with IndyCar racing.