KV Racing Technology driver Paul Tracy, team co‑owner Jimmy Vasser, and Barry Green, who will serve as the race strategist on Tracy's No. 15 GEICO KV Racing Technology Honda‑powered Dallara in the 2010 Indianapolis 500, spoke out Wednesday on their plans for the month of May.
Q. First for Paul, talk about yesterday's announcement that you would be working with Barry Green in the 2010 Indy 500. Was it as simple as making a call and saying, "Let's get this band back together?"
PAUL TRACY: Well, it really kind of was. Obviously, Jimmy and I have been discussing what our plans have been, are going to be, since the last 500 last year. Obviously, Jimmy and I talk daily, multiple times a day, living in the same town (Las Vegas).
Jimmy's concerns coming into this year's race with three young drivers is that he wanted to keep a more watchful eye on those three guys and felt that if there was anybody out there who could help us with our program, we should explore that. Obviously, I reached out to Barry and proposed that question to him.
At first I think he was caught a bit off guard. I think he may have been laying out on his boat suntanning. I think I caught him off guard. He called me back the next day and said, "I'm in, so let's go."
Q. Barry, you do have quite a successful resumé at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 1995 win with Jacques Villeneuve. Came back in 2002 with Paul and Team Green. Then in 2006 you came back with Michael Andretti and nearly won the race. What is it about Indy that keeps bringing you back?
BARRY GREEN: It's just the Indy 500. It's such a challenge, such a great challenge. To be honest, I missed IndyCar racing dearly. I'm not very involved at the moment.
Paul called me. When we first chatted about it, I first had a bit of a conflict. But once Paul laid out what Jimmy had lined up team‑wise, I really thought these guys are really serious, and it would be a great opportunity for me to come back and hopefully enjoy myself and work for Paul again.
I've never worked with Jimmy Vasser himself. I've raced against him on many occasions. We've been great friends. But if you look at the team he's put together, the engineering staff, his team manager, these guys are very, very serious. I think if you look back at last year's 500, they had a really good run. Paul might have finished even farther up toward the front last year had he not had a bit of an incident with the car. You know, everything seemed to line up. It sounded exciting. So I'm in.
Q: Jimmy, you went from one to three cars for the start of the 2010 season. Does adding that fourth car put any strain on the KV Racing Technology?
JIMMY VASSER: We ran three cars at Indianapolis last year. Things went pretty smoothly. I have all the confidence in the world of Mark Johnson and Dave Brzozowski over there. They tell me what's possible and what's not. They said, "Hey, we can do this, we can do it well."
Especially with it being P.T., he brings a wealth of experience to the table. We have some young guys, a rookie. Mario (Moraes) did a fantastic job last year. I think with EJ (Viso), everybody working together, the group of engineers that we have, I think it only strengthens our possibility to have one of those cars win the race.
Q. Barry, considering the years you and P.T. spent together, good, bad, ugly, a lot of good wins, a few shoving matches, is it interesting just to think he's still out there? Last year, he went from 13th to almost win Toronto. Is it hard for you to visualize him as tempering his aggression and being a mature race driver?
BARRY GREEN: No, I don't think so. I mean, over the years I think I remember mostly good times. We had a few disagreements. But, by gosh, we had some great races together. Had a little bit of experience with Villeneuve recently who has been around a long time. Seen him come back and jump in a car and drive with such intensity, I think Paul will be just the same. I think he proved that last year. It's tough to jump in one of those cars and do as well as he did do last year with just a couple of races.
Q. P.T., you probably watched Saturday's race in Kansas. It looks like the KV cars will be good on ovals. Who will your engineer be?
PAUL TRACY: Obviously, Jimmy has been telling me about it all winter, that they've worked really, really hard on their aero package, just all the small details that it takes to get these cars to go fast, especially on a mile‑and‑a‑half and a superspeedway. Obviously to see the job that Sato did for a rookie was pretty phenomenal.
My engineer for the race week will be John Dick, who is the head of engineering for the team. So Jimmy has assigned the team captain to my car. But the group works as a collective group. The experience that I had with KV is a little bit different than a lot of the other teams I've been on in the past where you're kind of in your own truck and you're kind of paying attention to what you're doing.
Everybody is together, everybody is trying to work together for the betterment of the team. That's how the team kind of operated last year at Indy. They engineer out of one truck. Everybody is in the same room together talking about the cars. You know, I think they've got a great group of guys.
Q. '02, the controversial finish, what happened there with the pass of Helio under yellow, not under yellow. Probably an obvious question. P.T. as well. There's some unfinished business at the Brickyard for you?
BARRY GREEN: I mean, for sure. It wasn't the only race I think I missed out on. There's a few others I think we should have won over the years. But 2002, I think everyone involved in the argument deep down really knows who won that race.
For me, I'm all about tomorrow. Tomorrow brings us another chance to be involved with a winning team. It will be hard. But, again, I come back to the engineering staff that Jimmy's put together, Paul in the car, got a good shot. That's what I want to focus on. That's what we'll be working hard toward.
PAUL TRACY: I think Barry just said it best. Deep down we know what happened there. We both don't have a baby Borg‑Warner for it. You know, this is a topic that I think will probably go down in history as one of the most fiercely debated topics over many, many years. You're coming up now on eight years, close to a decade, and people still argue this situation fiercely.
You know, I've been training like crazy. I feel I'm in the best shape of my life right now. Jimmy has told me all winter they're going to have a great car for me with great engineers. We've really now just put, I feel, the icing on top of the cake with bringing in Barry. We've just got to go out there and try to get it done.
Q. Barry, every year it seems like more engineers crop up on the timing stand, especially in support of race strategists. Since you were at the Brickyard last in a race strategist role, what have you seen that will be different for you this year? Will you have additional resources you haven't worked with, more staff, more predictive software, etc.?
BARRY GREEN: Yeah, I think the stuff has come a long way since a couple of years ago. But, yeah, I'm big on having a lot of input from the timing stand. I'm talking about, you know, the crew chief, everyone, being involved because you can't see absolutely everything out there. We talk a lot. I still come back to doing some longhand calculations, then relying on the fuel guys to squeeze the last little bit out of the car when needed.
Again, you know, Jimmy has got a team together that I think will be very, very supportive and very up to date on all that information. To be honest, I've struggled to keep up with that side of it after all the years I have been involved. It moves so fast. You just have to rely on your techs, engineers who are helping you, and we'll be fine.