Q. We’re getting to the heart of the season, starting this weekend at Texas. Last year, you were running as high as third late in the race there before the contact with Marco Andretti. What will it take for you guys to be among the front runners again this weekend?RYAN HUNTER-REAY:
Well, it will take us rolling off the truck the first session being very happy with the race car. You can’t roll off the truck and work on, OK, well, practice one wasn’t that great. Practice two, you’ve got to go out and try to nail the setup, and then you’re into qualifying already.
So you have to roll off with a good car, and you have to be able to go into qualifying knowing what you have. I think that was the difference before in Milwaukee. We went into qualifying after having changed quite a few things. It’s just constantly a moving target that way.
Texas is a long race. It’s pack racing, so we just need to qualify decently. We’re not looking at qualifying on pole, that’s not our agenda here. We just need to qualify decently so we can fight it out the full race.
Last year, I think first practice I showed up with Rahal (Letterman Racing) to Texas, and I was 19th at practice. We went better every session. But in the race in the first couple laps we were like P-5. And at the end of the race we were fighting for second place. So it’s a place where you can definitely fight your way to the front.
Like I said, we need to roll off the truck with a good package. And if we don’t, we’ll just keep working on it, and make the car good for the race.Q. You joined Vision Racing right before the season started, so it was kind of a whirlwind of activity there in that final week before St. Petersburg. Do you feel like you’ve had the chance now to kind of settle in and make yourself at home there?RYAN HUNTER-REAY:
It’s been a rush up to the beginning. We’re still really working hard to get it the way we want everything, so I don’t think things have settled down yet. We still feel that rush and that time constraint that we’re under.
Vision was a one-car team five days before the first race, six days before the first race, and they had prepared to be a one-car team over the offseason. So we’re still kind of feeling that crunch a bit.
These guys have done an amazing job in a short amount of time, and we’re still top 10 in points here after five races. Started out the way we did in St. Pete, that was a testament itself back to the team.
But, on the bigger ovals, we definitely need to put in some work and get some things done in order to be as competitive as we want to be.Q. You got off to a really strong start in St. Pete and 11th at Long Beach. Despite some of the more recent races where it has been a little bit of a struggle, do you draw back on that fact that, ‘Hey, we did finish second. It is in the team to do and put some solid finishes out there?’RYAN HUNTER-REAY:
Yeah, we’re working. We’re constantly working on it to see what we can make better. Milwaukee was a struggle. As you can see, both cars started near the back. I finished 12th. That was a hard fought day to finish 12th, I’ll tell you that much.
But the series is so competitive. Teams have done such great jobs over the winter. KV (Racing Technology), Newman/Haas (Lanigan Racing), even Dreyer & Reinbold has gotten a lot quicker this year. Everybody’s stepped up their game. And you can never stay stagnant in a very competitive racing series, and that’s what’s going on in IndyCar right now.
So we’re working on some things. Hopefully we’ll get them worked out pretty soon and start working towards the front.
We can definitely race well. We just want to improve our speed a little bit on these ovals. The road courses, I’m really looking forward to getting to Watkins Glen again. That’s where I won last year. And getting up to Toronto, that’s the place I had my first street course win in Barber Dodge Pro Series. So we’re looking forward to getting there and getting over to some of these road courses again.
But we’re going to some great tracks. We’re going to Iowa, Richmond. I really enjoyed racing there last year at these places. So we’re just going to keep working at it. Right now we’re in the thick of the season, so we can only do so much. We’re doing the absolute best we can.