At Baltimore, you projected that Ryan Hunter-Reay would win. And I saw you predicted that Ryan Hunter‑Reay would win back in Long Beach. When are you going to Vegas next?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: No, it's just…you just feel it. And I felt like after Baltimore, we got back in control of our own destiny to a certain point. Where now we knew, “OK, we win and we could finish out in the top three.” It made it a lot more realistic that we can do this.
It ended up different. I was hoping that we'd be winning and Will finished fourth. But when Will did crash, it opened up the opportunity for us. But like I said, at that point, we knew we had a lot of hard work, too, but it opened it up, gave us a target, and we went for it.
I know sometimes this is a question you don't like to answer, but this being the first American IndyCar Series champion since Sam Hornish in 2006, how important is that to have that for this series?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: I think it's great when an American beats the best in the world, and that's what happened. That's what makes it mean something. If it was just all Americans out there, then it doesn't mean as much. But when an American can beat all these other great drivers from different countries, it's a great thing. So I'm very proud to be an American. I'm very proud of Ryan, so it's a good feeling.
Back in 2007 when Dario Franchitti won the title with you and you picked up the wins at Michigan or Kentucky. How much is different or similar compared to this year?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Yeah, this was a little different. Dario jumped out to an early lead in the championship. So it came to the point where we almost gave it away in the end. Whereas here, we were pursuing most of the time. You know, we got to the point where we had a nice lead and we lost it again. Then we just put our heads down and got it back in the last two races.
I've got to say that this is probably the sweetest one of all. To come back through the adversity that the team has gone through the last few years and to bring it back and be back on top just makes me feel so good and so proud of everybody here at the Andretti team.
Following up on that, this is the first time since 2007 and Dario's championship and the intervening five years. What's happened within the team to get you here this season?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, there was a change in ownership where I took full control. So things changed there. Then there was a rebuilding process, because there were a lot of things that needed to be changed, and these are things that you just don't do overnight. We did it. We built, slowly did it, and just constantly trying to make the right personnel changes. Putting people in the right spots.
Middle of last year I think we got it right. At that point we felt like, you know what, we're getting our mojo back and we're going to be a real contender next year.
Then to bring James [Hinchcliffe] into the mix just reinforced it even more. From then on we felt like right before the season it was like we have a real legitimate shot to win this championship with one of these three guys. Ryan is the guy that came out of it and did a hell of a job.
I know it's hard to pick a single moment over a 15‑race schedule that was the key. But it seemed like your decision at Baltimore to stay on the dry tires when Will decided to go with the wets, that created the crack in the door that Ryan needed to get back and win this championship.
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Well, I'm not going to take all the credit. We have great guys on our timing stand. It wasn't just me making the decision. We talked it over and that's what we came up with. Yeah, that was the moment, and we knew it. I told Ryan, “We're going to win this race if you keep it on the island just for these two laps while it dries out.” Ryan did exactly that, and that's what happened.
Ryan's the first Chevy driver to win the championship since 2002. Can you talk about what it means for them?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Chevy has been a great partner. We evaluated which way to go at the beginning of the year or the end of last year. We just felt like they were really strong company, and they're really serious about winning. Ilmor, who we worked with for a long time does a great job. So we felt confident that we were going to make the right decision to go with Chevrolet. Obviously, I think in the end it shows that we did.
You've mentioned the rebuilding process you've had the last few years. How much are you looking forward to 2013 having the same driver lineup for the first time in a few years?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Very excited about that. Continuity means a lot. Also, what excites me even more is I think there is a lot more room for improvement within the team. I think there are still things that we want to do a little bit better, and we all know it, and we all know what we need to do. So I think we can be even stronger next year.