2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter‑Reay got in his first seat time of the new year in his DHL Dallara-Chevrolet, now carrying the No. 1, at Sebring on Monday. Today, he and Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti met the media for the first time in 2013.
Q: Ryan, yesterday was your first day back in the car. Does it seem like the season's just around the corner now?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Absolutely. I mean, it's always just around the corner. That's how we've been thinking since our last race at Fontana. We've really been focused on 2013. There's really never any sense of sitting still at Andretti Autosport. We're always really planning for the future and making sure that we're moving forward at all costs.
So we knew that we had that one night after Fontana, where we had some fun with the team and everything, and we were on to 2013, focused on the future. So looking forward to getting back in the car again even though this is the first time we did it in 2013. I feel like the testing is a little bit too thin this year, really – for anybody. I think we're going to have a total of like three chances in the car before St. Pete, which is a bit drastic; but everybody's in the same boat.
Q: Obviously this year your car will have No. 1 to honor your championship. I know race drivers can be superstitious and some have tended to shy away carrying No. 1 after a championship season. Do you feel any pressure carrying that as a target kind of this year?
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: We have a target either way. And the biggest target comes from within our own organization. We put the most pressure on ourselves. Really don't care what anybody else thinks. We want to go out there and win and deliver for our team and our partners and sponsors. That's what really matters most.
And I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself as well. So we've got a lot to do. We've got to redouble our efforts to even have a shot at defending our championship. But when it comes to the number one, it's all about the history of that number and it's been an IndyCar tradition for years. I remember as a kid as an IndyCar fan, watching the championship take the No. 1. So it brought it full circle.
Certainly our team and sponsors deserve that. DHL, Sun Drop, Circle K and certainly Chevrolet deserve to run that No. 1 in 2013.
Q: Guys, just look down the schedule a little bit. Toronto is the one anomaly on the schedule that's got a doubleheader. And the last time I talked to James Hinchcliffe he was still not exactly sure how he'll get his head around this thing. Are we simply talking too far down the schedule for you to even contemplate how the heck you're going to attack two races on one weekend?
MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Definitely going to be a challenge, no question about it. I'm not sure I'm in favor of the format. If I'm just going to talk strictly as an owner, there's a huge expense to doing that, where they thought they'd actually be saving you money but in a lot of ways it's going to cost us a lot of money. From that standpoint I don't think it was doing what they were hoping it would do.
But then, I think it's going to be really, really difficult on the drivers. I believe that if some of these guys that make these decisions don't understand what it's like to be in a racecar and how spent you are after a race – there's times where if I had to race on Monday after a race on Sunday, you'd be really tough to do it. And now they're asking these guys to go out and try to do that. And a place like Toronto, which is very physical – if it's hot, you're going to have guys falling out of the seats in the second race.
So it's putting a big, big demand on the drivers, in my opinion, and the teams in a lot of ways, the guys that go over the wall and stuff. So I can't say I'm a huge fan of it.