ashley asks....

“They Said What?” NTT IndyCar Series Edition

By: Ashley McCubbin

Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face – especially when they’re mad, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the NTT IndyCar Series season, there were quite a few of these moments. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

“I’m a racing driver. I love being in a race car, whatever that looks like. I think for me, I spoke earlier about what I really missed in 2020. Even though it was a full season, I felt like I missed some of those events that are really special to me: Long Beach Grand Prix comes to mind, Grand Prix up in Toronto as well. If I can put an opportunity together that allows me to be in the cockpit in the INDYCAR Series for those events, I will. I’m continuing to work towards that goal. At the same time I’m focused on getting the job done in May. I’m focused on going out, getting the best result possible for A.J. Foyt Racing, figuring out how to get this big nose and ugly mug onto that Borg-Warner trophy.” – Charlie Kimball

“There’s a bunch of things, obviously driving. We’re constantly trying to improve everything. I constantly try to improve my driving, try to improve strategy, pit stops, everything setup-wise in the car. Trying to improve everything as a whole. It’s hard to pinpoint one exact thing. I’ve actually been really happy with how the season’s gone so far. Like I said, some stuff is just out of our control that you can’t help. I think without some of our DNF’s and stuff like that, we would be looking pretty good in the championship.” – Colton Herta

“The car does a lot of things. Instead of just one problem, there’s three problems handling-wise. As a driver, it becomes difficult,” he explained. “There’s a lot of information coming in when you go through the entry phase of the corner, the center of the corner, the exit of the corner. Instead of having one problem, we have apex understeer, you could be loose in, apex understeer, loose off. You’re like, Well, all right, we got a lot of things to fix. It’s a matter of just narrowing things down and finding a better window of operation. The car has a very narrow window right now. I think we see that a lot. The entire field is within 8/10ths of a second. That narrow window it’s like 2/10ths or 3/10ths of a second. If you’re on the right side of those two 10ths, that’s the goal.” – Conor Daly

“It was a tough year. Well, it was a tough year for everyone no matter what field they’re in. It’s not something individual. But not being able to race was probably the first time in I don’t know how long that I’ve been out of a season in whatever series it is. It was always thinking about what to do next. I really got the hunger to come back for INDYCAR. Not only was that year out made me more hungrier to come back, but the way things for me in 2019, I reflect what I could do, probably frustrated me a lot more than anything else. It was a combination of things which meant that I really wanted to get back to INDYCAR and knew I needed to get back to INDYCAR. Now I’m fortunate enough to be in this position. I got to take advantage of it and make sure that I perform to where we can with the guys around me, and the team around me I’m really confident we can do that.” – Ed Jones

“I see it’s a perfect match – me and Pato (O’Ward). I always preferred to have a teammate that you can have fun with, joke around with, and he’s also fast very and that’s the main thing. You always want the teammate to able to push yourself and drag out any weakness you have and work on it – and I’m sure Pato will be able to do that, and I can do that with him as well. He’s certainly younger than me, but I’m also not very old, either. I think we’ll complement each other well and have gotten to know each other really well over these past couple months. We’ve been working together over these past few months – very fun guy to be around, a lot of energy, very social which is super cool.” – Felix Rosenqvist

“I’m excited. I think the season could be really great. I just want to get going, really. I think last year all drivers had some bad luck. I don’t think we ever had some really awesome luck to really balance it out. I’m getting excited in everything being the same going into this year. I think working continuously with the same people around me – at the track and away from the track. I think we’re going to achieve some really great things. People still have to remember Meyer Shank Racing is a new team, a newer team, but we have some experience now and when it comes to the experience, we can make the most of the opportunities that we have. I think I’m in a really great place so it should be a really good season.” – Jack Harvey

“The road course is gonna be tough as hell, but it is what it is and we’ll deal with it. But for the 500, I’m just really excited. I really believe that we can work to get a car to compete for the win. If I didn’t believe I could go there and win, I wouldn’t be doing it. There’s no point. I mean, I’ve won it twice so to go there and just ride around, it’s the same reason – one of the reasons I left F1. If I didn’t have good options and to run mid-pack, I’d rather stay home.” – Juan Pablo Montoya

“It’s obviously a bittersweet memory in some respects. For me, it’s just kind of a part of being a racer. Stuff happens. I think at the end of the day, for me it’s a positive thing for me to be able to look back on and know that I’m ready for any kind of situation like that that happens again.” – J.R. Hildebrand on the 2021 Indianapolis 500

“I think like I mentioned previously, the Indy Lights car and the INDYCAR are quite similar, a lot of brake points and just overall lines on track are very similar. Being able to take that knowledge from Lights and bring it into INDYCAR I think eliminates some of a learning curve where we don’t have a ton of time on track, where I can kind of just take that and just instantly start working on development with the car and trying to progress and get the balance right.” – Kyle Kirkwood

“Well, I think he’s just a very calculated driver. He’s actually an engineer. He’s a schooled engineer. He does think about it a lot and is really good at looking at data and trying to figure out how to go faster. He’s been improving over the weekends, and that’s all we asked of him to do as he showed up and where he was at and just trying to keep improving. That’s what we’ve seen. He’s still got a little bit to go, but he’s on the right track, so I think that’ll be good for him.” – Larry Foyt on Dalton Kellett

“What stood out to me is the respect we have for each other. I think we both race really hard, but we gave each other room and he’s someone that I can fully trust going 190 mph into a corner, a hard braking zone, and you say this guy will give me a room –at least enough to stay on the track. I wish I could say that about everybody, but that is racing. There’s some guys that will give you the race and give you respect for your car area and there’s others that will shove you out. So it was good to have that battle because that gave me the reassurance of respect – I think that’s the main idea here. We both know that we can race without one putting each other’s race in jeopardy, and two, now that we’re teammates, we can work together.” – Pato O’Ward on Felix Rosenqvist

“Honestly, we knew this would be more of a foundational year for me and the team. Not that we weren’t trying to win every race, but racing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is full of nuances. How to be good on new red Firestone tires vs. scuffs. Same thing with blacks. How to effectively approach a qualifying session. Those are just a few of the little things that I needed a full season to fully learn and understand. We did that and now 2022 is a year we want to go out and run up front consistently.” – Scott McLaughlin

“It’s going to be a few things to learn on the first day, beginning with the aero screen and getting adapted to that and understanding how it changes the car’s handling, feeling, etc. A couple drivers already told me it’s weird because there’s no wind noise coming through the helmet. Getting used to that is the number one thing – and that’s the main thing that I need to get used to. There’s also been a few aerodynamic changes to help the competition over the last few years so that’ll be something that I am trying to get educated on here before I jump in the car with the engineers.'” – Stefan Wilson

“That was probably one of the hardest decisions of my professional career was having to make that decision. I mean, I was fortunate in ’95 to win the USAC Triple Crown and I had been working with the Ranier family to have an opportunity to go NASCAR racing. They had been working with me for over a year and a half at that point to go the NASCAR route, and then Tony George developed the IRL and I got a chance to test with AJ, and it truly was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I think at that time, at that particular time, we didn’t know what the future and how successful the IRL was going to be, and obviously NASCAR at that time was not at its peak yet but nearing its peak and was extremely successful. You know, it really was a matter of just knowing that for sure we knew exactly where NASCAR was at at that time. We weren’t exactly sure what the future was going to hold for INDYCAR racing on the IRL side, and like I said, though, that was one of the toughest decisions of my life to not follow my dreams of being an INDYCAR driver. But I can say that I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to race, I guess, 27 or 28 races now in an INDYCAR. Even though it wasn’t what defined my career, I’m glad to say that it was a part of my career.” – Tony Stewart

“I would say successful in this series is often about luck because if you get caught on the wrong side of yellows, it can totally ruin your day because they have this terrible rule where the pits close on the yellow. Obviously speed matters massively. You might question that if you look at last year’s championship where Dixon won probably three races because of yellows and qualified horribly. For the most part, yep, if you can qualify at the front it helps. Lottery yellows, I love to stick the knife in and let people know how bad they are.” – Will Power

“That’s something to talk about a little further down the road this year. Probably not a 2021 thing, but I definitely love to come back and do the Indianapolis 500. I have four of those under my belt now; it’d be awesome to get a fifth one in, but the opportunity has to make sense. But without a doubt, my full focus right now is Lexus RC F GT3, so one day maybe, but it’s nowhere in my mind right now.” – Zach Veach

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