What They’re Saying About The 500 Experience

© [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

© [Jamie Sheldrick/ Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

Indy 500 drivers say things to the press during the month of May that are best noted just before the green flag on race day. Following are some press conference quotes that could shed some light on what participants are thinking about going into Sunday’s 500.

  • Takuma Sato regarding car set-up: “You have to have a good platform which gives you the solid mechanical grip and the stability; how much you can trim aerodynamically…(You) truly have to have a strong car in traffic. The car that’s good by yourself is not necessarily good in traffic. The car is a totally different animal going around as fast as you can go.”
  • Rookie Indy Lights driver Jarett Andretti (John’s son) on future plans: “I’ve been leaning on McLaren to do some European outings. I went to Circuit Paul Ricard (in France) about a month ago to test over there, so you never know what might happen, but I’m looking for more experience. Hopefully I can get something there because they look at the United States and they want to come to the classic tracks like street courses and Mid-Ohio; they want to go to Road America, Watkins Glen. I want to go to Spa and Monza and Hockenheim and all the places they go, so I think there’s an opportunity there for me to do some stuff.”
  • Fernando Alonso talking about 2017 Indy cars vs. 2019 models: “I think today they didn’t feel too bad compared to 2017, let’s say especially in traffic. I think the cars are light in general, and the downforce you always feel low. In traffic, what I’ve heard is that it’s much more challenging now than 2017. As long as you can follow somehow, which I think is quite important at the end of the day, because you can remove the downforce, but (then) you cannot follow closely, you miss the action and overtaking.”
  • Josef Newgarden about racing here, especially for new drivers like Alonso not making the race: “It shows you have to respect the place. That’s no knock on anybody. I think when you come here, you learn that you’ve got to respect the place for what it is. It’s a very difficult track. It’s a difficult series. There’s a high level of competition here, and I think no one in the series doubts that, and for sure when we get incredible talent from other places in the world such as McLaren and a guy like Fernando Alonso, I think that just bolsters that message. (As we know McLaren found it too tough and failed to qualify).
  • Alexander Rossi noting the joy of his first win in 2016 and the effort to repeat: “Once you get a taste of it, I feel like other races you win-of course you would happily win again-but this one (the 500) is like you get a small taste of it, and the desire ramps up I think even more and you don’t want anyone else to be able to experience that and kind of get to celebrate it for the next twelve months. And that’s the special thing about this race is there’s -every couple of months-something that kind of reminds you of your accomplishment and ceremonial things, and I think that’s very cool.”
  • Rookie Swedish driver Felix Rosenqvist on the help Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti provide for him: “I wouldn’t see how you could do it without having some kind of help. I seem to have the two best guys, actually the best group of guys to help me out in getting up to speed here. It’s a very tricky place, it can bite you really hard, no matter how slowly you go through it; the limit is the limit. Almost like the length of the whole thing makes it even harder because if you feel comfortable, maybe you tend to just stop there and not continue to work. It’s a very mental thing. I can see that now being part of it, for sure. It’s probably more mental than anything else I’ve done or any other race.”



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