Competing on the biggest stage: Indy 500 veterans offer advice to Super Bowl rookies Team 3G tabs Owen Snyder as crew chief and engineer
1. Competing on the biggest stage: Indy 500 veterans offer advice to Super Bowl rookies: Nearly 75,000 people will fill the seats of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and millions of viewers will tune in on television to watch the Super Bowl match-up between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 1. For the players, it will be the chance to perform on football’s biggest stage.
The pressure is similar to that experienced by the 33 starters who take the green flag for the Indianapolis 500 every May when the grandstands around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway are filled and a worldwide TV audience watches the greatest spectacle in racing.
Several Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series stars offered their perspective on performing on the world’s biggest stage.
Marco Andretti – 2006 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, finishing second: “I think walking into your first Super Bowl is like walking into your first Indy 500. There’s nothing like it. You work every day for your chance to get there. It’s enough to put your stomach in knots, for sure. You can’t help but feel pressure sometimes, you just have to try and block it out. Just do your job and don’t hold back.”
Danica Patrick – 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, finishing fourth after leading 19 laps late in the race, becoming the only woman to lead laps in the 92-year history of the race: “The best advice that I have ever been given about being a rookie at the Indianapolis 500, is to respect the track. I would have to tell the rookies of the Super Bowl, ‘Don’t take your first experience here for granted, respect it for what it is and enjoy the moment.’”
Graham Rahal –Son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal qualified 13th for his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2008: "It will always be a very nerve racking period of time being in a huge sporting event like the Super Bowl. But ultimately these guys are pros and they have had lots of experience whether it is their first Super Bowl or not. I had plenty of racing experience before my first Indy 500, and it was still a mind-blowing experience before the green flag flew. But once you put your helmet on, whether you are in the Super Bowl or Indy 500, you have to put the importance of the event out of your mind so you can get the job done. The players themselves are not rookies really. A guy like Kurt Warner, who is a previous Super Bowl champ, knows exactly how to handle this challenge and will be successful.”
Scott Dixon – 2008 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion: “It’s funny because growing up in New Zealand I didn’t follow American football at all. But now having lived in Indianapolis for quite some time I have to admit I’ve become a Colts fan. I think when you first arrive at the Indianapolis 500 you really can’t appreciate the opportunity you have in front of you. It’s only after having been in the race a few times that you start picking up on the little things like the massive grandstands heading into Turn 1 or the entire month of tireless work you and your team have spent on just this three-hour event. Taking that a step further would be the feeling of winning the race like I had the opportunity of doing last season. You really can’t comprehend what you’ve accomplished until quite a while later when it finally sinks in. It’s a bloody awesome feeling, and I wish all the Super B owl rookies luck this year.”
2. Team 3G tabs Owen Snyder as crew chief and engineer: Two-time Indianapolis 500-winning crew chief and engineer Owen Snyder will join Team 3G for its inaugural IndyCar Series season with Stanton Barrett behind the wheel.
"Owen brings incredible talent and integrity to our team" team co-owner Greg Beck said. "He will be an instrumental part of establishing our competitive foundation. I know he and Stanton will work great together, and it should ease the transition for Stanton as an IndyCar driver."
Snyder moved from sprint car racing to Indy cars in 1980, working as a mechanic with the Patrick Racing organization. He has worked with such Indy legends as Johnny Rutherford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti and Gordon Johncock. He won the 500-Mile Race with Al Unser Jr. (1992) and Eddie Cheever Jr. (1998).
"While made up of industry veterans, Team 3G and Stanton Barrett are new to the IndyCar Series, this is exactly the kind of challenge that makes racing fun," Snyder said. "I have always enjoyed working with up-and-coming organizations, helping to mold them into race winning teams. I like their approach to the sport in these tough times, and they have a nice long-term plan to grow bigger and better, but in a controlled way."
Barrett will get his first extended seat time during the Feb. 24-25 Open Test on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.
"As we continue to lay the foundation and improve as a team, we believe Owen's abilities are a great match for Team 3G," team co-owner Steve Sudler said. "Not only is he a great asset to Stanton and the IndyCar program, he will be a great mentor for drivers, engineers and mechanics that are working their way up from our Star Mazda and Indy Lights programs."
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.