With:: Scott Dixon, who returns for his seventh season in the IndyCar Series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing. James Hinchcliffe, a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
· 28-year-old entering his seventh season in the IndyCar Series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing
· Reigning IndyCar Series champion
· Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion
· One of only two drivers to win multiple championships in the IndyCar Series (2003, 2008)
· Winner of 10 of last 25 races dating back to middle of 2007
· Won record-tying six races in 2008
· Led record-setting 899 laps in 2008
· Has 96 career starts, 16 victories, 14 poles, 48 top-five finishes and 68 top-10s
· Wife, Emma, is expecting couple’s first child later this year
· Owns a small airplane and enjoys flying himself to races
· 22-year-old rookie in Firestone Indy Lights with Sam Schmidt Motorsports
· Competed in the Atlantic Championship in each of the last three seasons, earning two victories
· Competed for Team Canada in A1GP in 2007
· Has worked in television as pit reporter for A1GP and served as driver analyst for Champ Car World Series international broadcasts
Select Quotes: Listed below are select quotes from yesterday’s teleconference.
Q: Scott, obviously that's an incredible run that you've been on for the last year and a half. Can you guys keep it going in 2009?
SCOTT DIXON: I'd like to think that we can definitely keep the momentum rolling. The way we started last season and the way we ended it we were still very competitive, and with the addition of Dario (Franchitti), I think to have the last two series champions and the last two 500 champions could definitely ‑‑ we've got the target on our back as such, and people are going to have to chase us.
But I think the team hasn't got too complacent. By the looks of things over the offseason, they've been developing the cars more so maybe than other years. I know the competition is going to be very tough this year with the transition teams having a complete season in it. I'd like to say we look good as a team, and hopefully we can come away with the two big trophies by the end of this year.
Q: Talk about adding Dario as a teammate and the component that that brings to the team.
SCOTT DIXON: It's been excellent, just from having a new teammate, I think for me I thrive on that. I've been lucky enough to stay with Ganassi. I think it's my eighth season with the team, as you said, seven in IndyCar and then I had a season before that in Champ Car. I've seen and been through a lot of teammates, and every time you get a new teammate you learn a lot of stuff, and Dario I think is very technical, very, very good on road courses and street courses, and he brings a lot to the team.
Having I think the 24‑hour (at Daytona) together I think was great, but also, as you added, to have Australia to work together as a first race or a preseason race for the season was fantastic, and I think that was similar for Dan (Wheldon), who moved on to Panther. It was good to sort of get your feet a little wet and work with the new team and things like that.
Surprisingly we've been very close in driver styles and feel of the car. We're talking maybe 50 pounds to 100 pounds of spring difference is about the only thing that we kind of have. That's been pretty good for me because I've typically been a lot different from a lot of the other teammates.
As far as relationship goes, we've been great friends for many years. He was a guy I definitely looked up to when I came into the Champ Car series in 2001 and 2002, and I'd like to say we've definitely grown on that and I'm looking forward to a whole season with him.
Q:The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team looks pretty strong. You're paired up with Ana Beatriz, who won a race last year after a strong campaign, and Gustavo Yacaman. How well do you know those two already and how well do you expect to work together throughout the season?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It's been really good so far. We've done a lot of testing together. Obviously Gustavo had a little bit of a handicap because he wasn't allowed to test until he turned 18. So he was present but not maybe driving at some of the tests. And Ana I've gotten to spend a bunch of time with and it's great. It's a really good mix of personalities, a little bit of a United Nations of a race team with everybody on board, and then kind of the crew, my engineer is Australian and there's a couple other Canadians on the crew. So it's a very diverse team.
Obviously Gus and I are going to be relying on Ana a little bit on the ovals. She's got that year of experience and it's going to be a first for us, and we all come from a road racing background, so I think we're all able to help each other a little bit here and there on the road courses.
But, so far really good. Gus is young and eager and aggressive and Ana has had a year of experience now, so I think it's a really good mix. I think we'll work well together.
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 in High Definition at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 126. The radio broadcast also will be carried on indycar.com. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg. The races will be telecast at 6 p.m. (EDT) on April 6 by VERSUS.