Interview with the stars of Andretti Autosport Ryan Hunter Reay, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz

THE MODERATOR: These are three gentlemen who had tremendous success here. We saw Ryan at the museum. Carlos has been Rookie of the Year. Marco has done exceedingly well here with some great finishes.

Ryan, we'll start with you. You come back to this place. A whole new perspective, I would think, as the defending champion of the event, and also as a gentleman who has won the Verizon IndyCar Series.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's a tremendous accomplishment for the team and for myself personally to be an Indy 500 winner. We feel like we're hopefully getting started now. We've got a lot of work to do. We've been busy in the whole off-season preparing for this race.

It's going to be a big hill to climb with the new car, with the aero kit and everything else. It's going to be new problems. We're going to effectively come at it from a different angle. The drivers are going to have to be open-minded about it.

Certainly it's great to be coming back as the defending winner. But we have a lot of work to do as a team. I see in many ways my teammates as some of the best and hardest guys to beat when racing at the Indy 500.

Hopefully we can use that together as we have in years past, working together towards race day, working together during the race, going at it for those last 20 laps again.

THE MODERATOR: Carlos, we're talking about the unveiling of a new year in the Verizon IndyCar Series. You have a great team behind you. We're also talking about what happens here. With a break here or there, you could also be a winner here.

CARLOS MUÑOZ: Yeah, that's the goal for me for sure, also for both of my teammates, is to win the 500. It would be great. It will be my third year after doing it, after two good performances, second and fourth place.

We have to go race by race, do the best we can. It's going to be a completely new year with the new aero kit. Going to be an interesting year for sure. I don't have any more the rookie. Again, maybe I will have a little bit more of a good pressure on that, but looking forward to start the season.

THE MODERATOR: Marco, your thoughts going into the year. You have a really good squad, an opportunity to be quick right out of the box. Talk about your thoughts coming into 2015.

MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, we're very excited. The elephant in the room as they touched on is the aero kit. Whichever one rolls out on top I think is going to enjoy a good amount of success.

In an ideal world, we're racing our teammates and a couple other guys. But you never know. We've been doing a ton of off-season testing, more so than sort of ever in my career.

But I'm ready to go racing. It's been a long off-season. We're really excited to, as Dixon said, start to see the pace on different circuits, whoever comes out on top.

THE MODERATOR: One of the things you're saying is you're anxious to see where other people are at as well?

MARCO ANDRETTI: We know where we're at, we just need to see where the competition rolls out.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Andretti Autosport.

Q. Carlos, there are going to be three Colombian drivers in the racing. We don't hear much about Colombia racing. Is there ever a chance that Colombia would get a street race or something?

CARLOS MUÑOZ: Yes, a lot of Colombian. There's a lot of racing there. Marco could feel it when he was in Colombia go-kart. Also Juan Pablo have something to do about.

Right now the fact of the TV coverage, we're focused on that, having it in the public TV.

It would be great to have a race in Colombia. Right now how the situation is, I don't think it's the main priority. Maybe in the future, why not? It would be great to race in Colombia. Right now the focus is in the TV, where is going to be the races.

Q. Marco, you have always performed well here. The ultimate goal has not been achieved, but you seem to be a factor in nearly every event here. What about Indianapolis suits you well?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I never really have that answer. Obviously it starts with having a good car, good teammates to push me year in and year out.

Honestly, to get the job done, we just have to keep doing what we're doing. We're putting ourselves in a decent position every year. We just need our number picked one of the years. The only way that's going to happen is if you're in the shootout.

Q. Graham Rahal mentioned you in terms of the fact that there are periods in a driver's career where they have to scuffle, they're trying to get a full-time ride, confidence can wane. It's been an amazing journey to land in a secure situation and be able to claim a championship and Indy 500 win. I think people forget there are lean days in the career of a driver.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I remember for a good period there, it was hopping from team to team, then times I was switching to two teams in one year, not knowing what I was doing at the test at Sebring the week before St. Pete. That's when you lie awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering if this is what the rest of your life is going to be like, your racing career, before it had a chance to begin.

As I've said in the past, I think those moments make you hungrier, it makes you push that much harder. In the long run, I'd rather never have it any other way. I think that just makes it a part of who I am.

Q. You've done some testing with the previous aero kit. We thought there was going to be one race with that. Now that we know that's not happening, what do you learn when you're testing that previous aero kit?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I think we're always developing the car mechanically. We have that side we're going to have to work on mechanically. When you get the new aero kit, it's like having a new toy. You're immersed in that.

If you can get the mechanical bits sorted out, have a toolbox of various options you can pick from, that's the point there.

Then obviously going to New Orleans, we're working on a new racetrack completely.

It's been okay having the two tests without the aero kit.

CARLOS MUÑOZ: Get up to speed with all the mechanics. Even though we had a little chance to test the aero kit, no other teams have. Just get the muscles strong.

MARCO ANDRETTI: These guys nailed it.

Q. Have all three of you guys been in the new aero kit?

CARLOS MUÑOZ: Yeah, kind of (laughter). We tested different stuff, going to try. One day in one configuration, then the next few weeks another, then Marco was in another. It was pretty interesting. We were discussing the differences in between. It's going to be excited, for sure.

Q. Marco, have you done anything specifically in the off-season that you feel might be a game changer for you this year?

MARCO ANDRETTI: To be honest, there's been some personnel changes that I'm really excited about. Nothing against anybody in my previous. I'm really excited about my new engineer. Things have been going great in off-season testing.

Really it's taken the load off of me that I can come in and say exactly what the car is doing. I had a problem with over-engineering the car itself. My hit rate is not good as an engineer.

It's been really great, seamless so far. Hopefully that continues. Like I say, I can just really focus on myself and look at the differences between myself and my teammates, if there's a deficit, trying to fix that.

Q. Do you want a fourth car? Are you close to a fourth car? Do you just want the three of you to be focused on?

MARCO ANDRETTI: I think financially it would be nice to have a fourth. It's just really tough right now. I'm sounding like a team owner, it's not good (laughter).

But the truth is is that it is. I think it would be good to have a fourth. Look at Penske, they're stacked. No question about it. They're going to be pushing each other. If we can get a fourth to push us, there's no negatives to that.

We have the personnel to do it in-house, for sure, pretty comfortably.

Q. Each of you has a different driving style. When you take this kit, do each of you develop your own way you want it placed on the car?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I think it really depends track to track. The thing is we really don't know yet. By the time you go to a new test, new bits, new components. The next test, it's not what we're testing any more. It's moved on.

We haven't had a chance to settle in and start testing the aero kit. You would think I know what it looks like, they know what it looks like, we all kind of know what we want in it. That's really not the case. It's been evolving so fast.

I really can't answer that question.

Q. Someone said, My engineer keeps telling me what his telemetry says. But his butt is not in the seat. There are different things that different drivers like. How do you sort all of that out?

MARCO ANDRETTI: I mean, I think when we're testing such a wide variety of things, the three of us hone in on the good stuff right away. When we're fine tuning, like Ryan said, we haven't been able to do that, we'll be doing that through the year for sure. That's when the little differences sort of show their head.

Right now we're all talking the same language.

Q. You don't get a lot of time testing the superspeedway aero kit for Indianapolis prior to getting into the Grand Prix, then back onto the oval. Is that going to make that first week of practice here exciting, white knuckle exciting, fun exciting?

MARCO ANDRETTI: Carlos will go out first and let us know how it is (laughter).

CARLOS MUÑOZ: The good thing, we try the Indianapolis configuration for sure. It's going to be excited. We're going to turn out a lot of laps in the beginning. I don't know why these guys put me all the work all the time (laughter).

But, yes, for sure last year I remember just waiting to try to get perfect condition. I think this year it will be green flag. So many things to try on the car. The engineer doesn't know, ourselves doesn't know.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We'll be holding our breath big-time. Those first couple days on track here on the proper IMS, it's going to be the first time in a very long time that everyone is actually glued to the timing screens.

Years of work has gone into that point. Everybody will be kind of, like I said, holding their breath. Whoever has the first leap forward there is probably going to have a pretty good month.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming in.


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