97th Indianapolis 500 Press Conference - Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay
THE MODERATOR: Welcome for second and third and the highest-finishing rookie. These are two drivers who have been in this room a lot this week. Defending IZOD IndyCar Series Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Carlos Muñoz.
Carlos, Rookie of the Year is announced at the banquet. I'm going to go out on a limb and figure they'll call your name. It's been pretty good, spectacular, with both races. Tell us about your day.
CARLOS MUÑOZ: Since first I start, I was a little bit nervous with the pit stops and the entry to the pit lane and out. I didn't do a lot of practice during the week.
You know, I was pretty patient. I overtook one car, was patient, and at the end was pushing more. The first two pit stops, the one or two pit stops, was not that great. Had a lot of people to overtook me. I went one by one back to the front. The last two pit stops, the guys and me, we did a great job to not to lose any position.
The last yellow flag, maybe I could have the shot to win. The car was awesome from the first lap to the last lap. I have to be proud of me and no shame of nothing, to be rookie, to be second. I think I did a great race.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, I was studying the board. I see you're still looking at it. I actually thought to myself looking yesterday that leading may not be the best thing to do with a lap or two to go. When Tony went around, I thought that may not work in his favor. Obviously, this is part of the equation that goes into winning this race. You have your perspective and you can share that.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: First of all, it was awesome running up front all day in Indianapolis, having the car to put you up front. I could just put it where I wanted to and pass when I wanted to. We were just kind of biding our time. That was a lot of fun running with my teammates. Carlos did a great job.
The frustrating part is we were quick enough. I was leading by a bit of a margin there over T.K. or Marco. We had lap traffic coming up. I thought, This is great, if we can get in lap traffic, I can distance myself because our car was great in traffic.
Right as I was getting into the tow from the traffic, the yellow came. We were leading and the rest is history. When you're up front leading, especially on a restart, you might as well be driving a bulldozer. Everybody come on by.
I'm actually happy we got third. I figured with that restart, being first, we would have been shuffled back to fourth or so.
When I got through Turn 1, tucking in behind Carlos, I said, You know what, this is perfect. We're third with four laps to go. I can bide my time, put myself into a position to fight for it at the end, but it never came because of the yellow came right back out. It's unfortunate.
But I have to say I'm very happy for Tony Kanaan. He's done such a great job. He's a great champion. He's done a great job here his whole career. He's had plenty, I'm sure, of the days I've had. Feels you get so close and it doesn't work out.
Very happy for him, very deserving. Very happy for Chevy. Just disappointed because I think the No. 1 DHL Chevy was probably the one to beat.
But thanks to Andretti Autosport for giving us great cars. Man, is this place fun when you have a great racecar.
THE MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions.
Q: On the last flag, were you in the position that you wanted to be?
CARLOS MUÑOZ: Yeah, the last flag, last yellow flag, I was a bit sad inside the car. I was not really happy. I prefer I finish for the race fighting for the win. Maybe work out, maybe not, but I would prefer a checkered flag race to see if I had a shot. As Ryan said, in traffic the car was so great.
But anyways, it's a good second rookie, so to be happy.
Q: Carlos, after such a fantastic month, now you shift your focus back to Indy Lights where you're fighting for the championship. Definitely a big job there. Do you feel like it will be tough to go back to there?
CARLOS MUÑOZ: Right now, let's wait what the future work for me. Right now I'm thinking Indy Lights. I don't know, maybe Michael have for anything. But right now, I just still Indy Lights my main program. It still will be. We'll see what happens in those days.
Q: Ryan, you've been watching the monitor pretty closely. Can you take us through what you're looking at, thinking? Secondly, when Dale Earnhardt won Daytona, there was a feeling in the garage that it was so cool. Is it kind of the same thing in the garage area to see T.K. win one?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: T.K. is such a fan favorite. He's a great guy, a great teammate, great friend of mine. Yeah, absolutely, it's great to see him win it. If anybody is going to win it in the field, he's one of the few I'd like to see other than myself. So that's really cool just watching it.
That's why this place is so special. I've wanted to win here since I was six years old. That's kind of what I'm thinking right now. Had the horse to get me there. We were riding strong today. Just didn't quite pan out.
But that's what's racing's about. We'll come back hopefully and have another shot at it next year.
Q: How much does dumb luck, good luck and bad luck, play into what Indianapolis is?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: You've got to have a lot of talent, a lot of performance. There needs to be some luck in there, for sure. No bad luck, no good luck, I think that's what we had today. We had no luck. We just ran around up front, had a great car. Nothing happened out the ordinary. We were on the bad side of that one. That happens.
I've been on the good side of that at other racetracks. I'd prefer if it could move 'em over to this one. You put yourself in a position to win. You're leading with five laps to go. We were sitting back on a restart.
We would have been passing on that back straight, I'll tell you that, had it gone green (laughter).
Q: Ryan, you had some great drafting back and forth with Marco and Tony, a bunch of guys. You made a couple of double car passes. Talk about how aggressive you had to be doing that and how comfortable or uncomfortable you were or weren't in those situations.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Just had to be at the right time. You had to be aggressive. The team is doing a good job. Michael Andretti, he's my strategist, so he's telling me when I need to go, when I need to save a little bit of fuel. Just kind of saving the tires, too.
But at times he would tell me to save fuel, next lap, it was go, go, go, passes a fast as you can. It was fun. When I put the throttle down, the car was going. I could stick it on the bottom of the racetrack. I could get that right wing up high. It was a lot of fun.
I knew if I had a car in front of me, there was a way around them. I didn't find anybody all day that wasn't the case.
I had a blast in the car. It's almost nerve-wracking when the car is that good, about halfway, I need to get to the end, this thing is so good, it's almost like it's too early.
A lot of emotions around this place where you don't have that at other racetracks.
Q: Casual fans who tune in for this as a big event might say, Why don't they have a green-white-checkered like they do at other places. Would you like to see that or...
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: First, this is Indy, there's a certain way things are done. If tradition is tradition, we you don't materialize results, we don't try to produce results out of green-white-checkereds. It can be a bit gimmicky.
With that said, I think what's fans want is most important. Where the green-white-checkered gets a little bit dicey is that you have some cars that gamble on maybe a yellow at the end for fuel and some cars that don't. That would have taken another three or four laps to clean up. Some cars might not have had enough fuel to finish. We would have had fuel for it.
If you can talk them into rolling us back out there, I'd be all for that (laughter).
Q: This was an entertaining race from a fan perspective. From a driver's perspective, you can't control a whole lot of your destiny and whatnot with the air. Is it good racing?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It's good racing. The one thing, you get together with Dario, Tony, Marco, you talk about what we want from these cars. We have exactly what we want. They're very racy. You want where good cars out front can start to stretch a lead if he is a good car.
Right now you can have a car that's superior by 2 miles an hour, a mile an hour and a half, which is huge around this place, and he won't be able to pull away from a car doing two miles and how slower than him just because it punches that big a hole in the air.
I am no engineer and I don't know the solution to that, but maybe the aero kits we are going for, IndyCar announced we're going to go back to beating the track record again, we're going to be flying around this place. I think Chevrolet and Honda are going to do a great job at going at it with aero kits, making these cars a little slipperier.
There may be some solutions coming in the future to that. As a driver, you feel you put the car in the right position, you're a sitting duck out front, we need to tweak that a little bit.
Q: Carlos, Ryan was asked about Tony. You as a very talented rookie, how much respect did you have before today's race for Tony? Has that respect gone even more?
CARLOS MUÑOZ: Outside the circuit, I have a lot of respect for them. They been here for a long time. Won a lot of races. Franchitti won a lot here, four championships or more, if I'm not wrong. If it's Tony Kanaan or another driver, we are fighting each other on track.
I learn a lot because a lot part of the race, he was in front of me. I learn a lot from him, how was he timing it and everything. I put this in practice and I start to get stronger and stronger.
Q: Ryan, on the restart, you had to figure there was no way it was going to go three green-flag laps. Did you really think there was going to be another yellow, another crash?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: No. I thought there was a good chance we could go green to the end. I'm an optimist, I guess, right?
I thought we could. But when we came to the green on that last restart, how many laps were there to go?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time (smiling).
We were sitting out front. What I thought, though, with three laps, we could have definitely found another challenge. Being third, following in behind Carlos, I was going to get a draft on him through the back straight, he was going to get a draft on Tony.
Things were going to get interesting in a hurry.
I was liking where I was, yeah. I was hoping we were going to go green. Didn't think it was going to happen that soon, right away, turn one.
Q: Carlos, you almost feel like you have to go to Michael Andretti and say, Give me a ride for Detroit, Texas.
CARLOS MUÑOZ: It's up to him. I'm asking you guys to press what you think about (laughter).
I have to do my job. My job, I'm still Indy Lights championship leader. This was my main goal since I start the year. This was one race more to have more experience and it came out really good, I think more than expected.
I don't know what the plan is going to be right now. I think Toronto, for sure, next week is going to be really tough for me. So I have to concentrate working on my Indy Lights program. We will see what will happen really.
Q: Can you talk about the pace of the race. Record race. Almost 70 lead changes. I think we went about 130 laps under green consecutively today. Can you talk about the pace of the race and how long the green flag was out today.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, it seemed like a while it was out there. I really enjoyed that because we were sitting out front kind of setting the pace within the top three or four, doing 219, 220 averages. I was pretty impressed with that because we were saving fuel, taking cares of the tires. At the same time we were passing back and forth.
Yeah, it was good. That's one of the reasons why I thought we might go green to the end because we had so much green running today. Wasn't much yellow. I think we only had one pit stop under full-course yellow. I thought we potentially might go green till the end.
CARLOS MUÑOZ: Last year I was watching as a spectator. I saw the front guys go ahead and pull away from everyone. The front pack was overtaking each other, a lot of changing from second to third, fourth to fifth, always the same guys in the pack.
It was a nice race for me. I was concentrate the whole race, more like I can, you know. And, you know, if someone overtake you, you have to be patient, go overtake him later on. So it was a really fun race, for sure.
Q: Carlos, they're still voting for the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Is there a point to pass out the ballots after the month of May you had?
CARLOS MUÑOZ: Who is voting for that? It will be nice to be the Rookie of the Year, of the race, you know. I think I did a great month through the whole days, the qualifying and everything. Also I have to thank my team for that. If I will win the rookie, it will be nice. Also my wallet will be a little bit fatter.
THE MODERATOR: Your wallet is going to be a little bit fatter. Congratulations, gentlemen. A tremendous race.