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A Conversation With ... Ed Carpenter, Dan Wheldon, Townsend Bell, Oriol Servia, Buddy Rice, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Alex Tagliani, Sam Schmidt

 

Q: Ed, this has been a great week for you, obviously, and your team. You had a really good first lap. I don't know if the warm-up lap was too quick or there was a problem on (Turn) 2, but you know what happened.

 

ED CARPENTER: Yeah, I was kind of surprised the warm-up lap was that quick. You know, in the moment I was a little frustrated just because you never want to lose spots from the first round. We were sixth going into the Shootout. But we hardly made any change to the car at all and we just lot the balance, picked up a lot of under?steer, the opposite of what I had in the first round.

 

Once again, the car had more speed, but between myself and as a group we missed a little bit on the balance, but still really happy for the team. There's a lot of guys, especially a lot of big guys, that aren't in the Shootout today. We're not here to win the Shootout, we're here to win the race. You know, we'll get back to work tomorrow and get the car out on the track if it's dry and keep working on our race setup.

 

Q: What are we to make of the fact that we don't have the usual Power teams up here in the Fast Nine, Andretti didn't do much, Penske only had one team. What are we to read from that, if anything?

 

CARPENTER: I don't know. I think it's just a testament to all the teams in the series are working really hard to get better. It's probably ?? it has a lot to do with the fact of how long we've been running this car. You know, it's gotten tighter every year. You know, as mechanics move around to different teams and engineers move around to different teams, information gets spread out, and there's all sorts of things. But teams have to work hard to catch up, and I think those guys have kind of reached a point with the car where they couldn't get any further, and other people caught up, and in some cases, at least today, did a better job.

 

Q: Can we talk about the second lap? I think that was the one real tight with the wall.

 

CARPENTER: I felt like it was too tight with it on all of them. I don't remember specifically. But like I said, the front of the car just didn't want to turn. I was trying to keep my foot in it because I knew when we did the warm-up lap that the car was well capable of going over 227, just missed on the balance a little bit.

 

Q: Talk about the rain delay.

 

CARPENTER: I wanted a chance to go out and do it again. If we had to do it again, I would still want to go try again. That's the competitor in me. I think you always think you can go better and go faster. If I had a chance right now to go jump in and do it again, I'd be out in the car.

 

Q: You're now in a great position to make a run to win the Indianapolis 500.

 

CARPENTER: Yeah, starting eighth for the second year in a row, and last year I felt like we put ourselves in really good position and just had a bad break under yellow and had to pit with a closed pit. Other than that I felt like we were in the hunt. I know we can position ourselves from the eighth spot, so we'll see how it goes.

 

Q: Dan, tell us about your day, the shootout, et cetera.

 

DAN WHELDON: I think for me it's just very good to be back in the race car. I've had my four-race hiatus, vacation, whatever you want to call it. But it's obviously phenomenal to be back, especially at Indianapolis.

 

I think that Bryan Herta and Steve Newey put together a fantastic group of guys with Bryan Herta Autosport. They've got a great group of people that have worked incredibly hard. We're obviously on a partial-month program, but I think as you can see, certainly the car was competitive enough to compete for the pole. Unfortunately we were a little bit off on that Fast Nine, but it was ?? it's a testament to the team's effort.

 

You know, actually it probably would have been a little bit higher up if I had listened to Bryan but I really wanted to go for the pole, and I perhaps trimmed the car up a little bit too much. It's been a fantastic day. I think everybody on the team should be proud. I think William Rast will be proud of us.

 

But it's fantastic because we have a collaboration with Sam Schmidt Motorsport, and for Alex Tagliani to get the pole, it goes to show that it's really been a good program and obviously talent is incredibly strong, too. I think for the most part it was a very good day, and I'm looking forward to the race.

 

Q: Are all the guys in the team new to you?

 

WHELDON: That's a good question. I briefly worked with the engineer that's engineering my car, Todd Malloy, when I first signed for Andretti Green Racing, which it was back then. But for the most part it's obviously a new team to me.

 

Bryan has been a teammate and a close friend, so the relationship is a little bit different now. I probably can't play as many practical jokes on him as we perhaps used to because he's the boss. But I touched on it earlier today; he is a man of his word, which is very rare these days. I had some good opportunities for this race. There was a fair few options, and when I spoke to Bryan, I said: ‘Bryan, you know how important this race is to me. It's potentially my only race that I'm going to do all year; can you give me a fast enough race car?’ And he said, ‘I'll absolutely make sure that you have one.’

 

There's not a lot of people out there that I would trust. But it's been phenomenal to be in his team. I think it goes to show the kind of person he is when you look at the group of people that are working for him, and just very proud to be part of it. I think in the time that I've had off, that certainly has made me realize how much I love m

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