Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guest this afternoon is Danica Patrick.
Danica, a couple of practice days this week before Pole Day on Saturday. You qualified in the top ten all four years at Indy. What are the things that you try and accomplish the first couple of days of practice and then what are the keys to turning in another solid qualifying effort on Saturday?
First and foremost thanks, everybody for being on. It's a good opportunity to really just focus on qualifying. All the rest of the year we tend to not really be so heavily focused on it, and we kind of do maybe a qualifying practice run or two, but that's about it, and then we kind of fill the car up and work on race stuff from there.
We get a few days to really focus on it. It's about getting the car comfortable. You really want the car comfortable when it has more downforce on it. As you trim it out, the balance changes maybe a little bit, but really you want to start out with a good balanced car, and hopefully you can even take the downforce off and just get faster.
It's obviously a much more competitive field now, even in the last year, certainly than two, three, four or five years ago since you've been here. How much tougher do you think it's going to be to get in the top eleven on Saturday than maybe in years past?
Every year is challenging. But, I think you still have a lot of the leaders at the front of the field as you did four years ago. It's always been pretty tough. Yeah, there are a lot more drivers, and I think there are going to be more knocking on that top-11 door maybe more so than before.
Hopefully we don't have to worry about that and we get in that first day and we have a good qualifying run on the first one and it's good enough to put us in the top 11 and in the front row.
We have a question submitted, three questions from Michael Knight. It's often said it would help to grow the series' popularity for you, Marco [Andretti] and Graham [Rahal] to contend for race wins on a regular basis and be championship contenders. Do you still feel that sort of pressure or are you used to it by now? Have you discussed with that Marco or Graham or shared any advice with them about dealing with that potential pressure?
Everybody wants to win. That's the problem. At Indy, there's 33 of us, and the rest of the season there's 20 odd drivers that want to win. So, as much as it would be great if Marco and Danica and Graham were contending for race wins every weekend, that kind of reality is not - it can't happen every weekend anyway. It's just not normal for there to be the exact same three people.