But, it all happens really quickly, and there's not a lot of time to be messing around or running into trouble. So we need to be smart about the running and hopefully just keep things simple and keep things running smoothly, get ourselves in a good position to have a good day on Saturday for qualifying.
You qualified on the front row last year. What are some of the keys that it takes to put in a good run and get up front or even win the pole?
You need to be able to trim this thing out as much as possible. It's hard. You need to get a good balance to begin with, and then step by step just keep trimming it out a little bit at a time until really the car starts sliding around too much where you can't stay flat.
But the conditions change. The wind at Indianapolis has such an effect on the car's performance and balance, you just really got to keep an eye on that. I think that's where having the experience of a team like Penske behind me, that's where they can help so much, with just keeping things on track. With Rick Mears, as well, he's always been a great help here, where he just keeps you focused on the right things.
The qualifying format at Indy obviously is different from everywhere else we go with the eleven cars on each day and three attempts per day. Once you've put in a time fairly early on Saturday, what is your personal preference? Do you kind of like to sit back and wait and see how that stands up or are you a person who might prefer to pull it off the board and go out for another run?
Well, you just watch the conditions. I think the last two times I've gone for qualifying here, you know, '07 and '08, the track has gotten better throughout the day, times have gotten quicker. If you want to go for pole, you have to sacrifice your first attempt and go for another one.
But the good thing is before you withdraw your first time, you can practice. You can test and go out and see if you've picked up speed. So you can sort of have a bit of security behind you whether it's going to be a smart move or not to take a second attempt.
But traditionally it has been necessary to go faster. In '07, I was lucky enough we didn't take that second attempt. It was important to be in the top eleven. I think I ended up qualifying seventh for my first attempt. But all the guys that were going for pole, they really had to put it on the line and take second and third attempts to go for it.
After you make that first qualifying run, you mentioned you have the opportunity to go out and practice some more later and you've got some media obligations. What else do you do in that downtime if you get the first run in the first hour or two hours? What kind of things do you do while you're waiting?
We're in the engineering office going over the data, checking to see what small setup changes we would like to do to the car to pick up more speed. And at that point when we're qualifying and we're so trimmed out, we're talking about the smallest of setup changes because they have such a big effect on the car when you are that trimmed out.
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