You've obviously laid down a solid marker in terms of establishing your presence in IndyCar. What are your options currently for the 2012 season?
Well I recently got a call from Domino's looking for a quick pizza delivery driver! Seriously though, it's been very humbling to see the amount of interest there has been for 2012. Obviously next year is going to be a big challenge for all the teams and drivers with the new car, and so having teams willing to bet their season on you is flattering. But there is still work to be done to make it all happen.
Describe your 2011 team-mate Oriol Servia in three words?
Intelligent. Committed. Rapid. If I was allowed to add a fourth word it would be espresso.
You only had a couple of opportunities to race directly against Dan Wheldon in IndyCar. Can you share your experiences with Dan on and off track?
My first on track experience with Dan was during Indy this year. He was so open to giving advice and helping me out. I always knew that if I had a question, Dan would answer it. He gave me a lot of good advice throughout May and it meant a lot that he always had time for me. Off track, luckily, I knew Dan better. I had been seeing him around the track and at events ever since I got to Lights in 2009.
I remember a brilliant night with him after the awards banquet last year in Homestead. But I also got to race against him in a charity go-kart race that Graham (Rahal) set up on the Wednesday of the Vegas week. He wasn't even scheduled to come, but heard about it at the autograph session and is always willing to help out a good cause. We ended up having a great battle the last few laps with Mike Conway, Brian Clauson and a few guys.
Banging wheels and bumping, it was hilarious. I was crying in my helmet I was laughing so hard, and most of it was instigated by Dan! At the end, we got out of the karts and he pulled off his helmet and was wearing that devious, million dollar smile. I'll never forget that. I am so happy he came that night. It is my last personal memory of him.
You've been nominated for the 'Rookie of the Year' award at the prestigious Autosport Awards, being held in London next month, and RACER magazine placed you sixth overall in their 'Top 10 IndyCar Drivers of 2011' analysis. How do you view such recognition?
With disbelief mainly! But it's good to see that all my bribe money is paying off! It is just weird to see my name up there with those guys. I have been a fan of racing much longer than I've been a driver, and so it is in some ways surreal to be recognized like that. But it is also incredibly satisfying. As a team, we were proud of what we accomplished this year. Even without any outside mention. Having respected people in the industry acknowledge a good effort is a very welcome cherry on top.
We know with the introduction of the new Dallara IndyCar chassis, named the DW12, that it's going to be a busy off-season with testing. In addition to those test duties, what else do you have lined up over the next couple of months?
Well I can't wait to get my hands on a DW12! Developing a new car has been one of the things about reaching the top level that I dreamed about. I love that challenge. Sadly I have to wait until the New Year to drive one, so until then I am keeping busy.
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