And after the win, you broke the hearts of those media car nerd guys by saying you had absolutely no interest in going car racing once your motorcycle career was over.
I wouldn't say no interest. I‟ve unfortunately realized that I'm probably not going to be able to race motorcycles my whole life, and I'm going to want to do something. But at the moment, man, I'm committed to two wheels. But I wouldn't say never on four wheels. Yeah, who knows? But in the meantime, I'm two wheels.
Have you ever raced a car, outside of the odd, informal rental car race?
Oh, you're going to love this story. The dirt track here in my town, every Halloween … that makes me sound like a complete hillbilly, but I guess I am one. They used to have what they call a Halloween 100, where you knock the windows out of junk cars, and they mud the track down, and it's a 100-lap race. And I did that two years in a row. And believe it or not, my buddy actually even rode with me. You think he's not crazy? So that was about the extent of my car-driving days.
Henry Ray Abrams:
We saw that Rossi ran out of gas on the cool-down lap, and he did that even though he had the slowest top speed. Did you finish with much gas in the tank?
I finished with the right calculation. I probably couldn't have did another half-lap, but they have it down to a complete science. The fuel consumption changes as the race goes on to make sure you get across the line. If it knows you're not going to finish, it leans out. If it knows you're ahead of schedule, it richens the bike and gives you power because they can't ever control wheelspin, draft, things like that. So it calculates itself as the race goes on.
Did you notice much difference as the race goes on? Was the bike getting any slower?
No, no. The percent my bike changed was nothing, even. We were pretty good.
I noticed Bridgestone has a different way of handing out tyres this year. How's that been?
Well, it's only been one race. The rears, we have two less rears. So the fronts is not a problem. But the rears, we're right on the limit. If there ever was a red flag or something … Before you used to always keep one good backup tyre, that sort of thing. So we're on the limit on rears pretty good. I would definitely say at some tracks you use the tyres a lot. And the fronts is better. Now you can choose after the first session if you want hard or soft, which makes it a lot easier to manage the rest of the weekend. Because last year sometimes your bike only worked with the soft tire or hard tires, and you wanted to save those for qualifying and the race. You're out there setting up your bike on a different tyre than you're going to race. So I think now you have „til 6 o'clock on Friday decide if you want, which front compounds you want to go. This is something we wanted, so that's an improvement.
I wanted to ask you about these 2012 regulations. They seem to be a moving target at the moment. I think the latest iteration, it seems like they want to do most of the factory bikes on 800s and still allow in the 1000, production-based engines. Do you think it's OK to have kind of a mix like that? And if not, what would be your ideal platform?
I haven't gotten caught up in all of that because until the rules come out black and white, I really haven't paid a lot of attention because right now I'm riding an 800 Ducati, and I don't make the rules. So unless they're going to call and let me weigh in and write up the rules, no need to waste a lot of time or energy on something I can't control. I don't know, man: Everybody riding two different bikes, man, that all sounds a little bit crazy. The FIM, I think do a good job, other than the switch to 800s. For the most part, they've got some sharp people in there and will make something to go racing. It's unfortunate now that the economy and the manufacturers are hurting, and they can't just fire in a new rule and teams can spend all the money to develop parts. Really, I haven't followed it that close. The idea of going back to 1000s, I love that. Because the bore and stroke, the difference between the 800, 1000, really, I'm a rider, not an engineer. I really don't understand some of it, so I don't even know.
As you know, Indiana is a basketball-crazy state, and everybody knows you‟re a big fan of the UK (Kentucky) Wildcats, so two-part question here for you. One, have you gotten over the fact that the Wildcats didn't‟t make the Final Four, and two, with them losing nearly their whole starting line-up to the NBA, do you think they can get there next year?
I've gotten over it. I don‟t bleed blue like some people around here, my little sister being one. Sure, I like the Wildcats, but I don't paint my face, or anything, on all the home games. But I hated to see them lose. They had such a good squad this year. Next year, all of them leaving, it hurts. But Coach Cal, he knows how to recruit and bring in them McDonald's All-Americans. I know they've already signed No.2 in the nation. My buddy follows all that stuff. It's going to be tough, starting all over again with a bunch of freshmen, to hang any banners. But I think they'll be able to make another run.
What story did you get from your dad on saving Tommy's pickup truck?