Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
June 12, 2013
ARNI SRIBHEN: We are pleased to be joined today by three guests. Firestone Indy Lights driver, Peter Dempsey of Belardi Auto Racing, and a little later we'll be joined by Ryan Hunter‑Reay and Michael Andretti of Andretti Autosports. But first we'll start with Peter. Welcome to the call.
PETER DEMPSEY: Thanks for having me.
ARNI SRIBHEN: Peter drives the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car in Firestone Indy Lights and is currently second in the point standings after recording his first Firestone Indy Lights win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month.
Peter, obviously, the last time we saw Firestone Indy lights on the track, you were coming from fourth place off the final turn to pass three cars in front of you to win the Firestone Freedom 100. Been off for a couple weeks; how anxious are you to get back in the car this weekend at Milwaukee?
PETER DEMPSEY: Yeah, coming off the great win we had at the Freedom 100, there isn't a better place for us to get our first win as a team and as a driver, and to do it in the fashion we did, it was great. But it's been a busy few weeks. Actually headed home to Ireland, and have plenty of media to do over there and then actually just landed back in Chicago yesterday.
So it's been hectic, but I'll be heading to Milwaukee later, and really looking forward to getting back on track. The Milwaukee Mile is my home track. (Indiscernible) it's adding a home track in the U.S. So I think Andretti Autosport has done a great job promoting the event over the past couple seasons and looking forward to getting on track tomorrow.
ARNI SRIBHEN: You've tested at Milwaukee, and you practiced and qualified for a race a couple years ago, but this will be the first time you actually raced an Indy Lights car at Milwaukee. Can you take the past experience you've had at the track and apply them to this race weekend?
PETER DEMPSEY: Yes, certainly. Any time you get some track time, it's always good and valuable and you always take notes. So hopefully we'll be able to bring the better track from Milwaukee over the past few seasons, and we managed this weekend and a couple of the teams tested here a few weeks ago, and unfortunately, we missed it. But we got plenty of track time tomorrow. We've got four hours, and then two practice sessions on Friday. I think we should be all right heading into the weekend.
We hope at the same time and we run in a very competitive series, and we've just got to see what we've got.
Q. As I mentioned, you're second in the point standings. Carlos Munoz had a pretty good first four races this season, winning a couple of races there and winning three poles. Do you feel like your season starts this weekend with Milwaukee or is it too soon to be thinking about the championship?
PETER DEMPSEY: Yeah, I think that's where I caught myself out, to be fair. The first few races I was thinking too much about the championship and not really driving 100% the way I like to drive. And I kind of changed that around at Long Beach, my attitude towards driving and going and attacking 100% everything every lap and not thinking about the championship, and go ahead and race Carlos and the guys as hard as we can from here on out. And if the championship comes along with that, then it's meant to be; but if it's not, then it won't be because of a lack of trying anyway.
ARNI SRIBHEN: While we're waiting for questions, you mentioned you were home in Ireland, what was the reaction to your first win back home?
PETER DEMPSEY: Yeah, it was unreal. I arrived home Monday, a week ago. I had been doing so many TV appearances and radio interviews, and the reception I got after such an historic win was brilliant. I thought I would see my friends and have a beer or two, but really it was just flat out media interviews and I got to see a lot of people, and the reception I got was great.
Q. Peter, if you can just take me through that final lap. You're sit ting there and saw those two guys side by side in front of you and what not, and you were really at the tail end of that and the fourth guy in line. Take me through that once you all hit the white flag, what you saw and whatnot?
PETER DEMPSEY: Yeah, I was really hanging in there all right to be fair. We got a little too short and I was just trying to stay with the leaders heading into the last lap. Obviously, I was a little bit back and I was working really hard to get back up behind them and using the draft as best I could. But heading into that last lap, I said they're not going to lift until the start/finish line and hang on to it as best they could.
Coming through one and two, we were getting a bit of a run, and as they went two wide down the back strait and then three‑wide, you're really kind of hurrying to the last because all of a sudden all of them were in a draft situation, and I was the only one that had the freedom to put my car wherever I wanted heading into turns three and four.
Then, when they were three‑wide, I could see how close they were, and no matter where you are in the world being three‑wide anywhere is very difficult, especially to be the guy in the middle, I think. And they did a great job not making any contact with either car.
Just in the middle of three and four, I went a bit right, and tried to at least get a podium out of this race. They could see the run I was getting on them, and I just came out of the front strait and they didn't crash, thankfully, and I was in a position to get it three‑wide basically. And then they just left enough room for one more car to squeeze by between them and the wall.
(Indiscernible) I just couldn't, you know, I had a little time with another three or four miles an hour over them towards the line. The start‑finish line is so far down the front strait, that I was able to just make it at the end of the race.
Q. Yeah, it was a heck of a thing to see, for sure. Number one, have you had any chances to talk with any IndyCar teams about maybe the opportunities to have a ride at the next level? Also, the Circuit of the Americas track, whether it's Indy Lights or IndyCar, how would you feel as far as running a race down here?
PETER DEMPSEY: Yeah, to answer your first question, and to be honest, I had to head straight home after the race, So I didn't get much time to talk to any of the IndyCar teams. I've got a lot of good contacts there. But the main thing for me is to focus and try to get a job done this year for the Firestone Indy Lights championship, and don't take my eye off the ball too much. I've got to get the job done. That's what I'm here to do is to try to win a championship or at least win a few more races anyway. But, work hard and help my team as much as possible, but I've got to keep my eye on the prize.
Your second question, yeah, I attended a race down there earlier on this year in the Pro Mazda series, and it's a serious venue. The facility is probably the most spectacular facility we really have in the U.S. these days. To get an IndyCar race there or an Indy Lights race there would be brilliant for American Open Wheel racing to race at a track like that. I'd love to see the opportunity for us and the IZOD IndyCar series to get there.
And why not show us the restrictions there on with Bernie Ecclestone of course, and if the opportunity were there, I'm pretty sure all the teams and drivers would have the chance to get down there and have a good race. And I think it would make for a great race the way the track is designed with the long strait and the heavy brake zones, so I think it will be good with passing as well.
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