The word from Jaques
Obviously, the position we’re starting in is not ideal, but we do know that we have a really good race car. We did some full-tank runs last week, and we’re really happy with our car.
At Daytona and Talladega with NASCAR, you always have the big one (wreck) that you have to avoid, and the last couple years here at Indy, within the first 10 or 12 laps, there has been a pretty big crash back in the field. So we have to be ready to avoid that.
I’ll take a look at who’s around me and which cars I think I have to be a little cautious about. I’ll have a game plan set up to try to charge up a little bit early on the field, then get into a race pace, where I kind of just let everything come to me. I’ll talk to the engineers and my crew on the radio, let them know what the car is doing and just get everything set up for the last 50 laps.
This race is kind of like a living animal; it changes from one lap to the next. So you really can’t have a preset idea of where you want to be at any point in the race. I might get up to 18th and be happy to run there for a while, or I may need to get up to 10th to get with the group that is running the pace I need to run. We’ll take a look at it during the race, see what the pace is, see where we’re happy and run around with that pack.
Hopefully we’ll have a car good enough to go up there and compete for either a top-10 finish, which would be ideal for the team, or if everything goes our way we’ll have a chance to win it.
You have to be realistic about things, and the bottom line is that there are the three big teams (Target Chip Ganassi, Team Penske and Andretti Green Racing) that have pretty much unlimited budgets, and ours is pretty small. Ideally, if everything goes our way, we get all the right greens at the right time and all the right cautions at the right time, then hopefully we’ll have a chance to win. But other than that I think a realistic goal for us is a very solid top-10 finish.
If we can do that, it would be the equivalent of a win.