Ryan Hunter-Reay: Well first, to join a team of Andretti Autosport's caliber is something that I've been working towards my entire career and to finally be there is quite an honor. It's a time in my motorsports career that it's pretty special and I'm really looking forward to working with everybody there. The goals right now are constantly moving just because were trying to put together a full-season, we have anywhere between 5 to 7 races confirmed right now. This team and the folks they have putting together these sponsorships and partnerships are some of the best in Racing, so I have full faith that we can get something done to fill in the season. If anybody is going to do it these guys are. The goal is to absolutely win races and run competitively as we can and be in the top 5 in the points championship heading into Indy definitely the goal.
16th And Georgetown: Last season everything was really put together very late with Vision Racing, and if I remember correctly your seat fitting was the same day that the transporters left for St. Pete. Although the entire 2010 schedule isn't set, you know the team your gonna be with, the month of May is set, your teammates are set, your crew is set. With a full 2-months before the season opener, how much of an advantage do you have over last season just knowing all that stuff is taken care of?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: The preparations, I'm going to be able to go testing, which I haven't been able to do. It's night and day difference to be able to prepare, and prepare with a team like Andretti Autosport. It's totally different, definitely the most preparation I've had going into a season and I'm really looking forward to it.
16th And Georgetown: In 2007 you joined on mid season with Rahal/Letterman and had only 1 teammate, then in '08 you were a one car team with RLR. This past season you joined Vision where you had only 1 teammate before switching to the singal car team in A.J. Foyt Racing. Now with Andretti Autosport, How beneficial will it be to have 3 other, very competent, experienced teammates who have all won races?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: That's the great thing. I'm really looking forward to having teammates, I really haven't had that in the past. You know, I worked with Ed Carpenter briefly at Vision, but it's something that you cant really put a price on. It's an absolute advantage and to have teammates. First of all Tony Kanaan, multiple race winner and champion of the series and Danica and Marco have both won races. All are very competent and know what there doing, know what they need out of the car and all of us working together, chemistry is going to be a key factor. If we all work together and pull in the right direction there is no reason we cant challenge for wins and get Andretti Autosport back up top where it should be.
16th And Georgetown: In the press release it said that you would run in the Indianapolis 500, and then races both before and after the month. Do you have any idea of which races those are at this point?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: Right now it looks like it will be Brazil, St. Pete, I think possibly Long Beach, Indy, Toronto, Homestead and were pretty close to locking up a few more right now.
16th And Georgetown: It'll be the #37 car with a fully branded, IZOD primary sponsorship livery, correct?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: Yes, it will be for those races.
16th And Georgetown: How confident are you in putting together a full-time program?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: I have full confidence in these guys, it's pretty much out of my hands and it's up to Andretti Autosport to put it together. Should we not have a full-season together going into Brazil, we still have a chance of putting that together once the season starts, it's not the drop dead date, we still have quite a bit of time to pull everything together. If we get on track and do well, that will certainly help.
16th And Georgetown: Last season you got a ton of air time with the IZOD commercial and several weeks ago you joined Marco, Graham , TK, and a few more drivers in Panama to shoot a 2010 IZOD commercial. Can you tell us how that went and maybe give a little bit of a preview?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: The commercial is going to be great, when IZOD wants to do something they certainly do it right. PVH is the parent company, Philip-Van Heusen is first and foremost a marketing company, they know how to do it and what to do. When we went down there it was no expense spared to put the right commercial together, it's going to be like no other racing commercial, that's for sure.
16th And Georgetown: IZOD first got on board in 2008 when they became your personal sponsor and IndyCar apparel sponsor. Then obviously this past November they signed on to become the title sponsor. It's got to feel good for a company to grow with you in such a short period of time to invest millions of dollars, over multiple years into the series.
Ryan Hunter-Reay: Yea, when the whole thing started I had no idea it would get this big, but it's an honor to be with them and represent them. We've won a race together, Indy 500 rookie of the year, and we've done some great things together and the future is looking real bright for IndyCar with IZOD. For me to be pretty much at the center of that, in that I'm the on track representative it's real special for me.
16th And Georgetown: The Month of May has changed from the old 4 day qualification format to a 2 day setup, the basically just smushed all of the practice days together. What are your thoughts on the new schedule?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: I think it'll help the teams out financially, and we'll still get a lot of track time in those dates and the two weeks that were gonna be on track, so they've put more track days per week then it was when it was spread out. We were only on track a portion of the week when it was spread out. All-in-all I think it's going to be great for the show, and I think everybody is behind it.
16th And Georgetown: The next generation IndyCar has been a topic of much conversation over the last couple years, and even more so recently. One option is just an evolution of the current Dallara. Another option is reportedly much more radical. It was apparently first drawn up with 3 wheels, before the FIA shot down that idea, and now it's been compared to a stealth bomber. What do you want to see in the next generation IndyCar?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: Well, this can go many different ways, we really don't know if it's going to go in that radical of a direction. What I really want is, I want it to still be an IndyCar. I don't want to lose that IndyCar look, the IndyCar sound, I don't want it to look like some type of special Matchbox Hot Wheels car. I'd rather it look like an IndyCar, that's our identity. You know an IndyCar when you see one, and I would hope we would take a step into the future with a futuristic looking IndyCar. I don't know if I'm completely sold on this stealth bomber looking thing.
I gotta give a huge thanks to Ryan for taking time out of this busy day to do an interview, and thanks to Al Larsen of Andretti Autosport for setting it up. Be sure to check out Ryan and Andretti Autosport on the web, and follow him on twitter. All photos are courtesy of Indycar.com