How long have you been a fan of American Ninja Warrior?
"Since I came to America, actually, with my wife Lauren. She was a big fan and she was the one who introduced me to it. Because of my work out routine and stuff, every other person that I've met always asked me about why I wouldn't be participating in this and then finally we got it. I’ve been a fan for a long time."
Did your workout already include obstacles and things like this?
"Not really. I don't have any expectations to say I'm going to be one of the guys that probably finishes the course. You can't imagine how many guys are ten thousand times better than me and they won’t even be participating in the show and they don't have the chance. So I would say I'm just happy to be participating, but I'm pretty aware of my skills."
How long have you been training specifically for this?
"Actually I haven't. Because of our IndyCar season and some of the obstacles that you have to put yourself in extreme training for [in Ninja Warrior]. You have a possibility to hurt yourself and by contract I couldn't do any sports that are risky.
So obviously I do a lot of Cross Fit, but I haven't really done any specific training. We have the 100th Indy 500 coming up. I definitely don't want to get hurt."
What type of obstacles make you the most nervous?
"I would say because I don't know what's coming, all of them. Pretty much all of them."
How do you think your driving skills will come into play?
"I think the strategy and being able to study the course. I think that's where they're very similar. If that's going to give me an advantage I don't know, but that's my plan."
So you haven't looked at the course yet?
"Not yet. I don't want to get intimidated by it."
You're going to go in cold?
"I'm going to go in cold. I like surprises."
What did your friends and family say when you told them you'd be on American Ninja Warrior?
"Everybody was pumped. Obviously your friends and family always think you're a bad ass. They're like 'Oh you’ve got this.' And I'm like, 'Mmmmm. Nah.'
Everybody thinks it's pretty cool. It's a big show. Especially being here in Indy, being who we are. This town is about the Indy 500, and the biggest 500 is happening this month and this is right here, right before that.
I can assure you one thing. Maybe none of the IndyCar drivers will really do well on the course, but we're probably going to have the best cheers for sure."
Tomorrow we have our first race of the month in Indy. @indianapolismotorspeedway is such a magical place... Looking forward to the #gpofindy and to the #Indy500. Starting P5 tomorrow!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Amanhã temos a primeira corrida do mês no @indianapolismotorspeedway. Vamos largar em P5 no GP de Indy!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #IndyCar #nttdataracing #nttgroup #chipganassiracing #bryant #comfortrevolution #bigmachinerecords #ismseat #hbbrasil #jointheadrenaline⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @chrisowens
Are you feeling competitive with the other drivers?
"I mean, of course. If you ask Josef [Newgarden], Helio [Castroneves] and myself what we needed to do, we'd say we just need to finish one obstacle ahead of the other race car driver. We don't even need to finish the course."
Does your son Leo know you're going to be on the show?
"Yeah! He is (excited)! He's in Brazil right now so he asked me obviously when it goes on air to record it and show him. He's 8 years old and all about fighting and watching those kind of shows.
So you tell him American Ninja Warrior, and, 'You're a Ninja, dad? You never told me that.' I said, 'No I'm not.' He likes rock climbing. He does actually a lot of that stuff. He’d probably do better than me on the course."
Think Tony’s skills on the race track will translate into a great run? We’ll all find out on the Indianapolis qualifying episode of American Ninja Warrior.