CART Media Conference
July 27, 1999
T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon to everybody. Welcome to the CART Media Teleconference. We are pleased you were all able to take the time to join us this afternoon. Our guest today is PPG Dayton Indy Lights Championship driver Philipp Peter who won the closest CART sanctioned event in Championship Auto Racing Teams history in last Saturday Detroit News 100 at Michigan Speedway. Good afternoon, Philipp, thanks for joining us this afternoon.
PHILIPP PETER: Good afternoon. Thank you for having me with you.
T.E. McHALE: Philipp, the driver of the Red Bull/Remus ESTEBE Lola crossed the finish line just 2000ths of a second ahead of Dorricott/Mears Racing teammate, Casey Mears, to provide a thrilling conclusion to Saturday's 8th round of the Championship. In distance, the margin of victory was unofficially determined by Omega, official timekeeper of the FedEx Championship Series, to be about six inches. Saturday's victory propelled Philipp into third place in the PPG Dayton Indy Lights Championship Race with 87 points, one behind second place Mears and just 8 behind series leader Oriol Servia who has 95 points. The victory was Philipp's third of the season following wins at Long Beach and Portland. He brings a streak of 4 top ten finishes into Round 9 of the Championship, the August 8th Indy Lights event at the Penneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Philipp is also tied with Derek Higgins for the PPG Dayton Indy Lights series lead in laps led with 90 and ranks second in both laps completed with 470 of a possible 472 and miles completed with 693.221 of a possible 696.225. With that, we will open it up to questions for Philipp.
Q. Congratulations, Philipp.
PHILIPP PETER: Thank you very much.
Q. What kind of conversation did you and Casey have just after the race about the way that thing finished?
PHILIPP PETER: Well, to be honest, we were already talking to each other during the race because during the warmup we tried to find a way to stick together and to be fast and not having other guys overtaking us. So already during the race we had the same radio channel, we were talking to each other to see which was the fastest way to go around, the lines to take and especially me leading, giving him a line where he can get some clean air behind my car. And after the race, until coming out of Turn 2, I didn't know and he didn't know who really won because it was so close. We were waiting from the team to hear back who won. As we were in the same channel, I heard: "You did it, you did it," but I didn't know if they meant me or Casey. At the end I heard: "Philipp, you did it." I was very happy and with Casey, after the race, the first thing we said was: "Great race." It was fun and it was good teamwork, and I mean, I was happy to win by just 2000ths.
Q. How in the world do two teammates even though you are teammates, what kind -- how can you be that close? Is this a relationship that has developed through the team or is this the relationship that you and Casey have developed over the years?
PHILIPP PETER: Well, I think it is already between me and Casey and with Oriol, too, we are coming along, all three, very good together. We are hanging out together during the races; when we are not home and hanging around here like here in Michigan we go to train together, go to the gym. We like to do the same things, like training, the same food or go to the movies, and we agreed at the beginning of the season that everybody between us should be honest, try to work together; no secrets between us and as drivers and the engineers, so this gave a really good potential for the team to develop the car and to push us hard because sometimes one of us guys is faster, so the other one has to push and the other one too and I think this is what really brings the deal together. There is a big, let's say, competitive spirit between us. There is a lot of competition, but there is not this big jealousy which is between other drivers. The whole Dorricott/Mears crew joined together. There is a family atmosphere and there is no friction and the chemistry is really right and that was giving us, I think, this thing to have these good results. We have to really thank all the people and the sponsors who are supporting us and especially Bob Dorricott for putting together all the team.
Q. This is a piece of history that is going to really be hard to break. Do you feel as though you own a piece of history?
PHILIPP PETER: To be honest, yes, because that is the way it is. If we would try it again, we probably would not be able to do it. It is just one of these fate things and things that just happen. It was really close, and as Casey said, that is the closest he can get to a victory. I mean, there is no chance to go closer without winning or without having a victory.
Q. Can you describe what Casey had to say when the shock cover flew off? Did he think that was going to affect you two or anything?
PHILIPP PETER: To be honest, I realized it and he did not because he was so close to my car that he saw something going off and as we are sitting pretty low, especially in the high speed ovals for the CD, to have left track possible, he saw something back flying over his head, but he didn't realize until after the race in the press conference when he was told that he lost the shock cover. He didn't know it. I saw it coming off; then I saw the car from Casey without the shock cover. And I was wondering different things, maybe they would black flag him or whatever. To be honest, these cars are aerodynamically so fine-tuned that maybe with the shock cover on he would have won the race. We don't know that. So Casey didn't realize it until that and I saw it, but him being so close to me and having this big hole of air behind me, it was not affecting his race until maybe the point when he tried to overtake me.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how much Rick Mears has brought to the team with conjunction of the teams this year?
PHILIPP PETER: Well, I would say in the ovals definitely a lot; especially here where the strategy in Michigan, where the strategy was important, teamwork was important, he tried really to give us some good advice a couple of times before the race, you know, how important it is to work together and stay in line and even if you are faster, not trying to overtake. And, a lot of, you know, details which were very important for us to know and where we were not aware of. So it definitely help us out for this race, big-time.
Q. Did he take you out in the car and run you around the track and show you all of this?
PHILIPP PETER: No, just sitting together and showing us with the hands, the lines and how to place the car in which corner, but we didn't go around the track, no. He already tried to help us in another ovals like Nazareth too, so he is definitely, you know, someone when we have questions, we can refer to. Then when we come together, we have meeting together with him and the points to put all the team together and push the team, he is there for us.
Q. Looking ahead, I assume that you have aspirations to get into CART. Can you tell me when you think that might be from where you stand today?
PHILIPP PETER: Well, of course it was good for me winning three races and only driver so far that within three races. Try to meet people to show my face in the way that they recognize me in races later and I start to talk to people, to team managers, to team owners, and you know, let them know that I am interested to make the jump; that I don't want to do it for next year, and I don't think I will be able to do a third season in Indy Lights, so I am really looking forward to make the step next year in Champ Car and I hope to have another couple of good results. The team is working well and you never know, I am working for that for the year 2000.
Q. I assume the reaction you have been getting from teams has been quite positive given your success that you have had so far.
PHILIPP PETER: Yes, that is true. Especially I was not able -- now I was able to win on three different tracks, meaning street course, Long Beach; in a racetrack like Portland; oval like Michigan. So I showed that I am able to win all three of different type of racing which are a help in Champ Car too. So I think there is a good credential to show to the team owners.
Q. Talk about your next race.
PHILIPP PETER: Our next event will be Detroit in, let's say, two weeks, in ten days. That will be our next race. We are looking forward to that track. I had some good experience from last year, I was last and I was able to from 24th or 25th position to get to 8 or 9. So it is a track I like. I like the street courses. I am used to them from Europe and I love to the challenge to drive between the walls and the bumpy corners and especially in Detroit, small corners, fast corners, it is a nice track to be in there. Detroit is known as a nice track to drive with because we know from the Champ Cars and we are looking forward to go there.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks a lot. Thanks to you guys who joined us today. Philipp, thank you for being with us. Best of luck in the Penneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit and the rest of the PPG Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series season.
PHILIPP PETER: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to be with you.
T.E. McHALE: Thanks to all of you who joined us again. We want to remind you that we will be doing a special teleconference this Thursday with U.S. 500 presented by Toyota Champion Tony Kanaan and that will be at one o'clock just like this one, so we hope you will be with us then. Thanks and good afternoon.
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