Indy Racing League Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge
Topics: SunTrust Indy Challenge
MODERATOR: Joining us we have our second and third place finishers. Let's go ahead and start it, Gil, your thoughts on the race.
GIL de FERRAN: Certainly nice to be here tonight, and I decided that a night race is really difficult for me. I really had a tough time seeing it out there, and I found that in Texas and here again, but that certainly wasn't my major difficulty. The car was really handling pretty well in the beginning of the race. But as the race wore on the car kept getting looser and looser we kept making adjustments on the pit stop and it kept going more and more and more loose. With about 40 laps to go, the guys -- you know, I think it was about 90 laps to go, they did a great pit stop. We ended up in the lead, and we knew we didn't have to stop anymore so it was looking good for us. Then we had a few yellows and so on and so forth. But as soon as we started running on the green, the car just kept getting looser and looser and looser and I had a few pretty big moments there all over the place. Actually, 3, 4, 1, going into in the middle of 2, coming off 2, and it was getting more and more and more difficult to drive and I kept slowing up and then when the car was good, my pace was about 17,1; with about 10 laps to go there I was doing 18,4s, 18,5s and really struggling just to keep the car on the track. Unfortunately Sam had a good run coming off with two laps to go, and there's nothing really I could do apart from throw him in the grass, which, you know, I shouldn't do as a professional driver. So Sam did a really great job to get battling with a couple of laps to go. I was sad to lose the lead so late in the race, but you know at that point, I didn't feel there was much else I could have done. Nevertheless, finishing second is very good points for us, very good for the Championship. Certainly would have liked to come home with a win, but second place is a good day in a difficult circumstance.
MODERATOR: Quick stats on Gil de Ferran, he has won the IRL race at^ Pikes Peak two weeks ago. That was his first IRL victory. He has 3 IRL poles in 2002. Last week at Pikes Peak he led the most laps and he led the most laps again here tonight at Richmond. Can you tell us as your first time here at Richmond, everybody talks about this track being so unique because it's so small. Did you enjoy riding around a bull ring like this?
GIL de FERRAN: I certainly did enjoy driving around here. There's a lot of driving. You have got to back off and sometimes even brake in traffic and work the throttle in the middle of the turn and actually into the turn and all that. So I think it is a very interesting track. It was tough to pass out there, but not impossible. So it was -- I thought it was a good race. I don't know what you guys thought but I thought it was a good race. Certainly quite a few yellows, but once we got going, it seemed to be okay.
MODERATOR: We also have Felipe Giaffone, our third place finisher. He was the 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year and he finished second at Texas, his career best. That was June of 2001, also second at Nazareth in April of 2002. Felipe, just start off with general thoughts on the race from.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: From the beginning I knew it would be a tough race. We had brake problems this morning. I think as Gil was saying, he isn't now using the brakes a lot, but for some reason I was. I mean, I was trying to go -- that's the way I have been driving here. Seems last year going in a little deeper and using the brakes. But from the start, before I took the (inaudible) my pedal was really soft and I knew it would be a very hard, hard race. So just kind of work with not using the brakes that much, just touching and then I work myself just to not even touch the brakes and it seemed to work all right. I was trying to save a little bit to the end and at the end I said, okay, now I am going to go for it, and it seems that I tried like two times to brake a little harder, you know, and then I lost completely my pedal, complete down and then I was pretty much trying to race, to the race to be done.
MODERATOR: You have raced here before last year. People talk about it being a physically demanding track. Are you exhausted right now? Did you train before this race so you would not be so tired?
FELIPE GIAFFONE: As I came here last year the last two weeks I was really pushing hard, training quite a lot. I knew it would be a tough race. It is a tough race. We had a lot of yellows but once you go for like 50 laps on green it's very demanding. But I think we had to be in shape to do it.
MODERATOR: Let's open it up to questions from the media. We're transcribing this for you so it is important that I repeat the question so the transcriptionist gets it.
Q. How disheartening is it to lead as many laps as you led and then come up one and a half laps short?
GIL de FERRAN: Very disappointing, make no mistake about it. You know, any time it is tough but certainly with so few laps to go, it is even tougher, and I was just -- it was an unfortunate thing, I just -- how can I say, I was a bit of a sitting duck at that point, you know, Felipe had his own problems. I had a little bit easier time keeping Felipe at bay, but Sam was stronger and we had a good run coming off the turn. And I consider myself a fair guy, so I wasn't about to put him in the lot.
Q. Midway through the race Sam wasn't even on the radar screen and at the end he had a car that could go anywhere?
GIL de FERRAN: I was trying to follow his progress through the race as much as I could. I saw he dropped back a little bit in the beginning of the race. Then a stop or two, kind of disappeared from where I could see him, but at the end there he came back very strong, and he was still driving well, and very hooked up. To compound the problem as he sped up, I slowed down (inaudible) for a second, so that really created a big problem.
Q. Gil de Ferran is now the points leader. What do you think about a three-peat?
GIL de FERRAN: Well, I think you know, certainly it's a little bit early in the season, I think, for start measuring up -- it is important to be right up there, you know, and to keep score and the big points first, second, third, certainly be nice if we came home with a win, but it's important to be up there. I think everybody's is jockeying for position now, really for sure now in the last three races in terms of points. So that's kind of the way I look at it. At this time of the year I try not to really you know, lose 5 points, lose 5 points, so on so forth. But it's certainly nice to be up there.
Q. Whether there was a problem with the racetrack because of the rubber being there from the other divisions running - it's for either driver.
GIL de FERRAN: Well, I started the race my car was good, and as the race wore on the car became worse. So that's all I can tell you.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: For my case, I think when they start my car was more a little bit too push and as I think -- not much the rubber but I think as the temperature start to goes down, I looks like we are gaining more front-tire grip, you know, and was loosening up a little bit.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: I had so many close calls. I actually unfortunately I got together with Billy Boat, you know, I was -- he was trying to pass me on the outside because I got stuck there and my car got lost in the entry, and I lost a little bit there so I hit him and I mean, I was very lucky that my car didn't damage, you know, and his car was not in a good shape unfortunately. Then with Sam again, this track you have so many-- I was really anxious before the race because I knew that it would be a very hard race. I knew it from last year where I didn't finish - and I knew it would be so many close calls so I was just trying to trying to be safe and trying to be at the end then I would be in a good shape.
MODERATOR: Clarification before we go to the next question in the points, Helio Castroneves is the points leader. Gil deficit is second.
Q. Will either of you gentlemen follow the World Cup tomorrow?
GIL de FERRAN: For sure it is a big thing, 6:30 in the morning live on ABC, don't forget, you got to open the beers at 6:30, though.
MODERATOR: Felipe's response was to kick his right foot up.
FELIPE GIAFFONE: Yeah, it's right here.
Q. Any indication that you heard anything from Roger or any of your spotters or anyone else in the crew before Helio had his problem?
GIL de FERRAN: No, I did not hear anything really. Certainly I was quite surprised to see Helio spin out. I am not so sure actually right now what happened, if he had a problem in the car or he just lost control. So it's a shame to see that happen to him so early in the race.
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