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Indy Racing League Series: Radisson Indy 225

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Radisson Indy 225

Indy Racing League Series: Radisson Indy 225

Helio Castroneves
Sam Hornish, Jr.
June 16, 2002


FOUNTAIN, COLORADO

Q. Sam Hornish, you always make it interesting, you almost ran away with things last year, but very challenging for you today, especially putting the heat on this guy.

SAM HORNISH: We had a pretty fast race car, and there were times when I could get a little bit of run on him but didn't quite work out quite our way. But after three bad races, this was a good way to start and start and start going back into championship mode and trying to win more races towards the end of the year. We have quite a few left to go.

Q. Helio, you haven't finished out of the Top-5 so far; talk about it out there. Looked like you had the car to keep up with your teammate for a while, but after a few pit stops and rain delays it may have gotten away from you just a little bit.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, the conditions were tough out there, not just for the race, but the track, for my setup, for my car. I thought the same thing, you know, just hold on until the end of the race, it will be okay. And then all of the sudden at the beginning of the race, we start having tremendous, a lot of understeer. So I think we were too green in our setup of the car, and then had too much wind, so too much oversteer. Then toward the ends we definitely did a fantastic job and just find a good way but it was a little too late -- actually not too late. Finishing second is good. First and second for the championship, first and second for the race. This team is doing a fantastic job, just putting a lot of effort. It's not easy, guys. Everybody is saying that maybe it looks easy, but not at all. A lot of guys out there is very competitive -- Sam and I, it's tough. You have to give credit for the way the cars are set up and I tell you, it's fantastic. I really enjoyed today. Today was not my day, and scored some points for the championship so that's good.

Q. Sam, just how much more has this lent to the League itself in terms of the competition?

SAM HORNISH: I think the drivers are really good team but as far as the championship points are concerned, they are about the same place that I was at this point last year, similar points, maybe just a little ahead. It's a tough series. But it will end fast -- inaudible -- you can get on a roll in this series and it's boom, boom, boom; and if it's a bad roll, it's not very good, either. So you just have to continue to do the things that make you successful. If you have a bad day there's a race next week and two weeks from now, and you go out there and do the best you can. Put your game face on and try again. It's a tough series, definitely. We have two good drivers, like I said and we're going to have this competition level quite a bit. You have to get in between them more often. That's the way to beat them. And you have get in the middle of them. If you're behind both of them, it's hard to pass them. We'll work on that.

Q. Sam, you were getting close on several occasions, looked like you had a run on Helio on several different times and then backed off a little bit.

SAM HORNISH: I only backed off because I had to. The car was pushing to the side so I was getting a little too loose. With this track, it's so difficult, especially when the wind blows because it's really bumpy down on 1 and 2, and 3 and 4, it's really smooth. So you set your car up to go over the bumps and when you pass somebody when you have a little bit too much; it's just a tough track to pass on. You have to keep the momentum on, pass in traffic , and we just weren't quite good enough in traffic like were in one-on-one.

Q. How difficult for both of you guys, how difficult was it when sunshine, clouds, rain, wind, back and forth? Could you get a good feel on the setup at all?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: As I mentioned, the track, the weather, as Sam said, definitely the track is very sensitive of the weather. So if the wind starts blowing different ways, your car might shift. And plus, the bumps we have on turn 1 is quite tough. A couple of times I try to pass on turn 1, but I was hitting the ground and I was concerned, I don't think I wanted to go back to the pit Roger would be a little bit upset. That's why I was like trying to be safe and towards the end, definitely, my car was better set up. I don't know if it was the track -- I believe it was the change we made on the car made it much better. But it was quite tough, very tough.

SAM HORNISH: Definitely, this track is fast but it is a lot of fun. I think this is the only one-mile track where you can run a second and third place car side-by-side for three or four laps and have that happen. It's really fun to come out here. We have a lot of fun to run against them. I'd like to congratulate Gil and Helio; they are doing an awesome job this year.

Q. Helio, when Sam put the run on you several times there trying to make the pass, what was going through your mind?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was like, "Don't come too close, Buddy." (Laughs). I'm still here. I tell you, it's tough because in the situation that I was a couple of times, I believe I was in his blind spot, and sometimes -- last week, Dario (ph) just came down and I was still there. So I was just a little concerned. But they are a professional team and they know what they are doing. That's why it was fun, I was right there with no problem. I was just trying to pick it up as much as I could, and sometimes -- I believe because Gil was in front of me, the track was helping me. Again it was fun. I had no trouble. I had a lot of fun. Definitely, it's nice to race side-by-side with the guys that are fast. I really enjoy it.

Q. Did you think you had anything for Gil at the end of the race?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, at the end of the race, no. He was very consistent and as soon as he got the lead, he was able to pass everybody with no trouble. I believe he was going flat-out with no trouble and in the beginning, I thought would I have something but definitely he was strong. He did a fantastic job.

SAM HORNISH: At the middle of the race and up till the last, it's so close. They can be a little bit faster. I think all three of us were within a tenth of a second all day long. We had to wait for them to break the momentum or you just had to get a really good run on it. It's so tough to get in there, and then you have to have a little bit of a gap behind you because if you don't have that gap and you're kind of setting the guy up, you can't back off right. If I was in the middle of them, it would have been real tough. Considering Helio was running a little bit higher on the back than I was, which allowed me to get a little bit more run on him but Gil was running low so he was blocking the best part for me to do a little pass. It would have been tough for me to pass.

Q. With 18 laps to go, 18 and 3/4, there was Gil was pulling up high on the track and on the both of you what were conditions like at that point?

SAM HORNISH: Well I guess if I was in third, that was the point that I got to third. I got a moment on one right in the end, one of the guys all of a sudden pushed me, and that was really -- I had to go back and had a little gap for me. I don't think there was anybody out there that was passing people, I got moved a couple of times. Tough to pass considering how much faster I think -- the other cars out there and it just went over 15 or 20 laps, you think that you know what your car is going to do; so we were all there pushing the last time. Like I'm going to try to go on the inside and now they are running on the high line and you can't get around them. It's just a tough track to figure out, especially it's hard to pass on turn one and Turn 2.

Q. Helio you've been having success with this team and the IRL and Gil picking up your first win, talk about that.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Gil's is a very fast car, and again, he turns out to be my main competitor inside the racetrack. I always said he's one of my best friends. He definitely was up there and the team has been really working hard to make sure that it's good momentum for him. I think it's been pretty good. No doubt about it, we've always been competitive. If you right there, knocking on the door, one day it's going to be yours. I was fortunate to be there, as well, and it happened to me, and I think it can happen to anyone. But without his input in the race team, definitely, it creates more of a competitive and helping everyone on the team the atmosphere and everything. It's a nice thing, everyone working together. So if his car has a problem my group goes over there to help him. Same thing in my way. So he definitely deserves it.

Q. At the beginning of the year maybe not the best of pals but obviously a mutual respect for each other out on the track. Your thoughts about racing head-to-head?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I never had anything against him. Actually I always respect him when I came to the series, even before. Again, it's just definitely a lot of data from last year which helped him to get a good start, and for us, the situation that we have, with people learning and working hard. Obviously, I'm sure a smart team -- like Target Ganassi. It's a very competitive series. I'm sure that if it was competitive at the beginning of the year, we will be competitive at the end of the year.

SAM HORNISH: It's tough to be friendly with anybody out there because you're trying to beat them every time you go out on the racetrack. Helio, he's just like anybody else out on the racetrack, with the goals that he's accomplished and his achievements, he didn't just luck into. Definitely, going have to give each other room out there, respect for each other. I like everybody I race against. I don't have any grudge with anybody. From day-to-day you go out there and there may be one guy that doesn't make you happy on a certain day, but you learn to get by that because there's another day when he could be your best friend.



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