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IndyCar Series: Suntrust Indy Challenge

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Suntrust Indy Challenge

IndyCar Series: Suntrust Indy Challenge

Helio Castroneves
Gil de Ferran
June 28, 2003


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

MODERATOR: We have the second and third place finishers in tonight's race. In the infield media center Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves. We'll start with Gil de Ferran who finished 3rd and give him a chance to tell us a little bit about the race tonight and then we'll take your questions. Gil de Ferran, 3rd place finish, good job. Tell us about it.

GIL de FERRAN: Thank you. It was a good race for us, you know, we had a good start and jumped all the way to 3rd place right at the start.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: What happened to you ?

GIL de FERRAN: You should know every single start I go forward.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Gil de Ferran start this guy. That was impressive.

GIL de FERRAN: I will give you a tape.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.

GIL de FERRAN: We had a good start, what was I talking about? The race. We had a good start and basically jumped tod 3rd place and I have to say from there on I was just kind of biding my time a little bit, just waiting for traffic to come, so I give myself a little bit of distance from Tony and whenever we got to traffic; then I approach him. I was able to get by him in traffic. And I was able to close up on Scott as well in traffic and I thought I might get an opportunity there while in traffic. Then we went to the first pitstop and just running nose to tail - very, very hard pace, I have to say, at that point Helio was right behind me and running very strong, and then we came to the last pitstop and we had a slight problem on the last pitstop and lost one position, but from there on I have to say that the pits were super hard because we knew that the rain was probably on the way and really there was no holding back, so at that point it was just like flat out, we were driving, you know, qualifying pace and you know, we're all running sort of close-ish to each other and the rain came. So there you go. I think overall a positive results. We had a good car and I came out of here in one piece with the car still running (laughs) and with 3rd place. Not as good as 1st or 2nd, but better than 4th, that's for sure. With that, that's it. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Compare your car and the race to last year.

GIL de FERRAN: It was -- I have to say I had a better car in the race this year than I had last year. Last year we went very, very, very loose; especially on that last stint, I was -- had a lot of oversteer and this year that wasn't the case. My car stayed more consistent. I think we had a better setup car. The engine was really, really good today and we were happy.

MODERATOR: Let us have Helio talk about his race.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: Anyway, I guess my race was much better than last year, let us put it this way (laughs). At least I did not finish 100 laps behind this year. I finished just a couple of seconds. Again we start out 10th, we were able to make progress during the race. Obviously our car is handling very, very well, and of course in the middle of the race when I was behind Gil I was trying, but we were just -- the guys just say take it easy. I said yeah, better just wait and see what is going to happen. All of a sudden the pits, the guys did a phenomenal job. Then when I was behind Dixon, obviously, he was very fast. Happily we were going qualifying in those conditions, and again, he was able to deal very well with traffic, and we just were able to stay right behind. Unfortunately the rain came out. We still had 50 laps to go basically. It is a lot of race, a lot of things could happen, especially when the leaders start catching more fast drivers, that would be kind of a little bit interesting situation. But that's the way it goes. Maybe with the race finished like that, for sure, create more excitement in the Championship, so we're going to keep going fast hopefully.

Q. What was going through the drivers heads when the lights went out?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I didn't understand much. I noticed things were going dark. I thought I'd just passed a shadow or something like that and the guys asked me: Are you seeing okay? Wow, so far I am seeing okay, I didn't drink anything yet, or unless you guys put anything in my drink bottle. I was able to keep going. I had no job.

MODERATOR: Gil anything to add to that.

GIL de FERRAN: Not really. Definitely got a shade darker there, but after a couple of laps sort of got used it to.

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Question is weather you could have caught Dixon in the last 50 laps with the change in track conditions.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's only mother nature would be able to answer that question. Unfortunately it's one of those conditions, he was fast, no doubt about that, my car was handling well as well. Obviously he was able to manage the two guys in front of me very fast and maybe with more guys running in the same pace maybe it would be kind of a tougher, but it's difficult to say for sure, I was trying to keep it up and seems that the conditions for him and myself were pretty good.

Q. How much trouble was traffic tonight?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: For me I had a lot of close calls today. Four sure I was locking the front tire. I don't know if I see my nose, if somebody touch my nose as well, I had a lot a lot of trouble, but it's one of those conditions. This track, it's one of those tracks that you can't wait and you have an opportunity to go for it because otherwise those guys are going to go after you. So it was tough, but thank God I was able to manage well.

GIL de FERRAN: For me, I mean, nothing different than expected really I have to say. I had a couple of close ones, but you expect that when you come here, it's a tight racetrack and there was some guys actually that were being lapped, they were running quite fast (laughs), and were sort of hard to pass. But that's normal, and I spotted the race and you have to figure that traffic into your strategy.

Q. About the rubber on the racetrack, from the support races, was that a problem and how did it compare to last year?

GIL de FERRAN: It is about the same as last year, you know, the track keeps changing, I think a little bit throughout the race, and certainly the track was quite slippery there at the beginning. I think it got better and better as the night went on.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: For me definitely, I mean, I already anticipated this year what happened last year to me, so for sure it was a good -- it wasn't a good experience but I learned from those things and I set up my car in those conditions that I would be able to be in a positive way, perfect setup on my car, and definitely was much better than last year.

Q. The Package this year with less downforce than there was in previous years the leader has a decided advantage most of this year than in year's past; especially at a short oval. Do you notice that when you are out there; does the leader have more of an advantage than in past years.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I have to be honest I think it's a new year -- the chassis is new for everyone so some of the teams might be able to manage -- set up the car faster than the others. I don't think it's less downforce or stuff like that, lap leaders or stuff like that, you just have to keep working to find -- to tune the car well and try to keep it up. So right now I don't feel that way.

GIL de FERRAN: I would tend to agree with Helio. I don't tend to agree with your statement there. I think you know, what is been going on this year is that the guy who is in the lead and on the short ovals doesn't seem to -- his car is really not going off quite that much, in that case it has been Dixon and he's got a very consistent car. So whenever you got a fast car leading the race it's -- you are always going to have a hard time.

Q. Question about Scott Dixon, his development as a driver .

GIL de FERRAN: I have to say from day one that he joined the series you could tell he had a very good hand and what I think what impressed me the most when he joined the series was that he seemed very mature, you know, didn't get into trouble very often, you know, didn't put his nose in the wrong place, and he was fast at the same time so he was obviously thinking. And I think that has helped him to develop his skills over the years and today he's one -- for sure one of the top drivers.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I do believe when he joined the series this year he IRL for sure he adapted very well for those cars, those conditions, the power, and I think for sure, he feel comfortable as I tend to agree with Gil, he seems to be being taking advantage in the right time. For sure this has been the key in this series.

Q. Does it seem like Dixon might not have showed his whole hand tonight?

GIL de FERRAN: I don't think he was holding back. He might walk in here and prove me wrong, but you know, we were all pushing very hard. To me, it looked like he was pushing hard when I was following him, so I don't know, I think he was -- racing is racing, and you never know, suddenly he had a competitive car and a consistent car and he did a good job driving so deserve to win.

MODERATOR: Helio.

HELIO CASTRONEVES: When I was behind him; especially towards the end, he was very clever. He was able to brake early or slow down very early for me to not get a good run and he was able to manage well the lead and when he made the good pass, he was able to keep going and I was kind of stuck with the traffic, but for sure he was -- he was giving it all.

Q. Coming up on the halfway point of the season tonight, not being up on the top of the podium, but being on the podium, given that, how do you assess your chances for the rest of the year?

HELIO CASTRONEVES: I do. That's why I am here in one of the best teams today and again, I do feel that we have a lot to improve. But we've also been able to improve as well. Again, it's one of those ways that now we're going to go to tracks that might become in handy not maybe in speed for us but maybe for our experience on the race. We tended to run here last year; we were able to do well and we just have to keep the momentum and keep going for the rest of the season.

GIL de FERRAN: I think for me as long as I have a mathematical chance we'll be fine. That's the way I operate. I never count myself out of the running, you know, I just don't, basically.

Q. Question about Sam Hornish's charge late.

GIL de FERRAN: Yeah, he was about three seconds back, 2.9, got traffic; then he got traffic at 3.3, you know, just kind of seemed to me that way, I wasn't, you know, I wasn't particularly concerned to be honest.

MODERATOR: Anyone else?

Q. Question is about the difference between the Chevy power last year and the Toyota Power this year at Richmond?

GIL de FERRAN: To be quite honest it is very hard to make comparisons because the car is completely different, the aerodynamic package is completely different and even the engine rules are -- if you look beyond the displacement of the engine and configuration, it's quite different as well. So it's really the car felt quite different from what it did last year so did the engine and everything else. So it is really hard to make a comparison, I am sorry.

MODERATOR: That's it. We'll thank our 2nd and 3rd place drivers. Thank you both, congratulations.



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