Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
September 6, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Dario Franchitti, the points leader for the IndyCar Series championship. I know you've had a little more stressful day than you had hoped for. Appreciate you taking a few minutes to join us.
I know you've encountered some difficulties today travel-wise, but when something like that happens, is there anything that maybe you're particularly superstitious about when something goes wrong, might have an effect on you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. You know, the main thing, in the helicopter, flying myself, I'm always cautious of the weather, situations like that. I'm a little bit more maybe cautious. The more cautious the better. I don't take any risks. I leave wider margins.
The result of that was it took me a little bit longer to get up to the track today.
THE MODERATOR: Two months ago you had a fairly large lead in the points race. You were the first one to say it was far from over. Now that you've had a couple races that haven't gone quite your way, although you still have had some you finished in the top five, do you still feel like you have the momentum going to where this weekend you can clinch the championship?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I definitely think we can clinch the championship. If you look at laps led over the last two months, I think we've been at our strongest. You know, a combination of the Michigan accident, my mistake in Kentucky, the whole screw-up in Sonoma, then just the craziness of this past weekend, you know, those things have kind of eaten into our points lead.
If you look at our performance, it's definitely there.
THE MODERATOR: We take a look at Chicagoland. In the four plus years you've competed in the IndyCar Series, you've missed that race a couple times, and the other couple times finishes of 12th and 20th. That track is a lot like some of the other mile-and-a-halfs that we go to. Any reason that Chicagoland hasn't been a place with your strongest results?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You're trying to make me feel good today, aren't you (laughter).
I think we've raced there a couple of times. The first year was a learning year. I can't even remember what happened in '05, to be honest, why we were so slow. If you look at the performance of the Canadian Club car on those one-and-a-half-mile tracks this year, two-mile tracks, it's been really good.
I'm hoping we'll be in a good position and get the job done this weekend.
THE MODERATOR: You've had a long career. You've been right there for championships. You won the Indianapolis 500 this year. What would winning a championship do to kind of cap off the season and cap off what you've done so far in your career?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, winning the championship would mean a lot because it's that season-long battle. You know, it's being good on all different types of tracks. It's your performance throughout the year. I think we've done a very good job this year. There's been a couple mistakes along the way between myself, the team. There's been just some really crap luck as well and there's been some good luck. It would mean a lot.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Dario.
Q. Tony said tongue-in-cheek, if you win the championship and the Indy 500 this year, you're going to be greedy. How do you feel? Do you want to be greedy?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I want them both, for sure. I want them both. There's in doubt. Any driver has a selfish streak in them. Myself, my teammate, we want both.
Q. A serious question. In the last three or four races, it's been very tough back and forth. Mentally what have these races leading up to the championship, how have you been left mentally with this? Has it been fatiguing? Especially tough for you this season?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. I think it's been a great year. You have good performances, a fast car. It's a lot easier for me mentally than, say, last year. Last year was just hard because we were struggling a lot of different places just to have a car that was fast enough to compete.
No, this year has been great. There was a point this year where we felt we couldn't do anything wrong. I guess my normal sort of walk has seemed to resume recently. The last sort of three or four races, running up front, Detroit is a classic example where we're leading the race and we get that yellow right at the wrong time. That's it.
Q. If you do win the championship and the Indy 500, will that be hard for you to believe, I guess two dreams could come true like this?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, it was hard enough I think to believe when the 500 happened. That was such a big deal. I think right now we'll keep working on trying to make that second one happen.
Q. If you do win this championship, does it affect your long range plans at all?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. No, I don't think it will. There's still obviously decisions to be made. I don't see it affecting what I decide to do.
Q. None of us can put ourselves in your position going into one race with an opportunity. Maybe the closest is butterflies on the first day of school. Give me your honest feelings, not this race is the same race as any race, but how you feel about going to Chicago this weekend. Are you excited? Are there some nerves?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm pretty relaxed about it because, you know, with winning the 500 this year, I think it's taken some pressure off my shoulders. I think I was maybe more nervous three or four races ago than I am now. Now it's pretty simple. It's just like doing a one-off race. The result of the race is what counts. If I finish ahead of Scott, I'm looking good. If Scott finishes ahead of me, he's probably looking good.
Q. This championship is decided at one of these tracks that can be a real crapshoot. This is a place it's easy to get caught up in somebody else's mess. Are you okay with that? How do you feel about that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm fine with that. That's the way it is. I've known all year that this is where it was going to end. I mean, you talk about unpredictability. Look at what happened at Detroit on the last lap.
I think those kind of things can happen anywhere.
Q. Would you mind talking a little bit about Danica, observing her as a teammate, what you see in her as a driver.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think Danica has made a lot of progress as a driver this year and as a teammate. Watching the learning curve for her has been amazing to watch how she's learned, how she's adapted, especially on the road and street courses, she's finally figuring it out.
She's sat with myself, Tony, Marco, Michael, asked questions. She's now I think at the point that she trusts us enough to believe in what we're saying. She's really putting that into practice. She's really showing what she can do now.
It's been really, really impressive this year just to watch that change.
Q. Do you think it's been harder on her being a woman, having to sort of navigate that? Have you talked at all to her about that, things she puts up with?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I think Danica, we look at her as a driver like any other.
Q. You're able to do that?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah.
Q. Chicago will be your first oval since the back-to-back accidents at Michigan and Kentucky. With your first outright championship on the line, will you be willing to take risks this Sunday?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, yeah. I think I had take the same risks that I've always taken. I'll use the same judgment that I did before the last two oval races, just do what I've always done.
Q. Looking past the season-ending race into the post-season, where the severity of those crashes be taken into consideration as you explore your options for 2008?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think it will be something that I'll think about for sure. But I don't think it will be the deciding factor in my decision.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, thanks again for joining us. We appreciate that. Good luck Sunday as you try to maintain that lead.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: All right. Thank you.
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