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IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

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Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze Indy 300

Helio Castroneves
Scott Dixon
Sam Hornish, Jr.
Dan Wheldon
September 9, 2006


JOLIET, ILLINOIS

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started the. Top four drivers in points are all going to come in and answer a few questions. Helio Castroneves is leading the points now by one over his teammate Sam Hornish, Jr. You're going to start the race tomorrow fourth. Are you excited about tomorrow? Talk about the anticipation of tomorrow?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Wow, I'm sure it's going to be hard to sleep tonight, no question about it. It's fun. I'm very happy to be in this situation. It's been a lot of years that I've been competing, been very close, knocking at the door. Unfortunately, always something happen.
Fourth, it's a good place, no question. Is right up there in the front. This place, as you imagine, from last year, was so many -- so many things happen that it doesn't matter where you start actually. So I'm actually -- I feel I have a very good car, very solid. Depend of the weather. Hopefully tomorrow we can get out of here very happy.
THE MODERATOR: Talk mentally about what goes into a race like this. The race today was pretty dicey from start to end. What's the mentality for the IndyCar Series drivers as they go into a race, obviously a little bit longer? Do you just start off at the beginning trying to win or do you wait till the end?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, obviously we have a lot of laps. It will be kind of trying to race right at the beginning would be silly. You would be actually put a lot to risk instead of be able to try to get position till the end. Finish first, first you need to finish. People just need to be, you know, conservative in the beginning, work together. Hopefully the top four is going to be right there in the end. That's the way things going to be good.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon.
Dan, talk about today.
DAN WHELDON: Obviously, there's a championship at stake. I think the Penske cars are performing very well. It seems that the four of us have a distinct advantage over the rest of the field. It's going to make it very difficult to win the championship. At the same time, we don't have any pressure. I mean, to be quite frank and honest, I really don't care if I come fourth, third, second in the championship. It means nothing to me. We've got to try and win.
Scott and I have been told by Chip that we have to do everything by all accounts to try and win the race and lead the most laps, try and get a Ganassi car to win the championship. That's what we're going to do. We're going to do it in a very respectful way, but we'll be very firm and then just I guess what's meant to be will be.
THE MODERATOR: You sound a little hoarse. Are you feeling all right?
DAN WHELDON: Yes, my PR girl Pat has been working me hard this week. I've caught a bug with all the interviews I've been doing.
I'm just kidding with her (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Scott Dixon, you're starting the race tomorrow second. Have to feel good about your start place tomorrow.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah. I think today both cars have been pretty decent. I think the main thing for both of us was to be near the top of the grid. I think as long as you're on the top, you're going to be fine here because it seems pretty easy to pass, the track has good grip. As Dan said, I think he touched on everything, that we need to go out there, try and lead most laps, win the race. Hopefully the other two sort of have problems.
But we'll see what happens. We'll try our best and see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: Any questions for our drivers.

Q. (No microphone.)?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You always ask me that. Yes, I did. I did everything I could. It was a good battle. I had a good time. I had a lot of fun. Like I said, whatever happened, hopefully if it meant to be winning the championship, I have to thank obviously Sam because he may be better oval. I guess no question it would be great accomplishment.

Q. (No microphone.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was like two weeks ago. No, it's two weeks ago, right after Sonoma. It was just my DVD. Let's see what happened here. Let's see what I can make better. I tried everything I could there.
I also watched the 2005 race last year, so it was good, man. Good victory. It was close.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAN WHELDON: Well, I think if you look at the history, obviously I was in a different team last year, but there was a distinct reason why they weren't up the front last year. When you look back, like I said, at the history, they've always performed very strongly. They've been dominant teams in the past.
Obviously, winning the CART championship, two consecutive, Juan Pablo, Scott when he had the package to do it, won the championship. I think they're determined to win. They don't cut corners. Obviously, they're funded well. They just do everything they possibly can to make that happen.
To be honest, it's a privilege to be in one of these teams. When you're in one, you want to make the most of it to try and win.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, you're a former series champion. Why don't you talk about why your teams are so dominant.
SCOTT DIXON: I think Dan touched on most of it. Again, the two teams I think now, because of the tough times that we've had in the last couple years, the attention to detail has definitely gone up quite a few steps. We've had to start different programs to try and develop the cars to try and even keep up with the Hondas in the last two years.
I think that's what's happened. Now that we're on even power, even though we had to change chassis this we're, try and catch up again, I think the engineers have worked out ways to pick up speed.
I don't think it comes down to anything else apart from that we've had to work extremely hard over the last two years.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, your team obviously is dominant. Roger Penske does not have an IRL championship.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, as Dan and Scott mentioned, exactly. I mean, from the past, they always been there, they do everything they can. You can see in the Ganassi change chassis. We change the chassis before to try everything we could. We now in the position.
No question that Roger wants the championship as bad as anybody of the that's why Sam and I are going to hopefully give that. We're going to work as hard as we can. It won't be easy.
It will be great to give this to Roger. Will be awesome. Will be a fairytale season, I would say.
DAN WHELDON: It would be great to take it from Roger, too (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Sam, you're on the pole for tomorrow. A lot of people look at you as the favorite for this race. You are the kink of the mile-and-a-half tracks, including a win at Kansas this year. Why don't you go ahead and take us through your lap and then tell us about your anticipation for the race tomorrow.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: Cooled down quite a bit, and also the wind picked up. We actually just hit the gears right on. The car was right where we needed it to be. Actually, it was a little bit surprising the lap that we put out there. We were really happy about it. We've got a great opportunity to start up front at tomorrow's race.
Obviously in these kind of races, it doesn't really matter where you start. It's always nice to start on the pole if you can.
Just looking forward to tomorrow's race. I'm up here with three guys that I've been battling with all season long. I know that it's going to go right down to the end of the race. Hopefully we'll all have a good, safe race tomorrow and one of us I'm sure is going to be celebrating, that's for sure.
THE MODERATOR: What can the fans expect from the race tomorrow? This is a very close championship right now. Chicagoland is known for its finishes, its exciting races. Tell us what the fans can expect.
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I've seen a three-wide finish here. I don't know if four-wide can happen. I think with the four guys that are sitting up here right now. They could possibly see a four-wide finish. It's going to be tough racing tomorrow.
I expect it to be just like most other mile-and-a-half's have been. Basically it's been the four of us running right up there. It started at Homestead this year with side-by-side finish. When it comes down to it, it's always been right there, very close racing. They're going to get a great show.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.

Q. (No microphone.)
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I hope we don't see too much wheel banging. The way I saw it, the Pro Series race, when I was watching it, certain guys were pushing each other, trying to help each other. I mean, it's close racing out there. Hopefully we're supposed to be pretty professional drivers, not supposed to run into each other. Hopefully we can get the job done tomorrow without doing that.

Q. (No microphone.)
SAM HORNISH, JR.: I'm sure we'll try to. It hasn't worked have he well this year, so I don't know if we're going to be able to or not. Obviously, we'll try to line up and at the least try to decide it between the four of us instead of getting other guys in there. That's basically how a lot of the of the mile-and-a-half's have worked out, the four of us. We have five, six, seven second gap, then everybody starts fighting for that position.
Who knows. Everybody is trying to lead the most laps tomorrow so they get that extra three points. I'm sure that might keep everybody from lining up and trying to take off.

Q. (No microphone.)
DAN WHELDON: Well, obviously I think in the series right now you've got some of the most competitive teams probably in the world. You've got some very good drivers that are highly respected, not just in America, but everywhere.
You're up against tough competition. Obviously, from a personal standpoint, I like to have records in the record book. I've experienced one championship. You really don't want to let that title go. It is an honor. Any time you can win a championship, you have to kind of take every opportunity you can get to make that happen because they don't come very easy.
I don't tend to think like that till I've actually done it, but it would be certainly an amazing feat in what I would consider a frustrating year.
SCOTT DIXON: It would be nothing less than fantastic, especially after what our team has gone through in the last couple years. It's been a huge comeback for us. I think as these guys know up here, once you've won the championship, the feeling you get after it, it's a feeling that you want again, it's something they push extremely hard once you've tasted I.
I think all of us are going to be trying extremely hard. I think just for our team in general, it will be big for the comeback we've made.

Q. (No microphone.)
SAM HORNISH, JR.: It was supposed to be raining today as well. It turned out to be a really nice day. Hopefully we get the same kind of weather for tomorrow.
As far as strategy goes, the race doesn't cancel, get concluded until you're past halfway. Anything up to lap 100, it doesn't really matter.
I'm sure we're all going to be right there battling with each other anyhow. I'm sure if it comes to lap 100, the rain is out, everybody is going to be trying to lead. I think we're all going to be trying to lead regardless.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in. Good luck tomorrow.



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