Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
August 28, 2009
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was very good. A good test session we had this morning. Car running very good. We tried different things for the race. Then when we went to qualifying, unfortunately we ran out of time.
But we knew what we need to do. As you can see out there, it was very close between Ryan and I. We feel great. We feel good going for tomorrow's race. Front row is certainly much better than what I did last year.
Q. Heck of a finish last year.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: The race was different. Certainly the qualifying wasn't the way I was expecting. Very happy to be in the front row. Will do everything we can to support my teammate.
Q. (No microphone.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, even that we have a mathematical chance, it's a little bit hard. You know, you got to have to be really lucky. Maybe be lucky for one guy or two even. But three guys, you know, we got to be realistic.
So it's more we gonna go race for the win, no question about it. But certainly we gonna try to support my teammate because he is leading the championship and every point counts. Now that he got the pole position, it definitely help even more.
Q. How much do you like coming to this track? We had one of the closest finishes of the series here. Would you like to see the final race come back here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, for us, obviously it's a fantastic racetrack. I really enjoy, especially after last year, coming from the back and winning the race. You could see that the crowd, at least the fans, seem to enjoy quite a lot. I do like the change, first of all. I like to be night. For this place, that's special. We can stay in Chicago and see friends and things like that. But the main thing is it's a great event when you have a night race. People can come from everywhere, downtown or other places, stay one night, and still watching a fantastic race. So for me it's a great change.
Being the last race of the season, it's outside of my hands, to be honest. Every time I step in this place, I feel great and I feel the car is always good. Just want to try to repeat what I did last year. That's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow.
Q. As you mentioned, Ryan is not only on the pole, but leads the points standings. How do you reconcile the fact you're trying to keep him in the lead and you want to win the race? How do you do that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. I don't know. Hopefully I'll figure it out in the last race. But certainly, as I said, we don't have team orders in our team. You always been very crystal clear, but in the same time you got to thinking about having this championship coming to the team. A win is a win. Second and third is a little bit different. So hopefully that's a good problem to have. If me and him battle for the win, I feel we're going to go for the win.
Q. Same question rephrased a little differently. Since there is no pressure on you at this particular time, how much of that is an advantage to you?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, pression actually sometimes is very good for me. I actually succeed better. But still out there you're going to have 22 other cars and you still have to be trusting each one of them. So, again, it's going to be one of those things that everybody has to take care of each other, especially now that the rules changed. I feel the cars are much better running behind others. But in the same time it helps everybody. So I do believe it's going to be a good show, but people still got to take care of each other.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you. We appreciate your time. Good luck over the weekend.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. Dario, we'll start with you and your run out there today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, from my seat, it was not too eventful in qualifying, for the driver anyway. I've said this many times, it's more about what the engineers do, the way the cars are built. The balance of the car was very good. Couldn't complain at all. I was very happy with that. The car as a whole wasn't fast enough. We got to keep working on that and keep pushing. We have another two mile-and-a-half tracks after this weekend. The car in race trim this morning felt pretty good. Whether it's good enough, we'll find out tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, your run out there today.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, not too bad. As Dario said, you know, not much going on in qualifying. You just kind of follow the white line and hold the pedal flat, see what you come up with. I think we're all right. We're not great. I think a little more work needs to be done on the 9 car compared to the 10. I think the 10 is closer to the polesitter. We got a little work to do.
The car felt great this morning in traffic. I think the car especially in the weather conditions, being very cold, we have a lot of downforce and the car is pretty grippy. I don't think you'll see the cars going off maybe as much as they did in the past.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Do you feel the aero changes made to the car makes for better racing and better driving? You can follow somebody a little easier? Not as shaky?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I do think you can follow closer. I think there's less of a wake behind the car for sure. That allows you to get definitely closer. We saw that at Kentucky. I don't think it's been such an issue here in the past. Even today you could get close. So I think whatever happens, we're going to see a pretty interesting race here tomorrow.
Q. As late as this race starts tomorrow night, are you going to have to take a nap at some point to be ready to go? It's even a late start for central time zone.
SCOTT DIXON: What was the question, sorry (laughter)?
Q. As late as this race starts...
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, man, it is late. Not just us, but I think even people that are watching TV, man. I'm not certain it's the best time for us to be racing. You look at it, it's 10 eastern, might be great for people out on the West Coast. But that's what we got. I think the conditions are going to be very good for the cars. Lots of grip. The pack racing will come into factor a lot more. I think tomorrow night if you look at it around 10:00 or 11:00 when the race is finishing, down into the 50s in temperature. That's getting pretty low.
But, you know, I don't think it matters too much apart from, as you said, you might need to throw an added nap in the afternoon to get geared up.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, it's right in my zone. I don't get up too early, so it should be perfect for me. It should work absolutely fine. Yeah, but I agree with Scottie. Certainly the people on the East Coast for TV and stuff, I'm not sure it's ideal. For me, I'm quite happy with it.
Q. Scott, you were particularly critical of the cars and setups after Texas, they were too much alike, too similar, difficult to pass. We noticed today in qualifying several of the cars are running different configurations, some with the rear tire ramps, some with the extenders. Do you think those changes in configuration are going to get the mix that you in particular are looking for and we'll see some variation in the cars tomorrow night?
SCOTT DIXON: I hope so. I don't think you're going to have a problem with the cars being stuck together or very close. I think even in practice today the tricky part is, even on a person that's a mile an hour slower, is trying to complete the pass. Once you get on the outside, it's definitely a lot longer trip around the outside to try to clear them. I think Dario had similar issues throughout the session.
I don't think we had a problem with the cars being close enough together, apart from Texas. It's just trying to enable the passing. Once you get a run on somebody, as soon as you get beside them, it seems very hard to finish that. Hopefully I think some of the changes with the aero pieces, at least it gives some variation and options, where a team may pick to run some of those things and it might be their downfall and make them slower, so you're still going to have some mix. Hopefully the 'push to pass' adds a little bit to complete in those passes tomorrow.
Q. How does this track rate in your personal favorites among tracks?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think for me with the regulations we run here, it's not one of my favorites, simply because of the regulations I think we end up running. So I think it puts on a great show for the fans with the IndyCar Series. But as far as driver involvement, yeah, it's not one of my favorites.
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I think the racing, as Dario said, is great for people to watch. It's definitely mentally tough for the drivers because you have things going on left, right and center. Personally as a track and the results I've had here, probably more disappointed than anything. I thought finally last year we'd got over the hump and maybe got a victory. 30 seconds later that changed as well.
I think the most important part is putting on a great show for everybody. That's why we're here and why we're in this business. As long as you have that element, I think it's good.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, Scott, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
Now joined by pole winner Ryan Briscoe. Ryan, talk about your run out there today.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, obviously it was a good one. I think it helped being at the back of the line. I think it's the first time this year. Pretty happy about that. I was able to, you know, get a good idea of what the speeds looked like, heard from Helio's run how his car was handling. Our cars are very close. So it gave me a little bit of a heads up as to how the track conditions were. It all helps because, I mean, you're talking about the slightest speed differences out there.
But the car was solid. Went out, all four laps were really strong. Made a couple of adjustments in the car over the four laps just to keep the front under me. You know, I could see the speed. So when I saw the first lap, I think it was a little bit quicker than the pole time, I knew I had to keep doing the same thing and I was able to do that.
So, you know, it was a pretty smooth run.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Let's say there's 15 laps to go and Helio is the only guy chasing you, do you expect him to stay behind you or is he going to push you?
RYAN BRISCOE: Might have to ask him that one.
Q. I already did.
RYAN BRISCOE: I'm going to be full throttle, I'll tell you that much. Hopefully I'm going a have some buttons in my pocket as well to keep anyone who is behind me behind.
You know, hard to say. Is he gonna risk it or help me out? I don't know. You might have to talk to him about that. What did he say?
Q. He was going for the win.
RYAN BRISCOE: There you go.
Q. How did you find the condition of the track out there today? Grippy, loose, smooth, bumpy?
RYAN BRISCOE: A couple of bumps up in turn three that seem to have grown a bit since last year. Apart from that it feels really nice. Grip levels were good. I thought our speeds today were going to be a little bit quicker than they were. I think the humid conditions are taking away a bit of horsepower or something. It felt good. It was hard to get a read on what our speeds were going to be in qualifying just because in practice you don't know with all the drafts and everything where the speeds are.
But felt good and no real surprises.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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