Indy Pro Series: Miami 100
Topics: Miami 100
March 24, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our second and third place finishers today from the Miami 100. Finishing in second place today, Chris Festa. His debut race with Target Chip Ganassi Racing, started on the pole, finished second. Chris, tell us about your run today.
CHRIS FESTA: Well, we're a little disappointed that the race got cut short by the yellows. Sometimes that's the way things go. We had a really strong car today. Target Chip Ganassi guys did a really strong thing. The car was just so good, I could put it anywhere on the track I wanted. We were just hoping for more laps so Alex and I could shoot out at the end, but I guess it wasn't in the cars for today.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our third place finisher, Hideki Mutoh, who is making his debut in the Indy Pro Series with Super Aguri Panther Racing. Hideki, tell us about your run today.
HIDEKI MUTOH: My first target was finish the race. I now finish with a podium place, this is fantastic. I'm really big thank you for the team. I have still next week. I focus for next race now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Chris, we had two big accidents in turn two. Can you tell us what you were experiences out there. Was it the wind?
CHRIS FESTA: To be perfectly honest, I didn't rally notice much. I was behind Wade when he spun. It looked to me like he maybe caught a bit of a crosswind, got a little turbulence from behind his car, it lifted. I'm not sure exactly what happened to him. He just all of a sudden lost it. Unclutched a couple cars as he was sliding up the track.
I'm told that my teammate, Pablo, who was in the second accident, is okay. He's awake and alert. So thank the Lord for that.
Q. Hideki, tell us about your first oval.
HIDEKI MUTOH: It was fantastic. First time in drafting in these oval tracks. So, yeah, still I'm learning.
Q. Would you have considered it fun or challenging?
HIDEKI MUTOH: Fun, really fun, yeah.
Q. Chris, this does start you off well for the championship. I know that was a goal for this year. Can you follow up and keep going on the road courses next weekend?
CHRIS FESTA: We think so. We've got some new ideas for the road courses we're going to test here on Tuesday. We'll get on the track, see what we've got for that, go out to St. Pete, compete as hard as we can.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
We're now joined by our winner of today's race, Alex Lloyd. This is his third career Indy Pro Series race and his first on an oval. Alex, tell us about today.
ALEX LLOYD: Yeah, I mean, it went pretty well really, smoothly from my cockpit. We started off pretty well. We were up front. Dropped back to third at one point. I think fourth actually, but got back to third pretty quickly. Then obviously there was the first accident, which my teammate was involved in. And I believe he's okay, which is good.
Then, you know, we started to get into our rhythm when we got going again. The car was good. Got into the lead. Felt like I had the strongest car at that point. So I felt good about coming into the end of the race if we had a green-flag finish. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Obviously we had another accident.
It's a difficult way of winning it when you know people get injured. So obviously the first thing is to hope that they're all okay. But, you know, we started the year off the way we wanted to, the way we wanted to when we came in. For that I'm happy.
THE MODERATOR: How much confidence and momentum does this win give you going into the season?
ALEX LLOYD: A lot. I knew that winning was possible in the first race. I knew I was going to have a very strong car and a very good opportunity. But the difficult thing is when you have that opportunity to make it happen straightaway and come out there and win the first race and the pressure's on. And we were able to do that, which is a great confidence boost.
Of course, like you said, my first race win on an oval. It crosses that sort of boundary, if there ever was one, in winning on an oval. So that was very good. Yeah, it all worked out very well. We had a few ups and downs at practice and qualifying where things didn't quite go to plan, but it went together for the race, which is the most important thing.
Q. This is a new team for you. Obviously it's the way you wanted to start it off. How do you feel now heading to St. Petersburg, which is more your forte?
ALEX LLOYD: Exactly. The great thing in coming to Sam Schmidt Motorsports is they have a lot of success on ovals. They have a lot of success on road courses as well, but they've won a lot of races on the ovals, they've won championships in this series before. I really felt like my relative inexperience on ovals was sort of made up for by their experience, and they could really give me a lot of guidance in how to get the best out of the car and how to race well.
So I felt like I'd done more racing on ovals than I actually had, to be honest. So I came in with a lot of confidence and really used their experience, Sam Schmidt's obvious experience in IndyCars to my advantage. I think that helps a lot. When we come into St. Petersburg, which is now more what I'm used to in road courses, I've raced there twice before, I feel very strong because, you know, I've raced these cars at that track.
So, you know, we're all looking very good. I know we should have a good car. A lot of our pre-season testing has been development towards St. Pete. I'm looking forward to see how that goes.
Q. Both of our accidents happened in turn two. Can you tell us what the difficulty is there today?
ALEX LLOYD: The big problem is we have a headwind coming down the straight. Coming into turn one and two, the wind is hitting the front nose on the front wing, which is increasing the downforce at the front and therefore making the back quite unstable. So you have to be very careful because you could get a bit of understeer through turn three and four. You have to adjust your car with the weight jacker or the bar to try to give yourself a bit more front grip.
When that wind hits, suddenly you have an enormous amount of front grip in the back that can come around. I think that's certainly what happened to Wade. I didn't see the accident behind the second time, but I imagine it's a similar thing. The wind can catch you out. We've had strong wind all weekend. You just have to be very careful.
Q. How difficult is it to learn the subtlety of oval racing?
ALEX LLOYD: The main thing I found at first, it's kind of an uncomfortable feeling at first because you're not used to it. You're going around these corners entering at 185 miles an hour. That's completely different to road course racing. The car breaks away on an oval, it's too late. On a road course you can really collect that. So it's very difficult to sort of get your head around whether the car's going to stick or not.
When you have the unsettling factors like the wind, that makes it all the more tricky because you really just need the experience to know how the car's going to react, how you've got to drive it and make any adjustments you can make within the car that's going to make it that little bit easier. It just takes time really. You need time, miles on the oval really, just to sort of get to grips with that.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Thanks, Alex.
ALEX LLOYD: Thank you.
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