IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge
Topics: SunTrust Indy Challenge
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our second place finisher, Dario Franchitti. This is Dario's best finish of the season, he had a third place prior to St. Petersburg. So we'll start with questions down here. Dario, basically tell us about your evening.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, obviously not a bad evening, second. Start wasn't too bad. I managed to make I think one place and I was trying to pass Briscoe, but contrary to all the rules that we've sort of been taught, he was blocking pretty badly. I saw it a few times. You know, we were I think running third or fourth, first pit stop, we moved back one spot, and Dan definitely had a better pit with that and passed him on the restart. And at that point I kind of realized it was probably going to be the Penske cars and myself that were fighting it out. You know, they had the advantage on the road and I was quicker in traffic I think. Then the pit, I led for a while, that was pretty good. Obviously clear air helped. And it was quite nice at the end there because we all pitted at the same time and there was no -- there was no strange strategy. There was no guys going to -- we knew that everybody had pitted enough and it was going to be a straight fight to the finish. And we were not quick enough to pass Helio. Hornish passed me on the restart and he was catching Helio big-time and ended up going in the wall. He looked strong at that point. I almost -- I got a run on Helio in traffic, which as I said was the only way I was going it get him. But then Jimmy (phonetic) kind of, I don't know if his spotter was not speaking to him or he didn't look in his mirror or what but when he just came down turn one and almost took me out, I backed off there, lost momentum and that was it. But second is not bad.
Q. (No microphone.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I expected Briscoe to get wiped out because I saw him do what he did to me to, I believe it was Carpentier, and also Wheldon. So if he's going to do that, then you know once is bad enough, but three times blatantly up on the leader, don't tell me the guys in race control can't see that. So, yeah, Dixon was even more strange because he's lap down. I guess he said he didn't see me or whatever, but he definitely got the raw end of the stick on that. I don't understand that, Scott (phonetic), the reason.
Q. What did you think about Dan Wheldon's performance tonight? (Question by female voice.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Kind of weird somebody talking and not seeing them. Like a voice inside my head. My wife always told me God was a tomorrow. (Laughter.) Dan's performance was a championship-winning performance. He didn't have the car to win. And he stuck it out all night, made no mistakes. Yeah, really, really great performance and a mature performance. I think that extra year that he clicked over on Tuesday, his birthday or whatever, that made a difference, a really great performance from him and I'm proud of him.
Q. Did your incident with Scott early in the race cause any steering problems for you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, it did not, too. I wish I could blame some of that, but etc. Not true. The car was great and the Dallara is very strong, and I was lucky to get just where the contact was made that there was no problem.
Q. What did you feel about the pace of the race? And compared to last year's race, did you feel it was faster than last year's race?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was surprised how much the cars went off. Last year it was easier to just keep running the same pace all night. I was sure pry prized -- I think the difference from last year is basically the race was a two-line racetrack. You could run side-by-side almost. This year, we couldn't, and I think that slowed the pace of the race because traffic. You kind of got stopped behind in the corners; whereas last year you could pass them a bit easier.
Q. How close were you on fuel before the caution came out on Lap 150?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We had a long way to go. We were looking pretty good at that one. But it was -- it was definitely nice timing. Nobody likes -- when I saw it was Tony, I was upset, but at the same time it played into our hands.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, thank you very much. Okay, we are now joined by third place finisher, Patrick Carpentier, a career IndyCar Series best third place. Patrick, tell us about your race out there this evening.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: For me it was -- for sure it was the most fun race since the beginning. We had so much -- we struggled so much at the beginning of the year, and we were dead last almost at Texas and very slow. So we came in and Toyota (phonetic) has been helping us quite a bit and came and test last week and then found a few things on the car that gave us almost 4/10ths of a lap faster, which is a lot on a three-quarter mile oval and from there on, the car was completely fast. Almost didn't such it since then. Came to the weekend with it with the car the same way, and the car has been running really, really well. I could go around the corners very well outside, inside, everywhere, and it was fun. It's been a while since I've had all that at the front and to be back these guys was so much fun tonight.
Q. This is your first time here, and can you take us through the evening? And you said it was fun, but how much fun was it dealing with traffic and things like that?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: If I owned the series, I would race here every week and one time at Indy. I love this track. It's fantastic. Three-quarter mile like that is a lot of action, a lot of fun and for us. The car was very good, we didn't touch it at all during the race with the wings or anything. Just tried to do what the leaders were doing and tried to avoid, there was a few accidents in front of me, two or three of them, and we avoided those and just ran our pace the whole night and just tried to get on that podium. It was a good battle with Tomas at one point. He was using the track and the pit lane to move around, and he ended up black flagging, but it was a good race. There was some good battles and it was fun.
Q. (No microphone.)
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I'll be honest with you, we're still going to have up-and-downs. We're going to have races where we're going to struggle a little bit and some races where we're going to be fast. That's why I came here for, what happened tonight and the battles and the side-by-side with Dario and these guys and all of the guys I know at the front there, that's why I came to this series. So it's been a bit disappointing since the beginning of the year, and I have had an offer to go back to the other series, I had a very good time in Champ Car and I enjoyed it. But for me some reason I always liked ovals and that's way want to do and I am so happy that I was here tonight. I was excited in the car. I was laughing in the car. I was having a great time. It was such a good race. Battles is what I like, so I feel like home.
Q. Was the penalty deserved?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yes, I think it was. I think it takes away from the show when you start blocking from the right side of the track all the way down inside the pit lane entrance. That's a bit much I think. You know, then you can't make any pass, and if you don't block, then I can pass him, he pass me and then you keep passing each other back, and it makes for a great show. When you start blocking, I think it kills the show and one thing I like about this series, if you don't respect the rules, they are going to apply what needs to be applied for you to respect it. So I was pretty happy, yeah, otherwise, you could end up in a crash. I was getting really mad in the car, too.
Q. When you came here to test and it was rained out, you drove your personal vehicle or rental vehicle around the track in the rain just to get some laps on the track. Do you feel that that helped you gain some knowledge of the track?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, it's quite a bit slower in the rain, it was about 50 miles an hour. I was only hitting 100 miles an hour. It was good because we got around the track, I must have done like 50 laps on that day and just kept going around and around. It's a very different track, I've never raced in my life in a track that resembled this circuit, the three-quarter mile. Where you're pretty much flat out all around in qualifying except for two Turn 2 is unbelievable. We pulled over five Gs, and that's a lot of G-force. And it gave me a good idea of the track. When we came back testing, I had the track in my mind and we had this day, also, last week and with Toyota, everything helped out. So everything fell into place for this weekend, so it was good.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, you said it all along, you said when you tested here last week, you thought maybe this place owed you one, just talk about the race.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I did, I did, because we've been so close so many teams. Wow, third last year, I don't know the year before. I think only the first year we had trouble, but it was good, that was the learning curve. Again, Friday a week ago, we had a horrible crash in turn one and two, that was very hard for the suspension and we went straight to the wall; I was forced the end of the day. The good news, we adapting, probably what happened today, and it's sad it happened, but things happened in the day that we knock off points. Today was a fantastic day. Our car was very good, both cars, mine and Sam obviously were very fast, and he just -- I just couldn't ask for a better result.
THE MODERATOR: More than any other track in this series, you're dealing with lap traffic and obviously that was a huge issue for everybody tonight. Just talk about that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, big time. I was having a lot of trouble, especially at the beginning because the Silver Crown laid down the rubber which is always like that. My gears was a little bit off, and the top gear was good on restart, but other than that, I was just trying to keep my composure, my patience and everything was going very smooth. Even through crashes that happened, a lot of in front of me, especially the last one, that was -- I mean, this year we've having a lot of fortune missing a lot of crash in front of us; thank God, and otherwise I would not be here today. But the car was great. I could pull out any time I wanted. Especially towards the end I didn't want to push so hard especially it was getting a little bit too loose. And after what happened to Sam I think, you know what, I'd better just take it easy and finish the race.
THE MODERATOR: Just talk about winning in front of all the folks from Phillip Morris here in Richmond.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, that means a lot. I mean, these guys have been putting so much effort, those partners being with Team Penske for so many years. And all of a sudden to have a win here, it just means a lot. Myself, especially, it's great this place I love so much, I enjoy it so much. It's like a go-kart track, you know. And I just think it's so fast and so challenging and so difficult that -- a lot of mental focus and a lot from the driver, as well. I'm extremely happy, I made a good championship, so that makes it even better.
Q. Did you see a replay of how close you came to getting clipped, I believe it was coming out of Turn 2, the two cars?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I didn't see the replay, but when I saw both cars touching, I saw one going down and one going up, and I'm like, okay, there was only the middle here. And I tried to make sure that my last rear would have enough space, but I was just closing my eyes, saying, okay, I'm waiting for this thing to hit me. And when I finally passed I'm like, whew-hoo, I can't believe we missed. It's meant to be; that's it for sure, this is our race, nothing else can happen after this. So let's bring it home. For the moment it was actually the worst moment of the race, but after we went through, I knew that it would be mine.
Q. How does your shoulder feel? You have an ice pack on.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yeah, it feels -- I didn't do anything honestly; right now just to make sure it doesn't get worse, you want to get better as soon as possible to make sure I go to Kansas feeling nothing. Dr. Bach, Kevin, Mr. Oby (phonetic) from Miami, he helped me out a lot. Even Dr. Fernandez, both from Miami, they took care of me before I came over here. I did a lot of physical therapy in the pool and it was incredible because I -- after the crash, I was really worried about it. Monday, Tuesday it was very hard to lift a glass of water, and Wednesday and Thursday, everything was a big improvement and Friday, minor problem. This morning I woke up like brand new. I'm like nothing happened. So extremely happy that happened today so I'm very fortunate.
Q. Earlier in the year, Dave won a race with Toyota power and now you've won the race, how is your confidence now that you've won a race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It means a lot. We were in seventh place when we came here. Unfortunately two or three races off, it hurt us a lot, losing a lot of points, with a lot of potential. Like here, we had such a strong car and unfortunately we went out like very early in the race. So my confidence was never low. It was just a matter of opportunity and today it was a great opportunity. The car was awesome. I couldn't miss this opportunity and I knew about it. My biggest competitor today would have been Sam, obviously traffic as well, but Sam, and as soon as he went out, I knew I would just bring it home. It's just a matter being focused, being team -- especially Cedric, calmed me down to make sure that we finish. We pass a lot of fast cars now. Sometimes a lot of experience works in your favor, and today, that paid off.
Q. Do you feel like everything was going your way tonight?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You already answered basically. After that thing, I knew it was meant to be. I was really able to deal with traffic, I was patient in the right time. Yes, everything was going to -- seem to go to my direction. Especially the end there was a lot of push in the beginning and made a couple of adjustments. Turned out to be a little loose in the end, which was perfect because I could put the car anywhere I want, especially turn three and four, so it definitely was a great day for us.
Q. You climbed up pretty high there on the fence. Looked like you would climb into the flag stand at one point, did you ever climb that high before?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I thought -- pretty much goes like that. You know when the adrenaline is going on, you don't look, you just keep climbing, climbing you realize when you look on the right and is there is somebody there, oh, you're not supposed to be here. The crowd went crazy and that's what makes me drive. Winning, that's what makes me drive, and it just inspired me so much. I love it, I love this and I have to keep working hard because nothing comes easy, unfortunately.
Q. Was it harder to pass Dario Franchitti more on a one-groove racetrack, unlike perhaps last year? What were your thoughts there, was that perhaps because it was faster or you do not agree with that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I think last year, I don't know who turned the fastest lap of the race, but I don't think I was faster than last year to be honest. We were able to work pretty well on the -- some of the corners outside. We were able to make some pass. My car was really handling well. At the end, especially with the tires cooled down a lot, that was kind of very hard even on the one-line groove, but I don't know, my car was working pretty well on both ends.
Q. Breaking the pole record, obviously the race is faster, do you think the speeds need to slow down?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't think so. Everything went smooth. Nobody got hurt, I believe. I think it was an exciting race. I don't know, you guys tell me if it was good. You know, if it was good, why change it?
Q. Comment on maybe running a different higher line than some of the other guys.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know, just got used to -- I don't know about Sam's line. I think Sam was still a little bit different line than me. It's just a matter of setup. We did not have the same setup, Sam and I, for this race weekend. I took a big chance. You know, I said, you know what, to beat Sam I need to make a big risk, and today it definitely paid off. He had definitely the fast car, but at the same time, you've got to be there in the end to make it happen. I don't know about that. If we are different, we're going to keep different.
THE MODERATOR: Helio is now only 86 points out of the top spot in the point standings in third place only three points behind Tony Kanaan, who did not have the best of nights. Congratulations.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you very much.
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