IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300
Topics: Indy Japan 300
April 30, 2005
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Danica Patrick. Fourth place finisher today. Her best finish in her brief IndyCar Series career. Danica, tell us about your day.
DANICA PATRICK: As Scott said, it was literally start to finish. It was a little bit dirty I think the first lap, outside of turn one and turn two, so I was oversteering, was pretty loose the whole way along. But the car was good. I had it pretty well balanced for the fuel loads, what needed to be changed to make the sure the car stayed good. A few times here and there I got a little bit behind and lost some time just with a little bit holding back because of me not keeping up with it. I dropped back whenever I had to save fuel, especially at the end, especially about 10 or 15 to go, whatever it was. Yeah, I dropped back really fast (laughter). But, you know, I think that the guys today did a really good job with the pit stops, made up some there. It's a good weekend to go into Indianapolis with. This weekend in qualifying, ninth at Homestead, or if I would have finished the race, ran a good race or something, 'cause I was so close to pole... I've been hearing rumors that the first two cars ran out of fuel, might not have finished. If Buddy hadn't saved fuel the last lap, I keep thinking that maybe I could have won the race. I should just really be happy and use as it some momentum going into the next race.
Q. The next race coming up is Indianapolis 500. What is your aspiration?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, I think I really should look to qualify on pole and go for the win. I know I can race. I know I can race with them. I've always known that. It's just a matter of being at the right place at the right time, everything coming together, having a good car for the duration of the race. It's hard to have a good qualifying car and a good race car and put that all together. For some odd reason, I've got a lot of confidence in the team for next year. After winning last year, I think they know what's going on. Scott Roembke, I look to him and Bobby Rahal and my other teammates and engineers for their advice. Throughout the month there's going to be a lot of track time. The weak spot is the traffic, knowing when and where and how to not lose a lot of time doing that, getting by them. So that's what I'm going to be practicing. I'm confident I'm going to have a good car.
Q. This is the best result you've had so far. You've only been in Indy racing for four races. This race is 300 miles. The Indy 500 is 500 miles. Do you think you're physically ready for 500 miles?
DANICA PATRICK: Absolutely. If I'm a little bit behind, I've got a whole month. I'm sure I'll make use of the gym. But everyone else will, too. I'm small. You really don't need to be so strong to drive a race car. I'm not physically in pain. I could have done more laps obviously. I'm sure a lot of other people could. I just need to be strong to do the races.
Q. Today before the race, did Bobby give you any advice? What did he say after the race?
DANICA PATRICK: He's been very, very good the whole weekend. When he first got here, he was emphasizing how important it was to make sure my in and out laps were good. He told all of us drivers before the race if there was one single inch between us and the car in front of us when we were pulling into the pits with yellow, he said there's going to be trouble. But, no, he's been really nice, and very happy, and very proud. I'm not making him look bad. He was just really giving me the very basic things. I think he's respectful of the actual things that need to happen gear-wise, pit strategy-wise, whatever. He's been a lot of help I think this weekend. It's good to have him at the races.
Q. Was there a single turning point in the race for you that determined your finish?
DANICA PATRICK: What do you mean by turning point? Was there a point where I knew I was going to finish fourth? I don't really understand. I think I'm sure a lot of other people had to do it, when we have to save fuel, I definitely dropped back. But I don't think there's a point in a race -- well, there is. This one, there's too much happening. I don't think there was ever a certain point where I knew where I was going to finish.
Q. When you were saying you had some problems and dropped back, handling the car. In what areas particularly, where or like what happened and how did you manage to get back?
DANICA PATRICK: I dropped back saving fuel, which means I wasn't able to use a hundred percent fuel, maybe something like 94 percent or something. But as far as the handling issue, I'm not sure exactly. As you put fuel in the back, you're putting a lot of weight in the back and the car handles different. As the fuel comes off, the rear lightens up and handling changes again. So occasionally through the process of the fuel coming off, I don't remember exactly what lap, I didn't even know what lap, sometimes I would have a lap or two where I would be like, "Gosh, is it the way I'm lifting off the throttle that's creating understeer?" I would lose maybe half a second or something to somebody because I wasn't keeping up with the things to do inside the car to make sure I stayed right behind them with a good-handling car.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica. See you at Indy.
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