IndyCar Series: Honda Indy 225
Topics: Honda Indy 225
August 21, 2005
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Sam. Talk about your first round here at Pikes Peak.
DANICA PATRICK: I think as a team we were optimistic after this morning in qualifying and everything. We've been working really hard on our race car. It's improved, no doubt about that. So we were hoping for a good result, especially coming from Milwaukee and running strong there. But we just, you know, ran into a couple things throughout the race. I think the biggest problem was the fact that when the yellow flag came out and we did a wave-around, I was still running up in the top 10 somewhere, I don't know, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, somewhere in that range, but I had to start second to last or something. So, you know, there's really, really slow cars out there laps down that are in the way. It's tough, you know. They get in the way. When there's like eight of you on a restart trying to get by them, it's a complete mess. When you're one of the last cars of that group, you just kind of got to wait for it all to pan out. Other than that, the track definitely changed throughout the race. The car was a lot of oversteer at the beginning and understeer at the end. It was a matter of balancing the car out throughout. The car definitely wanted to spin out in turn one and two, wanted understeer in the wall in three and four. It was an interesting balance to be able to get through both ends comfortably or mildly comfortably and still stay fast.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Not being able to start closer to the front, what was the plan?
DANICA PATRICK: Started fifth (laughter).
Q. Were you going to try to do anything to overcome not being able to get closer than that?
DANICA PATRICK: No. Just have the best car I could. Fifth isn't bad. Anywhere in the top five is a good qualifying spot.
Q. Did you ever feel like you had something today to make up the ground? I know you got caught up in traffic. Did you ever feel like if a yellow came out, you were able to make up ground? Were you hoping for a yellow that never came out?
DANICA PATRICK: I think there were a couple of different points in the race in which I felt like the car was pretty good. Definitely, you know, within the first stint, midway through the first stint, I felt pretty good, made up some ground. And then towards the middle of the last stint, too, that was another good one, the car felt pretty good again. We were able to make up a little bit of ground in both of those situations. But, again, as I explained, losing so much ground to everybody on the restart, on the one restart we had, just didn't allow me to make up as many positions as I did in the first stint. A little disappointing.
Q. On Friday you mentioned your team had had some troubles on this type of track. Do you think you took a positive step? You mentioned the driver drives, the car doesn't. Do you think you took a positive step this weekend?
DANICA PATRICK: For sure. We had done some testing back to back with some of the old pieces that we had from the short ovals that we were using. It was definitely worse. That's really encouraging, the changes that have been made to the race car have improved it. It's good. I think these are things that also can translate over to the road courses, as well, which will be really good. At Rahal Letterman, we're really looking for a consistent car. We're not necessarily trying to, you know, find all time in one change. We're looking for a car that's really consistent, that can run good times throughout the race. As we've seen time and time again with qualify positions is that, you know, it's one thing, but it's not everything. You still have to do, you know, qualifying is a total of five laps, and the race is 225 laps. It's a lot more to get through. I mean, I don't know what happened to Scheckter at the very end, but he was running ahead of me. Somewhere around 25 laps to go, I caught him and passed him. I almost lapped him within the last 25 again, caught him. You know, I don't know what was wrong with his car. I mean, it's just -- that's where the consistency comes in that you really need in a race car.
Q. With just four races left, what is your mentality for the rest of the way? How does it change from the first race to what it is now?
DANICA PATRICK: I don't think that I'm going to -- going into any race feeling any different or have a different expectation level. You know, I think as a driver, you really have to hope and expect to win at all times. I mean, that's the attitude you have to have. You're going to fall short more times in the beginning of your career than you are towards the end hopefully. But you need to have that killer instinct. So I go into every race just, you know, knowing that if I can walk away and know there wasn't something I could have done to make the situation better, you know, make myself and the team finish higher, then I can be pleased, or satisfied for the weekend anyway, not forever, but for the weekend anyway. Same outlook.
Q. I know you've answered this all week. Have to ask you one more final time. You brought a lot of people to this track this weekend. Can you talk about that and the fact of what happened down in Pueblo? Any different stop for you?
DANICA PATRICK: Not really. It's really been amazing this year. The crowds have turned out. I have - wow - such dedicated fans that stand there and wait so long for an autograph and that are excited about the race. It's cool. I heard they were cheering or something in the stands at one point for me passing someone. You know, I mean, that's cool because I wasn't passing for the lead at all today, you know, I was running in the top 10, but that was it. But that's good. That's the kind of fans that you need, that like you whether you're first or 10th or 20th. That's a good fan. I think the fan base is growing real well. I think, as I've said before, not everyone is going to prefer me as their favorite driver out there. As the fans come in more and more, all the drivers will gain more fan base, too. So that's really good.
Q. Can you give us one major positive and one major thing that you want to work on coming out of this race?
DANICA PATRICK: One major positive is the development of the car, working with Panos and working with our team and some others, just developing something that was, again, more consistent, better sort of platform for the race as a car. One thing to work on again is always what I gain more of at every race, and that is just, you know, working through traffic faster. There definitely have been times throughout the year, I can remember times in the first couple of races where, you know, things went great and I caught the right brake, gassed it at the right time, passed a bunch of people. It's trying to make that happen all the time. It's not that I -- you know, it's just trying to figure out how that happens. I don't know. It's tough. I think that I, you know, soak up information all the time. You know, again, good things come from being relaxed and being more comfortable. But I got to tell you, I'm still nervous as heck before every race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica.
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