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IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix

IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix

Tony Kanaan
August 28, 2005


THE MODERATOR: Tony, welcome to the media center. Congratulations on the victory. We all got to see the push-ups for the first time here in Sonoma. Great race. Talk a little about the incident with Ryan and Helio. That certainly opened the door for you, how that led to you taking the checkered flag.

TONY KANAAN: I was just a spectator on that one. I kind of saw it coming. I saw a flashback of St. Pete. I said, "I don't want to be involved in this." What I tried to do is I just backed off and I watch. Ryan hit the curb, hit Danica, hit Helio. I made it through. I was taking it so easy that I ended up even losing a position to Tomas Enge. That's how concerned I was not to be involved in anything because I knew I had a great car.

Q. For those who aren't familiar with the push-up routine, can you talk about how that started and why you like doing that?

TONY KANAAN: It's the first time. I just made it up this morning with my guys. I said, "Guys, this race was going to be so tough for us," I said, "I want to see anybody that finishes this race to do 11 push-ups." Obviously 11 because of 7-Eleven. So somebody remind me of that. I completely forgot after the race. So I ended up doing it. So from now on I guess I'm going to have to do it all the time. Hopefully I will have the strength to do that.

Q. When they reminded you, did you really want to do those?

TONY KANAAN: Not really. You know, when you old, you find the extra strength. It's unbelievable. I became so strong, when they told them that, I pumped myself up, I said, "I might as well do it." I tried to do it one-handed and I almost fell with my nose on the floor, so...

Q. Was this a walk in the park for you because of your fitness?

TONY KANAAN: Not really. I think I was really concerned last night, and I woke up this morning, you can ask my wife, I wasn't in the greatest mood, because I was very concerned about that. Obviously, you know, I was kind of upset to myself because I said, "How come I can work out that hard and be this tired?" Once you qualify, you really pushing hard for one lap, and you might like spend your energy squeezing the steering wheel and trying too hard. Once you get in a rhythm, it's a little easier. I would say that the race was hard, but it was easier than my qualifying lap. But definitely once I got in the lead, it was a little bit different because I was controling the pace. I could push for a lap, rest for an actual lap, push for another lap, so forth and so forth, and time myself the gap that I had to Buddy. It was much easier to control that way. But I think definitely my physical condition helped me a lot.

Q. Tony, I know you don't wish misfortune on Dan. What happened to him today does make the points race a little more interesting.

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I had bad days, and he capitalized a lot on that this year. This is the way the race is. You know, obviously I don't know how many points I'm behind him, 80, 70, something, but I been in the exact same position three races to go last year, so I know what it takes. And he knows what is takes, because he was chasing for me. So for me what I care about right now is win more races. I know I got to win every race to the end of the year to be able to win this championship. That's what I'm going to go for. If I can't do it, I can't do it. I'll definitely try my best.

Q. It looked so easy, those last 30 laps. The first part of the race, guys overplaying their hands. Dario doing the same thing in qualifying, putting himself behind the eight ball. Sam Hornish maybe helped your team out a lot messing up in the first lap. Was that on your mind to play it cool the first half of the race?

TONY KANAAN: It was on my mind to concentrate a lot because I think that's how you make mistakes. You lose concentration or you're trying to overdrive the car. I needed the car that I had it in my hands. Tomas Enge put a bonsai move on me on the inside of the hairpin on the first lap, and I let him go, and I was just patient. I said, "Well, good cars going to be in the front, bad cars going to go to the back or going to go off." Sure enough, a lot of people went off. Tomas, he was driving a very good race, he was driving the wheels off of that car. He didn't have a very good car in my prospect. I just played it cool, yeah, and then save a lot of fuel. I was able to go four more laps than everybody else. I think that's what ended up making me win the race.

Q. Back when they announced this race, is this what you expected would happen racing here at Infineon?

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, we knew it was going to be a lot of people making mistakes, a lot of people going off. The (inaudible) the racetrack, the way it is, the runoffs are very tempting. You don't have a wall right there, so you try a little harder, a little harder. Once you go off, it's gravel, and then you just take off. So I think it went, everything the way we expected. You can't expect road racing to be like the oval. I mean, we have the most competitive series on an oval running side by side over there. You can't run side by side for 12 corners here. I would say it was a great race. Obviously, people would share different opinions. Sometimes I heard out there that there wasn't a lot of passing. But where can you see a lot of passing on a road course? I mean, I don't see anywhere. I think was a good race.

Q. You were able to stay a few laps out longer than everybody else. Was that the key for you in terms of pit strategy, stay out there the longest, till lap 50?

TONY KANAAN: The way I figure the race out was you can't pass anybody. I mean, if you try to pass, you're going to hit or you're going to crash. If they close the door, the risk is too much. So how you can beat the other guys? I was putting the pressure on Enge the whole time and saving a lot of fuel because as soon as he pitted, I was going to push so hard and I was going to bring a gap, that by the time I pitted I could go out and I could go out in front of him. That's exactly what happened on the last stop. That's how I planned the race, yeah. It could have cost me, but I think on the long-term, that's what made me win the race.

Q. What did you think of Enge's spin there by himself.

TONY KANAAN: I didn't see it. I saw big smoke and a flag. I didn't know who it was. I made it through the corner, I saw Enge right there. I was said, "Ahh, they really put some presure on you, brother." So I didn't even try to pass him. I took it even easier to save a little bit more fuel because I knew at that time, as soon as he saw me in his mirrors, he was kind of, you know, like, "Man, the guy, I mean, he had a seven-second lead and went to zero. I just going to stay here, show my both noses and try to scare him a little bit and see what he does.

Q. Post qualifying you stated there were two or three passing zones. Did you try that to be true today?

TONY KANAAN: I still stick with turn 12. I think the chicane here we call turn 10, you guys call turn 9, and the last corner before we come to the S's I think is turn 5, right?


TONY KANAAN: Well, we have different maps. Where Briscoe crashed (inaudible) and then the hairpin. So I think those are the three corners. And still, you still saw passes there. I still think we were able to pass, for sure.

Q. How impressed were you by native Californians' reception for IndyCars this time?

TONY KANAAN: I was really happy. We could barely walk to the paddock before the race. I was really impressed. Sometimes can you walk and go from your pits to your garage, from your garage to your truck. It was extremely busy. People, they knew me from long time ago, since back in the CART days. You know, the fans, I mean, a lot of Brazilian fans. I was very impressed. I guess we all over the place. But I was happy to see. I think we put out a great show for them. It's definitely different than what they have seen for sure when you guys have NASCAR around here. Hopefully they like it. Hopefully they enjoy it. We try to put the best show we could so we could come back next year.

Q. How is the track? Did it get slippery, hard to stay on? Did it get dusty? Any real problems?

TONY KANAAN: No, I think the track got better. Obviously, we put more rubber down. Apart from some guys going off and bringing some dust to the racetrack for a couple laps, I think the track was great.

Q. The San Francisco Bay Area may be the most cosmopolitan area in the United States. How much of a growth potential do you see for this race here because of all the diverse cultures involved?

TONY KANAAN: I see a lot. I think, you know, besides the American people, like you said, there is such a massive crowd from all over the world, and I think they follow different type of racings besides NASCAR so they're more open-minded sometimes to come watch a race like this. So I think we have a big potential for sure. We just need to get the bugs out and I think we got it. From now on we got to work with the track and the series to make this thing more successful than it was. I think, you know, I have to call it a successful event. We got to make it better every year and we will.

Q. Prior to the road courses, there's always concern about the performance of the IRL cars. Can you tell us how the IRL cars themselves performed?

TONY KANAAN: Well, I think, you know, we did a great job from testing. I knew it was going to be a good package. I mean, everybody was concerned about passing, downforce, this, that. I think the cars are reliable. I mean, I don't see a lot of people, you know, having mechanical problems, apart of going out off or hitting each other, which is normal in a road course. I'd have to say the cars was very reliable. Downforce-wise, I think it's good. Maybe the way that the nature of this track is, the steering was a little bit heavier. We probably got to do something about this next year. Everybody was a bit concern. But other than that, I think we have a great product, and we definitely going to make it better, for sure. Every year we make it better.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: I had a blast. I'm sitting here, I won the race, obviously it's fun. Apart from that, I had a blast all weekend. It came back in the old times. I have to tell you, I was rushed on the first day. I was like, "What's going on?" I couldn't put a wheel in the same place every lap. It's just been a long time. In my opinion, we should do more of this.

THE MODERATOR: Tony, thanks so much. Congratulations on the victory. Good luck the rest of the year.

TONY KANAAN: Thank you.

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