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IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy 300

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Argent Mortgage Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Argent Mortgage Indy 300

Dan Wheldon
July 3, 2005


THE MODERATOR: Dan Wheldon has joined us. You finished second in today's race. Take us through those last couple of laps with your teammate Tony Kanaan.

DAN WHELDON: Disappointing. You know, I have to say coming into the race I wasn't expected to run up the front like I did all day. You know, we still need to work very hard on our (inaudible) speed on superspeedways. It was nice to get out front and seeing Scheckter challenging to get past. You know, in the end, we pitted a little off sequence. The guys did a fantastic job in the pits to get me out ahead of everybody. But it's one of those Kansas things. I mean, when somebody's on the high side, they can get you, as Tony did. I love Tony to bits but I'm glad he beat me instead of somebody else. But, you know, losing by that much is very, very difficult. But that's Kansas for you.

THE MODERATOR: Just for your notes, the margin of victory was 12/1000ths of a second, which is the sixth closest in league history.

DAN WHELDON: You can see why I'm pissed off, huh?

THE MODERATOR: We'll get questions from the media center.

Q. After being so bad yesterday, were you shocked to be up front today?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I was actually. I couldn't believe it. Especially when you know how strong Scheckter is. You see him try and challenge you, can't quite complete the pass. But, you know what, we always have this situation. We're so poor at qualifying on superspeedways. I mean, it's not the engine. The engine is fantastic. You can see what the Rahal cars did with the Honda. It's just something that we're missing as a team. To be honest, it gets very, very frustrating. I mean, I've been in this thing for three years and the frustrating thing is, not just frustrating for me, it's frustrating thing is, not just frustrating for me, frustrating for everybody, we don't know why we're slow. I mean, poor Bryan Herta this weekend, that guy doesn't deserve to be running around in 15th or 16th. Everybody knows how good he is. It's just a situation that we can't resurrect. We don't know why. But come the race, we're able to turn that situation around to some extent. But I would still say I think Scheckter has a very fast car. To be honest, Sam Hornish is very quick on his own when he's not in traffic. We definitely have to improve our performance in qualifying on superspeedways.

Q. Could you have done anything to get by Tony?

DAN WHELDON: Well, I wouldn't say get by because I was alongside him. You know, I was pressing every button I had in the cockpit to try and make the car go fast. That was as fast as it was going to go. To be honest, with my car, it would bind up a little bit on the bottom. You know, it was something that you just have to swallow. But it was a shame. It would have been nice to equal Hornish's record of five wins in a season. I still have some races to go.

Q. How important were the last few pit stops?

DAN WHELDON: Very much (inaudible). You're really pushing the limit of everything, the length of the start, how quick you can stop the car. I think it was no different today. I think the strategy that certainly John Anderson put forward for us was a good one, and it got us leading. I mean, that's something -- I mean, for the advantage that we had when we came out the pits, if our car was quicker, we might not have been around other cars, we might have been able to finish first. Like I say, after yesterday, if I was to say I was going to lead the most laps and finish second, then, you know, still keep the lead that I have, I would have been happy. I guess I can't be too grumpy. I'm really desperate to try and win as many races as I can before the season ends. That one just slipped by.

Q. Did the changing weather today kind of change your car? Did you make any adjustments?

DAN WHELDON: No, it really didn't. Maybe my visor was too dark because I couldn't see the cloud change at all. It was one of those races where you just, like I say, you're pushing the envelope on everything nowadays and you can't afford to make any mistakes. When I came in the pits on that last stop and for the out, I actually had some good track in front of me. There were some cars that were breaking up, some clean air. I was able to pick up a residual slip stream. That kind of really helped. I would say from a weather standpoint, my car was pretty consistent through the race. I have to say, credit to Firestone, the tire has been very, very good the last few races. The level of grip that it gives you is good for the speed that we're doing and how hard we're pushing, and the consistency's pretty good. I think we just need to go to the drawing board as a team and find out why we qualified 25 miles an hour off. 25 is an exaggeration.

Q. Did the wind affected the race today?

DAN WHELDON: It made zero difference. You always feel the wind when you're the lead car because it sucks because you're breaking the air for everybody else. No, it didn't affect it.

Q. (No microphone.)

DAN WHELDON: I was surprised they couldn't get by me, to tell you the truth. I sound like I'm being negative, derogatory towards the speed of my car. Just after yesterday, you know, I saw how quick Scheckter was at Texas, and, you know, for a superspeedway-type track, this is certainly somewhat similar to Texas, and he could get alongside me, but he couldn't quite make the pass. That gave me a lot of confidence. But when you've got two cars that run a similar speed around here, when you're on the outside, even if you've got somebody on the high line pushing from behind, it's very difficult to complete that pass. It worked out well, and I think that just goes to show from a team standpoint, under difficult circumstances we can pull through. I can see those Pensekes keep getting quicker and quicker. Kind of worrying me a little.

Q. Was it frustrating to get kind of stuck?

THE MODERATOR: I'm not sure what you're asking.

DAN WHELDON: He's asking who I pissed off and who pissed me off.

Q. (No microphone.)

DAN WHELDON: No. For me, you know, that's a good thing about leading on a superspeedway. You know, it's quiet and peaceful. People can have a go at you, but you can kind of dominate the piece of track that you want, especially when the guy alongside you is a similar speed. It was a relatively quiet day. But I do think at this point in the season, and I've seen it certainly last year, that people really do start to push the envelope on how much -- how close you get to one another and the things that are going on. I think maybe I'm getting old, but you just -- you know, it really isn't worth it. If you're going to get by somebody, you'll get by them. I was upset with somebody this morning. The problem is then people get mad with one another, you get the bad stuff happening on the track. I think if we remain professional, we'll put on what I think will be the most exciting championship for a long, long time in any series. Brian Barnhart is very stern with his words, and that's why I think everybody remains somewhat professional. We've got to keep that going. Normally the last couple of races it quiets down when everybody knows where everybody is in the championship.

THE MODERATOR: This the 111th race and the 50th time in league history that the margin of victory was less than a second.

Q. Did you see Vitor's desperate move at the end? Did he have enough room?

DAN WHELDON: Yeah, I was aware of both. You know, it was a case of just trying to do what you can do. You really can't do anything when you're in my position. I mean or Tony's position. You want to go around the outside, Vitor wants to go down the inside. You just got to hold on and see what you can do. I thought the best move of a race, on a restart, I saw Scheckter down on the apron overtaking about six cars, which I thought it was quite impressive. I had a chuckle to myself about that one. It seems to be Kansas. Kansas, you never get a lot of yellows. You always get that real close finish where you're three-wide by the start/finish line. It really does suck - as much as, like I say, I love Tony - to lose by that little.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations.

DAN WHELDON: Thank you.

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