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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 200

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

Patrick Carpentier
Sam Hornish, Jr.
July 16, 2005


GLADEVILLE, TENNESSEE

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Danica. We'll get started with our second place finisher with us, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Patrick Carpentier, who finished third today. This is Patrick's first season in IndyCar Series. You had an awesome day, Patrick. Talk about that, please.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, it was kind of up-and-down day. We started at the back, slowly moved up towards the front. On one of the restarts, hit one of the Target cars, I don't know who it was, hit one of the cars. I was coming behind him, I had momentum. I didn't want to lift. These guys came out of the corner and I think the Target car got close to the wall and lifted. I was kind of pushing a little bit. When he lifted, I was very close to him. I just hit his car, went up in the air, the front end of the car, finally came back down. It hit pretty hard when it came back down. Front nose was broken. The right tire seemed to have something. We stayed out so we could put fuel in. I was hoping the suspension was okay. We came in, changed the front nose, put some fuel in and were good till the end of the race. It actually was a bad thing, but ended up working out for us pretty well. On that last restart, we started last, let everybody by so that first corner we could see if the car was going to hold up and make the corner. After that it was fine. It was very good till the end. But at the end I tried to stay in front of these guys. Was flat all the time. Around the track, I was struggling a little bit too much speed in the corner -- was lacking a little bit speed. These guys, both of them went by. It was good racing with them, it was fun. I was a bit disappointed to get the third place, but I was very happy because it was kind of mixed emotions because it was kind of a bonus with the crash and what happened, we ended up up there. So it was a good bonus for the Red Bull team.

THE MODERATOR: Sam, you almost got your second win of the season. Talk to us about your run here at Nashville.

SAM HORNISH, JR.: Kind of a night of ups and downs. We started back towards -- a little bit further back in the pack, got right back up to the front right off the bat. Thought that we might have a shot to win this. Got a couple runs on Dario there in clean traffic, just couldn't get quite by him. We had a pit stop where we had a little bit of a problem. The fuel nozzle got stuck in. Came out fifth, fifth of the guys that stopped, so I think we were actually eighth or ninth. I was probably getting a little bit -- yelling on the radio probably a little bit too much. Then I went and made a mistake on my own. I tried to pass a couple guys on the outside on the first lap on the restart, went up and lost about four positions. I had a lot of things I had to get done on the last 10 laps to make it up to the guys for yelling about the pit stop. It's one of those things (laughter). After I made the mistake, I said, "Guys, I'm sorry about yelling at you. I guess we all make mistakes." They do an awesome job for me, the Marlboro Team Penske crew. They work super hard on their pit stops. Sometimes things just happen for a reason. I figure if we wouldn't have started where we were, we might have been in that accident with Vitor and Alex. So maybe it was good that we were back a little bit. It still turned out okay. Dario did a heck of a job, was up front all night long, stayed out of trouble, which is exactly what you need to do here. I congratulate him. Also Patrick, because he came out of nowhere, surprised us. He was pretty fast there at the end. He definitely made it difficult to get around, but he was -- it was a pleasure to race against him. You go out there and you run against guys, you hope they give you as much room as you're going to give them. It was good racing.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Sam, at one point you seemed like a rocket, went from sixth to second, blew by your teammate. Was it good timing the restart or traffic was right?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, we had a really good-handling race car and we could run. But it was like once you get up there to that first guy that doesn't have anybody in front of him to take aero off the front of the car, that's the toughest guy to pass when you get to this track because it is one groove. They're going to hug the bottom. You really have to have the car handling well. Plus, you know, we just didn't have enough to get up there to get to Dario, enough laps. If it was a 225-lap race, we might have had a little bit better shot, but it wasn't. We gained some very valuable points today. I made a couple mistakes in the last two races that cost us some points. Now we're trying to get them all back. We had a great day as far as the points were concerned. First would have been a little bit better. The car handled well, I could go in and out of traffic, I could run the high side on restarts. We had perfect gearing for restarts. That's where we got by a lot of people. I've been working real hard to get all those timed right so I don't lose anything.

Q. Patrick, how sinking a feeling is it to have someone go past you right there at the end?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, well, first of all, I kept saying, "It's raining really bad down the back straight," but I guess they didn't believe me (laughter). No, after a while, I said, "Let's go green, it's dry." But I held off Dario the first couple laps. I was so happy. I saw him drop back there. I saw him coming back, like a train. I said, "This guy is really coming." He came fast and just went by me. Then after that, there was Sam. I was hoping, "Okay, I'll get second place. This is good, this is good." I was counting the laps. Five laps, Sam kept knocking on the door. I didn't want to block him or anything. I could have gone on the inside of the track, but my car was scrubbing even more speed, so I was even slower. I had to kind of stay to the outside. I was hoping he was going to back off in that turn three and four. But knowing Sam, I doubt he was going to back off. So he just went in really hard and passed me there, ended up finishing in third place. It's good for us. You know, the team, we struggled so much the beginning of the year, we're not even close to the speed of these guys. Now we have a partner on the team with Red Bull, it's Mechachrome. They do a lot of work for Renault in Formula One and have been working with us very hard. They're building us suspension pieces and shocks and things. We're slowly getting better and better and better. Every race I can see that the car is making some progress. So it's fun to see. You know, that's why I came in and that's what I was hoping for. I mean, to race with these guys at the front is such a blast. It's a fun night.

Q. Sam, do you like the track or does it drive you nuts?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: I don't know. I think I better learn how to play the guitar because maybe that's going to be the only way I get it. Couple seconds, a third, we've been in the top 10 every year here, which I guess I should be pretty happy about that. Nashville, this is a fun racetrack. I love running around here because, you know, it's somewhere in between Richmond and Texas. It's a little bit about horsepower, a little bit about handling. There's a lot of things that you can make up for. Pit stops are very crucial. Restarts are very crucial here. I enjoy coming here. I look forward to it every year. Outside of the Borg-Warner trophy, that guitar is the thing I'm trying to get more than anything else as far as trophies on the circuit. It seems like it keeps getting harder every year. But I guess that will make it even more enjoyable if I ever do get it.

Q. When did you make contact? Was that on a restart?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: That was one of the restarts, right there at the end, just before that last yellow flag with the big crash in turn four, a few laps before that on the restart. I don't know who it was, one of the Target cars, one of the Chevrolets.

SAM HORNISH, JR.: Lap 115, 119, somewhere in there. I remember because that was when the 16 car didn't pit, then Dario was right in front of me, then I almost got by him, did two laps, then there was the yellow end fence laying on the ground coming off of turn four. I don't know.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: You should work with us on pit strategies (laughter).

SAM HORNISH, JR.: I know when you're pitting (laughter).

Q. Sam, when you had that side-by-side with Danica, was that ever concerning? How much fun was that?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: Well, it was concerning because I knew that she was a little bit lighter on fuel than what I was running. They didn't stop. We stopped. It was like, I don't know, 15 gallons. I knew I wanted to be ahead of her because that was my chance to be able to get around Dario. So I was pushing it pretty hard at that point in time. We gave each other room around there. She made me look at the opportunity to pass on the outside. The inside wasn't really available. It made it a little more difficult than I think it needed to be. It wasn't fun because I saw Dario's car getting smaller and smaller as we were running side by side. But it was clean racing and a good time.

Q. Patrick, were you close on fuel?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, we were, until that last yellow flag. It was a three-car crash, I guess. It took a long time to clean up, then we had plenty of fuel for the end. I was maxed. Everywhere we could, we were running full fuel.

Q. Sam, how do you rate Danica's progress?

SAM HORNISH, JR.: I think as with any driver, including myself, there's still a lot to learn there. That's the thing about this, you don't just get to a point one day and you win a race and you're going to be the best driver forever. It's an evolving process of what you can learn because the technology with these cars changes every year, the strategies change every year, new people come in that are more competitive, they do different things. I think so far she's been able to go out there and been able to finish races and stay out of trouble. That's something that even I don't know how to do some days. It's a lot about making the right decisions. I think over time you'll see more and more. Like I said, any driver needs to keep learning and making their skills a little bit better or else they become outdated.



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