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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

Michael Andretti
Dario Franchitti
July 16, 2005


GLADEVILLE, TENNESSEE

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll get started. Congratulations, Dario. Our hometown man at his hometown track. He has his guitar. Talk to us about your day.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I told you I wanted that guitar, didn't I?

THE MODERATOR: You did.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Where to start? We'll start at the start, I guess. Off the green flag, I made a move around the outside and got up into second place. The car was so strong. I was able to pass Scheckter not long afterwards. Then it was just a matter of keeping the pace, saving fuel out there. The car was really good. No degradation from the tire. I was able to run as quick at the end of the stint as I was at the start of the stint. We came in, we lost a little bit coming into the first pit stop because the eight guys behind us made it difficult for us to get in, so we lost a bit to Tony, but then Tony had his problem. I guess it was a wheel bearing. From then, we were fighting to stay up front. I came out of the last pit stops to discover the two Red Bull cars ahead of me and I was a bit surprised about that. Barron made it very difficult for me to get past. When I would make a move to the outside, he would block, which you're not supposed to do. I was surprised about that. In contrast, it's a race with Patrick. Patrick Carpentier was just brilliant. We've raced against each other pretty much non-stop since '97. That restart, we were inches apart between one and two. We made it through. I got up in the gray. In three had to back off. We came back at him, managed to make the pass. That was it. The biggest problem I felt was the rain under yellow. I was just thinking, "If this cloud breaks and I lose this race because of the rain, it's going to pretty much sum up our year." But it held. There we go. I just want to say thank you to my guys. The arca/ex car has been fast all season long. Thank you to Michael, Kevin and Kim for giving us the equipment to go and do the work. Thanks to Honda, because that engine is very, very strong. Great to win in Nashville at home.

THE MODERATOR: Michael, your other drivers didn't fare as well. Does this make it extra sweeter?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: For sure. It's definitely nice to have four cars out there. There is definitely strength in numbers. You know, all four were running really well there. We were looking good for a while. All of a sudden they started to drop. The scary part was they were all pretty much with the same problem. We were very concerned with Dario's car.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Although nobody told me (laughter).

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Of course. But we were a little nervous. You know, it's one of those deals, it seems like when it's your day, it's your day. He had the problem this morning. They were able to change it. That may have been the thing that actually helped him win the race. You know, it's just the way it works out. Dario had the toughest luck of everybody I think on the team this year. I think he's been doing the best job in terms of setting his car up and racing, but he's just always had a problem getting to the checkered flag without problems. It was so nice to finally have him do it without the problems, do a great job, a great pass in the end. Just very happy for him and the whole arca/ex side of the team. Hopefully now he's broken the ice and he'll get on a roll here.

THE MODERATOR: With your family, maybe you can get free guitar lessons.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know. I think I'll be okay there. I'll call Wy tomorrow morning and see what she says. I could definitely do with learning. My brother's racing in California at the ALMS race. I hear he's pretty excited about the prospect of the guitar because he's been taking some lessons. I might have a fight on my hands.

Q. How difficult was it with the frustration of the season? How about Tony's gesture with victory circle with the ice water?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Let's start with that. I'll get him back, believe me. Next time he's in Victory Lane, I'll have to try and rig a crane or something, throw about a hundred gallons on his head. I'll think of something. We will get him, believe me. The first part?

Q. How meaningful was it, with all the frustration you've had?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: You always want to win races. That's why I do this. I do it to win races. To do it at my home race now, what is my home race, is extra special. Sad my wife is not here. She's working. But I'll get to see her tomorrow, so that's pretty cool. Again, I can't -- to win as a team is such a good feeling, to see your guys there smiling. I remember how they felt in Kansas two weeks ago when we didn't get the win we thought we had. To see them tonight, that's what it's all about. It's so sweet to win races.

Q. Dario, it seems you have now won two races in your homeland, one in Rockingham, now here. What does it really mean? Is this your home? Does it give it extra special significance?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. I spend the majority of my year now here in Nashville. Scotland will always be my home. Nothing will change that. I have I guess two houses now. Scotland is my home, but I also live here. I've really enjoyed being in this area and living here, becoming part of the community. It's a great place. What can I tell you?

Q. When you went around for the pass to take the lead, did you say, "That's it, I've got this one won"?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I've been doing this a while. I learn not to say that because as soon as that happens, something goes wrong. Basically once I passed the 83 car, I would have been surprised if anybody had the pace to close the gap in the last laps basically. I was just praying nothing would go wrong. Yeah, it was definitely a weight off my mind, put it that way, to make the pass.

Q. Have you talked to Ashley yet? Did she watch you on television?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I haven't spoken to her yet. Knowing Ashley, she watched it on television, had the computer going, watching the lap times. She'll have a lot of questions to ask me, what happened at this particular point, what was your thinking here? We'll dissect the race later on. It's cool she is so involved with it and she knows so much about it.

Q. You said they didn't tell you about the failure, but how concerned were you knowing the other three teammates were out? You knew two of them were mechanicals, correct?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: No. I thought something was funny with the way Tony crashed coming up to that yellow. Just didn't look right. I saw the rear of the car drop. But I was concentrating too hard to put two and two together that it was probably a wheel bearing. As I say, they didn't tell me what the other guys had. We made a lot of adjustments. We changed stuff this morning to stop that happening in the race. I was confident my guys had done all they could. You can't worry about everything.

Q. Would it have been a load issue?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't know. I'm sure the engineers have got it figured out already. It won't happen again, put it that way.

Q. Can you evaluate the performance of Danica Patrick? Do you mind sharing the attention with her?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, first of all, I think there's a lot of drivers out there tonight that did a better job than Danica. I think Danica did a good job, but there were a lot of guys out there that did a better job. I think she fought very hard actually on one of those restarts, got a small block on me, which I was surprised about. But she's a fighter. When she gets a chance, she fights hard for positions and stuff. But like I say, I think we -- personally, I'm looking at Patrick Carpentier finishing third up there in a car that hasn't been competitive all season. For me, that's probably one of the stories of the night.

Q. You talked about the problem this morning in the practice session. How difficult of a problem mechanical-wise was it to deal with?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It really wasn't that difficult at all. It didn't take long to change. The modifications, again, they were bolt-on modifications. They weren't a big deal. What was a big deal was when it did let go in the middle of the corner this morning, I was trying to catch the thing before it hit the wall. A bit of a heart-stopping moment, especially with my teammate Dan Wheldon inches off the back of my car. Almost took two of our cars out. But it worked out okay.

Q. Surprised to see Alex blocking you?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I've raced against Alex for a while, as well. He tends to do that a lot. No, I wasn't.

Q. Can you tell us what movie she's working on? Do you know what it's about?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: We'll stick to racing.

Q. You never want to see your teammates do poorly. It seems like it gives you an opportunity to make a gain in the points. Talk about your chance in making most of that opportunity.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm absolutely going to make the most of the opportunity. We've had some terrible luck the first part of the season. I'm going to keep doing my job and keep pushing as hard as I can, trying to win races, trying to be up and beat the guys in front of me for the championship. At the same point, I want to be up there racing. When we're fighting for the lead with Dan, Tony and Bryan, those are the fun days, because you know one of them is going to win it. You race each other with such a level of respect, that's what it's about. Again, to be in a team like this, I hate to see them go out of the race like that. Tony and I, we always say for us to go out and have one of those great races, we enjoy it so much. That goes for Bryan and Dan, as well.

Q. We have the few tracks you won at in the next month. Is this the turning point for your season? Now are you trying to make a run for it?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Who knows. I've been trying to make a run for it all year. I've been doing the best I can. I've had a car to win five plus races. Hopefully I'll have a car to win another five. We'll close the deal as tonight.

Q. Look forward to those short tracks?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I love the challenge of the short tracks. We're getting along a lot better than the big tracks. We have a better understanding of the car and what we have to do to it.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Thank you.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Thank you.

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