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IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 500

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  SunTrust Indy Challenge

IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 500

Helio Castroneves
June 10, 2006


FORT WORTH, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Dan.
A few notes about Helio's win tonight. His second victory at Texas Motor Speedway, his third IRL IndyCar Series win this year. Helio has won three of the six races in 2006, has started on the front row four times, and Helio has led in every race this year. It is his eighth career win on an oval. Penske Racing has now won 78 oval wins out of a record 128 career wins for the team.
Having said all of that, two wins here at Texas. Talk about what that was like out there tonight.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Incredible. It was very hard because hardly we had any yellows. I'm sure it was tough for you guys to watch because you didn't have side by side, which is normally what we have here.
I don't know. The track was very greasy on the beginning. I don't know why. It was difficult to be side by side. Towards the end of the stint, the cars were loose. That basically make everybody settle a little bit, which is good. Everybody on safety, nobody trying to be a little crazy. Seemed everybody respecting each other. That was very good.
Again, at the beginning I was trying to save fuel, but when I start saving fuel, that's what caught me at Indianapolis. When I was leading, I was trying to save fuel too early, all of a sudden my car having such a terrible reaction. I decided not to save that much fuel. I just go with the flow. I noticed some other drivers were speeding on the same lap that I was speeding. I'm like, I'm not that bad, just a matter of stay here and cool.
Towards the end, it turned out to be one of those sprint races. I never lift since I left the pits in the last pit stop, it was full throttle all the time. Just look in the mirrors to see the gap shrinking between me and I think was Scott, I can't figure out. I just counting the laps. It was the most longest five laps that I had here.
I'm just so proud of this entire team, this entire organization, Marlboro Team Penske. Pit stops basically was the key to win this race. Well, that's why they won at the pit stop competition, such incredible speed.
This win, it's a great combination. It's bring back a good momentum for our group. The whole team already have good momentum. It was just incredible. I'm very happy.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Coming into this race, would you be shocked that it ran that green, few cautions?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, yes, I was surprised. I was waiting for a yellow to come, especially when the car start to be getting very hard to handle. I was like, man, I'm sure something's going to happen here soon. It never did. That showed that the series improve a lot and the drivers controlling themselves and turn out to be awesome.
It was hard, but at the end I love it.

Q. Over at Bombardier, Sam pointed out when he won his two championships he won here. Is it too early to think championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's right. Thanks to remind me on that one. I literally forgot about it.
Hey, if things look that way or if it is this way, I'm extremely happy to win today. You're right, it is too early to thinking about championship. I don't think even half time of the championship. Not only that, I don't think the gap still is large enough, you know. Scott and Wheldon and Sam, they still pretty much right there.
Again, looks like it's going that direction with those guys, but probably other teams going to catch up. Right now we just need to keep finishing ahead of those guys.

Q. Everyone here was kind of amazed at the pace that Dan Wheldon set with all the laps you led. So much happened in the pits with your stop flawless, Sam stalls, Wheldon has a wheel nut dropped. Is it surprising the third fastest race comes down a pit stop at the end?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Yes, it is. This is not an individual sport. It's about team effort. Without a good car, you can't win a race. Without a good driver, you can't win a race. Having key moments like today, you're not going to be able to win championships.
Again, that's just -- it's unfortunate for whatever happened to those guys, but is just proof and show that this series is getting tight and tight as the competition goes by. People making less mistake, definitely the guy is going to benefit from that.
Today we benefit from it.

Q. With so few caution laps, can you talk about the toll that takes on your body physically? Is there a big difference in the change on running so many green-flag laps?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, right now I don't feel my right toe. It's kind of numb because I was flat out most of the time in the race. My left thumb as well, turning all the time, holding the car.
You got in a momentum and focus that you're not thinking much. You hardly see how many laps to go. You just focus on the fuel that you need to do, the mileage that you need to do, and pay attention on what might happen.
Again, because the track was changing so much, you have to change some style, like trying to go in high, leave low or trying to change a little bit, trying to avoid the guy with the dirty air. It was a lot of a chess game, let's put this way. Just have to be waiting to see what the guy's going to do. Sometimes people using more fuel trying to pass you, then you have to use fuel.
It was an interesting race. A long time I don't have a race like that. We proved that we need to be expecting the unexpected.

Q. What Tony Stewart won the IROC race here in April, he climbed the fence, something you're known for. Why no fence climb?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Why no fence climb? I did.

Q. I missed that.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It's okay, man. If I win, I'll be there.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much, Helio.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you.

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