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IndyCar Series: ABC Supply Company A.J. Foyt 225

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  ABC Supply Company A.J. Foyt 225

IndyCar Series: ABC Supply Company A.J. Foyt 225

Danica Patrick
June 3, 2007


MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Dario.
We bring now up to the microphone eighth-finishing Danica Patrick. Danica, the story here is the run-in with Dan Wheldon. Why don't you, from your seat, tell us about it.
DANICA PATRICK: Well, something happened in three and four, and Dario and Dan got slowed up for some reason. I went down the inside and got a really good run on him, went past Dario, pulled all the way up alongside Dan, drove down into the corner, all the way up alongside of him.
I look in my mirror last second, Dario pulls to the inside, and it looks like he's maybe a quarter car width up on me something, maybe a half at the most. I mean, I can't stay looking in my mirror all the way through the corner, so at that point in time I have to assume it's three in. And that's actually what I heard in my ear, was three-wide going into the corner.
At that point I held my line on the way in, which is what you have to do when you're three-wide. And Dan just turned down into the corner because, as he told me, you can't get caught up in the marbles, which to me means that you got passed. He turned down into me and spun me sideways and luckily I caught it, kept going, managed to go from, I don't know what position that was for, but, you know, last row to fourth, then back down to last again, up to eighth. So it was a tough day.
But that incident from my perspective was that, is that Dan got passed and he didn't want to let off.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned started in the back row 17th. What happened yesterday?
DANICA PATRICK: You know, yesterday we really -- we didn't practice qualifying very much at all. We got a sticker run in. You know, we went low fuel with a set of stickers every time, but we didn't count the laps. They kind of said, you got enough laps to do whatever you want. We just didn't really focus really hard on qualifying.
I think if we would have had the car we had in the first session, we'd have still been fine. But unfortunately at the last part of the day, before qualifying, the car just went terribly off and there was no grip, there was no side bite in the car. You couldn't feel any grip any more. And I thought, well, maybe it's a bad set of tires or maybe it's just the setup or maybe something like that. Went into qualifying, the same thing.

Q. How did you hang on through that, after the contact with Dan when you were sideways in pit exit?
DANICA PATRICK: I actually think the grass is probably the one thing that helped me because it got so far sideways that it seemed like it was, you know, completely sideways in the corner. And then I hit the grass and the front end kept sliding probably a little bit faster than the rear-end since it was on the grass. Managed to get it straight.
I kind of felt really proud of myself, like I had a Tony Kanaan at Indy in turn four kind of save, which we all admired. I always put pride into any sort of car-handling maneuver that's like TK's. I know I wasn't going quite as fast as maybe they were at Indy, but just hard lock to the right (laughter).

Q. How difficult was the car to drive after?
DANICA PATRICK: Unfortunately, we had to stop and change the steering rod, it was pulling so very hard to the left. It was quite bent from what I could see inside the cockpit when they took it off. And then once they put it back on, I'm sure it's not down to the millimeter like they do it when it's on the flat patch and they're measuring everything exactly. So it wasn't I don't think a hundred percent perfect when it was put back on, but it was still pretty good and it was drivable. But it seemed to pull a little bit to the left.
THE MODERATOR: Prior to the incident with Dan, did you feel as though had you a car to win?
DANICA PATRICK: I think I had a car to win. I don't know how quick the leaders were. But obviously if I was up to fourth, coming from the back, I was obviously doing some sort of good times each and every lap or else I wouldn't be able to pull up that far.
And I took very good care of my tires so they were good through the whole stint. And then unfortunately after that we took some front wing out and the car was running with quite a bit of understeer in the second stint. Then we got it back to the third stint. We put some front wing back in it.
But I had worked so hard to get by a couple of cars, Carpenter and some other people, that I was charging really deep into the corner and just turning really hard and getting understeer just to try to get by them, so unfortunately I damaged the right front in the process and I wasn't really able to correct it inside the cockpit without making it loose, which is even worse on an oval.

Q. What was the conversation on pit road with Dan?
DANICA PATRICK: I just came up to him, I looked at him, put my arm around him, started walking, and I said, What happened? What was that for? Did you not see me? Why didn't you back off? And he didn't say anything.
I said, I was clearly inside of you, because I heard him saying in an interview that I wasn't all the way up alongside of him. So I'm not sure what is lost in translation there, but I was completely alongside of him. I've made many more passes happen with being less far up on someone.
And then he said, Well, you can't get caught out in the marbles. I said, Well, then that's a pass, Dan. I got by you, you need to let off and you didn't, you turned into me. That was about it. And I told him, you know, if you don't think that I'm going to remember this, I don't know why you're being like this, but if you don't think I'm going to remember, you're crazy.

Q. You talked to Dario as well. Did you get more clarification as to exactly what happened?
DANICA PATRICK: No, Dario did have a good view and he was also, like he said up here talking to you guys, he said he was the third man in so he's got to be the first one out. By the sounds of it, that is kind of what he did. All I heard -- what he said was that he did try to get out of it. I don't know how -- I don't know at what point he became the first man out. But when I went into the corner, I heard three-wide. At three-wide, which is what all of our spotters should have been saying in or ears, inside you're three-wide, you're in the middle three-wide, or you're on the outside three-wide now. You should all know that you have to hold your line. And at that point that is exactly what I did, I held my line. I turned into the corner. But there wasn't going to be a lot of room. This is not a three-wide track. This is barely a two-wide track for cars in the corner, unless they were going a little bit slower.
So at that point in time it would have seemed to me like Dan lost position.

Q. After the conversation with Dan, apparently there was some physical contact, what was it exactly?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, there's going to be I'm sure some sort of camera that will have it on film, unlike me inside of a vehicle. But I just grabbed his arm and that's it. I grabbed his arm and kind of pushed off. But, you know, it was nothing violent, nothing violent.

Q. Are you able to take consolation for the fact that you were the star of the field, running through the field a couple of times?
DANICA PATRICK: Well, that is nice. But at the end of the day, I have no idea how many eighth-place starts I have, but I have a significant amount. It's frustrating to have a day like that and it not materialize. When you have a good car, you really hope that you can make the most of it and have good results because there are going to be days that you don't have a good car. So that is nice. It was at times not the easiest car to drive, so it is good to know that.
I think we're making strides. You know, I think my driving is being better and more, you know, confident out there. You know, yes, that if one thing is there is a nice thing to walk away from.

Q. Normally the girls don't excel at the short tracks. You have here. Why is that?
DANICA PATRICK: I know one thing about the short tracks, is that they take a lot of car control. I mean, you have to be intuitive with the car. You have to be patient with the car. You have to not take more than what it can give you. But at the same time you have to keep getting to that limit. Also it's quite physical.
I could have sworn my guys added castor instead of taking it out for the race, it was so heavy in the steering. But, you know, I work very hard to become strong, and I think that that pays off in the short ovals because it's constant. I'm going to put my body in a pool of ice tonight. But I feel all right at the end of the race here, so I think those are the two reasons. You know, you have to be smart with the car, patient, good car control.

Q. Just a week till Texas one-and-a-half mile oval. Do you think you and the team are going to be competitive there and show improvement?
DANICA PATRICK: I think they have shown improvement already. I thought that we showed well in the mile-and-a-half's so far. What have we had so far? In Motegi we were good, Kansas, Homestead. I thought we did all right. I think getting every car up there, I mean, at times I think we've kind of missed it, but I put a little bit of it down to the fact it's a new engineer and everything, just him being confident in giving me a car that might be a little bit neutral or something.
And also Indy. I mean, Indy is not a place they've necessarily been the fastest. They have had good cars in the race for sure, but definitely not the fastest in qualifying. I think we all being in the top 11 on the first day was a major sign of the progression that's been made. So I think we're all a little bit interested to see how it goes down in Texas. And if our speed is there, I have no doubt that we'll have good-handling cars for the race and be able to push forward, but I anticipate to have a fast car. I think that if you can go fast at Indy, then, you know, I mean, that's the place you have to have ultimate speed. So I'm optimistic.
THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you for your time.

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