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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

Tony Kanaan
June 3, 2007


THE MODERATOR: Danica, thank you for your time.
Tony, ninth career win, second of the season, second consecutive win at Milwaukee. Your race really changed just prior to lap 100 on that round of pit stops. Came in a little earlier than everybody else, had to go to the back of the line. What happened there?
TONY KANAAN: We were running out of fuel and I was going to come in that lap. The yellow, they closed the pits. I was going to run out of fuel on the track, so I had to come in for a splash, then back in again, then back in again.
I wasn't very happy, but I think over the years I've been learning that things for me never come that easy. I never gave up. Especially after last weekend, I said, Oh, I've been here before, so let's go, let's do it again (laughter). I looked around to see if it was not going to rain at that point. Lap 100, lap 113 last week, so I'm like, Whoa.
It was an adventure, but we had a good car. So I said, well, let's not panic, let's move forward. That's what we did.
THE MODERATOR: The rough breaks you had at Indy are well-documented. Rough breaks here. Had to go to the back. You're the benefactor of some of the breaks today. Does that redeem it a little bit for you?
TONY KANAAN: Well, that shows how racing is, you know. Last weekend, I was on that shoe. This weekend I think was Helio. He had a dominant car, had a problem with the rear wing. I would say that's why you can't get upset, which I did not. If you guys saw me after the race in Indy, I was very happy for Dario. That's the way it is. So I kept my head together. I kept thinking positive about everything and I still have a championship to go after.
Indy was not going to -- I didn't want Indy to affect that. I think we turned the situation around.

Q. Were you shocked when you saw Helio's wing come down, and when you saw that Sam had the same problem, what did you think, maybe they were up to something?
TONY KANAAN: Well (laughter). I think the facts prove what happened, but I'm not here to point fingers at everybody. I didn't even know they had a wing problem until I made it to Victory Lane. I saw Helio spinning and crash. All you do is not spin on the straightaway. I knew something happened.
And Sam I just -- I mean, I restarted. I drove as fast as I could for three laps. I look in my mirrors. I'm like, there's nobody behind me. When I saw he's coming out of the pits, I thought he had a contact with somebody. So I did not know about the rear wing problems they had up until I got the interview in Victory Circle.
I'm not going to make any comments on the rear wing. I think things happen. It's not up to me to go investigate that.
THE MODERATOR: Your cool-down lap, you really slowed down. You were the last one in pit lane. Was it just kind of a sigh of relief?
TONY KANAAN: I was slowing down because I wanted to salute the fans that came to watch us. I think it was a great crowd. You know, when you're looking at the fans and waving at them, probability to hit somebody on the track would be big, and I didn't want to do that. So I slowed down, I went around the outside, I wanted to look at them and thank them for coming. That's why.
I was talking on the radio a lot with my guys. I was distracted, just really chatting.

Q. Not washing your suit the entire race weekend seems to work. Same situation last year.
TONY KANAAN: Do I smell? That's a brand-new suit. I have Milwaukee 2007 (laughter). No, I changed suits today.

Q. You did?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I did. See, all my superstitions go to the trash every time I change something. It's just in your head really (laughter).

Q. After you had to move to the back of the pack, did you feel like you had a car that could come all the way up to the front? Were you handling traffic fairly well?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, but I knew it was going to be tough. When you go back there, obviously the first four or five cars maybe have been struggling all weekend, it's easier to pass, but then you get up to the top five guys and it starts to get tough.
I knew it was going to be a long day. At that point when you're driving the car, you're not -- I do not panic, I do not think anything. I said, Well, I got to pass 11 cars now. Am I going to be able to do that? I don't know, but I'm going to try as much as I can and we'll see. That's what happened.
I restarted. I set up a couple guys. I passed them. And then after that things came my way. I knew I had a good car. But when you put yourself back there, again, I go back to last weekend, anything can happen. I was just trying to stay out of trouble.

Q. Some of the other stories, leader crashes, your teammate has a run-in, and a pit road run-in after the race with your old teammate, are you concerned about the other story lines?
TONY KANAAN: I'm not racing to be famous. I'm not racing to go make the news. The prize money check is mine. The trophy's mine. 50 points in the bank. I'm going for the championship. So to be honest with you, if they want to make the front page of USA Today, be my guest, I don't care. If I need to go fight, one day I might if I feel I need some attention, just get out of the car and beat the hell out of somebody, we'll make front page for sure (laughter).

Q. In the four years this race has been run here at the Mile, you have finished fourth, fourth, first and first. A pretty good track result here at the Milwaukee Mile. If you could, explain why you get around this place so good, why you like it so much.
TONY KANAAN: It's funny because if you go back in history, '98, '99, I started last in this place, never made it to lap 50. Then I heard from somebody that, you know, I think mile ovals is not your type of track. That got to my head and I got better or it was just the circumstances.
I love this place. Obviously it is a driver's track. I have a very good team that gives me a very good mile oval track car. If you guys look at the record as a team, we've done very well on those type of tracks. So it's a combination of both. And I would say let's try to keep the record.

Q. Late in the race you might have been the only driver that was able to go down on the black asphalt and make some passes. Were you hoping that was going to come to you? Was that how good the car was working? Was it out of necessity?
TONY KANAAN: That's how I won the race here last year. I planned all weekend long to have my car working both lanes basically. And if you look, everybody was running high. How you going to pass somebody on such a difficult track if they run your line? Got to run another line to have the downforce to be able to pass people.
I didn't want to show them everything at the beginning of the race so I wasn't going there as much as I should because I want to set them up for the end. Once I got mad because I was back there, I said, my plans have got to change. I started going down a little earlier than I wanted.
I set the car up for that. That's how I think I made all those passes.

Q. You said yesterday you thought your car was too pushy to be good today.
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, and apparently my engineer listened to me because I was loose for the first two stints. We balanced the car. I have a lot of things that I can do inside the car, he could done with the tire pressures. We brought the car back after we dropped to 11th. Then after that, it was a very balanced car. It was the way I wanted it. I think the track came up a little bit, too, grip-wise. For me it came my way for sure towards the end of the race.

Q. Lap 90 when you came back in, what caused that?
TONY KANAAN: We were going to come in to refuel. It went yellow. I was going to run out of fuel on the track so I had to come in to do a splash. I do a splash. We came in. Somehow we missed three gallons. I don't know what happened. I had to come back in again.
Yeah, I wasn't a very happy camper at that point. I forget people monitor our radios. So sure somebody was listening. They could tell I wasn't a very happy guy with my team. I said, Guys, we need to get our stuff together. I didn't say that, but you can imagine what I said. And they said, Don't worry, we will. Next time I come in, I miss my mark, I hit the bump and I almost run my guy over. They do the stop. For sure payback comes. Tony, you got to do your stuff together, too, man.
I agree. So we came with the agreement that the last stop would be a good one, and it was.

Q. Given that you and Dario have been so good this year, the expectations for Marco were so high, do the two of you as seasoned veteran drivers try to find a way to help him get some of his confidence back? He crashed the last three races.
TONY KANAAN: He crashed two. He parked one.

Q. Crashed here, crashed at Indy, crashed at Japan.
TONY KANAAN: Okay (laughter). Never fight with a journalist. My bad. I was thinking about Kansas.
Well, as a team leaders, if you want to call me and Dario that, it's a big responsibility for me and him. I mean, not just Marco, but Danica as well. I think she was driving a great race. It's tough. I mean, it's a lot of pressure on those two, which I said that many times. I mean, this year I just feel lonely. I mean, they get all the attention. They get all the expectations. And that sometimes it's tough. It's tough for a guy like me and Dario, that we're old men, to get the pressure. Can you imagine for a 20-year-old kid that his name is Andretti, he won a race his first year, his teammates are up at the front all day. He's been going through a phase that I think is not only his fault, but it happens. It happens to anybody, especially to the young drivers.
I've been working really hard to help him out. We've been spending a lot of time together. I can name many examples to him, and I show him races that I've done bad, I made mistakes, show bad results like last weekend. A car that is dominant, you go out and you finish 12th.
The difference between a mature guy and a young guy, I would say it's not to get affect by that because once you put negative thoughts into your mind, that's tough, and I've been there. I remember, Zanardi used to tell me the same thing. I thought he was a crazy Italian guy trying to tell me things, what the hell. And it's true. I'm trying really hard to show him that it will go away. He has the talent. He just needs to think about what he needs to do to make it better.
It's not just up to him, though, I have to say. A coincidence of a lot of facts that made things happen. Yes, he's driving the car, he crashed. If we going to get into details right now, it's going to be tough because there's a lot of other things that happened a couple of times for him to crash. But, you know, one of them today I think it was totally his fault. But it happens. We make mistakes, and that's life. You cannot get affect by that because you jeopardizing the next result.
The easiest thing to do right now is to give up. The easiest thing to do right now is open the newspaper and read all of we say about him. I said, don't worry about that. Don't read that stuff. Just let's go away. He's going to Miami with me this week. Up until the Formula One weekend, we're going to be together. I'll just try to do what Zanardi did to me and just kind of show him that, look, forget about it. I mean, move on.

Q. What did Dario have to say to you today when he saw you in Victory Lane? You were gracious with Dario last week at Indy.
TONY KANAAN: He came to the podium and said, I told you, because he told me you're going to win this thing today before the race starts. I said, What are you doing, giving to me already because you won the 500? He said, No, trust me, I'll be there. And he was.
Between me and him, it's such a special relationship as friends, that that doesn't matter. I mean, you guys saw me last weekend. I've never cried when I won, and he made me cry when he won. I wasn't crying because I lost the race.
He was happy. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I saw he was second, I knew he was leading the championship. We're doing what we were supposed to do. As a team, we're working really well together, the two of us. Now we need to bring the other two guys up the way we have. The more help we get up in the front, the easier it's going to be for us to win this championship.
His words was, If there is a payback, I think you got yours. I said, Yeah, the difference is it's a $1 million check versus $100,000.

Q. With your success here at the Milwaukee Mile, two short tracks coming, Richmond and Iowa, what one is the most difficult?
TONY KANAAN: It's tough. I think all of them have their similarities, but their differences as well. This is a non-bank track. Richmond is a bank track. Iowa as well.
I would say the next two are very similar. This one is on its own. But history-wise we have had good cars in Richmond. I tested in Iowa. I did a tire test. The car felt pretty good. I'm confident.
I think if I look further in the championship right now, we have Texas, which I've done very well, then we going to go to the short ovals, some road courses, some street courses. The future looks bright. It's going to be up to us to get the job done.

Q. After your tire test in Iowa, you got out of the car and said that this was a tough track, takes a lot of stamina. Talk about that.
TONY KANAAN: It's very physical. I got out of the car, I was tired. We'll see. That's why I work out as much as I do. If I'm getting tired, I'm pretty sure a lot of people will, too. That makes me feel better.
It's very physical, as typical mile oval or short oval tracks. That one definitely, we're going to see a difference, who is really working out lately or not.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, thank you very much for your time. Congratulations.
TONY KANAAN: Thank you.

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