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IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 550K

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Bombardier Learjet 550K

IndyCar Series: Bombardier Learjet 550K

Tony Kanaan
Danica Patrick
June 9, 2007


FORT WORTH, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR: This is Tony's third second-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway, his third Top-5 of the season, you avoided a major wreck out there and closed in on Sam. Talk about your run tonight.
TONY KANAAN: It was a good run. I had huge brake problems. I had no brakes at all. I could barely come into the pits, missed my marks a couple of times and lost a lot of time in the pits.
And that accident, I'm not going to brag about it. I have no idea how I went through. It felt kind of like "Days of Thunder"; kind of closed my eyes and went full throttle and went through. I think sometimes you've got to be lucky.
We had a decent car. It wasn't fastest car out there; I don't think we really had a car to finish second. We capitalized on people's misfortunes. And I don't think I had it for Sam, although I tried.
Great results for the team. If you look back a year ago, we were really struggling on this type of track. So I have to really say thank you to my team owners to give us the tools and the money to develop the cars and the engineer that is did a great job.
So with that, we should, you know, move forward and see what's going to happen from now on.

Q. If Danica had a better car, can somebody help push you by?
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, we saw that happening before. I think Danica did a hell of a job helping me to keep it close to Sam, but unfortunately while knowing Sam, he was giving me a lot of room up until two laps to go, which is perfectly fine because I said on the radio I was going to work with him "because you don't want anyone else to try to catch us."
Two laps to go, his car became a little wide, which is perfectly fine. He didn't do anything that is not in the rules, and then Danica started to understeer because we started to run too wide -- apparently too wide, and with that I could not get close to Sam and she could not get close to me.

Q. On the accident, you addressed it a little bit, but when something like that happens, is it just happening so quick that you really can't adjust on it, or what do you try and do as a driver?
TONY KANAAN: Well, you're coming up to a car that's probably going, what, 40 miles an hour, you come up at 200 miles an hour. Although we have good brakes on the car, the distance that you cover, it's so fast. You're never going to stop.
So basically you just keep looking and looking and see where he's going to go, one guy is on the wall, one guy is spinning and one is coming on top of me; "Where should I go? Where should I go?" Once you choose one lane, that's where you've got to be, no matter what. I think I chose the right one.

Q. Over the last green flag run, when did you realize you just didn't have enough for Sam? You did give a couple of looks at the outside you said until the final two laps; was it early on that you figured out you couldn't get him?
TONY KANAAN: From probably lap one, I figure out that he was pretty strong when he got in the lead. So at one point he took off, and I could not catch him. So at the end there, obviously when he had one car running alone, I caught him because I was drafting him.
But I knew. I knew I could not pass him. You know, my plan was to keep putting the pressure on him and maybe, you know, he would understeer on the last lap or something and Danica was going to help me from behind. But pretty much, I never gave up as you guys can see, but I knew it was going to be very hard.

Q. I know that you've kind of been in the middle of things there with your friend and with your teammate, but seems that she kind of responded to the pressure pretty well tonight with her career-best finish; what do you think of the job that she did?
TONY KANAAN: You can ask her. I think she's very happy. But I think she did a hell of a job. She did what we're supposed to do. We planned to work together and as our teammate, I think she did no different than what Dario did with me a few years ago -- and here she is. (Danica enters room). She can answer you that.
She drove a hell of a race and helped me out a lot. I said to her in the beginning of the race, I said: Look, we are going to get mad at each other at one point in the race just because there is nowhere to go. And for sure, I was all over the place; at one point she was all over the place; but everybody was all over the place.
Toward the end there when I was catching Sam, I kept looking in my mirrors, and you never pray for somebody to catch you, but at this point I was. When I saw her coming up, I said, "Whoa, here we go." And I didn't want to say anything on the radio because then someone was going to tell Sam what I was going to do. But Sam has raced on the outside many times. So I think he knew exactly what I was trying to do.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Danica Patrick, finished third, career-best finish, first Top-5 of the season and led her first lap of the year this evening. Danica, talk about tonight.
DANICA PATRICK: I led tonight? Hmmm. I didn't know that. Gosh, you would think somebody would tell me that to get me all excited, right?
It was a good day overall. I thought that as a team we were really strong. Tony did a great job. Dario did a great job. It was just, problem was, it's just hard to pass around here. You saw it with Sam leading a lot of the race. You run around the bottom there and unless you've got -- unless you've got probably an understeering problem, you're probably going to hang on right there.
Overall it was a good weekend. We worked hard on the car and we took a bit of a gamble on the direction to go for the race, but we, you know -- it was okay. I had a lot of understeer in the first two stints of race. So we fixed it for the end and just didn't have quite enough to help Tony and scoot by Sam.

Q. After the week you had, you respond pretty well to the pressure of controversy; can you talk about how satisfying it is for you to come out and do a hell of a job?
DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, this is a recurring thing, isn't it, a story and all of a sudden I have a season-best to go off of.
TONY KANAAN: You should get mad more often I guess.
DANICA PATRICK: Just think how mad I'll be when you shave my head. They are going to push me around now -- no, it was really a matter of time. I think, you know, we've had fast cars throughout the season, and it was a matter of getting more on the same page with my engineer and just having everything come together.
We just didn't have very much time before the season started to really mesh together and know exactly -- you know, he basically couldn't read my mind at the start of the season. (Laughing).
But we are getting better and I'm getting more comfortable overall, and I think like I said in a couple of interviews over the last couple of races, I really feel like the traffic part of the job and passing cars has improved. And heck, are you kidding me, I'm taking notes from Tony; he's like the king of it.

Q. You're used to the spotlight and media people, but what sort of distraction factor was this?
DANICA PATRICK: I can't honestly say it's a distraction really. I didn't do that much more than I normally do. It wasn't like we were trying to feed this. We weren't doing -- we weren't setting up hour-long SMTs to get the message out that there was some sort of a rumble -- rumble in Texas here.
It just ran its course. You know, as far as Dan and I, we handled it like drivers and like people on the track that need to respect each other, and it was everything on the outside that seemed very -- very exciting or something like that.
Like I said -- it's fun, though. I like it when we get something going on in the series and people are paying attention. When I turn on SportsCenter or ESPN and see a whole bunch of stuff on our race coming up that day or that night, that's good. That's the stuff we need. So I get a kick out of it,.

Q. Tony, you said that your car is almost all the way there. How much farther, ten percent, five percent, two percent?
TONY KANAAN: It depends on the track, because if you look at Kansas, we were up there. Homestead, we were so far away. Look at Dan in those two races, and he came here, he was as strong. So, it's hard to judge. I can't tell you that we're definitely there. Now it's going to be up to us and the other teams who is going to get it right on it weekend, and who is not going to get so right.
I don't think we are behind. I think although we haven't won a mile-and-a-half race yet -- well, I won Japan, but that's a different type of racetrack. I would say we've been there.
So I would say one out of five maybe, five percent.

Q. I saw the two of you on pit road right after the race, and I think Dario was over there, too, you guys were having a little conference; would you share with us what you guys were talking about?
TONY KANAAN: Congratulating each other. We know how hard we worked to get up where we are. I mean, Danica has just joined us this year, but last year we had such a hard time getting the cars to work on these type of places.
I think she put a hell of an effort to fit in with us. And like she said -- she's giving me the credit, but I think -- I told her, what I said to her, "It's coming." She knows exactly what I talked about. We all know it and we can't wait to shave her head.
DANICA PATRICK: I said tonight after today, maybe it's a good idea, it's awfully hot. I love the way it feels; I walked up to Dario and rubbed the bristles -- I tried to say that so nobody would take that wrong.

Q. I'm curious, does it ever feel like a burden to you to always be in the spotlight and to always be the person people talks about in the series as far as the mainstream goes?
TONY KANAAN: No. Honestly, like I said, I have fun with it and I don't let it get in the way of what needs to be done on the track. I would be lying if I didn't tell you it felt good that people knew who I was or people cheered for me or people talked about me on TV. That's a nice thing. That's a good thing.
And I know inside that I will always give everything I have, always. And so no matter what anybody can say or think, it will never make me feel bad about what I did, because I'm always giving everything I have. So if it's not enough for you, then sorry. But I can always walk away knowing that I've always done everything.

Q. In the last eight laps there, at one point you really closed up on Tony, and I was wondering -- and then you faded back. Did your car go away that quickly or did you just decide -- inaudible.
DANICA PATRICK: Oh, heck no, I was pushing. But I was also trying to put myself in a position where I could get up behind Tony and get up behind him and try and pass Sam. When you're trying to do that, the car is not comfortable, you know. It's moving around a lot; it was understeering; I was going wide.
So I was doing the best I could to stay up there, but it's easier when you have clean air to catch. I was doing like low 213s catching him; I was flying.
But then once you catch him, you're dictated by the leader's pace then, because it's such a long way around to go around the outside of him. We knew it would be tough to pass. But no, I was not backing off or having a problem. It was just purely a repercussion of traffic and the air and what it does to the car.

Q. When you were talking about Wheldon cutting down on the corners, were you immediately behind him or were you seeing him further ahead?
DANICA PATRICK: No, that was me behind him. I was right up behind him and we would go into the corner and I would try and go high and he would come up mid-corner and then he would come down on the exit; and when I would go low -- he was just kind of all over the place. I can understand if he's trying to get clean air for himself, but the tough thing is that when I was on the bottom especially, he would go up mid-corner and then cut down really hard right at the exit.
So I'm still loaded and turning, and he's chopped straight in front of me and that just takes the air away. So nobody else is doing that today to me, so that was out of the ordinary. I said earlier, whether that was Dan or whether that was even my own teammate, I would have said, "Hey, can you tell him to be careful because that's not right to do." So that was the problem.

Q. The schedule has few off-weekends, I'm sure you would like to have a race next weekend to continue the momentum and surely it's your off weekend what do you think about that?
DANICA PATRICK: It's long overdue. I haven't been home for five weeks, since the beginning of May at Indy. I think a weekend away is always a nice thing to have, especially with the new schedule we've got. I'm looking forward to it. It will be nice. It will be relaxing. I'll be ready to push again in Iowa.

Q. We're going to the short tracks; are you guys ready for almost armed combat in Iowa and Richmond?
TONY KANAAN: If I go back to Milwaukee, yeah -- I think so. We did test at Iowa. I felt pretty good. We were going to test in Richmond because we have, you know, the IPS car with Jamie who is going to do a few laps for us next week and Dario is going to test. I think we're ready. If we win both of those races, I don't know, but I have to say that looking further in the calendar, short ovals, street and road courses I guess makes me very happy. So I'm confident but that doesn't mean anything except I think our chances are pretty high.

Q. What happened when you tried to get in front?
TONY KANAAN: Well, I told my spotter and I told Sam's spotter that I was going to work for the same time frame for Danica to come up and I saw her coming up and I started to run a little wide so she could catch us a little quicker. Then after that, I kind of try a couple different lines and I asked Sam and I asked my spotter to tell Sam if he could move up just a little bit because I was going to keep the bottom. And I did; he moved up for me.
We did another ten laps like that and five laps to go he started to move down, so I started to move up. That's when I started to put Danica in trouble as well. I was just trying.
Then four to go, I went wide to see if I was going to have the momentum out of four; then I went wide and one to see if I was going to get the momentum out of one; and then I pretty much figured that I was not going to pass him.
But I was still going to try. On the last lap, he kind of moved up just a little more. I had to move up a little further up, and the high line, it is slower. Especially when a guy has such a fast car like that; it was the other way around, he could have passed me on the outside.
When we are running a ten-second difference on lap time, if you go by speed it looks a lot bigger so, you know you're not going to pass him. I was basically trying everything I could to get him to make a mistake but basically it was over by then.



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