IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio
Topics: SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio
June 30, 2007
MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
We're joined by our race winner, Dario Franchitti. Just a couple of statistics surrounding tonight's race with Dario. Of course, it's his third win of the season. The Indianapolis 500; he won last week in Iowa, and first time ever at Richmond International Raceway.
Second win of his career. First time you've gone back-to-back Indy competition. Set a couple of records: First track record, set a record for highest speed, 133.408 miles per hour. That's his average. Beat Sam Hornish's record from last year. Set a record for laps led, 241 laps, which is a track record and league record. Previously it was 240 in the first year of competition
Dario, you won this in a dominating fashion. But maybe a little hairy at the end. You weren't sure on fuel. Take us through your race.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: We talked about it yesterday. We were going to have to guess, educated guess on setup for the race. We had to start a different way than Tony, Marco and Danika, because we weren't happy with the feel of the car.
We just weren't happy with the feel. We made adjustments tonight we made that -- we didn't know basically what we had. Kicked off with a start and drew the lead pretty quickly. I was pleasantly surprised by that. The car kept getting back to, cut through lap traffic and gained the gap on the guys behind.
We lost the lead in the first piece, small problem, but the restart, that's when I knew the car was exceptional we could pass Tony like that. I think it played into my strengths. I like to do a little, grip the track sometimes, really feel that when the car is there and drive it on the tires and the track.
So it was working well. I got into traffic a couple times. I could get by some people and others were a bit more difficult.
I didn't want to take any chances because we had such a good lead. And the last we wanted to save fuel. Pulled out on the restart, pulled a reasonable gap on the first couple of laps, resting on the straightaway to conserve fuel. That allowed Sam to get pretty close. Had Sam not been that close, we knew he could pull off some quick passes. So that was a bit of a thing. I was able to do that.
Then we had one more yellow. Pulled the gap again. So really a great job by the guys in the pits. Problem on the first pit stop. The second one was flawless. The car was great all night. And I'm happy.
MODERATOR: I think it was the first pit stop I believe they said on the broadcast that your team had called for a adjustment. Is that true, and can you walk us through your thought process?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was think of an adjustment. The track cooled down and the sun went down. We got a lead. Waited two laps, came in said we don't need it, just leave it the way it is. I guess that's what happens when you have a good car, you don't have to make any changes.
The biggest problem tonight was fighting the balance issues because it was loose, car's push a bit of a (indiscernible) had to drive within that all night. And that was the big challenge. We could make it at least jump on the gas to get it really loose off of 2 and 4. I could see some guys in front do that.
Q. How was traffic? You were very patient. How difficult were those cars to get by?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Traffic was difficult, because there was a lot of marbles tonight. And nobody wanted to go off light. And it seems we lost a lot of grip behind any car. When it did caution, I didn't want any of them to get past. And so that was the biggest thing. I didn't want to take those big risks and put my nose in somewhere and have it taken off.
But that was a big fact to the race, for sure.
Q. Dario, restarts: That last one had to worry you a bit. TK has been good on restarts. Marco has. Have there been secrets shared around the team about getting a good jump?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, Tony has always been an acknowledged master on restarts. I don't think I've been too shabby either. But the last two races have done some stuff for the car that allowed us to get even better starts. And that was one of the things, when I passed Tony on the restart, this car is good and that was a good restart because when you can pass Tony you know you've done something right.
Q. Dario, do you sometimes kind of think how far you've come in this series? In '03 you really rattled the series right at the beginning when you had your motorcycle accident. Now you're the hottest guy out here at the moment.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, I had to learn some stuff. We were talking about that with engineering. When I came here, really my first season, I was trying to set up the car more like a Champ car and that wasn't working.
So took me some time to get used to it and what I could get away with with these cars as far as setup wise. I had to change my driving style just slightly. But really no, I feel week in week out, the car, we had terrible luck. I won't talk about last year because as a team we never -- this year it's good that we're getting some luck.
Q. Since you've won the 500, you've been busy. Late night television in New York. I saw you this Wednesday in the studio for PTI. You've been all over the place. Has that been much of a distraction at all? Obviously doesn't seem to be.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I would definitely like some more time hanging out with (indiscernible) and a bit of a distraction. But as Scott Dixon puts it so well. You get paid for the PR stuff. You drive the car because you want to.
Q. When you start point racing, if you even start point racing, do you even think about that, being a little more on the conservative side?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was just asked that question. No.
Q. Are you going to start points racing?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, too early in the season to point race. I've just got to keep getting the maximum week in week out that I can. You take what you can get. And you can only do -- there's only so much you can do because you're going to be up front. If the car is not so good, you get the most you can out of it. Sometimes you can grab the car by the scruff of the neck and you get an extra place or two.
But it seems the way the series is, the way most series are, it's become more and more difficult.
Q. Dario, has the fact that you are now a 500 champion, you will be known forever more when everybody is introducing you as a 500 winner. Has that sunk in as something that you accomplished?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Like you said, I haven't had time for it to sink in. If I do think about it, I'll have some quiet moments. I'm very proud of that and to be in the company that I am with fellow winners.
And definitely the highlight of my career so far.
Q. Dario, Scott was kind of ticked at Sam that Sam didn't get out of the way and let them come after you. Have you thanked him and what did you think when you saw him behind you?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I haven't thanked him yet. If Scott wants to look at the race that way, then we'll see Sam give me a pretty hard time for that. But it also was the end of the race. I don't think Sam was in any way trying to help me out. But it didn't hurt me towards the end there.
He didn't let -- I don't think he was quick enough.
Q. Were you surprised to see him up there battling like he was on the lead lap?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, not really. I think he was just trying to do his best. I'm sure he was upset that his -- that his car had gone two laps down. Looked pretty even following him. The start of the race, he went back towards the end. I'm sure he was out there doing nothing worse than anybody else that came up tonight.
Q. (Indiscernible) do you see it as a help or hurt your chances?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I think it's what I grew up doing. It's really my -- it's my passion to do road course racing, and I love it. But it doesn't necessarily mean I'll go out there and be up front.
There's so many good road course drivers in this series. We haven't won one yet. I need to get my act together. The team needs to do a good job, and we have a dominating package. This year we weren't as quick. So we have to do a job when it comes to those tracks, too.
MODERATOR: Thank you for your time. Great race.
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