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IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Firestone Indy 200

IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200

Dario Franchitti
July 15, 2007


THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Danica.
We're now joined by our second-place finisher, Dario Franchitti. His third second-place result of the season. He also has three wins. He has a 34-point lead on second-place Scott Dixon. This is Dario's 10th straight race of results of fifth or better. Going back to the opening race, 11 races ago, Dario has finished in the top 10.
Dario, talk about your day out there on the track.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I just thought of a sound byte: Close, but no guitar. Quite good considering the bad mood I was in five minutes ago.
The day started very well. I was surprised so many fans came back. I've got to say thanks to them for coming back and supporting us in the heat today, and staying out there in the rain last night as well.
What can I say? Took off at the start. Canadian Club car felt good. Managed to pass Scott. Things were looking very good there. I mean, I got in traffic. First couple of cars, we did okay. Then they were sort of running three-wide in front of us. I got checked up. Dan and Scott got past. Dan was doing some blocking for a couple laps there, (indiscernible) a little bit.
At that point it's one of those decisions you make. I'm on the inside. I could have maybe tried to make an outside pass. But the marbles are so bad here at Nashville, we've seen many, many cars before end up in the wall. I couldn't afford to do that with the championship. I just had to back off a little bit. If I could have seen any gap to get by those guys staying wide open, I would have, but it just wasn't going to happen.
From then on, it was really just trying to, you know, make things happen on the out laps, in and out of the pits, trying to get close to Scott in traffic. We weren't good enough in traffic to able to. I was struggling with some lapped cars, even the ones that weren't making it difficult, and those were few and far between.
Not a bad day for the Canadian Club car. I'm looking forward to going to Mid-Ohio next week and seeing what we can do there.

Q. Heard guys say it took a long time to get the marbles off your tires. Three or four or five laps to clean your tires up.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's a fair point. It did seem to take a long time, if you did get up in the marbles. I got up there a couple of times. There was actually marbles on the inside today at the corner as well. When I passed the official the first time, pretty near a lap down, I got marbles. I could feel it as soon as they picked up on the tire. I thought, oh, this is going to be interesting. The car just shot right up the track and I got more marbles on the tires.
I don't know, for whatever reason, it took a while if you did get up in the marbles to clean the tires back off.

Q. Could you tell a difference in the track surface after the rain?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, a little bit. Those first laps, you kind of want to go out and feel it out, but we didn't have that luxury. So I had to go wide open through one and two first lap because I had a chance to pass Dixon. Then you could feel the car maybe slide a little bit more than it does when the track rubbers in.
I think as the race went on, our car picked up more and more push, which showed that the track rubbered in. When I say we, I include myself in this, we probably didn't make the adjustments we should have of maybe in the pit stops. I've got to blame myself for that as much as anybody.

Q. Does leading the championship standings affect your strategy or driving style in some of these close races like this?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think leading maybe affected it. But the position that Scott and I are in, obviously being up at the front in the fight for the championship maybe changes it. Take Marco, for instance, who I believe can win week in, week out, has the pace and the talent to do that, and the car to do that. Right now he's just looking to win races. So there's a situation right now, earlier on I backed off rather than trying and make the big outside pass. Marco would have kept his foot on it or certainly Dan did, because Dan is not really in the fight for the championship right now. So there's certain times it changes your thinking.
But you can't allow it to change your thinking too much because you wouldn't do anything. I would say you'd be far too conservative. It's a very delicate balance.

Q. Take us through the pass the back straightaway when you went from first to third or when Dixon went third to first.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I got checked up by some back markers through one and two. I just lost momentum. Those guys -- I think Dan went around the outside and Scott went down the inside. That was it.
I have to say from that point on, Dan blocked pretty good for the next couple laps, which didn't endear him to me at all.
But that, again, was one of those points where you can make that decision. Had I not been in the fight for the championship, I would have probably stuck the thing out in the marbles and see if I could have made the big outside pass. I'd look pretty stupid to be in the position we're in with the car sitting in a smoking heap on the exit of turn two.
I think TK tried that move earlier in the race and he spun, and that was on my mind, too, because TK can hang on to a pretty loose car. If he can have a problem up there, I don't want to go up there either. Tony is in a different position than us right now because he's trying to close that gap to the championship so he has to take the gambles.

Q. So many top fives, every race you're up there, how are you able to do it race after race, week after week?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I mean, it starts with showing up with quick cars. You got to have fast cars. We proved last year we didn't have fast cars. As a team four of us were all struggling. This year we come up, we have fast cars first of all. The guys back in the shop, the Canadian Club crew are giving us the equipment to do it first of all.
The guys calling the strategy are making the right calls. I'm doing I think a good job behind the wheel, driving the wheels off whenever I can. We're getting that little bit of luck, as well, that intangible that sometimes can make the difference.

Q. You alluded to the fact that last year you guys were dragging an anchor. Over the winter, a lot happened. What did the ownership do to help you guys get back up front?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The ownership spent a bunch of money. That was the thing. We have the same engineering crew we've had for a long time, be it each car's engineer or Pete Gibbons heading up the engineering effort. The difference is, it doesn't matter how good they are, you can't expect them to make the cars faster without a development budget. Really I think at the end of '05 the team sat back a little bit and said we're okay, and we really got caught by surprise last year, so we didn't make the same mistake. They gave those engineers the money to go and develop the car. Those guys did their usual great job. That's been the difference.

Q. With Tony having problems today, the season winding down, is this a two-man battle for the championship? Is there still time for somebody else to get in?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: There's always the chance somebody can get in there. But it seems to be shaping up more and more between Scott and I right now. I don't know what the points are now.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What between Scott and the next guy? Is it Tony?
THE MODERATOR: Tony is next.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I mean, Tony dropping points today, it's looking more and more like a two-horse race.
But the problem you've got is there's probably six or seven cars can win each race. You've got to beat those guys.
THE MODERATOR: Dario, thank you very much.

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