Indy Pro Series: Carneros 100 & Valley of the Moon 100
Topics: Carneros 100, Valley of the Moon 100
August 25, 2007
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our second and third place finishers in today's Indy Pro Series race, in second place Richard Antinucci coming off of a win in Mid-Ohio and a second place today, and Mike Potekhen, the third place finisher, his best finish since a second back in June. Richard, why don't we start with you and talk about your run out there today.
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: It was a good run. You know, I've got to thank my team for giving me a really good car. I've been hooked up all weekend, and basically since mid-summer, I've really walked onto a good setup in general. I can go to any road course and be on it from the word go.
You know, we thought that we could have beaten the guys who won here last year today, but they did a great job. Lloyd and Sam Schmidt, they've just been on it all year. They got us at the start. We need to go back and look at some data and improve for tomorrow, but it was a really good race.
THE MODERATOR: Mike, how about your run out there today? Talk about it.
MIKE POTEKHEN: We had a great car. I think we had a little bit better car than Steven. I was able to get by him in about the fourth or fifth lap there coming out of the carousel. It feels good to be back up on the podium this weekend. We've been struggling a little bit here in the mid-season, just the schedule kind of got to our team, brand new this year. It's been hard on the guys, a big learning curve. I think everybody underestimated how tough it was going to be this year.
I ran a couple races last year, and obviously the competition has doubled, if not more, this season.
It's great to be up in third place. We hope to improve our car for tomorrow, as well, and see what we can do tomorrow. I'm looking forward to another good day.
Q. The last couple races your team has really picked up the pace. You said before that your mechanic had never seen one of these cars before. How do you explain that?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, it's attention to detail, a lot of smart individuals. I'm not speaking for myself, everyone else. And just together working hard and paying attention to all the details, like I said, and chipping away at it.
We joined after the testing ban, so we've used the first three races maybe of the year as a real learning curve and testing ground. But we've up to really good pace now. I have a very good chassis. I almost feel like I could say I have the best setup out there right now on the road courses.
Q. I know you're looking at running a full season next year. Are you going to get some testing on ovals which you don't do a lot of?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, I've got to get a rookie test first, and if I pass that, we can talk about doing ovals. There's still maybe a chance to do the last one of the year, but I've got to approach that with a much more -- not humble, but just it's a whole new experience for me. I don't expect to be as competitive as we are right now immediately on the ovals.
Q. Would you take us through turn one, the start of the race?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, we were told in the briefing to not get on the power, they said just after the hairpin but wait a bit so we get as many rows as possible back there through that corner. We did that, and I got a really good application on the throttle; I got on the power earlier. I saw the white car disappear, and then I heard this thing revving much higher than me, which means different gearing, and he just drove by. We were flat out, and I'm going to be fair to Lloyd and he was fair to me, and that's just how it is. He got the room, and he just took it and drove around the outside.
Q. You said that the competition this year has really jumped up. In what way, the class of drivers?
MIKE POTEKHEN: I think as far as the level of competition goes, I think in the past few years it's been the top three or four guys that are really good and are always kind of moving around. This year it seems like it goes as far back as 10th or 12th. That's what I mean by the level of competition being raised. It makes everybody work so hard to even get into the Top 10, and Top 5 is even harder.
When you're up against 12 or 14 guys that are all on it every weekend with great teams and working hard, it brings everybody's game up so much more and makes you work that much harder, so I think that's the biggest difference between this year and past.
Q. Richard, you closed on Alex in the last couple of laps. It looked like you might be able to catch him. Did you think you had a shot at overtaking him?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Well, I never gave up and neither did any of my guys, so we always thought that there was a chance, but I have to congratulate Alex. He didn't make one mistake in the whole race. It was dusty sometimes and it was tricky on the restarts and there was wind changing all the time, but he didn't make any mistakes.
What we did have is an advantage over the longer runs. I think we had slightly lower pressures and we have a more progressive setup in general, so he really took off at the beginning. I saw my lap times were quite high, so I realized that we were going to drop more than him being so much faster today, and we really did catch him over the long run.
I think our closest chance and the closest we got was just before that last safety car, but once that happened, he got a real breather, and I think his tires cooled down a bit and he got those extra five laps out of those last eight that really helped him. But we closed him again. So as you could see we were faster towards the end of the long stints and he was better at the beginning.
Q. Any gearing changes you'll think about for tomorrow after what happened?
RICHARD ANTINUCCI: Oh, yeah, Mike and I were talking about that earlier, like, what the hell was going on there? Sam Schmidt, they haven't won so many championships here for nothing. There's some top teams, IndyCar-affiliated teams, and they're still giving everyone a run for their money. Got to congratulate everyone, Alex and Sam Schmidt.
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