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IndyCar Series: Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Motorola Indy 300

IndyCar Series: Motorola Indy 300 presented by Jackson Rancheria

Helio Castroneves
August 26, 2007


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Dario. Appreciate your time.
Again, we're joined by our second-place finisher, Helio Castroneves. His best finish since winning at St. Petersburg back in April.
Helio, talk about your run out there today.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, in the morning it was cold weather, our car seemed to be doing very well, very consistent. Somehow every time it started heating up, kind of feel a little bit strange.
But it's funny, I mean, we had like four cars running very close to each other. In a place like this, to pass, it's extremely hard, extremely difficult. Especially for the beginning, you know, everybody's like trying to conserve fuel, trying to be fast, but don't know what to do.
I have to say my car was just a little bit push. Every time we put new tires it was great. After that, it was a little bit understeer, which was fine, because then it can really, really go for it in some of the corners that sometimes the car feels a little bit twitchy.
The strategy that we tried to do, it's always pit early in -- always in our window in case a yellow come out. We would probably end up being in the lead pack or the leader. It might not happen. Every time we pit, we have to slow down quite a lot because the pit entry here, it's after the hairpin.
Every time you go in as quick as you can, unfortunately you have to slow down otherwise you going to T-bone the guy in front of you. We kind of losing time over there. But that was the only strategy we could do.
Towards the end of the race we had a good opportunity to make a move over Tony. Dario, obviously he had a little bit of trouble. He knew that I was on the move, you know. It would be ugly if he tried to do something. He was smart obviously.
With Scott, the same thing. But Scott was very, very clever. During the race, we had an opportunity to do the same thing, what we did with Tony. In fact, we touched wheels when I was on the outside. I was a little surprised because he is in the run for the championship.
Especially with the move that he did, tried to do what he did, it was kind of like I didn't understand. But then I was like, let him try to do it again. He was smart enough to find out. Never gave me a small opportunity, because I would go for any small opportunity. I think it was a payback from St. Pete. So he did a great job.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Helio.

Q. You were really charging towards the end. How much did you feel pressure to try to win this race?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I just want to win so bad, you know. Unfortunately, we're not in contention for the championship. Last year, remember, I would like to be in the same position to try for it, to win a race.
Unfortunately, we have to be conservative thinking about points. But today I had no thinking points in my mind. It was just win, win, win. That's why I was like, I'm going for it. When I had an opportunity with the yellow, I'm going for it.
I guess Scott was on tippy toes. He knew I was coming through. He did an excellent job on the restart. From then on, it was a little hard to get since both of our cars are very, very similar.

Q. You seem to be able to out-brake Scott, particularly in turn 11. Was there ever an opportunity in those last few laps where you thought maybe you would go for it?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You know, he was very good. He never put a wheel wrong. He was always leaving the corners very well, which I believe that's why outside impression was that I was approaching really good. Plus you have the reference of the guy in front.
But he was doing -- obviously, he was trying to get off the corner quick instead of trying to gain lap time or trying to gain distance. With that, I was just trying to find an opportunity as soon as he make a mistake. But only five laps, it was not much. Three laps, wasn't much. But that's all I could do.

Q. Now that Scott has the lead overall, the momentum, would you consider him the favorite to win the championship now?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You know, that's a good question. I don't know the difference between him and Dario. It doesn't matter right now. Both are really well on the road course and oval. Road course, basically you saw both in contention here to win a race.
I'm sure Dario will be very strong down there in Detroit, and also Scott, and myself, too. I guess you're gonna see again all those three or four guys battling again, with the only difference I don't have much to lose. On those last two races, I want to win as bad as anybody.

Q. When there's no cautions for so long in the race, does that break your rhythm, or do you think something is bound to happen?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. It's actually the opposite. You coming in a zone because everybody is doing the same thing. Even if you push, you're being, what, a car, half a car. It's so difficult. That's what happened, you know. If you see, everybody was basically follow the leader.
The only restart we had, at least the first restart we had, you see a lot of action happen, people trying, going for it. We are so equal. Every car is very, very similar, especially the top six guys, that only if someone make a mistake. Today everybody was so well fit and prepare, it's very difficult to happen.
Even Danica was doing an extremely good job at the beginning of the race. I have to say it was tough. For me I'm glad that we had that opportunity to -- of the restart because we try to change the strategy, we try to make this race to turn around. But the yellow never came, so unfortunately we were unable to take advantage of it.
It was tough. It was a lot physically demanding. I don't know if because I had an opportunity to keep going, I felt -- I feel like I can go like 50 more laps, you know (laughter). But I had a lot of fun.

Q. Can you comment on the incident with Marco and Dario. If you had to assign blame, was someone to blame for that? Is that just racing?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, it's interesting. Surprise that Marco was behind me, and now you talking about could be me doing that strategy. But never mind, that's another thing.
To talk about that, it's hard for me. I was a little far away. I have to say I can't tell you who was wrong, who was right. Obviously I can give my opinion. If you leading the championship or things like that, you have to consider.
But in the same time, you know, Marco want to win a race. He won last year here. If he can do it again, he's going to go for it.
I just can't tell you what happened. The only opinion I'm giving is very, very plain, because it's hard for me to just point fingers. I was way far behind. I just saw actually dust. I'm like, Somebody went off? I guess so.

Q. You go from this course down to Belle Isle in Detroit. How much has that track changed? Who has an advantage, if anybody?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Good question. Hard to say, to be honest. Everybody's, like I said, seem to be very close to each other. Detroit bring me fantastic memories.
You know, that was the first time when I won a race, first time I climbed the fence. So it's a great place.
I can't wait to go back there. Obviously was a good result for us. Not what we were expecting. Well, we going to try to make one better spot over there.

Q. Since you're going to have some momentum coming out of here with the second place going to Detroit, is it easier being out of the points chase, the pressure is gone? Is it easier to have the mindset of having nothing to lose, grab a victory in one of these last few races before the end of the year?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: This is the first time in terms of a road course, I remember 2005, I think last race, two races to go, we didn't have much to lose. But right now it's hard because you want to be in that situation. But I don't see the pressure. Even if you are in that situation, you know, right now I'm just going to go for it.
What makes less difficult, I would say, is if you have a small opportunity, you're not thinking twice when you're leading a championship, like last year for me. For example, when I saw Tony, like I'm going to go for it, because I don't have much to lose. That's why the move works.
Things like that, it might be a little bit easier. Other than that, you have to play safe.

Q. Mentally, do you race Dario and Scott differently, knowing they're in the points championship?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Oh, man, not that I'm going to force something. I mean, that's not the point. But for sure if I'm in a situation that I saw a small window, that's why Scott was really smart. He never gave me that opportunity.
I saw Dario having trouble. He tried to make a move, but no. I'm gonna go for it. He kind of felt that.
So not that I'm gonna push or anything else, no. I'm going to race fair and square. But a small opportunity, if it happens, I'm not gonna back off.
THE MODERATOR: Helio, thank you very much.



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