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IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Indy Japan 300

IndyCar Series: Indy Japan 300

Helio Castroneves
Scott Dixon
April 20, 2008


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by third place finisher in the Indy Japan 300 Scott Dixon. We'll ask Scott to give a brief opening statement and then we'll take questions.
SCOTT DIXON: Today the car was real good. Secondly, the guys in the target pits, the No. 9 car, were fantastic. They got into the lead, I think on our first or second portion, and we just -- they had good strategy all around. The car was real good. It was a whole day of strategy and wondering whether we should save fuel or go fast or let the other guys catch a little bit. It was just one of those days where you pretty much knew you were a sitting duck.
In the end it bit us. I think that back markers definitely had the upper hand on strategy. They knew exactly what it was going to come down to when it went green with about 48 laps to go. So that was a tough one for us, but we still came away with some good points.
THE MODERATOR: Now joined by our second place finisher, Helio Castroneves. We'll ask him for a brief opening statement.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm still in shock, to be honest, but I have no idea what's going on. We had a problem in the pit stop. Looks like I pit a little bit too far and we couldn't put the fuel in the car, so we lost very valuable position. The interesting thing, it probably put us in the position to finish second because it made us fall back probably into seventh place.
As I was running I knew I needed to do some kind of numbers that was really hard to do, and I was trying as much as I can. My car was becoming very difficult to drive, I don't know why.
And after that the battle was to make the numbers, and there must have been about five laps to go, I was really, really saving a lot of fuel, and when Danica passed by I didn't know she was the leader until when I passed the pagoda and checked the numbers, and I noticed that No. 3 was in front of No. 7 until that point, and I realized that I just lost the lead.
In recognition of Danica's talents, she did a good job. She passed me fair and square. I didn't have enough fuel, even if I wanted to, to fight with her, and today I guess it's part of history again. Last race in this car, and now she wins the race.
She was very competitive. Any driver that comes with a good package and a good organization, they can put a good job and they'll be competitive.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Helio or Scott?

Q. You mentioned that halfway through your car was very hard to handle. What happened?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was just becoming a very heavy steering wheel, and as soon as I lost the lead to Scott, probably because I was running in the lead most of the time, and I guess that Helio was getting a little upset. But that was the only thing I assume happened.

Q. Question to the two drivers. At the end you have to control fuel at the end of the race, but how much were you controlling your fuel throughout the race before the end?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Basically I was saving fuel as soon as we started the race, and even after I fight back to about fifth or sixth position I was still saving more than usual because I was getting into best condition towards the end of the race.
SCOTT DIXON: I was in the same situation, really saving fuel from go. I don't think there was much on the first stint. I think Helio was saving a little more. We don't know what mileage anybody was getting.
But then second stint onwards we were running in the leanest mode that we had the whole time. But the speed took a toll more on the MPG than how much you could lean it up. When we were running fast at the front, none of us could save enough fuel to get to the end.

Q. Helio, I'm sure you already covered this, but will you again describe for me the moment when you realized you were second and not first, what went through your mind then?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was just on the front short. When she already passed me, I looked to the pagoda and I saw that No. 3 was ahead of No. 7, and as soon as we crossed the finish line, my number dropped, so I realized that I was in the lead for a short moment but in second at that time. So that's the only time that I knew I was second.

Q. Question to Scott, (indiscernible) like you did in Chicago at this race?
SCOTT DIXON: No, that's the last gamble I wanted to make on that one, but same situation, it turned out to be a fuel race. When you're leading or you're in front of the next competitor that's on the same strategy, you're the sitting duck. Nine times out of ten you're going to lose it. But we did our best today, and I think we had a fast car, and we just came up short, same as Chicago.

Q. For Helio, from the last pit stop, did you start saving your fuel from there, or were you full on and were you expecting to have a last yellow flag and then save fuel?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Well, first it was a great call by Tim Cindric, the president of our team. We made a pit stop, probably I was in fifth place and just missing two positions because of that problem that we were having in the pits, stopping too long.
But from that point we started seeing the fuel not enough as we would. It took a little bit of time for us to realize that this was going to be a fuel race, and we're probably not going to make it. So when we realized we could, that's where my lap times started falling quite a lot compared to the leaders, and it was a little too late to get a little bit faster and try to win the race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Scott and Helio. Our race winner, Danica Patrick, will be in momentarily.

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