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IndyCar Series: ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Indy 225

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Indy 225

IndyCar Series: ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Indy 225

Ryan Briscoe
Roger Penske
June 1, 2008


MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

THE MODERATOR: Roger, your 300th win in motorsports.
ROGER PENSKE: Yeah, we are getting old here. Won first 30 YEARS ago; shows you how long we've been here. So that's a lot of time and effort.

Q. If you could talk about Ryan, and of course, he came on board to your team not long ago, talk about what you saw in him and why you brought him aboard.
ROGER PENSKE: Today I think first really got the monkey off his back and we knew how good a race driver he was when he ran for us in the Porsche program last year, long race, running consistent. He seems to get better as the race goes on as you saw today, but I think they had a great car.
He was patient, he had to start back at 13th I think after the first lap and worked his way up through the field and I think there was no question that he was able to have patience and then you know, being able to pass his teammate and pass Wheldon and then certainly Dixon who has been the class of the field for this part of the field was a big step for him.
So I think from the standpoint of his confidence, you know, there's no question that this is exactly what he needed to break the ice, because you know, we know how good he is on the road courses. I think you saw in St. Pete he got into the wall, which was unfortunate, but I think we are going to see a real new race driver come above now as we go forward.
We are excited. We saw him as a good driver Chip had him earlier on and he got himself into trouble maybe without the experience and the bad accident. We had him come back, had a good physical with him and he passed everything we needed. There was no issue from his accident and he seemed to be confident and then so we said let's try him at Indy last year with Simon (ph), and of course he finished fifth. That was a first test and then we put him into the ALMS Series last year and they won two or three races in that car with Sasha Maassen.
So that was a big day for him, and obviously for us, just to get it off our back, to win that first race at any series is so important, because there's just inches between winning or losing as we saw at Daytona, and we saw here today because one slip up and who knows, if there had not been a yellow, there wouldn't have been the finish.

Q. Before you tested Ryan, was that a key step in the process?
ROGER PENSKE: He was here with Reinbold and got in the fence in practice and got if the fence in race and so he didn't have much confidence running here. We had an opportunity to test him here with the car and he was quick, you know, and they had a pretty good set up. So I would say that was a plus for him and that gave him certainly the confidence he needed today.

Q. Seemed to be a classic Team Penske win and cars got better as the race went along, pit stops were good. Please comment on that.
ROGER PENSKE: Well I think we had a good car all day. We didn't make any adjustment, didn't make tire pressure adjustment at all. He said the car had a little understeer but this traffic it was a little bit free, so I think we were right where we needed to be.
I think at the end, what I decided to do, I knew we had to fuel and we were coming up on the 26 car and the 27 and maybe the 7 were coming up into traffic and we had to pit within the next four or five laps. I said, let's roll the dice, come in now, get fresh tires on. So we had five or six or maybe eight laps on fresh tires, as you could see so that gave us the chance to get ahead of those guy when is they came in and pitted. I think 33 got into the wall but they kept going. Thought there was to be to be a yellow. I guess it was pretty much our day.
Again, the stops were terrific. Six, seven second stops these days, the stop we beat Wheldon out and came out third was good.
And then I was impressed with the courtesy of most of the drivers, in the old days they used to get off the gas and let you go by, but nobody seems to do that anymore.

Q. Did you have any idea how close Ryan Briscoe came to that mess there in Turn 2 at the end?
ROGER PENSKE: Well I knew, I saw the 4 car spinning and knew we were trying to pass the 4 car the lap before so I knew he had to be right there, and he had a chance with two cars ahead of him to wall it up.

Q. 300 is the magic number in baseball as far as wins go. Can you talk about what 300 wins for your team means?
ROGER PENSKE: Must be a big deal because we've got a hat made. (Laughter) I guess they have been carrying these around, they told me today.
You know, I think really it shows the amount of work that has been done by so many people on the team, so many good drivers, so many good pit crews, all the way back when we think about done winning the first Trans Am and Indianapolis and you just go on and think of the drivers that have been with us. It's pretty exciting
To me, I remember when we were sitting there for a long time trying to get us our 100th win Gil de Ferran gave us on a short track, and he had to beat upon Toyota that day and that was a pretty big challenge in itself. And to see Ryan to be able to race clean with the 9 car with Dixon, it's a great day. And for our people. This is I great thing, not for me, it's about everybody that's committed to us and there's so many people that have been with us for a long time, many people 3525, 30 years with us, and that makes a difference I'm sure.

Q. Ryan has raced good this year and has had problems crashing the first few races, did you talk to him this week?
ROGER PENSKE: No. 1, the accident that he had in Homestead was not his fault. He made a mistake in the race at St. Pete when he got in the wall, as I said earlier, even Dixon, it's so tight racing in there and the track was race
Last week, I went through the overhead shots, and this is a racing accident, you could have had either one of the two drivers say, look, what really happened. I take the blame, if anyone gets the blame, it's me for sending him out. Rick talked to him, I talked to him. What we need to do is keep the guys confident, and that's the main thing. When you've got a good race driver, whether it's Andretti or Earnhardt, Senior; you have to get to that point where you get over the hill and you've got the confidence and you realize, I told him once we have 45 laps to go here and if you don't extend yourself; we were four or five seconds ahead of the cars behind us and it was just a matter of time the way he was running that he would be able to get up near the front now. The strategy at the end paid off, but I think that he needed to execute and he needed to execute at the end and that's what he did and I think this is going to go a long way to show how good of a race driver he is.

Q. It's obviously a team sport, but it starts at the top. What have you instilled in your team and your drivers to breed this success?
ROGER PENSKE: I think it's not just the drivers. We have tried to pick the right people and we have a homogenous group of guys working together. From adversity, you think about '95 at Indianapolis when we didn't make the race and we went home as a proud team. We didn't make it, and I think that we pulled together, just like today when Briscoe was faster than Helio.
I called Tim and said looks like we are running a little better and he said let Helio go by on the sought side. When you have multiple car teams they both can't win and to me if Penske Racing wins a race, everybody wins in our company. We have got 40,000 employees, so it's pretty important.

Q. The week Ryan has had after the Indy incident; talk about the redemption.
ROGER PENSKE: The good news, when they introduced him, he didn't boo him, so today wasn't as bad as we thought there at Indy. I'm sure he's read about it and been interviewed by many of you and I think he's taken the high road and that's what he's supposed to do. Even when that was going on during the race, I didn't want to see -- I like Danica and I think she's a terrific driver and a great credit to the sport. It was just unfortunate that happened.

Q. You've had employees work for you 25, 30 years; how do you maintain that?
ROGER PENSKE: One fact is that we are ache to attract sponsors that commit to us more than one year at a time so we can make commitments to our team members and go out and really attract younger people who maybe have a career thought to be in racing and we can help them build up through the team. Many of these young people that are with us today are folks that have been with us a long time that started polishing the wheels or driving the trucks. We have a bunch of people from the Mechanics Training School, NASCAR Tech in Charlotte, and we get them across the country and we typically get people from -- matter of fact, the vocational school in Reading, gave us the engineers that won Indy. It's growing, the people within the company they are loyal and we take care of them and we will do anything for them to support them in a time of diversity.

THE MODERATOR: We now bring in Ryan Briscoe. Ryan, you get that first win, talk about that, talk about the relief that you feel and just the overall day and the enjoyment of a first win.
RYAN BRISCOE: It's huge. You know, we struggled coming in in practice and qualifying but we really just made some changes overnight and said, you know, we know what we have brought out of the trailer was a good setup. We played with it a bit yesterday and got lost a little bit and didn't have the best car in qualifying. We said, you know, let just go back to basics and go with something we know.
I tell it, you was spot on. It was not the best on new tires but as we got those long stints, the car just got better and better. It feels good to get the first win.

Q. The accident in Turn 2 that brought out the last caution at the end of the race, you were right behind it, what went through your mind in the split second that you had to make a decision?
RYAN BRISCOE: Well, a million things went through my mind, I tell you, because I think just before then, you know, we had a couple laps to go, and I was pretty comfortable. I knew how to keep Dixon behind me, and I was like, you know, let's just bring this home. And then all of a sudden I'm seeing smoke in front of me and I'm seeing cars flying, I'm like, this is not what I need. I'm just the brakes, locked up trying to avoid this thinking this is not good and then wheewww, and huge relief and that was it. It was close, though. I think I would have been in tears if I would have been hit.

Q. How close?
RYAN BRISCOE: I think it was probably less than a foot.

Q. Talk about the redemption you must feel
RYAN BRISCOE: It's been a tough start to the season, and we've been knocking on the door. We've been running on the front, just not getting the results. It definitely feels good to come here -- and definitely win. Even a Top-5 finish here would have been satisfying for me.
To win is just amazing. Since Indy and the incident and a lot of media and son, the one thing I always said was I wanted to put it in the past and move forward and move on. There's no better way to do that than win here on the following weekend.
The same goes for the win. We'll just have to move on and try to keep this momentum and keep running strong for the rest of the season.

Q. During your stretch where you had a little bit of a rough go, and then after last week, did your confidence suffer at all?
RYAN BRISCOE: Well, you know, it's tough. The problems we had going through the first few rounds were not related to performance or anything. We just couldn't close the deal. So really I was just putting pressure on myself to get to the finish and have a good result.
You know, I needed this. And every race this year, we have been running up there, Top-5. Even Indy, I think we had a shot at running Top-5 at the end.
For sure, to close here, get this win, it means a lot for many reasons. You know, my history here at Milwaukee hasn't been pleasant, and for sure, I wouldn't have been able to run so strong in the race without the help and advice of Rick Mears and on the anniversary of his first ever IndyCar win, this is definitely extremely special.

Q. The names of drivers to win for Team Penske, you are the 15th; how do you feel about that?
RYAN BRISCOE: It's pretty special. There are some big names on that list, and I guess what's more difficult to live with is not being a winner for Team Penske.
It definitely feels good to have that win, and as I said hopefully, from this win we can get some momentum and try to collect a few more this year.

Q. Scott talked about riding high and the different lines that you were running on the Speedway, if you could talk about that, where your car worked best
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, actually my car was really good up high on Turns 1 and 2. I could not run high on 3 and 4. I think the wind played a big part today opposite to what it was in qualifying, and pretty much everyone would go in high on 1 and cut it down low and I would always be able to really get on the gas and get a lot of momentum on the outside of them off of Turn 2, and that's where I made most of my moves today. I knew by carrying that speed in front of Scott, and then running low on 3 and 4 was always going to make it tough for him.

Q. Can you talk about what kind of help Rick Mears has given to you?
RYAN BRISCOE: He is the best observer I have ever talked to. He watched me in practice, and you know, a lot of things carried over from Indy. There are a lot of things you do in Indy that are the same here.
You know, he just talked about lines and so on in traffic, things I need to keep my eye on and I really put a lot of that to use today, especially in the closing stages with Scott. So you know, anything that Rick Mears says is invaluable, and you know, as I said, this one definitely goes to him.

Q. With 26 starters and attrition was so low, it seemed like you were always running up on traffic and always in the middle of traffic; if you could comment on that.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it's really exciting coming to Milwaukee with the most numbers of cars on the track since I think '96. I guess I was expecting probably a few more yellows today. And it was great to see how well everyone drove in the traffic and in the difficult condition. I think it just proves the level of experience that is out there in this field at the moment. There are a lot of rookies but guys with immense experience.
You know, it was a great day. It was a lot of fun. One of the funnest races I've ever had, and it was great having so many cars out there, and the traffic is a part of the game but everyone behaved pretty good.

Q. Did you have an incident with Oriol in the second happen?
RYAN BRISCOE: Any make contact with anyone but on the second lap there were cars all over the place ask, was it Servia or Brenoldi, one of the car was slowing up big time between 3 and 4 we all got checked up and I guess someone spun behind. It was pretty close quarters there and actually lost a few positions.

Q. When things happened in front of you like it did there on that last caution, how much of getting through that is skill and how much of it is just luck?
RYAN BRISCOE: Definitely luck is going to come into play when cars spin out in front of you, you know, it's timing, but you've got to be looking head at all times as well and I was getting on the breaks as soon as I could, as soon as I saw Marco getting sideways and make contact with someone. All I could do was slow down. One car was going high and looked like Marco was low. I really just tried to slow down ask stay in the middle of the track until I could actually see where I needed to swerve and hope that no one got up the back of me.

Q. Of the million things that went through your mind, was one of them, "God, why me?"
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, absolutely, and as I said if I would have got caught up in that, would I have been under the bus trying right now, that's for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Ryan, thank you and congratulations.



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