IndyCar Series: Firestone Indy 200
Topics: Firestone Indy 200
July 12, 2008
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Scott Dixon. You got more guitars than some of the bands here in Nashville. Tell us about it.
SCOTT DIXON: It was definitely a big night for the Energizer car. As I've said many times, I think every time we've driven this car, we've won a race. Three have been here and one at Watkins Glen. It's been a helluva lot of luck for us.
You couldn't get more luck than what we had tonight. It was a bit of a miscommunication on our pit call. That's the only reason I didn't come in. And it worked out for us.
I was pretty angry for a few laps. But then when I saw that rain coming down, I thought, Oh, this might actually work out pretty good. It was a fantastic night. T.K. was definitely very strong. I feel bad for him because he definitely got the worst part of it. But, hey, ahead in the points, fantastic for the championship.
THE MODERATOR: This gentlemen has a great presentation to make. Have you learned to play these yet?
SCOTT DIXON: No. I'm thinking if I do, might be bad luck. I'm not going to learn on it for some time (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Dan Wheldon, the rains opened up. Not a bad finish here this afternoon.
DAN WHELDON: I think it's a great day for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. I think we had that rain powered by Energizer Batteries, because it kept coming once it started and never stopped. So it was a good day. Actually I feel very lucky to be here in second place because we didn't quite have a second-place car today. But they say it's better to be lucky than good sometimes.
I wanted to try to steal that guitar from Dixon. He's had a very good run here. Let's hope they have at least one more race in Nashville so I can get a shot at that.
THE MODERATOR: I won't use the word dance, maybe a rain dance, but not a bad run for you under the circumstances, Helio.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I mean, no question about it. I was actually surviving out there at this race. It was tough. But it's one of those days. Those guys looked like they had, what, 10 or 15 laps on the fuel. Hey, they took a chance. A chance sometimes pays off. It paid off for those guys.
We did everything we could. Third place is not bad. We still are in the championship hunt, so we're going to continue working hard.
Q. Dan, talk about your run out there.
DAN WHELDON: It was a lucky night for me, but a great night nonetheless for everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and certainly Energizer with the special paint scheme. I would say once it started raining, it looked like the rain was powered by Energizer because it kept coming and coming and didn't really stop. That worked out well for us tonight. I hate to admit it, I feel bad for people like Helio and T.K. because they had strong cars. I guess sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. A very strong team effort. They've worked hard. It's a very busy part of the season for them. To get a 1-2 gives the team a lot of momentum going into next weekend. So a good result for the team.
Q. Helio, talk a little bit about your run out there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Certainly at the beginning the car was very difficult. I was having a hard time out there. As soon as I lost the lead, I lost not only one position but probably four or five positions. It's difficult to find a second groove out there.
Towards the end the track seems to be getting a little bit better. Definitely a lot of cars in the top five were very equal. They seemed to be similar. Obviously those guys took a chance and it paid off. We decided to stop.
Towards the end, we were able to take a move to get the third place. It was good. But, you know, having Scott win the race, no question gets the points a little bit spread out. But it ain't over. Still a lot of races. Hopefully next weekend will be a lot better.
Q. Talk about the move you made on that restart when you passed T.K. and the lap car squeezed in there.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was one of those moments, you know, I got it right. I passed Danica. Then T.K. was inside. There was a back marker there as well. I just chose the outside lane. The car stayed. It was one of those moves that was very difficult. I mean, it could go wrong or it could go right. Thank God it went the right way. And towards the end of the straight I got a little draft from another guy. Just completed the pass.
It was a good one. It was perfect timing. Well, it was enough to finish in third place. Unfortunately, we had two more spots to go.
Q. Dan, were you looking to pit during that time when Scott had his miscommunication, as well?
DAN WHELDON: No, I think we were going to gamble, particularly with the position we're in. I think the team is in a good position from that standpoint. They've got one car leading the points and one car in third. So I think we were going to spread the strategy.
I'm not sure, was it a mistake by the 9 car? So that turned out of the to be a good mistake. But certainly we needed to stay out in clean air.
As a car, I had a lot of drag. I was very, very slow under acceleration. If I got behind a car, it just took forever to pick up. So it was very important for me to stay in clean air so that I could run around the track flat out.
Q. Dan, you had a year in '05 where everything kind of fell your way. Are you seeing the same thing happen with Scott this year?
DAN WHELDON: Yeah, he's definitely on a roll. I think when you're on that roll, like it was a mistake for him to stay out obviously, and he won. He's very deserving. He works hard. He's on his game. Any time he gets in the car, he seems to be quick. It seems to be working for him. You know, that's good for him.
From my standpoint, you know, you want to beat him. But you can learn things in situations like this. It's definitely not over yet. There's a long way to go. And I think the biggest thing you can see this year is if you do have a bad race, and I happened to have a good one, you can close that point gap very quickly.
You know, there's still a little to play for, but he's definitely having a good year. I would say he deserves it, too.
Q. A second- or third-place finish, does that give you the power to talk to the committee that decides the schedule and say that you want to be back in Nashville?
DAN WHELDON: I think what I've learnt over the years is that drivers have absolutely no power. I've got no influence.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Trust me, even if you say something, there is nothing we can do about it. Obviously this place is great. You see folks out there. If the series sees the best interest in not coming back, there's nothing we can do. Certainly the drivers like to be here. Well, it is what it is.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, do you think the racetrack would become more racy if they would grind a progressive bank through the turns here?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know. Obviously the track is similar to other ones. Definitely the concrete, I believe, is the issue. Firestone has been doing fantastic trying to make better tires. But it's just the concrete which has a lack of grip. Our cars, I mean, it's tough for us. We depend a lot on the downforce as well. When the tire is gone, basically for us it's difficult to stay right behind another guy or try a second groove.
I don't know. Maybe it's something to try. It would definitely be worth trying.
DAN WHELDON: I think obviously the IndyCar Series is in a very good position right now where there's a lot of momentum that the league's created. I think you can obviously see the field is very competitive. You've got some great teams involved. You have people like Danica, who is mainstream media. You have Helio, who can dance like the best of them. With that being said, there's a lot of tracks that I think want IndyCar races.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
We'll move into our race winner, Scott Dixon. Talk us through your race there tonight.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it wasn't a bad night. I think definitely the first stint was one of our better ones. We had a pretty good start. I think we got two or three cars going into one, and the car stuck on the outside. When the track was clean, it was definitely pretty grippy up high. Just seems to have a problem when you stick on the bottom for a good 20 laps. The marbles built up quite quickly.
We struggled a little bit later in the race in traffic. Out front I think we were a little bit quicker than T.K. When we hit the traffic, we really struggled to get off the corner. The rear-end of the car just didn't have the grip we needed. It was pretty decent. Obviously the miscommunication we had to pit worked out for the best.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Scott.
Q. When in your career have you won a race by making a mistake?
SCOTT DIXON: Definitely not last weekend. No, you know, I don't know. I think a lot of the times you definitely have a strong car and you have a little bit of luck go your way. But tonight I think it just worked out that way, man. I don't know what it is. Every time we run this paint scheme, it seems to work out for us.
It was a tough decision. I was pretty angry for probably the green laps we had after that decision because it caught us on fuel. Every lap we were going around, we were trying to hope there was going to be some rain come our way and eventually it did.
Q. About how many more laps could you have gone?
SCOTT DIXON: I think we had, you know, at least another 10 or 15 laps of gas. We'd been saving quite a bit. Definitely T.K. got a jump on us on that last sort of green stint there. He had some traffic definitely go his way. But we were running quite lean because we definitely wanted to keep that in our back pocket. We thought it was going to be raining a lot earlier. But we still had some left, for sure.
Q. What was the miscommunication and how unusual is it for that to happen?
SCOTT DIXON: I guess you could say it wasn't a miscommunication. It was probably timing that was off. We were coming up when they called they were going to have one more lap to restart or just on the pass around, and I was on the higher side in turn four. They came on the radio and said, All right, follow T.K. If he stays out, stay out. If he pits, pit. And that was just as I was going by the pit entry. You know, I was too high to try and pull the car down. I think I would have spun out. That was a miscommunication or just a late call probably.
It doesn't happen too often.
Q. You hadn't learned how to play the guitar when you won the first two. Now will you learn how to play?
SCOTT DIXON: I keep saying it might be bad luck. That's why I've tried to stay away from it. I don't want to learn and get too attached to one, not have the opportunity to win another.
It's definitely the coolest prize we have throughout the season, obviously except for the Borg-Warner. But as a trophy goes, it's fantastic. If we're coming back here more, I'm not going to be learning the guitar soon anytime soon.
Q. What are your thoughts on you may be the winner of the last guitar?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, I think it's a tough situation. If it is our last time we're here, obviously I'm not going to like it because we've won here the last three years in a row. I think it's a fantastic track. We've had some very good races. When we keep that high line clean, we can definitely pass a lot.
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