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IndyCar Series: Honda 200

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Honda 200

IndyCar Series: Honda 200

Helio Castroneves
Scott Dixon
July 20, 2008


LEXINGTON, OHIO

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with second and third place here. Our second-place finisher, Helio Castroneves. His 10th top five of the season, sixth podium finish, and fifth second-place finish. This is back-to-back weekends that we've had teammates finish 1-2. Last week Scott, his teammate Dan Wheldon, finished 1-2. This week Ryan with Helio. 27th time in league history.
Helio, your thoughts on the day out there?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was great. Obviously at the beginning it was kind of like wet and dry. It was a little bit tough for Brian to make the decision. Again, for me it was just trying to make sure that I wasn't on the track till the track got dry. Probably about three laps, or I don't remember five laps, I don't remember, they were already calling me in. I tried to stretch a little bit, just to see if a yellow come out, somebody with slick tires. But nothing happened.
And obviously until that point, it was just like one of those races that we stuck behind traffic. It was difficult to pass. This place always known as very difficult to pass. We were trying everything we could to keep it up with the guys, to change the strategy.
Until the middle, we continued to be stuck behind traffic, different guys trying different strategy. There was not much I could do unless I would try something stupid.
At this point in the championship, I saw Scott behind me, so I'm sure he was just waiting for something to happen. I was like, I won't do that. I know what you're thinking, but I will not do that (laughter).
It's just unfortunately difficult to pull alongside here unless you have a big difference in car. To that point, I mean, obviously we destroyed our tires running behind. I think Ryan got lucky on the strategy, drove a great race, and ended up opening up an 11-second lead. That was the only thing we could do. Second is a good place. Another one. Not going to worry about win or not, just worry about finish second from now on.
THE MODERATOR: Scott Dixon, our third-place finisher, his ninth podium of the season, his 10th top five. Scott, talk about your day.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it wasn't too bad. We started back in sixth. I think maybe by the first lap or second lap, we were up to third. The car was working quite good on the wets. You know, it was a hard decision. I think we would have come probably a little bit earlier on the slicks. But I think the team, we felt we were probably racing Helio more than some of the other guys. We just stuck to a similar strategy as what they did.
It didn't work out as well as I think some of the others had done when they put it on the first lap. Then definitely picked up a lot of track time and jumped us that way. I think for us there was so much going on all day. There were a lot of strategies going on. There were a lot of cars coming out of the pits, people you were racing all the time, a lot of confusion. Even with our strategy, we pitted just after Helio, probably two or three laps after that, we still had half a tank, I don't really know what we were up to there. Still have to talk to the team and see if we needed to stretch that a little bit or what the deal was.
All in all, a good day for points. As Helio touched on, it was very, very tough to pass. Unless you had a car that was a lot slower than you, you couldn't get past them. I think now all the cars are so consistent and so close in speed, it's very tough to pass anybody.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Scott, Helio pointed out when he saw you back there, you weren't going to make a mistake, how quickly did you go into championship mode?
SCOTT DIXON: I think early on in the day, I kind of just sat there and sort of saw how things are going, seeing if we were a lot quicker in a certain spot, which we weren't really. I think a lot of times there everybody got stuck in fuel save mode. It brought all the times back a couple seconds a lap. All you're doing there is kind of watching the guy in your mirrors, making sure you got enough gap from him so he can't sort of storm under you on brakes or things like that.
Definitely kept a close eye on Helio. Obviously we tried to work a strategy that would enable us to, you know, jump him. But at that point it just didn't happen. I think we almost had it going all right, but then we had a bad pit stop where our right front took a lot longer than it probably should have and that gave us no chance of trying to beat him in the pit stops.

Q. Is this the kind of race where it's hard to get your brain around what was going on, where everything fit? What's it like to drive in a race like that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I mean, in my point of view, you just have to be patient. As Scott touched on, it's very important, which is I a won race like that, you know, saving fuel behind a guy. I pitted one lap later, end up in front of him winning the race.
So it's one of those race that even if you try, it's like you're swimming, you're swimming, you're never going to get there because the current is so strong. You just have to be patient. Once you fall back, like where we were, you know, between fifth and sixth, and everybody's pretty much the same strategy, we just keep like hoping for those guys go a little bit faster, that you can open up strategy. When you pit, those guys have different strategy, you can come back in front of them.
So right away, I mean, I think Scott and I, and other guys running that level, they know what to do in that situation. That's why we kind of like waiting for a situation or an opportunity. Unfortunately, that opportunity sometimes very hard to happen. We just have to sit and wait.

Q. Scott, one of the few passes among the leaders on the racetrack was you passing Will Power.
SCOTT DIXON: I think I passed Vitor, too, which I ended up hitting because he closed the door on me going into two. I haven't seen him yet. But I don't know what the hell he was thinking.
Yeah, but Will, I think he was getting up to speed. That was kind of the only option I think with a lot of the cars, was when somebody was coming out of the pits on restarts, people on cold tires, you know, you're just waiting for somebody to make that mistake. I think purely at that time I was running behind Graham Rahal. And he made a dive on Will, initially going into four. And, you know, Will sort of came down in between us. And I think, you know, he held me off for another half lap, then I got a run on him out of two, out of the keyhole on the back straight.
That purely comes down to that his tires weren't hot at that stage, so that's why we had the advantage I think at that stage.

Q. Both of you guys would probably rather be doing winner interviews than second or third. How hard is it, given this championship battle, for you to stifle that mode that you want to win the race, then look at the big picture?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: In my situation, obviously Scott has a big lead on the championship. I mean, it's not over. I'm going for it. Everything I have to try not only to win a race but to be there in front of him every race. And I'm happy that at least Ryan was able to win a race, not this guy here. Because even when this guy here or his team make a mistake, they still end up winning the race. We definitely going to try to do a little bit more aggressiveness, but not stupid, just aggressive.
Unfortunately there is a level, you know. And today, unless I would have been like crazy to do something, probably would have damaged more the lead on the championship.
But I'm trying everything. I'm sure he's trying everything, as well. But I think to this point he's following instead of trying to win, I think (laughter).
SCOTT DIXON: No, you know, I think for us we're definitely trying to win, you know. I think when you're in the race, you look at people. It's sort of you take it step by step. You know, you look at people that you're racing, you know, moves that you think you want to make on some. Comes down to, you know, Helio and I probably wouldn't have made, you know, big dives on each other because we know we're racing each other for the championship. But, say, one of the other guys is racing me, he's going to make aggressive moves. That's what you've got to be more careful of.
I wouldn't say it's huge fun trying to keep tabs on where people are, people that you're chasing for a championship. But, you know, that's the deal about it. And, you know, it's not all about going out and winning races; it's about having consistency, finishing races, you know, making the maximum of every situation.

Q. Maybe the reverse: is it easier when you are in touch with each other to race, knowing that one or the other is in front or behind, no matter second or third, first or second?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't think it matter. I mean, for me at the least, my race is not depending on this guy. You know, my race, I'm trying to do everything I can to be in front of whatever is in front of me.
But, like I said, unless an opportunity happen, a good one, I will take a chance, otherwise I'll just have to wait for another opportunity. And, unfortunately, this opportunity in that situation, the yellow never came.
But I'm not always thinking about this guy; I'm racing my race.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much.



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