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IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County

IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County

Ryan Briscoe
Helio Castroneves
Scott Dixon
Tony Kanaan
Will Power
Oriol Servia
August 23, 2008


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with a few of our Fast Six drivers who have joined us. We've been joined by Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan, who qualified fourth for tomorrow's event, as well as Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who qualified second. We've also been joined by Will Power, KB Racing Technologies, and he qualified third for tomorrow's race.
As a note, this is the third consecutive time that Penske has qualified one-two on a road course, and they will start in the front row tomorrow.
Tony, we'll start with you and work our way down. Talk about qualifying today and how you're preparing for tomorrow
TONY KANAAN: We had our hands full for sure, trying to catch those guys. We tried to burn their cars, their trailers and nothing worked (laughter), so I guess I'm going to have to call some Brazilian friends tonight to see what we can do.
It was exciting. What can I say? We tried. I had a pretty good lap on the qualifying before the Fast Six, and I couldn't match it, so we made a couple changes in the car to try to improve and actually got worse. It is what it is, but it's not too bad for us.
THE MODERATOR: And we have also been joined by Oriol Servia, who qualified sixth for KB Racing Technologies, as well as Scott Dixon, who qualified fifth.
Ryan, why don't you go ahead.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, it was great to get the front row again with Helio. We really help each other out a lot as the weekend goes on and can really push each other and learn from each other. I think that's something to do with getting in the front row, and also just Team Penske is doing a great job. They've had a lot of work this weekend, so it's great to reward them so far with a good qualifying effort.
It was all right. I was hoping to go a bit faster in that Fast Six. I think everyone was. The track got hot and we made a couple of changes to the car, as well, and it seemed to just worsen the balance rather than help it.
Anyway, it's a great effort. Hopefully we'll have a good run tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Will, how were things for you out on the track?
WILL POWER: Yeah, I was lucky to get into the last round there. We had a few gear shift issues and we had to change a part on the car. But I'm very happy, happy for the team to have two cars in the top six. I've given it everything that last session.
Like Ryan said, the track got a little bit hotter, so I think everyone felt like they were over-driving, and I'm just happy to be starting third. As we know, qualifying is just the beginning. We've got a long race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Oriol, how did it go for you today?
ORIOL SERVIA: It was going great the first two segments. I was really happy with the car. Honestly, the lap time was coming really easy. And then at the end we made a mistake with the pressures, and it was just sliding all over, plus the track got hotter. I just couldn't even get close.
Then I had a lap that was going to be decent, I think, at least to beat Scott. But I thought that was way farther than everybody else, and I slowed down trying to get a lap, and I didn't get it at the end. It was just a terrible session overall. But I'm happy that the first two segments went really well, and the car is good. So it's going to be a good race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Scott?
SCOTT DIXON: Similar to, I think, Oriol a little bit. The car was pretty decent. We were struggling for a little bit of the time, as we have been all weekend. We just don't seem to be able to get the car around mechanically that good. So the last session we tried to lower the car a lot and see if it would pick up some time magically, and I magically went a lot slower (laughter). It didn't work out too well. I think my first couple laps I just lost the brakes and then my right front was pretty much square from then on. That was the end of the day. I still beat Oriol, so not too bad.

Q. Ryan, I hear you got your backup car, and after this traumatic week, was this a car that was already here at Infineon that you went out and tested?
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, I mean, it pretty quickly became a primary car. We've raced this car many times this year, it's just we didn't have it prepared to race here. It had lots of old equipment on it, did the Edmonton race and the test out here. So it really just came down to a lot of work for the crew guys to get the cars prepared, and they've just done a magic job. I really can't feel any difference between any of our race cars.
THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by Helio Castroneves, who captured the pole for tomorrow's race. This is his third pole position of the year and the 26th of his career, which is by far the IndyCar Series record. Helio, congratulations. Can you talk about qualifying today?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Thank you so much. I mean, let me tell you, those guys here, they keep giving me a hard time. Anyway, what a great comeback from Team Penske after what happened this week. Ryan and I tried everything we could to keep this front row, obviously those top five were definitely trying to stop us.
But those guys did an incredible job. To close your eyes, you don't know what car is it, and it's actually perfect.
I'm very happy. It was a close call obviously between Ryan and I, but we kept going. We kept really trying and pushing, and again, definitely my hats off for those guys. They did this for us, so I'm pleased in order to be part of this team.

Q. Helio, are you ready to climb the fence?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I'm past climbing the fence. I'm obviously trying everything I can. This guy here keeps stopping me from doing that. He's doing his job, I'm not doing mine. I'm trying everything I can.
Tomorrow is going to be a tough one. Tomorrow is going to be -- you can see the difference in times are just ridiculous, it's so close. As Tony and I talked about yesterday, when you have a situation like that, it's going to be difficult to pass unless someone makes mistakes or something happens. But again, we are in a situation that we've got to go, got to try, and trying to make this gap in the championship smaller. That's what we're going to do.

Q. Helio, is this pole kind of like a reward for the guys that have had to work overtime here to get both these cars up to snuff?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It definitely tastes sweeter than the others because for exactly what happened. I mean, they turned the page, they kept going, they worked incredible, many, many hours, guys coming back from the accident to Charlotte, bringing the spare car back and other pieces back. I mean, it's just to prove that everybody had a great attitude. Nobody was even thinking about negative ways.
And the results just show between both cars, the No. 3 and No. 6. We put the car there. We really worked. We really wanted it, and the good news is it paid off.

Q. Helio, you've had some good results here in the past. Is this a track where you feel like you can finally turn things around and get that win?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's the way I'm thinking. You know, there is a tough team out there, and others, as well. But that's what we're thinking. We are really -- if there is a chance, we're not going to give up, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to think in that direction.
With everything that's happening with the accident, and now we're starting with a great weekend, so hopefully it's time to turn around.

Q. Helio, you talked about the difficulty in passing. Has the new course configuration helped that at all?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I don't know what these guys are thinking, but for me at least it's a little bit slippery out there. The only thing that might help is somebody over-shoots. The layout, it didn't make it easier at all. It just made it a little bit slower, which is an opportunity for people trying inside or outside. But I think it's going to be tough, as well, to pass.

Q. This is for Will and Oriol. You guys have made some great strides through the summer. Talk about how you feel that you've kind of closed the gap a little bit and have kind of showed a lot of progress over the summer months.
ORIOL SERVIA: I think as a team we're just trying to mingle with these big guys here, and everything we have, we're showing that we have the speed and we're catching up every race. Every race we're closer. We just need that finish, you know, to be on the podium. Maybe a win would be great for all of us, leading the group of the transition teams. We want to step hard and finish the race at the top.
But it's tough. I mean, obviously you've got to do everything perfect on the weekend to be able to beat anybody here. That's what we're trying to do.

Q. For Ryan, I know it's frowned upon by the IRL a little bit, but is there a temptation tomorrow to maybe protect Helio and try to get him as many points and help him gain as many points as possible on Scott?
RYAN BRISCOE: I don't know, we haven't talked about it, but with Helio starting on pole, I'm going to try to follow him as closely as I can and put myself between him and anyone else behind us, and then we'll see how it plays out. If he makes a mistake I'm probably going to go past him.
I mean, it's a pretty close fight for me, as well, in the championship, the top five. You know, I'm sort of running my own race, too. But hopefully it doesn't come down to anything like that.

Q. Similar question to Helio. What does it mean to have your teammate on the front row with you? This is the third time in a row on a road course.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It means I'm going to have to push. He's not going to give me any resting time out there. He definitely knows this track well. When he raced with those guys, I remember he was really fast, and I don't think it's going to be any different tomorrow. I mean, Team Penske obviously has always the view that we don't race too hard between teammates unless it's necessary, and obviously I'm not going to let easy, I'm going to go for it, because I'm not only racing to win the race, but I'm racing obviously to make this gap in the championship smaller, and to do that I need to finish first or as high as we can.
But it's very comfortable having Ryan out there because I know what he's got in terms of setup and things like that. Even strategy-wise we might be able to know. We're going to try everything to make both cars in first and second, and we're going to keep it like that.

Q. Scott, kind of a flipside to the question about Ryan and Helio, your wing man is pretty far back in the pack, so how difficult is it for you to be kind of flying solo up there?
SCOTT DIXON: You know, obviously -- it doesn't make it any tougher. The teammates are going to do what they need to do, which they're told by their teams to do so. It's tough, I guess, being in that situation. But that's what racing is all about. If that's what they do, that's what they do, and obviously we're going to try to keep ourselves out of that situation. But what can you do?

Q. Scott, you're kind of in a position with the lead that you have in the championship, let's assume you're going to be behind Helio and Ryan on the start, a couple of the others, but what's your strategy tomorrow in terms of are you going to go for the win, or is Chip telling you just to collect the points and maybe just finish a few places back?
SCOTT DIXON: I will definitely be going for the win. I'd like it to sort of play out like Edmonton would be kind of nice, or even last year here. I think we started first and had some pretty good luck. We've got to come away with the most points that we can; that's as simple as it is. If we can't win, try and come second, and if we can't come second, try and come third. That's what we can do. Hopefully it goes our way, and if not, we'll try harder in Detroit.

Q. Just for Scott and Will and Ryan, there's all this talk about Australia may not be on the schedule next year. Have you guys done any lobbying with the IRL about what a big event it is? To my mind as long as we've been going there, there's never been three guys they could really market like you guys. Just your thoughts about is this thing going to happen and do you have any input?
WILL POWER: I think Craig Gore and Kevin Kalkhoven have certainly been pushing for it to happen. I'm not sure where it's at at this stage, but obviously I really hope that we have a race there next year. It certainly helps our team. I think they'll see when they go down there in October what sort of race it is. It's one of the biggest street course races that we have all year.
RYAN BRISCOE: I mean, obviously being Australian, you know, it's great to race at home, but I've sort of kept myself out of any of the discussions. When I'm asked, I just say it's a great race. I did it in 2006. And it really is just a great event apart from anything else. It's a lot of fun and puts on a great show. So I guess we'll get a good feel for it this year when we all go down there.
SCOTT DIXON: I agree with these guys. It is a fantastic race, but I think how everybody has got to look at it is plain and simple. You should only go if you're making money out of it. I cannot assume why we'd go down there if everybody is going to lose a ton of money. It is a good race, it's a great venue, but I think this year it's going to cost people a ton of money for a non-points race. And next year, unless the promoters change that, what's the reason?
THE MODERATOR: All right, we're all set. Thanks, guys.



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