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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
Tony Kanaan
August 24, 2008


SONOMA, CALIFORNIA

THE MODERATOR: We have been joined by Tony Kanaan in the downstairs interview room. We've also been joined by Ryan Briscoe, so we will go ahead and get started. Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan finished third today. This is his ninth top five finish of the year. For Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, this is his fourth podium of the season.
Ryan, we'll start with you. Maybe you could talk about the race, and you were up front for most of it with Helio.
RYAN BRISCOE: Yeah, actually Helio kind of surprised me coming out of the pits there at the front. He must have put in a very fast stint, hats off to him and the 3 Car crew. But so close; there's really been nothing between us all weekend. I had a really bad out lap that last pit stop, got caught up in a bit of traffic and lost a few seconds. That would have been it.
But in saying that, it's really the perfect way for the points and the championship, and it's great for Helio. I think he's really keeping the pressure on Scott in the championship. It was a good points day for me holding onto that fifth place, and just a great weekend overall. Everyone on the team has just done a great job.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, how did the race go for you today?
TONY KANAAN: Lonely, very lonely (laughter).
Obviously we started to win the race. I think when it went yellow, we had talked in our strategy meeting that we were going to take a risk, and I didn't expect Briscoe to stay out with me, but he did.
So at that point on, I knew how strong he was, so I said, you know what, I might just follow him and maybe see if I can beat Helio. If it works for him, it works for me, we might finish one-two. He had a better stop for sure, and then it's amazing how a second or a second and a half difference it makes. He left the pits, he put five cars between me and him, and I'm like, oh, okay, I'd better settle for third now.
That's all we did. We saved fuel all day and it ended up working for us.

Q. Tony, you kind of had a spirited battle going there with Helio in the middle portion of the race; he tried to get around you and you tried to get around him a couple times. Talk a little bit about that battle.
TONY KANAAN: Back 23 years ago. It was nothing new to me. I had to pit. It was like five laps before I came in and he was trying to put the pressure on me. At this point I thought that was helping Briscoe a lot, holding Helio up. Apparently it wasn't enough. Yeah, I hold him off quite a bit. He had the better tire. He was pushing and I was saving a lot of fuel. It looked exciting, but really I was just trying to control him a little bit, and he knew I had to pit, so he wasn't trying really to -- he was putting the pressure, but he wasn't trying to put a bad move on me and we were both going to go out.

Q. Tony, how much stress is it to drive to fuel rather than driving fast?
TONY KANAAN: It's not stress, it's boring. I mean, I think racing is about going fast, not driving slow. Obviously you do whatever you can, whatever you need to do to finish on the podium. But it's like people on the radio saying you've got to do a certain amount of fuel number and drive slow, but be fast, don't get passed, things that don't make any sense.
So to me, I did take third place, but if you ask my opinion about my race, it was boring.

Q. Two questions: Number one, they changed the racetrack trying to get more places to pass, and it looked to me like there were several times when the 36 and the 34 Cars were holding up a whole gaggle of cars. Did this change in the outline of the track help passing or not?
RYAN BRISCOE: Really Turn 7 didn't really change a whole lot for us. It slowed us down, but the way we approach the corner is very similar to how we used to. I think we're going to be looking at it and seeing if maybe a little change can be made again for next year to try and improve on that again.
I think it's great that Brian Barnhart is open to suggestions and trying to improve the racing around here. I think it's a good track. And there are possibilities to improve the layout a little bit. And there are different options up in that corner. I don't think it helped this time around, but maybe there's something else we could do.

Q. Congratulations to both of you. Ryan, were you under any sort of orders not to pass Helio? And did you have any opportunities to perhaps go for the win?
RYAN BRISCOE: Absolutely not. We never got in a situation where I was pressuring him for the pass, and we started out the race and we were just conserving fuel, trying to run a good pace but with good fuel mileage.
And then I think it was a good move from the team's part to put us on different strategies. I was really happy early on because I thought my own was going to be the winning strategy. But Helio did a great job today, too.

Q. This is for Ryan. At the beginning of the race you were right behind Helio, and then he seemed to develop a big lead. He made the comment that his car was awesome, and I don't know if you both had to save fuel, a different race, but was your car not quite as fast as his or were you just saving more fuel do you think?
RYAN BRISCOE: When did he pull out a big lead? I don't remember that.

Q. Well, it looked to me like before the first --
RYAN BRISCOE: It was a strategy change, because until the first yellow I think I was always right there with him.

Q. Are both of you kind of stunned that you didn't really see the 9 Car very much today?
TONY KANAAN: I guess he's human, right? Things go wrong for him. I mean, Jesus (laughter).
RYAN BRISCOE: It's got to happen sooner or later.
TONY KANAAN: It's about time, not that we wish him anything bad. But we all had our moments this year, and then you look at the guy and he's always there and he's always there. I think it makes the championship more exciting for sure for Helio.
RYAN BRISCOE: I mean, the first thing I was looking at, I saw him at Watkins Glen not qualify so well, but there he was after the start. So I checked in my mirrors pretty soon where the 9 Car was because I knew he's got a bit of an advantage in the pit stops under yellow with his pit position. It's always a threat; if he's right there and we have a yellow stop, he's going to make up position. So I was keeping on eye on where he was and saw he stayed in fifth. And then that was it; I never saw him for the rest of the day.

Q. Tony was talking about saving fuel and slowing down and still going fast enough to keep your pace. But when you conserve fuel on a road course, is it less slowing down than on an oval if you have to dial it back? You slow down on a road course anyway.
TONY KANAAN: It's different. It's a different way of saving fuel. On the big ovals if you save fuel, you just go to Mixture 4 and then there's not a lot you can do; you slow down so much that somebody that's not saving is going to be gone.
On a road course obviously there are many ways to do it. You don't have to go flat-out. I can short shift. I mean, the last 14 laps of the race I wasn't flat-out a single straightaway. And then you can release the brakes early, you don't have to downshift as much, you have to short shift coming up to speed after the corner. So I would say it's more effective in a road course than it is in an oval.

Q. Ryan, do you see where what you guys did may make NASCAR jealous for a story line? You have both your primary cars burn to the ground, you come back, you finish one-two?
RYAN BRISCOE: Well, it is a huge testament to the team. Jealous, I don't think anybody is jealous of having their transport and primary cars burned to the ground. I think it's any team's fear that something like that could happen. But hats off to the team. It's not like we were around the corner here in Sonoma from North Carolina. So it wasn't an easy turnaround, and I think we were lucky that we had cars here already from the test last week. That helped a lot.
But, you know, just the guys worked hard. I think it comes down to preparation of the shop. We were prepared for the following races, and we were prepared to get these cars turned around.

Q. You've got to admit it's a pretty dramatic story line.
RYAN BRISCOE: It is. What a way to reward the team with this one-two finish.

Q. How satisfying was it to see Helio celebrate for the first time as a teammate? You've had two wins this year obviously, but to see him pick up a win after such a long drought.
RYAN BRISCOE: It's great to see. It really was killing him, coming in second all the time. He might be a bit easier to get along with at the track now that he's had his win (laughter).
No, it's good, though. Obviously in the beginning, you know, it's like I want to win the race, as well. But it's great to see him get the win, and now he's got his win. He can relax a little.

Q. If the cars that were here were going to be turned around for Detroit, did they bring some cars and the guys are starting now to change? I saw them working in the garage. The cars in the garage, where did they come from?
RYAN BRISCOE: I think we brought in a couple of cars which were in North Carolina prepared for Chicago, so I'm not exactly sure what we're doing, but the team is flying up early to Detroit. Trucks are going straight there, and I think the team will be working on the cars on Wednesday and Thursday.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys. Congratulations.

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