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Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Alabama

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Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Alabama

Firestone Indy Lights: Grand Prix of Alabama

Esteban Guerrieri
Sebastian Saavedra
Tristan Vautier
April 1, 2012


BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

THE MODERATOR:  We are joined by two of our podium finishers from today's Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Alabama.  Tristan Vautier of Sam Schmidt Motorsports, he finished second.  This is Tristan's second consecutive podium finish in his rookie season.  He won last weekend's race on the Streets of St. Petersburg in his Firestone Indy Lights debut.  The second‑place finish keeps Tristan atop the Firestone Indy Lights standings.  We are also joined by Esteban Guerrieri of Sam Schmidt Motorsports in third.  This is also Esteban's second consecutive podium finish of the 2012 season, eighth career Firestone Indy Lights podium finish. 
Tristan, we'll go ahead and start with you.  Another weekend, another podium.  Talk about the race and that final restart there. 
TRISTAN VAUTIER:  I'm very excited about the race.  Second place is very good.  Of course you always want to win, but the Andretti guys were really strong from the open testing, so we knew they were the ones to beat and it was very close at the end of the race.  I tried to save my tires and then tried to do a move in the end, tried to catch him in the end and it almost worked.  But it didn't.  We got the yellow flag, which cost us a few laps, and it was close between us three on the restart and then another yellow flag. 
You know, I just have to thank the Sam Schmidt guys for a consistent car today, stayed very good all race long and they did a really good job of improving the car from testing ten days ago.  So very happy to be with Esteban on the podium again.  Tough competition this year.  It's good, it's a nice battle as always.  Really looking forward to the next race and keep working hard toward Long Beach. 
THE MODERATOR:  Esteban, I think Tristan just hit it right on the head.  Talk about that pass you had on Carlos. 
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI:  Yeah, the pass was quite good.  I mean, I managed to get on the inside, we touch my wheel with his side pod, kind of like last year with Joseph, but it year it worked out. 
But yeah, it was after that I had a pace‑‑ I had a pace in the beginning, but my struggle, you know I did as races in the past, I thought the tires were going to go away very, very much, which they did, so I just tried to (indiscernible) and then I knew it was going to be a bit hard to overtake Carlos.  That's why I wanted to overtake him in the first lap but I didn't manage to, and then I started to catch the guys.  It was all right, then my rear started to go, as well, and after the restart I was really trying to race a little bit if I could, but there was no chance, there was another yellow.  At the end very nice battle between us three.  Congratulations to the guys.  Again, a very good job, Tristan and Sebastian. 
To my crew, the No.11 crew, very happy for them to put the end in the end, as well. 
THE MODERATOR:  I believe this is the fourth career win for Sebastian in Firestone Indy Lights.  Previous wins came at Iowa, Toronto and Kansas.  Last week was your first race back in Firestone Indy Lights when you finished on the podium and here you are leading flag to flag to get a win.  Talk about the success you're finding here in the series. 
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA:  I think I'm very happy to be back.  It's a great goal, and the project we're building together with Andretti AutoSport.  We started in the right direction, of course, to the podium so far.  I think the hard part here is to try to separate these Sam Schmidt guys.  They're incredibly fast and they've worked their way through there.  So I think it's a point that we need to focus on a problem‑free season and try to bring home as many victories as possible. 

Q.  Sebastian, it looked like you were working quite hard out there as Tristan was slowly closing in at the end.  Can you talk about how it looked like things were getting worse for you as the race went on? 
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA:  Yes, those last five laps were very tricky.  I managed to save the tires in a very good manner.  In the beginning we had a very good car.  I didn't need to take a lot away from it, and we managed to build a good gap to Tristan.
Towards the end I think I saw Tristan start to push again, and when I tried to use my tires, they were not there anymore.  So this is a situation that we need to work with, and I knew I was not going to give away this victory, and I worked very hard to keep it together. 
Then a big curve broke with that restart, but we kept calm, we made a good decision on how to make it, built up again a gap, and it finished there. 
Very happy these two guys did an incredible job.  It's going to be a very tough championship for sure, good drivers, good talent, and that's what we all need. 

Q.  Tristan, this is only your second race here in the series, and you're side by side here with race winners.  Talk about how you're adapting to Firestone Indy Lights. 
TRISTAN VAUTIER:  There's quite a lot of work because it's a very different car to drive.  I've got to work quite a lot on my driving techniques.  I do think I have some tweaks to get, you know.  But I have a very good crew, my engineer, Chris Finch, really teaches me well to drive the car.  He went through all this process with Conor Daly last year, so I think he kind of knows what problems they have and what strong points they have. 
So we'll keep working.  It's quite a lot of work from (indiscernible) to get rid of, but it's been working okay so far.  So we'll keep working this way.  My engineer keeps pushing me and keeps being right on my butt for me to keep doing the right thing with the car, and so far it's been quite good. 

Q.  Sebastian, the success you've had so far this season, and keeping it up for the entire season, do you think that's what you need or what you're going to need to be able to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar? 
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA:  I think for sure it helps.  It's a situation that we know how important it is to keep building a car, building a driving style, and I haven't had a chance to only be 21 to take these kind of decisions.  We're actually building a very interesting program together with Andretti AutoSport already with an Indy 500 ride, hopefully a couple more races in the Indy season, and it's a great start to look forward to 2013. 
But I am very focused on this season.  It's not easy in any way.  These guys are pushing everything that I have learned during my past 12 years of racing, and that's what I want, to keep continuing learning, keep putting a lot of miles in my life and try to get back in the IndyCar and put all that experience in play. 

Q.  Esteban, as we just wrapped up two consecutive weekends, then we head to the streets of Long Beach, talk about how this momentum helps you with the podium finish heading into Long Beach. 
ESTEBAN GUERRIERI:  Yeah, this is a much better start than what I had last year, so I'm very glad for that.  We're still kind of just going with some new setups and stuff with my engineer.  I think like obviously everybody has room for improvement, so we're trying to find the tuning on every track, and it's looking good and we're scoring points, and we go to Long Beach with a lot of positive mind, of course, being already in the championship.  But it has been a dream to be on the podium both times.  I think we are a little bit ahead, so try to keep it this way and try to be fast at Long Beach, a little bit better race pace.  Last year I didn't have a very good one.  Not much to say but a lot to do. 
THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations on a great race, and best of luck as we head into Long Beach. 



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