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Firestone Indy Lights: Sukup 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Sukup 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Sukup 100

Bryan Clauson
Josef Newgarden
Gustavo Yacaman
June 25, 2011


NEWTON, IOWA

THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by two of our podium finishers from today's Firestone Indy Lights race, Gustavo Yacamán of Team Moore Racing and Bryan Clauson of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. This is Gustavo's best Firestone Indy Lights finish. His previous best was third at Toronto in 2010.
Gus, if you can, talk about getting your first podium for Team Moore Racing.
GUSTAVO YACAMÁN: Well, I mean, it was a really, really hard race, 115 laps, really, really long. You know, the start was pretty nerve-wracking with that incident with Guerrieri. He didn't give me any space, and I just stayed in there. We both made contact, were a little bit wide, and it was pretty close to being the end for both of us. But it wasn't, and the race went on. The cars were fine.
Then just after the restart I just didn't have the pace to keep up with Esteban and Newgarden was attacking me, so he sort of pulled away and then Newgarden was able to get by, and I just stuck with him. He pulled me through and got past Esteban. I don't know what happened to him later in the race.
Then it was basically the battle for second and third with Bryan. It felt like forever, you know, and with all the traffic and everything, my car -- I don't know what happened to my car because before behind Newgarden it was really hooked on and I was doing really fast laps and was pulling me along pretty good, but then as soon as we caught Wilson and I don't know who else it was, you know, I just -- I don't know what happened, and I started to pick up a big, big understeer on exit and I couldn't keep up with them, and then it was like a rubber band. Bryan would get close, he would try to attack me, and then fall back ten cars and pick up again and fall back again.
It was a pretty tight finish, and I really want to thank Mark. We worked so hard. We've had a strong car so many times, but it's really good to capitalize on that equipment he's given me. We've just had so much bad luck at Indy, Barber. Long Beach was all right, but we want more, we want podiums, we want race wins, and I'm working really hard with the team, and here we are, first podium, and I'm going to keep working just as hard to keep them coming.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Bryan Clauson, who finished third. This is Bryan's best Firestone Indy Lights finish and only his third start in the finish. Bryan finished fourth last weekend at Milwaukee. If you can talk about capping off your triple duty this weekend with a podium.
BRYAN CLAUSON: It was a great end to a really busy weekend for me. It was a lot of fun. That was kind of more what I was used to, a little bit of short track racing.
We had a really strong car. We were just a little bit tight for most of the race, and I kind of maxed out my tools and got to kind of move my line around because I was behind these guys for a long time.
By about the midway point the car was actually pretty good, and I started attacking Gustavo a little bit and threw everything I had at him. I tried high, I tried low, I tried getting a big run from the draft. I tried sticking right with him. I threw everything I had at him, and the car just wasn't quite good enough pinned up underneath him to complete the pass. I could get right up to about the side pod and then he'd carry momentum off the corner and he was strong enough on exit to keep us behind him.
He said it took forever. I thought it went by really quick once I started attacking. I needed more laps. But it was a lot of fun, and it's a great way to kind of end the not only triple duty this weekend but my three races in the Lights car. We got better and better each week and have continued to learn and get stronger, and went from kind of a Hail Mary into a 5th at Indy into being decent at Milwaukee last weekend and then being really strong here at Iowa.
So a great weekend overall, and I can't wait to get back at it in New Hampshire in a few months.

Q. I have a question for Bryan. How do you like the downforce?
BRYAN CLAUSON: I love downforce. It's just so much different -- somebody asked me out there, it looked like a USAC race, and my response to that was no, because in a USAC race when I get the run, everybody has to lift because we don't have the downforce so I can outrun them into the corner and take the spot.
The downforce racing has been something to adjust to and figuring out how to make my car work behind him and where I needed to be on the racetrack, and he did a really good job of moving around and taking air off the front of mine and using the air to his advantage, and then he was kind of trying to work on Joseph, too.
Trying to figure out the little nuances of downforce racing, it's been fun, been tough. I've learned a lot, and I think the more I do it, the better I'll get at it.

Q. Gustavo, you talked about the chance to be in trouble that early, first lap, and not only didn't you lose the car but there wasn't the kind of damage that affected you in a way that you couldn't come back and finish second. How close was that to being over at that point, and what did it take to hold it together maybe even mentally to stay in it and challenge to win the race at the end?
GUSTAVO YACAMÁN: I knew that was going to happen. I had it set in my mind. I was either going to go for the lead or go for the wall. I told everyone on the team I wasn't going to lift. You know, I didn't lift. That's what happened. I'm sure next time he'll give me a little bit more space, maybe a foot or two instead of just chopping me right off. He knows I'm not afraid of taking both of us out. It's how it works. You know, you've got to earn your respect. That's what I did.
Yeah, it was a lot of risk, but hey, it paid off. I'm pretty sure not even just on ovals but also on road courses he's going to know I'm there and I'm not going to lift, and we're not here to make friends, we're not here to be careful. This is racing, and like they say, rubbing is racing, right?

Q. After you guys got past that opening lap, why was Joseph able to maintain that lead, and what kept him just one spot ahead of you?
GUSTAVO YACAMÁN: Well, when we got to that racing pack that it was Vitor, Ostella and Wilson fighting there for position going two to three wide, just whenever we got there, my car didn't help me at all really. They took the air out of me. Whenever I was behind Joseph, it was great; he was pulling me along pretty good. I didn't have anything for him, though. You know, he pulled me along the whole race.
But you know, whenever we got to stretch, I just couldn't get by him. He didn't help me out, either. Even though he was being lapped he was still fighting for position. I understand that. And then that helped Joseph to just get away.

Q. Bryan, from your vantage point were you able to see that opening lap? I don't really know where you were at that point.
BRYAN CLAUSON: No, I was focused on the 11. The 11 got me on the outside there on the start, was able to carry momentum around us and he dropped down right in front of me down the back straightaway and I just kind of tucked up in behind him to try and make sure we weren't under attack from fifth, and the next thing I knew I heard, stay low, stay low, and next thing I knew they were hooked together. I didn't really get a good view of what happened.
I was surprised they both came out of it to be honest. I don't know how they -- that's a pretty fast part of the racetrack.
GUSTAVO YACAMÁN: Downforce.
BRYAN CLAUSON: Downforce. And they got hooked together and they managed to get out of it, but I didn't really have a good vantage point on it.

Q. Bryan, how much have your teammates been helping this year in adapting to this style of racing?
BRYAN CLAUSON: They've been a great help, and Sam has got a really good lineup over there with Esteban and Joseph and Victor. I think what I've brought to the team a little bit initially in oval experience, they returned the favor in helping me get used to the rear engine race car and the downforce and everything that comes along with it.
It's been a lot of fun working with those guys, and they've got some really great race car drivers over there that have been a great help to me, and it makes your learning curve that much easier and makes them really tough to beat, too

Q. Did they stick around yesterday to see you race your day job?
BRYAN CLAUSON: They stuck around for the midget race. I think the midget race went a little bit too long for them. They wanted to get to bed. But they stuck around in Milwaukee for both races and they've gotten to see -- they saw the midget race last night and said that I was absolutely stupid for driving a midget as fast as we go. They kind of embraced it and had a lot of fun, and I've been kidding them they need to get to a dirt track. Before the end of the year I'm going to drag them out to one.

Q. Gustavo, you're headed back to Toronto, the next race. How much momentum does this finish give you headed to a track that you know pretty well?
GUSTAVO YACAMÁN: Yeah, Toronto was my best finish last year. It was a great race. I had a great car. I'm sure this year I'm going to have just as good of a car, even better. The competition is really, really tough, and like I said, we can't just count on momentum to keep the podiums coming. I just have to keep working even harder to be up here.
Like I said, this was the hardest frigging race I've ever driven, so close on so many occasions. Between Bryan and I, a fly couldn't be able to be there. We were running so close.
Like I said, Toronto is a really bumpy track. It's going to be real different from all those guys are used to. Let's hope experience plays on my side for a bit. Obviously being on the podium here gets some momentum going, and let's work hard to keep this momentum carry us through the rest of the season.
THE MODERATOR: We are now pleased to be joined by our race winner, Joseph Newgarden of Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Joseph took the lead on lap 26 and went on to win the race. This is Joseph's third Firestone Indy Lights victory. He previously won at St. Pete and Indianapolis. Importantly, Joseph extended his championship lead over Esteban Guerrieri by 46 points.
Joseph, how important was this win today with the championship and seeing Esteban have that trouble?
JOSEPH NEWGARDEN: I mean, in regards to the championship, it's a big deal, but you don't want to see that happen to a teammate. When I heard about it -- I didn't realize it at first when I passed him and then I heard that he had engine troubles. You just don't want to see that happen to a teammate; you want to win, you want to win straight up. I feel really bad about that.
But you know what, he's very good. He's a very good driver, he's very consistent, a very good competitor, so I think he'll bounce back from this fine. But again, just a shame to see. We all work really hard to get our cars up top, and if it's not me on the top step of the podium, we work to get someone on the team up there. It was a shame for him but still an okay day for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, I guess.

Q. Gustavo was talking about the contact you guys made in that opening lap and just right out of the gates there was the potential either of you could have lost a car right there, and then for both of you to recover from that moment and be there at the end, what did it take to hold it together and be there at the end when it could have ended?
JOSEPH NEWGARDEN: Well, it's tough to talk about. I think this issue sort of happened a week ago with Dario. You know, when these things happen with drivers, it's hard to say your opinion I think sometimes. It's tough what happened out there. I mean, everyone is racing for the same territory. You want to run hard with your competitors. But sometimes I think you get a little overzealous or maybe or your emotions take over. That happens. Everybody is human out there, and it's a tough deal. Everyone wants to prove themselves, especially in front of all these IndyCar owners.
It's not easy for any of us, and I think that those things happen. You've just got to try and stay out of it yourself, and I think be as clean as you can and make sure that you don't get caught up in it, even if that means sacrificing a position. Maybe you won't make that overtaking maneuver -- you could have, but you didn't just to sacrifice the car, which is -- not sacrifice, but I should say save the car. That's just a decision you have to make sometimes. I think Esteban was really lucky with what happened, and that could have ended a lot worse with the car damage and everything like that. And certainly we could have gotten involved in something but we managed to stay out of that, and I think some of that is experience and some of that is just trying to stay smart. I think everyone is trying their hardest to do that, and that's really what you've got to do in a championship. You can't be having incidents. You've got to be finishing the races and getting points every weekend.

Q. He had mentioned in the future he thought you might give him another foot or two. You might have a different version of that assessment of the situation.
JOSEPH NEWGARDEN: I can only tell you my opinion on it. Whether it's right or wrong, I think a lot of people saw it for themselves and they can interpret it themselves. Certainly for me going down the back straight, I was just trying to overtake him and I went all the way to the inside with him coming down all the way to the inside. You know, I don't know whose fault that would be. I'm not going to say. That is what happened.
I thought I was racing him clean, and if I didn't, then I'll apologize if I did anything wrong to him, but I tried certainly to give him as much racing room as I could.

Q. Why were you able to hold him off for so many laps? Your car was one step ahead of him the rest of the way.
JOSEPH NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think so. The team did a great job putting the car together, and not just putting it together the right way, but we really focused on what we were going to need in traffic and how we were going to manage the race for 115 laps. The car that we put on the grid there was just able to go anywhere.
It made my job very, very easy just because I think the car was so good, and that's a tribute to the team and all the work they put into it but also my engineer Doug. You know, all the calculations he does, he's got all these programs that he runs through and he sits there all night long trying to get the right thing, and I think he stresses over it a lot more than me inside the car. You know, that's a great job to the guys really, just giving me the tools to do it, and that's really what you saw there was that I had a phenomenal car under me. It could go anywhere on the track and I had no problem going high or low on a guy, and it was easy to run through the draft, so it wasn't too difficult for me once I got up behind a guy.

Q. You've now won on a street course, a speedway and a short oval. Talk about how this diversity of the Indy Lights schedule is preparing you for the next step.
JOSEPH NEWGARDEN: It's pretty cool. This is a really cool series. I like that there's so much diversity in it. Obviously you mentioned we go to street courses, road courses, ovals, all different kinds of ovals, big, small, short, different shapes, whatever you want to call it, which is great. That is just increasing I think every driver's learning curve. Every driver that runs in this series is going to have a enormous jump in their acceleration for learning because we're all junior drivers here still and we're always learning, and that's a big deal.
So I think to run in this championship and to be exposed to all those different elements is great. It's fantastic for me and for everyone else running the championship, and hopefully we can just keep doing the job that we've been doing and end with a good result at the end of the year.

Q. Earlier we were asking Bryan how much you guys are helping him adapt to IndyCar racing. How much has having a teammate like Bryan helped you guys prepare for these ovals?
JOSEPH NEWGARDEN: It's big, and I think vice versa, the same goes for him. He's trying to learn how to drive an open-wheel car. It's very alien to him. He's never been in this type of seat before. It's a little bit tighter than what he's used to. It's obviously much lower to the ground. He's not very comfortable himself. He's got a lot of challenges he's facing even though he knows ovals.
But the same goes, like you said, for us, that we're trying to learn ovals and he's a master at it. We can really help each other in both ways; we can try to help him understand an open-wheel car and get used to it and feel comfortable and all the little ins and outs that we've learned over the years.
But the same thing goes with Bryan. He might speak a little bit different language, but we're saying the same things, just have a little different vocabulary with stuff. But he's a great guy, really great to work with. I've enjoyed spending time with him and all the other teammates, and we're just pushing each other forward with -- I think all of our skill sets combined really push us forward on this grid.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the win, and we will see you in Toronto.



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