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Firestone Indy Lights: Toronto 100

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Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Toronto 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Toronto 100

Dan Clarke
J.K. Vernay
Gustavo Yacaman
July 18, 2010


TORONTO, ONTARIO

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started today. We're joined by Dan Clarke and Gustavo Yacaman. This is JK's fourth win of 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season. He won at St. Petersburg, Barber and Watkins Glen. He's extended his points lead by 68 over Toronto's James Hinchcliffe. This is JK's sixth podium finish in seven starts this season.
Dan Clarke joins us finishing second, a season best. His previous best finish was fourth at Indianapolis. And we're also joined by Gustavo Yacaman, who finished third, a career best finish for him. His previous best finish was at Milwaukee in 2009.
Dan, can you talk about today's race and especially the closing laps and the pressure you're putting on James.
DAN CLARKE: Yeah, it feels great to be back on the podium. I've been here before with those other cars that we're not supposed to talk about anymore.
It feels great to be back. It's an awesome track. It rubbered up on the last day and it was pretty quick. First it was a huge break for Walker Racing yesterday when we got third place in qualifying. We thought we would have had a chance for pole, but when it came to qualifying, we had some symptoms in the cars we couldn't fix. For the race, we were quite worried because warmup wasn't very quick.
We got a good start. The race was a long race. I think it's a lot of laps for Toronto. Very busy laps. I think it's a lot more work for the drivers than some of the other tracks are.
Sitting in third place, watching Gustavo behind me, keeping an eye on him every lap in my mirrors, watching James and JK start to battle it out, I was feeling pretty good as the race was going on. I was thinking, This is awesome, we're going to get a podium. It's what we need because we've had some bad luck this year with little things failing on the car and missing out. At Indy we came so close to a podium again.
The last few laps, James had been locking up into the hairpin and making mistakes. That was worrying me because Gustavo was starting to catch me. Then the last lap, I got a great run behind James. I was the closest to him I'd ever been. Got a great draft up behind him. I was literally half a car length off his tail.
Going into the braking zone, he kept it tight. I just pulled out as normal, let him defend, and then, yeah, he just slid off. I presume he must have been worried and just lost sight of where he was, made a mistake, handed second place to me. Then I just kept going.
Silently I was keeping quiet. Hadn't said anything on the radio. 12 laps to go I hit the wall at the hairpin. The inside wall sticks out just after the apex. I hit it with my front right. The steering wheel position had moved from here to here. I was driving around praying that my corner didn't collapse on me. That braking is hard into three.
When I had second, I just hung on and crossed the line. Now it's time to take it easy and celebrate.
THE MODERATOR: Gustavo, clearly an exciting day for you. Your first podium in Firestone Indy Lights. Talk about today's race.
GUSTAVO YACAMAN: Like Dan said, it's a long time since I've been on the podium. First time in Indy Lights. I'm really excited. We worked so hard. I worked so hard at the end of last year. To start getting together with Wayne Taylor, with the Cape brothers, you know, there were other teams, there was Moore, Bryan Herta. We tested with Anderson. We tested with all those guys. I didn't quite feel I was in the right place.
I've had a relationship with Wayne before. He said, Maybe we can build something up for you. That's what we did. We got this two great guys, Dominic and Nicholas Cape. They were joined by Wayne Taylor Motorsports, which is head by Simon Hodgson, which is a guy that has incredible experience, leading Lotus F1, working with Ganassi back in the Champ Car era. He's just a great guy. We've got a great group of people that we put together. Now the results are starting to show.
It's really hard as a new team, as a one-car team, to be where we are right now. I'm really happy for them. This was not only good for me, it's really good for them because it makes us work harder and makes us exceed our expectations, which is really good for us. And it's really good for all my sponsors because it's hard to get sponsors when you've been over a year without a podium.
This is definitely a great boost for me, for my dad, for my family, for everyone, to keep believing in us. Now what we got to do is keep working on it, keep scoring podiums, and hopefully a race win will come soon.
THE MODERATOR: JK, congratulations on today's win. Quite a streak you're on now. Fourth win of the season. Can you talk about today's race.
JEAN-KARL VERNAY: The beginning was really hard. I struggled a bit at the start. The free spin on the first corner was not easy. James was outside. Inside the corner one it's very slippery on the concrete. I was just sliding on the track and I hit him a bit. I damaged a bit my front left suspension.
I was able to lead the first lap. After I had to manage my tires because of the suspension. It was really difficult for me to turn on the right corner. I had a lot of understeering. I had to take care about that. Yeah, I had to change my driving style.
At the end we won, so it's great. The car was great. The car was just amazing. My engine and my crew did a great job. After I saw in the last lap that James hit the wall, I'm sorry for him, but I have to say also that's a good thing for me for the championship. I cannot say the opposite.
It's a good weekend. It will be a really hard fight with him. He's really, really fast, especially on the road tracks. Yeah, I think I'm waiting another battle like that, and maybe with Dan, Sebastian, Kimball. Great level in this series. Every race you can have a different winner. I know it will be hard, but we have to stay focused like that till the end of the championship if we want to win it.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. JK, the restart seemed to be key for you. Did your team talk to you ahead of time about when you should get on the gas?
JEAN-KARL VERNAY: I was a bit quicker than James in the two last corners, on the right left. I was a bit quicker than him. It was enough to have like 10 meters to be 10 or 20 meters before corner one, because he was really quick on the braking on corner one. After on the straight, my car was good and it was really easy in corner three.
I was really focused to do a great restart, to have a good line for the two last corners, to have enough gap for corner one. After corner one, I know it would be okay.

Q. Dan, your car seemed to be really good early in the runs. Was it just the way the setup worked or were your tires starting to overheat?
DAN CLARKE: I think JK, he's proven he's the pacesetter at most places we go. It was no surprise he was in the lead today. I think the first third of the race, it looked like James was really on him. Like JK said, he was struggling with something. There was a few opportunities where we all caught up to JK. That's what probably made it look so close.
I kind of feel for some of the fans watching out there because there was no overtaking at the front. But it was actually a tough race. Like JK was struggling. He made a few places where he really lost a lot of time. James would pounce on him. I would be getting close to James, too.
It wasn't a great race for passing, but we all knew where everybody else was. It was pretty close in that respect. Then towards the end I think James' car actually was the one that drifted away. The last 10 laps, I always want to keep the gap from Gustavo, because if anybody gets the draft on the back straight, they're going to be strong to pass you. James was actually making mistakes. It allowed Gustavo to catch me.
We were bunching up. When I was behind James at Indy, when I was fourth and he was third, his car went away. I was pretty close to getting passed there.

Q. JK, you're up almost 70 points with six races left. At what point do you start taking less risks and start worrying about winning the championship?
JEAN-KARL VERNAY: I didn't take risks because I had the chance to lead and don't have to pass.
But, yeah, I'm not focused on the championship. I mean, my goal is to win the championship, for sure. But I prefer to be focused race after race, great qualifying, because on the road courses is really important. If you start on pole, second, the first two rows, really it's a big deal.
I mean, I really wanted to win here because I know that on the road track, on the city track, I'm really quick. I finished second in the World Cup in F3 for a rookie in my car. I know that I'm confident.
Yeah, next weekend it's in Edmonton. It's a racetrack who I don't know again. It will be tough to learn it. So I try to take the points when I can. If it's too hard or if it's too hard to overtake somebody just for three points, I will not do that. I think, yeah, I try to reflect enough not to take too many risks.

Q. What were your thoughts when you saw what happened to James and you were passing? What was going through your head at that point?
DAN CLARKE: I think the surprising thing for James is when we get to the last few races in particular, he's setting the pace, topping the times most of the time. We're all wondering what his setup is, what's he doing.
But then in the race, he seems to drift away a bit. It may be JK, because I'm not in his car, but it looked like James was strong at the beginning of the race. It looked at some point James was going to make a move. It didn't happen. In the second half, it seemed like he didn't have that car. JK slipped away and suddenly slipped into my clutches.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for taking the time to come in. Congratulations on the podium finishes.



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