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Firestone Indy Lights: Homestead-Miami 100

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Homestead-Miami 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Homestead-Miami 100

Mario Romancini
Sebastian Saavedra
October 9, 2009


HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Sebastian Saavedra, who finishes third today and finishes third in the championship points. Sebastian, talk about your day out there.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: It went very well today. I mean, we're happy. I think we're a bit unfortunate in the qualifying, it wasn't quite what we were expecting.
Starting from the last day, you change up your mentality. I was very calm, very mature in which way I was going to approach a difficult race. I took care of my tires for a long while. I knew that those last three laps were going to be key for the success, and well, it happened. I did step by step what I needed to do, kept a very open mind, never let anything get in my way. I'm very happy for the third place championship. I was for sure battling very hard to get that second, and it was just late. That happens, but I'm still very happy for the team. They did an incredible job.

Q. Coming into the season would you consider this a successful year now? Was this what you were hoping to do?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: I was for sure hoping to get second place in the championship. As a rookie, as my first year, you come with a different point of view after learning a lot.
More than anything, coming into this series, I was very open-minded, particularly when we're talking about ovals. In the beginning we knew that we had a team, and we had the right points to go for the win of a championship.
Little things during the season took us away from the opportunity, but I'm still very happy, still very happy to be here today, and hopefully what comes in the future, we'll try again.
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Mario Romancini, today's race winner, his second win of the year, he won earlier this season at the Milwaukee Mile. Mario, talk about your run out there today.
MARIO ROMANCINI: Okay. We started -- we didn't have a good qualifying run today. We knew that the race car was good. Actually we tried to work on the race setup during practice and were not so worried about qualifying. I was able to have a good start.
I think on the third lap I was already running (Inaudible). By the time that I was behind Hildebrand and Davison, I realized that it was going to be really, really hard to pass them, so I started to work together with them, I just tried to follow Hildebrand and push him so that we could pass Davison. I later did pass him, so I was running second at that time.
Again, I tried to pass J. R. a lot of times, but it just didn't happen. We had pretty much the same pace. I knew if I had one chance to win the race, it was going to be on the last lap at the start/finish line, and that's what I tried to do. I tried to just get a good run from him coming out of Turn 4, and as you all saw it was really, really, really close. I think I won by a millimeter. But anyway, it was really good to end the season with a win, and I just want to thank my team, my mechanic, engineers, everybody who helped me to be here, my sponsors.

Q. Mario, did you pretty much feel you had that move in you throughout the race? In other words, did you think the draft would help you make that after your final lap?
MARIO ROMANCINI: Yeah, actually about ten laps to go, I was still talking to my engineers to see what we could do to try to pass him, because I had already tried a lot of different moves and it wasn't happening.
But ten laps to go, actually when I took the white flag for the last lap, you can go back on the tape and you will see, I tried the same move that I did on the last lap. That was the point where I realized that I might have a chance because I was running pretty much side by side with him on the start/finish line. But then coming into Turn 1, he was going to have the advantage because he was on the inside. So I thought that my only chance would be on the last lap, so I tried to be as close as I could to him, side by side.

Q. Relive the emotions of sitting in the cockpit there. It looked like you didn't want to climb out for a while.
MARIO ROMANCINI: Yeah, I wasn't sure what happened. Before I came on the radio and I asked my engineer who won the race, and he was screaming, then I realized that we had won. This win means a lot to me. I think it's one of the most important of my career, if not the most.
I'm very, very glad to end the season with a win. With all the same problems that we had throughout the season and on the road courses, so it's really, really good to be back in the program and to be back winning races.
THE MODERATOR: Just as a side note, the margin of victory was the second closest ever in Firestone Indy Lights' history; the margin of victory was .0057.

Q. For the most part you're both new to this series, and for the most part you're both new to ovals. Have you now gotten used to it? Mario, you and J. R. ran side by side, as did you, Sebastian, are you guys getting used to that? Are you starting to enjoy that kind of racing, that close kind of racing?
MARIO ROMANCINI: I enjoy the ovals a lot. It was the same for him -- our first oval race was Kansas. Actually he won his first oval race. He won the race; I finished third.
So I think we had good oval races this year, and we understood how important it is to each other when we are there at the track. We are doing almost 200 miles per hour. As long as you can run side by side, I think everything should be good. Whoever has the best car and has the best momentum will win the race. It's important that in the end everybody is safe, and I think it was great for everybody to watch.
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: For sure coming to the end of the season, it's the most important to learn about, and I'm very thankful to Andretti to be behind me teaching these things, such people as Mario, Michael, Marco, TK and Danica. It's unbelievable how much information you can get from them. I was very lucky to be in that position, learning from the real masters of the oval racing. As soon as I came in, I knew that I was going to enjoy it a lot.
It's been an incredible experience in this new era of ovals, and I'm really thankful for the opportunity to put something else in my box.

Q. I was watching and I saw a lot of wheel-to-wheel, the wheels looked a couple times like they touched, and sometimes there were four or five cars in the draft. Were you looking for someone to help you there, or was it just if somebody was there it was okay, and if not -- did you have buddies?
MARIO ROMANCINI: Well, I don't know if I understood the question, but I had my spotter all the time helping me, telling me what's going on around me. In some oval races, you pretty much know where the other cars are around you, and as I said, as long as -- I was just trying to keep up with my line. He was in keeping with his line, and everything went well.

Q. Are you both on a two-year plan to try and get to the IndyCar Series? Are you going to try to get up there next year, or do you have any idea what 2010 holds for you?
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA: I think I have the advantage of being on this team right now, and I have to take advantage to keep learning a lot. I'm very open-minded, whatever the series can give me.
For sure we're looking for the right sponsors, and if we are able to get it, for sure I think maybe we can get the car in the IndyCar. But I want to get as fast as possible. I do want to get more prepared. It's going to be tough for sure to get the Colombians to get involved with this type of racing, but for sure whatever I do next year, it's going to be the right step in my career.
MARIO ROMANCINI: Every driver in Europe wants to get to Formula One. If drivers are here, they want to get in IndyCar. I think I want to be in IndyCar next year, but I'm still trying to find the sponsors so that I can run my share on Indy Lights. I hope I can stay with my team.
I think we improve the car a lot through the season. They should take into consideration that it was my first year on the oval, my first year on all the tracks that we've been racing on here in America. So if I can find the sponsors to keep running, I think I will do one more year in Indy Lights with them. A good Indy Lights win will help us to talk with the sponsors, but we will have a lot of work to do. I hope we can win some race for them. It's something that we couldn't do this year because it was too late in the season. Actually I went straight to the first race and only did one test. So if we can have a plan for this year I think it will be good. But now we'll sit down with more time and see what are the options.



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