Firestone Indy Lights: Mid-Ohio 100
Topics: Mid-Ohio 100
August 9, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We're here with our second- and third-place finishers from the Mid-Ohio 100. We have second-place finisher James Hinchcliffe and third-place finisher J.R. Hildebrand. A couple notes about our second- and third-place finishers. This is James Hinchcliffe's career-best finish of second. He was third four previous times this season. And J.R. retains the points lead over Sebastian Saavedra with his eighth podium finish of the season.
Unofficially the points are J.R. 420, Sebastian 357, our race winner James Davison with 341, Wade Cunningham with 336 and James Hinchcliffe with 333.
Let's start with J.R. Talk about your race.
J.R. HILDEBRAND: It ended up being a little bit of a long race for me. We tried to sort of tune the car to be good on starts and restarts. It's a really tough track to pass on. It's a place that historically is almost impossible, particularly with cars like ours.
We knew being up front, pulling a lot of downforce off the car was just going to make us slow on the lap. We didn't really do that. We just tried some things for the race to see if we could get by. I was able to hang with Hinch for a good portion of the start of the race. Just started picking up a lot of understeer being that close behind him. I should have realized that a little bit sooner and backed off.
I ended up firing it off the road out of turn one with chronic understeer. At that point I decided discretion was going to be the better part of valor and held back a little bit. We had a restart there. Everybody got away clean. Hung with these guys for a little bit, but they were just quick all weekend.
So congratulations to them. We'll take the points and head to the home track in a couple weeks. I think we'll be good for the rest of the season. Looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: And, James, talk a little bit about your run today.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Much like J.R. said, being such a tough track to pass on, probably a little bit processional. But started all right. James got a really good jump on the start. Probably took my tires about two or three laps longer to come in. Got a little bit of a gap. My mirror was full of J.R.
Car came together, we started catching James. Got within 8/10ths and just couldn't close the gap after that. Started picking up understeer. Even slow corners, it's just tough to follow here.
I think early on we probably were a match for him. I think I just, sort of like J.R., used up so much of my tires running behind him. After that restart, couldn't get below the 14.7. Just did 14.7 after 14.7 after 14.7 no matter what I did. I tried everything in the book. From there, was just sort of managing a gap back to J.R., salvaging second.
It's really good to break the third-place (indiscernible), get to a higher step of the podium. Obviously, would have liked to have won more. Got a couple races left to try to do that. It was a great race for us. They did a great job all weekend with the car. Thanks to those guys. Congrats to James and J.R.
Yeah, we will just try to take this momentum. We were strong last weekend on the mile-and-a-half at Kentucky, strong on the road courses. That's what we've got left, one road course and two more mile-and-a-halfs. Hopefully we can just finish the year strong and try and creep up in points.
THE MODERATOR: We've been joined by the race winner, James Davison, his second career win. His first win was here last year at Mid-Ohio. He has a matched set of trophies. Vision Racing's first win in Firestone Indy Lights. Talk about your run, James.
JAMES DAVISON: Just a really nice race, to be honest. It came quite easy. Pulled away at the start. I saw J.R. all over James. Kind of like déjà vu of Watkins Glen. I knew he was on (indiscernible) rear wing. Kind of surprised when I didn't see J.R. anymore. Didn't know what happened.
It was just a really nice race. Car was consistent. I was just making sure that I clicked every apex. When I saw James coming up, I stepped back, whatever, matched his lap times, a little bit quicker. Yeah, it was just a really nice race. Great to just finally get it done.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES DAVISON: No, no. I mean, you don't get in trouble. You only get in trouble if you do it twice really. You may as well try and do it. I guess Hinch didn't get such a good start. I'm clearly the one in the lead. It's single file. They waved it off. The second start, it was probably a better start for me, if anything.
It was a good start, yeah.
Q. How grueling was it out there today?
JAMES DAVISON: It was fine. I was running nice and consistently. I didn't make any mistakes. If anything, I'm just a bit mentally tired right now. I woke up at 4:30 this morning for no reason at all. Yeah, just get a good night's sleep will be good.
Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES DAVISON: I don't know. Recently. I'm not stressed. I'm not thinking about it. I just don't sleep as well when I'm at a race weekend. I don't know why.
Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES DAVISON: No, didn't have anything to do with that.
Q. What do you think about the direction the IndyCar Series is going?
JAMES DAVISON: Well, I think for us, we're all road racers, so we like it. Especially in a championship, if someone is beating you who clearly has a very quick car on the ovals, but they're not particularly quick on the road courses, it's a little bit frustrating. I think we saw that last year. Having half, half, it makes more sense, you know, 'cause, to be honest, my engineer engineered Frank last year. He qualified on the pole in the road courses and 20th on the ovals.
I think half, half, it's good. Just as long as that's what the fans want. Ovals is a big part of American tradition in racing.
Yeah, I'm happy with it.
J.R. HILDEBRAND: I wouldn't have much to add to that really. You know, I think the more diversity the series has from a lot of perspectives, you know, the different kinds of tracks, the potential for different engine manufacturers, stuff like that, that's just going -- I guess I would say that would be able to attract more people, to get more interested in more kinds of different aspects of the series.
Like James said, as a road course racer, that's definitely attractive from that perspective, there's more road courses on the schedule. Yeah, I would think it would be great for the series as well. I think it gives it a little bit more credibility from an open-wheel standpoint in a global sense that there's more road racing. I mean, if you have the 500 on the schedule, and some of the other ovals we go to, you also have the best racing in the United States.
I think that's a good move, for sure.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: These guys sort of covered it. I think it sort of legitimizes a champion of champions. You really have to be good at all disciplines, street courses, road courses, short ovals and superspeedways. Even if it was all ovals, if it was one kind of oval, it would be dull, so you throw in different kinds of ovals. If it was just road courses, it would be dull, so you throw in street circuits.
I think it's better for the teams, better for the drivers, and ultimately better for the fans. As James said, if you had one guy or one team that is just dominant on one specific kind of track, and you're always racing there, you're going to have boring race. Really mixing it up like this, it makes the drivers work harder, the teams work a lot harder. It ultimately just makes the show better. As much as we like to think we're here for us, we're really not. It's got nothing to do with the guys behind the wheel or anything. It's about the fans in the stands. We're here to put on a good show and good races. I think the diversity in the tracks really sort of accomplishes that well.
Q. (No microphone.)
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: He had a great restart. We all sort of spread out. It's tough. Sort of on cold tires, when you're the guy in front, you're already sort of fighting for grip. If you're behind the car, you're loosing a bit of aero anyway, so you're fighting more. So obviously the guy in front has a bit of an advantage.
Q. (No microphone.)
J.R. HILDEBRAND: I don't know, man. Yeah, as soon as I went off, picturing the videos. I think it was a couple years back, Harrington just like tubbed it because he went so far off. I was like, Oh, God, this is just like 'game over' if that happens. Everybody is going to be super pissed off.
I was glad to not go off that far. I just kind of backed off, got it back on the track. Yeah, the toes were probably off. Man, that was of the least of my worries. It was all right, yeah. No biggy.
Q. (No microphone.)
J.R. HILDEBRAND: I think at most racetracks it's a little bit dependent just on how your car is working. If there's some part of the track that the car works really well, those turns don't end up being that difficult. If the car is a little bit tougher to handle through certain corners, then those corners end up being difficult.
But, I mean, I'd say for me, I've raced at Mid-Ohio a number of times here over the last four, five years. I've always thought turn one is really difficult because I've never driven a car that it's even close to possible to do it flat. It's one of those corners, you talk to the IndyCar guys, same thing, I talked to Tony Kanaan about it yesterday. It's that corner on the track that just always seems like it should be faster than it is. It's not even always because you don't get the most out of it that you think you got. It just always seems like you should be able to carry three or four miles an hour more through there.
I'd say it's a really tough corner to get right. It's the fastest corner on the track. Just adds that much sort of extra to screwing it up.
JAMES DAVISON: I'd probably say turn nine in some ways is challenging because the car is very loaded when you get through there. It's very important to get good entry speed, clip the apex, get power over the crest of the hill. If you don't, you understeer off. If you go over that curb, you can lose it on entry. You can run wide on the exits. I'd say probably turn nine is one of the most difficult ones.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I'd probably agree with J.R.
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