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IndyCar Series: Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone

IndyCar Series: Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone

Helio Castroneves
August 31, 2008


DETROIT, MICHIGAN

THE MODERATOR: Scott, we appreciate your time.
Now our second place finisher, Helio Castroneves. Helio, if you would, talk about your run out there today?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Okay. Let's go. What a race, wow. What a great strategy. The car was awesome. I was pushing a lot, exactly like Sonoma. We're doing everything we could. Everything we could within our control we do to win this race.
My point of view, it's a situation that is very unusual. But it was awesome. I was taking the best out of myself, you know. When you drive like that under pressure, I don't know, I really was going for it.
With the lap times close to qualifying times at that point the track wasn't as good as before. But, anyway, I was having a lot of fun. Great pit stops, great calls. I was very proud of the whole organization.

Q. As Justin was pushing you and so forth before the blocking incident happened, it looked like you were actually working pretty hard with the car. It looked a little bit loose. Well, afterwards when Justin went by, what was the status of the handling? What were you dealing with at that stage of the game?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It was very interesting that situation, because when you slow down and come back again, the restart it looks like on the high-speed section I was really comfortable, no problem. But on the slow corners, the front of the car was really, I don't know, I think the temperature on the tires was getting a little bit hard to get up. And I was just trying to not make any mistakes.
It happened before, actually. I think one of the restarts when I took the lead and Justin was behind me. So it was pretty similar. But, of course, on the last one I was thinking pretty easy because I knew I didn't have to pit anymore.
So when he came out of the corner and I looked, he was pulling already. I was like, oh, wait, wait, wait a minute. Not there yet. Let me push because my car's not bad. My car's actually very good. And I knew if I didn't do that, probably he has nothing to lose. He's not battling for the Championship. He's just battling for a win.
He just decided to -- I mean, I think I did enough, you know, to say not now. If you do it again -- or that's always happened, let's put it this way. But very surprised with the call.
My opinion on that, I have to say, if you're going to put a ruse, you've got to start it from the beginning not towards the end.
Since I've been here since 2002, I always did that. And you got a warning, if you do it again, now you're penalized. But it was all of a sudden. Now I've got to give the position for him. I'm like wait a minute, and you could see next lap I was already three cars away from him.
So it's not something that we see many, many times. It was just an unusual call. And I really don't know why they did that. I'm very surprised. I don't know if all the teams or people were putting pressure. But Brian is not the typical guy to receive that.
So you've got to be consistent. You've got to start fresh and not towards the end of the season. Especially, battling for a Championship -- I mean, well, anyway. That was a very difficult situation.

Q. What was your reaction when you were told you had to give him the position? And was there any lobbying on your part going back to the officials through your crew?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I know Tim too well. We've been together for eight years. And if he's arguing, if he's battling to not make the decision happen, he would not say anything on the radio.
Again, I argued back once, and he said there's not much we can do. Particularly, to be honest, I didn't throw everything away. We still had one more race to go. You know, if I didn't have anything to lose, I would have stayed there. Sorry, appealing in the end, and go to that decision in the end.
So I just said listen, if you want to pass me back, I'll give him the position on the backstretch, and they said it's fine with that.

Q. Helio, so you can't see any justification or the call or reason for the call, or your team can't figure out what the justification was?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I actually would like you guys to ask Brian Barnhart why he did that. What's his decision and why all of a sudden, something like that. If it's personal, well, I wish he'd come to talk to me about it and not retaliate on the racetrack.
But I don't think it's like that. I'm very surprised. I'm very much surprised about this call.

Q. Just at the end you hung on to Justin a bit and then you dropped back. Were you having to conserve fuel or just say fine, this is where I'm at, this is where I'm going to finish?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I was pushing as hard as I could to try to get it back. My car was very good. But because I was so close to him, especially on the high-speed corners, that happened actually in Ohio. You start wearing your right front. And I don't know, the first stop or the first ten, the car was pushing a lot. And the last it was pushing a lot as well. So I don't know if there is something going on with tire pressure or if it's the tires which I doubt about.
But I was pushing as hard as I could. And once it was three to four laps to go, I was thinking I'm likely to make a mistake. And Justin is a first-class guy. He's a very well race driver. It would be very difficult for him to make a mistake, and that's why I decided to just finish.

Q. You got no warning other than when Tim told you you had to give up the points. How about at the driver's meeting? Was Brian adamant about blocking or anything like that?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Honestly, he was talking about blue flag, most of it. I got an incident in Sonoma and that's what he talked about. He always emphasized. To be honest, he did not emphasize here. He said here it's very difficult, we're going to be watching all of the cars. It's a difficult track.
Again, I mean, he always emphasized every race, not only on the road course, street course, but ovals. And I'm very, very disappointed and very surprised with that.

Q. How long is it going to take to kind of get over this tonight and move on and think about Chicago?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: That's a good question. Normally last time it happened to me was 1993 when I was about to win a F3 Championship. And 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Argentina guys stopped, and it took me a while.
But I can't. I can't let this bother me for the next race. Because we have next weekend. So what are we going to do? Turn the page tonight. I might have to drink some Tequila or something, too (laughing). Easy, hey, hey, I'm just joking, guys.
But definitely tomorrow we'll turn the page and work as hard as we can. Because the good news, we're still battling for the championship. If it's 30 points less or behind, I don't know the math, but I know we're going to have to work a lot again.
So we know what we need to do. We know we're going after a good team. But I trust my guys, I trust my team, and I know we can do it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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