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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: Thank you.
We're now joined by race winner, Justin Wilson. Justin, congratulations. Tell us about your run out there today.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was a very interesting day. There was a lot going on. Off the start, we were just trying to max the pace, save fuel and keep up with the guys in front.
Once that yellow came out, everyone was a bit unsure which was the right way to go. We opted to stay out and it paid off. So I was very is pleased about that. The team's done a fantastic job. So it's great to finally get a win for Newman/Haas/Lanigan. It's amazing.

Q. Where to begin? First of all, this morning you obviously had problems with the steering. You didn't get to run a lot. You said the car was good, but not anything special. Again you missed that time this morning. So again, it's a mark of the team. But just talk about that issue, and did you find in the car you were able to get something for the car that was a little bit better in the race than it had been?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, the benefit of having a two-car team. You know, Graham did a similar change to what we did overnight and didn't like it, so we both went back. Without having Graham as a teammate, there's no way we would have had that information. So it's just a team effort. Knowing what steps to make and we calculated it best to go back to what we know as opposed to take that risk and running something we're not sure about.
The car was good. It just got better and better. The more tire rubber that went down, the better it got, and the more the car floats. So I was very pleased with the way my car was working.
And I figured once we went a lap further than Oriol Servia on that first stop, we figured okay. The car's not that bad. We've got something we can race with.

Q. You had been hounding Helio there for a while. And when the key moment happened when they called him for blocking, how did it look from your view point?
JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously there are two sides to every story. From my position he slid a little bit through 10, 11, and 12. When he went into 12 on the brake he overshot. I went back to the inside and got some great traction. And before we even got to full power, was inching alongside him. I thought well, this is pretty straightforward.
By the time we hit the brakes, I'm going to be axle to axle. I'm on the inside, it's a clear cut. I was surprised he came over, and then he came over more, and he came over more to the point I had to back out, even brake.
It was pretty severe. I was upset on the radio, and complaining to my team. They said, calm down. IndyCar had seen it and they knew how bad it was, and they're going to make a call. And that's what happened. So I think that was going to be one of the key maneuvers of the race, and it didn't happen. So they figured that deserved a penalty.

Q. Can you share with us any conversation with Helio afterwards on the victory stand or anything, any comments?
JUSTIN WILSON: No. He obviously said he was shocked that he got the call. But, you know, I wasn't so shocked (laughing). There are two sides to every incident. It's just racing, you know.
If I was in his position and you so desperately want to win for the Championship, then, maybe I would have done the same thing. The outcome would have been the same. So you just have to do what you feel is right in that split second.
I'm not trying to get in the way of the Championship, but I'm trying to win out there. And people come to see a race. They don't want to just see guys driving around. So that was my opportunity to race, and I was pretty frustrated it didn't actually get to a proper overtaking maneuver.

Q. With so much at stake for the Championship, are you surprised that the call was made?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was a little bit surprising. But, in my mind, it was so clear and so obvious that I think something had to be done.
I was very pleased. I knew in my eyes I had to make a decided move. I didn't want to get tangled up with Helio. I don't want to get in the middle of the Championship battle. So I knew I had to be very decisive when I did make my move.

Q. It's been a transition here for Newman/Haas/Lanigan, in a lot of ways, too. There are a lot of new faces on the team and stuff like that. Can you talk about how it means to win for Carl and Paul and Mike as well?
JUSTIN WILSON: It's fantastic. I said out there on the podium, this is definitely the highlight of my career. To win a race for Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing, we've got three fantastic owners who all add something to the team in their own unique way. And I'm very privileged to be driving for them.
So it means a lot to win for McDonald's, and to get this first victory in our first season of IndyCar Racing when times have been so difficult.
So, you know, we've had so much happen this year. There's been a lot of occasions where I felt we were in contention for at least a podium if not a win and things haven't gone our way.
It's tough to keep going and saying, That's racing, that's racing. But you've got to keep picking yourself up and moving on. I'm very happy to have finally got a win this year and keep my streak going of winning at least one race every season.

Q. We talked to Helio earlier that it seemed on the restarts for his car wasn't as good as yours on the first few laps after the restart. There was an earlier restart where you were right on him for I don't know, four or five laps and he was able to pull away. Can you sort of talk about that from your perspective?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I was a little bit surprised. He was struggling on the restarts and so was I. We were running the first laps after it went green we were five seconds off our pace. Then it was 4, then it was 3. It just took a long time to get back up to speed.
I relaxed a little bit once I saw he was struggling as much as I was, and I just tried to work the situation. I was all over him a couple of times. You know, it's just very difficult out there.
Once the tire pressures come up, you've got the grip and he was fast, and I had to save fuel. So we pitted quite early on the last stop. It was just outside our window because the team saw some debris on the front straight. So that put the pressure on knowing that we'd given up I don't know, 5, 10 laps of fuel. I'm not sure how much further we had to go.
But we had given up a lot of fuel running and went out and had to save a lot of fuel. I didn't think it was going to be possible. Fortunately, that yellow came out and allowed me to run hard again. I got the call seven laps from the end that I could go flat out, and that's when I decided to push hard.

Q. I know it's been quite a while since Paul's been around. How do you feel being able to give him a victory at this stage of the fight?
JUSTIN WILSON: It's something I really wanted to do. Paul's a great part of the team. He calls me after every single race, and he passes on his regards to how well we've done or how unlucky we've been.
You know, it's great to finally be able to repay his comments and nice words. So, like I said earlier, it's just fantastic to be driving for this team.
THE MODERATOR: Justin, thank you very much. Congratulations.



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