IZOD IndyCar Series: Firestone 550
Topics: Firestone 550
June 8, 2013
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by tonight's second place finisher Ryan Hunter‑Reay, driver of the No.1 DHL Chevy. It's his career‑best finish at Texas Motor Speedway, fourth top five of the season and he's now third in points, 27 points behind Helio. Ryan, talk about your evening.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Oh, man, that was interesting. It was a battle (phonetic) out there. It was like, at times, a race against yourself, just to save the tires and keep yourself off the wall. It was just a very challenging race.
But the No.1 DHL Chevy was great all night. We made it better and better. I was searching around for grip, getting into a rhythm, but definitely has the full range of racing here at Texas Motor Speedway from 2008 to now. It's so difficult to get the package exactly right with the downforce and the tires and the degradation of the tires, and as a series we're working toward that.
I think we've nailed it perfectly in the past, and we'll get it right, for sure. But I don't know, I didn't watch the race, but it was sure‑‑ it was sure a struggle in there for me.
TONY KANAAN: It was exciting from my perspective.
THE MODERATOR: Driver of the No. 11 Sunoco Turbo, Chevy. It's his eighth top five finish at TMS, third top five of 2013 and 4th now in the standings, 64 back of Helio.
TONY KANAAN: It's a long night. I think Ryan said it all. It was a difficult race at times. I decided to go off strategy because I was not comfortable with my car towards the end; I didn't know what‑‑ guys, I want more tires, give me more tires; well, you're going to go a lap down.
In the end, when I saw Ryan pitting right away, earlier than me and it worked for him, I drove into the pits. But I think unfortunately, I caught more traffic than he did on my out‑laps and that kept me‑‑ but great result for us. First race that Sunoco came aboard with the Turbo car, so it's a great result for them; and top five, Chevy, so great result for them, too.
So we'll go back and talk about. It, talk about the package for next year.
Like Ryan said, I don't know what happened behind me but I can tell you that I had my hands full, so comeback and try to make a better package.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the momentum you have, two oval races, two top‑three finishes, talk about the momentum as you head into a stretch where there are a lot of ovals on the schedule.
TONY KANAAN: Well, I think the races that are coming up are extremely favored for me and this guy right beside me here. We have a pretty good chance and we need to take advantage of that. I think that we haven't got the handle that we wanted it to have on the speed and road courses, so we need to try to maximize the races right now.
We do have a great momentum on the team. It's extremely tired. I mean, we have a lot to celebrate but also we had a lot of work. So try to keep the boys on their toes and take advantage of the momentum.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about eight winners in nine races, just the competitiveness in the series right now.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Yeah, it's been amazing, any weekend, it could be any driver in this series. Especially the top, I would say, 15 to 20 drivers, any weekend could be theirs, which is a great thing. You go into every race thinking you can win it. There's not a whole lot or other any series out there that's like that. It's great to see all the change‑ups, but I'd like to makea move.
Q. Last year, the races coming up on the schedule‑‑ do you both feel that these races, Pocono, the doubleheader is where we are going to see the championship‑‑
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: I think it's going to come down to the end, the last race like it always does. There will probably be three drivers in it this year again for the last race and hopefully we are one of them.
Tony and I were on the podium for the next two races last year, and then we have some new challenges. I like Pocono being on the schedule, it's a new challenge and it will make everybody think, take everybody out of their comfort zone a little bit.
But we have doubles at Houston and Toronto, and there's a lot of curveballs coming at us, so it should be an interesting championship.
TONY KANAAN: I don't think you'll see anybody dominating. Obvious, nine race, eight winners, consistency is going to be the key. I think right now for us, we need to try to maximize, and obviously maximize winning; but if you didn't, you've got to finish in the top five, that's because what's going to play down at the end.
We have seen a lot of inconsistency. That's why we have it bunched up the way it is. So I think from now on, people are going to have to start being consistent.
Q. And tweaking the package, would it be just a little longer on the tire or just a little more downforce‑‑
TONY KANAAN: It's both. I mean, Firestone has a great tire. But you can't ask everything, for the tires to do everything. So I think it's a combination of both. More downforce to make the tire less‑‑
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Firestone could easily make some tires that we could run around here.
TONY KANAAN: But we don't want that.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: They are a big part of our product and the race itself. It needs to be the right combination.
TONY KANAAN: Both. And once we decide the package, the aero package, then we need to go to Firestone, and stay, look, and then we'll come back here and we do a tire ‑‑ a proper tire test and we try to make a decision. Because you can't take‑‑ my tires went off; yeah, well, unfortunately those aren't only the things‑‑ it's not the tire's fault.
This car has plenty of downforce. You need to remember: We do not want a packed race. That is what we don't want to have‑‑ going overboard a little bit. This car is capable of downforce.
TONY KANAAN: No, no, it was bad luck, no. We create our own luck. It was planned. I wanted to have a better tire. The way the race was playing out, I knew that I was not going to win, because of the gap that Helio had at the time.
So me and Ryan, we chose a different strategy and again, it worked, definitely worked better for him. He did a better job coming out of the pits. But I knew that it‑‑ there was two things that I thought. The worst‑case scenario, we are going to finish in the top four, which is that's what I wanted because the win was going to be very difficult.
But, if it had gone yellow, it was going to be a battle between me and this guy, and I probably would have had nothing‑‑ because of the disparity of the grip of the car, didn't happen.
Q. Which one of you is going to be the favorite?
TONY KANAAN: Give him a hard time‑‑ there's plenty of other guys. I think Marco is going to be extremely strong.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: Helio.
TONY KANAAN: Hell of a battle. You know, you go to the next two tracks, we finished on the podium the last three years; so it's hard not to think that we are going to have a shot. But, having said that, I'd be very confident at two places one year to the other and been nowhere, so there's no guarantee.
Q. Tell me what it's like running at the end of a stint‑‑ inaudible‑‑ and how hard is it to hold on?
TONY KANAAN: How can I describe that to you more? Those cars are not made to run at 190 miles an hour. The slower you go, the slower you go, the worse it is.
So I don't think we are describe a feeling, because unless I put you in the two‑seater and give you an example, but it's extremely uncomfortable. Because here, you're along for the ride. Things that you know, if you lift, the car is supposed to slow down, not speed up and get closer to the wall.
Or, if you turn the steering wheel, the car is supposed to turn, not to go great. And then it goes straight, and all of the sudden hooks up and then it gets loose. I mean, just horrible.
RYAN HUNTER‑REAY: The lack of predictability‑‑ the car gives you a feeling and then it does something different and then ‑‑ I liken this place into dropping into a bowl and comeback out of it. When you don't have the downforce or the tires, it does not want to get into the corner at all, because you're going in and the rear‑‑ so you're coming around, and then when you're leaving the banking. The car does not want to come up out of the bank. Once it does, the rear just snaps loose, and I had some major ones, corrections; I'm sure everybody did tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
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