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IZOD IndyCar Series: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

IZOD IndyCar Series: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Dario Franchitti
Justin Wilson
August 25, 2013


THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with Dario Franchitti, who finished third today. This is Franchitti's sixth podium finish at Sonoma and fourth of the season.
Dario, talk us through your race today.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The first little bit was okay, we were leading (laughter).
The Target car was very strong up front. The strategies went off a bit, we got shuffled back. It was getting pretty interesting on some of those restarts.
I made a mistake. I was trying to pass, I don't even remember who the hell it was, but I got on the dirt on six, Scott got a run on me. Had it been anybody else, I would have defended a lot harder. But I let Scott go there.
We were just trying to hang on to the leaders there, trying to get as close as we could. We had that one restart where I went up to turn two there, got upside of Will, that's when he drove me off the track. That's when Scott had his drive-through, as well. It wasn't a high point for the officials, I would say, in that section of the race.
But, yeah, that was it really. Then the subsequent restart, you know, trying to pass Justin and Will, but trying to hold off the guys behind, too. Fine edge there. As many people that were going off the track, it was pretty slippery the last five laps. But that was it.
Third place, got to be happy with that. But I'm still a bit grumpy for not only our missed opportunity today, but also for Scott.
THE MODERATOR: We've also been joined by Justin Wilson. This is Justin's best finish at Sonoma. It's his third podium finish of the season.
Walk us through your race today.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it started out pretty rough. On I think the first restart, people kept turning up on the inside pretty late. I kept having to turn back out so I didn't get hit. Eventually one of them turned up going into turn seven, spun me around. Just tried to recover.
We decided to come in and get on the alternate Firestone tires. We knew we had three sets and it was time to attack. We pushed hard.
I was a little confused when we did a restart, what was it, lap 30, the team said, We have three laps and we're pitting. How does this work out? We just had a full-course yellow.
It soon became clear what was happening: the fuel mileage and trying to make the windows till the end of the race.
Once I realized everyone else had to pit just as many times as we did, we seemed to have reasonable pace, could challenge these guys. It was a little bit of a lottery being at the right place at the right time, trying to finish it off and finish on the podium.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do either of you have a sense of why this race was more of a dust-up than it is traditionally?
JUSTIN WILSON: The dust (laughter).
There was one stage, I think I was ahead of Scott, and I got on the radio, because I'm leading the race, after the pack has gone through the previous pack, they've gone off the track, put dirt everywhere. Clouds of dust. Every corner is like ice. I feel like I'm Scott's personal dust cleaner. There were so many people running off, trying to make moves. It's just the way it goes.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I think it's very difficult to pass here. The teams, the drivers, the cars, the manufacturers, it's all so close, it's so difficult to gain that advantage to pass.
Sometimes if you think it's going to come off, you close your eyes. You could see some of that happening today. As drivers right now, we don't know what the rules are. We don't know what is acceptable, what isn't. You see penalties, you see non-penalties for the same thing.
As close as it is, we need to have a clear definition of what is and isn't acceptable. We need to have a clear definition and it needs to be consistently policed.

Q. Did you hear anything about what happened to Scott?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I saw it. If people start doing that kind of stuff in pit lane, it gets very dangerous, the professional (indiscernible) almost, just kind of sauntering back.
We've always had a rule, no matter what team we've been racing with or against in a championship, any guy in pit lane, there's always that professional courtesy. That clearly wasn't the case today. That's disappointing.

Q. Justin, you're one of the few guys to go out on the blacks to start the race, not on reds. Did that strategy get affected by the cautions? There were only two of you in the top 10 that started out on blacks.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, we basically looked at what happened at Mid-Ohio and did the opposite. We got beat pretty good at Mid-Ohio with that strategy. We thought, Well, it's going to be the same this time. We're going to take our hit on the black prime tires early and then the out-lap is going to be better on the option tire, we should run better and faster. That was always our plan. Then it was just a case of when do we want to put the new reds on, really play it all out.
Really pleased with how the team executed. At one stage I was scratching my head saying, This doesn't turn out well. When you pit three laps after a caution, it usually doesn't work. But it did. The team did a great job.

Q. Was the tire degradation what you expected or did you not have enough green-flag laps on a single stint for you to find out?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: I thought it was better than expected, both the reds and the blacks. I mean, it was clear the blacks had pace, an advantage. The reds, the pace was there. But the fall-off was a little better than expected.
On new reds, the grip level is amazing, through two, three, three A, four, five. That's a really fun series of corners on the new reds.
JUSTIN WILSON: On all blacks coming out of seven, it's the opposite. You are going downhill, you can't touch the throttle pedal. Feel like the Flintstones.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Feel like John Force: can't put the power down.

Q. Is the reason the race was so exciting also because you were no longer having to drive to a fuel number or was there one you had to drive to? Must have been getting scrapped every time there was a yellow.
JUSTIN WILSON: I was driving to a fuel number until after that second-to-last yellow. We were saving fuel to make it work. First pit stop, we had to pit so early. We were saving fuel the whole time except 18 laps to go.
I think it's a combination of the low grip, people going off more than others. I think there's enough frustration built up over the course of the season.
You could actually get close enough, people would get checked up, people would get close enough to crash. Last year it all kind of spread evenly, and nobody could get close enough to do anything stupid, whereas this year we had a good chance.

Q. (Question regarding Victory Lane celebrations.)
DARIO FRANCHITTI: What the hell is it up to me to repair it for? I was the victim in that one. These things happen. It's happened before, both ways, whether it was me doing it, Will doing it. We'll figure it out eventually.
You know, I'm pretty pissed off right now. Yeah, Will was pushing hard. It wasn't some crazy, really mad thing. But, you know, I was driven off the track and nothing was done about it. So I'm more mad at race control for not doing anything as usual than I am at Will really.

Q. A lot was made of the winds during qualifying, especially how they sort of changed throughout the day. Was that a factor at all today?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think so. It seemed to change halfway through the race. We picked a headwind up through three. Rather than being tiptoes, floating all the way over the top, not getting to the power until you were almost at turn four, now you're back on the throttle. I think it happened in one of those caution periods.
You had to be on your game, work out which way the wind is blowing. All of a sudden you can't stop in some corners where you were braking earlier in the race. Just part of it.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Probably changes more than any track, certainly any road course that we drive on. A massive difference. I felt the same thing as Justin.
The first thing I did was look over at the flags, Yeah, that makes sense. It completely changes the balance of the car in most of the corners. The corners you can be really aggressive with before, you can't, and vice versa. It's something you have to keep your eye on all the time.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

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