IZOD IndyCar Series: Grand Prix of Baltimore
Topics: Grand Prix of Baltimore
August 31, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post‑qualifying press conference for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Baltimore Presented by SRT.
We'll get started with Scott Dixon, our Verizon P1 Award winner for tomorrow's race. This is the 20th career IndyCar pole for Scott, and his second pole of the 2013 season. He also started from the pole at Toronto, the second race earlier this season.
So Scott, talk about today's qualifying.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was an interesting one. Q1 went pretty smooth, tried to get quite tricky in Q2 and run the same set of tires but unfortunately we had a censor go on the engine, so I had no straight line speed in 2.
And we still got through on that time, but we had to actually go out and run one lap on the stickers that we were trying to save for Q3. And luckily, you know, through the second stunts, as Graham kind of got his laps taken, which bumped us back in‑‑ the car balance was really good. Had good time in the car.
And luckily we were able to fix the censor come Q3, and the car was pretty decent. I made a mistake, actually, on my quick lap. Lost a couple of tenths on the hairpin, so the car seems to be racked in pretty well here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Scott.
Will Power of Team Penske, you will start second tomorrow, his third consecutive front row start here at Baltimore. Talk about the qualifying session.
WILL POWER: Yeah, Q1 was pretty straightforward. Q2, same, saw Scott go out on used tires and we considered it but lap time was quite a bit slower so we opted for the new. Yeah, got through, no problem, and obviously the Fast Six was very tight between him and I.
Yeah, still pretty happy to be on the front row, seems like the Honda guys‑‑ I'm the only Chevy guy here, so waving the flag for them. Hopefully can wave it real high tomorrow (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports will start third. It's the best qualifying result for Simon here at Baltimore. His previous best was 12th in 2012.
SIMON PAGENAUD: It was what?
THE MODERATOR: Your previous best was 12th here in qualifying.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Here?
THE MODERATOR: Yeah.
SIMON PAGENAUD: I don't know.
THE MODERATOR: It is. (Laughter). No, no, walk us through today's qualifying.
SIMON PAGENAUD: No idea. You should know that, don't you. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: I do.
SIMON PAGENAUD: I mean, it was a great day. Overall it's been a fantastic weekend for Schmidt Hamilton organization. They worked really hard; the engineer worked really hard on understanding how to control the ride better, and they digged really deep after Sonoma.
Even though it's a completely different racetrack, there's a lot of things they understood, and the car is just absolutely fantastic this week. So I'm very proud of the HP team.
And being here with Tristan is also a great accomplishment for the team, and thanks to them, and hopefully we can put Chevy guy behind us tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Justin Wilson of Dale Coyne Racing qualified fourth for tomorrow's race, and this is also the best qualifying result here at Baltimore. The previous best was last year, ninth. Congratulation. Talk about today's qualifying.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was a little messy out there and just trying to get through. To be honest, I didn't expect it after practice. We were tenth in practice this morning, 17th yesterday, so it's been a bit of a struggle this weekend, but we've just kept digging away and fighting back.
And you know, I think the Boy Scouts of America car is pretty quick, not quite in Will and Scott's league, but I'll keep looking at it and see what I can learn as a driver and see what we can learn with the setup and try and get there.
So, pleased with it, and just looking forward to the race now. It's going to be tough, a really difficult race. We are really struggling with brakes getting overheated and need to do more than two or four laps in a row. So it's going to be an interesting one, to see how everyone deals with that.
THE MODERATOR: Josef Newgarden of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing qualified fifth. It's his first start here at the streets of Baltimore in the IZOD IndyCar Series, best qualifying result on a road and street course, and best start of 2013.
Congratulations, talk about today's qualifying.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, thanks. I'm happy we are kind of up here. We are in good company for the race.
So, you know, we just want to be clean with everyone and hopefully have a race go our way. We've had some difficulties the last three or four events and haven't really been able to complete a lot of them, or we've been six laps down and staying out of everyone's way after having an issue. Everyone has been working really hard. We just need to have a good result. We need to have a clean race.
Happy about the guys, they have done a really good job this weekend, haven't had any issues. We have looked strong for the most part on the long run. Definitely didn't have a car to compete with these guys on the short run, but I feel really good about what we are putting out for the long run.
I'm excited for tomorrow. I think anything can happen around this place as we have seen at IndyCar, over the last year, it's been really interesting, so I'm excited and hopefully have a clean race for all of us at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
THE MODERATOR: Tristan Vautier of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will start sixth tomorrow. He's making his first start here in the IZOD IndyCar Series in Baltimore but won the Firestone Indy Lights here last year.
Talk about bouncing back from that second round of qualifying to get back out there in the car and compete in the Firestone Fast Six?
TRISTAN VAUTIER: It's always harder to get back in it when you have an incident, and you get back in the car and focus again.
But I think first off, we have to underline the effort of the team, two cars in the Fast Six, and Simon third; so we are very happy, very fast and kept the momentum going for qualifying, so that's really good. Very happy for our respond or sore for this race, and environmental race solutions were a good friend of the team, as well. It's very good.
We are going to look forward to the race. We have to work on the car on the long runs. We are going to check it tomorrow in the warm up, try to work on not maybe using the tires up too much.
But no, it's been good. It's been a while. We have not been in the Fast Six, so it's good to be back here. It's always better when you start up front for the race, a little less crazy usually, so hopefully we can keep it clean and have a good race tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: This is Tristan's first appearance in the Fast Six since Barber earlier this year.
Q. Stood in the chicane during qualifying and seemed the crazier and more aggressive you were, the better the lap time, can you tell me about how hard you were willing to push to get improved lap times?
WILL POWER: You need to ask Newgarden.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: That's like the only place I'm good around this circuit I feel like. That's why I'm in Fast Six I think. I don't know ‑‑ I'm getting ticked everywhere else, so I would want to hear about the other circuit personally.
I think you're right, though, just to say, like you have‑‑ I'm just barreling it in there, I don't even care what part I'm hitting. The front's going everywhere; it doesn't matter.
I think you're right, the harder you hit it, the faster‑‑ I'm just flat out through it pretty much. I like it. I know some people have disliked it and it's been difficult with the railroad tracks around here, and you obviously have to do something to slow the cars down, but I think it's been a lot of fun chicane. I haven't had a lot of chicanes in my career that I've encountered, but I really like it. It's fun as hell to me.
SCOTT DIXON: How do you follow that?
THE MODERATOR: Okay, then we won't (laughter).
Q. Regarding that chicane, there are tires on both sides and I know at least one driver has said that he would prefer that there not be tires there. What's your opinion on that for the race?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don't think you can see it if they take the tires away.
JUSTIN WILSON: That's the biggest problem, when you're following under the car, you can't see the chicane as you're approaching it. There's no reference on the track. The only thing we have is those tires, and you still see them behind the big rear wing of these cars. You are approaching it blind.
I tried to follow Sebastien Bourdais through there earlier and waited until I could see the curbs and it was too late and I bottomed out and hit the curb pretty good.
It's tough. It's even harder in race condition for that reason. So I think having the tires there is an advantage.
Q. On your final run, you operate yourself down at the hairpin‑‑ did you check afterwards whether that run would have been close enough to beat dime?
WILL POWER: I was five tenths down, after that, I wasn't going to better that.
Q. Tristan, on the second qualifying, when you ran into the back of Rahal, had you been told that the car was stopped in that portion of the track?
TRISTAN VAUTIER: No, it was there for a while, actually, apparently from what I heard. But I didn't get the signal there was a car in the middle of the line.
Q. As the one Chevy representative up here, is this an indicator of the Honda's doing exceptionally well, or some of the Chevy teams maybe not getting things together as much as you did?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it's hard to say, because in that second session with the Red, I don't know who may have made it through. You know Hunter‑Reay and Helio obviously were there.
I still think they are pretty even. It seems as though the Honda has definitely got some nice mid‑range there, but I think it kind of zeros out with our Top‑10. So, yeah, it's hard to say.
Q. You said you weren't told about the car there when you hit Graham, did you see the yellow flags as you were coming in?
TRISTAN VAUTIER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I did, I slowed down, but not enough, yeah (Laughter).
Q. You won this track on Baltimore, your first year here; from the first year till now, how is the track different or what they have changed?
WILL POWER: Well, they added a patch in turn six which makes it a bit nicer, but it's a cool track. Obviously it would be nice if we didn't have to use the chicane there, but you know, these street courses are bumpy and it's just a part of the game.
Yeah, very‑‑ I think it's good for racing, and will have a lot of mayhem, hopefully behind me, tomorrow (Laughter).
Q. Starts and restarts have been rather mayhem here in the race, turn a phrase; should we expect them to be any less chaotic this year, or is that just the nature of the chicane?
WILL POWER: You can never tell in IndyCar. Because you would think Sonoma would have been pretty tame, but man, there's just rubber mics (ph) all over my car and everyone else's I think at the end of that race. So you would expect that to be the case tomorrow.
Q. There's a chance of rain tomorrow. If it rains with this bumpy track, is that going to be difficult for the drivers or doesn't that have an effect?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it rained last year I think. We ran on rain tires for a while. It makes it pretty tough but it's just another element we have to deal with, and changing conditions, trying to work out when to put the slicks on, and it's just part of it.
Q. You have a number of small‑ish teams being represented in the Fast Six here, obviously Ganassi and Penske as well, but definitely a good day for some of the smaller teams, does this track aid your ability to kind of draw even some of the bigger teams?
TRISTAN VAUTIER: I think Josef, because he's going through the chicane there‑‑
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's true, I think the only reason I'm here is because of the chicane right now. It's like my saving grace around here. I don't know, though‑‑
TRISTAN VAUTIER: ‑‑ two cars, so we are not that small‑‑ I'm joking‑‑ I don't know.
Certainly it's one of the things that's very limiting is because there's so many bumps, you're very limited with what you can run on springs and right aid, so I think it might even up a little bit the field, because you can't go‑‑ I mean, it's pretty standard what you can run here. I think that might be the reason. But that's just my guess.
Q. I'm just wondering, based on watching the videos of the cars going around, there's a lot of chatter, like the car is bouncing over the rough surface. Is this a concern for the length of the race? You all have the same Dallara, but I'm just wondering if it's going to hold up. And secondly, Will mentioned about overheating the brakes. Is that going to be a problem in the race tomorrow?
WILL POWER: Yes and yes. The cars seem pretty robust. We have raced on some pretty bumpy circuits and it has not been a problem. So, you know, knock‑on‑wood (knocking on table), hopefully my drive shafts last over that nasty chicane.
Q. Tristan, you won here in Mazda and you won here in Indy Lights, what's your policy tomorrow, is it just to sort of like take it easy and take advantage of the fact that you're up front again, or are you going to go full out for the win?
TRISTAN VAUTIER: It's a tough one. I want a clean race, I obviously always try to move forward but I'm running with guys that still are going for the championship and everything. I just want to maximize everything we can. I'm going to try to go hard, of course, but I want to minimize mistakes, as well. That's been a factor this year.
I think it's very hard in IndyCar, I think the main difficulty compared to Indy Lights is to put a race together, because there's so many decisions to make and so many more opportunities for mistakes that I'm trying to work on really putting races together.
So tomorrow, we start towards the front so it's a good opportunity to do so, but obviously, yeah, we are trying to push hard and go forward.
Q. Not talking about last weekend specifically, but the days that have followed have not put IndyCar Racing and what happened last week in the best of light. How has that been for you, how have you seen how IndyCar was portrayed a little bit, maybe even, I don't want to say embarrassment for the event, but how has that been for you this week?
JUSTIN WILSON: I haven't really seen too much of it. Obviously with the inner team, that was about it. But once I got home, I think I got home about mid might on Sunday after the race in Sonoma and hung out with the kids, came to D.C. on Wednesday, USA Today‑‑ we haven't focused on it. It was an unfortunate part, obviously, last week, to our season. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, which is the positive side.
You know, I think IndyCar are doing their best to make some changes. I think the whole pit road thing had got a little relaxed. We didn't even have pit boxes marked. There was a lot of things that needed addressing.
So you know, we obviously didn't like what happened, but I think it will make for better calls on pit road in the future.
Q. I think everybody but Will has had an average starting position on street courses of over ten this season. Do you guys think it's Honda‑based that you guys have improved or the teams have made strides?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's a lot of things. It's the competitiveness of this series and the fact it's so hard to make it into the Firestone Fast Six, and the top ten as you said.
But obviously I think the teams are making good strides, but I also think Honda has done a fantastic job. The work they put in since probably Long beach, if I'm looking back, trying to remember the season; the improvements that have come have been tremendous?
So just a lot of credit to them and giving us the tools to go out there and compete; and now only compete, but hopefully we can win them that championship.
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