IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Topics: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
March 24, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post-race press conference. We have Marco Andretti, who finished third. This is the first top-five finish for Marco on a road/street course in Toronto 2011. This is also a career-best finish for Marco here at St. Pete.
Marco, this off-season you talked about improving your street racing. Talk about today's race.
MARCO ANDRETTI: I don't want to speak too soon. There's still a long way to go in the season. I'm definitely pleased to reap some of the benefits for how hard I've been working, not only physically, but as you say, where I've been lacking.
For me it felt like a win, but we'll take this. I think if we can have days like this all year, we can be in contention for a championship. That's obviously the goal.
Great job to Hinchcliffe and I have to give credit to Simona. She drove a helluva race, as well.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Helio Castroneves, who finished second.
Helio, talk about the restart on lap 84. Looked like you went a little wide for James to get around you.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, I don't want to talk about it (laughter).
All joke aside, great day for Hitachi cars. If you ask me I would finish second place on Friday, I would say yes, I would be happy and okay with that. But not today. Today was an incredible racecar Jonathan and the entire Hitachi team gave me.
Start at the beginning, we start pushing, saving fuel. I mean, the car was actually pretty good waiting for some of the guys wear out a little bit of the tire, just making my move until we were able to get to the lead and never look back.
Unfortunately on the restart, it was a long restart, long yellow. I don't think I warm up the tires enough. I was braking pretty much the same place. Unfortunately because of probably the tires are a little bit cold, it locked the rears. Thank God nobody was in front of me because probably would be a big accident.
But Hinch was able to hold on, pass me. Still had 30 laps to go. I didn't know the red tires would drop off like they did. I was really, really pushing.
We had great exit on the corners, but the front was giving up a little bit, especially when you're behind a guy you do twice the work. It's very difficult to set up.
He was just able to have good exits and not make a single mistake. So compliment for him on that because I was pushing, I was just going for it.
Unfortunately towards the end, the tire was just giving up. I had to finish in second. Second is better than nothing. But great way to start the championship. I feel upset because when you have a good car, it's hard to give up opportunities like that, especially in a series that's so competitive. That's why I'm a little bummed out. But I have to keep moving on and happy for a great start of the season like this.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. Marco, you said on TV, I had to muscle Simona, I needed that podium. Can you talk about that final lap and I guess the drive, what is pushing you, the desire to go that hard for that podium.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Well, I knew her tires were going away. She was braking really early. Yeah, I mean, it's a selfish business. I felt for her but I needed this so bad. Like I said, it feels like a win.
I saw both of their cars, her and T.K., struggling to keep them underneath them. I was able to stay with them while really taking it easy on my rear tires because I knew it was going to come down to the last few laps. My traction was still great with a couple laps to go.
So, you know, it was that whole middle of that stint that kind of got me the podium. I think when they were pushing, I was kind of cruising, holding the gap to Dixon, as well. I think I had more at the end.
Q. Helio, James getting his first victory, the series is looking for a personality, word is he sort of has one. Maybe you can react to what it means for the series to have him in Victory Lane for the first time.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Sure. Hinch is not going to sleep tonight. He'll be over the moon. First win you never forget. Last year he already went really close to win many races. Did he win last year?
MARCO ANDRETTI: No.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Anyway, so he was very close last year. So good for the series, that's for sure. Younger generation is kind of coming over. We saw at the qualifying some of the guys, especially guys from Indy Lights coming over, doing well, which is the case of Hinch.
It's great. The series needs that. Good for him. I'm sure he's going to succeed, continue to succeed in the future, no question about it. He did a helluva job today.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Same thing. He's been knocking on the door, working so hard. It's great to have a personality like him win because he'll have some fun tonight. It's well-deserved.
But I'm happy for my friend. He's a great kid, a lot of fun off the track as well. If it wasn't going to be us, it's cool to see him get his first. Anyone but Helio (laughter).
Q. Do you guys believe in momentum? What do good results like this do for you and your team?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: It helps starting the season strong. It helps through the beginning and to the middle. It sets a little tone out there. Again, it helps in the championship, when you start battling for the championship.
So hopefully that's going to be the case. This second place will be worth a lot of points in the end. And as you said, the momentum. It's great to set the momentum for the next race, keep the team's spirit up. Everybody knows what we can do.
In our case, we feel very strong.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean, it's all confidence, confidence with your engineers, but also confidence, your guys need to have that in you. Obviously I finished better than wherever the heck I was last year. Hopefully we can be part of this snowball effect that people speak of and we can just keep clicking off a lot of great results.
Obviously I've made my improvements where I need to improve, but sometimes you don't know why they come. You just got to keep working hard and hopefully it can snowball.
Q. Marco, with Ryan coming off of the title, you coming off a great run today, Hinch winning, is this as optimistic as you've been about Andretti Autosport in quite a while?
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah. It's a good feeling. It's a tough feeling going home with the defeat I had last year, knowing your teammate beat you and stuff like that.
But you also need to look at the bright side of it. You're driving for the championship team. You know you have the equipment to get the job done.
So that side of it, you need to take that confidence and go. I mean, my mentality changed this year 'cause instead of looking back and saying, Oh, man. If you're thinking about how terrible last year was for me, then we talk about confidence, you're not going to have that confidence.
But we talk about a terrible year last year, but we were one of the cars to compete in our Super Bowl at Indy. We need to definitely show up there strong as well.
Q. Helio, today Hinchcliffe dedicated the win to Dan. Can you talk about something special when you come to Dan's former hometown, is that nice to see?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: You know, for us it's still very difficult every time we talk about it because Dan is special for all the community. He was a friend of everyone and a very special person. All of a sudden when you come to a place where he used to live, and the way it happened in the past, the accident, certainly you can't forget about it.
That's why it's great for us to keep remember him, but remember him in a good way. And the city remembers him as well. He left his kids, the generation that's coming. We hope he will never be forgotten. For sure for us it's tough, but it's great to come over here and to remember how he was.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I'm not sure I really understood the question.
We just have to keep it positive. That's what Dan would want us to do. He'd be the first one to laugh at us for sobbing. That's the way I got over it. I'll never got over it. But that's the way we got through dealing with his passing. We just have to think of the good times we had with him. We had a lot of fun. Have to keep it positive. It's what he would want.
Q. Two title contenders from last year got out of the box slow. 18 more races to go, how important is it for both of you to get off to a fast start in this championship?
MARCO ANDRETTI: It's huge. Same question as before. It's all about momentum. To be right up there close to the top is a great feeling. You want to be No. 1 on the team. Obviously Helio accomplished that, I didn't. We're within striking distance. We need to stay there week in and week out to get the total support of the team.
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Pretty much the same. We know in my case, Will is a fast guy. There's no question about it. He would be up there, as well.
When we have the competition like we have in this series, talented drivers, great teams, it's coming down to the wire and one point makes a big difference.
Q. When Will was interviewed after the race on TV, he keeps talking about second place on the restarts. Do you know what he's talking about? Did you go early or something?
HELIO CASTRONEVES: I went between the cones where we talk about it. But I understand that he also got to keep the pace. I was looking and I thought he was going for it. He crossed the finish line actually first. So I do not know what the situation is.
I'm not sure if he hit me or not.
Q. (No microphone.)
HELIO CASTRONEVES: No, with Will, when I went outside, I felt a bump. So I'm not sure what happened there.
But I feel that if they have the cones there, they said this is going to be the start of the race, you got to be ready. I was ready. So in this situation, everybody wants to win and go for it. I think I was doing my job.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, guys, on a great start to the season.
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