IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Topics: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
August 3, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with today's post qualifying press conference. We are pleased to be joined by two of our Firestone Fast Six qualifiers for tomorrow's race, Will Power and Charlie Kimball.
Charlie, talk about today's qualifying, bouncing back from this morning.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Yeah, it was a great effort by all the Chip Ganassi Racing guys. There were as many red shirts from the Target side in the garage as there were orange shirts. They gave me the easy job of driving the racecar. They kept kicking me out of the garage, telling me to get out of the way. All I had to do while they changed the backup was get the car ready for me and all I had to do was go out and drive it.
The boys deserved it. We had a really good car all week, both starting at the test and yesterday's practice. This morning we just got caught out by the track conditions, a little dampness under the bridge. That was unfortunate, but it was great to bounce back and get a top-five starting spot.
THE MODERATOR: Will, another demanding session here at Mid-Ohio. Talk us through today's qualifying.
WILL POWER: Yeah, quite uneventful, you could say. Getting the most out of the tires. Really happy to be second. Tough to try to get pole when Hunter-Reay had new reds.
Yeah, still very good. I would love to get a win sometime this year if it's possible. But, you know, I can be quite aggressive because I'm not in the championship and the guys around me are. I just need to go for it and see what I can get.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Marco Andretti. Talk about qualifying, Marco.
MARCO ANDRETTI: Yeah, I mean, even though it's my first top six, I'm still disappointed because I thought we had a little more potential.
Even though we haven't been showing it in practice sessions, I had a decent feel for the car. I didn't feel too bad. Just needed a little more rotation to be quicker.
THE MODERATOR: Scott Dixon will start third tomorrow. Scott, talk us through your fast lap out there.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, it was actually a lot tougher than I figured it was going to be, especially from Q1. I don't know whether it was the heat or whatever. The balance was kind of tough for me to find. We had to make a few sort of on-the-spot changes to get through Q1, Q2, to get onto the Firestone Fast Six.
Firestone Fast Six, the car had balance. Huge credit to Hunter-Reay to get through the first two segments on one set of tires. I know the yellow helped him. To have the guts to roll through and attempt that with the competition we have at the moment was pretty ballsy.
Good starting spot for us, P3. Hopefully we can have another good result.
THE MODERATOR: Dario Franchitti will start sixth tomorrow. Talk about qualifying.
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, the second segment went pretty well. Got a little ambitious in the Firestone Fast Six. We left a little bit late from the box there. That put us behind. I went off on the one lap I got in the exit on turn one. Lost some time there. My time was set on the black tires.
When we came around, got the checkered flag, we missed the next lap by less than a second. That was disappointing.
Definitely there was more speed in the car than we got to show there in the Firestone Fast Six, so we'll see what we can do tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for all of our drivers.
Q. Scott, Helio is not in the top six. You have a little bit of a jump on him tomorrow. Talk about how the flowing nature of this track seems to continue to suit your style.
SCOTT DIXON: You know, there's obviously more than just Helio in the championship. Hunter-Reay has been strong. Marco. We got six races to go. Anything can happen, mechanicals or anything like that. We're not focusing on Helio; we're just focusing on what we need to do.
Yeah, as far as the track, I think it's a track that obviously it suited to Ganassi. To see all three cars in the Fast Six is impressive and good to see.
I think it's been a good combination. For us sometimes through the past, when we got a win here, a little bit of luck has been on our side as well. Hopefully that continues to roll and we'll see how it goes.
It's a fun little track. Hopefully they don't take it off the calendar.
Q. Scott, you don't pay attention to where Helio is until the end of the race?
SCOTT DIXON: You're going to be aware of where everybody is, to be honest. As I keep saying, we're not just racing Helio. Yeah, he's leading the champion. Hunter-Reay is in striking distance. Have to look at the points to see where the other people are, but it's still wide open.
Yes, after the race, you'll look to see who finished where. Hopefully you're not looking at that before the end of the race and you're out of the car, so...
Q. Dario, you're the only driver that has some NASCAR experience. Two weeks from now Mid-Ohio will host its first NASCAR event here. What do you think that will be like?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: The cars are going to be a lot slower (laughter).
I mean, it will be challenging to drive for the drivers, trust me, but they will be a lot slower. I would think somewhere in the region of 20 seconds a lap, maybe more.
It's going to be interesting. Dixon and I were talking about it last night. They're going to do the restarts here on the front straight at the pits. He's going to talk with his Penske teammates and teach them how to go through the gravel trap there 'cause it's going to be tough (laughter).
Q. Will, talk about your opportunity to get a victory here. You've done well at this track in the past. How do you feel about tomorrow, being able to get your first win of the season?
WILL POWER: We've started on pole here a couple of times. Just lost out during the pit sequence, yellows. Definitely would love to get a win.
We'll be doing everything possible. It's going to be interesting to see how these strategies work out as far as fuel mileage goes. It looks like a three-stop race. Have to have something special to do it in two. We'll see how the yellows fall and so on.
Q. Temperatures are a bit cooler this year for the Fast Six than last year. How stressful was it this year compared to last?
DARIO FRANCHITTI: Will and I were talking about this the other day. We were all absolutely knackered. Because we did less laps I feel a bit fresher. Maybe I should have driven faster.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and wrap it up. Congratulations on the great qualifying result.
We are now pleased to be joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay. You were just shy of the track record by two-hundredths of a second. Talk about qualifying.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Anytime you qualify around this place in IndyCar is some of the best times you're going to have in a car. There's not many tracks like it, so I really enjoyed it today.
We made some big gambles. Going with the used reds in the second session was a huge, huge gamble. We know where we are in the season right now with only five or six races left. We're third in points, so it's definitely time to get going.
Michael made the call to do it. I was skeptical at first, but I kind of just wanted to plug my ears and let them make the decision, I'd go out and drive it as best I could. They made the decision to go out on used reds.
We saw Dario, Scott and Will going out on new. We knew it was going to be tough to be in the Fast Six. Got it in there. I think we were second or third for that outing. The last one on new Firestone reds, knew we had to bring it home. It's a shame to miss the track record by that much.
Whose track record is that?
THE MODERATOR: Tied between Gilles and Dario. Long-standing.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Wow, that sucks.
THE MODERATOR: But you got the pole.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Some good news.
Tomorrow is going to be a tough race, long race. They extended it now. We got Will and Dixon right behind me, my teammate Marco back there. Just going to be a really tough race. It's going to be a long one.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. 56 points. You're not going to make them up in one race. How cognizant are you of the 56-point deficit?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I think it's 69. Just opened up the gap.
We are cognizant of it. Last year we clawed back from bigger deficits. Being late in the season, we need to go like we did last year at the end of the season, which is go for broke. We're not interested in banking results right now and going for second or third in the championship because nobody really remembers who finishes second a couple years from now. It's all about the series championship.
We're going for it. Hopefully this is the first step in it. But we got a long, long way to go, including tomorrow's fight for the win.
Q. Since IndyCar has come back here in '07, no one has won the race from further back than sixth. How important is it to be in the top six?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: There's certainly a lot of weight placed on qualifying here. It's crucial to be up towards the front. The thing is here, if you're mid pack, you can have a lot of passing because you have a lot of comers and goers. There's varying setups and strategies. It seems to be much easier to pass back there.
Once you get into the top six, seven, eight cars, they're all really dialed in. It's tough to get that run on them, unless you experience lap traffic, which lap traffic really mixes up this race, or you have different fuel strategies or tires going off. At the end of stints, you'll see some guys really lose the rear of the car and that will promote some passing.
It is somewhat difficult to pass here. That doesn't mean it's a bad race. We're out there doing qualifying laps for two hours, so it's plenty exciting from the car.
Q. When you were told by how much you did miss the record, do you flash back to that lap and go, That's where I could have gotten it there?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: You can always do that here. You never really get one that, Man, that one was perfect. It's that kind of place. There's always sacrifices in corners to be quicker in others. I can think of the corner, 12, what we call the carrousel. Definitely didn't have the best of runs through there on my quick lap. Just trying to get a little bit too much in.
That would have been nice to have the track record around here, a track I respect so much, been here since I was 16 doing Skip Barber stuff, fresh out of go-karts. That would have been really cool.
Q. Being out front, how different is it to be out front here as opposed to behind two or three guys from the standpoint of your aerodynamics and everything else?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It is better because you have clean air. You're the first guy to come up along lap traffic. It gives you the advantage of picking when you want to go, when you want to save fuel. You kind of set the pace that way.
The only reason tomorrow to save fuel I think would be to shorten up pit stops because the series lengthened the race so it's a longer race to make it basically 100% racing the whole time, to just go, go.
It's definitely an advantage. You set the pace. Yeah, hopefully we'll be there all day. But you got to survive the start, first of all, with Dixon right behind me, and those Hondas have sure been fast in a straight line. It's going to be tough.
But hopefully we'll have that DHL Chevy up there at the end of the day. I'll be pushing 110%, that's all I know.
Q. I know you go into every race trying to drive your race. Do you ever learn watching other drivers, specifically Dixon here, to what worked so well for him and try to adapt that for yourself?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Dixon is super consistent and smooth. It helps with the setup. If you have a car that's really good, you can be super consistent. Dixon is a guy that I respect a lot, looked up to for years. He's definitely one of the best IndyCar has ever seen.
But, yeah, can you study his style, what he does. He's just very consistent. He doesn't have a lot of mistakes. If he's leading out in front in the race, you're not going to see him slip up and lose a position. Keep as cool head. The team executes for him.
It's all a package deal, though. It comes with the team, what the car gives you, so... Definitely I've studied him for years.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the pole. Best of luck tomorrow.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Thank you.
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