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IZOD IndyCar Series: Shell-Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Shell-Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston

IZOD IndyCar Series: Shell-Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston

Scott Dixon
James Hinchcliffe
October 6, 2013


HOUSTON, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome our second and third place finishers, Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe. Scott is second. James is third.
Scott, first talk about the emotion of the finish with the accident with Dario and then just kind of capping the weekend with that.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, just, you know, I think the biggest thing is to make sure everybody is okay. Dario, and I think it was Viso and Sato. Sato looked like he took a pretty big hit as well. He's pretty tiny, though. So he's probably got lots of padding.
But Dario did go into the fence pretty hard. It looked like he was moving around when I went by. Tried waving to him. He didn't wave back. But I'm sure he was focused on some other things there.
All in all, I hope he's okay. I think he was complaining of a sore back and ankle. And then obviously the fans, looked like the fence took a pretty good hit there.
Yeah, today‑‑ it was okay. The car didn't quite have the pace that we did in the race. I think it took a little while to get going. I think we kind of fumbled a bit before. I think Power hit me. He swears he didn't, but he said that before too. So we'll see what happens in the replays.
All in all, it was a good fight between us. We raced hard towards the end, and he was definitely quick today. Congratulations to him. It was good to see him back in Victory Lane and good to see him bounce back from such a long ways on the grid.
THE MODERATOR: You came into this weekend with a pretty significant disadvantage in the points. Now you are the points leader. We've done the math. You need to finish fifth or better going into Fontana, at Fontana, to clinch your third championship. How much does that change now going into the final race of the year?
SCOTT DIXON: I don't think it changes much. I think we had a good shot of making the points level coming out of here. But to make that gain, I think we as a team know that we have potential to have a good shot at winning both races, especially street courses at the moment.
But you can never predict, basically, how the competition is going to be or the problems they may have. I feel bad for Helio with the weekend that he had. I think you see a championship‑‑ you see most of the championship contenders have problems throughout the year, and he's been pretty consistent throughout the year up until now. Most of the time, you see the top competitors get their fair share of problems.
So it's really going to come down to the wire. It's going to be the last lap, last corner kind of situation that we'll expect. At least I hope it ends that way. You don't want somebody crashing out on lap 3 or even midway through the race.

But he's strong at the big oval, definitely speed‑wise. I think both engine manufacturers have got some updates for Fontana. So we'll probably see a lot of grid penalties before the race. It's‑‑ it's going to be a fun race.
We've got a lot of work to do, but we've got to go with the mindset of trying to win the race. If you can do that and be on the top three in the podium, then job accomplished.
THE MODERATOR: A podium finish is always satisfying, but how much more satisfying is this one for you considering yesterday?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I'm really glad this was a doubleheader and we got a chance to redeem ourselves. Honestly, yesterday didn't go‑‑ I'm not going to say quite as planned. It didn't go anything close to planned.
It was a solid race. We started eighth. We picked some guys off. Some guys had problems. But at the end of the day, when we cleared some cars there, we had decent pace, not quite up to the par of Scott and Will. They were the class of the field for sure.
But keeping guys like Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais behind you on the street circuit, we're doing something right. We were good in the pits, and we had the strategy right, didn't get caught off by any yellows. It's great to have the Pink GoDaddy car especially back up on the podium because one off liberty, cool organization supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation there.
Like Scott said, we're all thinking about Dario. We hope he's not too bad and he'll be fighting fit for Fontana. It's a tough race for sure. I feel for these guys that had to do it twice. Luckily, I was a little bit less, and my hands weren't too bad. If I had to do it again tomorrow, it probably would be. So it's a blessing in disguise.
My team's always operated on a it's on the recovery mentality, and that's what happened yesterday. That just proves we could have had a good race yesterday. We had the car for it. And we're glad we could just pull it off.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Scott or Hinch?

Q. Scott, do you‑‑ I guess you very early in the race, you were saying that Helio was shooting the oil out of his car. How difficult was that for you, first of all, and then when he did go out of the race initially, what is your mindset then become? Because now you kind of take over the championship race, and it becomes yours. So I know it probably doesn't affect the way you're racing, but what does that do to your mindset?
SCOTT DIXON: First thing was that I was glad I was not getting oil all over me all the time, and I didn't have to change the tear‑off after every half lap. Luckily, I put a bunch on my helmet for some odd reason for a street course. It was pouring out of that car. Even on the yellow, I don't know what happened to it.
I know it was probably on the second restart after the initial start, he hit really hard going through the turn 1 kink there. Instead of sticking to the left, for some reason he ran right in the middle, and that's when some of the underwing fell off as well when he hit that hard. You know, you see it happen. You don't know if through some thing you can go to emergency mode. You don't know if he's going to carry on with some minor problem.
But with the amount of oil coming out of that thing, you knew it was pretty terminal. You know, he's at that point, you're second team, you still want to win the race. Will was being super aggressive and wanting to obviously win the race and help his teammate.
So that kind of‑‑ those thoughts are crossing through your mind, whether it's worth trying to race for the win when the guy behind you is going to do anything possible to actually get to that place. As it turned out, it kind of took care of itself anyway.
You knew with the amount of oil that was coming out of it, that it wasn't going to last too long.

Q. In the closing laps, you had, I guess, five passes left. Did you get to a point where you said I'm good here at second place, or were you still thinking about racing for the win?
SCOTT DIXON: I was having fun putting pressure on Power. He was making a few mistakes here and there, and it was good to watch. It was good straight‑up racing. So, yeah, I think we ended up maybe with two or three left. I can't remember. But, yeah.
We tried to push one lap, I think, a couple laps from the end, you know, to see if we could push him into a mistake, and he held it together. I think he had two or three left as well. So it was a fair shot at it, and obviously we ended under caution.

Q. When you came around the scene of the crash, could you describe the scene that you saw in terms of the fencing, what may have gone into the crowd if spectators were being tended to, anything like that?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, I think it's the smells and the visuals. For me, I think, and even talking to Will ‑‑ I don't know how Hinch felt‑‑ you have the remnants of Vegas popping into your head, with you coming around the corner and you can't drive through it because there's a field of debris. There was no near the amount of damage that we saw a few years back, but seeing the replay, I think, was the big shock.
When I was driving around, I didn't even look at the fence. You were just trying to pick away through the debris there. To see Dario's car, you know, it definitely brings home what we do each weekend and sort of the difficulties that we can have out there.
Yeah, it's not a good sight to see, that's for sure.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, no, like Scott, I wasn't even looking at the fence. I saw a picture of the fence before I saw the replay of the accident. I didn't realize he got up there, and that was a bit terrifying.
Like I said, it's the biggest kind of field of cars and debris field I've seen since that race in 2011. It's not really what you want to see. You know how fast that part of the track is. It's bumpy. God, I mean, I saw you do it, I've seen Will do it, I've done it. Everybody's done it. We've gone completely sideways over the bumps there. I don't want to say it was a matter of time before somebody got it wrong.
Obviously, those are two guys racing side by side. Sometimes it's hard not to have a single car wreck through that corner, which should be a pretty straightforward, flat‑out piece of racetrack. It definitely keeps you on your toes. To go that kind of speed and get launched up in the air, it's not what you want to see.
Just glad to hear it sounds like he's fine, and he'll probably be a little bit sore tomorrow, but he will fight on. He's come back from worse, that's for sure.

Q. Scott, they were saying that‑‑ or Mike, I think, was telling you that your car was bottoming out more today. Is that just because of the increased ambient temperature? And did they adjust the tires after the final stint to help prevent that happening?
SCOTT DIXON: I didn't know‑‑ I didn't quite understand, but I obviously asked the question, well, which straight, and they couldn't tell me. I'll find out later what the situation was. To me, it felt like our top gear was just too short.
Coming out of turn 5 before we got the straight bit after 6, it was on the limiter. I'm guessing we were hitting the hard limiter, which was probably the concern we had with the engine.
I think the ambient conditions for sure. We should have maybe raced the car a little bit. It was definitely bottoming a bit more through 1 and through that kink there on the front straight. It didn't feel like it was much worse than yesterday, if any.

Q. Yesterday you said you drive like a bit of a girl through there. Today I noticed that, when you were hunting down Will, you were pulling away from James through there. Were you a bit braver today?
SCOTT DIXON: I was a little braver. The corner, I think, was more forgiving today. I don't know why. Whether the wind changed, it didn't seem to be‑‑ if you missed your entry by much, it didn't seem to affect nearly as much today. So I wasn't being as much of a girl like I was yesterday.
THE MODERATOR: For the record, a girl finished on the podium yesterday. So I'm not quite sure what that reference means.
SCOTT DIXON: I'm not sure.

Q. For both of you guys, two races, two days. It was a lot cooler today than it was yesterday. How do you feel after this race? How do you think you would have felt if it had been 95 degrees again?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: No comment. I didn't race yesterday. I can't really tell you the difference.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, the heat was bad yesterday. In some ways, though, it slows the car pace down quite a bit as well. So generally, you have to be a little kinder on the brakes and all that kind of scenario. So I don't think the intensity yesterday was as high as today.
The grip level was definitely up. Ambient conditions were down. You didn't have to sort of look after your brakes as much and things like that. Today was pretty physical, and from yesterday now, everybody's blisters and stuff were a little worse today. I think a lot of times it depends on how good or bad your car is, whether that's going to be an issue.

Q. For either the driver or for both of you, these bumpy tracks seem to be very entertaining for the fans. From the driver's perspective, do you hate the bumpy tracks, or do you enjoy the challenge?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B. It certainly is a challenge, and the last thing you want is a track that's just so grippy that everybody's running the same pace, and it's a procession. Tracks like this make it, obviously, more challenging and make mistakes more prevalent, which makes essentially the racing better.
But you can go too far, especially when you're talking about doubleheaders. Guys started the race today with holes in their hands. It's just a tough situation. It's not ideal. It can be dangerous.
Bourdais came to me after the race and said, 100 percent, my car was faster than I could drive it, and that's not what you want to see. You can't train for blisters on your hands. It's not a fitness thing.
So I think you would agree, yeah, these tracks that we come to that are sometimes low grip and a little bumpier, they do make the racing really exciting. They have a propensity for causing a lot of yellows, which is sort of anti‑climactic, but at the same time, the bigger the challenge for the team and the driver, the better the racing.

Q. Scott, did you wake up today, when they said that they were going to do the lineups based on points, and sit there and think, Helio, he kind of lucked out because he's going to get the start on the pole because it's going to be based on points? And then how much did that change when you saw him drop out of the race?
SCOTT DIXON: Well, yeah, I don't know. We went through the pole award and everything for this morning, and then I don't know. I thought by the end of this morning, I thought they were probably going to have us selling laps or something. It is what it is. It was kind of a big confusion between what an event is, what a race is, when you take the points from the start of the weekend or if you take it in the middle, whatever.
So, yeah, it was a little confusing this morning, and we started off the front row, which was a good starting spot. Preferably, we should have started from yesterday's qualifying. That would have been better for us.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think it should have been an inverted finishing order from yesterday because that would have spiced things up a little.
SCOTT DIXON: They should have gone off finishing order maybe from yesterday, not inverting it. But it was‑‑ but the Helio thing earlier, you try to block that stuff out because strange things can happen, and if you rely on people having DNFs, then you might change up what you're trying to achieve out there.

Q. James, because you're drinking out of that big bottle, I'm going to try to ask you this. TK was the first domino to fall for you to see what you're going to do. When would you like to have a decision made? What are your‑‑ what is your gut telling you at this stage?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: My gut's telling me to take it easy on the champagne. No, obviously, it would be nice to have something done in time for the last race of the year and know what you're doing going into the off‑season. But at the end of the day, we have a couple things in the works, and if any of them come together, I'm a very lucky guy.
So it's an interesting thing. It's a new kind of position I find myself in. I'm not in a rush. There are still some things I need to fall into place. I'm not‑‑ like I don't feel the need to find something tomorrow to make sure that I'm going to be in a car. I need to make sure it's the right decision and that sets me up for the future. I can't see short term in this.
Like I said, there's still some things in the air that need to fall into place. But if something fell in line for the last race, that would be awesome while everybody's still around and cares enough to hear the announcement. It will get done in the not too distant future, and hopefully it's an exciting thing that can keep me racing cars for a little while.
I don't want to sell insurance, no. I'm not a very good salesman. I could be a pizza delivery driver maybe.

Q. Question for both of you. What would you say‑‑ kind of touching on what Mark said, what would you say is the key to why there were so many passing places? There were a lot of people complaining that there wouldn't be, and there was a lot of passing again. Was it just because of the low grip surface or mistakes or gear box or brakes running out or something like that?
SCOTT DIXON: Probably in the sets, I think, and restarts are always an eye opener, depending on how much‑‑ pick up some on the car ahead or how much they were struggling on restarts with low pressures and things like that. I think that's‑‑ when you have a really bumpy circuit and some tricky corners like turn 3, where the grip is really low, it's up for a good passing opportunity into 4.
Most tracks, I think, once you get through a race distance, there tend to be a quite a good ‑‑ couple of passing spots, but it depends. Once you get cars that are quite even and equal, it's quite hard to pull it off. Next year, you really get gain to maybe have some sort of contact and whether you want do that or not.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I think Firestone deserves a lot of credit too. I've always loved this multi‑compound racing, and we've seen guys have a lot of struggles on the reds. And I capitalize on some guys passing in places that you probably shouldn't be passing just because the reds were falling off.
So the challenge of having a car that's quick that can serve all kinds of tires is tough. So they deserve a ton of credit for the way the racing is and has been the last couple of years.

Q. Dix, what was different with your car from yesterday? It seemed like you had a lot of apex exit oversteer. I shouldn't say a lot of oversteer, but you had that quite often throughout the race. It seemed to be the place where Will could pull out just a tiny gap.
SCOTT DIXON: It was probably my heavy right foot, I don't know. I was just trying to keep up. It's hard when you're close and you're trying to‑‑ obviously, you lose a bit of ground, downforce wind when you're behind somebody.
We didn't change the car at all today. It's never changed actually from the start of the weekend. I don't think we even moved a hose. We changed and tried a couple of things but came back to pretty much how the car rode off the trailer.
It's always nice when you have a predictable car like that. But, yeah, I think, had we had some more practice and things like that, we could have worked on a few things. But throughout the weekend, the car was pretty much very similar.
THE MODERATOR: Scott, Hinch, thanks so much for your time. We'll see you in Fontana.

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